Some Time Of Day Ethics Warm-Up, As All Temporal Distinctions Blur Into A Single Gray Miasma…

Wait…where the hell did she get that mask????

Oh, what’s the point?

1. When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring Dept. Frannie Skardon of the University of Virginia Law School Class of 2022 serves in the New York National Guard.  When it  was called up by Governor Andrew Cuomo on March 17,  UVA was offering its course online courses and her unit allotted her six hours a day to commit to law school studies. But, as she explained in an online petition she has posted,

To my surprise, the [UVA] administration  stated that I am in violation of Academic Policy I.H., which deals with employment while attending Law School. This policy states that “students may not engage in employment in excess of what is compatible with a full-time commitment to the study of law.” As a result of my unit’s activation, the administration has determined that I cannot complete the remainder of the semester.

The school refused to  issue a waiver because Skardon is being paid by the Army while activated, and said she would have to retake all of her classes in Spring 2021. Not only was this spectacularly dumb from a public relations perspective, it was also contrary to what other law schools have done in similar situations. However, after Skardon’s petition was flooded with signatures, and various web sites and, of course, social media excoriated the school, it reversed its decision.

Skardon informed the public in a letter to the editor of Virginia Law Weekly, saying:

“I would like to thank every person who signed my petition, wrote a letter, or shared my story. I am very moved at the outpouring of support and cannot thank each one of you enough. In less than a day, I received over 140 emails and 5,700 signatures.”

Unfortunately, there is a material difference between behaving ethically from the outset and only doing so after being metaphorically pummeled for a wrongful decision and reversing it out of self-interest. Continue reading

Mid-Day Ethics Stimulus, 3/31/2020: Dunces, Heroes, Hacks And More

I’m stimulated!

And you?

1. Maybe not the wisest move, but ethical… Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn) shared  his cell phone number on Twitter for anyone who needed to discuss their fears about the impact of the Wuhan virus. “If [you’re] feeling overwhelmed or scared and just want to talk to somebody give me a call,”  said. “We will get through this together.”

He added, “I know everybody’s under a lot of pressure with what’s going on with the Coronavirus. If you’re feeling all that pressure and it’s getting to you…I know in the last little bit here we’ve had nine people in our community taking their life. That’s a horrible, horrible thing, somebody taking their own life. If you feel like you’re going to hurt yourself or maybe hurt somebody around you, why don’t ya’ll just call me. Let’s talk.”

2.  I know this is an unpopular position, but it’s not the first time I’ve explained it. CNN’s Brooke Baldwin was overcome with emotion as  she interviewed a woman who’ had been unable to say goodbye to her mother in person before she died of the Wuhan Virus. Baldwin is an unprofessional hack. In recent years, alleged professional journalists, especially on CNN, have allowed their emotions to influence their reporting. This results in a form of editorializing, and the practice demonstrates how much today’s journalists see themselves as performers rather than objective communicators of information.

Admittedly, this kind of interview is designed to bring out the Kleenex,  but CNN lets its hosts display grief when a favorite candidate loses (like Hillary Clinton), glee, when a figure they don’t like is abused (Carol Costello chuckling at a recording of Sarah Palin’s daughter breaking down)  or anger when a political figure  doesn’t toe the progressive line. (Don Lemon, more or less constantly.) It’s hackery.

3. And today’s Covidiot is...Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne of The River Church in Tampa, a so-called “mega church” that held a service over the weekend in which over a thousand worshipers  were “squeezed in like sardines,” as one reporter described it. Howard-Browne had said that he would defy the restrictions imposed by the state and county to stem the threat of the  worldwide pandemic. “We are not stopping anything. I’ve got news for you, this church will never close. The only time the church will close is when the Rapture is taking place,” the reverend said.

Following the service, a warrant for his arrest was issued. He is now in custody.

4.  Hmmmm...Here are Governor Ralph Northam’s exceptions to his “order” regarding the stay-at-home restrictions in Virginia:

a. Obtaining food, beverages, goods, or services as permitted in Executive
Order 53;

b. Seeking medical attention, essential social services, governmental
services, assistance from law enforcement, or emergency services;

c. Taking care of other individuals, animals, or visiting the home of a family
member;

d. Traveling required by court order or to facilitate child custody, visitation,
or child care;

e. Engaging in outdoor activity, including exercise, provided individuals
comply with social distancing requirements;

f. Traveling to and from one’s residence, place of worship, or work;

g. Traveling to and from an educational institution;

h. Volunteering with organizations that provide charitable or social services; and

i. Leaving one’s residence due to a reasonable fear for health or safety, at the direction of law enforcement, or at the direction of another government agency.

Aside from the fact that some of this would be vulnerable to constitutional challenges—those will come later—why is traveling to and from churches permitted, if church services are per se prohibited? Why is traveling to and from schools an exception, if all schools have been ordered to close? Why is visiting a relative permitted, but not a close friend? A best friend? Your only friend? Do only blood relatives count? In-laws? Seventh cousins twice removed?

The order seems arbitrary and hastily composed. Laws that infringe on civil rights cannot afford to be like that, if they want to withstand eventual court challenges, or even if they just want to be coherent.

5. Ugh. Mike Lindell, the My Pillow infomercial hustler whose TV ads have been banned at my house, was a guest at the White House Task Force press briefing yesterday.  He explained that his company was  devoting 75% of its manufacturing capacity into making face masks. Then he asked if he could add something, and President Trump said “Okay.”

Well, what choice did he have? The guy has volunteered to do a public service. He has cultivated the image of a nice person. If the President had said, “No, Mike. Sorry. We’re moving on,” he would have looked ungrateful. However that is exactly what Trump should have said. It’s not worth the risk.

Embodying a worst case scenario, Lindell said,

God gave us grace on November 8th, 2016, to change the course we were on. God had been taken out of our schools and lives. A nation had turned its back on God. And I encourage you: Use this time at home to get — home to get back in the Word, read our Bibles, and spend time with our families. Our President gave us so much hope where, just a few short months ago, we had the best economy, the lowest unemployment, and wages going up. It was amazing. With our great President, Vice President, and this administration and all the great people in this country praying daily, we will get through this and get back to a place that’s stronger and safer than ever.

Ethics foul. It was not Lindell’s place to engage in religious grandstanding and a political endoresment, however sincere it might be. This wasn’t a political rally, nor a time for religious proselytizing. It also, once again, painted a target on the President, who responded,

That’s very nice. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mike. Appreciate it…. I did not know he was going to do that, but he’s a friend of mine, and I do appreciate it. Thank you, Mike, very much.

At that point, I don’t know what else he could say.

 

Comment Of The Day: “From Australia, A Cancel Culture Chapter That I Don’t Understand At All”

Reader JP, who is a minister, had a fascinating reaction to the post about the Australian cartoonist in the process of being “canceled” because he had the audacity to mock mothers who pay more attention to their cell phones than their infants. Australians, especially mothers and feminists, are furious…because he criticized conduct that nobody denies occurs.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “From Australia, A Cancel Culture Chapter That I Don’t Understand At All”:

“Is guilt driving the attacks on Michael Leunig? Is that it? They are punishing a truth-teller for using satire and humor to hold a mirror up to their faces like satirists and social commentators are supposed to do? If that cartoon sparks such anger, what would these people have done to Swift, Voltaire, Gilbert, Shaw, Parker, Wodehouse, Vidal, or even Dave Barry?”

A few years ago,  I was teaching this class on 1 Corinthians. It had been going on for about a month at this point where we got to the section on marriage, divorce, and adultery. Most of the class focused on the marriage part. Very little was said about divorce and adultery. I didn’t focus on it too much. In a class like this, I tend to let discussion stay with the interests of the class. I did address divorce and adultery as real problems of the church and  said they should not be ignored.

After class, a women came up to me and let me have it.  According to her, divorce and adultery were “none of the church’s business.” She was pretty passionate about it, so I let it go. She wasn’t at the next class  I assumed she was making a point because she thought that I would never agree with her.

A month later, her husband dragged her into my office, saying she been committing adultery. He wanted to know what he should do about it. She wouldn’t look a me. I suggested a professional counselor, and that was the last time I saw either of them. Continue reading

We Must Defend To The Death The Rights Of A Minister To State His Interpretation of The Bible And Current Events. And The President Should Fire This Idiot, NOW [CORRECTED]

“This is the type and kind of person Trump surrounds himself with, in this case the President’s Cabinet Bible teacher,” writes perhaps the most hopelessly Trump Deranged of all my Facebook friends after linking to this nauseating story.

Of course, when a Presidential appointee or staff member expresses in public something as achingly stupid and gratuitously offensive as what Rev. Ralph Drollinger did, he is metaphorically holding his patron’s face up to foes and saying, “Hit this!”

Dollinger’s Pat Roberston nostalgia-fest came in a blog post titled, “Is God Judging America Today?” in which he blames the Wuhan virus pandemic on several groups, including those who have “a proclivity toward lesbianism and homosexuality.”

America “is experiencing the consequential wrath of God,”  the good reverend wrote on March 21 in his Capitol Ministries blog.  In addition to gays and lesbians, Drollingerlaid blame on people with “depraved minds,” environmentalists, and those who deny the existence of God. As a result, what we are now experiencing is “God’s wrath.”

Good to know. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Don Giuseppe Berardelli

Be sure to tell David Brooks about this..

Don Giuseppe Berardelli, an Italian priest, died from the Wuhan virus after giving up his respirator to a younger patient, a stranger.  The following is from the Google Italian to English translation of this source:

 Don Giuseppe had been archpriest of Casnigo for almost fourteen years and would have concluded his mission in Casnigo. He ended it earlier, in a hospital in Lovere, hit by the coronavirus. Already last year he had had health problems. His perennial smile, his availability, but also his activism in the realization of important and expensive works, that smile hid the worries.

He was a simple, straightforward person, with a great kindness and helpfulness towards everyone, believers and non-believers. His greeting was ‘peace and good’. Always friendly and available to the public administration, associations and not only those of the parish, he participated in all the events without ever being intrusive…. He was loved by everyone: his former parishioners still came from Fiorano after years to find him. But he also had an incredible ability to solve economic problems, to knock on the right doors for help.

This is the testimony of Giuseppe Imberti, long mayor of Casnigo: “Don Giuseppe died as a priest.  And I am deeply moved by the fact that the archpriest of Casnigo, Don Giuseppe Berardelli – to whom the parish community had bought a respirator – announced his will to assign it to someone younger than him.” Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Infection, 3/18/2020: Only 3 Out Of 4 Wuhan Viwus Wewated Wefewences! These Days, That’s Not bad…

Good afternoon!

1. I missed this: Roman Polanski, with his “An Officer and a Spy” won the directing, and screenplay awards at the French Cesar awards last month, and the results were greeted by protests. After Polanski’s best-director award was announced, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” actress Adele Haenel and director Celine Sciamma walked out of the theater.

It was Polanski’s fifth Cesar in the directing category, He’s scum and a rapist as well as a fugitive from justice, but he is and has always been a great film director. Polanski did  not attend the ceremony because, he said, he anticipated it would turn into a “public lynching.”

Haenel  shouted, “Well done, pedophilia!” as she left the hall. In an interview with The New York Times about his nominations, she had said, “Distinguishing Polanski is spitting in the face of all victims,” she said. “It means raping women isn’t that bad.”

Think about that statement a bit, if you have to. It makes no sense at all, but articulates the logic of the cancel culture. The film is the film, just as a song is a song and a painting is a painting. None of these are the same as their creators. Just as the fact that art created by a saint doesn’t make it any better, the fact that other art is created by vile human beings doesn’t change the quality of the art for the worse.  The law punishes people for bad deeds. Society punishes them in many other ways. What artists build, accomplish, and contribute to society are independent of the artists personally.

Bill Cosby’s albums are still funny, and nobody is saying that raping women isn’t that bad by enjoying those classic performances or by honoring Cosby as a performer. Harvey Weinstein produced too many great films to boycott.

Personally, I refuse to support Cosby, Woody Allen, Polanski and others who disgust me, but their work remains what it was and is, and burying it punishes the culture. Continue reading

I Suppose This Is Progress: Brigham Young University No Longer Prohibits Gay Sexual Behavior Any More Than It Prohibits Any Other Sexual Behavior

Brigham Young University (BYU) this week removed same-sex behavior as specifically prohibited conduct in itsstudent handbook honor code. Now the code  simply bans “all forms of physical intimacy” outside of marriage.

The previous iteration of the code stated,

One’s stated same-gender attraction is not an honor code issue. However, the honor code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity. Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the honor code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.

The revised BYU honor code no longer refers to same-sex intimate relations at all, but directs each member of the BYU community  to commit personally to “abstaining from any sexual relations outside a marriage between a man and a woman” because “the Lord’s law of chastity is abstinence from sexual relations outside of a marriage between a man and a woman.’” Continue reading