I am not in the business of jeremiads, being an optimistic sort, but now and then a post here triggers an articulate and persuasive allegation of existential ethics rot. Such is the latest Comment of the Day, courtesy of reader slickwilly, his first. It was prompted by another commenter’s rueful observations on slickwilly’s earlier musings (sparked by the ESPN reporter whose use of the term “guerilla” was mistakenly attacked as a racial slur, losing him his job) on the public school system, in which he wrote in part,
I pity the teachers (and I live with one) who are afraid to offend a parent by reporting the “perfect little angel’s” latest misdeed, upon pain of possible job and pension loss. (I know of a school district that does not allow a student to flunk… writing a name on an assignment guarantees a passing grade. Butts in seats are how districts are paid, here) I agree with the ‘confronted and taught’ idea in principle, but how do you put that into practice, when doing so can destroy your ability to put food on the table for your family?
To which Zoltar Speaks! replied:
“Have we become a society of wimps unwilling to stand up for our convictions? At some point responsible adults must unite and take a stand regardless of the possibility of negative consequences. Even ignorant people know that there is power in numbers; so choose your battle, gain numerical support, focus on right and wrong, be on the side of right, and stand up for your convictions.”
Here is slickwilly’s Comment of the Day in response, on the post, The Destruction Of Doug Adler : Guerillas, Gorillas, ESPN And The First Niggardly Principle:
“Have we become a society of wimps unwilling to stand up for our convictions?”
Short answer: yes.
In many cases, there are no convictions to stand up for.
We are seeing the Republic die of apathy. There was some awakening when Trump was elected, but the majority of ‘normal’ folks I interact with each day (work and socially) just cannot be bothered to understand the issues, much less get engaged enough to have an opinion at all. If they DO have an opinion, it was usually delivered to them via meme or the MSM, and they cannot defend it.
Americans as a society have had things good for too many generations now for people to believe in an existential threat unless and until it directly impacts their lives. We live atop a thin veneer of civil behavior and mistakenly believe this crust is miles deep and the natural order of things. Continue reading
Chris Marschner tackled the difficult issue of how we should regard the supporters of Donald Trump, in light of so much abuse and blame being heaped on them by pundits, the news media, and, yes, me. He chose a post to do so that discussed the cynical attitude of former Obama speechwriters regarding how easy it was to manipulate the public and the press. Chris has done as good a job at this as can be done, and thus earned his Comment of the Day distinction. I believe, however, that explaining the various factors activating Trump supporters, such as the arrogance of power-brokers like the Obama speechwriters, does not in any way excuse Trump voters, justify them, or relieve them from accusations of recklessness and ignorance.
I suppose I should be grateful to Trump and his supporters, because they have clinched two long-standing arguments in my favor. The first is one that has often surfaced on Ethics Alarms: does a responsible voter vote for the character of a leader, or the positions the candidate espouses? Trump proves my point in spectacular fashion. If the candidate doesn’t have a trustworthy character, it doesn’t matter what he or she says.
The second argument the Trumpites win for me is my opposition to those who decry the low rate of voting in the U.S. and want to “fix it.” My reaction to their complaint has always been: the low rate of voting is GOOD. If you are apathetic, lazy,badly informed, ignorant, hateful, stupid, gullible and naive, your vote interferes with democracy, it doesn’t advance it. The Founders believed that civic literacy was essential to a functioning republic. They were right. The Republican primaries illustrated what can happen when a large bloc of voters who are unfit to exercise the franchise suddenly decide they care, but lack the basic cognitive skills and abilities to translate their concern into intelligent and responsible civic participation. They become sitting ducks for con artists, liars and frauds to manipulate and exploit.
Here is Chris Marschner’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Rueful Observations On Obama’s Speechwriters Laughing About Writing Lies To Pass Obamacare“: