An Ethics Analogy

I’ve been trying to think of the best analogy for the still rolling 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck. Suddenly, while watching “Airplane!” it came to me.

Ironically (and annoyingly), the ideal analogy for how the Democrats/”resistance”/mainstream media “Axis of Unethical Conduct” has behaved is an airplane analogy rather than a train analogy, and I hate mixed metaphors. Never mind.

During the entire 2016 campaign, I argued with a succession of Hillary Haters regarding my announcement that I was prepared to hold my nose, suppress my gag reflex and have six shots of bourbon in order to vote for Clinton on election day. I explained that I believed it to be per se unethical  for a candidate as loathsome as Donald Trump to be allowed to become President of the United States. Here or elsewhere I wrote that it was like having a choice in an in-flight emergency of having a horrible, untrustworthy pilot flying your passenger plane or a dog.

As I recently recounted, I changed my conclusion at almost the last second, deciding that I couldn’t justify voting for either Clinton or Trump. The airplane analogy is still a useful one, however, though the conditions have changed. Continue reading

Insomnia Thoughts On Tip-Baiting, And A Poll

Pop quiz: What does Grover Cleveland have to do with the Wuhan virus?

Unfortunately, this is how my mind works…

Something about last night’s post on the despicable practice of tip-baiting to lure financially desperate Americans to go grocery shopping for the tippers bothered me, and I couldn’t quite figure out what it was. The thought that I was missing something kept churning in what I laughably call my brain (my wife calls it an ourdated hard drive that has never been cleaned of junk, cookies and malware and is going to crash any day now). It kept me awake tonight: I’m at my keyboard out of desperation. Weirdly enough, I kept thinking about the Civil War. Why was that? There had to be an ethics connection somewhere.

Ah HA! Got it. Continue reading

Unethical Tweet Of The Week: Yes, It’s Representative Ocasio-Cortez Again!

I know we’re getting perilously close to Julie Principle territory here. The Congresswoman says and tweets so many ignorant, logically flawed, impulsive and silly things so often that it seem ungallant to keep swatting at them.

On the other hand, elected officials, especially members of Congress, have an ethical duty not to make their supporters, followers and the public in general dumber and more ignorant than they already are. The tweet above does that: it misrepresents laws, law enforcement, the nature of abortion, reality, justice, too much to process, really.

It also shows seriously damaged critical thinking skills and an abysmal grasp of analogies. “Right?” No, NOT right, you fool. Abortion bans target the intentional taking of what these laws deem human life. Got that? Intentional. No ICE agents set out to cause the deaths of premature babies that were, in fact, placed in peril by their mothers who endangered them by bringing them along as they attempted to break U.S. laws. There is no valid comparison here. None. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Improper Jury Instruction

At least a dozen Pennsylvania murder convictions may be reversed because Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes included this description of reasonable doubt to instruct her juries:

“Each one of you has someone in your life who’s absolutely precious to you. If you were told by your precious one’s physician that they had a life-threatening condition and that the only known protocol or the best protocol for that condition was an experimental surgery, you’re very likely going to ask for a second opinion. You may even ask for a third opinion. You’re probably going to research the condition, research the protocol. What’s the surgery about? How does it work? You’re going to do everything you can to get as much information as you can. You’re going to call everybody you know in medicine: What do you know? What have you heard? Tell me where to go. But at some point the question will be called. If you go forward, it’s not because you have moved beyond all doubt. There are no guarantees. If you go forward, it is because you have moved beyond all reasonable doubt.”

U.S. District Judge Gerald McHugh ordered a new trial for a man convicted following this instruction, and Hughes may have used it in 50 cases.

This is why I am making this an ethics quiz: I have no idea why the instruction is wrong, or confusing. I’ve read McHugh’s opinion, and I still don’t understand what the alleged problem is, unless this judge just doesn’t want to anyone convicted. (He’s an Obama appointment, but I’m sure that has nothing to do with anything, for Chief Justice Roberts tells us so). The decision is here, and this the judge’s reasoning: Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: Unethical Website Of The Month, “March For Our Lives” Edition: Change.Org [#1]

Here is JP’s Comment of the Day on the post, Unethical Website Of The Month, “March For Our Lives” Edition: Change.Org:

I have largely been silent on the issue this time around. I have seen nothing that contributes to the debate and thought I had nothing to add since the Vegas incident. Mostly, if someone asks, I just refer them to my earlier points on why banning bump stocks and strengthening the Brady Law  not will not change anything.  However, it seems today my more liberal and conservative friends have been posting quite a bit on the subject and I thought now might be a good time to tackle the issue again by looking at problems on both sides and finding a solution.

First, let’s start with some of the conservative talking points.

  • “If someone is determined to hurt people and commit a felony, what’s to say that they won’t break a law to get their hands on a gun to do it?”

This may be true, but it is doesn’t move the dialogue forward and is often used deceptively. It is basically saying that since criminals don’t obey laws, anyway, why have a law? By this logic, we could apply the following to Trump’s desire to build a wall. Walls have not proven to be effective in stopping people wanting to come in, so why build a wall? I don’t understand why conservatives who use this logic don’t apply it elsewhere. Laws are largely there as deterrents. People will not do something because it is against the law regardless of how pointless they see it (I guess this is why I always get stuck behind that Kia doing 65 on the interstate). A psychologist found that most of the population is motivated to do things by one of two factors: sympathy and empathy. or law and order (I think this sums up the current gun debate).

Second,

  • “Cars kill more people than guns do, yet we don’t ban cars.”

This is a strawman argument, and not even good one. Cars are highly regulated, require an age limit, require a permit of sorts, a registration, require training and safety ((things the left claim to want for guns) and are designed for transportation, not to kill. They can and have been used to kill people, but that is not their primary purpose. In fact, it is a gross misuse of their purpose. The argument falls further apart because while you have a right to a gun, you do not have a right to own a car. The government could decide to remove all cars (for whatever reason); this is an apples to oranges comparison.

Third, Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “The Desperate ‘Gunsplaining’ Dodge”

“Saying you need to understand gun terminology to have opinions on gun policy is the equivalent of saying you need to understand the biology of a heroin overdose to have an opinion on the drug war.”

Thus went the jaw-on-the-floor stupid tweet of Zack Beauchamp, a senior report at Vox. I had written a post about the ridiculous “gunsplaining” article in the Washington Post, and foolishly assumed that even anti-gun fanatics would be embarrassed to endorse the view expressed there that those arguing for material changes in public policy should be required to understand the object of that policy. Then came Zack’s tweet.

Admittedly, and to be fair, Twitter makes people stupid. We have documented the sad Twitter-feuled decline of Harvard Law School icon Larry Tribe, and new victims of Twitter brain-suck suface every day.  Bill Kristol once had a rather impressive brain, for example; look what he tweeted last week:

Wow. What a terrible, and ahistorical, analogy.  The Texans at the Alamo were fighting in a war to secede from Mexico. Santa Anna was an authoritarian all right, but to Texans he was being authoritarian in the same way Lincoln was when he used forcet to keep the South from leaving. Mexico was hardly “nativist”: it invited Americans to settle the territory, and their arrival was completely legal. Indeed, Texas is a great example of what can happen when a country doesn’t control immigration at all.  Twitter makes you stupid, and bias makes you even more stupid. Add anti-Trump bias to Twitter and you get Bill Kristol sounding like Maxine Waters.

Zach liked Kristol’s bad analogy too!

The fact that Vox employs a senior reporter whose critical thinking skills are so poor and whose judgment is so wretched that he happily displays them on social media is instructive regarding the influence new media commentators like Vox wield. Thus I was grateful for this Comment of the Day, by Michael West, on the post, The Desperate “Gunsplaining” Dodge’: Continue reading

More Comment Of The Day Weekend… Comment Of The Day (4): “An Ethics Alarms Holiday Challenge! Identify The Rationalizations, Logical Fallacies, Falsehoods And Outright Errors In This Essay…”

Luke G ends this  Comment of the Day writing,   “Hm, that was longer than I expected, but what’s a good analogy if you can’t follow it through to the end?”

He’s right: it’s an excellent analogy for the value of freedom of speech, and one I don’t recall having encountered before.

Here is his COTD on the post, An Ethics Alarms Holiday Challenge! Identify The Rationalizations, Logical Fallacies, Falsehoods And Outright Errors In This Essay Advocating Limits On Speech…?

This argument is a clash between two viewpoints. For those of us who value free speech, the structure and procedure are immutable, and the outcomes proceed from there. We see free speech, along with the various other liberties guaranteed in the US, as an intrinsic part of a free and open society. The freedoms themselves have intrinsic value, and the national culture that rests on them is a SIGN that they are good, rather than the REASON they are good. Rich soil is healthy and good, whether it’s growing anything or not- we don’t say good soil is useful because of the beans it grows, we look at the beans as proof that we chose our soil well. The fact that rich soil also allows weeds to spring up is an unfortunate side effect.

For those like the author of the article, their outcome is immutable, and the procedure to get there is malleable depending on their goal. Their worldview defines what outcomes are good or bad- structures that produce bad outcomes are bad structures, and those that produce good outcomes are good structures. These people see cultural cause and effect not like a field but like a factory, where there’s no such thing as a good machine that makes some good and some bad parts… if it produces any bad parts it’s a bad machine that should be upgraded or eliminated at the first opportunity so only the desired product is created. Universal free speech may have been the best machine available, but now there is the perceived power to fix it so only the desirable speech is free and the defective speech is suppressed, so it’s only logical to do so. Continue reading