10 thoughts on “Pre-Christmas Ethics Forum: Tell It!

  1. With the recent FBI/Twitter dumps we’ve seen just how untrustworthy a government agency can be re their duty to remain politically neutral. The FBI is not alone. The CDC, already having proven unreliable in certain covid-related information, has also SHOWN THEIR HAND by colluding with anti-firearms activists to manipulate and suppress data unfavorable to their agenda.

  2. My wife got the two of us tickets for a number of plays this year. Last weekend we saw To Kill A Mockingbird. Here’s are my (unexpectedly lengthy) thoughts on it.

    The first half was wonderfully entertaining. I liked the framing of the play on the mystery, in Scout’s mind, surrounding Bob Ewell’s death. She wonders: how could the most honest man in Mayfield I thought the added dialogue and presence given to black characters like Tom Robinson and Calpurnia a pleasant modernizing change that enhanced the storytelling.

    I haven’t read the book since middle school but I could tell in the second half that something was awry with this version. It portrayed Atticus’s virtue, his belief that there is goodness in everyone, as a flaw. Some lines in particular demonstrated that the playwright opposes Atticus’s generous mindset. A paraphrase of the first: “Did you ever think that by respecting some people you are showing disrespect for other people?” I hold that the mindset behind this idea is insidious. It implies that others aren’t the ones who choose to feel respected or not, it is you who MAKE them feel that way. One cannot acknowledge the human dignity of every person without offending another? Maybe this depends on HOW you show respect for some groups, like without agreeing with any held beliefs you find reprehensible, but I believe basic respect for all is within reach.

    Paraphrasing another line: “When those [twelve white male farmers who acted as jurors] walked into the courtroom they were monsters, and when they walked out they were murderers.” I’m opposed to characterizing others as monsters. But for differences in nature and nurture we might act the same as those jurors. Someone willing to believe in the intrinsic badness of another is, like the jurors accused of monstrosity, someone you would never want to be on a jury. Every person should aspire to treat others with fairness and as oneself would like to be treated. If you are declaring another class of people ‘monsters’ you aren’t in danger of achieving this aspiration. As for the characterization of the jurors as murderers… I’m not so opposed.

    And then there was a recurring subplot about Calpurnia being passive-aggressive toward Atticus, and he’s trying to figure out why, and finally she reveals that it’s because he had said “you’re welcome” after telling her he had chosen to defend Tom Robinson. It was amusing at first, but after the revelation of Atticus’s offense the subplot felt pointless and contrived. Why? Because though it was intended to reveal that Atticus’s motivation for acting nobly is to receive praise, this is inconsistent with everything else depicted about his character. He doesn’t act charitably toward all because he is seeking for praise from all, he does so because he believes it is the right thing to do.

    In the end Atticus, the sheriff, and the judge choose to cover up Boo Radley’s homicide of Bob Ewell. Legally, this is wrong. Ethically, is this decision right? Bob Ewell was killed to protect two children he intended to murder. But had all the truth come out and gone to trial, Boo would only lose the privacy he evidently cares about, and possibly even end up in a mental hospital or prison. Further, Atticus, the sheriff, and the judge have reason to believe they cannot rely on Boo’s peers in Maycomb to administer justice. How could they put Boo on trial before a jury that found Tom guilty? Bob Ewell received justice for his actions. The citizens of Maycomb also receive justice, namely, that they will not be trusted even with an open-and-shut criminal proceeding. Yet Atticus should and will continue to believe there is goodness in everyone, even if evil is present too. The playwright would have us think that Atticus should learn to judge others before knowing them.

    • Regarding boo and the killing of Bob, there is also the foreshadowing justification of Atticus shooting the rabid dog in the street, which establishes at least the possibility of extra-judicial justice.

  3. FWIW, (that’s for what it’s worth to you oldsters, haha) EA is the only blog/social media that I read regularly, like every day. Comment rarely. I always appreciate the analyses whether I agree or not. Please keep at it with this little hill as long as you can. It’s valuable even if it doesn’t become a mountain.
    Have a very merry Christmas, Jack, and hopes for a happy, prosperous, and productive new year.
    The same to all regular commenters.

  4. I would like to ask a question here, as getting the answer from the internet will be unlikely. Did the J6 protesters ever make it to the House floor?
    Speaker Pelosi chastised Minority Leader McCarthy after McCarthy had some very unkind things to say about the omnibus atrocity that was helped over the finish line by Republicans.
    McCarthy railed that the passage of the omnibus was the worst thing to ever happen on the House floor, to which Speaker Pelosi responded with “whatabout” January 6th?
    Did the protesters ever make it to the House floor? What was it that they did that was more harmful to our Republic than this spending bill? Did they add $1.7t to the national debt or seed more inflation?
    Apples and oranges, indeed, but I can’t remember if the protesters ever made it to the House floor. I’d love to have a “gotcha” for Pelosi’s umbrage.
    In the spirit of the Friday’s open forum, https://youtu.be/xRNReWPdRck

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