What Is The Ethical Response To The Racially Unbalanced Admissions To New York City’s Elite High Schools?

The question has been giving me a headache since I first read about the stunning results of the process that gives New York City students access to its elite public schools.  Of the nearly 4,800 students admitted into the specialized schools for 2019, 190 are black, down from  207 black students admitted last year out of just over 5,000 offers. Stuyvesant high school, which is representative, gave 7 offers to black students (out of 895 slots),   33 offers to Hispanic students, 194 offers to white students, and Asian-American students received a whopping  587 offers. Overall, Asian-American students constitute 60% of the student bodies of the eight elite schools.

Students take  a single exam that tests their mastery of math and English in order to gains entrance to the academically challenging school. Stuyvesant, which has the highest cutoff score for admission and is thus the most selective of the schools, now has the lowest percentage of black and Hispanic students of any of New York City’s roughly 600 public high schools.

What should the city do about this? Should it do anything?  Continue reading

Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/14/2019: Bad Leadership, Bad Punditry, Bad Journalism…Looking For Silver Linings And Failing Miserably

Good Morning!

The news is ugly, but the snow is beautiful.

1. Who’s really to blame for the shutdown? A weak and feckless GOP Speaker was the culprit, the wishy-washy, onflicted and above-it-all Paul Ryan.He had a Republican majority in the House, and lacked the leadership, resolve and political skills to take care of the border issue when the opportunity was there. Is there any doubt that Nancy Pelosi, Tip O’Neil or Newt Gingrich couldn’t have gotten the job done?

We were constantly told that Ryan was a reluctant Speaker. Reluctant leaders are almost never effective leaders; leaders want to lead and like to lead, and it is unethical to assume the role of a leader when you don’t have the spine or the skills to do the job.

2. Stop making Ann Althouse defend Donald Trump! Ann, with assists from Seth Barrett Tilman and Glenn Reynoldsdoes a nice job debunking writer John McWhorter’s cheap shot criticism of the President in his  “Trump’s Typos Reveal His Lack of Fitness for the Presidency/They suggest not just inadequate manners or polish, but inadequate thought.”

He wrote,

“The president of the United States has many faults, but let’s not ignore this one: He cannot write sentences. If a tree falls in a forrest and no one is there to hear it … wait: Pretty much all of you noticed that mistake, right? Yet Wednesday morning, the president did not; he released a tweet referring to ‘forrest fires’ twice, as if these fires were set by Mr. Gump. Trump’s serial misuse of public language is one of many shortcomings that betray his lack of fitness for the presidency. Trump’s writing suggests not just inadequate manners or polish—not all of us need be dainty—but inadequate thought. Nearly every time he puts thumb to keypad, he exposes that he has never progressed beyond the mentality of the precollegiate, trash-talking teen.”

My contribution: Continue reading

This Is How Officials Like Mayor De Blasio Think: Unethically, But They Mean Well

Never mind that the always dubious logic behind educational quotas and affirmative action is finally being exposed and discredited: New York’s socialist-in-all-but-name Mayor de Blasio is determined to have the city’s elite public schools “look like New York City,” which is code for “quotas.”

“The status quo is broken. We have to make a major change. We have to make sure that the very best high schools are open to every New Yorker, every kind of New Yorker. They need to look like New York City,” he has said. So he has announced a proposal that would change how students are admitted to eight of the city’s specialized high schools, the crown jewels of NYC’s school system, the equivalents of private schools in quality of teachers and challenging curriculum where students gain entry based on their performance on a single test, taken by all applicants. That seems fair…but since it doesn’t yield a perfect demographic match to the city as a whole, de Blasio’s social justice sensibilities are offended.

Black and Hispanic students make up 67 % of the public school population, but the specialized high schools, which include Stuyvesant High School and the Bronx High School of Science, have just 10 % of students from these groups occupying the 500  available slots, with no improvement in that percentage for years.

Ah! The test must be the problem! This has been the accepted, conventional wisdom and cant that has been repeated by Democrats and affirmative action activists for decades, despite little but blind faith to bolster it. The Mayor, of course, is a believer. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/14/18: Comfort Women, Presidential Health Lies, Pit Bulls And No “Goodbye Columbus”…Yet

Good morning!

1 Attack of the Dog Bigots. The 2015 Ethics Alarms post designating an anti-pit bull breed website “Unethical Website of the Month” was once again targeted by dog breed bigots and has been getting the same, mindless comments from hysterics that it has been recieving since the post went up.  I don’t allow comment threads to be polluted by propaganda, so I have posted an update requiring any comments to be substantive and to make a genuine effort to address the inconvenient facts I have laid out here over time, facts that the dog bigots routinely deny or ignore, and facts that virtually all experts in the dog field have confirmed.

I recommend  scanning the comment thread, however, for a reason unrelated to dogs. The commenters in the mold of the one who recently wrote this—“But tomorrow, and every day after, when ANOTHER pit bull mauls ANOTHER person, the nutters will take a break from their busy schedule of rampant drug use and domestic violence to jump onto the comments section of the news article to defend these useless pieces of canine garbage.”—are perfect examples of 1) the reasoning of racists and 2) individuals who no longer process information that challenges their belief system, so they simply ignore it all, deny it all, and just keep mouthing their ignorant manifestos.

They are indistinguishable in this regard from the indignant women who have now for three months running come up to me during a break in a legal ethics seminar, recited their feminist cant  talking points objecting to my accurate explanation of legal ethics priorities when the clash with political correctness, and then turned their back on me and walked away when I attempted to address their points.

2. A Japanese Ethics Train Wreck. The Japanese army forced captured Korean women, many thousands of them, to be their sex slaves, or “comfort women.” This is documented fact, and it also launched an ethics train wreck of unusually long duration.  The long-held official position of the post war Japanese government that South Korea’s complaints about these war crimes were either exaggerated or imaginary—the equivalent would be if the German government denied the Holocaust, which it has not—has undermined relations between those countries to this day. There is no end in sight, as this report explains.

What a mess. Japan’s current Prime Minister,  Shinzo Abe, was once a Comfort Women Denier. In  2015, the South Korean president, Park Geun-hye, signed an agreement with Abe  as a “final and irreversible” settlement of the controversy, including an official Japanese government apology and an $8.8 million fund to help provide care for the now elderly ex-“comfort women.” The damages were judged inadequate by critics, and Park was later impeached. Now the current South Korean president wants the deal to be renegotiated. Abe, however, rejected  the “additional measures” sought by Seoul, saying that, in essence, a deal’s a deal. He’s on strong ethical ground there, except that the 8 million was ridiculously low,  and Japan’s acceptance of its responsibility for the sex slave outrage has always been grudging at best.  Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/1/2017: The New York Terror Attack, Indictment Hype, A New Statue Makes My Head Explode, And Jack Russell Ethics

Good Morning, November!

[Programming Note: My original and stated (in the comments) intention was to devote the whole Warm-up to the jaw-droppingly dishonest and contrived media outrage over John Kelly’s completely accurate and reasonable comments regarding the The Confederate Statuary Ethics Train Wreck yesterday. You know, Kelly’s critics should realize when political correctness and false narratives literally require them to argue the opposite of the facts they are using to support their false arguments, that should set off an ethics alarm—but don’t get me started now: I’m going to do the next post on this. There is too much going on not to use the Warm-Up to clear the jam.]

1 I was just nauseated by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s fatuous remarks at the press conference regarding yesterday’s terror attack. Essentially he channeled Michael Moore’s disgraceful riff after 9-11: terrorist attacks are just little bumps in the road that we have to get used to, there’s nothing to be done, it’s a tragedy, but nothing to freak out over, New Yorkers are resilient, the attack failed because the Halloween parade went on as planned, and he’s so proud of the city’s residents  for going on with business and pleasure without submitting to fear and intimidation. Then Governor Cuomo seconded him.

This isn’t the London during Blitz, or Tel Aviv under daily assault by Palestinian scuds. The United States doesn’t have to shrug away terrorists and terrorism. De Blasio’s attitude is politically calculated to undermine serious efforts to stop terrorists from entering the country.  I, for one, do not accept that the future of the United States includes accepting an unacceptable probability that I am going to be blown up, shot or run down by someone, heaven knows why, screaming, “Allahu akbar!”

2. The original sub-title of the Warm-up was going to be, “Now the Left is really starting to scare me.” That title would be appropriate to describe my reaction to yesterday’s tweet by increasingly deranged Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof, who wrote (Remember, Twitter is an invention of Satan to make people destroy their credibility);

“The NYC terrorist had a pellet gun and a paintball gun. Good thing that in NYC he couldn’t buy assault rifles, or the toll would be higher.”

How shameless and obsessed does an anti Second Amendment fanatic have to be to use a terrorist attack employing a truck (to kill 8 and wound 12) as a platform for gun control hectoring? Kristof’s  point was willfully dishonest and ignorant. The pellet gun and paintball gun were irrelevant to the attack. Terrorists are not dissuaded by laws; if Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov had wanted to use a gun in the attack, he could have acquired one. Moreover, New York’s gun laws weren’t involved: Saipov was from Florida, where he could have legally have bought all sorts of deadly firearms.

3. Jack Russell Ethics: last night, for no discernible reason, my dog decided to bark furiously to go outside at 2 am, 2:30, 3: 10, 3:25, 3: 48, 4: 12 and again around 5 this morning. This on the first night in over a week when I wasn’t plagued by insomnia. Twice he issued a high-pitched, sharphysterical bark that I have never heard before: Rugby has a large and eloquent repertoire of yips, barks, wheezes, snorts, quacks, purrs, growls and other noises yet to be named; I know what they all mean, but this one was indecipherable.  When Rugby was outside, he didn’t relieve himself; he was in full alert, guarding mode.

I have no idea what was going on. I was finally able to calm him down by curling up on top of the sheets with him, and talking to him quietly about the World series while he happily licked my hands. Eventually the dog fell asleep. I, however, never did. Today is officially wrecked.

Why, Rugby? WHY???

4. The misleading news media reporting on the Special Counsel indictments are another smoking gun example of how untrustworthy and biased our journalism has become. The Manafort-Gates indictment literally had nothing to do with obstruction of justice or the Russian collusion theory, but to listen to broadcast news reports and commentator bloviation on the topic, one would think that the President is minutes away from being frog-marched out of the White House in cuffs. Naturally, the President is annoyed by this. I don’t blame him. Everyone should be annoyed by it.

Ken White of Popehat, a former federal prosecutor, summed up the indictments this way:

“The Manafort/Gates indictment is a fairly standard “kitchen sink” white collar indictment that illustrates the wide array of tools available to federal prosecutors, as well as the power prosecutors have to use an investigation to provoke further federal crimes as leverage against the foolish.”

That nicely describes what happened to the third individual, an obscure Trump campaign advisor who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conduct that wasn’t illegal by any definition. Ken’s entire post is worth reading, as well as linking for your clueless, ranting Facebook friends.

5. This story makes me glad I have the Warm-Up to cover awful things like this without devoting a full post to it, because I would have to devote a full post to it, and the disgust might kill me. Even this short report made my head explode, however. KABOOM.

The District of Columbia, through  the Executive Office of the Mayor,  the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) and the Marion Barry Commission, is going to spend $300,000 to have an eight foot statute of Marion Barry erected outside the John A. Wilson Building along Pennsylvania Avenue in the nation’s capitol. It is scheduled to be unveiled in for March 6 of next year, Barry’s birthday.

I shall not mince words. I would fall down on my knees and sacrifice a virgin in front of  a statue of Robert E. Lee before I would voluntarily gaze respectfully at a statue of Marion Barry. His most memorable act was getting caught on video smoking crack cocaine with a former mistress, while he was mayor and making regular speeches to inner city school children about the evils of drugs. He openly cheated on his wives while serving as mayor, “catting around” the District late at night, looking for “fun.”. Later he was indicted for failing to pay his taxes, year after year, while serving as an elected official.

As a city councilman after spending time in prison, Barry used tax-payer money to hire his girl friend for a job she was completely unqualified for, then argued that since there was no law against doing that, it was ethical. There is a rationalization named for him on the Ethics Alarms Rationalization List:

4. Marion Barry’s Misdirection, or “If it isn’t illegal, it’s ethical.”

The late D.C. Mayor and lovable rogue Marion Barry earned himself a place in the Ethics Distortion Hall of Fame with his defense of his giving his blatantly unqualified girlfriend a high-paying job with the DC government. Barry declared that since there was no law against using the public payroll as his own private gift service, there was nothing unethical about it. Once the law was passed (because of him), he then agreed that what he did would be wrong the next time he did it.

Ethics is far broader than law, which is a system of behavior enforced by the state with penalties for violations. Ethics is good conduct as determined by the values and customs of society. Professions promulgate codes of ethics precisely because the law cannot proscribe all inappropriate or harmful behavior. Much that is unethical is not illegal. Lying. Betrayal. Nepotism. Many other kinds of behavior as well, but that is just the factual error in the this rationalization.

The greater problem with it is that it omits the concept of ethics at all.  Ethical conduct is self-motivated, based on the individual’s values and the internalized desire to do the right thing. Barry’s construct assumes that people only behave ethically if there is a tangible, state-enforced penalty for not doing so, and that not incurring a penalty (that is, not breaking the law) is, by definition, ethical.

Nonsense, of course. It is wrong to intentionally muddle the ethical consciousness of the public, and Barry’s statement simply reinforces a misunderstanding of right and wrong.

As mayor, he hired cronies, crooks and con men to high ranking posts; many of them eventually went to jail. The D.C. government has never recovered from the culture Barry established. It is still dogged by corruption top to bottom; the last mayor barely avoided a conviction, but seemed pretty clearly guilty of paying off a political adversary to get elected. Barry is a hero to many because he openly, unapologetically, used his office to hire as many blacks as he could, often in complete defiance of any standards or qualifications. Hiring based on race is also called “discrimination.” He used the city payroll as a social welfare program, with the result that the city ran up crippling deficits and debt.

Honoring a corrupt public official as a hero in the District is a catastrophic decision, ensuring that the toxic cultural values that plague the black community in D.C. will not only persist, but that their advocates will have a champion and role model to help them persist. Yet if this community insists that Marion Barry should be honored, crook, rogue, hypocrite and sociopath that he was, that choice should be respected, and respected forever. I would never advocate tearing down Barry’s statue, though if I were a really big pigeon, it would be in my bomb-sights at every opportunity. Indeed, it is important to remember that such a cynical, corrupt leader was regarded as a hero, and why.

Heeeeere’s MARION!

 

 

Ted Cruz’s Sarcastic Non-Non-Apology Apology

What do George Costanza and Ted Cruz have in common?

What do George Costanza and Ted Cruz have in common?

Responding to the Big Apple uproar over his denigration of “New York values,” Ted Cruz offered what must be regarded as the epitome of a non-apology apology, except that since he used the apology to make it clear that he believes that he had nothing to apologize for. He also used his masterpiece to extract the New Yorkers who he felt were victimized by “New York values,” thus refining his original attack.

Heeeeere’s Ted:

So, today, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City all demanded I apologize….Who am I say to no? I will apologize. I apologize to the millions of New Yorkers who have been abandoned for years by liberal politicians. I apologize to all the hard-working men and women in New York who like to have jobs, but Governor Cuomo banned fracking, so they don’t get the jobs the people of Pennsylvania have. I apologize to all the New Yorkers who are pro-life, pro-marriage and pro-Second Amendment, who were told by their governor — Governor Cuomo — that there is no place for them in state of New York because that’s not what New Yorkers believe. I apologize to all the small businesses that are fleeing New York City because of the crushing taxes and regulations that are making it impossible to survive. I apologize to all African American and Hispanic school children that Mayor de Blasio tried to throw out of their charter schools that were giving them a lifeline and a chance at the American dream. And I apologize to all the cops and all the firefighters and all the 9/11 heroes who were forced to stand up and turn their backs on Mayor de Blasio because over and over again, he sides with the looters and criminals instead of the brave men and women.

Now I hope that was the apology they were looking for.

Continue reading

An Ethics Mystery: Why Can’t Democrats Be Honest Or Responsible Regarding The Syrian Refugees??

"Repeat after me:  WE CAN SCREEN THE SYRIAN REFUGEES! THERE IS NO DANGER! NO DANGER"

“Repeat after me: WE CAN SCREEN THE SYRIAN REFUGEES! THERE IS NO DANGER! NO DANGER”

The question of whether to accept Syrian refugees is not, or should not be, a partisan one. It’s simple logic, duty and priorities, as I wrote here. A needy group has an unknown component of deadly members capable of killing Americans. Until or unless those members can be identified and separated from that group, it would be irresponsible to admit them into the country. The Paris bombing vividly illustrated the risk of ignoring these facts. So why are Democrats and their pundit allies making statements attacking those who acknowledge them? You know, just because they are conservatives and Republicans who tend to think that all of President Obama’s policies are misguided doesn’t mean they can’t be right occasionally.

I have been searching for a single persuasive, fact-based argument that justifies the risk of accepting thousands of Syrians. In fact, I have been searching for one that wasn’t dishonest, an appeal to emotion over reality, or a cheap excuse to engage in race-baiting, now the Democratic Party’s favorite pastime.

I’d love to hear one. I’d love to be convinced. If the nation can take in the suffering refugees without vastly increasing the chance of a bomb going off in the a restaurant I’m eating with my family, hurray!

Such arguments just aren’t there, however. Instead we are hearing: Continue reading