Tag Archives: blame-shifting

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/25/18: Your School Shooting Ethics Train Wreck Update [UPDATED]

Good Morning!

1  Addendum to the “Weapons of War” post: I almost included this in the post itself, but it was long enough. During the debates here over the Confederate statue-toppling orgies and the Charlottesville riot, we often heard the defense that Robert E. Lee, et al., were unworthy of statues, monuments and memorials because they were traitors. I always viewed this as a rationalization for the real reason the Confederates are being airbrushed out of our public history, which is that their political and social beliefs don’t measure up to 21st Century ethics. The “traitor” argument is a neat way to distinguish Robert E. Lee from slave-owners like George Washington.  However, as the post explains, the United States was founded on the principle that it is not treason for citizens to seek to create a new government when they concluded that the current one has abused its power and cannot be reformed. That is certainly what the Confederacy believed. Under the Founding documents, they had every right to leave the Union, and would have done so peacefully had Lincoln allowed it. Robert E. Lee was wrong, and he was a racist, but he was no traitor. By Jefferson’s formula that was ratified unanimously by the Continental Congress, he was a patriot.

2. Everybody’s flailing. President Trump floated the much-mocked “arm teachers” suggestion, and then used the cultural DeLorean to retrieve the “popular culture is too violent” explanation. The gun violence in the U.S. is very much driven by our culture, and pop culture both reflects and affects it. Hollywood made some efforts to tone down the violence last year; it also had the worst year at the box office in a quarter of a century, so we’ll see how long that lasts. The President just doesn’t understand the Constitution very well: the government can’t force video games, music, TV shows and movies to be less violent, but it can launch efforts to build a public consensus to dial back the fictional killing.

You know, like Tipper Gore’s effort to get the sex, obscenity and violence out of rap music. That sure worked well. The Obama approach would be to send out a menacing letter saying something like, “We recommend that you tone it down, but of course we can’t make you, but you know there are a lot of ways we could make your life miserable if you displease us, not that we would ever try to muscle you or anything since it you have the right of free speech. Just a word to the wise between friends. Nice little business you have there; it would be a shame if anything were to happen to it…”

The President’s critics sneered that he is “flailing” on the issue. I don’t see that he is flailing any more than anyone else. To the zealots, “flailing” means “not advocating the repeal of the Second Amendment.”

3. At least Vox is honest. In this article, left-wing Vox argues that the solution to gun violence “isn’t a big mystery,” but then only uses innuendo to explain what the solution is. Guess! here’s the biggest clue (emphasis mine): Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Citizenship, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society

Monica Fails Another Accountability Test

This is the graphic the Times used above the Lewinsky op-ed. You didn’t know that the whole Clinton-Lewinsky scandal was staged by Roger Ailes, did you? Yes, it was all his fault. Really. And since he’s dead, this is the perfect time for the Times to say so.

In an New York Times op-ed prompted by the death of Fox News founder Roger Ailes, Monica Lewinsky demonstrates that she sees herself as a pathetic victim, and blames others for what happened to her after a President of the United States decided to indulge himself and use a star-struck White House intern as his sex toy. Yet Monica’s others barely include Bill Clinton (he is mentioned just once in her screed), who did victimize her. Instead, she is accusing  Ailes and Matt Drudge, who committed the sin, Lewinsky implies, of preventing the mainstream news media from burying the story, as it was in the process of trying to do.

Monica’s attack on Ailes is just the latest in the hate-fest from the Left in reaction to his death. His primary crime, in their eyes, was  interfering with the left-wing media’s ability to spin the news to recruit the public in uncritical and ignorant support of all things liberal. Many of the vicious tweets from reporters (When Al Sharpton stands out for being fair, you know something is amiss) focused on Ailes’s sexual harassment, but it is fair to assume that Clinton, another serial harasser, will not be memorialized by these critics in the same way. Ailes was a sexist, power-abusing pig, but these people work with and cover  and vote for sexist power-abusing pigs all the time. They revile Ailes because he broke up their monopoly.

The Times can only have decided to publish Lewinsky’s jaw-droppingly obtuse and self-serving column as part of its own post-mortem smear of  Ailes, even though it makes Monica look deluded and juvenile. Yes, she is being used again.

She writes in part: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership

Ethics Observations On The Financial Massacre Of The Aurora Massacre Plaintiffs

James Holmes’s 2012 attack on the Century Aurora 16 movie theater showing “The Dark Knight Rises” killed 12 people and wounded 70 others. Many of the survivors and relatives of those killed sued Cinemark, the theater’s owner, in state and federal court, arguing that lax security was the cause of the attack. Cinemark’s defense was that the shooting was unforeseeable. Two suits went forward, one in state court and one in federal court, with different plaintiffs. Cinemark prevailed in both. After the recent jury verdict for Cinemark in the state court case this summer, the company had sought nearly $700,000 from the victims under the “loser pays” Colorado law, which directs that the winning side in a civil case is entitled to recover its legal costs from the losing side. This is the predominant system in England and Europe. The litigation costs of Cinemark in the federal case are likely to be more than $700,000, maybe a lot more.

What’s going on here (the best question to begin any ethics inquiry)? Well…

1. The law suits were a terrible idea. This was the result, in part, of the increasingly popular ideological virus in our society that is slowly reprogramming previously functioning brains to believe that nobody should have to pay for their misfortunes, and that somebody with deeper pocket and more resources should always be obligated to pay instead. This is increasingly a staple of leftist thought: the government, insurance companies, corporations, people with more money, all of them should be potentially on the hook when misfortune strikes others, because that’s fair.

2. It’s not fair, though.  It is profoundly un-American and unethical.

If those parties have caused the damage, or had the power and responsibility to mitigate it, or promised to pay for it, then there are ethical arguments to support them paying some or all of the expenses. But if something terrible happens to you, those people should have no more obligation to be accountable for your harm than you should have responsibility for taking care of them. That’s not the message sent by the culture though. Lawyers love the message that if you are harmed, somebody else can be found to ease your pain. They love it, because they can share in the bounty if a lawsuit seeking damages prevails, and this attitude guarantees more lawsuits. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Scoreboard classics, Ethics Train Wrecks, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

A Bobby Jindal Critic Asks, “Would I Be Uncivil If I Were To Suggest That Somebody Punch This Man Right In His Dick?” Why Yes, I Believe You Would…

By all means, this should be our model for political discourse...

By all means, this should be our model for political discourse…

Gov. Bobby Jindal, desperately trying to stay relevant in the Republican race to be the party nominee in 2016, weighed in on the Oregon community college shooting with an extensive blog post that shows, if nothing else, that the Fifties live. It’s pretty awful, designating as “root causes” of the violence such Oldies but Stupidees as “glorifying violence” in popular culture (Actually, this one is closer  to 1650), movies, TV shows, music (Run, Tipper! This is your chance!) the decline of religion ( “…we flaunt the laws of God and common decency”—I think you mean “flout” there, Bobby), the decline of the family…you know the list. The problem with Jindal’s rant—other than its exaggerations, poor writing and hysterical tone— is that taking any single event and attributing it to generic causes is demagoguery, and as intellectually dishonest as  blaming the NRA every time someone is murdered with a gun.

The Huffington Post, mocking Jindal’s eminently mockable screed, asked “What about gun violence?” as if Jindal left out the one obvious “root cause.” Is it really necessary to point out that gun violence is responsible for gun violence? But that’s anti-gun code for guns, you see. Guns are responsible for the shootings. Take the evil guns away, and nobody dies! That this facile and deceitful dead end reasoning is so accepted among progressives and liberals that it is considered an obvious truth is depressing, but I digress.

Jindal is also depressing, since the only remedy for violent movies, TV shows and video games is censorship of one kind or another, and you know what the Right will do if it gets that started: TV couples will again be sleeping in twin beds like Rob and Laura Petrie by edict. His lack of logic is depressing too—how does someone like this get elected a governor?—when he attributes alleged conditions like “the family is a mess” to a rampage by someone who might have been raised like Opie Taylor but whose mind just snapped, as they have a tendency to do. Again, a single incident has specific causes. Jindal’s main argument is exactly as exploitative and dishonest as using the Oregon shooting to lobby for gun regulations that wouldn’t have stopped the shooting. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Family, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Hillary Clinton

black-men-jail

“There is something wrong when a third of all black men face the prospect of prison during their lifetimes.”

—Hillary Clinton, in an address, to the David N. Dinkins Leadership & Public Policy Forum decrying “mass incarceration.”

So few words, so much deceit.

We are going to hear a lot of this theme, apparently, unless or maybe even if Democrats get responsible and choose a candidate other than the ethically compromised (and compromisable) Mrs. Clinton. “Mass incarceration” itself is a loaded term that sounds as if random citizens are rounded up and locked up by the government just for the hell of it. It is redolent of the political arrests of totalitarian regimes, and as such, misleading and irresponsible.

Likewise, the Unethical Quote of the Week that Hillary just authored suggests that black men are imprisoned without their doing anything untoward to justify it. A third of all black men don’t face the prospect of prison unless at least a third have broken laws or are anticipating breaking laws that require prison as the penalty. 100% of non-criminal black men—what we call “good citizens”— don’t “face” imprisonment at all. “Face” means that the fate is looming over their heads, ready to fall at any time. That’s nonsense, and a classic use of statistics to deceive. Prison is not a “prospect” for anyone who does not set out to commit a crime. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Quotes, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, U.S. Society

Making Us Suffer For Their Incompetence: The Secret Service and the Barn Door Fallacy

White House Security

A mentally ill veteran got inside the White House Friday. He could have had a bomb, or a gun, and the President and his family might have been targets. How did this happen? Mass incompetence and a break-down in security. Multiple “rings” of protection failed. Was it because the system was inadequate? No, it was because the Secret Service screwed up.

1. A plainclothes surveillance team stands guard outside the White House fence, and its job is to spot fence-jumpers and sound a warning before they go over. The team wasn’t paying attention.

2. Omar Jose Gonzalez climbed over the fence to the lawn, where a Secret Service officer was supposed to intercept him. Gonzalez got past him.

3.  At that point, an attack dog was supposed to be released to bring the intruder down. It wasn’t.

4. A SWAT team is next in the series of obstacles, but it was late to the party, trailing the intruder, and being apparently unwilling to shoot him as procedures dictate.

5. Gonzalez reached the White House door. A guard is supposed to be directly in front of the door. Not this time. (And still no fire from the SWAT team…I can’t imagine why a white SWAT team member would hesitate to shoot an apparently unarmed black man, can you?)

6. The door was supposed to be locked. Nope.

Of course, no system is better than the human beings working within it. Like so many agencies in the Obama Administration—the NSA, HHS, Justice, the IRS, the Veteran’s Administration, the State Department, Homeland Security, the GSA—the Secret Service had shown unambiguous signs of poor discipline, lax management and poor oversight, so its performance on this occasion should not surprise anyone, though it is cause for alarm. The Secret Service’s response to a fiasco of its own making is to place blame elsewhere, in this case, in the systems it didn’t execute properly, with new burdens falling on those who had nothing whatsoever to do their collapse.

The agency is floating a  proposal is to keep people off the sidewalks around the White House, to add barriers to the perimeter, and to screen visitors as far as a block away from the entrance gates. This is immediately recognizable as the Barn Door Fallacy, in which adopting excessive and  draconian measures that might have prevented an unusual disaster or near disaster is used by those responsible to distract from the real reasons for the event—bad luck, stupidity, incompetence—and make sure that what has already happened can’t happen again, with concern for the cost to others and other considerations being discarded entirely. Thus the fact that Boston’s Logan airport didn’t follow its existing security procedures and allowed planes to be hijacked by terrorists resulted in billions of dollars of national airport security and endless inconvenience for law-abiding passengers—to stop what had already occurred. Thus a deranged young man using an elementary school for a shooting spree was used to justify arguments to ban firearms from purchase by non-deranged, honest and trustworthy citizens. Now the fact that the Secret Service can’t perform the tasks they are supposedly trained to do—and an embarrassing episode arising from the Service’s procrastination in dealing with an existing inadequacy–is being used to continue the transformation of the nation’s capital into an eyesore of barricades being prowled by secret police, so a disturbed veteran who belonged in a mental hospital won’t elude agents, dogs and doors to burst into the home of the President. Continue reading

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Unethical Quote of the Month: Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)

The Honorable Racebaiter And Jerk, Jay Rockefeller

The Honorable Racebaiter And Jerk, Jay Rockefeller

“It’s very important to take a long view at what’s going on here. And I’ll be able to dig up some emails that make part of the Affordable Care Act that doesn’t look good, especially from people who have made up their mind that they don’t want it to work. Because they don’t like the president, maybe he’s of the wrong color. Something of that sort.I’ve seen a lot of that and I know a lot of that to be true. It’s not something you’re meant to talk about in public, but it’s something I’m talking about in public because that is very true.”

—- Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), once again playing the race-card (he’s done it before) to impugn the motives of opponents of the Affordable Care Act and other Obama policy initiatives.

How low, lazy, irresponsible, despicable, and cowardly. Continue reading

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