Your Morning Ethics Update On The George Floyd Freakout

I was musing early yesterday about whether calling the current reaction/over-reaction/ exploitation/ “Hey great now we can do all kinds of stuff because nobody will dare say no to us!” to the George Floyd video a “freakout” was excessively denigrating it, trivializing or misrepresenting it.  I decided it was all three. By the end of yesterday, I realized I was wrong.

I’ll still use the “George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck” tag on posts  emanating  from this madness, but ethics train wrecks, situations where virtually anyone who gets involved instantly engages in unethical conduct, are more rational than ethics freakouts, which are almost entirely fueled by emotion, hysteria, hate, present time perspective, and mob mentality.

I haven’t used the description often here, but looking back through the lens of history, I’d list among past freakouts the Salem witch trials,  the French Revolution and “The Terror,”  World War I, the Holocaust, and the U.S.’s ” Red Scare.” There are others; I’m not looking to compile the definitive list.  The definition of a freakout, as opposed to a an ethics train wreck, is partially that once the fever has passed, virtually everyone looks back on the event and thinks, “What the hell? How did that happen? What was wrong with those people?” The other distinguishing factor is that while wise members of a society will contend with each other during an ethics train wreck and try to stop the runaway train, the tendency of the un-freaked during  a freakout is to try to keep their heads down,  avoid making eye contact, and if confronted with one of the raving, just nod and mutter, “Sure. Whatever you say.”

THAT, as the partial list above demonstrates, is a dire mistake. Ethics freakouts get people killed, and do damage to lives and society that can take decades to repair. Continue reading

“Oh No! It’s Monday!” Ethics Review, 6/8/2020: A Yoo’s Rationalization Orgy!

Cheer up!

Things could be worse!

For example, I bet you thought a week ago that being in the middle of a pandemic was bad. What I have noticed, and if you’ve been reading regularly, so have you, is that we are increasingly being told by journalists, pundits and politicians that up is down, day is night and black is white, and we are expected to believe them. (They think we are really, really gullible.) This is Rationalization #64, Yoo’s Rationalization, “It isn’t what it is,” the rationalization version of “The Jumbo.” (“Elephant? What elephant?”) The society that allows such brazen misinformation to permeate its culture is on a fast track to totalitarianism.

Here are two recent examples….

1. Multiply the hypocrisy of Prof. Charles Bergstrom’s tweet by 1200, and you get…this, an open letter from health and medical officials making the head-exploding argument  that protests/riots around the United States should not be discouraged the way they discouraged every other public gathering. Everything I could say about this final proof that too many medical and health experts lack basic professional integrity, making the degree of trust placed in their advice by policy-makers, the media and the public not merely unwarranted but irresponsible, I have written here already. However, the text of the letter also suggests that too many medical and health experts just aren’t very bright. How else could one explain statements in the letter like,

“We created the letter in response to emerging narratives that seemed to malign demonstrations as risky for the public health because of Covid-19,” according to the letter writers, many of whom are part of the University of Washington’s Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.  Instead, we wanted to present a narrative that prioritizes opposition to racism as vital to the public health, including the epidemic response. We believe that the way forward is not to suppress protests in the name of public health but to respond to protesters demands in the name of public health, thereby addressing multiple public health crises.”

In other words, ‘We oppose maligning demonstrators as risky to the public health although we have maligned demonstrators in other contexts as risky  to the public health but because of the purpose of these demonstrations, they aren’t really risky to the public health compared to the risks of not addressing what they are protesting about, although nothing about the actual demonstrations will address those risks.’  Not only is this Rationalization #64, Yoo’s Rationalization, “It isn’t what it is,” it’s Authentic Frontier Gibberish! To state the obvious, or what should be, one may oppose racism without spreading the Wuhan virus: oppose it by staying home, Zooming, writing blog posts, anything but getting in the middle of mobs. Also “Respond to protesters’ demands” is an imaginary action: “Fix everything!” is not a demand capable of responding to.

Then there is this head-spinner:

“Staying at home, social distancing, and public masking are effective at minimizing the spread of COVID-19. To the extent possible, we support the application of these public health best practices during demonstrations that call attention to the pervasive lethal force of white supremacy. However, as public health advocates, we do not condemn these gatherings as risky for COVID-19 transmission. We support them as vital to the national public health and to the threatened health specifically of Black people in the United States. We can show that support by facilitating safest protesting practices without detracting from demonstrators’ ability to gather and demand change. This should not be confused with a permissive stance on all gatherings, particularly protests against stay-home orders.”

Never mind losing all respect for supposed medical professionals who could put their names on such illogical, dishonest, self-contradictory crap without using pseudonyms; I will ask my family to ship me to the  Home for the Bewildered  if I ever say anything this stupid.

2. Okay, I’ve turned both my college and grad school diplomas to the wall and turn my face away from them in abject shame when ever I pass by…now what? Christy E. Lopez, who is a a Distinguished Visitor from Practice at Georgetown Law School, authored a truly incompetent op-ed in the Washington Post titled “Defund the police? Here’s what that really means.” It makes the Tom Cotton’s op-ed that broke the New York Times look like “The Origin of the Species.”

“We turn to the police in situations where years of experience and common sense tell us that their involvement is unnecessary, and can make things worse. We ask police to take accident reports, respond to people who have overdosed and arrest, rather than cite, people who might have intentionally or not passed a counterfeit $20 bill. We call police to roust homeless people from corners and doorsteps, resolve verbal squabbles between family members and strangers alike, and arrest children for behavior that once would have been handled as a school disciplinary issue.”

Outside of the current fad of calling the cops on grade-schoolers who make gun shapes with their fingers, a legitimate example of misusing the police, what planet is this woman from? We ask police to take accident reports because it’s the only way to ensure that witnesses are questioned and scofflaws don’t flee the scenes of accidents they caused.  Police respond to people who have overdosed because a) they might die and b) they may be victims or perpetrators of crimes. Passing counterfeit $20 bills is a crime, and a form of robbery. Is someone who would do that expected to pay a $20 fine?  Does the professor think we should decriminalize counterfeiting?

Damn right we call police to roust homeless people from corners and doorsteps: I once had a demented homeless woman  banging on my door and screaming at 5 am. She also weighed about 300 pounds’ it took four officers to restrain her. Or would it  be better if I had just brained her with a baseball bat? “Squabbles between family members” are often what we call “domestic abuse” and end in violence. She’s lying about what the police are asked to address.

The op-ed is all like that: one more example of Rationalization #64, Yoo’s Rationalization, “It isn’t what it is.”  #64 is now in the DNA of progressive culture, and we shall see just how susceptible to Orwellian distortion–“War is Peace”— that the American public is. “Police abolition means reducing.with the vision of eventually eliminating, our reliance on policing to secure our public safety, ” she writes. Oh! That’s funny; I would think police abolition would mean abolishing the police. Aren’t lawyers supposed to be sticklers about language? Guess not. “It means recognizing that criminalizing addiction and poverty, making 10 million arrests per year and mass incarceration have not provided the public safety we want and never will.,” she explains.

Maybe not, but we’re a lot safer than we would be without those arrests…

But who in their right mind trusts someone who writes that by “police abolition” activists don’t mean police abolition? Hasn’t everyone heard enough double-talk like this? The Democrats don’t want open borders, they just don’t want anyone prosecuted for sneaking into the country. They don’t approve of infanticide, they just don’t think it should be a crime to kill a baby that survives an abortion. They don’t want to repeal the Second Amendment, they just want “comprehensive gun policy reform” that will make it impossible for a citizen to own a gun. They don’t oppose freedom of speech, they just want to make “hate speech” illegal, with them defining “hate.” They don’t want socialism, they just support a “Green New Deal” which advocates a guaranteed income for those “who choose not to” work.

Why would we ever think that the objective is to abolish police departments just because they call what they want to do “police abolition”? Boy, its conspiracies, conspiracies, conspiracies with you conservatives! You’re paranoid, that’s all.

Ann Althouse, a lawyer obsessed with words, similarly found Lopez’s “we don’t mean what we say” ruse annoying. She wrote,

Why not use words that people can understand and that convey the meaning you want to put in our head? If your idea is so reasonable, why not use words that are effective in making people who care about peace and harmony agree with you?

“Police abolition means reducing, with the vision of eventually eliminating, our reliance on policing to secure our public safety….”

Now, that’s just confusing! You said “reducing” but then you said “eliminating.”

No, it’s not confusing, Ann. It’s honest; she slipped up and said what she meant.