Dear Ethics Alarms: “I Am An Advice Columnist Who Is Ignorant And Phobic About Guns. When I Get A Question About Guns, What Should I Do?”

Bullets, shmullets, what’s the difference?

“Ask Amy,” authored by Amy Dickinson, is one of the mid-level practitioners of the syndicated advice columnist’s craft—not consistently brilliant like Carolyn Hax, not as persistently wrong-headed as the now mercifully retired Emily Yoffe at Slate.

A recent letter to Amy read,

Dear Amy: This week, I discovered that my intelligent, hard-working, responsible 24-year-old daughter (who lives with me) is a gun owner! And it’s not a normal gun, either — it is a 40-caliber semi-automatic, and she has hollow-point bullets to go with it. Amy, this is the kind of weapon a criminal would possess! She says it is for emergencies. There have only been two home invasions in our neighborhood in the last 11 years. I’ve given her three choices: She can either give her weapon to me, sell it or move out in three weeks. I love my daughter and would be so sad for her to move into a place that she would hardly be able to afford, but now I have to lock my bedroom door at night because I don’t know what she’s going to do. Now she says that I don’t trust her, and is barely speaking to me. How can I convince her to stop endangering us?—Dumbfounded Father

Let’s make a couple of observations right away.

  • The father has every right to refuse to let the daughter keep a gun in his house; she is his guest. Nor was it respectful, fair or honest for her to bring a gun into the house without telling her host. I don’t know what the writer thinks is a “normal gun,” but a 40-caliber semi-automatic is certainly one in this day and age.

The writer is apparently frightened by the scary “semi-automatic” part, which just means he is unfamiliar with firearms that wouldn’t be used by Hopalong Cassidy.

  • “Amy, this is the kind of weapon a criminal would possess!” is free-floating anti-gun hysteria.

It’s also a gun a law-abiding citizen would possess, except that such a  gun would be possessed legally. Continue reading

Saturday Afternoon Ethics Titillation, 9/15/18: Yes, Virginia, It Was A Smear…

A hurricane-free hello!

…at least in Northern Virginia. We had been told by breathless media and local government since early in then week that today and tomorrow would consist of heavy rain and dangerous winds. Naturally, today dawned clear, calm and menacing. The shelves in the supermarkets, however, were picked over as if a nuclear attack were imminent. At what point are urgent warnings no longer prudent but irresponsible and fear-mongering? At what point do they undermine the ability to get the public to take warnings seriously when there is a genuine threat? This area plays Chicken Little so often  and with such speculative provocation that I don’t trust the prognostications at all any more.

And who the heck buys up all the pickles to prepare for flooding?

1. Ethics Dunce: John Kerry. But anyone who didn’t know that by now wouldn’t be convinced by me, so I’ll just include poor, sad, useless and deluded John in a Saturday afternoon potpourri that hardly anyone reads. But what a jerk. We don’t enforce the Logan Act that prohibits private citizens from mucking around in our diplomacy, but under what justification can he argue for his negotiating with Iran? There is literally no good he can accomplish (there was little good he could accomplish when he was authorized to engage in diplomacy), and now his interference does is undermine the elected President and government.

Trump’s tweet…

John Kerry had illegal meetings with the very hostile Iranian Regime, which can only serve to undercut our great work to the detriment of the American people. He told them to wait out the Trump Administration! Was he registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act? BAD!

…was predictably juvenile and superfluous, but, incredibly, Kerry’s return tweet was worse, and might as well have consisted of “Nyah nyah nyah!”

Mr. President, you should be more worried about Paul Manafort meeting with Robert Mueller than me meeting with Iran’s FM. But if you want to learn something about the nuclear agreement that made the world safer, buy my new book, Every Day Is Extra:

Wow. Begin by passing along the “resistance” myth that there just has to be some smoking gun proving the President rigged the election, follow it up with the batty theory that giving the #1 purveyor of world terrorism billions of dollars to play with “makes the world safer,” and then hint that the real reason he’s openly interfering with U.S. diplomacy is to sell his book.

Yechhh.

2. A plug for a really smart friend who debunked a Democrat smear: Senator Feinstein’s despicable desperation sliming of Brett Kavanaugh, a real “Have you no decency at all?”-worthy moment, prompted a nasty conspiracy theory yesterday.  The fact that the GOP could rapidly release a letter with 65 female acquaintances from the nominee’s high school years certifying that his anonymous accuser has described conduct wildly out of character being cited as proof that the alleged episode was already known by the administration, and thus has some basis in fact.

Virginia Hume, known to some as the politically active daughter of veteran broadcast journalist Britt Hume and known to me as a smart, clever, astute woman who worked for me 30 years ago, authored a piece for the Weekly Standard explaining how the letter came together so quickly. She knows, because she signed it.

She writes in part…

“The letter was conceived and drafted by friends of Brett’s, and it was drafted after allegations came out on Thursday. I learned about the letter from a friend and fellow signatory. Others learned about it the same way. Those surprised at the speed with which it came together should see it as yet another testament to Brett’s excellent reputation”

Elsewhere in the article are examples of Virginia’s characteristic wit. I can vouch without reservation for her honesty and integrity. I would trust her with my life. More than that, I would trust her with my dog. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/23/2018: The Honored And the Dishonorable

Good morning!

1. A major ethics condemnation of Harvard will be posted soon; this is just the ours de vours...Harvard is disgracing itself and embarrassing its alumni one more time by awarding Hillary Clinton the once-prestigious Radcliffe Medal—it can’t be prestigious after this fiasco–for her “transformative impact on society” as part of the school’s graduation activities this week.  Harvard says Clinton was chosen for the award because she’s a “champion for human rights,” a “skilled legislator” and “an advocate of American leadership” on the world stage.

Let’s get this straight up front, shall we? Harvard, headed by feminist social justice warrior Drew Faust, is giving an award named after Harvard’s now defunct sister school that championed female power, dignity, and achievement independent of men, to the woman who meticulously enabled, aided and abetted a serial harasser, sexual abuser, and philanderer by intimidating and disparaging his female victims, so she could ride on his coat-tails to achieve wealth, influence and power that she never could have attained otherwise. Once within reach of that power, she managed to botch two Presidential runs against unlikely underdogs, while reducing the feminist message to “vote for vaginas.” Meanwhile, she joined with her husband in creating a massive influence peddling business that made them both rich. Having lost a Presidential election that she only had to stay out of major scandals to win, she has become the only losing Presidential candidate in U.S. history to continue whining about her loss at every opportunity for 18 months, thus strengthening a negative female stereotype.

Did I miss anything? Probably. This is once more consolation prize Progressive Feminist Inc. is giving to Hillary as virtue-signaling, which is ironic, because it signals hypocrisy, corruption, and dishonesty.  She is an ethics corrupter. She has made the culture, politics, society, and the nation worse. Harvard’s award is just one more example.

2. Not exactly Lincoln-Douglas…The recent Munk debate–part of a series series of  discussions that the news media keeps calling “highbrow,” which only shows how lowbrow the news media is—considered the statement, “Be it resolved, what you call political correctness, I call progress…”

What you call “progress,” I call thought control, censorship, and partisan bullying, and I say the hell with it.  Race-baiting professor Michael Eric Dyson and left-wing pundit Michelle Goldberg defended the indefensible “pro” position, and probably believe it, too, which is depressing all by itself. The “con” side at least had glib, currently-in University of Toronto Clinical Psychologist Jordan Peterson, who has a best-selling book and who became a celebrity after winning a duel of wits with an unarmed British journalist. He was paired with British actor /entertainer Stephen Fry: these debates are so highbrow, the organizers don’t think anyone will watch them if they don’t have jokes.  Even if the sides had been fairly constructed (any team with Michelle Goldberg on it has been sabotaged), it’s a terrible debate topic. The day the “pro” side wins is the day “1984” has arrived. Predictably, “con” won, and this was in Canada, which doesn’t have a First Amendment (the term “political correctness’ is inherently hostile to freedom of speech, and don’t think for a second progressives don’t know it.)

So, saddled with a losing argument, Dyson did what he does: he played the race card. “You’re a mean, mad, white man,” he said to Peterson at one point. End of debate, if I am moderating. When you have to stoop to ad hominem attacks, you’ve lost.  An equally acceptable rejoinder by Peterson would have been, “And you’re a black son of a bitch.”

Technical knockout. And Dyson unmasked himself as the fraud that he is. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/31/2018: The Baseball-Trained Rifleman, The Hockey Hero Accountant, And Some Other Stuff That’s Just Annoying…

Good morning!

1. “The Rifleman” and “Fix the problem.” I recently was interviewed by a graduate student in organizational leadership and ethics. One thing we discussed was how popular culture in America once dedicated itself to teaching ethical values and ethics problem-solving, especially in shows aimed at young audiences. This is not so true any more; indeed, popular culture models unethical conduct at least as often today.

I told my interviewer about recently watching an episode of “The Rifleman,” the early ’60s TV Western about a single father raising his young son while being called upon to use his skill with a rifle to fight for civilization in the harsh frontier.  In the episode, hero Lucas McCain (played by the under-rated Chuck Connors) had to deal with an old friend, now an infamous outlaw, who had come to town. (The ethical conflict between personal loyalty and an individual’s  duty to society was a frequent theme in Westerns.) Lucas was a part-time deputy, and at the climax of the episode, his friend-gone-bad is prepared to ride out of town to escape arrest for his latest crime. Lucas tells him not to leave, and that if he tries to escape, Lucas will have to let his custom-made rifle settle the matter, as usual. (Peace-loving Lucas somehow managed to kill over a hundred men during the run of the series.)  Smirking, his friend (Richard Anderson, later known as the genius behind “The Six Million Dollar Man”), says that he knows his old friend is bluffing. For Lucas owes him a lifetime debt: he once saved “The Rifleman’s” life.  You’re a good man and a fair man, the villain says. “You won’t shoot me. I know you.” Then he mounts his horse , and with a smiling glance back at “The Rifleman,” who is seemingly paralyzed by the ethical conflict, starts to depart. Now his back is all Lucas has to shoot at, doubling the dilemma.  You never shoot a man in the back, an ethical principle that the two officers who killed Stephon Clark somehow missed. We see McCain look at his deadly rifle, then again at the receding horseman. Then, suddenly, he hurls his rifle, knocking his friend off his horse. The stunned man is arrested by the sheriff, and says, lamely, as he’s led away. “I knew you wouldn’t shoot me.”

I love this episode. It teaches that we have to seek the best solution available when we face ethics conflicts, and that this often requires rejecting the binary option presented to us, and finding a way to fix the problem.

Of course, it helped that Chuck Connors used to play for the Dodgers, and could hurl that rifle with the accuracy of Sandy Koufax.

2. Here we go again! Now that anti-gun hysteria is again “in,” thanks to the cynical use of some Parkland students to carry the anti-Second Amendment message without having to accept the accountability adults do when they make ignorant, dishonest, and illogical arguments in public, teachers and school administrators are back to chilling free speech and expression by abusing their students with absurd “no-tolerance” enforcement. At North Carolina’s Roseboro-Salemburg Middle School, for example, a 13-year-old boy in the seventh grade was suspended for two days for drawing  a stick figure holding a gun.

I drew pictures like this—well, I was little better at it—well into my teens. It’s a picture. It isn’t a threat. It isn’t anything sinister, except to hysterics and fanatics without a sense of perspective or proportion—you know, the kind of people who shouldn’t be trusted to mold young minds. “Due to everything happening in the nation, we’re just being extra vigilant about all issues of safety,” said Sampson County Schools’ Superintendent Eric Bracy, an idiot. How does punishing a boy for a drawing make anyone safer? It makes all of us less safe, by pushing  us one step closer to government censorship of speech and thought.

Then we have Zach Cassidento, a high school senior at Amity High Regional School in Connecticut who was suspended and arrestedarrested!—for posting a picture of his birthday gift, an Airsoft gun, on Snapchat. He was not charged, but was suspended for a day from school….for posting, outside of school, on his personal account, the picture of an entirely legal toy gun (It shoots plastic pellets: my son has several of them).

The people who do this kind of thing to children in violation of their rights as Americans are the same people who cheer on David Hogg while signing factually and legally ridiculous petitions. They should not be permitted to teach, and this kind of conduct ought to be punished.

Where is the ACLU? For the organization not to attack these abuses is an abdication of the organization’s mission. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/15/2018: The Last Of Hillary, More NCAA Enabling, And Hoping For The End Of “Pride” In Student Ignorance

Good Morning!

1 To be crystal clear about the student walk-outs:

a) The only reason schools are tolerating them is because a majority of teachers and administrators share the anti-gun agenda the protests represent. Ethics Foul. Educators’ political views should be irrelevant to how they do their job, which is to educate students, not encourage them to skip class.

b) The students who walk out should be disciplined, and the reason they walked out should be neither a mitigation nor an enhancer. If they want to engage in civil disobedience, fine: its a grand old tradition, for causes noble and dumb alike.

c) The news media hyping the protests is unconscionable, and just another example of journalists taking sides rather than reporting.

d) Anyone who says in public that they are “proud” of these children should be fitted with a dunce cap and have it super-glued to their heads. Proud of what? That they have allowed themselves to be used as puppets, pawns and human shields by cynical politicians and activists? That they have failed to make a single valid or persuasive argument in over a month, while polluting the discussion with statistical falsehoods, blame-shifting, name-calling and demonization? That they are reveling in and parading their lack of intellectual honesty and critical thinking skills?

e) The walk-outs and protests are not merely sort of like, but exactly the same, as the “screaming at the sky” demonstrations. Those was embarrassing, and so are the wlak-outs. In particular, educators should be embarrassed. This is the level of critical thinking they are training our young to master.

f) This idiotic sign, on display in my area yesterday, nicely sums up the level of seriousness, common sense and acumen the anti-gun students have displayed so far:

2.  I’m going to try to make this the last time I pay any attention to what Hillary Clinton says. I really am. During that infamous interview the India Today Conclave  over the weekend, the one where she again implied that anyone who voted for President Trump was a bigot or a moron, Clinton made another statement that raised metaphorical eyebrows She was asked why she thought most white women voted for Trump, and said, Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/18/18: Sunday Potpourri

Good Morning!

1. Now THIS is a bribe…Al Hoffman Jr., a Florida-based real estate developer and a prominent Republican political donor “demanded” yesterday that the party pass legislation to restrict access to guns, and vowed not to contribute to any candidates or electioneering groups that did not support a ban on the sale of military-style firearms to civilians. “For how many years now have we been doing this — having these experiences of terrorism, mass killings — and how many years has it been that nothing’s been done?” Mr. Hoffman said in an interview. “It’s the end of the road for me.”

The only ethical GOP response is, “Bye!” Donors may not tie their support to specific legislative measures. That’s a quid pro quo. a bribe. The party should—I would prefer “must”—respond by officially and publicly telling Hoffman that its elected officials  will do what they believe is in the best interests of their constituents and the nation, and he is free to contribute to whatever he deems appropriate.

Moreover, his statement shows that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. This is yet another “Do something!” yelp.

2. Yet more anti-gun hysteria...Could there be a more nakedly emotional and irrational headline than this one in today’s Sunday Times: “Why Wasn’t My Son the Last School Shooting Victim?”(That’s the print version…the online headline is different.)

3. I may have to put “cultural appropriation” on my list of things have to flag every time it’s used…From a New York Times article about Wes Anderson’s new animated film about dogs exiled to a miserable island in the wake of “dog flu” comes this astounding cut-line:

“Critics Address The Issue Of Cultural Appropriation In ‘Isle of Dogs'”

It seems the American director’s work here is influenced by the films of iconic Japanese director Akira Kurosawa.  The Horror. Hey, what the hell business does Japan have running  professional baseball leagues? Here’s a quick poll as a warm-up for the Warm-Up:

Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/15/18: Money, Massacres, Mudd And More

Michael Ejercito registered as concise, witty, sharp and unmerciful a rebuttal of the knee-jerk anti-gun position’s multiple dishonesties, deceits and  distortions as I have ever seen. I am debating whether to post the whole thing on Facebook. It may be unethical to make one’s friend’s heads explode, even heads that deserve it.

Here is his epic Comment of the Day on the post, Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/15/18: Money, Massacres, Mudd And More:

– These people claim that we “do nothing” regarding murder. How then, are murderers in prison? Is it just sheer coincidence that they are serving life sentences or on death row? If not, why is punishing murderers not considered “doing something”?

– “This happens nowhere else”. Does “nowhere else” include Brazil, Jamaica, Mexico, and South Africa?

– These people claim that no one is talking about banning guns. How then, did guns get banned in Chicago, Illinois, and Washington, D.C.? How did guns get banned in South Carolina in 1902 if no one ever talked about banning guns? Continue reading