Thursday Ethics Thinkin’ And Theorizin’, 7/14/2022: The Horror…The Horror…

I just stumbled upon that video from “The Red Skelton Show,” vintage early Seventies. The ethical values being destroyed here are competence and respect (for the audience, for the culture, for the nation, for music and dance.) You can learn so much from the thing, and yet it raises so many questions…like, how did the culture devolve from “Good Morning!” in “Singing in the Rain” to this slop in 20 years? Is this what killed movie musicals—a sudden lack of taste? What caused it? Did the choreographer know he or she was presenting shit? How could he live with himself? They paid someone to create that! Did Simon and Garfunkel see this? Why didn’t they kill themselves? How do we explain Liberace to future generations? How can anyone claim that the US is a nest of white supremacy when whites publicly humiliated themselves like this? Seeing those dancers with their insipid expression and their ridiculous outfits made me want to rip my skin off.

If the United States could survive the Seventies, it can survive again. This video gives me hope and perspective, and I will regard it as beneficial on balance, provided that I can get it out of my brain before it drives me stark, raving mad.

1. Least surprising poll result of the year: A Pew Research Center poll determined that, among reporters who say their outlet’s audience leans left, 30% support “equal coverage for all sides,” and 69% said that “it is not always deserved.” I have problems with Pew’s framing of the issue—you know, polls. Presenting the facts fairly and objectively shouldn’t involve “sides” at all. The objective should be to explain events and issues without picking or having “sides.”

2. Some bi-partisanship on the gun policy issue is a good thing, ethically (and politically, though I won’t dwell on that here.) Republicans and conservatives are freaking out over the recent gun regulations law being passed with some Republican assistance and, most recently, Biden’s nominee to head Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Steve Dettelbach. Yes, the new “gun safety” bill is a cynical example of the Left’s camel’s nose stragegy on chipping away at the Second Amendment, and the “red flag” provisions are a dangerous slippery slope. But it erodes faith and trust in the government for Congress to show itself to be so polarized that even legislation that the vast majority of the public says it wants and needs can’t get passed. It’s responsible not to allow the steam in the engine to build to the point that there’s an explosion. There is good reason to avoid a tipping point where “Do something!,” as emotional and irrational as it is, becomes a wave of resentment. Compromise is essential to democracy and a functioning system: if a society decides democracy doesn’t work, a disaster is in the making.

Concerning the confirmation of Dettelbach with two GOP Senators (Susan Collins of Maine and Rob Portman of Ohio breaking ranks, the objections to his nomination by Republicans seemed contrived and excessive. It shouldn’t matter than he never has owned a gun, and it shouldn’t matter that he favors Second Amendment restrictions. His job is to enforce the law. Agreeing with the laws one is pledged to enforce has never been a criteria for being regarded as a trustworthy administrator, nor should it be.

3. And I say this with love: “Shut the hell up.” The European Union’s parliament on last week overwhelmingly condemned the end of constitutional protections for abortion in the U.S. and called for abortion to be enshrined in the EU’s fundamental rights charter. It can do what it likes with its own country, but the EU is neither qualified nor entitled to grandstand regarding U.S. Constitutional law and our three branch system of checks and balances. If President Biden had the integrity a President should have, he ought to have firmly told the EU, many of the members of which have more restrictive abortion laws than most U.S. states, to butt out. Then we saw Pope Francis, from the other side of the issue, criticizing Biden’s professed fealty to his Catholic faith and his views on abortion as incoherent. Oh, they are, by any measure, but it is not the business of the Pope to attack a U.S. President. The Vatican never even criticized Hitler. “A month after conception, the DNA of the fetus is already there and the organs are aligned. There is human life,” the Pontiff said in the interview with Spanish-language outlet Univision. “Is it just to eliminate a human life?” Why yes, yes it is, but Pope’s are not supposed to stick their noses into secular politics.

“I leave it to [President Biden’s] conscience and that he speaks to his bishop, his pastor, his parish priest about that incoherence,” the Pope concluded. Obviously, Francis doesn’t know Joe Biden very well. For him, incoherence is a way of life.

4. So it turns out that the story wasn’t a hoax after all. Gerson Fuentes, 27, was arrested two days ago, according to Columbus police and court documents, and has been charged with felony rape of a minor under age 13. His victim was the 10-year-old girl that the news media credulously reported on before the story had been adequately confirmed, though it came from a highly dubious source with an interest in promoting abortion access.


  • That the story turned out to be (mostly) true does not excuse the news media or, among others, Joe Biden publicizing it as fact before the story had met basic journalism standards of reliability. That there happened to be an Ohio ten-year-old who had been raped and traveled to Indiana for her abortion is pure moral luck: it doesn’t make the irresponsible reporting any more responsible.
  • Nor is it a story that the Biden Administration, with its approval of illegal aliens, should seek to trumpet. Fuentes is a US law-defying illegal immigrant from Guatamala, exactly the kind of individual Donald Trump was talking about when he said, “…they’re not sending their best…They’re sending people that have lots of problems…They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
  • The part of the narrative that the news media and Biden pushed  was that the 10-year-old had to cross state lines in for an abortion because Ohio law would not permit it.  Ohio’s heartbeat law has a provision that allows doctors to perform an abortion if he or she deems it a “medical emergency,” and no court appearance or judicial approval is required.The doctor has the authority to make that call on his own.
  • The story still seems off. Why did the Columbus Police Department sit on the report of the rape of a child for three weeks? 
  • Columbus has declared itself a sanctuary city, and one of the illegal immigrants the city has been protected apparently raped a nine-year-old girl. Might this provoke a tiny bit of reconsideration?
  • It was the much-maligned conservative news media, many through the efforts of reporter Megan Fox, that insisted on applying ethical journalism standards to the story as the mainstream media was unethically reporting it as fact.

5. Is Chris Murphy of Connecticut the most intellectually dishonest member of the U.S. Senate? The competition is too close to call, with contenders on both sides of the aisle, but boy, this Democrat is consistently awful, and his latest contention would be tough to top for pure sinister distortion. He tweeted this week,

The Uvalde video showed a cowardly and incompetent police force failing to perform its duties despite having the firepower and manpower to stop the school massacre well before its ultimate human toll. It’s proof of nothing. by the same logic, Murphy could argue that police departments are useless. Moreover, the “good guys with guns” argument never referred to police, but to private citizens. The Second Amendment doesn’t apply to police. If anything, the events in Uvalde support the “good guy with a gun” argument, because one reason citizens may need to be armed is if police fail to protect the public. In Uvalde, police actively prevented armed citizens from trying to rescue the schoolchildren when the police were hesitating.

Murphy was attempting, as he has before, to advance Democratic policy position by confusing the public.

29 thoughts on “Thursday Ethics Thinkin’ And Theorizin’, 7/14/2022: The Horror…The Horror…

  1. As a citizen of Connecticut, I agree with your assessment of Chris Murphy, but he only beats out Richard Blumenthal by the thinnest of margins.

    • So… if enough people reeeeaaallly want a terrible law, and they push hard enough for it, then… it should be passed, just so we can have compromise? So that pressures don’t build to an explosion? What about all the people who would really like to see the 1st amendment go away? They’re just going to keep pushing. Maybe we should just compromise, right?

        • Here is a perspective from Jacob Sullum.

          Among other things, the law expands background-check requirements for gun buyers younger than 21, widens the categories of people who are not allowed to buy firearms, and provides federal funding for states with “red flag” laws, which authorize court orders prohibiting gun possession by people who are deemed a threat to themselves or others. Those provisions are unlikely to have a meaningful impact on mass shootings, but they will cancel the gun rights of adults based on juvenile records and subsidize state laws that suspend those rights without due process.

          The law also doubles down on the longstanding prohibition of gun possession by people who have been convicted of crimes punishable by more than a year of incarceration. That rule applies no matter how old the conviction is and regardless of whether the crime involved violence.

          Violating this gun ban previously was a felony with a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act raises the maximum sentence to 15 years and prescribes the same penalties for “trafficking in firearms,” which is defined broadly enough to include receipt of a gun by someone who is legally disqualified from owning one.

          The latter provision covers not only people with felony records but also cannabis consumers, even if they live in states that have legalized marijuana; anyone who has ever been subjected to involuntary psychiatric treatment, whether or not he was deemed a threat to others; and other categories of people who have never done anything to indicate that they are dangerous. Since receiving a gun is a felony for them, it also qualifies as “trafficking in firearms” and can send them to prison for both offenses if they are caught.

          In fiscal year 2021, according to a recent report from the U.S. Sentencing Commission, 89 percent of federal firearm offenses involved illegal possession, often without aggravating circumstances or a history of violence. Fifty-five percent of those defendants were African Americans, who account for about 14 percent of the U.S. population.

  2. Re: No. 4.

    It appears that the rapist had sex with the minor at least twice and is involved in a relationship with the girl’s mother, who told one reporter that the news story is full of lies. The girl’s mother is defending the rapist. This makes me wonder if the mother took the girl to Indiana thinking the doctor wouldn’t inform the police that the girl had been raped and was pregnant, possibly out of fear that he and/or she would be deported.


  3. So it turns out that the story wasn’t a hoax after all.

    I’m not sure this is true. It just proves there was a girl in a similar situation. It could be moral luck, I still haven’t seen how its connected. Furthermore, It does doesn’t answer the questions why she had to cross state lines, why Columbus had no report filed (WP factcheck specifically checked this city), why the doctor didn’t file a report, why the AG said the case didn’t exist, etc.

    The whole thing is a loss all around and people are celebrating different aspects of it. What’s there to celebrate?

    The rape of a 9 year old girl?
    The fact that the mother allowed it?
    The fact that police and medical professionals might have looked the other way?
    The fact that an abortion is necessary?
    The fact that an illegal immigrant committed a violent crime?

    Some people just need to walk away from all forms of news/social media for a very log time and get a different aspect on life.

  4. #2: How is it “compromise” when only one side ever gets some of what it wants, and the other side always gives in to that taking, but never gets anything in return except for a brief reprieve before the next demand from the takers? Why should it matter what the public “wants” at a given moment, especially on regulation of basic rights, when they are in large part uninformed or deliberately and continually misinformed on relevant facts concerning the issues? Are we to chip away at the Constitution bit-by-bit in the hope that it might delay a possible “explosion” until someone else has to deal with it? Do we just continue to be held hostage by the threat and give in until there’s nothing left for any “explosion” to affect?

    And yes, it sort of matters that the head of an agency that has increasingly shown a propensity for tortured flip-flopping on rules, and bureaucratic lawmaking by regulation, as directed by the executive branch, actually has no personal familiarity with the items he’s in charge of overseeing.

    • [Should he have to be an alcoholic and a smoker too?]

      It’s the same argument, an unethical one, I have read here repeatedly: “They” do it, so “We” have to do it back. It’s not just uethical, it’s destructive. The absolutist, no-compromise hyper-partisan culture has to change; it’s an ethical dead end, and a political dead end as well. It is irresponsible not to break that wall, and arguing that one party must behave irrationally because another party does is indefensible.

      I said that I wouldn’t mention the political side in the post. But it is crucial that Democrats are punished hard at the polls for the doctrinaire way they have harmed the nation with their policies and ideological obsessions. They will be, too, unless there is a reverse tipping point. One more school shooting at the Uvalde level would do it, if Republicans were seen as an immovable obstacle to taking any action. Given how Democrats reason these days, I bet its leadership is praying for a massacre—well, they don’t pray, but you know what I mean. The public’s reaction would be emotional, unreasoning, furious, and irresistible. If a single accidental death of a punk under a rogue cops knee could scare the cowards in boardrooms and state houses to capitulate to BLM cant, it’s delusional to risk similar catalysts. No, the new law won’t stop criminals and madmen from abusing guns, but it is essential insurance to protect the Second Amendment, and a lot more. For a change, the GOP was smart to get on board.

      You know how Democrats got control of the country for almost half a century? The Depression triggered a public cry to “do something,” and the Republican party made it clear that it would do anything, because it 1) didn’t know what to do, and 2) there wasn’t much to do. So a Machiavellian, ruthless, brilliant, charismatic technocrat posed as a socialist, and rammed through massive government programs that kept the public hopeful and busy, while addicting it to the crack of government handouts. The record shows that the policies didn’t affect the Depression at all, but they were popular, they were “something,” and they probably saved the US from a revolution. Everyone became a Democrat except rich people, and FDR got lucky: the War pulled the US out of the Depression. The US got lucky too: Roosevelt was well on his way to being Prescient for life, and he had look-alike sons, but he died. Nevertheless, he was revered as few Presidents have been, and Democrats got the credit for saving America, and Republicans were tarred forever as the party that doesn’t care.

      • If you don’t get any concessions out of the other side, then it isn’t a compromise, it’s a surrender. You can argue that there is no other choice than to surrender, but the only compromise taking place is the compromise of your own principles. What did the republicans get in this compromise? Nothing the Republican voters give a damn about. Pork and bribes. That isn’t a compromise, it’s being paid to surrender.

        Yes, the left is going to whip people into an emotional frenzy and bad things are going to happen. Bad things are already happening though, and surrendering comes with its own set of problems. One more mass shooting and the left goes nuts and commits mass political violence. That political violence is why people are not willing to surrender on this issue in the first place. One more outbreak of political violence and really bad things are going to happen as well. The left isn’t the only side that can snap under emotional pressure.

        The argument to surrender your principles because bad things might happen if you don’t seems like it’s own type of rationalization. It’s just negotiating with literal terrorists. I don’t care that it might induce some lefties to go ahead and throw Molotov cocktails at police cars if people refuse to give up their guns. The lefties are going to do that anyway because terrorism is their idea of fun. People want their guns so when the left decides to start pitching them our houses we can defend ourselves. Will compromising stop the left from continuing on their trajectory of escalating political terrorism? Nope. All this compromise does is give the terrorists motivation to continue.

        The political violence and extremism has been main streamed. There isn’t any room to compromise left.

        • It is irresponsible not to break that wall, and arguing that one party must behave irrationally because another party does is indefensible.

          It is perfectly rational to refuse to negotiate with those who act in bad faith.

          No, the new law won’t stop criminals and madmen from abusing guns, but it is essential insurance to protect the Second Amendment, and a lot more. For a change, the GOP was smart to get on board.

          So civil rights activists were dumb for refusing to negotiate with segregationists?

      • “…legislation that the vast majority of the public says it wants and needs can’t get passed.”

        And we know this because of… You know… Polls.

        If you compare the polled results of a proposal versus the voting results of the same put to a ballot, you get very different levels of “public support”.

        I’m not familiar with this nominee, but these lines of questioning are understandable considering the previous Chipman candidate was analogous to appointing a KKK Grand Wizard to the DOJ to investigate hate crimes.

      • Thanks for the detailed response, Jack. I didn’t think I was advocating a “tit-for-tat” type response, just a fair exchange in working out something to be called a compromise. But let me think about it; I may have other quibbles.
        But just because we all know of your love of memes 😉 (though you’ve likely seen this one before)

        Just to get it out of the way as not the most critical concern…As far as the ATF director goes, alcohol (mostly tax concerns now, as far as ATF is concerned?) and tobacco (same?), besides not being Constitutional concerns, are fairly uncomplicated issues compared to the firearms discussion. A director wouldn’t need to be a smoker or alcoholic to easily have enough knowledge to make informed decisions on them. It would still be better if he hadn’t been on record as being far from impartial on issues affecting them. I wouldn’t necessarily want, say, a devout Mormon as the chief if the agency had previously been inclined to stretch their authority and do things like classify nicotine patches and vaping devices as “cigarettes” (they have commonalities), or caffeinated drinks and fruit juice as “alcohol” (can affect behavior; potential to be easily “manufactured” into the controlled substance). Yeah, it’s ridiculous, but so is much of the existing and proposed gun regulation. Luckily, SCOTUS, particularly Gorsuch, have recently shown particular backbone in dealing with lawmaking and regulatory flip-flopping by the administrative state.

  5. RE: Liberace video.

    This is what you get when the poseurs appropriate a culture. The Young Folk was a tool to attract kids who were too mainstream for the counterculture of the sixties but did not want to look uncool. This was the pablum that would pass the parent test. There were also quite a few adults in their thirties who at one point said never trust anyone over thirty but now found themselves in group and we’re trying to hold on to their “hipness”. I was 15 in 71 and thought this crap sucked then and it still does. The marketers of Skelton and Liberace thoroughly missed the mark for those in my sphere of understanding. It was never about quality it was about selling products on growing number and f color TV’s in American households.

  6. Jack,

    I do want to correct the record, and the Catholic Church did criticize Hitler and Nazism in general. In 1937, Pope Pius XI wrote an encyclical called “Mit Brenneder Sorge” which denounced the atheistic trend of the Nazi regime, and Hitler purportedly was infuriated by it. Also, I would recommend checking “Church of Spies” by Mark Riebling, which details the numerous ways the Vatican attempted, either directly or through proxy or by assisting other plots in progress. It might also be useful to note that Hitler was excommunicated, among other Nazi leadership, in 1931 by the German Bishops, and that excommunication was never lifted.

    Hitler’s identity as a Catholic was very weak. He toyed with all kinds of notions, such as binding all German Protestants together under the Nazi banner, and he actively campaigned against the Catholic Church as a political entity in Germany. As Hitler grew increasingly hostile to Catholics in Germany, the Vatican worked through diplomatic means to gain protection for the German faithful, but by 1937, when Pope Pius XI issued his encyclical, relations had greatly soured. The Church continued to be critical of the Nazi regime, but they kept the tone moderate because Hitler had already shown himself quite willing to punish German Catholics for the Vatican attempting to meddle in his affairs. Thus the Church went to more covert means.

    Some material differences between Biden and Hitler might also be pertinent. Hitler was at best a weak Catholic, and then overtly hostile to the Catholic Church. Biden claims to be a faithful Catholic. A faithful Catholic is subject, in matters of faith, to the Pope, who is the visible head and the sign of unity of the Catholic Church. Since Hitler was excommunicated and at war with the Church, it is hard to say there was much more the Church could say directly. But since Biden claims to be faithful, there are many things that should be said. And yes, the Pope should say them to leaders of nations, because leaders of nations have a higher obligation, and can scandalize people far more than someone from the general hoi polloi. Granted, rebuke should follow Jesus’ advice in Matthew 18:15-17, where the rebuke is private initially, then before a few witnesses, and only then made before the whole church. But in general, I think it is important that if a Catholic makes a public declaration in contradiction to Church doctrines, it is right that he is met with a public rebuke, letting everyone who heard the initial dissension understand that the dissenter was indeed wrong.

    • Reinhard Heydrich, head of the SD and the notorious Butcher of Prague, recognized the encyclical exactly for what it was. Everytime the Vatican criticized the Nazis, German priests and nuns were arrested on trumped up charges.

      They did the same thing to the Jews when there was international criticism, such as the boycott of German goods advocated by Jewish Americans.

  7. Jack,

    I disagree with you on your opinion of the Pope’s comment, but more importantly, I need to call your attention to a lesser known historical fact. Many people have stated that the Catholics did not oppose Hitler (ignoring all of us he killed) and that the Vatican approved of him, or at least did not disapprove of him. Indeed, the assertion that the Vatican never criticized Hitler is only true in the Bill Clinton sense. The Pope did not criticize Hitler (not a Catholic) in the way he criticized Biden (a Catholic). No, the Pope wrote an entire freaking ENCYCLICAL (Mit Brennender Sorge) criticizing Germany. This is known as the most critical the Vatican has EVER been on a political issue, with the strongest attack on any country’s decision. After this encyclical, Hitler began strongly persecuting Catholics.

    Catholics don’t like to discuss it, because too many people today attack us for using Rationalization 28 at the time, but truly, Hitler and the Nazis were an extraordinary threat to civilization and it wasn’t an ordinary time, but the Vatican arranged for multiple assassination attempts on Hitler, as well as approving/aiding many others. This usually leads to attacks on the Church that are more difficult to defend than the usual ones, despite the fact that Hitler and the Nazis were an existential threat to all of society. Catholics universally condemn assassination as a sin, but I think that a social version of Godel’s theorem, or your own Ethical Incompleteness Principal, applies here and certainly the Pope believed that at the time. Much of what the Catholic Church did to oppose Nazi Germany and Hitler was extraordinary, and on the down low, rather than the more public face the Church usually tries to work with.

    For more information on what all the Church did against Nazi Germany, I recommend looking at “A Church of Spies” by Mark Riebling. In addtion, you can learn more about the encyclical by reading it, of course, but also checking out

  8. Both Sarah B. and Ryan Harkins said better what I was going to post. Thanks to both.
    However, there is a new book The Pope at War: The Secret History of Pius XII by a scholar, David Kertzer, who is critical of the Pope’s dealings with the Nazis. Kertzer had unprecedented access to Vatican archives in writing this book. I have not yet read it, but plan to do so.

    • And a book called “The Pope’s Jews: The Vatican’s Secret Plan to Save the Jews from the Nazis” by Gordon Thomas.

  9. I have to say the video at the top was amazing. The first part, the kids around piano was pretty standard fair. The two girls were cute enough to make anything work….

    Then Liberace wanders in and everything goes berserk – There are dancers with feathers – there are high kicks – the piano with the magically attached seat keeps moving – its a wonder to behold! The deadeye blissful expressions on everyone’s face remind me of the nonplussed look everyone wearing a mask outdoors in public everyone has.

    I am only tangentially familiar with the Red Skelton show. I know its a comedy variety show; was this Liberace making fun of himself (like the SNL parody music videos), or an honest attempt at art?

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