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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/5/2017: Stupid Quotes Edition…Plus “Catalexit”

Good Morning!

1 The Las Vegas Strip massacre has triggered so many dumb and unethical quotes flying around on social media and out of the mouths of elected officials that it’s hard to keep up: any of them could sustain a full post.

  • Here’s one from Gloria Steinem, quoted approvingly by a feminist Facebook friend:

“How about we treat every young man who wants to buy a gun like every woman who wants to get an abortion — mandatory 48-hr waiting period, parental permission, a note from his doctor proving he understands what he’s about to do, a video he has to watch about the effects of gun violence, an ultrasound wand up the ass (just because). Let’s close down all but one gun shop in every state and make him travel hundreds of miles, take time off work, and stay overnight in a strange town to get a gun. Make him walk through a gauntlet of people holding photos of loved ones who were shot to death, people who call him a murderer and beg him not to buy a gun.It makes more sense to do this with young men and guns than with women and health care, right? I mean, no woman getting an abortion has killed a room full of people in seconds, right?”

Wow.

First, we learn that no matter what the human tragedy, all some activist can think of is how it can further their own single issue obsession. With Gloria, that single issue abortion, even though there are no helpful or intellectually honest comparisons to be made between guns and abortions. Second, we learn that Gloria never grasped the old “two wrongs don’t make a right” concept.  The various abortion-blocking measures she alludes to are all unethical and unconstitutional interference with a Constitutionally protected right, but she would joyfully inflict them on citizens trying to exercise their rights, because she doesn’t care about those.

  • This one is more surprising and depressing: Matthew Dowd, a regular on ABC’s Sunday morning round-tables with George Stephanopoulos,  meaning that he is presented as competent, historically informed, and trustworthy, actually tweeted,

“2nd amendment was all about having a militia available to protect the government from threat foreign or domestic w/out a standing army.”

This is not just wrong, but spectacularly and inexcusably wrong. Dowd is either lying, ignorant, or unable to process information. His nonsense has been used by anti-gun fanatics for decades, but the Supreme Court and the vast majority of Constitutional scholars reject it, concluding that the Bill of Rights, which all focus on individual rights that cannot be taken away by the government, would not include as #2 provision endorsing militias and nothing more.

The tweet should disqualify him from commenting on any gun policy issues from now until the stars turn cold.

  • I decided that Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) has already been exposed enough on Ethics Alarms this year (as a result of his unethical and divisive boycott of President Trump’s inauguration) that I don’t need to hand him another Ethics Dunce, but this rant delivered during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Hardball” (which network has been more shameless in anti-gun ravings, MSNBC or CNN? Tough call…) is certainly worthy of the award:

“The American people will not stand to see hundreds and thousands of their fellow citizens mowed down because the lack of action on the part of the Congress…We have to do something…The time is always right to do what is right. We waited too long. How many more people will die? Would it be a few hundred? A few thousand? Several thousand? We have to act. We cannot wait.”

This should be enshrined in the “Do something!” Hall of Fame. Lewis never hinted at what exactly will end gun deaths, just that Republicans and the NRA are responsible for not doing it. This is pure demagoguery and designed to mislead and inflame his party’s Second Amendment hating base. “We have to act! We cannot wait!” Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Essay Of The Month: Andrew Sullivan”

luckyesteeyoreman‘s first comment here was in 2012. He has participated in our colloquy with passion humor and perception through over a thousand comments He has had Comments of the Day before, but not like this one—I’m note sure anyone has made a comment like this one. His catalyst was Andrew Sullivan’s essay on tribalism, and the comment was lost for a day in WordPress Hell, then languished as my time to spend on Ethics Alarms was taken up by transportation and the annoying things called “teaching ethics” and “making money, though not nearly enough.”

I’m sorry it took so long to post this. It’s thoughtful and pure, unadulterated luckyesteeyoreman, which translates loosely into “worth the time to read it.”

Here is luckyesteeyoreman‘s epic Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Essay Of The Month: Andrew Sullivan:

(I don’t have a title for this – only sub-section titles. I beg pardon in advance for unreadability. Maybe it should be titled “Lucky’s Madcap Mangled Manifesto #1 of 2017.”)

Andrew Sullivan, in his essay “America Wasn’t Built for Humans” (alternately titled, “Can Our Democracy Survive Tribalism?”) did not address two particular opposed tribes. I will discuss them, giving them my own choices for labels. I will blame one of the two tribes entirely for the current state of human affairs. I cannot envision any resolution of the conflict, other than the virtual annihilation of one or both tribes. Make no mistake: The conflict and its impacts are historically cyclical, humanity-wide, and universal – not some uniquely American problem.

TRIBES IN CONFLICT

In one tribe are the “governists.” One might be more comfortable with calling that tribe “governmentalists.”

Members of the governist tribe view governance and its machinations – created, continually reformed, and sustained by an ever-omnipresent government, a source and repository of ultimate power – as the sole institution that is essential to the fulfillment of human needs. To the governists, governance must embody ultimate means of power and control over all people, over all other life forms, and over all resources known to be required for (1) sustainment of the lives that are subject to control, and (2) sustainment of the needed means for such power and control.

In the tribe that is irreconcilably at conflict with the governists are the “ownwayists.”

Ownwayists view themselves, as individuals, as sources and repositories of need-fulfilling power – power independent of the powers of government. Ownwayists view their individual power largely as sufficient for need fulfillment, but, limited by their own individual human limitations – where that power is not additionally limited by external forces. Thus ownwayists are unavoidably and eternally conflicted within themselves, over the need for government – powers external to themselves – to combine and orchestrate individuals’ powers synergistically.

A PAUSE: A reader might perceive that statists and individualists are synonyms for governists and ownwayists, respectively. I would have used those terms, if I had felt confident that they are accurate for the tribalism I am aiming to discuss here. I leave to others smarter than myself the resolution of any issue about the best, or correct, labels for the two tribes. In this essay, I will proceed using forms of governist and ownwayist.

The conflict between governists and ownwayists is exposed when ownwayists perceive (correctly or incorrectly) that governists are creating, or have created (knowingly or unknowingly) what I am calling Synergy Despoliation (SD). I could elaborate further here on that specific phenomenon, but have chosen not to. SD can evidence itself in, for examples, inefficiencies of governance; failures of governments to enable the meeting of human needs; and impositions of insufficiencies upon governed individuals which often, but not always, stem from excessive government control of the powers of those individuals.

TRIBES AND TRIBALISMS 

DUALITY…

BLENDING, EVEN SWITCHING

Taking of power from individuals by governments happens, whether those so deprived are ownwayists or governists, and whether those with the power to deprive are ownwayists or governists operating within governments. Acquiring, holding and wielding of governance powers is not necessarily more coveted by any given governist than by any given ownwayist. Nor are there (yet) any inherent obstacles to access to governance powers that completely preclude any ownwayist from holding a position in government that is coveted by any governists. Any given individual can be conflicted internally, between co-opting oneself to governism and relying tenaciously and exclusively upon ownwayism, and on what extents one would embrace both.

Governments will hire from both tribes. In some cases governments will “spawn,” even transition and transform, governists and ownwayists such that some individuals re-set, and even switch, tribal affiliations. In the long run, however, any given government and its governance will eventually favor the existence, pre-eminence, and ways of the most “pure” governists.

In the final outcome, throughout history, governments and their governance continue to rise and fall, regardless of their tribal demographics. The conflict between the two tribes continues throughout history, too, regardless of the forms or tribal demographics of governments.

NATURAL SELECTION AND ITS RESULTS Continue reading

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Call Me An Alarmist, But This Alarms Me Greatly: The Censorious On-Line Anagram-Maker [UPDATED]

In a recent thread—the context is unimportant—commenter Chris facetiously wrote that “Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic” is an anagram for “Hitler Did Nothing Wrong.” My mind working the way it works, and being incapable of anagrams myself, I immediately went to an online anagram generator, and typed in “Hitler Did Nothing Wrong.”

The page, Wordplays’ Anagramer, told me that there were no anagrams for that phrase, which is, of course, isn’t true.  [UPDATE: See below] “Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic” isn’t one of them, but there are thousands, my favorite being (courtesy of a the ethical anagram generator here), “Deriding Hog-thrown Lint.” I always deride hog-thrown lint myself.

I amguessing that the only reason Wordplays refused to give me the anagrams I requested was that it decided that I shouldn’t have the right to even write or think the phrase “Hitler Did Nothing Wrong.” Somewhere in programming their site the social justice warrior totalitarians have decided that “bad words” and “bad ideas” can’t be used or thought about, even in jest. Even in an anagram!

‘First  they came for “Hitler Did Nothing Wrong, ” and I did nothing. Then they came for “Deriding Hog-thrown Lint.”‘

This isn’t funny, this is scary. There is a large and growing segment of the American public, many quite powerful, who believe in social change by constriction of words and thought. They see technology as their ally, and those who run technology companies show every sign of being such.

These are enemies to democracy and our liberties as defined by our Founding documents, our traditions and history.

They aren’t enemies because they block anagrams due to their crippling political correctness and arrogance.  That just means they are silly fools. They are enemies because they don’t think using their power to interfere with the speech and thoughts of others is wrong. They think they are doing good.

And if they can–if we let them—they will warp our culture  using laws, intimidation, indoctrination and, of course, technology until everyone believes that controlling words and thoughts is good.

If you think this is just about anagrams, you’re dangerously naive.

UPDATE: Commenter/Blogger Windypundit, who is surely more savvy in these matters than I am, writes in the comments,

I went over to the Wordplays Anagrammer site to play with it. The thing is, I can’t reproduce your results. When I enter the phrase “Hitler Did Nothing Wrong” it displays hundreds and hundreds of anagrams.

Maybe it was just a glitch? …I thought maybe it didn’t work in some browsers, but it worked in all five I tried.

I don’t know what’s going on. I tried twice, and got a “No anagrams found” message. I will assume that it’s me, not them.

The general position of my post stands, however. Even if the web isn’t censoring anagrams, there is a lot of manipulation going on.

Many thanks to Windypundit for the research and the report.

____________________

Pointer: Chris

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Ethics Essay Of The Month: Andrew Sullivan

I used to read Andrew Sullivan’ blog regularly: he was smart, gutsy,a good writer, and willing to buck conventional wisdom> then the gay marriage controversy heated up—Sullivan is gay– and Andrew lost it. His focus and once-reliable rationality became distorted by anger, bias and emotion. He eventually gave up blogging because he determined that it was emotionally unhealthy; maybe he finally recognized that he needed a break. By that time, I had stopped reading him.

His brilliant essay in New York Magazine suggest that Andrew has his groove back, which means that his observation are thoughtful and worth pondering. The topic is tribalism, and he writes in part,

Over the past couple of decades in America, the enduring, complicated divides of ideology, geography, party, class, religion, and race have mutated into something deeper, simpler to map, and therefore much more ominous. I don’t just mean the rise of political polarization (although that’s how it often expresses itself), nor the rise of political violence (the domestic terrorism of the late 1960s and ’70s was far worse), nor even this country’s ancient black-white racial conflict (though its potency endures).

I mean a new and compounding combination of all these differences into two coherent tribes, eerily balanced in political power, fighting not just to advance their own side but to provoke, condemn, and defeat the other.

I mean two tribes whose mutual incomprehension and loathing can drown out their love of country, each of whom scans current events almost entirely to see if they advance not so much their country’s interests but their own. I mean two tribes where one contains most racial minorities and the other is disproportionately white; where one tribe lives on the coasts and in the cities and the other is scattered across a rural and exurban expanse; where one tribe holds on to traditional faith and the other is increasingly contemptuous of religion altogether; where one is viscerally nationalist and the other’s outlook is increasingly global; where each dominates a major political party; and, most dangerously, where both are growing in intensity as they move further apart.

Sullivan goes on to explain that this development is antithetical to the model the Founders intended for their new nation:

The project of American democracy — to live beyond such tribal identities, to construct a society based on the individual, to see ourselves as citizens of a people’s republic, to place religion off-limits, and even in recent years to embrace a multiracial and post-religious society — was always an extremely precarious endeavor. It rested, from the beginning, on an 18th-century hope that deep divides can be bridged by a culture of compromise, and that emotion can be defeated by reason. It failed once, spectacularly, in the most brutal civil war any Western democracy has experienced in modern times. And here we are, in an equally tribal era, with a deeply divisive president who is suddenly scrambling Washington’s political alignments, about to find out if we can prevent it from failing again.

Bingo.

Sullivan explains the evolutionary basis of tribalism and why it is so deeply rooted in the human psyche. Then he writes, Continue reading

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The Unethical, Un-American, State Travel Bans

Recently various states have decided to punish their fellow members of the United States of America for daring to adopt laws of which they do not approve. The method: bans on government employees traveling to those states on business and the state dime, with the hope that the state’s lead will discourage private travel as well. Why are they doing this? Oh, many reasons, I suppose, all of them insufficient to justify the conduct, which is unethical.

Some of the state legislators who pass these bans, and the governors who sign them, want to place economic sanctions on the other states, even if the effects are limited. After all, they can’t stop the citizens of the states from traveling, only government employees. But pressure is pressure, and the limited measures are an attempt to meddle in the democracy of those other bad states. Another reason is virtue-signalling, as a state seeks to show that it supports a group that is politically strong in that region against another state’s policies that displease it. A third reason is the related motive of grandstanding. Finally, a state might use a travel ban to strike back at another state that is banning state travel there. An eye for an eye, a voucher for a voucher.

Yes, this will end well.

I wish I didn’t have to say this, because I know everyone thinks I pick on liberals, progressives and Democrats, but it’s the Democratic majority states that are using this weapon, especially…well, can you guess? Oh, come on, guess. Yes, the major offender is California. Others are New York, Minnesota, and Washington state.

“Our country has made great strides in dismantling prejudicial laws that have deprived too many of our fellow Americans of their precious rights,” says the public statement of California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra of California, who has been instrumental in getting the Golden State to limit trips to Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas. You know, those conservative bad places, where people with sub-normal IQ’s cling to their guns and Bibles. His quote is a classic of arrogant, doctrinaire, narrow-minded, elitist self-righteousness. Continue reading

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The New York Times’ Smoking Gun Op-Ed

Robert Leonard is the news director for the radio stations KNIA/KRLS. He wrote a jaw-dropping op-ed yesterday, one that only could be written and voluntarily made public by someone completely committed to the idea that the news media should decide what the public thinks, and who should run the government. That the New York Times would publish this unethical, biased and anti-democratic screed is signature significance. If the Times editors had any respect for the nation’s democratic processes or the proper boundaries of journalism, it would have regarded the column as risible and an embarrassment to its profession. Instead, the Times published Leonard’s piece in the prime left-hand column of its op-ed page.

Let’s begin with the creepy headline: “Want to Get Rid of Trump? Only Fox News Can Do It.”

No, you arrogant jerk, only democratic elections can “do it.” The entire premise of Leonard’s essay, and it is the premise that the mainstream media now believes, though won’t admit, is that journalists have the power and the obligation to take down a government they don’t approve of. That is what it is trying to do, and that is what the Times is trying to do in concert with the rest. If this was not the case, the Times would not allow such an incendiary headline in its paper.

The op-ed begins with a lie, at least a lie by the kinds of standards applied by the Times in assessing what constitutes “lying” by the President:

“President Trump’s administration is in crisis, consumed by fears of what Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russia’s meddling in the election, might find. Everyone’s lawyering up — even the lawyers have lawyers.”

The Trump Administration isn’t in a crisis according to any facts in evidence. It’s a crisis because the news media wants it to be in crisis, and keeps publishing whispers from leakers  trying to undermine the administration as it says so. Everyone is “lawyering up” is a pejorative phrase intended to imply guilt: in a government investigation, anyone likely to be questioned or come under scrutiny gets legal representation, and this partisan hack knows it. Nevertheless, he is making an innuendo suggesting guilt. Nor does he have any justification that the Trump administration is “consumed by fears of what Robert Mueller might find.” That assumes there is something incriminating to find,  a false assumption, and thus a false statement.

Normally, I would stop reading at that point. This is an incompetently cooked stew of partisan, anti-Trump propaganda, not worth my time, written to appeal to the Times’ “resistance” subscribers. I continued however, because I sensed a vivid illustration of how estranged from objectivity, moderation and responsible writing the Times has become.

The op-ed continues… Continue reading

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Conundrum: Is CNN’s Dylan Byers An Ethics Dunce, Or An Ethics Hero?

Midnight  Friday morning,  CNN was analyzing the GOP’s perplexing win in Montana’s special election for the House of Representatives—perplexing to Ethics Alarms because the winner, Gianforte, is a dishonest thug, but perplexing to CNN because their reporters were desperately hoping for a sign that voters were turning on President Trump, something their network has been working on for many months.  CNN’s Media reporter Dylan Byers then blurted out this remarkable statement:

“There’s this conversation that’s happening among people following the news industry, which is how can we bridge the sort of gap between all of those conservatives who don’t trust the media, and get them to start knowing that, you know, we’re acting in good faith, with good intentions? Maybe you can’t, because they’re not even listening. From the second, it’s not as though they’re reading the article and considering it, or listening the audio and considering it. They’re just not paying attention to it, because  they don’t trust us.

And this, by the way, you look at the tapes of Trump there. Two things have happened. One, over the course of several decades, the conservatives have done a masterful job at capitalizing the waning trust in media and using it to their advantage. But a second thing has happened, too, which is, on occasion, more than the media would like to admit, we have not told the story of conservative Americans, disenfranchised Americans, who believe that they are losing their country. The story we have largely been telling is a story that is more or less in step with the arc of history as defined by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. It does not mean we favor them to win. It just means that sort of vision of a progressive future, a global future, and that is not one that resonates with so many conservative American voters.”

“The story we have largely been telling is a story that is more or less in step with the arc of history as defined by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.”

It is notable that none of the three journalists on the panel with Byers challenged this damning characterization. Continue reading

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