Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/14/22: Our Ethics Is Going To The Dogs Edition

Good boy! Now that’s an Ethics Hero.

Random thoughts before we get into other stuff:

  • Ann Althouse, whose pop culture literacy has some massive holes, is obsessed with Bob Dylan’s weird, self-indulgent book analyzing 66 pop recordings. (Not a single Beatles song on the list, among its many quirks.) One of the songs analyzed is the original recording of “Volare,” a fluky hit sung in Italian that virtually nobody understood. Apparently it’s about being painted blue, or something. The English version sung by Dean Martin and Bobby Rydell, among others, didn’t mention this at all. So what’s the point of analyzing lyrics that had nothing to do with the song’s popularity in the U.S.? It’s navel-gazing at an invisible navel. If the song wasn’t a U.S. hit, Dylan wouldn’t be writing about it, and the lyrics were irrelevant to its success.
  • Follow-up: President Biden’s border chief Chris Magnus finally resigned after all, thus agreeing to be the designated scapegoat for the Department of Homeland Security’s failure to secure the Southern border. He had no choice, but at least by initially refusing he made it clear what was really going on.
  • Has there ever been a less  surprising scandal than the fall of billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, better known as SBF, and his crypto exchange FTX? Why would anyone trust crypto currency, much less the people promoting it? Amusingly, writer/actor Larry David, the template for George Costanza, ducked accountability for hyping this garbage in his well-received Super Bowl ad, in which he was portrayed through history pooh-poohing major advances in culture and technology (like fire). Naturally, he also pronounced FTX as a bad idea. That really meant it was a good idea, but holding Larry responsible for aiding and abetting a con requires too many mental gymnastics.

1. If this election doesn’t kill the credibility of pollsters, nothing will. Virtually every poll predicted a “red wave,” and if not, they didn’t predict any House balance this close.  Most polls had Arizona Republican Kari Lake up double digits in the governor’s race, and it looks like she will lose. What good are they, other than to justify misleading news stories? Professional polling, as an industry, is officially unethical: untrustworthy, incompetent, and irresponsible. Naturally, 538 is now saying that the election validated the polls, because 538 is all about polling. “It isn’t what it is.”2. Yes, it would be nice if elected national officials understood the Constitution. One of the many Republicans—other than Donald Trump, the major culprit—being blamed for the red flop is Senator Lindsey Graham, who announced that with a GOP majority in the Senate and House, Congress would pass  national abortion restrictions. Congress can’t pass national abortion restrictions. It’s unconstitutional, and extra-special unconstitutional for a Republican to promote, since the other party’s flagrant abuses of constitutional limits (like Biden’s student loan forgiveness ploy) have been a well-deserved target of the conservative opposition’s criticism. Naturally the public couldn’t figure out that Graham’s threat (for those who considered it a threat) was nonsense, since the public also doesn’t understand Congress’s limits under our founding document (“Commerce Clause? What Commerce Clause?”), so Democrats used his statement to help frighten the portion of its base that regards the freedom to terminate nascent human life at will to be crucial. Similarly, Biden’s EO regarding student loans almost certainly attracted a significant number of younger voters, who appear to have been decisive in the Senate races in Ohio and Arizona, even though the measure is almost certain to be struck down. But as the late Harry Reid would point out, “It worked!”

Is intentionally announcing an unconstitutional measure to deceive voters before an election, knowing that the measure can’t and won’t be put into effect a “high crime and misdemeanor” justifying impeachment, or just audaciously unethical politics?

3. I bet making students wear paper bags with little holes cut in for their mouths and eyes, and gloves would be even better! A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine concludes, “We believe that universal masking may be especially useful for mitigating effects of structural racism in schools, including potential deepening of educational inequities.” Science! Experts!

4. The institutionalizing of rudeness. The Washington Post has an article about the increasing obsession of Americans with staring at their smart phones, and the consequences thereof. Again, this shouldn’t be a surprise: social critics have been pointing out the threat for at least a decade. The practice is ants-social and rude, but when the culture and society accepts rude behavior as standard, it is rude no longer. This is how culture rots. Every day, I see people staring at their phone or having conversations over them while ignoring their dogs, babies or toddlers. I see people check out items at grocery stores and 7-11’s without intercating with the clerks at all, just staring at or talking to their phones. Hannibal Lector had one solution: he believed that rude people should be eaten. In “Lonesome Dove,” both of the old Texas Ranger heroes of the novel and mini-series regarded rudeness as intolerable, though their remedy—beating in the heads of offenders—was a bit extreme.

5. Apologizing is easier than doing anything, as we all know…Conservative performance artist Ann Coulter was booked to speak at Cornell, and, completely predictably given Cornell’s atrocious record of censoring non-woke speakers, was interrupted and shouted down until she stopped trying to speak and ended the appearance. I literally wouldn’t cross the street to hear what Coulter has to say, but the college had an obligation to ensure that those who did want to hear her could, and they had plenty of warning that a disruption was coming. Progressive students signed a petition to disinvite her, and signaled their intent the Cornell Sun student newspaper. Never mind: Cornell’s administrators took no effective action to ensure Coulter’s freedom to give her opinions (if they really are her opinions; with Ann, it’s impossible to know). The administration issued this statement:

“Cornell is committed to academic excellence and a core belief that learning flourishes in an environment where diverse ideas are presented and debated without hindrance. We are deeply disappointed that attendees at a campus event rudely and repeatedly disrupted a talk Wednesday evening by conservative commentator Ann Coulter, ’84.

“Attendees were apprised at the beginning of the event that anyone preventing another’s ability to speak or be heard would be in violation of university policy and subject to removal and/or referral to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards.

“The event was interrupted by attendees playing loud music and sound effects, and shouting profanities. Eight college-age individuals were removed from the auditorium following Cornell protocols. All Cornell students among the disrupters will be referred for conduct violations.

“After the repeated disruption, Ms. Coulter chose not to continue her public remarks.

“Cornell apologizes to Ms. Coulter and all members of the audience who hoped to hear her remarks. The inappropriate behavior displayed by disrupters does not reflect the university’s values.”

Oh, baloney. The university’s values have been inculcated in its student body. I will be shocked if any of the students who shouted Coulter down receive substantive punishment.

12 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/14/22: Our Ethics Is Going To The Dogs Edition

  1. Good dog!

    When our neighbor’s ornery, old German shepherd growled at our then five-year-old son when he was in our driveway next to our neighbor’s yard, our late, great Airedale, Pokey, took off like a heat-seeking missile and latched onto Angel’s throat. Angel beat a hasty retreat almost before our son even knew what had happened. Our neighbor said to Angel, “That’s what you get, Angel.”

    We purchased Pokey as a puppy (hence the name although I called her “Biff Pocaroba” on her AKC registration. This was back when Skip Caray and Los Bravos were the only baseball on TV regularly) from her breeder on a farm “back home in Indiana.” The breeder had mentioned to us that he’d made the mistake of getting between a bull and a calf in one of his pastures and Pokey’s sire, spotting the bull preparing to charge the breeder, flew across the pasture launched himself at the bull and locked onto the bull’s nose and didn’t let go until the breeder had made his way to safety, despite being waved around like a handkerchief by the bull. Great dogs, Airedales.

    • Wow!! I have a 1982 (or maybe 83) Atlanta Braves team photo somewhere in my boxes of stuff that features Biff. I never, EVER expected to see that name again, especially here. Will wonders never cease?!?

      • Certainly, one of the three or four best baseball names EVER, right Joel? Our man must have played long enough to qualify for his pension. We would have acquired Pokey in ’79 or ’80 at the latest and Biff was an established player at the time.

        Steve Bertheume does a great Chip (not Skip, Slip’s the grandson, right?) Caray sign off impersonation. “Andy Griffith is next!”

  2. “We believe that universal masking may be especially useful for mitigating effects of structural racism in schools, including potential deepening of educational inequities.”

    Trust the science, indeed. Hard to trust when we have “scientists” openly advocating that we adopt a “Harrison Bergeron” policy towards our children. That’s what this is, isn’t it? The less affluent schools kept the masks on longer, and the kids suffered more, so the solution offered isn’t to let the poor kids stop wearing the useless masks, but to drag the other kids down by forcing useless masks on them. Equity!

  3. Good dog, but I also think (based on the video evidence alone) that the good dog was the subject of the charging dog’s jubilation, not the kid. But definitely good instincts to put himself between the kid and charging dog!

    • Spot on Tim! Good catch. I agree. I don’t think the boy was at risk of more than being knocked over by the other dog. If the dog had been going after the boy, he would have gone right for him and clamped on, the other dog be damned. I don’t think there’s any malice involved.

  4. At one point, the black dog exits stage left, only to magically reappear on the right side of the video. I am so confused. Is there a third dog (a second good dog) rushing in to ward off the aggressive dog?

  5. As long as mail in ballots with prolonged time frames for voting as well as the ability to harvest ballots, register and vote on the same day and extended times to count the votes remain my skepticism of the validity of the process will also remains. Before I state that pollsters keep getting it wrong, I want to test them against a process that is not subject to shenanigans.

    You have to have a known measure to weigh one thing against another.

  6. “volare” is not about painting yourself blue. it is about flying with your love into the vast blue sky. My mother sang it sotto voce all the time!

    • Well…At least one translator would disagree:

      I think, that dream does not come back ever again.
      I painted my face and hands blue.
      Then suddenly I was being kidnapped by the wind.
      And I began to fly in the endless sky.

      Flying, oh, oh!
      Singing, oh, oh, oh, oh!
      In the blue painted blue.
      Happy to be up there.
      And I flew, I flew happily to the heights of the sun.
      As the world slowly disappeared out there,
      A soft music was playing just for me.

      Flying, oh, oh!
      Singing, oh, oh, oh, oh!
      In the blue painted blue.
      Happy to be up there.
      In the blue painted blue.
      Happy to be up there.

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