Would It Be Ethical To End Public School Education? Is It Ethical To Even Consider it?

The second question in the headline is based on an Ethics Alarms core principle: it isn’t ethical to propose policies and social changes that are impossible. Would it be possible to eliminate public school education, after it served the nation so well for so long? Still, another Ethics Alarms core principle is “Fix the problem!” Public school education is a serious problem for the nation, the culture, democracy and the future, and it is getting worse. If the problem can be fixed without eliminating public schools entirely, then it should be, though I am dubious about the practicality of that too. If the only way to fix the problem is to come up with a new model and fight for it, ethics tells us that it would be irresponsible not to make the effort.

I am thinking about this as a result of a few things. One is my own unshakeable conclusion that public education now is in a state of irreversible rot, and does more damage than good. I see evidence of this literally every day, and, as regular readers here know, we pulled my smart, curious, knowledge-hungry and authority-resisting son out of public school and eventually out of private school as well, having witnessed just how horrible the process of education was thanks to the institutions and the people who now provide it. Another thing is the now open embrace by schools, teachers and local governments of a deliberately anti-American, anti-capitalist, anti-Western culture indoctrination.

A third prompt comes from the recent writings of conservative science fiction novelist Sarah Hoyt, Glenn Reynold’s usual late night blogsitter for Instapundit. Sarah is a bit extreme for me most of the time—here’s her Ethics Alarms dossier—but I always take notice when a serious thinker starts thinking the same thoughts I’ve been thinking, or the equivalents thereof.

These are some of Hoyt’s trenchant thoughts in the post (Do read it all Sarah is always fun), “Let’s Separate State and Education”…

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Ick, Unethical, Or “YUM!”?

Oh, settle down: this is an adult blog, after all.

I’ve checked: that is not a gag. A Lithuanian potato chip company has launched a line of flavored chips aimed exclusively at 18-year-olds and older. CHAZZ potato chips come in flavors like mussels, white wine, and Bloody Mary, but it’s the flavor above that is stirring up controversy. I’m not kidding!

I see no reason why someone won’t launch these chips or the equivalent here. Would that be unethical, vulgarizing the culture? Corrupting the young? Nobody accused Bertie Botts’ Jelly Beans of such an offense, and they have just about every flavor except sex-related ones. I presume conservatives would flip out over this product; Ron DeSantis would probably try to get it banned in Florida. Good luck with that.

I must admit, I’m shocked…shocked that Lithuania beat the good ol’ entrepreneurial U.S.A. in coming up with this.

Ethics Heroes: Davisville (RI) Middle School 7th Graders

This story is simultaneously inspiring and horrifying.

A sixth-grade class in the Davisville Middle School in the North Kingstown School District in Rhode Island was being subjected to a teacher (so far, unnamed) who was cruel to the boys and sexually harassed the girls, leering at them, giving them pet names, and asking them to dance. The teacher was also a coach, and reportedly told the class that he had received complaints from parents in the past without any consequences. The continuing flirting and sexual innuendos made the girls in the class uncomfortable, so the next year, as seventh graders, some of the boys reported the teacher’s conduct to their parents and adminsitrator at the school. All the adults shrugged the complaints off, the boys say. Continue reading

Stop Making Me Defend Disney!

Disney has a tough job, trying to maintain its roles as a great middle class cultural icon and celebrator of Americana in the midst of social upheaval and culture wars. It couldn’t be doing a lousier, lazier, more destructive job of it, either, but that is, as they say, neither here nor there. The issue of the day is whether Disney deserves to be pilloried for its new teaser trailer for the live-action version of its animated classic “The Little Mermaid.”

It does not.

Conservative media is now resolutely anti-House of Mouse, so it is actively gloating over the detected (but inconclusive) negative reaction to the first look at the film scheduled to hit theaters in May of 2003. Ed Driscoll at Instapundit writes, “Disney in particular absolutely loves …to both gin-up hype, and wave away large scale fan hatred of their latest reboot.” But since fans haven’t seen the film yet, since it hasn’t been finished, “large scale hatred’ is an unwarranted assumption. At The Daily Wire, it is implied that there are widespread objections to the red-headed Ariel of the 1989 animated film being played by Halle Bailey, an African-American, and that fans of the original film who don’t like the color change are being called “racists” by the Woke and wonderful.


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Comment Of The Day: “The Little League Cotton Fiasco: Good Job, Everybody! Now U.S. Race Relations Are In Ethics Zugzwang!”

In the Ethics Alarms post about this horrible example of how broken our race-relations are (I believe that the death-spiral was set in motion by Barack Obama, but that’s a topic for another day, when I get to him in the “Worst Presidents’ series), I did not sufficiently focus on one of the most disgusting aspects of the story.

As is usually the case, a reader was ready to remedy the omission. Here is E2’s Comment of the Day on the post, “The Little League Cotton Fiasco: Good Job, Everybody! Now U.S. Race Relations Are In Ethics Zugzwang!”


Did it occur to absolutely no one that these are kids and kids do silly things? Emulating a Little League star is basically an innocent thing: expecting these same kids to equate pseudo-cotton balls to slavery and racism is asking more than is fair for their age. These are kids!

So no children can no longer be children, apparently And it is clearly up to the progressives to instill — from birth, I guess — a deep sense of guilt about America’s checkered history. That there many inspiring and admirable aspects to our history  are conveniently forgotten or treated as subordinate to the moral and ethical missteps.

If a kid wore his grandad’s WWII medal would that make him a little warmonger?

Kids live in the day, not in history as adults record and interpret it. And they remain innocent for an astonishingly short period of time. Can’t the Left just allow children to enjoy being kids before they are indoctrinated, brain-washed and turned against their nation and fellow Americans?

I guess not, as long as there are nasty, ill-intentioned, ultra-negative progressive adults out there.

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Ethics Villain Dr. Anthony Fauci

“Well, I don’t think it’s forever irreparably damaged anyone.”

—Dr. Anthony Fauci, architect of the disastrous Wuhan virus response, to Fox News’ Neil Cavuto’s question, “In retrospect doctor, do you regret that it went too far? … Particularly for kids who couldn’t go to school except remotely, that it’s forever damaged them.”

How Clintonian of the good doctor, picking up on Cavuto’s awkward “forever” and adding “irreparably” to make it seem especially extreme. Maybe the lockdown forever damaged people, but it didn’t forever irreparably damage people. The lockdown caused more than 200,000 small busineses to shut down during 2020 alone. Gee, is that “forever enough”? It murdered the economy, the arts, and sports; it was significantly responsible for the George Floyd riots. The education and social development of young children were indeed retarded permanently by the isolating experience of remote schooling, as increasing numbers of assessments indicate. The corruption of US elections in 2020 arising out of the lockdown did long-term damage to the public trust in elections; whether it is “forever permanent” is yet to be seen.

It wrecked our small business, our savings, and our development permanently.

What an asshole.

The Incredible Sabrina Caldwell Ethics Train Wreck, Part 2

Now for the rest of the story begun in Part I.

The story of the rejected and abandoned Russian orphan haunted “48 Hours” reporter Troy Roberts after he bid the girl farewell  in the Russian hospital. He wanted to know what had become of her, and tried to track her down over the years, with no success. Then, after more than two decades had passed, Caralee reached out to him and they arranged to meet once again.

That supposedly homicidal little girl who was diagnosed as incapable of love now lives in North Carolina as Sabrina Caldwell. She is 33, happily married and has four young children. Roberts met with her near Sabrina’s home, and he spoke with her husband as well. Sabrina explained that she was depressed and even suicidal when she was with Crystal and Jesse, who she felt were more interested in her younger brother than her. When she was falsely accused of trying to kill Joshua, whom she says she loved, she told Roberts she “wanted out.” She agreed that she tried to kill him. She made up the claims that she was hallucinating. When she was abandoned by her adoptive parents in Moscow, she said she  felt like she was in jail, but now believes she was partially responsible, since she had agreed to her parents’ version of events and lied about hallucinating.

Then again, she was just a child at the time.

After two months in the mental hospital, Nina Kostina, who had helped arrange her adoption, rescued Sabrina and brought her back to the United States. Three years later she adopted by another family in North Carolina.  n 2008, Sabrina volunteered for the non profit Mercy Ships, spending two years providing medical care to the poor in Africa. That led to a job at a hospital when she returned to North Carolina. Two years later, she fell in love with  fifth grade teacher Phil Caldwell, whom she met through her church. Before she would agree to marry him, she made him watch the “48 Hours” episode about her first adoptive parents. He told Roberts that he was stunned at what she had gone through. They were married in 2014, and now have three daughters and an infant son.  Sabrina Caldwell has never been diagnosed with any mental or emotional illness, and takes no medication for such disorders. Continue reading

The Incredible Sabrina Caldwell Ethics Train Wreck, Part I

At the end of last year, CBS’s “48 Hours” broadcast an update of a horrifying episode from two decades ago. I missed both programs, but I stumbled upon a rerun of the December 2021 follow-up last night. The tale is a true ethics train wreck that, incredibly, had a happy ending, making it also an abject lesson in moral luck.

The story had special resonance for me because it involved the aftermath of an American couple adopting of a Russian orphan, a process my wife and I went through as well.  In 1997, Crystal and Jesse were a young married couple who had tried and failed to conceive. They fund Russian adoption agency’s website and were smitten by a photo of a beautiful 9-year-old girl. The couple began the adoption process.  The child’s medical records from the adoption agency, were concerning, though: they described developmental problems.

CBS made a big deal about this, but essentially all older Russian orphans have developmental issues. Crystal told CBS that the “were assured that this child was healthy and that in a good home … with the best doctors in America helping her with the developmental issues, that she should be fine.” That was accurate advice (and she and her husband should have known that by doing responsible research before deciding to adopt a Russian orphan). I should also mention here that Russian medical records regarding orphans are notoriously unreliable. Our son, who has been freakishly healthy, came with ten pages of supposedly serious medical problems. Our pediatrician literally laughed at the document. Continue reading

Ethics Musings On The Transgender Problem

Is being transgender a mental disorder? A lot of news and controversies around the suddenly militant minority seems to compel honest consideration of the question. It is definitely not a formal disorder, but that doesn’t deal with the issue. The medical profession, which is, as has been periodically documented on Ethics Alarms, is now politically-driven and in the directing of progressive positions and agendas.

Up until 2012, transgenderism was labeled a mental disorder; that year, the American Psychiatric Association revised its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and struck transgenderism from the list. Now, woke institutions like the Cleveland Clinic state outright, “Being transgender is not a mental illness. But people who are transgender face unique challenges, such as gender dysphoria and discrimination, which can affect their mental health….” The Clinic then adopts whole cloth the familiar transgender narrative, uncritically, as if it is scientific fact rather than an ideological position:

Healthcare providers assign a baby a sex at birth. Babies may be assigned female at birth (AFAB) or assigned male at birth (AMAB) based on their external physical genitalia. The term “cisgender” describes people who identify as the gender that matches their assigned sex. (For example, if you’re born biologically female and you identify as female, then you’re cisgender.) But for some people, as they grow up and understand themselves better, they find that their gender doesn’t match their assigned, biological sex.

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Ethics Quiz: The Children’s Fake Tattoos

This story comes to Ethics Alarms from New Zealand, but if it’s there now, it will be here eventually.

New Zealand-based tattoo artist, Benjamin Lloyd, specializes in realistic airbrushed tattoos for children. They look like an actual tattoos, though they are only spray painted on.

The average age of his human canvases is six.

“The kids are so amazed. As soon as they get the tattoo it boosts their confidence,” Lloyd says. “The only bad thing is that they don’t want to take a shower afterward.”

Is that really “the only bad thing?”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Is it responsible for parents to do this to their children?

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