Ethics Observations On An Article That Ruined My Day

It’s difficult for me to formulate complicated arguments when I’m drugged to the gills and sick, so I am, reluctantly, delaying a couple of pieces on the metaphorical runway to catch up on what other people are writing. Big mistake. I just finished a substack post by Paul Musgrave, a political scientist and writer whose newsletter is called “Systematic Hatreds.” It takes its title from a line in “The Education of Henry Adams,” one of my father’s favorite books: “Politics, as a practice, whatever its professions, had always been the systematic organization of hatreds.” Musgrave, whom I never heard of before, is writing about how he teaches what he calls “the post-legacy media generation.”

It is clear early on in his depressing piece that that almost no one in that generation has heard of Henry Adams, or John Quincy Adams, Abigail Adams, and probably not John Adams either. There’s an excellent chance few have even heard of Morticia Addams, Charles Addams, or know that Eric Adams is the latest mayor of New York City. In fact, it’s quite fair to conclude that none of these soon-to-be-crucial citizens know much of anything at all, because they do not read—literally, do not—and get whatever information the do get from similarly handicapped peers on social media. Musgrave is in the trenches, and he writes,

Continue reading

And Now For Something Completely Stupid: The Unethical Satire Of Joe Matthews

Joe Mathews is co-president of the Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy. He has written an op-ed piece arguing that California should “abolish parenthood.” The usually astute people at Legal Insurrection (if someone can explain why  all of those annoying breaks are in the title, please do) apparently think he’s serious; I don’t, but it doesn’t matter. If your satire is so inept that nobody can tell it’s a joke, then it is more hoax than satire, a deliberate lie to make people feel dumb who believe it so you can mock them afterward for being gullible.

This thing by “California Joe,” as he calls himself on-line, is worse than that: in this environment of near-complete progressive derangement, his absurdist piece is like a flaming match tossed into a dry forest. That’s wildly irresponsible.

Joe will doubtlessly defend his satire as “Swiftian,” but there was never any danger that the English would start eating children to solve poverty, over-population and hunger. That’s because Jonathan Swift’s satire was funny, as competent satire is supposed to be, and because the British of his era were not insane. “California should abolish parenthood, in the name of equity” is not funny, and it is not far enough removed from other truly terrible, totalitarian ideas being advanced by Woke World that the author can be confident that his gag won’t find its way into a movement. Remember too, that the state taking children from parents has been a totalitarian strategy in the Third Reich, Soviet Russia, and Red China. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On “The After-School Satan Club”

It’s difficult to know how to begin…

Let’s start with the unfortunate fact that this is not a hoax, a joke, or a parody. The Jane Addams elementary school in the Moline-Coal Valley School District—that’s Illinois—has approved an after-school club called “The Satan Club.” Here is the flyer requesting parental permission:

Note that it is sponsored by The Satanic Temple, which released this reassuring statement:

After School Satan Club does not attempt to convert children to any religious ideology. Instead, The Satanic Temple supports children to think for themselves. All After School Satan Clubs are based upon a uniform syllabus that emphasizes a scientific, rationalist, non-superstitious worldview.

There, that should put everyone’s mind at ease!

Now here is the school district’s statement:

The Moline-Coal Valley School District understands that there is concern and confusion over an upcoming after-school club at Jane Addams elementary.

The District would like to provide information on the situation. The Moline-Coal Valley School District and Board of Education have policies and administrative procedures in place which allow for community use of its publicly funded facilities outside the school day.

The district does not discriminate against any groups who wish to rent our facilities, including religious-affiliated groups. Religiously affiliated groups are among those allowed to rent our facilities for a fee.

The district has, in the past, approved these types of groups, one example being the Good News Club, which is an after-school child evangelism fellowship group. Flyers and promotional materials for these types of groups are approved for lobby posting or display only, and not for mass distribution.

Students or parents are then able to pick up the flyer from the lobby, if they so choose, which is aligned to District policy. Please note that the district must provide equal access to all groups and that students need parental permission to attend any after-school event. Our focus remains on student safety and student achievement.

Observations: Continue reading

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

The Rest Of The Story: “The Baby On The Album Cover: Dumb Lawsuit, Valid Ethics Point”

Last August, I wrote about Spencer Eldon’s “Hail Mary” lawsuit against the surviving members of the band Nirvana over their use of his baby photo (which his parents received compensation for) in an iconic album cover above for “Nevermind.” The verdict here was that the lawsuit was doomed, he was greedy, and the law supported the band. However, I also wrote,

...Nonetheless, parents who use their children for public display are engaging in unethical conduct. Yes, they have the legal right to do it, and no, there is virtually no chance that any law will be passed banning what I consider to be child exploitation and low-level, but still unethical, child abuse. My wife and I have been watching the long-running British TV series “Call the Midwife,” and every episode requires one or more infants who are forced, without their consent, to endure the stressful experiences of playing newborns or sick baby’s under lights, in the arms of strangers, often covered with fake blood.

Elden might be insincere and the lawsuit is probably hopeless, but he’s not wrong in one respect. “[When] I go to a baseball game and think about it: ‘Man, everybody at this baseball game has probably seen my little baby penis,’” he said in one interview. “I feel like I got part of my human rights revoked.” Not rights, never rights: parents will always have the right to inflict indignities, publicity and stress on their minor offspring for fame and fortune. From the Coppertone girl to Linda Blair to “Mikey” and the kid in “The Shining,” they have all been unethically exploited by their parents, just like Spenser Eldon, without informed consent.

It’s legal, but it isn’t ethical.

Continue reading

Council Rock Elementary School, “Jingle Bells,”And When Something Trivial Demands A Strong Response (Part Two)

Part I described the cowardly and pandering rationale for a New York elementary school to banish “Jingle Bells” from its curriculum, and why the cultural and political issue underlying the move is more important than the song itself.

Here is the response of the Brighton Central School District Superintendent, Kevin McGowan, in response to media inquiries about the decision. In the interests of efficiency, I will interweave my commentary with his statement, in bold.

Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Sixth Grader Davyon Johnson

This story out of Muskeegee County, Oklahoma, seems too good to be true. I hope it is true. It is a measure of how much distrust the news media has engendered that such a story is impossible to accept without doubt today. Here, however, is the story we are being told.

Davyon Johnson, 11 years-old, was near the water fountain at his school on December 9 when he heard a seventh-grade boy gasp, “I’m choking! I’m choking!” The kid had used his mouth to open a water bottle and the cap had popped down his throat.  Davyon, who had learned  the Heimlich maneuver off of YouTube (his uncle is an emergency med tech, which Dayvon says he also aspires to be), began applying it to the older boy. On the third squeeze to the boy’s abdomen, the cap flew out.

Later that evening, when his mother was driving with Davyon on the way to an evening church service, the car passed a house that had some smoke billowing out of it. Ms. Johnson says that Davyon persuaded her to turn the vehicle around and check. They saw small fire near the back of the house, and cars outside that indicated that there might be people in the house who may not have been aware of the fire. Davyon’s mom honked her horn and called 911. Davyon got out of the car and knocked on the door.

Five people in the house stepped outside; they had not been aware of the fire. They ran, leaving an elderly woman with a walker struggling to leave the burning home on her own. (Nice.)  Davyon helped her along and led her to the truck that the rest had climbed into.

When he was 8 years old, Davyon said later, he watched his father enter a burning apartment complex to make sure everyone was safe.  Davyon’s father  died last summer.

The Muskogee Police Department and Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office presented Davyon with a certificate on December 15 in recognition of his big day of community service. According to media accounts, the boy claims to not understand why everyone is making such a big deal over him doing what he calls “the right thing.” ‘I don’t want everyone to pay attention to me. I kind of did what I was supposed to do,” he was quoted as telling a teacher.

Here’s the kicker, which depending on how cynical you have become, will either get you choked up or make you thing, “Oh, come on!” The New York Times reports that Davyon doesn’t tell people about his recent burst of heroism unless he’s asked, and even then relates a simple, straightforward account.

“But there was one person he did want to tell,” says the Times. “One morning this month, he put on his sneakers and gray hoodie and went to the cemetery to see his father. He squatted, picked at the dirt and started to tell the stories, beginning with the scene at the water fountain.”

Luckily, a newspaper photographer just happened to be passing by…

__________________________

Source: New York Times

Rationalizer Of The Year: Drunk Driver Perla Aguilar

(I was hoping to get Sidney Wang out one more time before New Years…)

Perla Aguilar, 27, was arrested for DUI in Oklahoma, and had an excuse she apparently thought would clear everything up. Slurring her words as she spoke, Perla explained to the arresting officers that she should be in the clear because she “does this all the time.”

Continue reading

NYT Letters To The Editor On Abortion vs. Adoption Continue An Revealing Unethical Pattern

adoption

Perhaps no comment during the recent oral argument before SCOTUS regarding Mississippi’s Roe-defying 15 week abortion limit received more attention than Justice Amy Coney Barrett statement that a mother’s option to give a baby up for adoption at birth rendered abortion was unnecessary in most cases. Numerous abortion defenders have attempted to discredit her assertion, and, like all of the pro-abortion arguments I have seen and heard so far, fell short in logic, honesty and ethics

Today’s Sunday Times letters section exemplified the disconnect among reality, self-interest and fairness that continue to plague abortion fans, no matter how passionately they argue their position. The Times dedicated the section to rebuttals of Comey’s assertion. That the editors deemed these the cream of the crop is telling. Also telling: no letter selected by the editors supported Comey. Here are the key quotes from each:

Anne Matlack Evans, of Napa, California writes in part,

In 1954, my mother, a single mother of three young children, had no other option than to do just what Justice Barrett proposes. After losing her job because of the pregnancy, she took refuge with her mother and, several months later, gave birth to a child whom she gave up that very day….

The consequences of my mother’s pregnancy and the baby’s adoption profoundly affected my mother and us children. She was traumatized by the pregnancy and the necessity of abandoning a child — especially so after caring for us. She felt ashamed, stigmatized and less able to protect her existing children.

Ethics Alarms Comment: Why did a single mother have three children? Why did she get pregnant again? She felt ashamed and stigmatized about giving up a live infant for abortion that she couldn’t care for, but apparently would have flt no stigma or shame if she ended the nascent human being’s life before it could be born. That’s exactly the confused attitude that our culture needs to change. Her unborn child “existed” before it was born.

David Leonard of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania writes in part, Continue reading

And The Latest Desperate Rationalization As Abortion Advocates Search For A Persuasive Argument To Justify Allowing Pregnant Women The Unilateral Right To End Another Human Being’s Life Is….

Unborn children in heaven

…..this intellectually dishonest opinion piece by Kate Cohen in the Washington Post. It is titled “How would you feel if your mother had aborted you?’ Easy. I’d feel nothing,” and embodies several themes in the abortion-loving Left’s escalating freak-out over the very real possibility that Roe v. Wade will be overturned or limited by the current Supreme Court.

One theme is that that abortion advocates almost unanimously continue to avoid dealing with the other human party in the equation whose interests are at stake: the unborn human being. Another is using collateral attacks on religion and faith to minimize the belief by religious people that it’s wrong beyond question to kill an innocent individual for the benefit of a more powerful one. The third…

Well, let me address the second a bit again. Progressives are largely hostile to religion and the religious, whom they regard as unsophisticated, superstitious rubes. Since people tend to project their biases and attitudes on others, those who want open season on fetuses think they score points by linking the anti-abortion side of the debate to something they think is ridiculous. It is not a genuine argument but rather a cognitive dissonance trick. They are counting on a someone conflicted about the abortion debate being pulled to their side by the association with a different subject they regard with contempt. It is the same kind of tactic as using “The Handmaiden’s Tale” as a false map for the dystopian future abortion fans claim awaits if Roe goes down: linking abortion to something horrible, even a science fiction story, will diminish the appeal of the anti-abortion position, not with logic or reason, but with a negative association alone.

I have a difficult time not concluding that those using the anti-religion, association tactic are malign people because of their association with it. The belief that killing an innocent human being is wrong isn’t only a religious belief and bedrock moral tenet. It is basic ethics as well, a conclusion virtually all societies have accepted based on human experience. That’s where ethics comes from: one doesn’t have to be religious to strongly object to killing human beings, indeed religion isn’t necessary to reach that conclusion at all. Whether one reaches the position that legal abortion consists of one powerful human being who has had the opportunity to live ending that opportunity for a weaker human being for her own sole benefit and is therefore wrong, through religion, Kant, Rawls, basic ethical analysis, logic, common sense or some other path is irrelevant. You got there. Congratulations. It’s the ethical place to be.

Continue reading