Pre-Independence Day Ethics Warm-Up, July 3, 2022: What Might Have Been [Broken Link Fixed]

Typically, Ethics Alarms has highlighted July 3 with reflections on the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, for which the 3rd was the dramatic last and decisive day. I know it must be hard to believe, but I do get tired of writing the same things over and over again, an occupational hazard of being an ethicist during a mass ethics breakdown in our democracy and among the increasingly corrupt people we have put in power to protect it. I still can’t ignore Pickett’s futile charge and Custer’s charge as well, so I direct you to last year’s post on both events and their ethics implications.

However, this year I am introducing the July 3 warm-up with another crucial anniversary, one that may have had even more impact on the history of the United States, its prospects and its values than Gettysburg. July 2, 1776 is when the Continental Congress finally agreed to take the leap and forge a new nation (John Adams thought the 2nd would be the day we celebrated) and July 4, 1776 was the date the document was signed. But in-between those more noted dates the Continental Congress began debating and editing Jefferson’s draft Declaration, eventually making 86 edits that cut the length by about a fourth. 

Because the Declaration of Independence is the mission statement of America, framing and sometimes compelling what followed, especially the Constitution, the editing decisions of July 3, 1776 affected our laws and culture in many ways that are unimaginable after more than 200 years. You can read the original here. It is this deleted paragraph, however, that most inspires reflections on what might have been (and what might not):

“He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where Men should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce. And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he has obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed again the Liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.”

Now on to the present day’s ethics concerns...

1. From the sublime to the idiotic. I’m happy to say that this moronic climate change protest occurred in London and not here, but we all know it could have happened here.

Yes, these and fellow morons, part of a group of climate change activists called Just Stop Oil, glued themselves to Van Gogh’s “Peach Trees In Blossom” and a painting by William Turner in London’s Courtauld Gallery. They are oil paintings, get it? “Sorry everybody, we don’t wanna be doing this, we’re here glued to this painting, this beautiful painting, because we’re terrified for our future,” a spokesman for the group said in a video. Needless to say, the protest fails all protest ethics standards, and also makes the cause at issue look ridiculous, which, in fact, it is.

Maybe that makes this stupid stunt more ethical. I’ll have to think about this…

2. You know, polls…A poll released last week claims that over 25% of US residents (based on polling 1,000 registered US voters) feel it might “soon be necessary to take up arms” because the government is “corrupt and rigged against everyday people like me,” the verdict of a majority of those polled. What is the ethical import of those results?

I’d say, “Nothing that we didn’t already know.” Since some of the anti-gun faction has been making extravagant claims that the US needs to ban and confiscate guns while the rest of the Left and the news media has been attacking the Second Amendment, it probably just seemed prudent for gun owners to remind pollsters that they would not submit quietly, at least in theory. As for the “rigged and corrupt” verdict, I don’t see how anyone paying attention could conclude otherwise, and that is a far more alarming finding. But what other conclusion could be reached when gas prices have soared because a semi-senile puppet of the Left decided to grandstand for the kind of people who glue themselves to paintings, and his party is holding a rigged political show-trial at tax-payer expense on prime-time TV? [Pointer: Sarah B.]

2. Yes, the New York Times really thought this was “fit to print”…and the intellectually dishonest, bigoted fool who wrote it is on the editorial board. The writer is Mara Gay, and her op-ed is titled “The Republican War on Sex.” Her theory: Roe v. Wade was overturned because those mean old men and Puritan women who call themselves Republicans hate sex and want to punish women who engage in it. I’m wrestling my fingers to the ground to stop myself from fisking this hilarious parade of one illogical, counter-factual, silly statement after the other, because as much fun as it would be,  Gay just isn’t worth the trouble. Oh, let me just quote this one highlight…

Later, when I was a student at the University of Michigan, the movement for sex positivity was thrilling and liberating. We learned that pleasurable sexual experiences between consenting adults of all genders and orientations were to be celebrated. Every year the school held a safe-sex fair, handing out condoms and prescriptions for Plan B. One year the students erected a giant replica of a vulva, tall enough to walk through, complete with a working bell at the top where the clitoris would be. That used to be a fun memory for me.

3. The Great Stupid in pronouns. The favored pronoun fad is so ridiculous that my wife had to stop me from adding “I My Me Mine” as a George Harrison homage and a woke panderer tweak to my curriculum vitae. The only effective way to stop really dumb trends is to relentlessly call them out. Kudos to substacker Jim Treacher for flagging Variety’s account of actor Ezra Miller’s criminal exploits.( Miller likes to be called “they.” It’s better than “asshole,” after all.) Here’s Variety:

“The actor — best known for playing the DC superhero the Flash in several films for Warner Bros. — was set to start filming the studio’s latest entry in the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise, ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,’ in London when the shoot was halted on March 15, 2020, due to COVID. In the weeks after, Miller, who identifies as nonbinary and uses ‘they/them’ pronouns, became a regular at bars in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík, where locals came to know and even befriend them. Many recognized Miller from their earliest breakout movies, 2012’s ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ and 2011’s ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin,’ where they played a troubled teen who brought a bow and arrow to school and murdered his classmates.

That’s not communication, it’s gibberish. Treacher writes,

Tom Hanks recently said he regrets playing a gay man in Philadelphia because he’s not gay. I always thought that was just called “acting,” but what do I know. If that’s the case, though, why should a nonbinary person be allowed to play a normal person?

And if I’m expected to use a criminal’s preferred pronouns, why can’t Rachel Dolezal call herself black? There’s less genetic difference between a white woman and a black woman than between any man and any woman.

Ezra Miller is a man. That’s just how biology works. I wouldn’t toss aside the entirety of human knowledge just to spare his feelings even if he wasn’t a violent thug.

Exactly. Why isn’t everybody laughing at these people instead of pandering to them?

4. This confusing your own body with that of your child has unfortunate effects other than abortion…Loving vegan mother Sheila O’Leary, 39, was convicted of murder by a jury in Cape Coral, Florida. She was found accountable for the death of her 18-month-old son, who weighed just 17 pounds when he died in 2019 after being fed only fruit, vegetables and breastmilk. Her husband is also going to be tried. The couple have a two surviving children, three-years-old and five-years-old when their parents were arrested, who were severely malnourished.

5. Shut up and act...Actress Jessica Biel praised France’s “Women’s Rights” and implied that she might prefer to live there. France has a national abortion ban after 14 weeks. National. Biel lives in California where abortions aren’t limited at all, and at the rate the state is going, she will soon be able to legally bash in her newborn’s head with a rock if she doesn’t like its looks.

I continue to wonder how many of the American “furious” over the Dobbs decision mistakenly believe that it banned abortion, rather than just overruling a long-standing, badly-reasoned SCOTUS decision that removed abortion policy from democratic processes.


11 thoughts on “Pre-Independence Day Ethics Warm-Up, July 3, 2022: What Might Have Been [Broken Link Fixed]

  1. Re: #2: Ann Althouse’s commenters do a nice collective job fisking Gay, but it’s shooting fish in a barrel—go ahead if you like, but the piece is res ipsa loquitur.

    One surprise: old, lamented. self-exiled Ethics Alarms commenter Ampersand weighs in with a rational analysis, and A is a dyed-in-the-wool progressive. He writes,

    “Mara Gay is an influential individual, and a member of the NYT editorial board. She is at the center of the media whirlpool, and will be there for decades to come. She is announcing the new meme that will soon be repeated in editorials, morning and evening news shows, late night monologues, and water cooler conversations. The meme is that sex is good, Republicans hate sex, and Republicans are therefore bad. Q.E.D. It’s ridiculous of course, but simplicity often conquers absurdity.”

    I miss Barry.

  2. Re #2:. Guess who tweeted the comment below (hint: gun owners say “Oh, OK then.”)
    “Org leaders: Obeying in advance is what gives authoritarianism power. Collectively, we cannot afford to do so.

    Those who have the ability to resist, must. Hold strong.

    Mass non-compliance diminishes abuse of power for further rights violations. This is an important front line.”

  3. 5. Shut up and act…Actress Jessica Biel praised France’s “Women’s Rights” and implied that she might prefer to live there. France has a national abortion ban after 14 weeks. National. Biel lives in California where abortions aren’t limited at all, and at the rate the state is going, she will soon be able to legally bash in her newborn’s head with a rock if she doesn’t like its looks.

    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool…

  4. “I continue to wonder how many of the American “furious” over the Dobbs decision mistakenly believe that it banned abortion… ”

    Virtually all of them, it seems. At least all of the ones jabbering about it in public, anyway.

    • When I was a student at the University of Michigan, a student journalist at the Michigan Daily wrote an article talking about how he got completely drunk, picked up a drunk girl at a bar, went back to his dorm room, and passed out before he could have sex. She left a pile of feces on his chest as a complaint. He was lucky, because the University’s Sexual Assault, Prevention, and Awareness, Center (SAPAC) defined rape as a man having sex with a woman. He came close to that woman raping herself with him while he was passed out. Thrilling and liberating indeed.

      • That’s actually a pretty common FOAF (friend of a friend story. I’ve also heard a version where the guy pukes all over the girl’s back while doing it doggy style before passing out, only to wake up to the same disgusting result. There’s also a story where the guy goes home with the woman and, having done the dirty deed and spent the night, wakes up to find his clothes missing. Thinking he’s been robbed, he decides to retaliate by soiling the bed. Just as he “fires the aft torpedo,” in walks the woman with his clothes cleaned and folded. 😀

        • Yeah, my point was that this was also part of the ‘thrilling and liberating’ scene she was talking about.

  5. Umm, if you had a link to Jefferson’s original draft, I couldn’t find one.

    I confess I was not aware of the chronology of the Declaration of Independence. I guess I always thought they edited it first, then voted on it, and it just took some time to get everything ready for the signing. Kind of amazing that, after all the debating, they got that done in one day, though.

    A few days ago you included a link to “Molasses to Rum”, which in 1776 the movie was part of the debate on this paragraph. I recall a very good scene where everyone looked to John Adams for his decision between that language and giving up on independence. After the Civil War, do we really doubt that this issue could have scuttled the whole Congress?

    Then and a dozen years later in Philadelphia, there were many men who were fervently opposed to slavery, but who considered that a compromise to accomplish this nation was the better course. I think we are all indebted to them.

    • PLEASE don’t “um” me—it ticks me off. I specifically recall including that link. WordPress has been misbehaving lately; I’ve scheduled a conference about it. Links, formatting, bolding and italics have been disappearing from draft to publication. It’s wasting a lot of my time.

      Anyway, that link is there.

      “1776,” as Peter Stone has been very open about, messes with the sequence of events for dramatic effect—and a lot of other things too.

      • OK, I’ll try not to do that again. And, yes, the link is there now.


        HAPPY BIRTHDAY to all of us in the United States of America!

        I am thinking I will grab “The Crossing” and watch it again today. I thought that was a really good movie about Washington. He and Lincoln were two of the most stalwart bitter enders (for the good) of our nation’s leaders.

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