Ethics Warm-Up, 11/23/2019: Sitting Around In Airports Edition

Personally, I’d prefer the Baby Shark Dance.

I have been in the Las Vegas airport for more than an hour now, and the only music continuously playing has been Wayne Newton, circa 1965. You know, “Red Roses for a Blue Lady,” and “Danke Schoen.” No wonder Millennials think we’re lame.

Las Vegas is depressing. Everywhere you go, there are lonely, aging, shabbily-dressed people sitting around looking lost, or chain smoking while they roboticly lose their money at garishly flashing gambling machines. It occured to me that the same addiction processes might be at work here as hwatever causes people today to stare at their smart phones rather than interact with the people around them. I saw a lot of that in Vegas too.

Today is my wedding anniversary, and I’m spending most of it in airplanes and airports. We chose November 23, changing the date by one day, because I didn’t want our anniversary to coincide with JFK’s assassination. ( Then my father, perverse as always, chose to die on my birthday…). Yesterday I had dinner with seven lively, intelligent people ranging in age from 25 to 45, and asked them if they knew the significance of the date, November 22.  None did.

1. What IS this? The band Coldplay made news yesterday when it announced that it would no longer tour because of climate change. Presumably they are trying to avoid the hypocrite label being affixed to celebrity climate hysterics whose carbon footprint is approximately that of whole towns, as they jet around the world to tell everyone that they are doomed. Or were they just sick of touring, which is, I say mid-ethics tour, no fun after the novelty wears off, and wanted virtue points through grandstanding? This we do know: whether Coldplay tours or just hangs out in recording studios will have no impact on climate change whatsoever. I assume they know that.

2. Virginia counties are discussing becoming “gun sanctuaries, in anticipation of the Democrat majority legislature and governor enacting gun-hostile legislation. Whether it is guns or illegal aliens, this is a dangerous and unethical trend. States, cities and counties must not be able to just defy the law. There needs to be a set of legal penalties established for this conduct.

3. More from the Old Dominion State! Historical airbrushing and statue-toppling continues in Charlottesville, which proved that it’s not just Robert E. Lee and Confederate generals that it wants erased from history. The City Council voted to remove a statue depicting Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and Sacagawea, their Shoshone interpreter, because the latter isn’t represented in a posture that activists approve of. Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up, 7/3/2019: Holiday Follies [UPDATED]

The end of Pickett’s Charge, July 3, 1863

Happy weird mid-week day before a holiday when almost nobody seems to be working…and remember Pickett’s Charge, July 3, 1863.

But ethics never takes a break…

1. Oops! Did we miss the real holiday? On this date in 1776, John Adams wrote to Abigail that the day before, July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress had voted to declare American independence from the British Empire. Adams predicted that July 2 would eventually be celebrated by every generation of Americans with parades, speeches, songs and fireworks, which Adams called  “illuminations.” Why did he turn out to be wrong? Oh, because history is messy, mistakes don’t get corrected, and tradition becomes more important than facts. (Once again, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence” rule applies: “When legend becomes fact, print the legend!” )

What happened on July 4th? The unsigned but ratified Declaration was sent to the printer on that date, and the printer dutifully marked his prints with “July 4, 1776”. The delegates didn’t start signing the document until August 2, and all the signatures weren’t down on parchment until November. The dramatic depiction of the signing taking place on July 4 in the musical and movie  “1776” is fake history.  It’s not all Broadway’s and Hollywood’s fault: the iconic painting “Declaration of Independence,” by John Trumbull, a version of which hangs in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington and which the actors are staged to re-enact in “1776” is often captioned “July 4, 1776.”

Trumbull’s artwork actually shows the moment on June 28 when the Declaration drafting committee officially presented its work to  the chairman of Continental Congress. John Hancock, There never was a signing ceremony.

Nonetheless, July 4 has, for some reason, been an unusually felicitous and significant day in U.S. history. It would be difficult to pick another that carried so much history, even without being the chosen date to honor the nation’s founding. Three of the first five U.S. presidents died on July 4, with John Adams and Thomas Jefferson famously dying on that date within hours of each other in 1826, fifty years after….the Declaration was sent to the printer.

But July 4, 1803, was the day word arrived from Paris that the Louisiana Purchase was complete, having been signed by Napoleon.  Without it, the United States would have been a very different country, and a much weaker and poorer one.

July 4, 1863 also was the date Robert E. Lee acknowledged his defeat at Gettysburg after his desperate, risky, massed attack on the Union line across a fence-strewn field and up a grade into artillery fire failed. That defeat probably sealed the fate of the Confederacy, and meant that this unique nation would, despite a bloody close call,  have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. Continue reading

Yes, Virginia, There Is A White Supremicist Teacher Principle

“Oops! Sorry.”

 

A commenter yesterday inquired about the Ethics Alarms position regarding efforts to punish participants at white nationalist rallies by publishing their photos on Facebook and other social media, presumably to help get them fired.

I’ll begin the analysis with the Naked Teacher Principle, explored in its many variations on Ethics Alarms, which states,

“A secondary school teacher or administrator (or other role model for children) who allows pictures of himself or herself to be widely publicized, as on the web, showing the teacher naked or engaging in sexually provocative poses, cannot complain when he or she is dismissed by the school as a result.”

The same general reasoning would apply to a secondary school teacher or administrator (or other role model for children) who placed videos or photos of himself or herself demonstrating in favor of racist causes, or giving the “Sieg Heil!” salute, on social media. Even a superb teacher, and one who never exhibited any racial bias at all, would be rendered untrustworthy by such photographs. A neo-Nazi has a right to his or her political views, but those views cannot interfere with the individual’s ability to do a job.

No, I wouldn’t trust a Klan member, a neo-Nazi or a white nationalist to teach my child.

The same would apply to social media posts, and the exact analogy are the college professors who have recently found themselves enmeshed in controversies by declaring on Twitter or Facebook that white people should be killed, that males are a social contagion, or similar bigoted sentiments. These teachers should be separated from their students, and many, though not all, have been. They are, however, publicizing themselves, as well as their bigoted views. Like the naked teachers who posed on-line, they are accountable for the images they project and publish, and how those images affect present and future employees.

However, this is different:

Thousands of strangers across the country had been working together to share photographs of the men bearing Tiki torches on the University of Virginia campus. They wanted to name and shame them to their employers, friends and neighbors. In a few cases, they succeeded.

The activity described is a direct effort to punish people for  their opinions expressed through legal means. It is in the same unethical category as sending private e-mails that reflect badly on former lovers through social media, or using a questionable tweet to destroy the life and career of the tweeter. This kind of  “amateur sleuthing”  as the Times whitewashes the practice, is vicious, destructive, reckless, unfair, and a Golden Rule breach.

I have already pointed out that I might be tempted  join a demonstration against the unethical airbrushing of history that taking down Robert E. Lee’s statue in his home state represents. If I were an idiot (but not a bigot), and didn’t recognize that the white nationalists were just exploiting the General’s memory for their own agenda, I might have been in that group of Tiki torch marchers. A photograph of me marching with a bunch of Klansman and neo-Nazis would hardly be good for my ethics business, though I would be completely innocent of racist views.

The “amateur sleuths” also are not always correct (being amateurs, after all) , as well as being self-righteous, vicious, and opponents of free speech. The Times describes that fate of a professor, Kyle Quinn, who runs a laboratory dedicated to wound-healing research, and who resembled another man caught in a photo marching with the racists. Quinn was attacked on Twitter and Instagram, and social media demanded that he be fired, accused him of racism, and posted his home address online.

Nice.

Be proud, you vicious social justice warriors! Continue reading

More Perspective On Charlottesville, The Left, And The First Amendment

I’ve been spending the day pointing out the bias and hypocrisy of various Facebook friends who posted emotional, warped, virtue-signaling junk assuming they would be greeted with the sounds of a thousand well-trained seals clapping. I’m not sure why I bother: it gets close to the cartoon about the guy who tells his wife, “Someone is wrong on the internet!” I feel like the alternative is to  just let a brain virus run amuck. These once intelligent people just know the President is secretly a white supremacist. He’s obligated to specifically condemn the white nationalist group, because they were “emboldened” by his election. And, they say, their “side’s” violence is “less disgusting” than the violence of the bad people….because, though they don’t say this, the ends justify the means.

I think the reason I subject myself to the sneers and abuse—did you know I must be a Donald Trump supporter and a white nationalist?—is that the Left’s assault on free speech, which is the cornerstone of democracy,  has to be opposed, called out and condemned every single time, until they either embrace the Constitution, move to Canada, or haul us off to re-education camps. White supremacists aren’t a danger to the nation, because that kind of prejudice is antithetical to core American values, and no credible, respectable institutions and individuals support them, or ever will. Fascism of the Left is a real danger, because it is seductive and misleading, and it is infecting the most powerful and influential institutions we have. We saw it in Charlottesville. In a college town indoctrinated in the progressive cant that the wrong opinions don’t deserve to be heard because they constitute harm and violence by spoken word, the state and local government  combined to use violence to stifle political speech.

One of the best and most objective political, government and ethics websites around is City Journal; I really should cite it more often. Today Bob McManus posted an excellent essay which began with this… Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, Charlottesville Aftermath Edition: 8/14/2017

Charlottesville, Virginia.

Good Morning?

1. Just a side note before the serious stuff: WordPress spell-check thinks “Charlottesville” is misspelled. It says the correct spelling is “Chancellorsville.”

And you wonder why I have so many typos…

2. Either one believes in, supports and will fight for freedom of speech, expression and assembly, or one does not. Those who do not also do not genuinely believe in democracy, the Constitution, civil rights or the core principles of the United States of America. This group, which has been slowly—not so slowly, really—taking over the progressive movement and the Democratic Party, and with them that party’s institutional allies, the U.S. education system and journalism, is far, far more dangerous than the alt-right, racist fools who tried to exercise their own rights over the weekend.

At the center of the implicit rejection of the freedom to say, express, demonstrate for and hold whatever wise, creative, idiotic or hateful opinions and ideas a U.S. citizen chooses were the despicable and anti-American comments of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, ( WordPress thinks I should spell his name “Cauliflower”) who told a group of U.S. citizens that they were not welcome in his state, and that there was no place for them in the United States of America—you know, like the German Nazis told the Jews. Pathetically and dispiritingly, knee-jerk defenders of McAuliffe have spun this as mere “opprobrium,” a deflection that we technically refer to as “baloney.” When the leader of a government points to any group and says, “Get out!” based solely on what the group says and believes, that’s totalitarian oppression. It also paints a bullseye on the backs of every member of that group. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The Charlottesville Riots

  • Is there a clear, complete, objective account of what happened in Charlottesville? I can’t find one. I have read about “clashes” between protesters and “counter-protesters,” who we are told outnumbered the white nationalist group protesting the removal of General Lee’s statue by about 2-1. What does that mean? Was the white nationalist rally peaceful, regardless of the racist slogans they were hurling? Were the counter-protesters just shouting back, or more physical? I see references to the “fray.” What fray? The key word seems to be that the white nationalists “sparked’ violence by marching. Do we now say that the civil rights marchers in Selma sparked the violence, and not the counter-protest racists. or is the theory that which ever group has the less popular position “sparks” the violence?

My suspicions are that the vagueness of the news media reports is a deliberate effort by the news media to avoid assigning any responsibility to Antifa thugs for the escalation into violence.

  • Obviously the automobile driven into the anti-white nationalist, counter protest crowd was a criminal act. Since this was done by the racists, it became the focus of all news reports, as if this was the only violence.

Was it? Somehow I doubt that.

  • Again, a counter-protest group “incites violence” as much as a protest group. The reaction from the news media and the political pundits appears to ignore the basic fact that Americans have the right to demonstrate and express their support for repugnant ideas as well as ideas most of us approve of. This was settled (I thought) with National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, 432 U.S. 43 (1977).

Apparently not.

  • President Trump’s statement regarding the riot was this:

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time…We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!”

The immediate reaction by the newsmedia was that the statement asserted a false equivalency. CNN’s Chris Cillizza wrote,

“Both sides don’t scream racist and anti-Semitic things at people with whom they disagree. They don’t base a belief system on the superiority of one race over others. They don’t get into fistfights with people who don’t see things their way. They don’t create chaos and leave a trail of injured behind them. Arguing that “both sides do it” deeply misunderstands the hate and intolerance at the core of this “Unite the Right” rally. These people are bigots. They are hate-filled. This is not just a protest where things, unfortunately, got violent. Violence sits at the heart of their warped belief system.”

Both sides do “do it,” however, and when “it” is violence and refusal to allow a group with opposing views make their statements, there is no high ground. The starting point from the left is “the white nationalists are wrong, so they don’t deserve the same rights we do.” Yes, they do, and among those rights is the opportunity to protest whatever they choose without being attacked. “These people are bigots.” So what? They have the right to express their views. “They are hate-filled.” And the counter-protesters were not “hate-filled”? Or was the President supposed to distinguish that as good hate? Continue reading