Ethics Alarms Mailbag! Those Pesky Atheists…

Yesterday’s post about the “After School Satan Club,” as expected, quickly prompted a lot of intense commentary. One esteemed commenter, recently maligned stated “No one has ever been able to satisfactorily explain to me why hating one religion makes you a hater but hating all religions makes you an intellectual.” After receiving positive feedback on that statement, the commenter later suggested that Ethics Alarms “provide a little bit more analytical view of things, since [the host] belongs to no religion but is also not hostile to religion generally.”

Sure.

As a threshold matter, hate is not conducive to ethics. Hate is an emotion, a strong bias, and bias makes you stupid, as we all presumably know, since that is a theme here. Since hate makes you stupid, one cannot say that hating religion, or anything, makes one an “intellectual,” of all things. There are some kinds of human conduct that justify hate: genocide, murder, torture. I would add betrayal, child abuse, totalitarianism, corruption by public servants, bigotry…there are things (and people) that it can be justifiable to hate (though Clarence Darrow’ nostrum to “hate the sin, never the sinner” is an ethical standard worth considering. Whether Darrow believed that, or practiced it, is open to debate. He was also an outspoken atheist, or as he called himself, an agnostic in the sense that there was no way to “know” for certain whether God existed or not. He was pretty sure of “not,” though.)

Taking “hate” out of the argument, there are still good reasons to rationally determine that certain religions, sects of those religions, or the organizations that support them, are unethical, and do more harm than good in the balance. I can think of three right now, but I have neither the time, space or inclination to get into a religion by religion debate. One is a world religion, one is a denomination of a world religion, and one is a scam.

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Comment Of The Day: “Bias Also Makes Philosophers Stupid”

Cornell associate professor of philosophy Kate Manne, decided to employ the disciplines of philosophy to rationalize why she didn’t want to diet any more, calling the urge to lose weight “immoral.” Is it unethical to misuse ethical principles for selfish ends, making trusting readers less informed in the process? I think so.

Commenter Isaac submitted this Comment of the Day to register his objections to her arguments, as he examined the post, “Bias Also Makes Philosophers Stupid” [that’s reality TV star Tammy Slaten above with her boyfriend, who likes her just the way she is…]

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This part is unforgivable and exposes a tainted, delusional worldview:

“patriarchal forces — the forces that tell girls and women in particular to be small, meek, slight, slim and quiet…”

Let’s break down what the “patriarchy” is supposedly demanding of girls, according to the lens through which people indoctrinated like this see the world:

1. “Small” – Women are smaller than men, across the board. Is biology a patriarchal system? Is she saying that by ballooning out into an obese woman, she will achieve equality with taller men and their more dense body structures? Or is she just saying that the patriarchy demands healthy women? (Historically, that’s not even true, if old European paintings have taught me anything.) But even if it were true that the patriarchy desires fit women, survival in a state of nature also demands a healthy body. If anything, “patriarchal” structures (like agriculture and cities) have made it possible for obese people to even exist in the first place. In some utopian feminist treehouse-jungle, fat women would just be eaten by tigers.

This is even dumber when you consider that NOBODY likes, wants, or respects a fat man. As if the patriarchy loves fat dudes but not fat women. She’s already veered into insanity, and it’s just getting started.

2. “Meek” – This is also a product of biology, not culture. Men have higher levels of testosterone, which means they generally take more risks, are louder, more aggressive, and act out more physically, compared to women. If women were as aggressive as men but with otherwise the same biology, they would be getting themselves killed in violent confrontations with men at obscene rates throughout history. It’s not likely that the demographic balance between men and women would even be sustainable that way, which means over time women would just go back to being largely “meek” again, as less aggressive women would outlast more aggressive ones. Instead of celebrating the unique qualities of women, this philosopher thinks that it’s unfair that women aren’t just…men.

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P.M. Ethics Dispatches, 1/11/2022

We have to keep baseball ethics alive even if baseball itself is in a state of suspension: the owner and players are, for the first time in decades, arguing about how to divide up their billions, everything from roster size to minimum salaries are on the table, and as of now, the two sides aren’t even talking with the season just a couple of months away. One of the issues to be settled is whether the National League will finally capitulate and adopt the designated hitter rule, which was accepted in the American League on this date in 1973, a day which many traditionalist fans then and now regard as an unforgivable scar on the integrity of the game. Baseball has always been celebrated for its equity and balance: as it was envisioned, every player on the field had to both hit and play defense. The DH, which is a batter who never uses a glove, also allowed the pitcher to be a defense-only specialist, never picking up a bat which, advocates of the new rule argued, was a result much to be wished, since the vast majority of hurlers are only slightly better at hitting the ball than your fat old uncle Curt who played semi-pro ball in his twenties. All these decades years later, the National League and its fans have stubbornly maintained that the DH was a vile, utilitarian gimmick spurred by non-ethical considerations, mainly greed. When the rule was adopted, American League attendance lagged behind the NL, which also was winning most of the All Star games, in part because that league had embraced black stars far more rapidly than “the junior league.” The DH, the theory went, would make games more exciting, with more offense, while eliminating all the .168 batters in the ninth spot in every line-up.

I had a letter published in Sports Illustrated in 1973 explaining why I opposed the DH as a Boston Red Sox fan. Since then, I have grudgingly come to accept the benefits of the rule: it gave the Sox David Ortiz, allowed Carl Yastrzemski to play a few more years, and let American League fans see such all-time greats as Hank Aaron at the plate after they could no longer play the field. It was a breach of the game’s integrity, but it worked.

1. At least that’s fixed. The Supreme Court issued a corrected transcript of the oral arguments in the Biden vaccine mandate case, and it now accurately records Justice Gorsuch as saying he believes the seasonal flu kills “hundreds…thousands of people every year.” The original version wrongly quoted him as saying hundreds of thousands, which allowed those desperately trying to defend the outrageously wrong assertions by Justice Sotomayor regarding the Wuhan virus to point to Gorsuch and claim, “See? Conservatives are just as bad!” Prime among these was the steadily deteriorating Elie Mystal at “The Nation,” who, typically for him, refused to accept the correction. Sotomayor is one of the all-time worst Supreme Court justices, though she will be valuable as a constant reminder of the perils of affirmative action. Her jurisprudence makes the much maligned Clarence Thomas look like Louis Brandeis by comparison. Continue reading

On Transgender Competitors Being Permitted In Women’s Sports: Is It Possible To Be More Ethically And Logically Muddled Than This?

I doubt it. I doubt if anything can be more ethically and logically muddled than the article —actually two articles—about another biological male crushing female competitors in a women’s sports competition. Right at the start, the USA Today piece sets a new absurd bar for “It isn’t what it is” rhetoric. The article begins, “The sentiment is universal: Everyone agrees that Andraya Yearwood should be allowed to compete in her chosen races as a girl.”

Wait: the same article in its headline says that Yearwood’s eligibility is a matter of “controversy.” If there is controversy, then obviously the sentiment isn’t “universal.” Normally, a statement that self-evidently contradictory would make me stop reading because the writer is an idiot, but I read this junk so you won’t have to.

The next sentence is just as bad:

After all, she identifies as a girl, trains alongside fellow females and plans to eventually undergo hormone therapy to complete a transition from her male birth gender to female.

“After all’? None of that is convincing proof that a biological male should be competing against women. Then Cam Smith—that’s the name of the idiot, whom USA Today entrusts with High School sports stories—gets the Triple Crown, or a hat trick, or whatever you call three brain-melting statements in a row: Continue reading

Bias Also Makes Philosophers Stupid

Kate Manne, an associate professor of philosophy at Cornell University, is tired of dieting, so she tied herself up into rhetorical knots and rationalizations to argue that dieting is “immoral.” She also allowed herself to be published doing so.

How embarrassing. This is one reason why philosophy is a dying field, albeit slowly: how can anyone trust someone who masks pure self-interest in philosophical theory?

Manne writes,

I recognize that even if you are a fat person who would be healthier if you lost weight, you don’t owe it to anyone to do so; you don’t owe it to anyone to be healthy in general. And I know how much my internalized fatphobia owes to oppressive patriarchal forces — the forces that tell girls and women in particular to be small, meek, slight, slim and quiet.

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Evening Ethics Illumination, 1/9/22: “Mister We Could Use A Man Like Thomas Paine Again…”

On this date in 1776, writer Thomas Paine published his pamphlet “Common Sense,” making his arguments in favor of American independence from England, thereby uniting a scattering of dissatisfaction into a movement. Only a few publications in our history have had such a profound effect on public opinion; another was “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Paine’s most ringing assertion may have been this one:

“Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America.  This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe.  Hither they have fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.”

Common sense today is in short supply. A sharp, clear explication and reaffirmation of core American values without the tarnish of partisan politics would be a godsend. But among a public in which a minority could even identify who Thomas Paine was, who would understand it?

1. I wonder if it’s even necessary to finish the post on the hypocrisy of Democratic propaganda about a threat to democracy when this kind of thing keeps happening…GovernorJay Inslee of Washington state called on lawmakers to pass legislation making it a gross misdemeanor for some to “spread lies”about election results. Naturally, he called this suppression of opinion and free speech necessary to protect democracy. Inslee spoke against what he called “a continuing coup” by former President Donald Trump. Wait, don’t we need a law criminalizing false claims of “coups”?

Part of the Democratic strategy to keep power is to use the criminal system to muzzle opinions and positions it doesn’t like. Robert Kennedy Jr. wants to punish “climate change deniers.” Many progressives want to punish vaccine skeptics (a group that includes Robert Kennedy Jr.!), and Democratic allies in social media and Big Tech have been increasingly brazen about banning conservatives, replacing the “more speech” remedy the Bill of Rights set out for dubious opinions with “no speech.”

Would it be fair to conclude that Inslee is an ignoramus? Not only have state laws making it a crime for a candidate for office to lie been declared unconstitutional (because they are,) the Supreme Court case U.S. v. Alvarez,  struck down the Stolen Valor Act, protecting a man who falsely claimed that he had received the Medal of Honor, declared that lying speech was still protected speech. Then there’s the little problem of deciding what is a lie and what is just dumb opinion, like, say, suggesting that a state could ban lying about elections.

If Inslee isn’t ignorant about his nation’s Constitution, then he is grandstanding, equating opinions with crimes to rile up the under-educated and the nascent totalitarians who his party has been courting for so long.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, Remember January 6 Edition…

Well, we all know by now why this date is important: On January 6, 1838, Samuel Morse’s telegraph system was demonstrated for the first time at the Speedwell Iron Works in Morristown, New Jersey. Morse’s invention revolutionized long-distance communication, and also was a catalyst for other important inventions. In ethics history, January 6, 1994 marked the nadir of bad sportsmanship in U.S. sports.

Skater Tonya Harding conspired with her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, to eliminate rival skater Nancy Kerrigan from the competition for the U.S. ice skating championship. Through contacts, Gillooly persuaded  Shane Stant to injure Kerrigan for a fee. Stant stalked to Massachusetts and Detroit, where he hit the skater in the leg with a club and fled. Kerrigan was unable to skate, so Harding won the championship and a place at on the 1994 Olympics women’s skating team. Then the plot fell apart, and the FBI got the whole story from Stant. Gillooly was charged with conspiracy to assault Kerrigan, and made a deal in which he implicated Harding. She claimed she had learned of Gillooly’s role in the attack after the U.S. championships but did not inform authorities. It took a lawsuit to stop the United States Olympic Committee from removing Harding from the team, but Tonya choked and finished 8th, and Kerrigan won a silver medal. Eventually Harding pleaded guilty to conspiracy to hinder the prosecution of Kerrigan’s attackers, but her role in initiating the plot was never proved. Gillooly, a real prince of a guy, cashed in by selling graphic photos of the couple having sex to tabloids. There’s more seedy stuff to this story, but that’s enough.

Yecchh.

1. I see the Pope has nothing better to do than to attack dog and cat owners as being “selfish” for preferring to have pets to bestow their love on than children. Having children is indeed a generous act, provided it is done intentionally and responsibly by people with the sense, resources and values to discharge that immense challenge ethically. I know quite a few childless pet owners who seem to have concluded that a dog or cat was all they could handle, and in mots of these cases, I’d say they made the right call. I also know some families with kids that I wouldn’t trust to care for a kitten. Or a guppy.

During a general audience at the Vatican, Pope Francis said,

“Today … we see a form of selfishness. We see that some people do not want to have a child. Sometimes they have one, and that’s it, but they have dogs and cats that take the place of children. This may make people laugh but it is a reality…a denial of fatherhood and motherhood and diminishes us, takes away our humanity… civilization grows old without humanity because we lose the richness of fatherhood and motherhood, and it is the country that suffers…Having a child is always a risk, but there is more risk in not having a child.”

If there is one thing a Pope, a bishop or a Catholic priest isn’t qualified to talk about, it is having children. Pius XII had a pet goldfinch though, and Pope Leo XIII kept a herd of gazelles, among other animals.

2. Regarding that other Jan.6 event…as part of its Capitol riot spin today, the Times enlisted Linda Qiu, a former “fact-checker” for PolitiFact, the infamously left-biased fact-checking service of the Tampa Bay Times, to debunk “falsehoods” regarding the attack. She performed as expected. Trump said on Fox News that there were “no guns” carried by the mob. There have been three gun charges brought against rioters, Qiu says. She also says that “over 75 defendants have been charged with entering a restricted area with a dangerous or deadly weapon,” meaning clubs, sticks and bear spray, none of which relates to Trump’s gun claim. She also calls a “falsehood” the statement that there were no fatalities during the riot except for Ashlii Babbitt, the unarmed rioter who was shot by a Capitol police officers. Seven fatalities were “tied” to the assault, she says. What does “tied” mean?  Other than Babbitt, two protesters died of heart attacks, one of an accidental overdose, Officer Sicknick died of multiple strokes a day after the attack (and was falsely reported by the times as dying from injuries sustained in the riot, a falsehood repeated multiple times by President Biden). Two other officers killed themselves in the days after the riot, which does not establish causation or a provable “tie,” and two other officers died by suicide six months later.

I’d say “no fatalities” other than the unarmed rioter is accurate. Continue reading

A “Bias Makes You Stupid” Classic! [Corrected]

That’s veteran NeverTrump blogger Jonah Goldberg, who was so eager to declare the newly-elected, pro-Trump Republican Virginia governor incompetent that he didn’t bother to check whether Youngkin had taken office yet. In fact, the current, soon to be ex- Democratic Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, is responsible for the fact that nothing was done to help the thousands of motorists trapped on I-95 in Northern Virginia in freezing weather for up to 24 hours. He’s catching hell for it, too.

Does anyone think Goldberg would have mentioned the I-95 fiasco if he realized Northam was  still in charge, and not seeking a quick cheap shot at the Republican who annoyed the Trump Deranged by upsetting Clinton bag man Terry McAuliffe while refusing to disavow Donald Trump’s support?

Not Seeking Prison Sentences For Serious Crimes Has Worked So Well In San Francisco, Manhattan’s DA Will Do The Same

The title is sarcastic: that is the proverbial flat learning curve above.

The “woke” DA of the City by the Bay’s policies have contributed to turning San Francisco into such a crime-ridden hell-hole that even its uber-progressive mayor, London Breed, has metaphorically cried “uncle.” So, naturally, the new DA for Manhattan, ushered into office just as the city has a new mayor who pledged to be tough on crime, wants to follow a similarly lenient policy regarding criminals….and New York is already suffering from its worst crime wave since the Seventies.

What could go wrong?

In his introductory memo to his staff this week, Alvin Bragg announced that his office “will not seek a carceral sentence” except for murder and a handful of other cases, including domestic violence felonies, some sex crimes and public corruption.

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From The “Bias Makes You Stupid Files”: The “Work Friend” Misses The Point

Roxanne Gay is an impressive character. She’s a prolific writer of prose and fiction (including science fiction and comic books), a visiting professor at Yale as well as a professional feminist and LGBTQ advocate. She also contributes opinion essays to the New York Times, and as if she isn’t busy enough, is one of their advice columnists, writing the “Work Friend” Sunday column, which is almost always astute and wise in its advice regarding workplace politics and ethical dilemmas.

Not in this case, however. A female inquirer took offense when two male colleagues offered her unsolicited advice about improving her Zooming technique. She framed them as sexist attacks on a woman’s “appearance,” and Gay took the bait. Continue reading