More On The “Fuck Biden” Ethics Train Wreck: Is Andrea Dick An Ethics Hero?

Dick

I’ll be uncharacteristically brief: I think she is.

As I stated in the previous post, her conduct was unethical. She was uncivil and disrespectful to her neighbors. Posting “Fuck Biden” signs is protected speech, but it is still unethical speech. She isn’t doing any good by posting such rhetoric. She setting out to annoy and irritate people, while being verbally assault to her nation’s leader. She has no defense, other than the claim that she has a right to be an asshole. And indeed she has.

However, now that the government is attempting to abridge her rights of free expression and speech, and using an inapplicable obscenity ordinance to do it, she has a patriotic, legal and ethical duty to oppose the efforts to silence her even though she should have shut up in the first place.

Ironically, although her signs and banners represent unethical behavior, she has created an obligation for herself to stand behind them. This will take courage and resources, but it appears that she will not be intimidated. Good. Her abuses of free speech must be protected lest free speech itself be diminished.

Andrea may be an asshole, but she is not a weenie, like so, so many Americans of far greater power and influence than she who have been intimidated into apologizing and retracting their political or social views. We have little to fear from assholes. America was built by assholes—stubborn, ornery iconoclasts who marched to their own drummers and didn’t care who liked it. Weenies, however, are an existential threat. Weenies strip away our rights by being too timid to fight for their own.

Andrea Dick is now an Ethics Hero. After she wins, she can prove she’s not an asshole by taking down her “Fuck Biden” signs because she decides to, and not because the government demands it.

Ethics Hero Emeritus: Rose Valland (1898-1980)

Rose-Valland

The remarkable 2008 documentary “The Rape of Europa” tells the story of the Nazi plundering of fine art across Europe. It is full of many accounts of heroism, none more impressive than that of Rose Villand, a meek-looking librarian out of central casting, who is as perfect and example of how ordinary people can rise to extraordinary levels of courage and innovation in times of crisis.

Rose Valland was born in Saint-Étienne-de-Saint-Geoirs, France on November 1, 1898. She earned two degrees in the arts from the École des Beaux-Arts in Lyon and also studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, then added degrees in art history from both the École du Louvre and the Sorbonne. Her academic credentials, however, did not immediately advance her career, as Valland began work at the Jeu de Paume Museum in Paris as an unpaid volunteer.

In October 1940, during the Occupation of Paris, the Nazis commandeered the Jeu de Paume Museum and converted it into the headquarters of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, or ERR, the Nazi art looting organization created by frustrated artist Adolf Hitler. There The Nazis stored paintings and other works of art stolen from private French collectors and dealers, including thousands of works taken from Jewish-owned galleries. The museum’s collaborating curator, Andre Dézarrois, fell ill in the summer of 1941, and in a stroke of fate for civilization, Valland became the de facto director of the museum. Jacques Jaujard, Director of the French National Museums including the Louvre, gave Valland a daunting assignment: she was to use her post in the museum to spy on the Nazi art theft operation.

The Germans, as explained in “The Rape of Europa,” took scant notice of the “little mouse” of a woman who kept her head down, seldom spoke, and appeared to follow orders. They didn’t even realize that she spoke German, but under their noses she was acquiring crucial information from the conversations of drivers, guards, and packers relating to the looted art treasures…60,000 of them. Villand witnessed the frequent shopping trips of Nazi Reichsmarshal Hermann Goering as he made more than twenty separate visits to the Jeu de Paume to select works of art for Hitler’s planned Führermuseum in Linz, Austria, and his own personal collection. Possessing a remarkable memory for details, she recorded her discoveries regarding the movements, names of the victims, number of pieces and where they were going, names of the agents responsible for transfers, names of the carriers, brands of the boxes, numbers and dates of convoys,as well as the names of the artists and the dimensions of the pieces that passed before her. She relayed the information to Jaujard and the French Resistance while keeping her own meticulous records. She warned the Resistance of convoys containing important artworks so that they would be spared, all while knowing that she would be executed as a spy if her activities were discovered by the Nazis—and at least twice, they nearly caught her.

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Sunday Ethics Shots, 7/11/2021: A Rescue, Larry Vaughn In Tokyo, Joe Trippi Trips, And “La Bamba” Meets Calvinball

Alexander Hamilton died on this date in 1804, in a bizarre episode in U.S. history with profound ethical and political implications. There Aaron Burr fatally shot dead the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury and essential political thinker in an illegal duel at Weehawken, New Jersey. It was, of course, unethical to break the law, especially for these two men, who qualified as national leaders. Hamilton’s son had died defending his father’s honor in 1801 at the exact same spot (What was Alexander thinking?)

According to Hamilton’s “second,” Hamilton deliberately fired his weapon into the air rather than at Burr, a gentlemanly gesture and also a profoundly stupid one, if Hamilton believed half the things he had said and written about Burr’s character for years. This was why they were dueling, after all. Burr’s second claimed that Hamilton fired at Burr and missed, and the more I’ve thought abut this, the more I’ve come to believe that this is the more likely scenario. Hamilton was anything but naive, reckless or stupid. Yes, he was a crack shot, but anyone can miss. Even if the gesture of “throwing away his shot” as “Hamilton” puts it, would have impressed some adversaries and been seen as a display of mercy and an offer of reconciliation, it made no sense at all with this adversary. Moreover, Hamilton considered Burr a threat to the nation—he was right about that—why wouldn’t he shoot him? Whatever really happened, Burr, who had the second shot, killed Hamilton with a ball that went through his stomach into his spine. Hamilton died the next day.

This ended Burr’s political career: Would killing Burr have ended Hamilton’s? Probably, but Burr was the one who had issued the challenge. Maybe Hamilton would have been excused by the public. Maybe he would have ultimately become President; all the Founders of his magnitude except Ben Franklin did. For good or ill, Alexander Hamilton would have been a strong and probably transformative leader. But if he hadn’t died at Weehawken, it’s unlikely that we would have “Hamilton” the musical….

1. Baseball, hotdogs, and a bystander hero. Dr. Willie Ross, the father of Washington Nationals pitcher Joe Ross, saved the life of a choking fan midway through yesterday 10-4 Giants win over Washington at Oracle Park in San Francisco. Ross saw that a female spectator was choking, and when Ross came over to her seat to check on her, she couldn’t talk. Ross helped dislodge two pieces of a hot dog by using the Heimlich maneuver, then reached into her throat to take out the third and final piece. The woman, who is a nurse, could breath and speak at last. Ross received a standing ovation from nearby fans.

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Ethics Heroes: The New York Yankees

bat girl

Now you know, if you know anything about me, that the headline above was not easy for me to write. Fair, however is fair.

Gwen Goldman was 10-years-old in 1961 when she wrote to her favorite baseball team and said that she wanted to be the Yankees’ batgirl. She got a response, too, from the Yankees GM Roy Hamey. His answer, on a letter with the Yankee logo that Gwen framed and hangs in her home today, was that baseball wasn’t for girls. “In a game dominated by men a young lady such as yourself would feel out of place in a dugout,” he wrote in part. “I am sure you can understand.”

This year, her adult daughter Abby emailed a photo of the letter to the team, and current Yankees GM Brian Cashman saw it. Last week, on the 60th anniversary of Hamey’s original letter, Cashman contacted Gwen Goldman to tell her that she would finally be able to achieve her dream of being a batgirl for her beloved Yankees. And so it was that yesterday night she was the honorary batgirl for the Yankees in their game against the Los Angeles Angels. It was part of the team’s HOPE Week, a tradition the Yankees started in 2009 to promote acts of goodwill that could provide hope and encouragement to others.

“This dream of 60 years that didn’t happen is happening,” Goldman said before her big night. “It’s thanks to Abby, starting it going, and to the Yankees organization for being at the forefront of believing about breaking down those gender barriers. The letter Brian Cashman wrote to me [that’s the one in her left hand, above] , it’s just beautiful and speaks a lot to who they are as an organization, trying to do what’s right. … I picked the right team to be a fan of, didn’t I?”

Well, no, Gwen, it’s the wrong team, but this time they did the right thing.

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Ethics Hero And Ethics Quote Of The Week: Jason Whitlock

Floyd statue

The George Floyd statue outside the Newark, NJ. City Hall.

I was introduced to sportswriter Jason Whitlock 20 years ago, when he was the featured speaker at a Kansas City legal convention I was attending. He was a forceful and entertaining speaker, and quick and witty in his question and answer session after his remarks. Since then, I have followed his career with interest, especially his recent emergence as a black conservative with the courage to be direct unequivocal, and not only regarding sports.

Commenting on the epic rant by a black parent and radio pundit about Critical Race Theory I featured over the weekend, esteemed Ethics Alarms commenter Humble Talent opined,

“One of the worst trends to come out of conservative politics in the last couple of years is to put up on a pillar any minority person that will say things that conservatives agree with. I think it’s a reactionary measure; Progressives say we’re racist, sexist, or homophobic, so we go out of our way to find female/minority/gay people to platform in order to prove we aren’t…Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think they’re bad people, I just don’t think they’re smart, funny, or talented enough to get space in conservative media absent these identity markers that conservatives seem especially hungry for….”

That point is legitimate, but it can’t be fairly applied to Jason Whitlock. Yes, I believe he has received special attention because he is a black man standing up to The Great Stupid, but he also deserves special attention because he is unusually astute, persuasive and eloquent. A white analyst, like, say, me, can be automatically squelched as biased when noting, for example, that George Floyd is an absurd and intellectually indefensible martyr for the Black Lives Matter movement since there was no evidence that his death was a product of racism, systemic or otherwise. When an astute, persuasive and eloquent black critic makes a similar argument, it demonstrates that my conclusion was not necessarily motivated by racial bias.

I know: people will say it anyway.

Whitlock has made a different argument regarding Floyd in his latest essay, but it is an excellent one. Indeed, if there were any integrity at the major newspapers, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, New York Magazine and the Usual Suspects that have destructively carried the banners of those who have, quite successfully, exploited that neatly symbolic manner of Floyd’s demise, he would not have had to seek publication in the relatively marginal Glenn Beck website, The Blaze, where he hosts a podcast called “Fearless.” The essay is titled, “The Veneration of George Floyd is racist and must be stopped.”

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Ethics Heroes: The US Conference of Catholic Bishops

Bishops

It is unusual to call an organization’s decision to follow its own rules heroic, but I have low expectations of the Roman Catholic Church. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops voted 168-55 to draft a document on “Eucharistic coherence,” because the Church has been anything but coherent regarding the status of allegedly devout Catholics who support abortion.

Catholics are forbidden from participating in the ritual of the Eucharist if they are in a state of sin. Abortion is considered a very serious sin in the Catholic Church, which holds that life begins at conception. Thus a public figure, indeed an elected official, indeed a President, who openly supports abortion cannot take holy communion, because he is endorsing and enabling a serious sin. This isn’t hard. The much publicized “controversy” over the Bishops’ decision to follow their own Church’s ancient rules ( and those of the New Testament: “Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” — 1 Corinthians 11:27-30 ) resembles the current controversy in baseball over the MLB decision to enforce the hundred-year-old rule against pitchers doctoring the ball.

I know, everything reminds me of baseball, which has played a much greater role in my life than religion. But this is the same situation at its essence. The Catholic Church ducked, weaved and looked the other way while many U.S. politicians professed their belief in Catholicism as they openly and directly contradicted and actively undermined the Church’s core beliefs. They sought to have the benefit of appealing to the religious while simultaneously advocating a practice that their own Church condemns.

The New York Times—my wife keeps asking me why we pay 80 bucks a month for this shameless propaganda device, and I am running out of reasons—says that the Bishops’ vote is a “move to target a president, who regularly attends Mass and has spent a lifetime steeped in Christian rituals and practices, is striking coming from leaders of the president’s own faith, particularly after many conservative Catholics turned a blind eye to the sexual improprieties of former President Donald J. Trump because they supported his political agenda.”

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Glenn Greenwald Is Now Apparently A Traitor Because He Calls Out Journalists And Democrats On Their Lies

Pulse massacre

Even before he quit The Intercept, the investigative news organization that he helped found, in protest of its refusal to report the Hunter Biden laptop story so it wouldn’t hurt Joe Biden’s prospects in the 2020 election, journalist Glenn Greenwald was calling out the mainstream media for flagrant dishonesty and partisan reporting during the Trump administration. Greenwald, who is a non-partisan critic and a libertarian muckraker, is now being accused of being a “traitor” by progressives because he’s doing what reporters used to regard as their duty. How dare a journalist deliberately undermine a false narrative being advanced by the news media for “the greater good”?

His recent exposé shows why Greenwald is an ethics hero as well as a possible savior of his profession, which looks like it is going down for the proverbial third time.

Since it is “Pride Month”—yes, we have a special month celebrating how people have sex and who they have sex with—politicians decided to use the approaching five year anniversary of the PULSE massacre in Orlando to grandstand about LGBTQ hate crimes, and, by extension, those evil conservatives who clearly hate gays and transsexuals. Omar Mateen shot and killed 49 people on July 22, 2016 at an Orlando gay nightclub, so the narrative has become that Mateen, was motivated by anti-LGBT hate. This is simply untrue; it isn’t even a matter of controversy. Mateen was an Islamic terrorist, and his motive was to punish innocent Americans for President Obama’s bombing campaigns in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. He made that undeniable in what he wrote and said. He probably didn’t even know PULSE had a gay clientele. All evidence shows that he chose PULSE at random.

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Ethics Hero: Private School Teacher Dana Stangel-Plowe

protesting teacher

Dana Stangel-Plowe, a teacher at the Dwight-Englewood School in Bergen County, New Jersey, resigned from the private school in a damning resignation letter subsequently published by the Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism. FAIR is an organization created to oppose the teaching of Critical Race Theory teachings in schools. Among her other accusations in the letter, Stangel-Plowe wrote that the head of Dwight-Englewood, Rodney De Jarnett, told the faculty that he would fire everyone if he could to replace them with non-white teachers. She also revealed that $52,000 a-year school segregated its teachers by skin color and asked students to segregate themselves “within the oppressor or oppressed group.’

Upon reading the letter, John McWhorter, an associate professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, called the news media’s attention to her protest by tweeting his support, writing,

“All hail Dana Stangel-Plowe, who has resigned from the Dwight-Englewood School, which teaches students “antiracism” that sees life as nothing but abuse of power, and teaches that cringing, hostile group identity against oppression is the essence of a self,” and added,

MacWhorter tweet

The entire resignation letter is below.

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Ethics (And Judicial) Hero: Federal Judge Roger Benitez

cartoon-guns

If one bothers to read his opinion, which most anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment zealots will not, including your outraged friends on social media, it is clear that that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California judge’s long overdue ruling striking down the state’s three-decade-old unconstitutional ban on so-called “assault weapons” is well reasoned, well-researched, and difficult to rebut. As usual, those who want to remove the right to bear arms from law abiding Americans (while law-defying Americans continue to do as they please) are resorting to emotion and dishonesty to argue their case.

It is unfortunate that the judge, who is not one of those evil Trump judges but a moderate appointed by President Bush II, began his opinion with an invitation to be misquoted and misunderstood. “Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment,” Judge Benitez wrote, so furious would-be gun-grabbers are aping California Governor Gavin Newsom, who tweeted,

“Overturning CA’s assault weapon ban and comparing an AR-15 to a SWISS ARMY KNIFE is a disgusting slap in the face to those who have lost loved ones to gun violence. This is a direct threat to public safety and innocent Californians. We won’t stand for it.”

This raises the question, so frequently encountered on Ethics Alarms, of whether a speaker is deliberately lying, or just stupid. In this case, it is also possible that he only read the first sentence, which is irresponsible. Benitez, as the rest of his opinion makes crystal clear, was comparing the versatility of an AR-15 to a Swiss Army Knife, not their characteristics as weapons. An important part of his opinion explains that when the California legislature banned semi-automatic rifles,it never even considered the weapon’s value for self defense, and not just as a “sporting rifle.” (The Red Sox have a utility player named Marwin Gonzalez, and I have heard him compared to a Swiss Army Knife because he can play almost any position; in other words, he’s versatile. No baseball writer has been so foolish as to mock the characterization by saying that the comparison is ridiculous because the knives aren’t alive, Gonzales isn’t Swiss, and he’s much, much bigger.) It is also a non sequitur to call a ruling based on black letter law a “slap in the face” to anyone. Not following the Constitution, as California frequently wants to do, is a slap in the face of democracy.

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Remembering The First Ethics Hero Emeritus, Sir Edmund Hillary, 1919-2008

Hillary_statue

This post was supposed to go up yesterday, May 29, but as has happened too often in recent months, the vicissitudes of existence got in the way of Ethics Alarms. May 29 is the anniversary of the epic moment when, at 11:30 a.m. on May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa of Nepal, become the first explorers to reach the summit of Mount Everest. At 29,035 feet above sea level, the peak of Everest is the highest point on earth. Hillary and his Sherpa guide were part of a British expedition, and the two completed their successful assault after spending a perilous night on the mountain at 27,900 feet.

Hillary’s tribute is included in the The Ethics Alarms Heroes’ Hall Of Honor, but for several years had been unavailable, unbeknownst to me, because I hadn’t connected some dots. The essay about him was a link to my 2008 post on the predecessor of Ethics Alarms, The Ethics Scoreboard, which was offline. I had forgotten that (and if anyone tried to access the article and failed, they never let me know), so the first Ethics Hero to be awarded that Ethics Hero Emeritus title was also the only such hero dishonored by my carelessness.

I apologize, Sir Edmund.

The Ethics Scoreboard is back online (and worth a visit), but I am finally putting the 2008 piece here, on Ethics Alarms, where it should have been long ago.

Ethics Hero Emeritus: Sir Edmund Hillary 1919-2008

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