Friday Ethics Fire Sale, 7/22/2022: We Didn’t Start The Fire!

Tip: Showtime’s “Billions” is streaming. It’s an excellent ethics series, with a plot-driven clash between legal ethics, business ethics, marital ethics and workplace ethics.

And Paul Giamatti (“John Adams”) remains the best actor related to a (late, much missed) Commissioner of Baseball ever.

1. AOC set up her reflex defenders to look foolish (not that they don’t deserve to) First, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) denied that her arrest outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday was “performative art,” and claimed, risibly, that she was not pretending to be handcuffed for the cameras. However, about 30 minutes before the arrests of pro-abortion protesters outside the Supreme Court including 17 Democratic House members, a staffer for AOC’s fellow “Squad “member Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) let a metaphorical cat out of the bag. Jeremy Slevin tweeted, adding that the stunt would be live-streamed,:

“Members of Congress, including @IlhanMN will be participating in a civil disobedience at the Supreme Court, potentially including arrests, shortly. 1 PM ET/12 PM CT,”

After her indignant denials, Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Instagram, “This was an activist-led civil disobedience, where activists & organizers from [the far-left Center for Popular Democracy Action Fund ] + others asked members of Congress to submit themselves for arrest in front of the Supreme Court.”

In other words, it was indeed “performative art.” Moreover, it is unethical for members of Congress to allow themselves to be recruited as advocacy props for other organizations. That’s not their job. It is particularly not their job because the Supreme Court is not constructed to conform its legal determinations to public protests or the desires of elected officials…nor should it or can it,

On a technical note ( which Ann Althouse, being the way she is, focused upon mightily), civil disobedience is when a protester violates the law they are protesting, and accepts the penalties for doing so. AOC and the rest were not arrested for performing illegal abortions, but for blocking traffic.

2. And now, an update on something completely stupid: First, Uber-Nerds started up leagues and teams to play Quidditch, the flying broom team sport in the “Harry Potter” books and films. This was nuts because Quidditch, even in the books, is a ridiculous sport, but it’s especially dumb when the players pretend to be riding on flying brooms. Then Warner Bros cracked down on local “Harry Potter” fan festivals around the US, making it a copyright violation to evoke the movies, including in a Quidditch tournament. Somehow this money-grab got resolved, but after “Harry Potter” creator J.K. Rowling had the effrontery to insist in public that men don’t become women, absent magic, of course, by just deciding that they are, US Quidditch and Major League Quidditch —I know, I know—announced last year that they will change their names, and thus the name of their sport, as a rebuff to the woman who is the only reason they have their silly hobby at all, because she’s insufficiently in thrall to trans activism.

Well, they finally decided what the new name will be: Quadball.

It took them seven whole months to come up with that.

3. At least the NBA doesn’t pretend to support free speech! Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob was a guest on a sports podcast and described the National Basketball Association’s current luxury tax system as unfair. As his penalty for speaking out, Lacob was fined $500,000.

4. Ethics Villain: Dr. Deborah Birx. The primary architect of the Trump administration response to the Wuhan Virus has a book out, in which she admits that she misrepresented the “science” supporting the disastrous U.S. lockdown in order to have the White House’s support in executing it. Here, for example, is her description of how the “10 people or less in social gatherings” standard was established:

The real problem with this fifty-versus-ten distinction, for me, was that it revealed that the CDC simply didn’t believe to the degree that I did that SARS-CoV-2 was being spread through the air silently and undetected from symptomless individuals. The numbers really did matter. As the years since have confirmed, in times of active viral community spread, as many as fifty people gathered together indoors (unmasked at this point, of course) was way too high a number. It increased the chances of someone among that number being infected exponentially. I had settled on ten knowing that even that was too many, but I figured that ten would at least be palatable for most Americans—high enough to allow for most gatherings of immediate family but not enough for large dinner parties and, critically, large weddings, birthday parties, and other mass social events….if I pushed for zero (which was actually what I wanted and what was required), this would have been interpreted as a ‘lockdown’—the perception we were all working so hard to avoid.”

Birx’s credibility and character are amply demonstrated by this feature of her pandemic memoirs: she omits entirely any mention of the scandal that led to her resignation! You remember, don’t you? Ethics Alarms wrote about it here. Before Thanksgiving in 2020, she warned Americans to “assume you’re infected” and to restrict gatherings to “your immediate household.” But Birx headed to Fenwick Island in Delaware to have a traditional Thanksgiving celebration with four generations of extended family. After this classic (but during the pandemic, hardly rare) example of the elite violating their own rules they inflicted on the peasants, Birx resigned.

None of this made it into her book.


22 thoughts on “Friday Ethics Fire Sale, 7/22/2022: We Didn’t Start The Fire!

    • Epidemiologists have been exposed as utter, useless quacks. All they do is assemble statistics. The response to the Covid thing has been the largest public health and finance catastrophe of my lifetime. It makes 2008 and any other recession since The Great Depression look like a run of the mill correction. I refer to it as The Great Suppression.

      • “All they do is assemble statistics.”

        Not just assembling, but specifically cherry-picking and manipulating statistics to support conclusions and policy decisions they’ve already made, usually with little real evidence.

        Oh, how much less damage these frauds would have done if they limited themselves to merely assembling statistics uselessly…

  1. 1. Can anyone identify an arrest that didn’t involve some kind of restraint? I’d argue the video depicts an escort. Cuffing happens before arrest, often referred to as detainment. Even George Floyd was cuffed before he got out of his car!

  2. AOC and the rest were not arrested for performing illegal abortions, but for blocking traffic.

    They were aborting a different kind of delivery…

    (I’ll see myself out)

  3. It’s late June. Isn’t the Court out of session? Why didn’t the Squad et al. protest at Justice Kavanaugh’s house?

    • The Court isn’t hearing cases right now, but the Justices are hard at work on the cases for the term that begins this fall. Some of those they will deny cert on, some of them they will remand, and some of them they will decide “on the papers” during this time, and not set down for oral argument. By the time the 2022-2023 term begins, they will have winnowed the list of cases down quite a bit, and only those they deem appropriate will actually receive oral argument.

  4. Birx’s comment reminds me of the ACA architect who said he needed to rely on the stupidity of the people to get it passed.

    (That’s a very bad paraphrase, but I forget the guy’s name.)


  5. 2) Some people are as into Harry Potter as some are into Star Wars – these guys are *so* into it, one often wonders if they can distinguish the fantasy world from reality. I doubt it as some, like those who fall back on Handmaid’s Tale analogies, use the stories as examples of what to do in life. It’s understandable then, that the Euler diagram of those who are hyper-pro-“trans rights” and those who are hyper-Harry-Potter-fans-but-Rowling-haters is pretty much a perfect circle.

    Someone should remind them that Harry Potter is exactly as real as men getting pregnant.

    These people who are as serious as this that they changed the name of game to protest the novel writer – are too serious to be happy. And perennially unhappy people are worrisome.

    • I’ve always had a problem with fantasy as a genre. The nadir of this phenomenon, at least for me: publication of a book written to order titled “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” Holy crap. I see they’ve made a movie of it?

      • Why do you say that? Certainly, there are many people for whom fantasy is not their cup of tea, that’s true of all genres and I can respect that. Certainly, there are also many works of fantasy that are obvious moneymakers or just plain subpar, and I acknowledge that. Like many genres, there is a lot of fantasy dross you often have to mine to find a few nuggets of gold. However, like almost all genres, it has produced more than a few acknowledged masterpieces as well. The literary world would be a poorer place if it were minus Tolkien, Lewis, and the other Inklings, Robert E Howard, Michael Moorcock, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert Jordan, Katherine Kurtz, Ursula K. Leguin, Stephen Donaldson, and others like them (I better stop there, or the list will go on forever). Oh, and whose childhood would be complete without The Wizard of Oz?

        That said, there’s a clear line between the one world and the other. Once in a while it’s ok to go to an event and get immersed, but when the event is over or the book is closed or the TV is off, then that’s it, back to reality. Those who get so into it as to actually engage in Quidditch/Quadball for real I have to raise an eyebrow at. Then again, someone I know, who is otherwise a very serious lawyer, belongs to the 501st Legion, which means he and other like-minded folks dress in the uniforms of the Star Wars Galactic Empire, which have to be up to a certain standard, and then attend community events, STEM fairs, airshows, and a fair amount of charitable events. I may finally go see him and his compatriots this fall at “Air and Scare” at the National Air and Space Museum.

        That said, all of this stuff is supposed to be FUN. Once you introduce politics into anything it becomes less fun and more uncomfortable. It’s also been my experience that the political left does not find anything funny or fun unless the target is someone or something it hates. Therefore, anything involving homosexuality or transgenderism MUST be and cannot be anything other than profoundly serious. It is hard to balance the two and impossible to reconcile them. It’s very off-putting to witness this mixture of silliness and seriousness, and frankly enough to make you walk away if you know the people involved would hate you if they knew your politics.

        • Amen to that, Steve. I was just at a convention this weekend where the 501st had a table. They’ve been active since before I starting doing cons. R2D2 was also present. People have fun dressing up and belong to groups such as this.
          There is also an organization — the Royal Manticoran Navy, which is a space opera series by David
          Weber. They are big at several around here that feature Weber, and have actually collaborated (to a small degree) with Weber, and published a book.

          It’s all good fun — but as you say, when people let politics divert them it is going to ruin it for everyone.

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