Saturday Ethics Bits and Pieces, 10/24/2020: Sushi And Coyotes

1. Another day, another police shooting where the black victim entirely brought his fate upon himself, resulting in, of course, another protest. This time the episode was in San Bernardino, California. An officer was dispatched at 11:16 p.m. in response a 911 call about a man jumping on cars in a parking lot. He’s “really drunk and he’s waving around a gun…and he’s just going crazy,” the caller told the police dispatcher. She described him as a black man with a white shirt and black shorts.

As soon as police learned he was black, they might as well have replied, “Sorry. He’s your problem.”

Body camera video shows the officer approaching Matthew Bender, who fits the description by the 911 caller. The police officer pulls out his gun and tells Bender, “Let me see your hands.” Bender  raises his hands briefly and then puts them back on his side, walking away from the officer and telling the cop, “Man, I’m going to the store.” The officer holsters his gun away and attempts to apprehend Bender, who tells him, “Don’t touch me!” The police officer wrestles Bender to the ground and tells him, “Stop fighting, dude.” Bender is seen on video reaching for an item in his waistband that appears to be a handgun.  As both men get up from the ground, and the officer draws his weapon and fires four shots at Bender, which proved fatal. A loaded, unregistered pistol was found on the suspect, who had a criminal record going back 17 years, , with arrests attempted murder, false imprisonment, domestic violence, theft and possession of narcotics. Shortly after the incident was reported, demonstrators shouting, “Abolish the police!” “Defund the police!” and “Fuck the police!” took to the streets, blocking  an intersection and attacking vehicles.

The policy the demonstrators in these episodes want is one where the police are defenseless, arrests are impossible, and black skin ensures immunity from law enforcement. This is neither just, fair, nor rational.

2. Give hate a chance. Hate is in, as you know: the Democrats are depending on it, and little else, to bring them victory next month. A website called BestLife developed a formula for determining the “most hated states,”  ranked from least hated to most hated. Who hates a state? I’ve been in 48 of them plus the District, and I like some more than others, but hating a state seems pathological to me. I assume the calculations preceded the George Floyd Freakout, because Washington, Oregon and Minnesota come out far too positively in light of their behavior since June. And why is Oklahoma the fourth most hated state?

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Scary Tales Of The Great Stupid: San Diego Schools Decide That To Fight Racism, Character And Education Have To Go

Triple facePalm

Oh, yes, this will work out well.

Seldom have social upheavals combined with irresponsible propaganda resulted in more devastating mass amnesia by institutions regarding well-settled reality than “The Great Stupid,” now playing in your community and mine. Joining advocacy for such self-evident disasters as open borders, eliminating police, self-declared childhood gender flips and re-segregation is the decision to eliminate basic standards in education because educators can’t seem to explain stubborn racial gaps. Make everyone equally ignorant, unethical and undisciplined! Brilliant!

I’m not exaggerating; I wish I were. The San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD), the second largest school district in California with over 106,000 students, announced that it is overhauling how students will be evaluated because “teachers fail minority students more than White students.” Since the possibility that the reasons for this persistent problem may rest within minority culture and society pathologies rather than failures of the educational system is unpalatable to the Left and politically incorrect, the proscribed solution is to overhaul the way students are graded as part of what school board members call  “a larger effort to combat racism.”

“This is part of our honest reckoning as a school district,” says SDUSD Vice President Richard Barrera. “If we’re actually going to be an anti-racist school district, we have to confront practices like this that have gone on for years and years.” Thus the school board voted unanimously last week —unanimously; think about that— to make sweeping changes. There will be no yearly grade averages. “Things like” turning work in on time and classroom behavior will not affect academic grades, but will only count toward a so-called “citizenship grade.” On the docket for reconsideration in an upcoming meeting: de-emphasizing discipline and penalties for cheating.

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Ethics Re-Imagined, 10/11/2020: The Day That Will Live In Ethics Infamy

No, I can’t let this pass.

1. Has any song in recorded history made so many so stupid? On October 11, 1971, John Lennon’s “Imagine” was released. Many sources call the facile ode to Fantasyland “one of the most influential songs of the 20th century.” Sadly, that’s probably true. Lennon said the song’s lyrics were heavily influenced by Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono. That figures. (Earlier this year, “Imagine” came under fire in this post.)

Lennon’s lyrics are like crack for the unformed, naïve or perpetually infantile mind, and have served as—what? Inspiration can’t be the right word—for dewy-eyed, smug, condescending and even violent progressives for decades. In a lazy 2019 article titled, “The Legacy of John Lennon’s Song “Imagine,” Laurie Ulster writes,

The impact of the song is unquestionable. But disguised within its message of peace and love and its flowing piano melody is a collection of edgy, “dangerous” ideas that challenge society as we know it. The song that has become an anthem all over the world is actually full of controversial lyrics and radical ideas. Lennon once called it “’Working Class Hero’ for conservatives,” and indeed, it challenges the status quo at its most fundamental.

No, the lyrics challenge common sense, reality and logic as we have always known it, and it doesn’t really challenge anything. Nations aren’t going anywhere; property isn’t going to disappear, humanity is not going to join hands and chant together in a “brotherhood/sisterhood” of man as the singer once pandered in a live performance, blowing the integrity of the song while forgetting that if he was going to do that, the line really had to be  a “brotherhood/sisterhood of humankind” or something else that wouldn’t rhyme with the previous line, which ended in “can.”

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The Gallup Poll Is Wrong, Or The Others Must Be, Right?

When President Trump tweeted yesterday about a poll that found a majority of American felt they were better off today than four years ago when Obama’s Camelot was still being hailed by the troubadours (that’s my wording—I don’t think “troubadours”  is in the President’s speaking and tweeting vocabulary), I immediately thought, “Oh God, here’s another spin-job misrepresentation that will be the selected target of the Trump-Haters for the rest of the week.” Such a poll had to come from Mrs. Blapp’s 6th grade class, or maybe Steve Bannon has started a polling service.

I was wrong. The poll came from Gallup, one of the most reliable and objective of the pollsters, and Trump described it accurately. Gallup’s Sept. 14-28 poll found that 56% of U.S. registered voters believe they are better off now under President Trump compared to four years ago. Not only that, the percentage is the highest by far of that registered during a President’s reelection campaign since Ronald Reagan posed the question as the proper way to measure a President’s success in his 1980 campaign to defeat Jimmy Carter.

Gallup better

Now, since I am officially skeptical of polls, and particularly so since the 2016 polling debacle, and even more so when the organizations paying for and holding the polls are committed to removing Donald Trump from the Presidency, I am loathe to use a poll to debunk a poll. But how in the world can Gallup’s numbers be reconciled with the poll-driven narrative that Joe Biden is headed for a landslide, or even a narrow victory? Voters do not typically or, as far as I can recall, ever, vote against perceived self-interest. If 56% of the electorate really believe that they have fared better under President Trump than under the Democratic Messiah, it makes no sense to predict that they will vote to go back to the bad old days. Moreover, the poll was taken in the midst of widespread scaremongering over the pandemic, and as the thriving economy that the President had pointed to as his major achievement lays in ruins from the effects of the seven month lockdown. Even in the midst of this, 56% think they are better off.

How can this be explained? I can imagine some theories:

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Pre-Debate Ethics Distraction, 9/29/2020: Prediction: Whatever Happens, I’m Going To Hate It, And The News Media Will Lie About It.

The question for the ages: Was this the most unethical pair in a Presidential debate before tonight?

1. Well this seems ominous. This morning the Trump campaign requested  that a third party inspect both candidates for electronic devices or transmitters. President Trump had already consented to such an inspection, and the Biden campaign had reportedly agreed to this days ago. The New York Post reported a few hours ago that the Biden camp refused the condition.

What’s going on here? I can only assume that it’s gamesmanship. Biden would be beyond demented to try to cheat in a broadcast debate.

2. Here are results of the FIRE’s college free speech rankings survey, as determined by students. My alma mater ranked #46 out of the 56 schools ranked; no surprise there. The school I worked for as an administrator after getting my law degree there is two slots worse.

3. Prediction: It will not end well for poor David Hogg. I foresee a tragic opera in his future. Too young for the prominence he was thrust into as a survivor of the Parkland shooting, cynically exploited by the news media and activists who did not care about him, he is now condemned to have no support from any quarter. His best course would be to quietly leave the public gaze forever, and fight off the addiction of fame. It’s not easy. Continue reading

From The “Life Competence” Files: Death By Licorice

The current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine describes the odd case of  a middle-aged construction worker who died from eating one or two large bags of black licorice daily over a three week period. A naturally occurring compound, glycyrrhizic acid, found in black licorice can have adverse health effects if you gorge on it: in 2017, the FDA warned on its website, “If you’re 40 or older, eating 2 ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks could land you in the hospital with an irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia.” If you have muscle weakness or an irregular heartbeat, you should stop eating it and call your doctor, who should also advise you possible  about interactions it may have with your other medications.

The construction worker’s sudden addiction to the candy  caused his heart to stop, and he collapsed at mid-day at a fast-food restaurant. Emergency responders performed  CPR and revived him,  but he died the next day. Dr. Neel Butala, a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who was one of the authors of the case study, pronounced the lesson of the episode:

“The key message here for the general public is that food containing licorice can potentially be hazardous to your health if eaten in large quantities. I don’t think people realize it. It’s not labeled that way.”

It shouldn’t have to be labelled, should it? What isn’t potentially deadly in asbsurdly large quantities? Water can kill you. Of course candy can kill you. It’s interesting to know why, and that  licorice root extract can cause dangerously low potassium and imbalances in bodily electrolytes, but honestly: who wouldn’t do a little checking if they suddenly started eating huge amounts of something that normal people only consume occasionally, if at all? Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/25/2020: “Snap Out Of It!”

This is applicable to so many aspects of today I don’t have space to list them. Prime among them are the apparent re-runs of the George Floyd riots in various cities, this time tied to the death of Breonna Taylor and the fact that the cops who didn’t murder her weren’t charged with murder.  Hmmm…are these more stupid than the St. George riots, less stupid, or exactly as stupid?

1. I wonder…has the NFL killed more innocent black men than police over the years? Gale Sayers, the legendary Chicago Bears running back, died this week from “complications of dementia,” almost certainly meaning he was another victim of CTE suffered from playing what a friend calls “Concussionball.”

Well, as much as NFL fans might resent having players pollute entertainment with half-baked politicsal grandstanding, you can bet they would rather watch meaningless kneeling during the “Star-Spangled Banner” than forfeit the fun of watching human beings destroy their brains for cash.

2. This guy isn’t helping...Officer John Goulart, Jr., reported that at a shopping center in Pineville, La, Goulart was shot once in the leg and anotherbullet hit the back door of his patrol car. However, investigators determined that Goulart  fired those shots, including the one that hit him in the leg,  himself.  Now he’s under arrest. [Pointer: valkygrrl] Continue reading

Fake News! Bad Science! Confirmation Bias! Wuhan Virus Fear-Mongering! The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Narrative Has It All!

I was going to write (another) post about politically weaponized studies and surveys after Nick Kristoff pronounced the U.S a failing nation after seeing the latest Social Progress Index, which determined that out of 163 countries assessed worldwide, the United States, Brazil and Hungary are the only ones in which people are worse off than when the index began in 2011. This is always one of my least favorite type of studies studies, the apples to oranges compendiums where it is the researchers’ values being measured and not what the study claims. Weight the 50 “metrics of well-being”  differently, take out some or add others, and the result is completely different, and just as imaginary. “The data paint an alarming picture of the state of our nation, and we hope it will be a call to action,” Michael Porter, a Harvard Business School professor and the chair of the advisory panel for the Social Progress Index, told Kristoff. “It’s like we’re a developing country.”

Right. That’s certainly a rational statement.  Kristoff goes on,

The index, inspired by research of Nobel-winning economists, collects 50 metrics of well-being — nutrition, safety, freedom, the environment, health, education and more — to measure quality of life. Norway comes out on top in the 2020 edition, followed by Denmark, Finland and New Zealand….The United States, despite its immense wealth, military power and cultural influence, ranks 28th — having slipped from 19th in 2011. The index now puts the United States behind significantly poorer countries, including Estonia, Czech Republic, Cyprus and Greece.

I guess the smart thing is to move right over to Finland or Estonia then! I’m sure the rest of the Trump-bashing pundits and America Stinks crowd, like Michael Moore, will have a field day with this propaganda, because it fits in nicely with Big Lie #5: “Everything is Terrible,” which I expect to have a resurgence as we approach election day. Actually it already is; here’s TIME’s cover:

But I digress: lets’s get back to Sturgis. (Thought I had forgotten, didn’t you?) Continue reading

A Response To “Comment Of The Day: ‘Ethics Escape, 8/24/2020: The Not Watching The GOP Convention Edition. Item #3, Fetal Research Ban'”

I promised a response to Chris Marschner’s provocative Comment Of The Day on Item #3 in the post, “Ethics Escape. 8/24/2020: The “Not Watching The GOP Convention” Edition. Here it is…

Chris begins,“Before I go any farther, I believe that fetal tissue is crucial to research.” That’s an excellent stipulation; I concur. Thus we agree that obtaining fetal tissue is beneficial, and an objective with positive value for society.

That leaves as the sole issue for ethical debate as whether using the source of such tissue creates such a counterbalancing negative effect that the positive effect, which has been conceded, is overcome and rendered moot.

Chris says he “can see an argument in favor of the Board’s decision to deny access to such tissues.” I can see the arguments; I wouldn’t make the arguments. I’m assuming Chris not only sees them but agrees with them to some extent. Chris goes on,

I may agree with Turley that such research use of fetal tissue does not incentivize women to have abortions. However ,I do believe it incentivizes sellers of such tissues. Such sales make a commodity of aborted fetal tissues and the of other human tissue donations; this is not some far-fetched fear. Do we want to be like China, which forcibly removes kidneys so that others can have a transplant?

I don’t think “may” is reasonable here. Professor Turley states unequivocally that women do not have abortions to harvest fetal tissue, and while it is impossible to prove a negative, there is literally no evidence that indicates this is a problem. Hospitals sell medical waste, including organs for transplant. Chris’s logict applies with equal force to all things removed from patients, who have a right to deny the medical institution from selling it or using them themselves. The patients, by law, cannot sell their tissues and organs themselves, however, and few choose to take the items home as souvenirs. Almost all the time, patients let health care providers dispose of such things as they see fit, and why wouldn’t they?

The “Coma” scenario, where doctors intentionally kill patients to harvest and profit from their organs, has been around for decades, (The Robin Cook novel was written in 1973.) It just hasn’t materialized, and in the case of fetal tissue, nobody would be killed, in the eyes of the law, if medical professionals were selling it as profit center. The argument is a straw man, a separate theoretical problem related to the issue being discussed, but not strictly relevant. In this it is like the anti-cloning debate. Opponents of cloning worry about how the technology might be abused, but that’s a downstream issue. There is nothing inherently unethical about cloning, just as there is nothing inherently unethical about using fetal tissue for research. If unethical practices emerge, you deal with them directly, not by eliminating the otherwise neutral or beneficial process that creates the opportunity for abuse.

Chris:

Imagine a society that becomes insensitive to the concept of the sanctity of life. It is not outside the realm of possibility that we could begin to allow doctors to withhold life saving but costly treatments in order hasten the demise of a potential donor.

The first sentence is irrelevant in the context of this discussion  because, via Roe v. Wade, the law of the land does not acknowledge fetuses as human life. I think Roe was and is a terrible decision; I am certain that the pro-abortion position that unborn children are like warts or parasites is intellectually dishonest and a belief made necessary by the political objective of abortion access rather than justified by reality, but that doesn’t matter. The U.S. position isn’t insensitive to the sanctity of human life because society and the culture, through the courts, have absorbed the legal fiction that fetuses are not human life. If and when that fiction is rejected—personally, I don’t foresee it happening—then the sanctity of life issue becomes relevant. As for the rest of Chris’s statement: that is happening already, thanks in part to the costs of treatment and the limits of insurance.

I won’t say that doctors pressuring a family to take a brain-dead loved one off of life support because a 17-year old woman needs a heart and lung transplant stat is unethical. It theoretically violates Kant’s Categorical Imperative, but Kant wasn’t considering brain dead patients before such patients could be kept alive. This is when Utilitarian balancing is called for. “Are we willing to let doctors or insurers make that call to take the patient off the vent so he can become a heart donor? I certainly hope not, ” Chris asks. Well, we don’t, and shouldn’t, but the input of those not emotionally involved in the decision is valuable.

Chris continues, Continue reading

Ethics Escape, 8/24/2020: The “Not Watching The GOP Convention” Edition

The fact that Bill Clinton was going to speak at the Democratic National Convention was sufficient to justify my personal boycott of that event, and the fact that Scott Baio (“Happy Days,” “Charles in Charge,” “Joanie Loves Chachi”) is speaking at this convention is enough to to keep me away from the Republicans. I assumed that Scott was a speaker the last time because the Republicans were shunning Trump, forcing the nominee to scrape the bottom of the barrel, but he’s the President now. I refuse to accept that there aren’t better choices than Scott Baio available. He’s not only a washed up actor, he’s a washed up actor whom other actors never liked when he wasn’t washed up. He couldn’t even get along with Dick Van Dyke! Baio starred in one of the most degrading reality shows yet—that’s saying something—in which he visited all of his old girlfriends who he had abused when he was a star, admitted how horribly he had treated them and begged for forgiveness, resulting in about half of the women excoriating him on camera. Baio also has been accused of sexually assaulting one of the teenage girls Charles was supposed to be in charge of. Nice.

“the best people…”

1. I don’t understand this story at all, but I do know that the people who run the Susan B. Anthony museum are grandstanding jerks.  Last week President Trump pardoned suffragist Susan B. Anthony, who died in 1906, for her conviction in 1872 for voting before it was legal for women to do so. I wrote about it and rated the pardon a cynical move even for Trump, and a transparent sop for  feminists. Then, based partly on the completely unproven theory that  Anthony would not have wanted to be pardoned, and partly on the now familiar efforts of “the resistance” to deny the President the opportunity to engage in the most benign uses of his legitimate power without being attacked for it,  the leaders of the Susan B. Anthony Museum declined the pardon on her behalf, and the news media dutifully reported that the order had been declined.

The museum has no more power to decline a Presidential pardon for Anthony than I do. Continue reading