Ethics Observations On An Article That Ruined My Day

It’s difficult for me to formulate complicated arguments when I’m drugged to the gills and sick, so I am, reluctantly, delaying a couple of pieces on the metaphorical runway to catch up on what other people are writing. Big mistake. I just finished a substack post by Paul Musgrave, a political scientist and writer whose newsletter is called “Systematic Hatreds.” It takes its title from a line in “The Education of Henry Adams,” one of my father’s favorite books: “Politics, as a practice, whatever its professions, had always been the systematic organization of hatreds.” Musgrave, whom I never heard of before, is writing about how he teaches what he calls “the post-legacy media generation.”

It is clear early on in his depressing piece that that almost no one in that generation has heard of Henry Adams, or John Quincy Adams, Abigail Adams, and probably not John Adams either. There’s an excellent chance few have even heard of Morticia Addams, Charles Addams, or know that Eric Adams is the latest mayor of New York City. In fact, it’s quite fair to conclude that none of these soon-to-be-crucial citizens know much of anything at all, because they do not read—literally, do not—and get whatever information the do get from similarly handicapped peers on social media. Musgrave is in the trenches, and he writes,

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Comment Of The Day: “Bias Also Makes Philosophers Stupid”

Cornell associate professor of philosophy Kate Manne, decided to employ the disciplines of philosophy to rationalize why she didn’t want to diet any more, calling the urge to lose weight “immoral.” Is it unethical to misuse ethical principles for selfish ends, making trusting readers less informed in the process? I think so.

Commenter Isaac submitted this Comment of the Day to register his objections to her arguments, as he examined the post, “Bias Also Makes Philosophers Stupid” [that’s reality TV star Tammy Slaten above with her boyfriend, who likes her just the way she is…]

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This part is unforgivable and exposes a tainted, delusional worldview:

“patriarchal forces — the forces that tell girls and women in particular to be small, meek, slight, slim and quiet…”

Let’s break down what the “patriarchy” is supposedly demanding of girls, according to the lens through which people indoctrinated like this see the world:

1. “Small” – Women are smaller than men, across the board. Is biology a patriarchal system? Is she saying that by ballooning out into an obese woman, she will achieve equality with taller men and their more dense body structures? Or is she just saying that the patriarchy demands healthy women? (Historically, that’s not even true, if old European paintings have taught me anything.) But even if it were true that the patriarchy desires fit women, survival in a state of nature also demands a healthy body. If anything, “patriarchal” structures (like agriculture and cities) have made it possible for obese people to even exist in the first place. In some utopian feminist treehouse-jungle, fat women would just be eaten by tigers.

This is even dumber when you consider that NOBODY likes, wants, or respects a fat man. As if the patriarchy loves fat dudes but not fat women. She’s already veered into insanity, and it’s just getting started.

2. “Meek” – This is also a product of biology, not culture. Men have higher levels of testosterone, which means they generally take more risks, are louder, more aggressive, and act out more physically, compared to women. If women were as aggressive as men but with otherwise the same biology, they would be getting themselves killed in violent confrontations with men at obscene rates throughout history. It’s not likely that the demographic balance between men and women would even be sustainable that way, which means over time women would just go back to being largely “meek” again, as less aggressive women would outlast more aggressive ones. Instead of celebrating the unique qualities of women, this philosopher thinks that it’s unfair that women aren’t just…men.

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Bias Also Makes Philosophers Stupid

Kate Manne, an associate professor of philosophy at Cornell University, is tired of dieting, so she tied herself up into rhetorical knots and rationalizations to argue that dieting is “immoral.” She also allowed herself to be published doing so.

How embarrassing. This is one reason why philosophy is a dying field, albeit slowly: how can anyone trust someone who masks pure self-interest in philosophical theory?

Manne writes,

I recognize that even if you are a fat person who would be healthier if you lost weight, you don’t owe it to anyone to do so; you don’t owe it to anyone to be healthy in general. And I know how much my internalized fatphobia owes to oppressive patriarchal forces — the forces that tell girls and women in particular to be small, meek, slight, slim and quiet.

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Ethics Dunce: Washington Post Sportswriter Sally Jenkins

Here is all you really need to know. Tampa Bay Bucs star Antonio Brown refused to enter the game when so ordered during the third quarter of Sunday’s NFL game between the Bucs and New York Jets. Brown then stripped off his equipment and shirt before leaving the field. Jenkins says that the Bucs were cruel and unfair to fire him after the game, which is what they did. (Sort of.)

She writes in part,

For all of the NFL’s well-intentioned efforts on mental health, the Buccaneers have betrayed just how much of an archaic, body-commodifying, ranchers-and-cattle mentality can persist where decent human feeling should be. Was Brown not an asset and a “model citizen” for many months, as Arians said? Did he not help them win the Super Bowl last season? He caught 10 passes for his playoff-bound team just a week ago. Who on the Bucs didn’t know Brown had a tangled personality, demons stemming from indigence as a kid, that he had a pile of legal issues, trouble conforming and a penchant for self-sabotage?

It’s easy to be sympathetic to Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka or Michael Phelps for their mental health issues. Their struggles were largely invisible, their confessions soft-spoken. Not so much with Brown. In his case, he lives his crazy and his pain right out loud, in front of the cameras and social media, and it’s unnerving, unlikeable and in some instances perhaps inexcusable, from alleged sexual misconduct to refusing to pay debtors to faking a vaccine card. But the remarks of his teammates make it clear that they have deep affection for his best side and view much of his behavior as stemming from emotional unwellness….

It’s hard to think of another field in which so valuable an employee is so summarily cut loose when deemed broken or noncompliant. …Brown works harder than any man in the league to be uncoverable…His body fat is 3 percent. You don’t work that way because you don’t want to play to win or because you want to be an unreliable teammate. In no other profession do employers demand such devotion and repay it with so little loyalty and deem people so disposable.

I wish I could say it’s rare to see a sports columns so flamingly wrong in so many ways, but that’s not true, unfortunately. But wow: Jenkins is in ethics dunce Hall of Fame territory…

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Observations On The Latest Don Lemon New Years Eve Drunk Act

Once again, CNN’s Don Lemon indulged his inner high school jerk by getting drunk during New Years Eve festivities. As he has before, Lemon still went before the cameras smashed as a CNN special rang in 2022. This time, however, he had more to say than just singing “Melancholy Baby” or whatever it is drunks sing now.

As CNN hosts Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper were reporting on the action in Times Square, Lemon was in New Orleans with fellow CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota and comedian Dulce Sloan, Lemon, his tongue loosened by liquor so much that it nearly fell onto the floor, decided to get some things off his chest. Beginning by denying that he was pickled and claiming it was an “act” (Riiiight: see above screenshot] Lemon ranted,

“I don’t give a — what you think about me, what do you think about that,” he said. “I don’t care, I’m a grown-ass man, and I don’t care what you think about me, I don’t lie. I am who I am. I am a grown, successful black man who a lot of people hate because they’re not used to seeing me and people like me in the position I am to be able to share my point of view on television and it freaks people out and you know what? You can kiss my behind, I do not care. I don’t care. … I have one life. It is who I am, and I feel very … blessed and honored to be in this position, to be able to do this, for all of the hate I get, it’s motivation to me. Bring it. I don’t care.”

Naturally, the video has “gone viral.”

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Council Rock Elementary School, “Jingle Bells,”And When Something Trivial Demands A Strong Response (Part Two)

Part I described the cowardly and pandering rationale for a New York elementary school to banish “Jingle Bells” from its curriculum, and why the cultural and political issue underlying the move is more important than the song itself.

Here is the response of the Brighton Central School District Superintendent, Kevin McGowan, in response to media inquiries about the decision. In the interests of efficiency, I will interweave my commentary with his statement, in bold.

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Rationalizer Of The Year: Drunk Driver Perla Aguilar

(I was hoping to get Sidney Wang out one more time before New Years…)

Perla Aguilar, 27, was arrested for DUI in Oklahoma, and had an excuse she apparently thought would clear everything up. Slurring her words as she spoke, Perla explained to the arresting officers that she should be in the clear because she “does this all the time.”

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And The Latest Desperate Rationalization As Abortion Advocates Search For A Persuasive Argument To Justify Allowing Pregnant Women The Unilateral Right To End Another Human Being’s Life Is….

Unborn children in heaven

…..this intellectually dishonest opinion piece by Kate Cohen in the Washington Post. It is titled “How would you feel if your mother had aborted you?’ Easy. I’d feel nothing,” and embodies several themes in the abortion-loving Left’s escalating freak-out over the very real possibility that Roe v. Wade will be overturned or limited by the current Supreme Court.

One theme is that that abortion advocates almost unanimously continue to avoid dealing with the other human party in the equation whose interests are at stake: the unborn human being. Another is using collateral attacks on religion and faith to minimize the belief by religious people that it’s wrong beyond question to kill an innocent individual for the benefit of a more powerful one. The third…

Well, let me address the second a bit again. Progressives are largely hostile to religion and the religious, whom they regard as unsophisticated, superstitious rubes. Since people tend to project their biases and attitudes on others, those who want open season on fetuses think they score points by linking the anti-abortion side of the debate to something they think is ridiculous. It is not a genuine argument but rather a cognitive dissonance trick. They are counting on a someone conflicted about the abortion debate being pulled to their side by the association with a different subject they regard with contempt. It is the same kind of tactic as using “The Handmaiden’s Tale” as a false map for the dystopian future abortion fans claim awaits if Roe goes down: linking abortion to something horrible, even a science fiction story, will diminish the appeal of the anti-abortion position, not with logic or reason, but with a negative association alone.

I have a difficult time not concluding that those using the anti-religion, association tactic are malign people because of their association with it. The belief that killing an innocent human being is wrong isn’t only a religious belief and bedrock moral tenet. It is basic ethics as well, a conclusion virtually all societies have accepted based on human experience. That’s where ethics comes from: one doesn’t have to be religious to strongly object to killing human beings, indeed religion isn’t necessary to reach that conclusion at all. Whether one reaches the position that legal abortion consists of one powerful human being who has had the opportunity to live ending that opportunity for a weaker human being for her own sole benefit and is therefore wrong, through religion, Kant, Rawls, basic ethical analysis, logic, common sense or some other path is irrelevant. You got there. Congratulations. It’s the ethical place to be.

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Unethical Quote Of The Week, And Boy, Is It Stupid: “The View” Co-Host Sunny Hostin

The View2

“We want victims of hate crimes and any crime to be believed. And so I think that, you know, in a sense, that was a good thing, that they came out and said, ‘We believe you.’”

—Sunny Hostin, throwing in her contribution to “The View’s” desperate efforts to offer excuses and rationalization for convicted hate-crime fraud Jessie Smollett and the race-baiting Democrats and pundits that instantly believed his absurd story and blamed his “attack” on Donald Trump.

Hostin, incidentally, is a lawyer. A lawyer actually made an argument that devoid of logic. What does that tell us about the law school that graduated her (Notre Dame), the Justice Department that hired her (Clinton’s), and the news networks that employed her as an analyst (CNN, Fox News, Court TV and ABC). Is there a dumber statement that is even possible to make? “It’s a ‘good thing’ that an obviously made-up hate crime account was believed, because we want everyone to believe even fictional accusations, though doing so wastes money, take police away from investigating real crimes, and increases societal divisions and suspicion.” Brilliant!

All right, all right: I know calling ethics fouls on the blather that passes for debate on “The View” is like beefy ex-male swimmer winning races against life-time females. Nevertheless, people watch “The View,” get fed “logic” like Hostin’s, and become dumber and dumber, until next thing you know they’re voting for Kamala Harris for President. Responsible citizens don’t just need ethics alarms, they need idiot alarms. If you can’t hear a comment like Hostin’s and instantly know what she said was idiotic, you’re not an asset to a democracy. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/8/21: Welcome To Christmas Tree Hell

[Nat King Cole’s rendition of this song always makes me smile: his German is so dreadful. But what a voice! It’s like hot cocoa with a marshmallow melting in it.]

Well, the 8-foot Concolor fir tree goes up today, meaning about four hours of prickles and dead light strands lie ahead. Can’t wait!

I have a Christmas ethics dilemma on which advice would be appreciated. As I think I mentioned, Spuds, who is a canine battering ram, was romping at night in the field behind our house with a group of dog pals when one of the owners, a next door neighbor of thirty years, zigged when she should have zagged and Spuds ran right into her. Her leg was broken in two places, and now her 71-year-old husband is facing caring for her for at least several months, also taking care of their two large Belgian Shepherds, as well as a disabled family member who lives a few houses down the street. Lots of the dog-owners have dropped off holiday food for the couple, and we want to send a nice Harry and David package. How do we frame the gift in a way that sends the implied message we want to convey (“We’re thinking of you, and hope you can enjoy the Christmas in spite of everything”) and not “Please don’t sue us!” ? (I am not at all concerned on that score, for reasons social and legal.) Should Spuds sign the card, along with us?

I’ll be damned before I ask “The Ethicist,” or worse still, “Social Qs”…

1. Look! A competent list for a change! The Independent issued a list of “The Magnificent 20: the Top 2O Westerns of All Time.” I’ve lectured and written about this most ethics-minded and American of film genres, and I was pleasantly surprised that almost all of the Westerns I regard as essential made the list. Graeme Ross, the author, knows his stuff. That doesn’t mean I agree with all of it. I am not a Sergio Leone fan, and consider all of the spaghetti westerns as anti-Westerns at heart, so those are two slots I’d fill differently. As usual “The Searchers” is too high (it’s #1), and “Unforgiven” made the list, a film that I thought was over-rated from the second it came out (Sorry Clint.)

Still, only one of the Westerns included is affirmatively dreadful (Brando’s misbegotten “One-Eyed Jacks”) and an unforgivable choice. On my list (which is longer), “Lonesome Dove” is #1 (“Shane” is #2) but it’s not technically a movie, I guess. I also would include “Silverado” in the top 20. “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence” is an essential inclusion on such a list; I don’t know how it was missed. Still, a responsible, respectful and fair effort—and John Wayne has more movies on the list than anyone else, even without “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” Good.

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