The Name Game

It’s “racist” to get someone’s name wrong now?  What will the grievance bullies think of next?

The latest irritating aspect of life that has been appropriated to serve as a “microaggression” and proof of the U.S.’s “systemic racism” is people mispronouncing names. The complaint has gotten a boost from mispronunciations of Kamala Harris’s name, although I’ve never heard one. (I just call her “that phony” or “the jerk” and largely avoid the problem.) This is a continuation of the current trick: if something bad happens to a “POC,” like, say, getting shot while resisting arrest, it’s racism; if the exact same thing happens to a white person, that’s just bad luck, or the dude deserved it, or “Who cares?”

Admittedly, I am especially unsympathetic to the name game. My parents both were terrible at pronouncing names; it was a running joke between my sister and  me. It wasn’t just people’s names either. There was an ice cream store on Cape Cod called “Emack and Bolio,” and we used to ask Mom about it just to hear her say “E-MACK-a-Bowlee.” Because my mother was Greek, all ethnic names magically became Greek names to her. A Boston Red Sox infielder named Gutierrez became “Gouttarras.” My father mispronounced names like he mispronounced many words, and it didn’t matter how many times he was corrected. He thought, for example, that the words “fiasco” and “fiesta” were the same word, “fiesca.”

But in the New York Times weekly column “Work Friend,” this phenomenon was used for race-baiting, aided by the new narcicsism in which everyone’s name is some kind of badge of honor. “Call me what you want, just don’t call me late for dinner!” Dad would say when the misnaming issue came up. Of course, that Jack Marshall, like this one, went through life being called “John” and seeing his name spelled with only one “L.” He didn’t take it personally. He knew that what matters in life is what you do, not what you are called while doing it. Continue reading

Mrs. Q’s Corner: Fetal Tissue Research And The Slippery Slope

by Frances Quaempts

[This, the latest installment of Mrs. Q’s Corner, responds to the discussion of the Trump Administration’s ban on fetal tissue research, and the issues raised in this post particularly.]

I know slippery slope arguments can be annoying, however we have seen, for example, how the years of race-baiting rhetoric that “all cops hate blacks” has led to the current madness. In that spirit I wonder, regarding this issue, just how far the commodification of unborn baby parts could go.

Once upon a time, child sacrifice in some societies was acceptable and even the rule. It would be nice to think we have evolved behaviorally to never entertain such horror, yet after seeing the way recently groups of teens and wild-eyed adults have chased and surrounded those they presume guilty of wrong-think, like jackels, could such barbarism make a comeback?

Could we justify using women to become “tissue-makers” if only they are compensated? Could we justify using the unborn for things like soda flavoring or hair products? Is that already happening? Could we jump from using the unborn to born but with defects or some other issue? Can we justify cannibalism as a means to “save the planet?” Is utilitarianism sometimes an excuse to rationalize the dehumanization of people in order to push through some grand and supposed ideal of humanity that isn’t even possible in a Star Trek episode? Will sacrificing a child or adult make the harvest plentiful when it has in the past?

The “downstream” issues that come up after supposed good ideas are well implemented can be the cause for even greater problems that generations have to deal with later. We have seen the good idea that women are equal turned into women degrading themselves in the name of a sexual revolution that mainly has benefited immature men.

We have seen how the good idea of fighting racism has led crowds to burn down the businesses of those most affected by racism. We have said the Red Scare was utterly without merit while Marxism has slowly poisoned our county using the arts, education, and media as a means for indoctrination.

Of course women should be equal, people of all races should thrive, and if someone wants to believe in some secular utopia where the proletariat magically rules the world, in this country they can. The downstream of it all is not simply the what of something or even the why, but the how. How do we avoid justifying dehumanization in the name of helping humanity? How do we use materials of any kind wisely and with respect? How do we check our unethical rationalizations so we don’t do more harm than good, no matter how utilitarian or beneficial the item or action is? Continue reading

Seeing Ethics In September, 9/1/2020…

1. Well, THAT’s an easy question! At St Xavier Catholic Church in NYC over the weekend, the priest asked his flock, : “Do you affirm that white privilege is unfair…will you commit to helping transform our church culture” and embrace “racial justice.”?

The answer, of course, is “‘Bye!” No one should accept partisan and racist talking points from the clergy. This is an abuse of power, trust and position.

I think I’ll watch “Spotlight” again…

2. In case you were wondering, Ethics Alarms will have nothing definitive to say about the Kyle Rittenhouse saga, and won’t until I read a trustworthy account of what really happened. There seems no question that the original mainstream news media narrative that this was a white supremacist gun nut hunting peaceful protesters is the MSM misbehaving again. The backlash characterization of Ritterhouse as a brave citizen protecting local businesses from rioters also seems overly convenient. The video available suggests an element of self-defense, but it seems clear to me that the kid irresponsibly placed himself in a perilous position while provoking members of a less-than-rational mob. In the situation he voluntarily placed himself, Ritterhouse was likely to be killed or kill somebody. He was also violating the law by carrying his weapon when he was underage. Of course, the failure of the Kenosha police and the state to keep minimally endurable order also added to the deadly conditions.

3. Hey, Coup Plan E, good to see you! Where have you been?

The 25th Amendment arguments have  been relatively scarce lately, although Maxine Waters mentioned it a week ago without referencing any disability. She appears to think that the Cabinet can just remove the elected President with a vote. My God, she’s such an idiot.

If the President had three strokes, he sure recovered quickly. And doesn’t it take astounding gall to try this chestnut again now, when the Democrats are running a candidate who could be legitimately removed by the 25th Amendment ten minutes after he took the oath of office? Continue reading

The “I’d Say ‘Thank God It’s Friday,’ But In A Home Office During A Pandemic Friday’s Just A Name” Ethics Grab Bag, 7/10/2020

1. Re: Privilege and bit more on the Harper’s letter fiasco. At the Volokh Conspiracy, David Bernstein flags this tweet by New York Times reporter Farnaz Fassihi:

A few thoughts:

  • Why do I subscribe to a paper that would employ someone like this? I forget.
  • She’s a bigot. I just wrote a bit on the “privileged smear” on another thread:

I have to say again that I do not comprehend the “privilege” line of thought at all. In the hands of most who wield it, I find the tactic the equivalent of Butch Cassidy kicking huge Harvey Logan in the balls to start their knife fight….

Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Dunce: The Archdiocese of Detroit”

Let’s start off this weekend on a high-minded note: Ryan Harkins’ mega-defense of the Catholic Church.

You better get readin! Here is Ryan Harkins’ Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethics Dunce: The Archdiocese of Detroit”…

(I may be back at the end.)

I want to begin with a brief discussion on Catholic doctrine on sexual morality. In its essence, Catholic doctrine says that sex has two united purposes: procreation, and bonding together a husband and wife and any children they produce. To take human sexuality out of that context is harmful to both the participants who engage in disordered acts, and it is harmful to society for the precedent and scandal such activity creates. Just as eating has a specific purpose, namely fueling the body, when it is taken outside its context, it creates disorders. Enjoying the food you eat is fine; but eating solely for the enjoyment leads to bodily harm, such as obesity and diabetes. So sex, when taken beyond the context of its purposes, leads to disorders.

The problem with sexually abusive priests, the problem with sexual harassment in practically every enterprise out there, the problem with broken families and absent fathers, all trace some, if not all, their origins to sexual disorder. Making the pleasurable aspects of sex the primary goal of sexual activity leads to the use and abuse and discarding of other people as objects to be consumed. I have experienced this myself, and part of the reason I feel so strongly on this topic is because I have introduced a great amount of dysfunction into my marriage and other relationships by years of self-serving pleasure-seeking.

There’s yet a deeper aspect of human sexuality in the context of the Catholic faith, namely, the concept of man being created in the image and likeness of God, based in the text from Gensis which says, “So God created man in his image. In the divine image he create him. Male and female he created them.” Catholics note that both individually and as family, man images God. As an individual, every human has intellect and will, and in that each human is an image of God. But the Christian faith has revealed God as Trinity — God the Father, The Son who proceeds from the intellect of God (God knows God), and the Spirit, that proceeds from the will of God (God loves God). So an individual images God because an individual can perceive himself, and can love himself. But the family images God, as well, because (following Genesis), there is man, and the woman who proceeded from man, and the child that proceeds from the love of man and woman. Continue reading

The Ethicist Apparently Endorses Discrimination As Ethical

, the New York Times Magazine’s ethics columnist, just opened a can of metaphorical worms, and I’m going to spread them around a little. It may get messy.

A woman—actually, now that I re-read the post, we don’t know it’s a woman— wrote to be reassured that he or she wasn’t a bad person for wanting to dump a man she had engaged in a nascent romantic relationship after discovering that he had Crohn’s Disease. “I know I’m being selfish, but is it unethical to not date him because of it?” she wrote. ” I don’t know what to do to support him, and I am worried about the future. He said it’s very likely his intestinal issues could get worse, and his life expectancy may be shorter. I want to shield myself from the pain, but I also feel like a terrible person for even thinking about it.”

Hey, don’t feel bad,  sayeth “The Ethicist”:

“Once someone is truly a friend or a lover, you have all kinds of responsibilities to them that you didn’t have before. So for example, it would be deplorable to abandon a spouse because he or she has become seriously ill. That’s part of what’s meant by saying a marriage is to endure “in sickness and in health.” Of course, this can turn out to be a promise someone can’t keep. But precisely because a partnership is for the long term, you can appropriately consider what your lives together would be like before you enter into one. When a potential partner is already seriously ill, committing to this person may be committing to a life as a caregiver. (The specific condition you mention has a wide range of severity; it can be mild and well controlled or genuinely debilitating.) You don’t owe it to anyone to accept that burden; indeed, if you think you don’t want such a life, you have a good reason not to enter into the relationship. It doesn’t make you a terrible person to think about the issue. The terrible thing would be to make the commitment and then to be unable to keep it.”

Oddly for “The Ethicist,” he ducked the main question that was asked, and instead answered what he thought was an easier one.   The questions he answered were ” Is it wrong to reject a commitment to someone because that commitment may be too burdensome?,” and “Is it wrong to think about the issue?” (It isn’t wrong to think about anything, regardless of what Black Lives Matter says. They should see what I think about them.)

What the inquirer was asking, however, is whether she should end a casual relationship—she had only known the guy through Zoom, after all—because he had Crone’s Disease, before she could form an attachment to him and might decide that he was worth the trouble…make that  potential trouble.

I see no distinction between what she wants to do and invidious discrimination in any other relationship, like employment. Discrimination is when you treat someone worse than someone else because of who they are and  features they have no control over, rather than what they do, have done, or “the content of their character.” It is also discrimination to make judgments about someone based on assumptions about people “like” them—profiling, essentially. “I don’t want to date him, even though I really like him, because he has a handicap” is,  as I see it, indistinguishable from saying, “I don’t want to hire her because she has a handicap/ is likely to become pregnant/ is old/ is black.”

That’s discrimination, and that’s wrong. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: The Archdiocese of Detroit

Terry Gonda has been a loyal member and supporter of the Catholic church for decades, serving as musical director of her parish for over twenty years. She is gay, but never hid the fact from her family, friends, church or pastors. She was also married, to another woman, naturally. This wasn’t a secret.

However, somehow the word got to the Detroit Archdiocese, where it was deemed that her same-sex marriage made her morally unfit to keep her job. On June 12  she received an email reading,  “The Archdiocese is choosing to activate its morality clause to terminate your employment.”

The blow came  just three days before the Supreme Court ruled that employers couldn’t fire workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Whether the ruling will apply to religious organizations is the subject of other cases before the Court, which heard oral arguments last month in Our Lady of Guadalupe School vs Morrissey-Berru, a case about whether teachers at private, religious schools are subject to the exception in the Civil Rights Act.

Gonda says that her Catholic mentors and employers always modeled Pope Francis’s compassionate and tolerant attitude toward homosexuality. She was never shunned for being gay, nor after her 2011 marriage to  Kirsti Reeve, 51. (That’s Kristi on the left, Terry on the right.) Terry told an interviewer that she is certain the Church believes “they’re doing the right thing — they’re trying to protect the church.” Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/22/2020: Let’s Stop Moping Around! Get Up! Get Out! Attack The Day! [Now With Leonard Bernstein!]

 

Update: I decided we needed a less pokey version, so now we have Leonard Bernstein’s, and the whole thing. THAT should cheer you up…

Boy, am I sick of everyone telling me how depressed they are.

1. Translation: “I’m an idiot.”  Now Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is saying  that the city will close the so-called “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.” It turned out to be exactly what anyone with any sense predicted it would be, with three shootings so far and a rape, along with a leader ( war lord?) who had the gall to complain when the Seattle EMTs didn’t immediately respond when shots rang out. The mayor  had said that the anarchist outpost would lead to a “summer of love,” marking her as a Sixties-romanticizing dolt, but now she says she was obviously joking-–yes, the Joke Excuse. She never said it was “in jest” before the completely predictable violence broke out.

I apologize for not highlighting her as an Incompetent Elected Official of the Month, but she was competing with Bill De Blasio.

2. Fearmongering. It should be apparent by now that the news media does not want the country to re-open, does not want the economy to begin recovering before the election, and is pushing its anti-reopening goal through fearmongering, in part by focusing on isolated cases of individuals getting hit by the Wuhan virus particularly hard.

This morning HLN kept repeating a long feature about a thirtyish Broadway star who has been disabled by the virus for 80 days, and another man not in a high-risk group who has been suffering for 100 days. The Times and the Washington Post are full of apocalyptic reports about the number of cases rising. Another news outlet said, “The U.S. reported more than 33,000 new coronavirus cases on Saturday – the highest total since May 1 – while the surge of infections in several states is outpacing growth in coronavirus testing.”  ARRRGH! We;re DOOOMED!

One commentator called this “needless” frightening the public. Wrong. It is  needed because it is a part of the ongoing effort to defeat President Trump.

The Centers for Disease Control predicted that cases would increase as the country reopened, not that it has much credibility at this point. Remember? The lock down was never intended to stop the spread of the disease, but to slow it down,  flatten the curve, stock up on supplies, fix the CDC’s testing botch, and find treatments. That was mostly accomplished. The nation cannot continue to let the economy deteriorate: depressions kill people too.

Meanwhile, the death rate is declining even as the number of cases spike, and there’s a reason for that. In all outbreaks, a disease claims the most vulnerable first. This is known as Farr’s Law, named after William Farr,  a British epidemiologist and early statistician  who recognized the importance of death statistics and identifying causation. Not only has the current epidemic claimed many of the most vulnerable in the U.S., thanks in great part to the catastrophic decision of states like New York to send infected seniors to nursing homes, millions of Americans have antibodies.

The combination means that even if there are lots of new cases going forward, the death toll is likely to be far less severe than it has been. Do not hold your breath waiting for the media to explain this.

Just for fun,  check and see how many news organizations have mentioned Farr’s Law. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Wednesday Ethics Jolts, 6/17/2020: I Think We Have Our Answer To Question 13….”

JP, a minister, has another Comment of the Day, this one inspired by his own recent  experience and  item #1 of the post, “Wednesday Ethics Jolts, 6/17/2020: I Think We Have Our Answer To Question 13…..” That note concerned the meltdown of the National Book Critics Circle over the refusal of one member to endorse the group’s proposed statement on the George Floyd Freakout. Unfortunately, JP encountered something similar…

You have spent some time on the first issue. Like with all the Covid-19 type pandering. I mostly just roll my eyes when I see it and move forward. After all, I don’t really put much stock in it. I am a firm believer that I be defined by my actions, not by my words. Words are cheap and can change at the drop of a hat. So when all these things started happening, I thought it was a good time to address it to my congregation. I’ll spare you the details, but it seemed to go over quite well. Then we get to Monday.

On Monday I get an email from a local group of ministers (from different denominations) in my town.Once a month we get together to talk about how we as a group can help the community. On their last meeting they wanted to put out some kind of public statement. This is what they decided:

“Micah 6:8 What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.” God’s love embraces all and our Christian faith requires of us that same love for others. We confess our sin of racism that continues to plague our nation. May we be people of God’s justice and God’s peace!”

I think my nine year old could have easily picked this apart. But I wanted to help, so I wrote the following reply:

I have three problems with the statement as it is.

First: I have no clue why you’re writing this other than to…grandstand? Virtue signal? It is what is going on in the world? If you have a purpose what is it?

Second. You make racism sound like original sin. This actually creates the third problem. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Easter Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 4/12/2020: Missing The Easter Bunny”

In today’s Warm-Up, I expressed my problems with Mark Tapscott’s blog post, titled “He Is Risen! Eight Reasons To Believe.”

To summarize the thrust of my criticism as I reiterated it in my replies to his comment and others, Mark argues persuasively that the authors of the Gospels were, at least in this case, trying to tell the story as they heard it, and were not trying to embellish or distort it in the telling to make it more credible in its time. Good. That does not mean, however, that the story they heard is in fact true. The post was also aimed in part at debunking conspiracy theories about the Resurrection being a hoax. Taking Mark’s argument as that, and that alone, it is also persuasive. However, proving something was not intentionally false does not prove it is true.

I will do this however: at the end of my discussion, I said that I regarded Mark’s argument as a tautology, where a controversial document is cited to prove the accuracy of the document itself, and that I regarded that device as intellectually dishonest. Mark’s response persuades me that my  assessment was unduly harsh and unfair, and I both retract and apologize to him for it.

Moreover, the fact that he chose to respond in person so quickly reaffirms my original favorable assessment of his professionalism and character.

Here is Mark Tapscott’s Comment of the Day on Item #4 in the post, “Easter Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 4/12/2020: Missing The Easter Bunny”:

First, thank you for your kind words regarding my secular writing. I hope that my work in that area continues to merit your approbation. We are, as I believe Confucius is reputed to have said, “cursed to live in interesting times.”

Unfortunately, my reaction is not nearly so positive regarding your critique of my post on eight reasons to believe Jesus was literally resurrected from the dead three days after His crucifixion, just as He said He would be.

“Intellectually dishonest” and tautological? With all due respect, your readers deserve more candor than that from you. You accuse me of these two errors because: “All of his reasons are based on New Testament text. If one believes that the New Testament text is true and accurate, then you don’t need any more reasons. His is a self-ratifying argument.”

If my post was simply arguing for the credibility and historical accuracy of the New Testament, your statement might well more accurately represent what I wrote. I did indeed assume the accuracy of the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ resurrection, but the eight reasons I offered concerned characteristics of the scriptural accounts and events that point a reasonable reader to their credibility. Continue reading