Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/10/2021: “Help! Every Ethics Story I Find Makes Me Want To Jump Into My Shredder!”

Remember that Ethics Alarms is dependent on its many scouts, tipsters, fans and friends to keep the content varied and enlightening. As it is I can’t keep up, and having to engage in principled boycotts of unethical news sources (CNN, MSNBC, NPR, Fox News, ESPN, ABC and more) has made research more difficult, since even these blighters of the culture occasionally have something useful to report. Positive stories, those that tell me that society may be heading into the light rather than slithering into the darkness, have been in especially short supply lately, or if they have not, I’m not seeing them.

Speaking of seeing, maybe one reason I am in a rotten mood is that my wife decided that the perfect way to begin the week was by watching the 2008 Canadian film “Blindness,” a smug, would-be ethics film in which much of the world is suddenly rendered sightless by a mysterious pandemic. The movie’s villain is a blind man with a gun, who declares himself “king;” Julianne Moore plays an ophthalmologist’s wife who pretends to be blind so she can stay with her sightless husband as the stricken are rounded up by the government; and the plot has developments like this (from the Wikipedia plot summary):

“A man with a handgun appoints himself “king” of his ward, and takes control of the food deliveries, first demanding the other wards’ valuables, and then for the women to have sex with their men. In an effort to obtain necessities, several women reluctantly submit to being raped. One of the women is killed by her assailant, and the doctor’s wife retaliates, killing the “king” with a pair of scissors. In the ensuing chaos, the building catches fire, with many inmates dying. The survivors who escape the building discover that the guards have abandoned their posts, and they venture out into the city. Society has collapsed, with the city’s population reduced to an aimless, zombie-like struggle to survive.”

Amusingly and predictably, the movie was attacked by organizations representing the blind.

It made me wish I was blind while I was watching it.

1. Wow…the New York Times really is sticking with the debunked “1619 Project” narrative! Nick Rojas writes this in a Times news story:

The Three-Fifths Compromise, an agreement reached during the negotiations in 1787 to create the United States Constitution, found that, for the purposes of representation and taxation, only three-fifths of a state’s enslaved people would be counted toward its total population. It is regarded as one of the most racist deals among the states during the country’s founding.

The Three-Fifths Compromise was not racist, and it is only notorious to the historically ignorant and those who have deliberately misrepresented the facts to advance Critical Race Theory. Giving full representation to slaves in the Southern states would have vastly increased the slave states’ power, and made it more difficult to keep slavery from spreading. Historians are mostly in agreement that the compromise was ultimately in the long-term interests of black Americans and began the process leading to emancipation.

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Attempting To Understand An Anti-White Bigot

Guest Post by Null Pointer

[The University of Washington featured this head-exploding essay by an anti-white bigot named Andre Lawes Menchavez. Do remember his name, and if he presents his credentials to you for employment, do make sure he explains why you shouldn’t toss him right out the door. Among the offensive quotes: “Whites will continue to do what whites have always done in our history –– create carnage at the expense of minority communities in order to obtain their own selfish desires.” That’s per se racism. That’s what the University of Washington is indoctrinating its students to believe. Any guess where this, multiplied all over the nation in thousands of colleges and universities, inevitably leads? In truth, you shouldn’t have to guess.

It’s ironic that this post, in response to Michael Ejercito’s request for comments on the piece in the last Open Forum, is Guest Post worthy: my flip response to Michael’s question was that it wasn’t worth the time or energy to rebut. Then Null Pointer proved me wrongJM]

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I don’t get the sense that any of the words came from the author. It is all pure Critical Race Theory, almost verbatim. He sounds like a deeply unhappy person who has consumed large quantities of propaganda. I don’t really know where to start analyzing this, so I’m just going to ramble and hope something smart comes out.

All of the articles I read in this vein seem to be written by people with a completely external locus of control. The individuals seem to think they ought to be able to dictate to everyone else what they can think, say and do, and because they cannot, the world is a horrible place with everyone out to get them. Nothing that happens to them is the result of their own actions, but they want to be made some sort of god who can control everyone who doesn’t think and feel exactly as they do about everything.

If you go through life thinking that the only way you will ever have control over your own life is if you can control everyone else’s life as well, then I would guess you would always feel pretty powerless and unimportant. I pity these people for their misery, and resent them for trying to blame their problems on everyone else.

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A Word From Your Sponsor…

I’m giving a Zoom CLE seminar, 3 hours, for legal ethics credits, for the D.C. Bar this evening. If you are a lawyer, you might want to participate. The program is “Clarence Darrow’s Legal Ethics Lessons for Today’s More Ethical Lawyers 2021,” and features, as Darrow, my friend and long-time D.C. theater star Paul Morella. (You may recall him as a sinister young law firm associate in “The Pelican Brief.”) I do the ethics stuff.

Paul and I have done constantly evolving versions of this seminar for years, an adaptation of a one-man show I wrote for my late, lamented Arlington, VA theater company 20 years ago. Paul has continued to perform the show all over the country.

The link is here.

Now back to our usual scheduled programming….

Evening Ethics Cool-Down, 5/5/21: Toyota, Patents, And The Cheating Homecoming Queen

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I don’t want to over-use the “This Date In Ethics” concept, but attention must be paid: this was the day, in 1961,that Navy Commander Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr. boarded the Freedom 7 space capsule to becoming the first American astronaut to travel into space.

In these times where so many aspects of our culture are working to imbue Americans with fear of living, when people wear masks in their cars and teachers are willing to cripple both the economy and children’s education to minimize their risk of catching a virus, it should be remembered that a young, healthy man risked his life and the chance of a fiery death to advance America’s science and the spirit of exploration.

1. For some reason (Cognitive dissonance?) I haven’t been checking Althouse as often since she decided that her readers were hogging too much attention on her blog by insisting on posting comments. She still has an admirable talent for cutting through the BS. Reacting to today’s announcement that Facebook’s “quasi-indepedent” board upheld FaceBook’s partisan and anti-democratic ban on Donald Trump’s posts. Ann writes, “I’m not surprised. If the decision had gone the other way, Facebook could have found some new offense and banned him again.”

Not could have, though; would have.

2. How is this fair or equitable? Once again, Toyota is giving a special discount to “recent college graduates.” This is, of course, ham-handed pro-college virtue-signaling, but wouldn’t you guess that non-college grads of the same age need such discounts more? In the TV ad, we see a nice, upper-middle class white girl from childhood to college—it sure looks like her parents can afford a car…or she can afford a full-price cheaper car. Interestingly, this is one of the relatively few TV ads running now that dares to feature a white character who doesn’t at least mitigate her ingrained evil by being part of a mixed-race family.

Special deals on products and services for special categories of Americans—yes, even veterans—are divisive and incoherent.

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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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“It’s A New Week!” Ethics Warm-Up, 5/3/2021: Good Day Edition

Bad, BAD week last week, and not just for me. It was a bad week in ethics, and because of my own shortcomings, I wasn’t able to properly provide a path through it. This week will be better, starting today. At least if I have anything to say about it…

1. From “the rest of the story” files: Remember when Jonathan Papelbon attacked Bryce Harper in the Washington Nationals dugout? It was 2015, and pretty much marked the end of relief ace Paplebon’s career. Harper went on to become a mega-million dollar free agent after the 2018 season, when he signed with the Phillies for a ridiculous 30 million dollars a year long-term contract. Papelbon finally resurfaced in Boston this season as an amusingly unrestrained analyst for NESN, which broadcasts the the Red Sox games. And I recently discovered how almost right he was to accost Harper, if admittedly a bit too enthusiastically. The prompt for Pap to go grab Harper by the neck was the latter loafing down the line as he barely ran out a ground ball. Harper’s periodic lack of hustle had been a source of annoyance for years (to be fair, he was “only” being paid 2.5 million bucks to play hard in 2015), but I just saw the stats for his last year in Washington. Having been a plus-defensive player in previous years, Harper stopped hustling entirely in 2018, both in the field and on the bases. Though he had once saved over 20 runs in a season in the field alone, in his free agent year Harper cost his team over 20 runs that year, making sure he stayed healthy for the big payday to come (to be fair, he was “only” being paid 21.6 million bucks to play hard in 2018). As soon as he had a guaranteed contract with Philadelphia, Harper started playing hard again, dashing around the bases and diving in the outfield.

Both Papelbon and Harper were jerks during their careers, but nobody could accuse “Pap” of not doing his best to win for the fans, his team, its city and his team mates every single time he stepped onto a baseball field.

2. Not Harvard this time: it’s back to Georgetown! Both of my schools’ diplomas are turned to the wall of my office in a symbolic protest against their continuing unethical policies and conduct—-I’m not sure what more I can do to signal my contempt and embarrassment. Now it’s Georgetown’s turn again—I worked for the University for five years after I graduated from the Law Center—to make me wish I had graduated from a school with some integrity. Though it has been notably un-covered by the mainstream news media, Georgetown Professor Michele Swers read the words of a Ku Klux Klan leader in her “U.S. Political Systems” class for the college, but because she “did not censor” the word “nigger,” a large contingent of her students sent a smoking gun letter letter to Swers and the college’s diversity office, demanding that she apologize profusely, review all future presentation and lecture material for potential bias;  and demonstrate her “understanding of the history of the N-word and why it is inappropriate for a non-Black person to say it in any context, including an educational context.” [Pointer: Steve Witherspoon]

So far, I can find no record of a response from the university or the professor, but writing of the incident, Prof. Turley says in part,

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“Veritas”…Right.

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Only my recent travails have delayed my letter not only withdrawing from my Georgetown Law Center class reunion committee but announcing that I have no intention of attending any celebration of a degree that has embarrassed me repeatedly for several years, most notably in this revolting episode. But, to be fair, my undergraduate degree has been rendered equally nauseating, and over a much longer period. That Harvard—it has to be #1 in everything.

This Month’s Harvard Magazine continued the apparently irreversible trend. The Harvard Library announced that it is removing the “illegal alien” subject heading from its collection descriptions, citing the hoary progressive talking-point that “actions can be illegal, but people cannot.” This has always been sophistry and rhetorical sleight of hand to make it linguistically difficult to describe what it is that is objectionable about those who illegally cross our borders and remains here, receiving the benefits of this nation without having been granted them. When the elite and educated in a society start bolstering bad ideas and flawed logic by abusing their perceived authority and confusing the ignorant and gullible, propaganda gains overwhelming power.

The “no person is illegal” trick is intellectually dishonest, of course. Illegal aliens are people who are in this country illegally. Ergo, while remaining in this country, their existence here is illegal, and hence they are illegal. One could say with equal validity—that is, none—that no drug can be truly illegal, because objects themselves can’t do anything, legal or not. It’s what is done with the drugs that is illegal–make them, distribute them, sell them, use them. You can’t prosecute an object.

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Undercovers Ethics, 4/27/21

Well, here I am trying to write a post in bed. This never works our well, but it’s this or nothing. I have clients waiting, my dog is mad at me for not walking him on a gorgeous day, and I wish I could just soldier through it all. I can’t, though, and feel like an utter failure. I’ve in pain in more than one location, a lower back strain being the latest addition, I’m in the midst of an allergy attack, and all the drugs have made me nauseous and dizzy. But ethics waits for no one, and it certainly isn’t going to wait for the likes of me.

1. This is what “systemic racism” propaganda produces…an op-ed by a civil engineering student from the University of California, Los Angeles, written for the the College Fix documents some of his discussion with the woke-infected on campus. He says he recently took part in an online debate about “systemic racism” during which some UCLA students complained that automatic soap dispensers are racist. One student said the dispensers “don’t see her hands” because of her dark skin. Another student claimed that the dispensers force “black and brown” people to show their palms, “the only light areas of the skin,” before the liquid soap comes out.

Both students are delusional, but this is how the current “racist America all the time everywhere” makes gullible and insecure blacks paranoid and miserable.

2. Blame Mitch McConnell for the “court packing” rationalizations. Last week, a Georgetown law student—poor bastard— confronted Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) when he accused Democrats of making a “power grab.””You didn’t see Republicans, when we had control of the Senate, try to rig the game. You didn’t see us try to pack the court,” he said. The law student protested, “How is court packing any different than what the Republicans did in 2016 and 2020?”

“We filled vacancies, that’s not packing the court,” Cruz insisted, as the law student insisted there was no difference between what Republicans refusing to consider President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to replace Justice Scalia, did and what Democrats are now trying to do by expanding the court. “They’re doing something that’s allowed under the Constitution,” the student countered. “It’s not an obstruction to the rule of law if it’s in the law.”

Ugh. Mitch McConnell’s unethical—not illegal—gambit to bury the Garland nomination under a contrived election year rule may have worked, but Republicans will be suffering for it for generations—and they deserve to. No, what the GOP did wasn’t “court packing,” which has had a specific, well-understood meaning since FDR tried it. But the laws student is already adept at the progressive craft of redefining words and concepts to meet whatever goal they are seeking to justify at the moment.

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The Democratic Party Has Announced That Discrimination Against Asian-Americans Can Be Justified

It can’t.

This was a significant and revealing vote in the Senate last week in many ways.

Senate Democrats united to vote down an amendment from Senate Republicans designed to bar “Federal funding for any institution of higher education that discriminates against Asian Americans in recruitment, applicant review, or admissions.” The addition was proposed for the grandstanding Senate legislation called the “COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act” that would require “expedited review of hate crimes” by the Department of Justice with “online reporting of hate crimes or incidents” and “expand public education campaigns aimed at raising awareness of hate crimes and reaching victims.”

This unnecessary legislation, sponsored by Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono, passed the Senate 94-1, because nobody is against “hate crimes.” Yet oddly, the Democratic Party, at least in the Senate, appears to be in favor of discrimination against Asian Americans. Why is that? The Yea-Nay vote was 49 – 48, with no Republican voting against the amendment, and not a single Democrat voting for it.

“We have major universities in this country that are discriminating in admissions against Asian-Americans,” Louisiana Republican Senator John Kennedy (R-La) said. “Discrimination is discrimination…This is wrong, it is contemptible, it is odious.” Yes, yes it is. But the current ideology of the political Left now holds that discrimination against whites is good discrimination (they have it coming, after all, the racist bastards!) and discrimination against Asian-Americans is necessary discrimination. The argument is vile, and indefensible in law or ethics, which is why, so far at least, the mainstream news media is burying the story and the vote. The passage of the pandemic hate crimes act is being trumpeted everywhere, perhaps because the news media is complicit in the wildly inflated public belief in the extent of the problem it addresses, but the Democratic rejection of S.Amdt. 1456 is barely mentioned at all. Regarding this, I will repeat the same rhetorical question I asked once already here: “Why is that?”

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The Corruption Of Education In America, Public And Private: A Tweet And A Parent’s Letter

Yes, that’s the tweet. No, I’m not kidding: that’s a real tweet. The Tweeter is the head of the American Federation of Teachers, herself a teacher. You can’t get more res ipsa loquitur than that, can you? Don’t tell me that anyone can make a mistake: THAT 115% mistake can only be made by a rank incompetent, and she’s the leader of the national teacher’s union. She’s a teacher, and yet she made a second grade-level math error on a tweet she knew would be circulated nationally. And about 200 teachers, who have been teaching children while suffering from Randi’s level of ineptitude, with perhaps some victims of the educational system they have polluted mixed in, actually liked this message.

Yet the math mistake isn’t even the worst aspect of the tweet. The message is also outright deceit: it isn’t “child care” that made mothers leave their jobs. It’s the unnecessary shutting down of public schools that was engineered in great part by Weingarten’s members and has been extended by them for their own political and financial agenda. These are the people we entrust the minds of our children to when we use the public schools by necessity or choice. Far too many of them are not qualified to teach, intellectually or ethically. If they were, they would not tolerate leaders like Randi Weingarten.

The tweet, however, is just a small piece of evidence in a much longer indictment. That indictment can be found here, in a letter by brave parent, Andrew Gutmann, to his daughter’s $54,000 a year private school, Brearley, an all-girls institution on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He shared it with New York Times expatriot Bari Weiss, now writing at substack as so many rebel journalists and pundits are now.

His indictment applies equally to private and public schools for the most part, as well as colleges and universities. Liyyle of it, perhaps none of it, will surprise anyone who has been reading here at Ethics Alarms, or who has been paying attention.

Gutmann writes,

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