Ethics Dunce: The United Nations

In a March report, three United Nations entities, the International Committee of Jurists (ICJ), UNAIDS and the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated,

“Sexual conduct involving persons below the domestically prescribed minimum age of consent to sex may be consensual in fact, if not in law. The enforcement of criminal law should reflect the rights and capacity of persons under 18 years of age to make decisions about engaging in consensual sexual conduct and their right to be heard in matters concerning them. Pursuant to their evolving capacities and progressive autonomy, persons under 18 years of age should participate in decisions affecting them, with due regard to their age, maturity, and best interests, and with specific attention to non-discrimination guarantees.”

The United Nations is deliberately endorsing the rationalizations used by every teacher that seduces a student, every sexual predator who rapes a boy, every religious cultist who takes a child bride, and every father who has incestuous relations with his teenage daughter. As with workplace sexual harassment,the only ethical system that works to prevent child sexual abuse is absolutism. That means no exceptions. An adult’s superior power and presumed authority must be presumed to render consent from a child under the age of 18 invalid. The “Love is Love” platitudes are simply slippery slopes to rampant molestation. This isn’t an issue that can be decided on a case by case basis.

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An Ethics Conflict Conundrum: The Fraudulent Friend

From “The Ethicist” (that’s the New York Times Magazine’s ethics advice columnist, his name is Kwame Anthony Appiah, and he’s not bad) comes a new version of an eternal ethics conflict that I have encountered both hypothetically and in life:

My friend told me that she and her husband, who combined earn around $500,000, asked their son’s stepmother to declare him on her taxes for the last two years so that he could get more financial aid for college. Their son doesn’t even live with the stepmother, and she provides no support.

I just learned that her son is now getting a full grant to a very expensive private college. I’m supposed to take a weekend trip with my friend in a few weeks, but I’m so angry about this I don’t know if I can speak to her. Is this fraud? What is my responsibility in this situation?

“The Ethicist” waffles and settles on,

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Great Moments In Unethical Polling Manipulation: Grinnell College On “Gender-Affirming Care”

We should expect activists, politicians and journalists to engage in rampant deceit in their use of language to confuse and mislead the public. The abortion debate, a complex and ethically crucial societal controversy that requires clarity and honesty, has been just about permanently distorted by the routine use of deliberately deceptive cover-terms “pro-choice” and “pro-life.” One should we able to rely on educational and research institutions to be careful to avoid this malady, but as polls prove repeatedly, we can’t.

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Ethics Dunce, Rabbi and “Rolling Stone” Columnist Jay Michaelson Provides A Depressing Lesson In How “Bias Makes You Stupid”

Was this really so hard an episode to respond to competently?

As discussed in this post, the Dalai Lama got himself videoed while pressuring a young boy to kiss him (on the lips) and asking the boy to <cough> suck the holy man’s tongue. Too bad Peter Graves is dead: he could play the Dalai Lama in a movie…

“Joey…would you like to suck my tongue?” was apparently cut. But I digress.

On “CNN Tonight” panel this week, and host Alisyn Camerota asked Michaelson to comment on the disturbing video. Ethics Aalrms frozen solid, the rabbi answered,

“The Dalai Lama is a very playful human being. And we may see this in a weird, kind of gross, sexualized way, but this is about as sexual as a bowl of plain rice. There is nothing sexual … or erotic happening in this encounter. Tibetan culture just has different boundaries…[the tongue] is what we kiss with, it’s sexualized … it’s not seen that way in Tibetan culture. This is a part of the body. It’s something playful….The apology was in order. This was clearly something that was at best, you know, insensitive to how this would be seen by a large swath of the world population. [But]“the Dalai Lama is one of my spiritual heroes. I have met him. Being in his presence is really one of the most powerful experiences I’ve had in my life. And the aura of loving kindness that he has is evident, even here where he’s being playful in a way that in Western culture would certainly be inappropriate.”

Since the rabbi wasn’t defending Joe Biden, Camerota felt free to actually practice journalism and challenge this spin, saying, “the boy doesn’t want to” kiss the Dalai Lama or suck his tongue,” and adding that the Dalai Lama is “taking the boy’s head … just sort of reading the body language here. I’ll take your word for it that it seemed differently there culturally, but the boy doesn’t seem to be wanting to participate in this.”

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Now THAT Was An Unethical “Career Day” Presentation!

Yikes. Talk about ethics alarms failing!

In Lake Oswego, Oregon, Ellen Sawo was giving a “Career Day” presentation at Lakeridge Middle School. Apparently she was not getting the response from students that she felt was appropriate, because she snapped, started swearing at them and finally slapped one student in the face.

Gee, even Judge Duncan didn’t do that, and the Stanford Law students wouldn’t let him speak at all!

Perhaps Career Day speakers need to be more carefully vetted in the future. Anyway, Sawo was escorted from the school and was later arrested by police.

I wonder what career she was promoting. I sure hope it wasn’t “professional ethicist.”

Pet Goat Ethics: Is There Anyone Behaving Ethically In This Mess?

Are they just not installing ethics alarms any more?

Above you see Cedar the Goat with his 9-year-old owner, now grief-stricken because Cedar ended up on a State Senator’s menu thanks to a series of unethical acts that could have been short-circuited if anyone with power or authority had been a little more ethical, but no.

Jessica Long bought Cedar last year as a pet for her nine-year-old daughter, but for some reason decided to hand the beloved pet over to a livestock auction at a district fair, which stipulated that the all sales were final and Cedar, like all the other farm critters, would be sold for meat. The fair’s brochure clearly stated “no exceptions.” But Long’s daughter was distraught about the prospect of losing Cedar, so her mom begged the fair to give him back before bidding started.

“Pet schmet,” the fair’s rulers essentially replied. “Making an exception for you will only teach our youth that they do not have to abide by the rules that are set up for all participants,” Shasta District (that’s in California) Fair Chief Executive Officer Melanie Silva lectured in an email. So Cedar was duly auctioned off to a representative of California State Senator Brian Dahle for $902. Just $63.14 of that goes to the state fair and the rest, $838.86 to Long.

Thinking hard (but not well) about how to please her daughter, Jessica kidnapped the goat and decided to “take the goat that night and deal with the consequences later.”

Oh, good thinking there, Mom!

The fair’s livestock manager contacted Long warning of “serious consequences” if the goat wasn’t returned. Then a sheriff from Shasta County, filed a search warrant, a judge signed off on it and officers used “breaching equipment to force open doorway(s), entry doors, exit doors, and locked containers in pursuit of their target.” Cedar was the target. Clever Long, however, had sent Cedar into hiding at a distant farm in Sonoma County, but it still didn’t work: authorities got her goat anyway and drove him 200 miles to Shasta County for slaughter.

It is believed that the little goat was served at a community barbecue to which he had been donated as a gesture by Senator Dahl. And that he was delicious.

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Ethics Alarms Archives Encore: “If ‘A Boy Named Sue’ Had Problems, What’s Chance Does An ‘It’ Named Searyl Have?”

Introduction (March 31, 2023)

When I was preparing for yesterday’s final post about the French family fighting to overcome France’s paternalistic government bureaucrats from inflicting the name “Hades” on their infant son, I considered introducing the tale with Johnny Cash’s famous rendition of Shel Silverstein’s “A Boy Named Sue.” But I suspected that I had used the song before, and sure enough I had, in the post that follows, from six years ago.

The main thrust of the essay is the ethical issue touched on in the Hades story as well as others here through the years: the unethical act of giving children weird names. I was surprised, however, to see the post’s prescient and remarkably currently relevant commentary about the transgender insanity that was then no more than a twinkle in the Woke-Deranged mob’s metaphorical eye.

Wow, I nailed it. (Hence my doppleganger Fredo’s appearance in the clip from the Ethics Alarms clip collection.)Too bad only a small cadre of the ethically enlightened and intellectually curious read this blog: forewarned, maybe the current madness that has teachers encouraging fifth grade girls to cut off their breasts and large swathes of society urging momentarily confused boys to call themselves by plural pronouns and “identify” as “non-binary” could have been avoided, or at least minimized. This is my fault, of course; I’m the one who hasn’t figured out how to be an “influencer,” while 21-year-old Kardashians can. I get my self blackballed by NPR by daring to defend Donald Trump on a flaming progressive’s show.


But I digress—sorry. The quote below that struck me was this one:

This is what happens when you let the nose of a flatulent and rude camel into your tent. Those with gender issues should not be abused, beaten, or discriminated against. Agreed. They should have access to medical treatment connected to their condition. Absolutely. They should be able to openly declare their status without fear of reprisals, and people with compassion, manners and ethics shouldn’t teat them like freaks. Got it.

But they do not have leave to re-make the world in their image, and cry foul if the majority draws reasonable lines and says: No. Behave.

Here is the post, from July 10, 2017:

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Naming Ethics: A Boy Named Hades

A couple in France really, really wants to name their baby “Hades” because they think the name sounds good. France, however, can legally prohibit a child’s name if bureaucrats determine that the name is not in the child’s best interest, and “Hades” has been dinged. The future Hades’s folks have hired lawyers to challenge the ruling.

That’s Hades above in the Disney animated film “Hercules.” The character was voiced by James Woods, so you know he was a bad guy. The film was a bit unfair: in the Greek myth universe, Hades just ruled over the Underworld, and was no worse (or better) than his brothers Zeus and Poseidon; he wasn’t like the devil. When you died, you went to Hades whether you were good, bad, or average. Nevertheless, it’s a strange name to use in 2023, and one with inevitable negative connotations (the name “James Woods” wouldn’t be great either).

That doesn’t mean France presuming to tell parents what they can name their kid isn’t an abuse of power, a slippery slope, and an incursion on personal liberty. It is all of those, and the parents of little Hades are properly standing up for a principle that is worth fighting for.

If only they weren’t using their innocent child as a prop for their ideals. This is a bright-line violation of Kant’s Categorical Imperative, which directs us never to use a human being to achieve our ends, however worthy they might be.  Using a child is particularly unethical…but so is giving your kid a bizarre name. Continue reading

When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring:

Josselyn Berry, Arizona governor Katie Hobbs’s press secretary, was somehow moved to tweet this…

…just days after a transgender former student went into a Christian school and shot six people dead, including three nine-year-olds. But hey, that should teach anyone who criticizes pro-trans mania to watch what they say, right?

First Berry shuttered her Twitter account, then she resigned.

A few observations:

  • I continue to find it fascinating that the same party that flogs the talking point that conservatives peddle hate and incite violence constantly does things like this. Here, for example, is Minnesota’s Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan:

Nice! Funny, I would argue that kids need to be protected from adults trying to convince them that they need puberty blockers and other life-altering treatments that should be hidden from their parents, but I wouldn’t use a knife to do it.

  • In addition to the other things wrong with Berry’s tweet, it’s spectacularly bad timing to condemn “transphobia” after a trans individual has gone on a killing spree.
  • This is exactly the kind of tweet Twitter should just leave out there. It’s useful to know what such tweeters are really like, especially when an elected official employs them.

Welcome To “Bad Research Theater”!

Yes, it’s Alistair Cookie, here for another episode—two, in fact!—of that long-running exhibition loved by the confirmation bias-infected and the unscrupulous alike, “Bad Research Theater”!

Episode I : “The Steam Engines of Galapagos

The eye-opening scholarly paper “The end of the line: competitive exclusion and the extinction of historical entities” has been published the journal, “Royal Society Open Science.” Bruce Lieberman, professor of ecology & evolutionary biology and senior curator of invertebrate paleontology at the KU Biodiversity Institute & Natural History Museum, uses the history of railroad steam engines history to argue against the merits of “competitive exclusion,” the respected paleontology evolution principle that species can drive other species to extinction through competition.

Working with former KU postdoctoral researcher Luke Strotz, now of Northwest University in Xi’an, China, Lieberman found that the fossil record lacks the detailed data verifying competitive exclusion found in the history of steam engines. Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m convinced!

Many years ago, as a boy trying to bring in distant baseball broadcasts at night on my transister radio, I stumbled across a rural evangelist who was ranting about the godlessness of evolution. “Evolution says that if you put a six cylinder engine in your garage and let it sit there for a million years or so, when you come back and check on it, it will have become an eight cylinder engine!” he said, chuckling heartily. I thought that was the dumbest thing I had heard to that point in my life, and it still is in the top five. Little did I suspect that his idea of comparing mechanical objects with live organisms would be adopted decades later by actual scientists.

Episode II : Anything to Throw Them Off the Track

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