Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/23/19: “Spring Training Games Have Started, So NOTHING Can Upset Me Today” Edition [UPDATED]

1. This belongs in the “Bias Makes You Stupid” Hall Of Fame. [ Note of Correction: the story is two years old, dating from March, 2017. It was represented by my source as current, and I didn’t check the date on the link. My error. It changes nothing in the ethics commentary, however. ]

Three Oklahoma teenagers broke into a home last week and were greeted by a homeowner with an AR-15. He mowed them down, as he had every legal right to do, and may I say, “Good!” This is the perfect reason why someone might want to have the security of a semi-automatic weapon like the AR-15. This is a good example of why the “nobody needs a semi-automatic” is such a fatuous anti-gun argument. This homeowner needed one when three people tried to invade his home.

But I digress. The grandfather of one of the dead teenagers is protesting that it wasn’t a fair fight, telling  KTUL-TV:

“What these three boys did was stupid. They knew they could be punished for it but they did not deserve to die…Brass knuckles against an AR-15? C’mon. Who was afraid for their life? There’s got to be a limit to that law, I mean he shot all three of them — there was no need for that.”

Ah, yes, that word “need” again. I guess he should have knee-capped one, winged another in the shoulder, and counted on the third to surrender in tears. How was the homeowner supposed to know the kids “only” had brass knuckles with them—which are a potentially deadly weapon anyway? Yeah, the old man is just blathering away in grief, but then most anti-gun rhetoric comes out of emotion rather than logic. I’m sure the grandfather would also argue that it would have been preferable for the homeowner to get beaten to death rather than for three young men with their whole lives ahead of them to be killed.

Side note:  Getaway driver, 21-year-old Elizabeth Rodriguez was  arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree murder, along with one count of first-degree burglary and one count of second-degree burglary. That’s how felony murder works. No, I don’t feel sorry for her, either.

2. Today’s Jussie Smollett hoax item. Stop making me defend Van Jones! CNN’s dapper race-baiter  is getting criticized for calling Jussie an icon in this quote:

“This is the fall of an icon and I don’t think people understand how important he has been in the black community. ‘Empire’ as a show, to have him as a beloved character, I think did a great deal to knock back homophobia in the black community. The fact that he has been celebrated and you see homophobia in the black community through his eyes on the show, this is a Jackie Robinson against homophobia.”

Writes Hollywood conservative columnist Christian Toto: “Jones just served up arguably the worst “take” on the Jussie Smollett hoax story…You almost have to read it twice to appreciate the absurdity of the comparison. If Jones, brighter than the average pundit, can sink this low, it speaks poorly of the pundit class in toto.”

I think Jones is generally a blight on TV punditry, but there is nothing inappropriate about his observation. There is a lot of homophobia in the black culture, and Smollett had begun to loosen its grip by playing a popular, likable, admirable gay character on a one of the most popular TV shows with gay audiences. Sure, the Jackie Robinson comparison is excessive, but I get his meaning. The implication of what Jones is says is that as a figure who was more than just another actor because of his symbolic effect, Smollett had an obligation to protect his status and image. Jones wasn’t excusing Smollett at all. Continue reading

Thanks For The Memories, Greta Friedman: This Encore’s For You!


I was puzzled about why an old 2012 Ethics Alarms post was suddenly getting heavy traffic today, and until I read that GretaFriedman had died. She was the nurse famously kissed by a never-identified celebrating sailor on V-J Day, frozen in history forever thanks to a now iconic  Life magazine photograph.  I had written about Greta, that moment, and the determination of a lot of tunnel-visioned feminists and sexual-terrorists to turn what was a beautiful thing into something ugly and sinister in the distorted world they see through their shit-tinted glasses. The post was called “The Times Square Kiss, and Feminist Blogs’ Fanatic Crime Against Joy.”

I’m always a bit nervous when I go back and read old posts I’ve forgotten about; I’m afraid I won’t agree with them, but thankfully, I usually do. I do in this case. In fact, I really like the post, and am proud of it. On the theory that most current Ethics Alarms readers haven’t seen it before, I’m reposting today, in honor of Greta:

The blog posts at issue make me angry. Usually it is silly to be angry about mere opinions, I know. However, the opinion registered by “Lori” on the blog Feministing, taking her cue from another feminist blogger, is a symptom, a symptom of the scourge of pernicious, political-correctness zealots, who refuse to recognize the important distinctions between malice and human beings being human, and seek to wipe out that distinction by distortion, sophistry, historical revisionism and bullying. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Day (Christmas Confusion File): Jonathan Turley

“Best wishes to everyone celebrating Christmas.”

—- Law Professor and blogger Jonathan Turley, wishing at least some of his readers a merry Christmas.

Get ready to duck, Fred!

Get ready to duck, Fred!

Prof. Turley is a lawyer, of course, and trained to express himself with precision. Thus I have to ask: what the heck is he trying to say here?

Is he wishing good tidings only those who, like his family, are celebrating Christmas, and rotten times to the rest? Is he editing the humanist message of Christmas to “Peace on Earth, and good will to those who are putting up Christmas trees and giving gifts, other wise you’re on your own”?

Or, as I fear greatly, given the fact that he is part of the U.S. education establishment and thus prone to have a spine of cream cheese, just observing the trendy political correctness that infects our times, and bowing to those who contrive to take offense when anyone smiles at them and offers a greeting that only says, at minimum, “We’re all in this together, so let’s try to be as good to each other as we can, OK?” Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: The Los Angeles Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers clinched the National League West regular season championship last night by beating their divisional rivals, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Traditionally, when such moments occur away from the winner’s home park, they are celebrated with a happy mob scene around the pitcher’s mound and then a retreat to the clubhouse, where campaign and revelry reign.

But not in the case of the 2013 Dodgers. Seeing the inviting swimming pool that is a unique center field feature of Chase Field, the giddy Dodger team jumped the fence and splashed into the pool to celebrate. The Arizona Republic, in an editorial today, accurately expressed the reaction of the Diamondback fans and community:

“In the interests of good sportsmanship, here’s to the 2013 National League West Division champs.Congratulations are in order. Even to a bunch as classless as the Los Angeles Dodgers, the first players not wearing Diamondbacks uniforms to celebrate a championship by diving into the Chase Field pool. Informally, the Arizona Diamondbacks management had asked their Dodgers counterparts, should their lads clinch the division at Chase Field, to kindly celebrate in the clubhouse until the fans cleared out. For safety’s sake. Well, the Diamondbacks got their answer. Effectively: We got some “safety,” for you. Right here….” Continue reading

The Last Birthday Gift

blown out candles on a birthday cakeThis is my birthday. It’s also the third anniversary of my father’s death, as the two dates collided for all time when I found him dead, as if asleep, in his favorite chair when I went to my parents condo to meet him for a late birthday dinner, December 1, 2009.

I feel no more in the mood to celebrate my birth this day than I did that one, and seriously doubt if I ever will again. I miss my father terribly, every day really, and yet I recall that moment when I realized he was gone with mixed emotions. I knew that the old soldier, 89, fighting cancer, a heart condition and old war wounds, was facing a sharp down-turn in his quality of life; I knew that this was the way he always said he wanted to go out—quickly, without drama, humiliation or excessive expense—and I knew that among the members of his immediate family, I was the one whom he would have wanted to find his abandoned body. I never felt closer to my father, who, like so many of his gender and generation, had trouble expressing affection and intimacy directly, than I did in those last moments before the EMT’s arrived, as I stroked his thin, gray hair and said good-bye.

I have also come to believe that he gave me a great gift three years ago, probably unconsciously, but with my father, you never know.  He detested and rejected all forms of score-keeping, including regrets, accolades, praise and bucket lists. He was proud of many things in his life, especially his military service and his family, but he never felt superior to another human being based on what had happened in the past. My father believed that what mattered in life was going forward—doing one’s duty, helping others, setting a good example, and making every minute of your life count by trying to leave the world, even if it is only your small corner of it, better than it was before you got there. And when you’re done, you’re done. There is nothing to be sad about, or to be afraid of, or to regret; no recriminations for what didn’t happen, what couldn’t be completed, or mistakes made along the way. Just do your best, as you have learned to do it, for as long as you can. It’s not a competition, and you shouldn’t judge yourself by anyone’s standard but your own.

My father’s death reminded me that there is nothing special about being born. Everybody is born. It is how we use whatever time we have, when we use it well, that is truly worth celebrating, and even then, past achievements never justify resting on our laurels as long as we are still capable of doing some good, and have time left to do it.

On the day he died, my father spent loving hours with my mother in her hospital room, gave some needed advice and encouragement to my sister, wished his son a happy birthday, and made him laugh one last time. Good work, right to the end. If the timing of his finale changed for all time the meaning of my birthday for me, it also made vivid the life lessons that were the essence of Jack A. Marshall, Sr. Care about others. Be responsible.  Be fair. Do the best you can for as long as you can. Keep trying to be better. Never give up. Don’t be afraid. If you do all of that, you don’t need celebrations to prove your life has meaning. It just does.

It is true that “Happy Birthday” will never sound right to me again. Still, my father’s life and his way of leaving it gave me ideals good and true to celebrate on every December 1,  the wisdom to cherish whatever birthdays I have remaining, and the sense to never waste precious time regretting what is past and beyond changing. In many ways, his last birthday gift to me was the best one of all.

The Times Square Kiss, and Feminist Blogs’ Fanatic Crime Against Joy

The blog posts at issue make me angry. Usually it is silly to be angry about mere opinions, I know. However, the opinion registered by “Lori” on the blog Feministing, taking her cue from another feminist blogger, is a symptom, a symptom of the scourge of pernicious, political-correctness zealots, who refuse to recognize the important distinctions between malice and human beings being human, and seek to wipe out that distinction by distortion, sophistry, historical revisionism and bullying.

The bloggers’ target is an iconic photograph from the heart of American history: LIFE photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt’s shot of an American sailor kissing a nurse on August 14, 1945, in a moment of jubilation on Victory over Japan Day in the heart of New York City. Ah, but all is not as innocent and blissful as it would appear. Some historians think they have finally confirmed the identities of the mysterious couple (the photographer never identified his subjects) as Greta Zimmer Friedman, a dental nurse at the time, and George Mendonsa, a sailor. [Despite the assertions of the bloggers and the historians, we can never know for sure. There were apparently many similar pairings that day, and several couples have credibly claimed to be those kissing through the decades.] Greta was recently interviewed, and noted that that she was just grabbed by a sailor she didn’t know and kissed. “That man was very strong. I wasn’t kissing him. He was kissing me,” Greta told interviewers.

Ah HA! declare the feminist bloggers. Don’t you see, you addled, male-culture dominated, female-subjugating fools? This wasn’t a pure expression of joy in the long-awaited  end of a world conflict that had killed millions and laid waste to much of the planet! Oh, no! The famous photo was something dark and sinister: Continue reading

The Officious Intermeddlers, the Victory Cigars, and Exception Ethics

The Cincinnati Reds just clinched their first post-season playoff appearance since my son was born, and he’s 15. Understandably, the triumph set off the traditional and familiar sports team celebratory nonsense, with grown men shouting and jumping on each other and spraying everyone with champagne. Some of the Reds, led by Reds owner Bob Castellini, lit “victory cigars,” a guy-thing ritual that dates back beyond memory, though it was made especially famous by Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach, who would light a cigar from his perch on the Celtics bench as soon as he was certain a game had been won. (Yes, upon reflection, it was obnoxious. They loved it in Boston, though.)

No sooner had some of the Reds taken their victory drag on the stogies than several Cincinnati citizens hit the phones, complaining the Reds had broken the law. Continue reading