Comment Of The Day: “From The Increasingly Fantastic Annals Of The Great Stupid: Norton And The Philip Roth Biography”

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Here is JP’s Comment of the Day on “From The Increasingly Fantastic Annals Of The Great Stupid: Norton And The Philip Roth Biography”. It tells the story of how a high school student learned what was wrong with banning books…any books.

I’ll add this as preface: “The Giver” is one of the most frequently banned books in public school libraries.

When I was in high school, I was a terrible student. I was averaging a 2.2 GPA and had no desire to do anything other than the absolute minimum of what was required of me (I think that is why my grammar is so bad).

Since I wasn’t doing too well academically and had failed a few classes, I was not on a path to graduate until, one day, in my sophomore year, the head librarian approached me. Apparently she was friends with one of the teachers I was pretty fond of, and they discussed ways to help me out. I was asked to be a the librarian’s personal Scout, a kind of \a teaching aid). The library had lots of Scouts, but I reported directly to her, and not the lady who supervised the rest of the scouts.

It was fun. I loved it. Then came the teaching. She gave me a book and wanted to know what I thought about it. She would tell me her favorite parts. She told me I reminded her of Sam. “Who’s Sam?” I asked. That was another boo, and that book turned into another book, and they kept kept on coming. That year I discovered a passion for reading. Pretty soon I was asking her for for new books and was leading the discussions.

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Comment Of The Day: “Monday Ethics Meander, 4/26/2021: Oscar, Rachel, Ma’Khia And The ACLU” (Item #4: The Oscars)

 

I announced in a post today that I would no longer devote essays to the Academy Awards Show because it no longer has the cultural importance and influence to make it important, nor the integrity to make discussing its ethical issues worth the time to write about. I may not have been clear that this kills me. The annual Oscar broadcast was a big event in my family, and we almost always had seen all of the nominated films and performances. My dad, as a veteran, had privileges at Hanscom Air Base not far from Arlington, Mass., and at the movie theater on the base showed movies before general release. Tickets cost 25 cents for kids, 50 cents for adults, and there would be 5-6 different movies every week. It wasn’t unusual for the Marshalls to see three new films in some weeks. I used to care who won the Oscars: when John Wayne won Best Actor for “True Grit,” which my friends from high school and college knew I loved and had seen many times, I got phone calls from all over the country.

But in those days, political grandstanding was for acknowledged jerks like Marlon Brando: the Oscars were managed as a unifying feature of society, not a divisive one, as they should be. the hosts were middle-of-the road types like Johnny Carson and Bob Hope; the past was honored and respected. No doubt about it, the show and the industry was all-white, but that, like the rest of the nation, was changing. Destroying something in order to save it is almost always unethical, but that’s what they did to the Academy Awards, like so many other institutions. Most of them I don’t miss. I miss the Academy Awards, but they are officially toast, and the Academy did it to itself, with a big assist from Hollywood.

But A.M. Golden did an excellent job in his overview today after watching the Oscars so I wouldn’t have to. Here is his Comment of the Day on the Oscars section in Monday Ethics Meander, 4/26/2021: Oscar, Rachel, Ma’Khia And The ACLU“:

Prologue: Well, the only part of the Oscars I ever watch is the “In Memoriam” segment the day after so I can see who they left off. This year’s snubs:

David Prowse – Darth Vader
Jeremy Bulloch – Boba Fett
John Saxon – primarily known for TV but also appeared in a number of films.
Kenny Rogers – musician, yes, but starred in a movie.
Honor Blackman – Bond girl
Geno Silva
Annie Ross
Mac Davis – musician, again, but also starred in a movie
Stuart Whitman – primarily known for TV, but appeared in “The Longest Day” and “The Comancheros” with John Wayne.
Diana Serra Cary a.k.a. “Baby Peggy” –

They included late African-American actress Ja’Net Dubois, who was best-known as wacky neighbor Willona Woods in the tv sitcom “Good Times”, whose film work appears to be relatively insignificant. She died several days after last year’s Oscar telecast and wouldn’t have been included then anyway, but including her at all in the Oscar In Memoriam seems odd, especially in comparison to some of the above exclusions who had more prominent roles on film.

It’s not unusual for the Oscars (or the Emmys, for that matter) to pad their “In Memoriam” segments with performers who were best known for music or sports. I think the Oscars included Steve Jobs one year.

But I couldn’t shake the notion that they stuck Ja’Net in there to make sure there were some African-Americans in there. Kind of like the ridiculous extreme of Ricky Gervais’ 2020 Golden Globes joke about him refusing to allow an “In Memoriam” segment there because there wasn’t enough diversity in the people who died.

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Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Observations On The Shooting Death Of Peyton Ham”

Steve-O-in NJ has stepped into a temporary (I hope) vacuum of ambitious comments to monopolize the COTD field. Steve is a lot more pessimistic than I am, and prone to Jeremiads (THE END IS NEAR!) but he also is willing to make observations that most are reticent to put into print. A few of you out there hang out on my Facebook page, where my alleged friends had a meltdown over a repeat of my musings here about whether Juror 8 in “12 Angry Men” would have bothered fighting for reasonable doubt in the trial of a defendant whom he thought was probably guilty if he knew that a not guilty verdict would trigger violent riots. How dare anyone suggest that there was reasonable doubt in the Chauvin trial? How dare anyone imply that the trial wasn’t fair!

Steve-O’s point about police being in an impossible position still applies to Derek Chauvin, cruel and untrustworthy cop that he undoubtedly was. Usually that impossible position girds police from conviction in all but the most egregious examples of police misconduct, as in the case of Michael Slager. I think the public’s acknowledgement of the dilemma is appropriate and generally ethical, but it is ready-made for accusations of racism when the victim is black.

Back to the post that sparked Steve’s COTD, “Ethics Observations On The Shooting Death Of Peyton Ham”, there has been no news coverage of Ham’s death for a week. He was 16, just like the girl shot in the act of trying to stab another teen in Columbus, Ohio, but nobody in Congress or anywhere else is arguing that his youth demanded restraint by police. The reason is that Peyton Ham was a white male, and Ma’Khia Bryant was a black female. The police were supposed to understand that different standards applied. (The photo above is of the Columbus riots in response to the girl’s shooting. Somehow I can’t locate any similar photos of the protests of Ham’s death.)

Here is Steve-O-in-NJ’s Comment of the Day:

Policing in the United States is fast becoming a lose-lose proposition and a job fewer and fewer people are going to want. If you take action, you are considered a thug, a bully, and automatically a racist. If you take no action, you are either lazy or dead from the neck up and need to be fired. We’ve been over this half a dozen times since the death of George Floyd. Policing is by nature a dangerous and demanding job. Policing by nature sometimes requires split-second decisions which have a tiny margin for error and possibly grievous consequences if gotten wrong. Policing is not just about crossing schoolkids, directing traffic, getting lost children home, making reports of fender benders, and once in a while giving out a ticket to someone driving a little too fast or parked in a place clearly marked “no parking.”

Even in the safest small towns in America there are always going to be domestic violence calls, holdups, drunk and disorderly conduct, kids getting into drugs, or the mentally ill who do crazy things that endanger themselves or others. Like it or not, a big part of policing involves making unwilling individuals comply with lawful orders necessary to keep order. Sometimes there is no way to make that happen but to use force. Using force isn’t pretty. It’s not pretty to slam a violent husband or boyfriend down on the kitchen table and cuff him before he hits the woman in his life again. It’s not pretty to cuff a drug-addled, emaciated streetwalker who you’ve told to move along for the umpteenth time and been met with a torrent of profanity each time. It’s not pretty to throw a reeking homeless person who’s been harassing shoppers into the back of a police cruiser to take him somewhere where he can (hopefully) get the help he needs. And no, it’s not pretty to arrest some dreadlocked thug who’s spent his whole life doing nothing but commit crimes when he commits yet another one. It’s also not pretty when a hapless wife or girlfriend gets a broken jaw or a spiral fracture of the arm from a partner who she “just wouldn’t listen to.”

It’s not pretty when a family can’t walk down the street without seeing some skeletal prostitute shooting up. It’s not pretty when everyone has to avoid the block that “Crazy Joe” has claimed as his own. It’s not pretty when DeShawn, out of prison barely a week, sticks up a bodega with a gun or hits somebody over the head because he has no money and few prospects.

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Comment Of The Day: “Comment Of The Day: ‘Monday Ethics Final, 3/8/2021: A Bad Day In The Revolution'(Item #5)”

Some might think I’m making this gem by Mrs. Q a Comment of the Day for an ulterior motive. She’s a undisputed star commenter, and she’s been MIA for a more than a month now. This was her most recent comment, but I’m not honoring it as an enticement, though I desperately want to see her unique perception and wit back on Ethics Alarms. This was supposed to be a Comment of the Day a month ago, but stuff happened: it’s my fault.

Commenters come and go, then come back sometimes. I always take it personally, which is foolish, but that’s me. When ever I go back and review essays from a few years back, I am struck and depressed by the voices we have lost. Whither wyogranny? Shelly Stow? Steven Mark Pilling? Extradimensional Cephalopod? There are so many.

I also worry about those who disappear, and often send emails to inquire after their health and welfare. Sometimes the responses are reassuring. Sometimes I get no response. Sometimes I forget to send the note. Most bloggers don’t do this, and I’m not sure it’s rational for me to do it.

Here is Mrs. Q’s Comment of the Day on the post, Monday Ethics Final, 3/8/2021: A Bad Day In The Revolution'(Item #5):

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Comments Of The Day Day Extended! Comment Of The Day: “Afternoon Ethics Delights“

Michael R’s Comment of the Day really doesn’t refer to anything in the post itself. It was sparked by Commenter Other Bill’s statement objecting to Ethics’ Alarms use of the term “The Great Stupid” to describe the current cultural chaos, “What’s going on is a slow motion, Marxist-inspired, relentless revolution.” I like “The Great Stupid,” which is not to say that the rise of Marxism wasn’t the Greatest Stupid of Them All.

I know I’m repeating this story, but it’s relevant. In my lucky two-hour private session with futurist Herman Kahn (above) then widely regarded as the smartest man alive, we discussed the craziness of the Sixties. He opined that throughout human history, various civilizations periodically forgot what they had learned over generations, represented by traditions, values, and practices that were taken for granted but not thought about any more. “This always leads to extended periods of mass stupidity and resulting human and societal disasters, after which society is reminded why they had the rules, traditions and values for so long. Sometimes, but not always, the damage can be repaired,” he said. Herman’s example of damage that could not be repaired was the sexual revolution, particularly the end of society’s disapproval of having babies out of marriage. Another, my personal “favorite,” is the reversal of society’s formal disapproval of recreational drug use.

Right now, an epic number of really bad ideas are being accepted by people who should know better, and not all of the idiocy can be explained by Marxism. Defunding the police? Marxists need police to keep the unenlightened in line—that’s just stupidity. Allowing a single incident in Minnesota to trigger widespread riots, property destruction and death based on false information and emotion? Stupidity. A lot of the bad ideas slithering around now are best explained by the lack of critical thinking skills in the public at large, due, not to Marxist education, but to incompetent education.

Here is Michael R’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Afternoon Ethics Delights, 4/6/2021”:

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Comments Of The Day Day Comment Of The Day #2: “Ethics Observations On ‘Prayers Of A Weary Black Woman’”

Steve-O-in-NJ also gets a Comment of the Day for a very different reaction to “Ethics Observations On ‘Prayers Of A Weary Black Woman’”

Steve’s reaction, as you might expect if you are familiar with his commentary, is much harder of nose. It it too callous to be ethical? The ethic of the United States, from it’s origins, has always emphasized personal responsibility and the obligation of society and government to allow individuals to live their own lives, address their own failings, achieve what they can achieve, and advance by their own effort and talent. Community, by it’s own nature, implies a group that strives to help when it can, but the bitter attitude reflected in the hateful “prayer” is something quite different.

Steve answers the query, “Have I been dismissive of your burdens, and perhaps even cast blame upon you?,” by stating, “Like I said, I have my problems, you have yours. Deal with them. The one thing all your problems have in common is you.”

Too harsh?

Ethical?

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On Comments Of The Day Day, Comment Of The Day #1: “Ethics Observations On ‘Prayers Of A Weary Black Woman'”

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This is a Ryan Harkins Super Comment Of The Day, combining a series of his reflections on this prayer for racial hate. Here it is, inspired by “Ethics Observations On “Prayers Of A Weary Black Woman’” and a comment by Glenn Logan:

I wonder, if we had a poll, which of the following people would find more appealing? “Dear God, please help me to hate White people…” or: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, help me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy. O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” [Side note: though this prayers if often associated with St. Francis of Assisi, it is entirely absent from his writings. Its use can only be traced back to just before World War I.]

After spending a little more time reflecting on this incredible diatribe, I decided to take a step back and ask what it is about me that would lead to this. Now, I’m not necessarily claiming any direct personal responsibility for this terrible prayer, but my reflections do stem from Matthew 25:31-46. Have I seen you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and I did not minister to you?

Have I been indifferent to your struggles, since they are not mine? Have I been dismissive of your burdens, and perhaps even cast blame upon you? Did I sneer at your poverty, your drug addiction, your broken relationships, and say they were the just desserts of your poor choices? Have I stood at a distance and shrugged, because someone else would help, or if no one else did, the government would lavish plenitude upon you? Did I think that you were greedy for free money, and not feel the sting to your pride? Did I never feel the self-doubt and the hurt? Did I never extend a hand in genuine friendship, giving in to my own fears, rejecting you for your skin color before you could reject me for mine? If I showed you a smile, was it forced and hollow, because I cared more about not being called a racist than in offering you genuine happiness? Did I always demand you come to me asking, and never came without being asked? Was I the one who demanded you get a job before I’d respect you? Was I the one who belittled you for taking the opportunities offered you, without ever taking a moment to see if you were actually qualified? Did I ever stop to listen to you, to really listen to you, instead of lecturing at you?

This is not white guilt, but perhaps a bit of personal guilt at failing to walk side by side with someone who is hurting. Perhaps trying to walk alongside that person is not what they want, but am I so pusillanimous that I would not bear my heart to be wounded, that I would rather not risk pain in an effort to help another person?

I think this applies broadly. I think it is true that conservative economic theory is better than liberal theory, that it helps more people by increasing capital and opportunities all around. But the temptation for the conservatives is the same for the liberals. Correct me if I’m wrong, and I’m just spouting out my personal failings and shouldn’t indict others in my sins, but it seems that both the right and the left want to skip personally helping someone, and just let the monolithic, impersonal systems do the heavy lifting. If it isn’t letting the government distribute welfare to all those in need, then it is letting the economy generate the jobs that will then give people the opportunity to rise out of poverty.

Yes, I know there will be people who will unjustly hate with the fiercest hate imaginable, and there’s nothing I can do to change that. And there’s too much hate for anyone one person (save for the one person who proved his love for us by dying for us) to handle. But maybe there’s a great deal more hate than there needs to be because I didn’t do my small part to diffuse it.

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Comment Of The Day: “Post-Zoom Hangover Ethics, 3-31-21….” (Item #3: Sliming Gina Carano)

Humble Talent provides a perceptive take on the Disney-Gina Carano debacle, just another small piece in the rapidly developing mosaic of of corporate alliance with the purveyors of aspiring woke mind and speech control. I first wrote about the episode here. My suspicion is that the Arrogant Left is wildly overplaying its hand (as it did against Donald Trump: the pandemic rescued them, but they think it’s because they were brilliant, as undeservedly lucky people always do.)

Here is HT’s Comment of the Day on item #3 in the post, “Post-Zoom Hangover Ethics, 3-31-21…”,in response to a comment by E2. Normally I would have a bit of the comment up before the jump, but now WordPress’s inexcusably clumsy “block” system won’t let me do that, at least not easily. Don’t let that stop you: it’s a great comment.

E2 wrote ,“Gina Carano appears to be among the 1/100th of 1% of Americans who know some history. Nazism, World War II, the Holocaust shaped our world — and still is — and to call out totalitarianism of any kind is worthy of praise, not ridicule by a bunch of IQ-80 leftists.”

Kind of. Carano actually retweeted someone who said that, she didn’t write the words herself. She’s given interviews after this whole debacle happened, and what I get from them is that she was actually kind of politically naïve, and provides a case study in how the left pushes people away.

The first landmine she stepped on was following a bunch of Twitter people getting very upset that she didn’t have pronouns in her bio. I want to point out that this is yet another example of mandate creep; these things always start out with “why are you making fun of the things I’m doing, they don’t effect you” and end with “if you don’t also do this thing I’m doing, you’re a bigot.” Carano did what I probably would have, from the safety of my relative online anonymity: She added “beep/bop/boop” as pronouns as a middle finger to them, as opposed to a “fuck you” to internet busybodies, so it was determined that she was mocking pronouns in bios! So she was officially branded a transphobe.

It went downhill from there, Disney’s corporate HR/PR engine took over; they wanted to subject her to struggle sessions, they went back and forth over what her apology was going to look like, and it was all very Orwellian. It would have been interesting instead if Disney had taken a moment to step back and understand that they were dealing with a person. But they didn’t. There were people angry on Twitter, and even though Disney’s main demographic isn’t on Twitter, and even though they were joyfully touching penises with Chinese dictators, and even though Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts) has literally killed people with Goop, they decided THIS was where they were going to make a stand and signal their virtue with the force of 1000 stars!

Take a step back and consider: You’re under siege. You made a joke on Twitter, and all of a sudden your career is on the rails, people are constantly misinterpreting what you’re saying when they aren’t outright lying about you, do you think that builds a good impression of those people? Course not. So she started getting support from the right, because the right is actually pretty good at welcoming people the left seem to hate, and she started to post (Dun dun DUUUUUUUN!!!) right-leaning memes. Well! Now she’s an alt-right insurrectionist transphobe. Anti-Semitic too!

One of the memes was about the holocaust (The one mentioned above). So again, Disney, great and mighty arbiter of morality, who airbrushed John Boyega out of movie posters for China because they thought that Chinese audiences were too racist to watch a movie with a black lead, decided THAT was the last straw: a holocaust meme! How dare she! Not taking into account that Pedro Pascal had just posted his own meme comparing Trump’s Kids in Cages™ to Nazi death camps, Disney, in their fair minded and ultimate wisdom, fired Carano, cancelled her planned spinoff, took her action figure off toy store shelves, and then brushed their hands together and called it a job done.

And now…. Gina Carano is working with The Daily Wire’s new entertainment division. We’ll see how that pans out. Like I said: Case study in how the left pushes people away. The leftist political meat grinder took someone who wasn’t politically active, and put her on the Daily Wire.

 

Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/23/2021: Shots” [Item #1: McDonald’s]

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I have been at war periodically with our two local McDonald’s, one of which I have permanently boycotted since a manager there insisted that when my son’s friend ordered a “cheeseburger with nothing on it,” it was reasonable to omit the cheese. The other one is notorious for non-English speaking drive-up order-takers, long delays, and, as in this instance, botched orders. I wish I had prompted Michael R’s Comment of the Day on Item #1 of today’s warm-up years ago.

Here it is, a cautionary tale to be sure…

Why is McDonald’s messed up? I can tell you why, because I lived through it.. McDonald’s used to be pretty fast and efficient. McDonald’s stores were a mix of franchisees and Corporate-owned stores. The McDonald’s Corporation provided training and support for franchisees and their key staff, but franchisees ran their own stores and had some latitude in how that was done.

In the early 1990’s, the Corporation found that their most profitable stores were ALL owned by franchisees. They couldn’t understand it. The Corporation was staffed by highly-trained experts and professionals. The franchisees were just Joe-blow off the street hiring their relatives for managers. How could average people out-perform the EXPERTS? They decided that the franchisees must have lucked into ALL the good locations. So, they proceeded to buy up all the best-performing McDonald’s in the country. These were ‘fast stores’, averaging over $20,000 in sales/day at the time. After a year of corporate ownership, however, these stores had all become ‘slow’ stores, with well under $10,000/day in sales. The McDonald’s Corporation even sued several of the former franchisees, claiming that their sales figures must have been faked, because the ‘experts’ couldn’t replicate the success.

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Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Exclamation Points, 3/16/21: Duh! Whoa! Yay! Gag! Asshole!” (Item #1)

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The following Comment of the Day by long, LONG time commenter Michael West is especially welcome: there’s nothing I like better than a long, erudite COTD when I feel terrible and every moment not seeping is an ordeal. For a lot of reasons, I was way behind on my usual dental care last year, and the piper must ne paid: I have two toothaches, a related sinus infection and headache, and now face three extractions next week that wish could be in the next minute. My situation is just one more fun benefit of the lockdown, drastic, sot-in-the-dark precaution that had still unmeasurable benefits and many, many costs that have still not been quantified.

But I digress. People citing the Bible as authority for dubious ethical principles or, in the case sparking the COTD, unethical conduct has always been a pet peeve of mine even before I started thinking about such matters as a career. The example abused by Don Lemon was even on the Rationalization List: #6, The Biblical Rationalizations.

As a special treat, Michael ends by taking on “Walk a mile in another man’s shoes.”

Here is his erudite Comment of the Day on the first item in the post, “Ethics Exclamation Points, 3/16/21: Duh! Whoa! Yay! Gag! Asshole!”

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Oh look, someone who hasn’t cracked open a Bible in decades hopes to lecture Christians or Jews on Judeo-Christianity!

Here’s the whole passage from Matthew-

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”

This comes from the famous Sermon on the Mount.

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