The New Fascists Among Us, Part I: Unethical Tweet Of The Month

The tweet above, located by Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit, comes from Sarah Jane Glynn, self-described on her Twitter feed as “Expertise in Econ/Gender/Lady-business. Professional Feminist & Semi-Professional Eyeliner Expert. All mind blowing views my own. She/Her.” Sarah left out “Good German,” perhaps for space, but a classic example of the rising Fascists of the Left she is, a toxic mutation of American that, in retrospect, we now realize emerged as tadpoles during the Obama Administration when the squiggly things were directed to use family holidays to propagandize relatives about the evils of climate change and the virtues of Obamacare. Now those tadpoles are full-fledged toads, and ugly ones indeed, like Sarah.

It is encouraging—maybe I’m grasping at straws here—that her tweet has many more re-tweets than “likes.” Perhaps that means that Americans haven’t lost the ability to recognize a fascist when they see one, even after four years of the fascists of the Left calling Donald Trump a threat to democracy when he was nearly the exact opposite except for his intemperate bluster.

Boy, I hope so. I have been composing in my head a series of questions for the nearby neighbor who has erected the giant eyesore of a sign near my home, a six-foot by four-foot black-painted wooden board with a giant red heart bearing the words, also in black, “Black Lives Matter,” accompanied by a medieval suit of armor standing next to the sign, for some reason. This display has been up for nearly a year now. Maybe the armor represents “systemic racism,” the accusation rather than the condition, since those who favor it think it makes them invulnerable to criticism, facts, or logic. The new fascists believe this phrase imbues them with moral certitude and unquestionable wisdom when they adopt it as their mantra, though the concept itself is empty, facile, tautological and insulting. Accepting that the United States exists and continues its evil ways because of “systemic racism,” essentially the fantastic “1619 Project’s” view of America, has become the “Heil!’ sign of the rising totalitarians among us.

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Observations On The U.S. Supreme Court “Final Four” For “Greatest Justice Ever”

The indispensible and, as far as I can discern, scrupulously non-partisan and objective Supreme Court analysis site SCOTUSBLOG, has, in a rare display of frivolousness, created a “bracket” quest for its readers to decide on the “the greatest Supreme Court justice” of all time.

The contest is now down to the “Final Four,” as a parody of the NCAA tournament that I somehow manage to miss every years because of my sock drawer emergencies. Writes James Rosomer:

This tenacious tetrad of justices (just enough to grant cert!) is an apt representation of 220 years of American jurisprudence. In their ideologies, their sensibilities and their historical eras, these four semifinalists are diverse in many ways – though the lack of racial and gender diversity also stands out as a sad reflection of the court’s history.

What matters is the intellectual diversity on the Court, not color or genes, but even SCOTUSBLOG apparently feels the need to pander to the woke mob. I’ll forgive Rosomer, and the readers who voted in the competition have mostly shown an admirable lack of ideological bias and substantial historical perspective. “A liberal icon, a conservative icon, an early 19th-century pioneer, an early 20th-century luminary” is how the blog correctly describes the finalists.

My favorite Supreme Court Justice was among the 16 entered, but didn’t make it to the finals. No, not John Marshall: my favorite is Hugo Black. That the best writer and the keenest legal mind of all (in my opinion) would lose to Earl Warren demonstrates the unavoidable vagaries of the term “greatest.” Is that intended to mean most important? Marshall has to win in that category. Most influential? Warren, perhaps, but that was as an administrator and leader, not as a judge.

Black was a First Amendment absolutist, and we could use his eloquence now. The black mark against Black is that he wrote the court’s majority opinion in Korematsu v. United States, which upheld Roosevelt’s decision to intern Japanese Americans during World War II. Black believed the judiciary should stay in its lane, and thus believed that the Court should not interfere with  legislative and executive actions during wartime. It is fair to say that everyone was wrong in the decision to take away the rights of Japanese Americans. Calling Black a racist, however is unsupportable. He joined the majority in Shelley v. Kraemer (1948), which invalidated the judicial enforcement of racially restrictive covenants.He joined the unanimous Brown v. Board of Education (1954)decision that struck down segregation in public schools.

Black, however, staunchly opposed bending the law and law enforcement to accommodate civil rights activism. He opposed the Warren Court’s penchant for  reversing convictions of sit-in protesters, saying In 1968,, “Unfortunately there are some who think that Negroes should have special privileges under the law.” Unfortunately, there are more who think that now.

Black argued that waiving legal consequences for laws broken for  “good causes” could eventually lead to support for evil causes later. Black said he was “vigorously opposed to efforts to extend the First Amendment’s freedom of speech” to conduct. Ah, well, I’m a Red Sox fan; I’m used to losing.

Of the remaining four, I would think Marshall is the easy choice.

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Afternoon Ethics Delights, 4/6/2021:

The U.S. entered The Great War on this date in 1917, surely among the most disastrous decisions the nation has ever made. Unfortunately, almost all of the debate over whether we “should” have gotten involved in the seemingly pointless quarrel among the European powers is polluted by hindsight bias, consequentialism, and a disregard for moral luck. Yes, it’s true that The Great War led to a far worse one, and that Germany winning what became World War I probably would have kept Adolf Hitler painting houses. But that’s cheating: we can only assess the legitimacy of the U.S. entering the war on the basis of what was known at the time.

1. Baseball uniform ethics. Oh yeah, this makes a lot of sense. The Boston Red Sox uniforms have been red, white and blue for almost a century—perfect for the team’s annual Patriot’s Day game, which occurs in the morning so the crowd can watch the end of the Boston Marathon. Only Massachusetts, Maine and Connecticut celebrate Patriot’s Day, when Paul Revere (and his two friend) rode to warn the Boston suburbs that the British were coming in 1775.

Well, Nike is now pulling baseball’s strings (there is evidence that the company that employs Colin Kaepernick as a spokesperson helped push MLB into punishing Atlanta for Joe Biden’s made-up racist voting law claims), and part of its deal with the sport is that it will design new uniforms for many of the teams. Here are the uniforms the company thinks the Boston Red Sox should wear to celebrate Patriots Day, since those old colors just reflect the flag of the racist nation founded on the backs of slaves:

They look like eggs.

And of course, no red socks.

2. The rest of the story! Remember this post, about San Francisco’s lunatic school board declaring that one-third of the city’s school names, including those honoring Washington, Jefferson,  Lincoln, James Madison and both Roosevelts , Presidents Monroe, McKinley, Herbert Hoover and James Garfield; John Muir, the naturalist and author; James Russell Lowell, abolitionist poet and editor; Paul Revere,  Robert Louis Stevenson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,  Daniel Webster, and current California Senator and former city mayor Diane Feinstein must be replaced so as not to honor individuals who were, in the words of an over-acting character in “The Birds”,

Rendering the equivalent of Tippy Hedren’s slap to these idiots has been, well, just about everybody, from historians, scholars, parents, anyone with an IQ above freezing, and even San Francisco’s reliably woke mayor. Implementing the re-naming was also expected to embroil the city in litigation. So now, the school board, after pausing its grand cancellation project, is expected to overturn its decision after wasting a lot of time and money, and making the city appear even more absurd than it usually does, which is quite an achievement.

You would think that someone on the school board would have been sufficiently smart, competent, responsible grounded in reality to predict the fate of such a mass historical airbrushing. Nope!

This isn’t called The Great Stupid for nothing, you know.

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Easter Ethics Revelations: Media Lies About Asian Hate Crimes And Daniel Webster

Here’s a revelation: that melody, my favorite of the Easter hymns, is the work of Sir Arthur Sullivan. Yes, that Sullivan.

1. Oh, no! Not the National Review too! We are indeed surrounded by idiots…in this story about how Hispanic activists are pushing to keep former President Barack Obama’s name off a school building in Waukegan, Illinois because, you see, he enforced the law by deporting illegal immigrants—can’t have THAT!—the National Review writes, “The Waukegan Board of Education looks to rename two of its schools, Thomas Jefferson Middle School and Daniel Webster Middle School. The board formed renaming committees for the schools named after Jefferson, who owned slaves, and Webster, who supported slavery.”

This is how the American public gets stupid. Of course it’s beyond idiotic not to name a school after the man whose vision of a new nation and whose brilliant mission statement made our existence possible, not to mention the fact that his words planted the seeds that resulted in slavery’s eventual end in North America. Letting that pass for the nonce, however, Daniel Webster, the New England lawyer, U.S. Senator and member of multiple cabinets in the 19th Century did not “support slavery,” and saying he did is historical libel.

To the contrary, Webster was a lifetime opponent of slavery. In an 1837 speech he called slavery a “great moral, social, and political evil,” adding that he would vote against “any thing that shall extend the slavery of the African race on this continent, or add other slaveholding states to the Union.”

Webster, however, also did not want to see a civil war, or to have the Southern states leave the union over the slavery question. His most famous quote, “Liberty and Union, now and for ever, one and inseparable!” expressed his priorities. Webster was one of many patriots and brilliant figures of the time desperately seeking a way to keep the nation together while slavery was stressing its bonds. He supported several compromises to that end, including the much-criticized Compromise of 1850, which included the reviled Fugitive Slave Act. Those who condemn Webster now for his best efforts to avert war and mass secession are engaging in the worst kind of hindsight bias. What would be their brilliant solution to the situation faced by Senators in the 30 years before the Civil War?

My analysis has always been that Webster, Henry Clay and others successfully delayed the inevitable schism over slavery until, by good fortune or, as Abe liked to say, “providence,” got a President in office who had the guts and the skill to deal with the dilemma boldly and successfully. If the South had seceded under any of the Presidents after Jackson and before Lincoln, we would have two Americas on this continent today—or maybe just one, enslaved by Nazi Germany.

Daniel Webster did NOT “support slavery.” Show some damn respect.

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Saturday Ethics End Notes, 4/3/2021: “Let it be written, let it be done!”

You can’t blame me for featuring this ethics landmark today: On April 3, 1948, President Truman signed the Economic Assistance Act, commonly known as the Marshall Plan, which authorizing the a program to help the nations of a war-torn Europe to rebuild. The effort was designed to stabilize Europe economically and politically so that the Soviet Union would not be able to spread communism further. U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall gave the plan its name with a speech at Harvard University on June 5 of the previous year. He proposed that the European states meet to agree on a program for economic recovery, and that the U.S. would would help fund it. The same month Britain and France invited European nations to send representatives to Paris to follow-through with Marshall’s formula. The USSR, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland declined the invitation. The resulting Committee of European Economic Cooperation eventually presented its plan to Congress, which authorized the “Marshall Plan” on April 2, 1948. The next day, it was signed into law.

  1. It’s that time again! The Cecil B. DeMille classic “The Ten Commandments” airs at 7 p.m. tonight on ABC. I recommend renting it for a few bucks on Amazon Prime: commercials now add a full hour to the movie, which is already one of the longest U.S. films ever made. I watch the 1956 jaw-dropper at least once every year. No movie ever blew my mind like that one did when I saw it as a child, and, I noted with amazement last week when I watched it again, certain scenes still blow my mind now, like the Exodus, easily the greatest crowd scene that ever had been or ever will be. My top ethics notes:
  • The screenplay’s direct condemnation of slavery in Moses’ early speech is remarkable for the period, and gutsy for the most expensive movie ever made (to that point) that needed big audiences from the old Confederate states during the middle of a growing civil rights movement.
  • Like Ted Williams’ home run in his last at bat, DeMille bet everything on his biggest challenge at the end of his career when he had already made Hollywood history and was a living legend….and he succeeded. I admit, I’m a sucker for that. The movie killed him, essentially: CB suffered a heart attack while directing the huge scene where Moses leads the Jews out of Egypt, and never recovered. I’m sure he’d say it was still worth it.
  • As a director, I have learned that the greatest and most frightening challenge is trying to top yourself. I admire the artists who attempt it, and especially those who succeed. DeMille had already made a silent movie version of the story that stood as the top-grossing film of all time until his own talkies broke its record.
  • I cannot think of a better example of the ethical principle that if you are going to do something that matters, do it right and don’t cut corners. Like David O. Selznick’s “Gone With The Wind,” TTC is filled with astounding grace notes and details that are the mark of a perfectionist. On this week’s viewing, I noticed for the first time that when we see Egyptian princess Nefertiri primping in a mirror, her image is dark and indistinct. That’s because glass mirrors were unknown in ancient Egypt: the mirror is polished metal.
  • The 1957 Oscars , which largely snubbed De Mille’s masterpiece, show how bias makes you stupid, and how little the movie community understands its own medium. “The Ten Commandments” was the movie of the year and everyone knew it: it was the top grossing film and had scenes that were immediately recognizable as likely to become legendary (like the parting of the Red Sea.) But most of the Oscars, including Best Picture, went to “Around the World in 80 Days,” the over-stuffed “spectacular”—unwatchable now— made by industry darling Mike Todd. DeMille didn’t even rate a Best Director nomination. He was considered a conservative pariah and a dinosaur, and the “new Hollywood” wouldn’t bring itself to recognize an old pro doing his best work.

2. And now, speaking for the arrogant, biased, not as smart as they think they are people who lie to you daily, Lester Holt! At the 45th Edward R. Murrow Symposium at Washington State University, Holt received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, presumably because they had to find a black journalist to give the thing to. Among his comments, which generally proved the stunning lack of self-awareness of himself and his industry, he said, .

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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.

 

Morning Ethics Warm-Up I Expected Not To Get Posted In The Morning, 3/26/2021: “Ouch!” Edition

Dentist

Therein lies a tale

I arrived at the appointed time for my triple tooth extraction to be told that I would be required to pay the entire cost of my surgery on the spot, and the amount was a cool $4000. This, despite the fact that I had been told (by the doctor) that I could wait before deciding on the various treatment options, and having not received clear (to me, at least) information that the office took no general medical coverage at all, just dental insurance, and my dental insurance was not among the blessed. (Raising the related issue of why my dentist would refer me to an oral surgeon who did not accept the insurance that the dentist did, without alerting me in advance. “We tried to call you,” the snotty desk staff said. Really? I had no messages on my home or office lines. “We only call our patients on their cell phones,” I was told. Then why do you ask for the other numbers? If you have essential information to convey, and you can’t reach a patient by cell, why wouldn’t you try the other contact options? Where on the form does it say that the only number you will use is the cell phone? I only included the cell number because it was asked for: I use cell phones when traveling, period, and during the lockdown it is usually uncharged. If I am going to be expected to hand over 4 grand on the spot, I need to be told, and the information I provided gave an easy means to tell me. What I suspect is that the 20-somethings behind the desk, living on their smart phones themselves, would never dream that anyone wouldn’t do the same. It wasn’t a policy, it was an unwarranted and incompetent assumption.

I informed the staff that its conduct was unethical and unprofessional, and that its attitude was arrogant and obnoxious. Then I walked out. I don’t care if the next oral surgeon costs as much or more: I don’t trust people who treat me like this. Screw ’em.

1. It’s a banner day in the history of “the ends justifies the means” medical ethics! On this date in 1953, American medical researcher Dr. Jonas Salk announced on national radio that he had successfully tested a vaccine against poliomyelitis, the virus that causes polio. Salk had conducted the first human trials of his vaccine on former polio patients, on himself, and his family. The general consensus among ethicists is that self-experimentation is ethical: as one scholarly paper put it, “Organizational uncertainty over the ethical and regulatory status of self-experimentation, and resulting fear of consequences is unjustified and may be blocking a route to human experiments that practicing scientists widely consider appropriate, and which historical precedent has shown is valuable.” But using one’s family as guinea pigs? Unethical, absolutely. The researcher, in this case Salk, has undue influence over such subjects, and consent cannot be said to be voluntary.

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Ethics Hero Emeritus: Shelia Washington, 1960-2021

Shelia Washington

Shelia Washington is a sterling example of how a dedicated, passionate citizen can repair gaping wounds in history and law.

Washington died last month, but not before fulfilling a self-assigned mission. She accepted that mission at the age of 17, when, as a native of Scottsboro, Alabama, she found a book hidden under a mattress at her home while she was doing some cleaning. Her stepfather told her to hand it over. “You don’t need to know about that,” he said. “Just keep quiet about this now.” The book was “Scottsboro Boy,” a 1950 memoir by Haywood Patterson, an innocent young man who was convicted four times by all-white juries and sentenced to death three times.

Washington did not obey her stepfather. To the contrary, Washington set out to obtain posthumous justice for the nine young black men known as The Scottsboro Boys, who were falsely accused of raping two white women in 1931. They were subjected to many trials at the height of the Jim Crow era, two reaching the U.S. Supreme Court. The ugly story of the Scottsboro Boys became the country’s most sensational civil rights case up to that point. Their tragic story later inspired feature films, documentaries, a Broadway musical, and was a factor in shaping the plot of Harper Lee’s 1960 novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Yet how many Americans today can tell you anything about The Scottsboro Boys?

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Monday Ethics Final, 3/8/2021: A Bad Day In The Revolution

GnadenhuttenMassacre

March 8 should be a day that “lives in infamy,” but it isn’t, in part because of this nation’s, and all nations’, tendency to forget episodes in their history that they would rather pretend didn’t happen. On this date in 1782, 160 Pennsylvania militiamen slaughtered 96 Christian Indians including 39 children, 29 women and 28 men. The Patriots killed their captives by hammering their skulls with mallets from behind, as the victims knelt praying and singing. The Patriots then piled the bodies in mission buildings, and burned the entire Moravian Mission at Gnadenhutten to the ground in the Ohio territory. . The Pennsylvanians claimed that the attack was revenge for raids on their frontier settlements, but the Native Americans they killed were not involved in any attacks. In fact, they were pacifists who had been assisting the Americans against the British by serving as scouts and performing other services.

There were consequences of the massacre, though not to the criminals responsible. Despite talk of bringing the murderers to justice, no charges were filed. But Native American tribes became less willing to trust the Patriots as the Revolutionary War continued. When General George Washington heard about the massacre, he told his soldiers to avoid being captured alive by Indian forces, as he feared the Americans would be tortured. Many were, and Native Americans had longer memories of the atrocity at Gnadenhutten than the citizens of the new nation. In 1810, Shawnee chief Tecumseh pointedly reminded future General and later President William Henry Harrison, “You recall the time when the Jesus Indians of the Delawares lived near the Americans, and had confidence in their promises of friendship, and thought they were secure, yet the Americans murdered all the men, women, and children, even as they prayed to Jesus?”

Theodore Roosevelt, a historian in addition to his other pursuits, called the atrocity “a stain on frontier character that the lapse of time cannot wash away.”

But it has, hasn’t it?

1. And they said Trump supporters were stupid! A group called Pro-Life Evangelicals for Biden feel betrayed:

Pro Biden

These people really believed that the Democratic Party was going to “engage” on the topic of abortion, and that electing Joe Biden President would lead to compromises and moderation on the issue. Let me write that again: These people really believed that the Democratic Party was going to “engage” on the topic of abortion, and that electing Joe Biden President would lead to compromises and moderation on the issue.As you know, I have constant difficulty accepting the principle that being stupid isn’t unethical. Outrageous stupidity makes me angry, and maybe that’s unfair. Episodes like this are difficult for me to put in perspective.

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Comment Of The Day: “Today’s Dispatch From ‘The Great Stupid’: The Chivalry Assignment “

Come for the ethics, stay for the chivalry lesson!

Steve-O-From NJ ( as I strongly suspected he would) responded to the infuriating tale of the high school teacher who ordered her students to act out her infantile and politically-warped view of “chivalry” with a brief lesson on what Medieval chivalry was really about. Obviously an Ethics Alarms post can’t cover this entire, rich topic, but students reading here would come away with a lot more genuine historical perspective than the young victims of a feminist teacher’s ignorance at Texas’s Shallowater High School. This Comment of the Day is admittedly tangential to the ethics issue, which is that our public school teachers frequently don’t know what they are blathering about, and are too often more concerned with woke indoctrination than they are in education.

It also points up a dilemma. Teachers should be capable of conveying the essentials of “the three ‘Rs,'” and perhaps age-appropriate science and geography. But history? Most teachers were educated in a school system that neglected or distorted history, and their own knowledge and analytical abilities in this subject are, to be kind, inadequate. Thus they pass along their own biases, misunderstandings and flawed knowledge to the next generation. I would conclude that teachers should be required to stick to the approved history textbooks and their lesson plans, except that most of those have been polluted by ideological agendas too.

Well, that’s a topic for another day. Right now, the topic is Chivalry.

Here is Steve-O’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Today’s Dispatch From ‘The Great Stupid’: The Chivalry Assignment“:

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