Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 7/5/2020: Post-Fourth Hangover Edition

Except it’s not alcohol, it’s all the anti-America agitprop that has me groggy…

1. One last Fourth of July resource: here is one of many annotated versions of the Declaration. Here is another.

2. The downside of paying baseball players so much. Major League Baseball is plunging forward with a season of sorts, only 60 games long and with some hopefully temporary rules, such as a universal Designated Hitter and an extra-inning stunt so revolting that I don’t even want to think about it. The players are getting a pro-rated salary, but the Players Union insisted that any player could opt out of the season for a legitimate health related reason, such as being at in a  high risk group, and collect his salary, or for ny reason, and waive his salary.

It has been fascinating to see some players decide to not play, thus leaving their teams in the lurch, because its just not worth the effort. Take, for example, Dodgers starting pitcher, fresh off of a trade by the Red Sox. He announced that he won’t be playing, and will forfeit 11 million dollars (of his usual 30 million dollar a year salary)for the privilege. Felix Hernandez, another former ace now with the Braves, also opted out, though he loses far less, since he was working on a minor league contract while trying to keep his recently declining career going. In both cases, however, the pitchers are taking a major risk, because sitting out a full season for older players often makes returning to action difficult. In addition, especially in the case of Price and some of the other opt-outs, the decision not to play harms his team and team mates. But David Price has earned about 250 million dollars in his career, and will earn another 50 million whether can pitch or not. Hernandez has already earned more than 200 million.

Love of the game? For the good of the team? Never mind. The players are motivated only by money, and once enough is in stocks and bonds, even that isn’t motivation enough.

3. Surprise! It turns out that police are necessary after all.  Any hope that a reasonable and practical answer to Question 13 (“What is the “systemic reform regarding race in America” that the George Floyd protests purport to be seeking?”) vanished when the first substantive measure embraced by the mob was “Defund the police.” That this was even floated, much less executed (as in Minneaplois and New York City) was signature significance for a level if ignorance and recklessness justifying this standard Ethics Alarms clip:

Chris Rufo explains at City Journal just how stupid: Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Ethical Quote Of The Month: French President Emmanuel Macron”

Prolific commenter Steve-O-in-NJ was on a roll last night, ultimately producing the epic Comment of the Day below regarding French President Macron’s unequivocal rejection of historical airbrushing and statue toppling in his country.

Earlier, Steve had made the sharp observation that the George Floyd Freakout mobs and their complicit elected officials and journalists are simultaneously demanding sanctification of the image and memory of Floyd, whose life consisted of a series of socially destructive and irresponsible acts,  while demanding the de-honoring of important historical figures world wide. “The only thing he ever did of note was to die at the hands of a crazy cop,” he wrote. “Yet we’re supposed to brush his history aside and worship him as some kind of new saint. Columbus achieved one of the greatest things ever done. Jefferson wrote the [Declaration of Independence]. Washington was the father of this nation. Churchill saved the world in its darkest hour. Yet we’re asked to forget their achievements and reduce them to their failures. Anyone want to explain the logic here?”

Logic, except to the extent that cultural lobotomies are a tool of revolution and totalitarianism, has little to do with it. Nor does perspective and erudition, as proved by UK Activist Lorraine Jones, who is chair of the Lambeth Independent Police Advisory Group Jones was asked about the wisdom of removing a statue of Winston Churchill in London that has been a target of local protesters.

“I’ve heard many arguments on both sides,” Jones told reporters. “Some say that he’s a racist, some say that he’s a hero. I haven’t personally met him, but what I would say is that that question of whether he should remain should be put to the community.”

She has no idea who Winston Churchill is.

Here is Steve-O-in-NJ’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethical Quote Of The Month: French President Emmanuel Macron”:

I discussed the attempted airbrushing of history here by the removal of several monuments to the Confederacy or its adherents some time ago. At the time I would have described the feeling underlying it as what I would call a moral panic, similar to the overwhelming fear surrounding role-playing games in the 1980s or the unreasonable response to New Zealand’s Mazengarb report. However, moral panics usually ebb and flow and eventually the majority see how silly they really are. I was wrong, this was not a case of a moral panic. This was a case of a chisel often used by the left, that of iconoclasm, finding an opening and being used to chip away at society in an attempt to recurve it in their image. It’s now spread to Columbus memorials, and is starting to seep into memorials to the Founding Fathers and now even to Abraham Lincoln and Churchill(?!).

Iconoclasm, defined broadly as the organized destruction of images or symbols, has been around pretty much since man started erecting symbols and memorials to individuals, groups, ideas, or anyone or anything deemed important enough to build a lasting memorial to. Sometimes it was practiced in straight-up war between nations or civilizations, as a way to damage the enemy’s morale, although it ran the risk of making him angrier instead. Sometimes it was practiced in internecine conflicts, when one group seized power over another. Occasionally it has been performed simply as a matter of political policy, without actual armed conflicts.

Examples of the first category include the sack of the Jewish Temple by Nebuchadnezzar, the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius’ destruction of the Persian fire temple at the Throne of Solomon (this one particularly thorough, with the knocking down of the temple, the extinguishing of the holy fire, and the deliberate pollution of the sacred lake with dead bodies), and the Muslim policy of destruction of religious symbols of those they defeated: the Persians’ holy standard, the original church at Santiago de Compostela (for which the Muslim rulers of Seville later paid a terrible price at the hands of St. Ferdinand of Castile), and countless Hindu idols and temples. Continue reading

From The Ethics Alarms Archives: Two Ethics Takes On Columbus Day

In 2011, I wrote an Ethics Alarm post extolling Christopher Columbus, and urging readers to celebrate this day named in his honor. Two years later, I wrote a post arguing that the holiday was a mistake. Which is how I really feel? Which is correct? I have no idea. I just read both, and found each persuasive. You know the famous observation in thethe essay “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds”? Today I like that line. Sometimes I don’t.

I certainly don’t like the current movement to cancel Columbus Day, and Columbus, out of the culture and historical record because he was not appropriately sensitive to indigenous people by 21st Century standards. That is no better than tearing down statues of Robert E. Lee, airbrushing history to avoid the inherent conflicts and dilemmas that make it invaluable to us going forward into the unknown…like Columbus did.

Here are the two posts. You decide. Meanwhile, I’m thrilled I could find the great Stan Freberg’s version of Columbus’s quest (above). More of my sensibilities about life, humor and history were effected by Freberg’s satire than I like to admit…

I. Celebrate Columbus Day, Honor Columbus

Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: Propaganda And Fake History: How Are We Supposed To Trust A Newspaper With Editors That Allow This?”

Once again, I am behind in posting deserving Comments of the Day, in particular one from P.M. Lawrence that opens all manner  of worm cans, necessitating a bit more prep than usual. This COTD, sparked by the New York Times’s allowing fake Middle East history to sully its pages, seemed especially appropo given Vermont’s offensive capitulation to political correctness by turning Columbus Day into “Indigenous  Peoples Day.”

This is sentimentality replacing a crucial historical and cultural marker to which attention must be paid. Whatever his misdeeds, Columbus’s voyage and its discoveries was one of the great turning points in the history of mankind. Columbus’s boldness was a catalyst  for furious colonization by the western European powers , new trade commodities products and the introduction of products like corn, potatoes, tobacco and chocolate to the rest of the world, innovations in seafaring and supply preservation, and transformative contacts between cultures. It also led to the United States of America, and despite the laments of the America-haters, the world is far better for that.

Here is Steve-O- in NJ’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Propaganda And Fake History: How Are We Supposed To Trust A Newspaper With Editors That Allow This?”

No one ever mentions that the Muslims had been conquering parts of Europe for 3 centuries before Pope Urban called for a crusade, and if you point it out, the left brushes you off as pedantic at best, an apologist for brutality at the worst. The Inquisition I’ll admit was pretty bad, but, to put it in context, heresy is to the church what treason is to a government, and, when the church is as much a temporal power as the government, it should not come as a surprise that it takes steps to protect that power. The Muslims can lecture us about that when you can no longer have your head chopped off in Sunni countries if you mistakenly sound the call to prayer more than once (a Shi’ite practice, which is prohibited in Sunni countries), and the Protestants can lecture us about it when they apologize for Cromwell in Ireland and the High Commission. Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up, 2/19/19: College Disgrace Edition [Updated!]

Hello, Readers, and Goodby, Columbus (see #5)!

In case you care: yesterday was about the third time in ten years that I have failed to get at least one post up. I was in New Brunswick, NY, after the three and a half-hour trip from Virginia took over five hours instead of three. I had scheduled a 6:15 am wake-up call, and a room service breakfast at 6:30 in order to prepare for my 3 hour seminar and get a post or two up before I had to check out at 8 am. No wake up call. No breakfast. I was awakened at 8:05 am by Clarence Darrow, aka actor Bruce Rauscher. Somehow we made it to the seminar on time, Bruce was great, the lawyers were happy, but by the time the return journey got me home that night any Ethics Alarms post I attempted would have been in Esperanto.

I’m sorry.

1. Revelation! Hearing Darrow’s courtroom arguments in a different interpretation and pace made me realize that part of his methodology was to gradually convince juries that he was smarter than they were, and that they should just do what he said because he proved he had thought the issues through more thoroughly than they had or could. His genius was that he could do this without appearing to be arrogant or conceited. This is how effective leaders lead, and also how they corrupt, persuading normal people to just surrender their judgment.

I am an advocate of capital punishment, but when Darrow made this argument pleading for the lives of thrill-killers Leopold and Loeb….

What is the public’s idea of justice? “Give them the same mercy that they gave to Bobby Franks.”

Is that the law?  Is that justice?  Is this what a court should do?  Is this what a state’s attorney should do?  If the state in which I live is not kinder, more humane, more considerate, more intelligent than the mad act of these two boys, I am sorry that I have lived so long.

…I had to pause and wonder if he had found the fatal weakness in the logic of the death penalty. I have a rebuttal, but I have thought about the issue a long time, and Darrow wasn’t THAT much smarter than me. But if I were a typical juror (or even a judge, as was his audience in this case), I might be tempted to see the case Darrow’s way.

2.  Once again, the totalitarian instincts of progressives and attempted thought-control on campuses...I believe that this escalating phenomenon will eventually lead to an epic cultural conflagration.

Orange Coast College barred its chapter of the Young Americans for Freedom  displaying this banner….

…..at a campus student recruitment fair. The College objected to the banner’s depicting images of two rifles which college officials said were forbidden by a college policy that bars not just firearms but “any facsimile of a firearm, knife, or explosive.”

Obviously, however, such a decision violates the First Amendment. Explains Constitutional law expert Eugene Volokh, “once a university opens up a space where students may display banners, it then may not restrict such displays unless the restriction is viewpoint-neutral and reasonable. It’s hard to see a viewpoint-neutral rationale for banning even sillhouette displays of guns, which no-one would confuse for real guns….even if the rationale is viewpoint-neutral, it’s not reasonable: To be reasonable, a restriction on speech within a government-created forum must be “consistent with the [government’s] legitimate interest in ‘preserv[ing] the property … for the use to which it is lawfully dedicated.'” Nothing about the display of rifle sillhouettes interferes with the government’s legitimate interest in preserving campus property for its normal uses, except insofar as such a display conveys a pro-gun viewpoint to which some people object.”

Of course, the real purpose of the restriction is political indoctrination of students and agenda-driven limitations on advocacy. College administrators who don’t comprehend the Bill of Rights better than this may be qualified to educate trained ferrets, but not human beings less human beings.

The professor also points out that the school’s sports team logo…

…violates the school policy exactly in the manner the banner does, for it includes an illustration of a knife.

Fools and hypocrites—and nascent totalitarians. 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, October 10, 2017: Post-Columbus Day Edition

Good Morning.

1 The rhetoric against celebrating Columbus Day is at bottom an attack on American values and the nation itself,  making the case that the culture should bask in eternal guilt and shame for the crime of existing. It has always been thus: I heard the counter-Columbus claims when I was a kid and living in Boston, where you can’t throw a spitball without hitting an Italian or a Catholic. Then, however, there were sufficient numbers of responsible elected officials who put those ignorant and warped arguments in their place—the trash. Now, the path of least resistance reigns.

We celebrate Columbus because he brought European culture and civilization to the New World, making our nation possible. He was the butterfly flapping his wings in the Amazon, in Chaos terms: without Columbus, everything might be different. One thing that would not be different, however, is that the stone age cultures that lived in the Americas would not have prevailed, thrived and survived. Blaming Chis for the inevitable destruction of primitive cultures when more advanced and ambitious ones arrived, as they were going to with or without Columbus, is scapegoating of the worst kind.

We also celebrate Columbus because of the good and important things his first voyage symbolizes: mankind’s constant search for knowledge; the bravery of explorers; the visionary who dares to challenge conventional wisdom.

We have not, so far at least, renamed Martin Luther King Day as Victims of Adultery Day. Columbus was a man of his time, working for a brutal regime. He did many things that were wrong even by the standards of the time. Irrelevant. He opened the door  from the Old World to the New, and made the United States of America possible.

That’s worth celebrating.

2. Robert E. Lee  High School in San Antonio wins some kind of weasel award for responding to pressure to de-honor that racist slave-owner Robert E. Lee by renaming it LEE High School, with LEE being an acronym meaning Legacy of Educational Excellence High School. Pretty impressive, that: managing to be cowardly, irresponsible, and deceitful, all at once. Capitulating to the Left’s statue-toppling, historical airbrushing mania is wrong; doing so while not really doing it is worse. Keep recognizing the General, or don’t.

Who wants people like this teaching their children?

3.  ESPN  didn’t think it was necessary to suspend  anchor Jemele Hill  for tweeting that the President of the United States was a white supremacist, but when she dared to suggest that advertisers boycott NFL teams that forbade the kneeling stunt currently killing NFL  fan loyalty, ratings, ticket sales and popularity, that really crossed some lines. The network suspended Weeks after she expressed outrage at the ownership of the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins for making a “No-knee” policy for its players.

“Jemele Hill has been suspended for two weeks for a second violation of our social media guidelines,” ESPN said in a statement. “In the aftermath all employees were reminded of how individual tweets may reflect negatively on ESPN and that such actions would have consequences. Hence this decision.”

Ethics Alarms is on record as holding that Hill should have been disciplined for the anti-Trump tweet, but I sympathize with her here. She had every reason to believe that she had received special dispensation to air her progressive, resistance, Black Lives Matter advocacy using her ESPN visibility as a platform, especially after Disney’s CEO admitted that she hadn’t been disciplined because she was black.

ESPN’s standards are as incoherent as the cause of the kneeling players. They send mixed signals to employees and viewers, satisfying no one, and creating a chaotic culture undermining their own business, which is, remember, covering sports. Continue reading

The Strange, Conflicted, Unethical Holiday We Call Columbus Day

"Yes, it seems like a catastrophe now, but some day creatures called human beings will celebrate this day..."

“Yes, it seems like a catastrophe now, but some day creatures called human beings will celebrate this moment…”

What are we celebrating on Columbus Day, and is it ethical to celebrate it?

When I was a child, I was taught that we were celebrating the life of Cristoforo Columbo, popularly known as Columbus, who was convinced, against the prevailing skeptics of the time, that the Earth was round rather than flat, and in the process of proving his thesis, made the United States of America possible by discovering the New World in 1492. Virtually none of what we were taught about Columbus was true,  so what we thought we were celebrating wasn’t really what we were celebrating. Columbus wasn’t alone in believing the world was round: by 1492, most educated people knew the flat Earth theory was dumb. He blundered into discovering the New World, and by introducing Spain into this rich, virgin and vulnerable territory, he subjected millions of people and generations of them to Spain’s destructive and venal approach to exploration, which was, in simple terms, loot without mercy. The Spanish were like locusts to the Americas; South and Central America are still paying the priced today. Surely we aren’t celebrating Columbus’s complicity in that. Continue reading