Comment Of The Day: “From The ‘Appeal to Authority’ Files: Why Should We Care What John Paul Stevens Thinks Now?”

Enough abortion for one day: let’s  have a Comment of the Day on another unending Supreme Court controversy, the Second Amendment. Here is Jutgory’s passionate response to the post, “From The “Appeal to Authority” Files: Why Should We Care What John Paul Stevens Thinks Now?”:

So many pet peeves all wrapped into one post:

“Bloviating about Columbia v. Heller, the 2008 decision holding that the Second Amendment created an individual right to bear arms”

NO! The Bill of Rights created no rights. It identified rights upon which the government could not infringe. This is as old as the Constitution. The Federalists said, we don’t need no Bill of Rights because powers not given to the government could not be exercised (naive and idealistic. The Anti-Federalists insisted but wanted it to be clear that the enumeration of the Bill of Rights was not exhaustive of the rights we had.

Sadly, they were both wrong: we needed the Bill of Rights because government seizes power when it can, and, not only do we look at the Bill of Rights as creating rights, we look at it as delimiting the rights we have.

You are spot on about rights not being subject to need. I know many people who don’t need freedom of speech and have hardly exercised that right in a constructive way, but they have it nonetheless.

On the argument that the Second Amendment is limited to militias. First off, see the above argument about rights. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: The Not-Quite-Secret Language

This Comment of the Day, from intermittent participant Red Pill Ethics, is a model for dissenting opinions on Ethics Alarms. I omitted his amusing coda, in which he describes me as “the Stephen King of Ethics.”  That can mean any number of things; I think its a reference to quantity rather than quality….although a lot of the stuff on Ethics Alarms is pretty scary.

Here is Red Pill Ethics’ Comment of the Day on The Not-Quite-Secret Language:

Yeah….. nah. The core of your argument is that talking about someone within ear shot is somehow disrespectful. I don’t see how. If I walk around town in a clown outfit people are going to talk about me as I pass them. If I over hear them or not is irrelevant to whether or not it’s disrespectful – my behavior invites comment and there’s no ethical failure in people reacting to the intentional or unintentional invitation.

To bring it to restaurant ethics specifically: If you’re at a table and your table is making a ruckus (loud children, drunken adults, etc.) in an otherwise calm restaurant you have made yourself a topic of the local public conversation. Absolutely nothing wrong with people discussing their current environment. If you over hear it too bad – you dont get to skyline yourself and complain when your draw people’s attention.

More over not wanting the other table to hear your request to be moved is no way cowardly. Youre out of your mind on that call. If they were denigrating the other table then sure maybe you’d have a case for cowardice – fighting words absent the willingness to actually fight. But dear god, they asked to be moved. My mind is literally blown that you find that cowardly. What was the guy/gal supposed to do? Let look at the evidence.

1) The parents had signaled some level of disregard for the people around them by allowing their children to bounce all over the place.

2) The restaurant had signaled some willingness to accept this level of ruckus by not having the staff enforce some polite noise boundary on the table. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Boy, The GOP Really, Really Likes Census Scams!”

In this Comment of the Day, Chris Marschner expresses more sympathy for the frauds, scammers and bait-and-switch artists of the world, and less sympathy for the scammed, than I have. He is right, I think, that by the time someone fooled by fundraising letters masquerading as something else actually send in a donation they have figured things out. It doesn’t matter. The scam is fooling people into opening the letter.  And donors are indeed fools to willingly give money to any organization or entity that show such disrespect by using deceptive tactics.

Chris writes that people should read envelopes and mailers carefully. Sure they should, but reality is that they don’t. They also don’t read the small print in contracts, or users agreements on smart phones and social media sites. Human beings are wired to be trusting, not to assume that everyone is trying to pull something over on them. That’s a good thing. Society is based on trust. And little by little, in almost imperceptible ways, manipulative, unethical people and organizations erode that trust.

Here is Chris Marschner’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Boy, The GOP Really, Really Likes Census Scams!”:

I understand why people see this as sleazy but to say people sent money in because they were duped is unsupported. All one has to do is read the questions and see it it is pro- fill in the party. You can (should – provided you were not born yesterday) assume there will be an appeal for a donation.

Let me be very clear. Congress passed a law with a hole in it a 777 could fly through. I thought the lawyers that write the text of these laws are trained in writing. All that law needed to say is that the word census cannot be visible to tbe recipient prior to opening. Or, if you don’t want any misunderstanding simply say the word census may not be used anywhere in the mailing.

I get these types of fundraising letters from a variety of groups; police, firefighers, veterans etc. All appeal to some authority to compel action. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Greek Easter Ethics Warm-Up: Authority, Causation, Credibility And Dead Ethics Alarms” [#4]

Long-time commenter E2 scores her first Comment of the Day with some perspective on why Western civilization, and the United States particularly, owes Israel a permanent debt.

I have no problem with critics having honest, reasonable differences with Israel’s policies and the U.S.’s support of them, as long as such critics have a sufficient knowledge of the history of the Jewish people, their existential plight in the Thirties through World War II, the initial contrived ignorance of the U.S. government and President Roosevelt of that plight, and how the State of Israel came into existence. (Two new biographies of playwright and screenwriter Ben Hecht, who played a large but largely forgotten role in that remarkable event, were just published this month. There is a reason one of the ships that brought Jewish ex-patriots to Israel was named, “The Ben Hecht.”)

As E2 points out, the public ignorance of all of this is staggering, and it fertilizes the dirt from which anti-Semitism grows, of late, in abundance. One of the many jaw-dropping statements of stupidity or dishonesty—it’s often so hard to tell which with him— that Joe Biden uttered after his announcement of his candidacy was that America needed to return to being loyal to its allies. Biden was the #2 official in an administration that displayed the most outright hostility to Israel of any since the nation’s founding, our ally that most needs our support and that common decency demands should always be able to count on it.

Here is E2’s Comment of the Day on the item #4 in the post, “Greek Easter Ethics Warm-Up: Authority, Causation, Credibility And Dead Ethics Alarms.”

Does no one know any history at all? That, for example, the English Jews funded the Crusades, and when the King of England couldn’t pay back his debt, he simply exiled all Jews from the country to Europe? Hence, an early forced diaspora of Jews.

Do others really believe that anti-Semitism was grown by Hitler and ended in the Holocaust? Do so many not  know that FDR’s anti-Semitic State Department refused political asylum for desperate Jews from Hitler’s Germany…or the story of the ship “St. Louis” – full of fleeing Jews, that went from port to port in the US and were never allowed entry? Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/15/2019: Patriots Day!…” [UPDATED]

P.M. Lawrence is a commenter from across the pond who revels in picking at various nits here, some of which are worth picking, some not so much. Always erudite and informative, his comments often open up some neglected ethics trap doors, and in this comment of the day in response to my post about Patriot’s Day, the regional holiday of my beloved Massachusetts that commemorated the Battles of Concord and Lexington. (The only “famous” incident that occurred that same day in 1775 in my home town Arlington, then Menotomy, Mass., was that Jason Russell and some fellow Minute Men were massacred by British soldiers as they retreated from Concord.)

P.M. took umbrage at my characterization of the day’s events as “the inspiring story of how ragtag groups of volunteers faced off against the trained soldiers of the most powerful country on Earth.” This is certainly how I was taught about the early days of the Revolution, and despite P.M’s objections, I’m not certain that it wasn’t accurate enough for regional history. The matter naturally raises the ethical conundrum at the end of “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”when the old newspaper editor says, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

I’m generally  in P.M.’s camp regarding fake history. As thrilling as it is to see Jim Bowie die fighting off multiple Mexican soldiers from his sickbed in the Alamo, it just plain didn’t happen, and his death shouldn’t be portrayed that way. I am not so certain that P.M. picked a valid historical nit to pick this time however, but he still earned a Comment of the Day (the last paragraph is from a follow-up comment) on the post, Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/15/2019: Patriots Day! Jackie Robinson Day!

I’ll be back at the end for a few comments.

“… the inspiring story of how ragtag groups of volunteers faced off against the trained soldiers of the most powerful country on Earth …”

Sigh. This fallacy keeps cropping up and should not be perpetuated. I will deal with it properly when I get the chance to write the fuller replies to some related matters, but for now I will point out the following more accurate material, leaving it up to readers to go into denial or go and check for themselves, as they prefer:-

They did no such thing, though what they did do was quite impressive enough as it was. They faced up against sizeable numbers of highly trained soldiers. There is absolutely no need or justification for mis-stating that those highly trained soldiers were from “the most powerful country on Earth”; they weren’t, they were British. The very real accomplishment would have been the same if they had faced as many Dutch or Danish regulars. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: Propaganda And Fake History: How Are We Supposed To Trust A Newspaper With Editors That Allow This?”

Once again, I am behind in posting deserving Comments of the Day, in particular one from P.M. Lawrence that opens all manner  of worm cans, necessitating a bit more prep than usual. This COTD, sparked by the New York Times’s allowing fake Middle East history to sully its pages, seemed especially appropo given Vermont’s offensive capitulation to political correctness by turning Columbus Day into “Indigenous  Peoples Day.”

This is sentimentality replacing a crucial historical and cultural marker to which attention must be paid. Whatever his misdeeds, Columbus’s voyage and its discoveries was one of the great turning points in the history of mankind. Columbus’s boldness was a catalyst  for furious colonization by the western European powers , new trade commodities products and the introduction of products like corn, potatoes, tobacco and chocolate to the rest of the world, innovations in seafaring and supply preservation, and transformative contacts between cultures. It also led to the United States of America, and despite the laments of the America-haters, the world is far better for that.

Here is Steve-O- in NJ’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Propaganda And Fake History: How Are We Supposed To Trust A Newspaper With Editors That Allow This?”

No one ever mentions that the Muslims had been conquering parts of Europe for 3 centuries before Pope Urban called for a crusade, and if you point it out, the left brushes you off as pedantic at best, an apologist for brutality at the worst. The Inquisition I’ll admit was pretty bad, but, to put it in context, heresy is to the church what treason is to a government, and, when the church is as much a temporal power as the government, it should not come as a surprise that it takes steps to protect that power. The Muslims can lecture us about that when you can no longer have your head chopped off in Sunni countries if you mistakenly sound the call to prayer more than once (a Shi’ite practice, which is prohibited in Sunni countries), and the Protestants can lecture us about it when they apologize for Cromwell in Ireland and the High Commission. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Comment Of The Day: ‘SCOTUS: There is No Right To Be Executed Painlessly'”

Hayes and Komisarjevky, the Cheshire, Conn. killers

Steve-O-in NJ’s Comment of the Day on my post about the recent SCOTUS capital punishment opinion spawned another COTD. The immediate catalyst was my answer, within the post, to Steve’s query about what crimes I think warrant executions. One of my answers referenced the Cheshire, Connecticut home invasion and murders, which I wrote about extensively here.

Here is Rich in Ct’s Comment of the Day on the post,Comment Of The Day: “SCOTUS: There is No Right To Be Executed Painlessly”:“SCOTUS: There is No Right To Be Executed Painlessly”:

“The Cheshire, Conn. murders.” This is the crime that broke my opinion of the death penalty. I was initially ultra-liberal on this issue, thinking that the death penalty was just not acceptable today, but moderated considerably.

My initial view was a rather unexamined belief, essentially unchanged from what I had expressed in a middle school essay a few years before the home invasion. In that middle school essay, I decried the state of Connecticut for “murdering” Michael Ross, a jolly good chap who killed 8 souls before the age of 24. (Stipulated, even in middle school, I conceded wooden jails of the Wild West, etc, could not reliably contain dangerous individuals, necessitating the death penalty.)

My main argument was that killing was WRONG. This was axiomatic, not allowing counter argument. The only mitigating factor for execution, the need to protect the public, was adequately addressed with modern maximum-security prisons.

Ross was the last criminal successfully executed by Connecticut, making the opportunities to reflect on an actual case study vanishingly rare. However, Connecticut had several placed on its death rolls, each hopelessly tied up in appeals (mostly by design). A distressing number of capital indictments came from prosecutors in Waterbury, the major city in northwestern part of the state. Waterbury has a unique reputation for corruption second to none (in a state with Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport, mind you); disgraced ex-governor Rowland was employed by the city when he was released from prison. Continue reading