Tag Archives: culture

Comment Of The Day: “Two Public School Educators Duke It Out In Class: What’s Going On Here?”

Recently minted Ethics Alarms participant Ryan Harkins has his first Comment of the Day, and when I read it, I knew it would not be his last. This one does what my favorite comments do: pick up the baton from my original post, and carry it down the track (or, in some cases, throw it into the crowd.) The topic was the classroom fistfight in an Atlanta middle school.

Here is Ryan Harkins’ Comment of the Day on the post,Two Public School Educators Duke It Out In Class: What’s Going On Here?”:

Jack, the only quibble I have is when you say that you don’t care what the fight was about. I think it is important to learn what the fight was about, because then it gets us into the heads of the combatants, and that is what allows us to start the investigation that goes all the way up. The reason I think this requires a little explanation, so please forgive the lengthy rambling to follow.

I have to admit, my bias in this matter comes from dealing with incident investigations at my refinery, and the various training courses we’ve received in how to conduct such investigations. The one that really stands out the most is called “Latent Cause Analysis”, championed by Robert Nelms. The premise is that all incidents, even if we are speaking of a pump aggressively disassembling itself, ultimately are traced back to human causes. In the case of a pump, yes entropy will eventually have its way with the best-built pump in the world, but the reason the pump failed while it was in service causing a major incident is rooted in human causes.

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Filed under Character, Comment of the Day, Education, Leadership, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “Unethical Quote Of The Day: A Lovely, Smart, Trump-Deranged, Left-Biased Facebook Friend”

Here us another excellent comment regarding social media, this one from Glenn Logan. His focus is on what he calls “emotional sewage,” and its poisonous effect on reason, discourse and society.

He takes off from the end of my post about a Facebook friend’s outburst. Here is Glenn’s Comment of the Day on the post,  “Unethical Quote Of The Day: A Lovely, Smart, Trump-Deranged, Left-Biased Facebook Friend”:

“Nevertheless, this and posts like it, appearing every day on social media, weaken and divide the country and incrementally replace rational thought with raw emotion, bigotry and stupidity.”

This is the thing that gets me about social media — the low barrier for production and amplification of echo-chamber emotional sewage.

That’s what this virtue-signalling nonsense is — emotional sewage that is polluting our culture to the point that it threatens to become the mainstream, and remove reasonable people to the rump.

When interactions were mostly one-to-one or one-to-few, emotional sewage like this tended to get sorted out very quickly because the perpetrators were forced to deal face-to-face with their peers and address rational arguments against their effluvia. In the end, it was contained, often reconsidered and refined into something less putrid and, if not exactly reasoned, at least reasonable in a broad sense.

With social media, which provides a one-to-many construct, there is no such refinement. Raw emotional sewage is dumped out there and amplified, taking it from revolting straight to toxic. The sewer rats all band together in their virtuous righteousness, oblivious to the funk they produce and the normal people they sicken, and attack those who dare to disagree like hungry piranha.

Social media has enabled this sad state of affairs, but blaming the medium is very much like blaming the knife or gun for murder. What social media has proven is that if you can get a pack together on any given point that is large and aggressive enough, you can crush dissent on a massive scale, and drive differing viewpoints from the marketplace of ideas no matter how messed up your own views are.

Benjamin Franklin once answered a lady regarding the form of government the Founders produced in the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and he answered, “A republic, if you can keep it.” 230 years later, Dr. Franklin’s words haunt us — can we keep our republic, or will it drown in emotional sewage?

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Social Media, U.S. Society

From The “A Nation Of Assholes” Files, An Ethics Dunce: Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q

Unless someone figures out how to blame this incident on President Trump, I am gradually coming to the conclusion that my conviction that electing him would cause the United States to become a nation of assholes was mistaken, because the culture was  on a water slide toward that result already.

A member of the Raleigh Police Protective Association (RPPA) reported on the group’s Facebook page that the staff, including the manager, of Raleigh’s Smithfield’s Chicken & Barbeque on Jones Sausage Rd.  sang “Fuck Tha Police” a while a number of officers of the Raleigh Police Department were dining at the restaurant.  The hip-hop classic…yes, a song called “Fuck the Police” is considered a classic, which explains why I have no interest in hip-hop, except as a corrosive force in our culture, and especially the black culture—includes the trenchant and moving  chorus, evocative of Sondheim at his lyrical peak,

Fuck Tha Police
Fuck Tha Police
Fuck Tha Police
Fuck Tha Police

And I thought regular singing waiters were annoying… Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Professions, Race, U.S. Society

Comments Of The Day (3): “An Especially Ugly Ethics Quiz: Cam Betrayed”

There have been many excellent posts on the Ethics Quiz about the couple that executed their apparently loving therapy dog, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier named Cam. Three comments stand out (I could easily have selected twice this many, however) , one by Paul W. Schlecht, another by slickwilly, and a third by Elizabeth II. They cover some common ground, and together show the complexity and breadth of this issue, which goes beyond mere animal cruelty to our society’s emotional connection, confusion and hypocrisy about animals generally. I decided that they complement each other, and am posting them as a set.

First, here is slickwilly’s Comment of the Day on the post, “An Especially Ugly Ethics Quiz: Cam Betrayed”:

Growing up rural, animal management is a way of life. You care for ‘commercial’ animals and you care for ‘pets.’ Confusing the two causes problems with regards to ‘final disposition.’ You never torture the animal (as this was considered a lack of character and a sign of a dangerous person) but attempt to make the act as painless as possible. (Note this is why you never hunt deer with an insufficient caliber, or take low probability shots that may wound but not quickly lower the target’s blood pressure to induce unconsciousness. Not only is is more humane, but also prevents the meat from being tainted or lost.)

A good working definition of a commercial animal versus a pet is driven by what type of profits are earned on the animal. We (generally) keep and pay for pets for emotional reasons (a type of profit), and do not expect monetary profit. Commercial animals are for food and profit. The line can blur, as in the case of military bomb dogs or ‘barn’ cats, but this generally is the case. It is a pet if you cannot bear to think of eating it. Cows can be pets. Dogs can be junk yard guard animals. The owner’s feelings make the difference.

I remember some folks who were unable to kill their show chickens, pigs, sheep, (or whatever) for delivery to the buyer (who did not bid on a live animal, and paid well over market value to support the college aspirations of the seller.) The Ag teacher’s advice was to never name a meat production animal, if you intend to sell it. Reluctance to complete the life cycle of such animals indicated the person was not suited to that sort of rural agricultural activity. Go grow corn if you like, but don’t raise beef. There was no shame in this: find what you like to do and do it. But make no mistake: anyone who has cared for 20 pigs knows they are NOT pets, and they EAT a lot, which has to be paid for.

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Filed under Animals, Around the World, Business & Commercial, Character, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, U.S. Society, Workplace

“A Nation Of Assholes” Update: Wait, I Thought TRUMP Would Be Teaching Our Kids To Be Vulgar And Boorish Jerks

Politico informs us of this charming development….

With children on stage behind him, Perez told an audience in Las Vegas this weekend that Trump “doesn’t give a shit about health care.”
Perez, President Barack Obama’s former labor secretary, made similar comments earlier this year. “They call it a skinny budget, I call it a shitty budget,” Perez said in Portland, Maine.

Wow. I assumed that it would be the President, the man who set new lows for uncivil discourse during his campaign, who would vulgarize the American culture, teach our children that rudeness and gutter language is appropriate, and generally coarsen our society further, when in fact it needs to move in the opposite direction. Nope: it’s the official leader of the Democratic Party.

Says Ann Althouse,

“Derangement syndrome. I can’t believe they think this is a good idea.”

Oh, I absolutely can. After all, the Democrats think undermining democracy and the institution of the Presidency is a good idea. They think advocating the impeachment or removal of a duly elected President based on their certainty that electing him was a mistake is a good idea. They thought trying to over-rule the Electoral College was a good idea, and setting new records for hypocrisy by refusing to accept the results of the election after excoriating Donald Trump for suggesting that he might do the same.They thought making certain that the filibuster option for opponents of Supreme Court candidates would be eliminated was a good idea. They think going out of their way to ensure that a dangerously divided nation becomes more divided is a good idea. Deciding to take the lead in making “shit” normal public discourse, soon to be followed by “fuck,” “motherfucker,” and “cocksucker”? That’s nothing. Not to these people.

That T-shirt is for sale on the party website, by the way. But of course the* makes it all genteel, right?

Glenn Reynold writes,  “It was just a few months ago they were going to the fainting couches over Trump. Remember?,” noting the hypocrisy in light of Hillary’s “Our Children Are Watching.”

Ethics Alarms already identified what this is. In March, I wrote,

“The Democratic Party has turned itself into the Asshole Party. Depressing. Disgusting. Despicable.”

However, even then, I did not anticipate that the party would lead the way to destroying any semblance of dignity, decorum and civility in our government.

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Heroes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics

Willful Amnesia And The Great Cat And Dog Massacre

Did you know that animal-loving British families killed an estimated 400,000 household pets—cats and dogs—in the first week after Great Britain declared war on Germany in September, 1939? Neither did I, and now a new book by Hilda Kean, “The Great Dog and Cat Massacre,” sets out to remind us of that ugly episode.

As the New York Times review of the book notes and Kean explains, the mass euthanasia was “publicly lamented at the time,” but has since been erased from memory.  But why has it been erased from memory, and how? This is a disturbing cultural phenomenon that Ethics Alarms has covered before, notably in the post about dance marathons in the U.S. during the Depression. One of the definitions of culture is what we choose to remember and what we choose to forget. Forgetting, however, while often psychically soothing and an easy way to avoid guilt and accountability, is a pre-unethical condition. That which has been forgotten can no longer teach us, and a society that collectively decides to pretend something cruel, horrible or traumatic didn’t happen risks allowing it to happen again.

This, of course, is one more reason why the recent progressive mania for historical airbrushing is dangerous, irresponsible and unethical. Keep that statue of “Joe Pa” on the Penn State campus. Leave  King Andy on the twenty dollar bill.  Don’t take down that bust of Bill Cosby in the TV Hall of Fame. All civilizations have fallen heroes, moments of panic, times when they forget their values and betray their aspirations. Of course it is painful and embarrassing to remember these things, but also essential if human ethics are going to progress instead of stagnating, or even going backwards. We associate the elimination of cultural memories with totalitarian regimes, and for good reason, for they are blatant and shameless about it.

No nation is immune from the process’s appeal, however. When I was going to grade school and studying the Presidents of the United States, Jackson and Woodrow Wilson were routinely hailed by (mostly Democratic) historians as among the greatest of the great. The first Jackson biography I read barely mentioned the Trail of Tears. I read four well-regarded biographies of Wilson that ignored his support for Jim Crow, and the degree to which he deliberated reversed advances in civil rights, being an unapologetic white supremacist. The influenza epidemic that killed millions was excised from my school’s history books. Thomas Jefferson’s concubine, Sally Hemmings? Who? Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Around the World, Education, History, Race

From The “Saint’s Excuse” Files:The Catholic Church, Penn State, and Now Choate…What Have We Learned?

Protect the hive. Always protect the hive…

The renowned private boarding school school Choate Rosemary Hall, alma mater of such luminaries as John Dos Passos, Edward Albee, Glenn Close, multiple Kennedys and dozens more of the rich, famous and powerful, , just revealed that at least twelve former teachers had sexually molested, and in one case, raped, students without the crimes being reported to police. The pattern continued over decades. In some cases, teachers were allowed to resign after being confronted with evidence of abuse, and administrators wrote still letters of recommendations for them after they were fired. The predators then went to other schools, sometimes in positions of power and authority.

After the similar institutional conduct revealed by the Catholic Church and Penn State, does anyone believe that this is a rare occurrence in institution, including the most prestigious—and virtuous!—ones? The lesson is that established, powerful, iconic institutions are programmed to protect themselves above others, and regard their own missions and continued vitality more precious than any single individual, even a child.

Revisiting one of the most important of the Ethics Alarms’ 92 rationalizations:

13. The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause”

This rationalization has probably caused more death and human suffering than any other. The words “it’s for a good cause” have been used to justify all sorts of lies, scams and mayhem. It is the downfall of the zealot, the true believer, and the passionate advocate that almost any action that supports “the Cause,’ whether it be liberty, religion, charity, or curing a plague, is seen as being justified by the inherent rightness of the ultimate goal. Thus Catholic Bishops protected child-molesting priests to protect the Church, and the American Red Cross used deceptive promotions to swell its blood supplies after the September 11, 2001 attacks. The Saint’s Excuse  allows charities to strong-arm contributors, and advocacy groups to use lies and innuendo to savage ideological opponents. The Saint’s Excuse is that the ends justify the means, because the “saint” has decided that the ends are worth any price—especially when that price will have to be paid by someone else.

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Education, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity, Religion and Philosophy