Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/9/2020: Coronavirus Ethics And A Pop Ethics Quiz

You’re looking lovely today, I must say! Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?

Fortunately, I’m almost always “self-quarantined…”

1. Ethics tales of Covid-19:

  • Ethics Hero: Senator Ted Cruz has just made a point of serving as a role model by self-quarantining in his Texas home because he interacted with a person at the Conservative Political Action Conference who, according to Maryland heath officials, tested positive for coronavirus, . Cruz says  he had only a brief conversation and shook hands with the person, and that  the contact took place ten days ago. Cruz  isn’t experiencing symptoms, and the odds are low that the virus passed to him.

Nonetheless, a public example from a prominent figure of using an abundance of caution can only help.

  • On the other side of the Covid-19 ethics divide, we have the father-daughter pair,  family members of the St. Louis County woman who tested positive for COVID-19 as the first confirmed carrier of the virus in Missouri, who attended a father-daughter dance at the Ritz-Carlton in Clayton, Missouri, after being told by health officials to be like Ted.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page told reporters that the family understood what they had been instructed to do, and just ignored the directives anyway.

Again I ask, what is the appropriate way to punish people like this? All plagues and epidemics spread this way, with the unhealthy contribution of idiots. Mary Mallon, aka Typhoid Mary, was an Irish cook at the beginning of the 20th Century who kept escaping authorities as an asymptomatic carrier of the deadly disease, and going back to work under false names. At least three deaths are definitely blamed on her; she infected more than 50 people before she was finally placed in isolation for the rest of her life. Continue reading

Noonish Ethics Warm-Up (But It’s Morning To Me!), 3/6/2020: Bill Clinton Returns, And Other Amusements

Morning already, Sea Dog?

I guess I have to admit that I don’t bounce back from travel like I used to…incidentally,the original voice of Captain Crunch was the great Daws Butler, who was Hanna-Barbara’s answer to Mel Blanc, and every bit as versatile as the voice of Bugs, Porky and Daffy. He was Fred Flintstone, Huckleberry Hound, Quickdraw McGraw (and Baba Looey) Yogi Bear and Elroy Jetson, just to name a few of his 459 characters.

1. Enemy of the people…the Coronavirus situation is a perfect example of how the news media’s inability to avoid partisan bias does tangible harm. It is literally impossible to get straight reporting. The left-biased news media wants to make the situation seem as dire as possible, wants disruption of the financial markets, wants to undermine trust in the federal response, all because they so, so want to see President Trump defeated in November and they can feel that objective slipping away. The conservative media is determined to bolster the administration, and give the cheeriest spin on the pandemic possible. You either have to choose what you want to believe, or, like me, resign yourself to uncertainty because we have a corrupt and unethical journalistic establishment.

After the head of the World Health Organization (WHO)  estimated the global mortality rate of the coronavirus to be 3.4%, President Trump said on Fox News that his “hunch” was that it was much lower.

“I think the 3.4 percent is really a false number, and this is just my hunch, but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this because a lot of people will have this and it’s very mild. They’ll get better very rapidly, they don’t even see a doctor, they don’t even call a doctor. You never hear about these people.”

He was immediately attacked in the press and mocked on social media, because, you know, he lies, he’s an idiot, and he doesn’t believe in science. His “hunch,’ however, is almost certainly right, and for exactly the reason he talked about. From The Hill:

“Experts warn that the figure from WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus comes full of caveats and is likely to change as more people get tested and undergo treatment for the virus. ‘I think it’s lower because we are missing mild cases,’ said Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. ‘We should be preparing for [the worst] cases, it’s true, but also going out to see what the real number is….Folks want to be able to understand what the true risk is. They want to know just how deadly is it, how deadly is it to me? The challenge is, we don’t totally know.'”

Joe Biden, meanwhile, noted that the outbreak occurring during The Great War made it hard to separate the Real McCoy from the malarkey.

Oh, lighten up! I’m just having a little fun. Continue reading

Monday Morning Warm-Up, 3/2/2020: Idling, Stigmatizing, Lying

Good Monday!

1. Totalitarianism watch.  Idling one’s car for longer than three minutes, or more than one minute while adjacent to a school, is illegal in New York City. There have been anti-idling laws since 1972, but they were previously examples of the law being used to encourage conduct rather than enforce it. Now, with socialist Bill de Blasio at the city’s helm, the laws are being enforced with a vengeance.

The city is offering bounties to  citizens who report their neighbors, for example. “If you witness a vehicle idling illegally, you can potentially receive a reward for your enforcement efforts through our Citizens Air Complaint Program” says a city website.

Nice.

The theory is that forcing people into not idling their car will mitigate climate change, just like forcing people to ride bicycles and to stop having children when the Left gains sufficient power and the Green New Deal is within reach. Cars idling for no reason is a pet peeve of mine, particularly when they idle in a parking space with cars waiting while the driver checks his or her messages on a cell phone. There are, however, good reasons for idling. I have idled while recharging a dead battery for example. I have idled in sub-freezing weather to keep the car warm while my wife, who had a cold, ran into a 7-11 to buy some cough medicine. The blunt boot of the law does not belong in this matter, like many matters that today’s progressives and socialists want to turn into government edicts.

Oh—the PR geniuses in de Blasio-land decided that the ideal spokesperson for the anti-idling campaign is washed up rocker Billy Idol. Continue reading

Great. Now We’re Cancelling Bells…

BAD bell! BAD BELL. Nobody likes you, Bell. You’ve been bad!

Apparently Louisiana’s Tulane University believes in curses, or maybe it is the irredeemability of inanimate objects. What ever you want to call it, its theory is bats.

In a letter emailed to the Tulane community, President Mike Fitts and Board Chairman Doug Hertz said they were informed last week that the “Victory Bell” was originally used to direct the movements of enslaved people on a plantation. This means, apparently, that the bell itself is no longer fit to be seen or heard by decent people.

“It is terribly disheartening to learn that it is, in fact, a vestige of a horrific part of our nation’s past,” Fitts and Hertz wrote. “Now that we understand its history as an instrument of slavery, continuing to use this bell in a celebratory manner would run counter to our values.”

What values are those, exactly? No wonder substantial numbers among recent generations of Americans think that we are obligated to eradicate all images, symbols, memorials and references to the Confederacy, slavery, Jim Crow or other aspects of racial discrimination, if a piece of metal has to be banished because of what it was rung for over a 150 years ago.

The Victory Bell was cast in 1825 and donated  to the school by  a former Louisiana governor and Tulane law school graduate. Beginning in 1960, the bell stood in front of Fogelman Arena and was rung after Tulane basketball victories for decades. In 2011, the bell was refurbished and moved to the front of the university’s McAlister Auditorium, where, at least as far as anyone can tell, it has not been proselytizing students about the joys of slavery, ringing out “Dixie” all by itself, or attacking unwary students with its clapper. Nonetheless, I’m certain students would tell you that they won’t feel “safe” with a plantation bell around.

It’s a bell. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Girl Scout Cookie Cheats?

Just yesterday I bought my yearly two boxes of Thin Mints from some incredibly adorable little girls selling the Girl Scout cookies from a card table outside my local CVS. I had planned on buying them from a Girl Scout I have never met, though the agency of her mother, who sold them to me last year. But she never got in touch with me—I think she’s another one who is steamed at me for some post here (over at Windypundit, it’s slam Jack Marshall day by another former commenter) —so the adorable little girls got my 20 bucks this year.

Today I encounter an interesting opinion piece that holds that mothers like my friend are “cheaters.” JM Finster writes:

As with any fund-drive, the idea is to support the cause, but with the cookies, uniquely, customers buy them to give “the awesome girls who sell them,” in the words of the Girl Scouts, “the opportunity to learn essential life skills, soar in confidence, and quickly discover the leader within.” Research has shown that none of that happens when parents sell the cookies at work..So it is that the cookies land on a desk in a skyscraper without a Girl Scout in sight.

The cookie drive should be better than that. Selling is crucial to every endeavor, in that it requires the ability to make a convincing presentation, to answer questions, and to project self-assurance. Everyone needs to do that, in one form or another, but that last attribute, in particular, is sometimes lacking in the best of us, especially shy young ladies.

Since Girl Scout troops keep track of sales by individuals, even offering prizes for the best results, parent-cheaters can hardly resist the chance to prove their own sales skills and boost their girl to the top of the ranking. …If a Scout comes over to the house for a sales call, a parent will undoubtedly come along as an escort. That’s all right, except that the parent will do all the talking, no matter how hard one tries to give the awesome girl standing off to the side the opportunity to learn essential life skills, soar in confidence, and quickly discover the leader within. With the adult recording the sale and later delivering the cookies, their daughter the Girl Scout—all in one stroke!—wins a prize for outstanding sales and loses the chance to learn something about sales…For the sake of the runny-nosed little girl, who keeps poor sales records, lets her boxes get crushed in the back of the car, and exhibits more enthusiasm than smooth-talk, kindly sidestep the parent-cheaters and let her learn. In fact, make her learn and insist she does the talking. 

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz to kick off March:

Are parents who help Girl Scouts sell more cookies cheating?

Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz: The Sixth Grade Dance”

As I thought it would, today’s ethics quiz about the 6th grade dance with the “must accept” policy has sparked some excellent reflections and flashbacks. Taking off from Bryan’s comment—

When my son was in sixth grade cotillion class, the instructor prefaced dances with “in this class, and only in this class, if someone asks ‘may I have this dance?’ the answer is ‘yes, thank you.’ “ They also switched off having boys ask girls and girls ask boys. The whole point of the class was to learn polite interaction at an age when they’re so confused and might otherwise act weird. I thought it was a lovely compromise. This was in about 2005, so it was not so long ago, yet not inflicted with today’s outrageous thinking.

Pennagain authored this  Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethics Quiz: The Sixth Grade Dance”:

My experience was the same as Bryan’s – about a half-century prior. The class was once a week, part of the gym program as well as a “social” activity, I believe, and emphasizing a similar “buddy” system – you partnered with everyone at one time or another.

Ours was a smallish class so we got around to everyone else at least twice. We learned ethnic circle dances in lower classes, then box step, fox trot, waltz, and some others, ending the 8th grade (preparing for our first “formal”) with a singularly unsensual rumba. One of my classmates had hyperhydrosis, aka, a surfeit of sweat, and holding her hand was a chore for her partner and an agony for her. It got so we would safety-pin a pair of socks – not necessarily clean ones – under the shirt’s left shoulder to take care of half the problem and then, with her eager cooperation, each would try to touch each other’s palms with as little pressure as possible. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Sixth Grade Dance

A furious mother is making an issue out of a Utah middle school’s policy requiring sixth-graders to agree acquiesce when a classmate asks them to dance.

Alicia Hobson’s 11-year-old daughter, Azlyn was asked to dance by a boy she thought was icky. She “politely” refused, but the principle at Rich Middle School in Laketown, Utah,  intervened, telling the couple to get out onto the dance floor. Was the boy short, fat, covered with acne, bad-smelling, a bully, afflicted with Down Syndrome? Was he poor, have a lisp, or Muslim? Was there a cool boy Azlyn was waiting to play Prince Charming? Never mind: As the principal, Kip Motta, later explained in a letter to Alicia Hobson, the school has a policy requiring students to accept dance invitations, and sticks by it. Motta wrote,

“We do ask all students to dance. It is the nice thing to do and this will continue to be our policy. There have been similar situations in the past where some students have felt uncomfortable with others, and, as stated prior, the issues were discreetly handled. This allowed all students to feel welcome, comfortable, safe, and included.”

Hobson equates the policy with “rape culture,” and is prepared to take the issue to the Utah Board of Education. “Girls HAVE to learn that they have the right to say no and that those around them have to respect that,” Hobson wrote on Facebook. “I’m not going to quietly stand by while my daughter and all of her classmates are being wrapped up in rape culture. No way.”

Ethics Alarms dealt with a similar issue in a different context in this post, about children accepting kisses and hugs from repulsive family members.

Before I pop the quiz question, I have three observations. The first is that that the principal’s fad use of the word “safe” has just got to stop. That’s not what “safe” means, and if we keep using “safe” to mean “insulated from any event, feeling or experience that someone might prefer to avoid,” the word will cease to have any communication value. The second is that equating the social obligation to accept an invitation at a supervised dance with “rape culture” is a hyperbolic crock, and should be identified as such immediately.

The third observation is that the “Today” headline is intentionally misleading and unfairly supports the mother’s inflammatory framing. “School policy forbids kids from saying ‘no’ when asked to dance” presumes the conclusion Hobson wants. “School policy requires students to be kind and considerate when asked to dance” promotes  the school’s rationale. An ethical and responsible headline would be, ““School policy requires students to accept an invitation to dance.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz today :

Is the school’s policy wise and ethical?

Continue reading