Ethics Dunce: Ann Althouse

Bad, bad Ann. I’m very disappointed and surprised. In a post this morning, the usually reliable if eccentric law professor bloggress highlighted the anti-“pit bull” propaganda of DogsBite.org, an Ethics Alarms Unethical Website of the Month, and a vile purveyor of bad information that shares responsibility for the destructive “dangerous breed” laws around the country, discriminatory home-owners insurance rates, and the deaths of thousands and upon thousands of innocent, loving dogs.

Like the execrable website and the incompetent Times article it highlights, Althouse never clarifies the critical fact that there is no such breed as “a pit bull.American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire TerriersStaffordshire Bull Terrier, and any mixture thereof, plus a number of breeds like American Bullys, Corso Canes, Doggo de Argentino, and especially American Bull Dogs are all lumped together as “pit bulls” by ignorant reporters and police, and even veterinarians, making the website’s assertion that a disproportionate number of dog attacks come from that “breed” a statistical whopper. Yet Althouse, whose husband once had a blog dedicated to dog photos and who is a dog-lover herself, just goes along with the deception, and worse for a lawyer, never points out the “evidence” is absurdly flawed. If you combine many breeds into a single “breed,” of course that “breed” will have a disproportionate share of whatever dog incident one is counting.

Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: On The Passing Of A Beloved Dog

Spuds lobbied hard for this post by Joel Mundt on Friday’s Open Form to be a Comment of the Day, but I didn’t take much persuading. Joel began by wondering if it was sufficiently related to ethics to belong on Ethics Alarms at all, but he needn’t have worried. His story is reminiscent of the experience of a close family member of mine, who relatively late in life discovered the transformative power of unconditional love as only a dog can bestow. It changed her perspective profoundly, making her kinder, more patient, more optimistic and empathetic….and best of all, happier. The experience made ethics alarms surface that had been buried deeply for most of her life.

That’s Bailey, whom you will soon learn about, above. I hope Joel is all right with my publishing the photo, which he kindly sent along when I wondered what a Shar Pei/Whippet would look like. If you are a dog lover and have not already encountered it, I also recommend that you read The Oatmeal’s classic, “My Dog, the Paradox.” It is relevant, and you will see why.

Here is Joel Mundt’s Comment of the Day, his reflections on the passing of Bailey, his dog.

***

This afternoon, we said goodbye to Bailey, our fifteen-year-old Shar Pei/Whippet mix. She was happy, sociable, and a good eater up to the end, but her liver issues (either Cushing’s or cancer or a combination of both) could not be overcome. Her bad liver numbers went up 50% between March ’21 and March ’22, then went up another 50% (and into the red zone) in the ensuing five weeks. So as April ended, we made the difficult decision – if her health and demeanor held – to give her five more weeks.

Bailey was my first pet, and honesty compels me to admit that I did not initially want her. When our son called in April of 2019 and asked if we could take her, my first answer was absolutely not. But some contemplation and prayer changed my mind…well, really, my heart. Had we not taken her, our son would have been left in the untenable position of having to put her down, and we didn’t think it was time. So we drove to Phoenix three weeks later and brought her home. And to say that she has been a joy would be a gross understatement. Continue reading

My Neighbor Indicates That He Embraces The Golden Rule. I’m Keeping My Fingers Crossed…

Spuds head small

Spuds is keeping his toes crossed.

After sunset, four neighbors with puppies of varying ages and sizes have been gathering in the field near my house to let the adorable little dears run free. They are all inordinately fond of Spuds, who isn’t a puppy but acts like one, and I often let him run around and wrestle with the younger dogs on his leash. (Spuds is a constant risk to gallop off to meet any child, dog or human who appears in the distance, so I let him run free rarely.) This week, two of the puppies ran up to greet him as I tried to sneak past the pack on our evening walk, and after Spuds started crying pitifully, I gave in and allowed him to join the group.

It was cold and dark, and the likelihood of anyone tempting Spuds by showing up on the horizon was minimal, so I relented and let him run with his pals, off the leash. They were a sight to see, tearing around the field. One puppy, a hound named Vinnie, was a particularly lively instigator: earlier, while eluding a puppy he had incited, Vinnie ran full speed into my knee, causing him (not me) to yelp. You have to be wary when a pack of pups is having fun.

Suddenly I saw that Vinnie was coming at us again at mach speed, with Spuds galloping right behind. They veered a bit away from me and at one of the owners of the lively Belgian Shepherd puppy. I shouted to her, “Watch out!” but in vain: she stepped aside to avoid Vinnie, but right into Spuds. He tried to avoid her, but his 70 pound-pus body slammed into her leg, and she went down writhing in pain. We had to call the EMT’s to get her off the field and to a hospital.

Continue reading

Week-Launching Ethics Warm-Up, 10/4/2021: A Happy Ending To A Pit Bull Saga, A Congressional Leader Makes My Head Explode, And More [Updated]

launch

Singer Janis Joplin died of a heroin overdose on October 4, 1970. The anniversary prompts me to make an unkind observation that I was tempted to make after reading all of the tributes and expansive rhetoric praising “The Wire” actor Michael K. Williams after he died of an overdose of fentanyl and heroin on September 6. For at least a hundred years, anyone who takes heroin does so knowing that it is addictive and frequently fatal. My attitude toward Joplin, Williams, John Belushi, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Billy Holliday, and many other artists who have killed themselves this way involves more anger than sympathy. The world was robbed of their gifts because they were reckless. In the case of black artists, they endanger their admirers by creating a romantic aura for what is, in the final analysis, stupid and irresponsible conduct. How hard can it be not to start using an addictive substance that you know might kill you? The fact that the drug is illegal should be a big clue.

1. And speaking of the joys of recreational drugs...In a new study published in Psychological Medicine, researchers in the University of Birmingham’s Institute for Mental Health and the Institute of Applied Health Research found a strong link between “general practice recorded cannabis use” and mental ill health. Senior author Dr. Clara Humpston said: “Cannabis is often considered to be one of the ‘safer’ drugs and has also shown promise in medical therapies, leading to calls for it be legalized globally. Although we are unable to establish a direct causal relationship, our findings suggest we should continue to exercise caution since the notion of cannabis being a safe drug may well be mistaken.”

Continue to exercise caution? Who’s exercising caution? Popular culture and upper-middle class whites have been issuing pro-pot propaganda for half a century, while mocking government efforts to discourage widespread use and acceptance of another destructive recreational drug. Now nearly every state is on a path to legalize it, especially because they smell tax revenue.

Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Julep, 8/24/2021: Harry Truman Revelations For The Dog Days…

Mint Julep

1. Good Harry, bad Harry. I recently watched the 1961 interviews David Susskind did with Harry Truman in 1961. You can see them on Amazon Prime streaming. I was very impressed; I could not remember any President in my lifetime who appeared so candid, open, and sincere about his principles, certainly none of our recent POTUSes. Truman is not one of favorite Presidents; I regard him as a mediocre man thrust into a job far above his abilities who managed to do better than anyone could have predicted. He rose to the occasion as best he could, and that is deserving of respect. The interviews elevated Harry in my estimation.

Then, yesterday, I read a scholarly paper by Prof. Paul Campos of the University of Colorado Law School that shattered my newly grown regard for Harry. The Former Presidents Act (FPA), a 1958 statute provides ex-Presidents with millions of dollars in future taxpayer-funded benefits. One of the motives behind the House’s “snap impeachment” of Donald Trump was to ensure that he not be a beneficiary of the Act. (They failed. As Nelson Muntz would say, “HAHA!”) Campos’s research shows that while the FPA has always been explained as a response to former President Truman’s financial struggles in part because he refused to exploit his status as a former President cash in (like some Presidents of recent vintage), this was not just a false narrative, but a spectacularly false narrative. Campos writes,

Using recently released and until now unexamined archival evidence… in a complete contravention of the existing standard historical record, [it appears that] Harry Truman was, as a direct result of being president, a very wealthy man on the day he left the White House, with an estimated net worth, in relative economic terms, of approximately $58 million in 2021 dollars. …[T]his wealth was a result of both Truman’s enormous presidential salary — several times larger, in real terms, than the current salary for the office — and, more problematically, of the evident fact that Truman misappropriated essentially all of the multi-million dollar — in 2021 terms — presidential expense account that was set up for him by Congress at the beginning of his second term….[A]gain contrary to the current historical understanding, Truman made another fortune after he left the Presidency, by doing precisely what he claimed he was not doing, that is, exploiting his status as a former President to maximum economic advantage. Indeed, by the time Congress passed the FPA in response to Truman’s various claims that he was at least teetering on the brink of potential financial distress, Truman’s net worth was, in relative economic terms, approximately $72 million in 2021 dollars.”

Well, there goes that newfound respect! Truman was a member of the corrupt Prendergast political machine in Kansas City before entering national politics, so this isn’t as much of a surprise as it would be for some other icons.

Continue reading

This Ethics Alarms Rebuke Of Instapundit Is Brought To You By Spuds

Spuds head small

Proving once again that dog ignorance and breed bigotry knows no partisan, ideological nor erudition boundaries, a bunch of conservatives are spreading false anti-pit bull propaganda. As is often the case, they don’t know what the hell they are talking about.

The impetus was an anti-pit bull abuse organization citing the work of Ann Linder, a Legislative Policy Fellow with Harvard Law School’s Animal Law and Policy Program, who wrote a paper, “The Black Man’s Dog: The Social Context of Breed Specific Legislation,” that argued that pit bulls have been unfairly tied to “gang violence by urban youths, as well as the hip-hop music scene.” The group then made the leap to arguing that anti-pit bull restrictions in the many American cities that have them are racist. Well, that’s demonstrably idiotic: the reason for all of those ignorant laws isn’t racism, but that the legislators passing them know zilch about dogs and are pandering to public hysteria. The hysteria is spread by the news media, popular culture, and a lot of otherwise intelligent people who should know better but don’t, and are too lazy and irresponsible to educate themselves. This group includes Conservative law prof and conservative pundit/blogger Glenn Reynolds. Shame on him.

Here’s the way it goes: since the pro-pit bull group cited a race-baiting Harvard scholar, that meant that the group must be made up of progressives, and thus wrong about everything in Instapundit Land. Conservative site College Fix posted about the foolishness of the “racism” claim. Instapundit host Reynolds snarked to his millions of followers:,

“Academics say fear of pit bulls is linked to… racism? I thought it was more about the biting: “Despite accounting for just 6.5% of all dogs in the United States, pit bulls were responsible for 66% of total fatal dog attacks between 2005 and 2017.” Why aren’t these academics following the science? I think they should be banned for “spreading misinformation.”

HA HA HA! Good one, Glenn! Why isn’t this academic checking his sources before making a high-profile ass of himself by spreading misinformation? As anyone with a smattering of canine education knows, there is no breed called a “pit bull,” but anywhere from four to eight distinct breeds that are lumped together as “pit bulls” by people, apparently like Reynolds, who don’t know a dog from a garden hose.

Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: “Social Influencers” Dan And Nikki Phillippi, And, Come To Think Of It, Anyone Who Follows Them, And, Come To Think Of It, Anyone Who Follows ANY “Social Influencers”

But I digress, though I will continue that digression later, and maybe in an upcoming post.

Dan And Nikki Phillippi are “YouTubers,” meaning that have monetized successive facile and smarmy videos via Instagram and have made a million dollars out of it. Read about them here: if you see anything that suggests to you an IQ over 110 or any special expertise or wisdom, let me know. Nikki’s YouTube bio reads, “WELL HELLO! My name is Nikki. I used to make videos growing up just to show them to my family…now I make them and upload them to YouTube. HAHA I love all things girly, acting, singing, dancing AND helping people be the best they can be! I hope you feel inspired and happy when you watch my videos and I invite you to join me on my weird and crazy journey through life! LOL”

As far as I’m concerned, ending a bio with “LOL” is signature significance for someone I wouldn’t allow to influence me to come in out of the rain.

Dan and Nikki just put down their dog, a nine-year-old Bull terrier named Bowser, recently, and, since this is how they live, they monetized it with a video. [ Full disclosure: There’s a fair chance that our rescue dog Spuds is part Bull Terrier] They had previously been “sharing” about their new baby, Logan, now 1. The baby apparently grabbed at some of Bowser’s food, and the dog nipped him. Logan was not badly hurt, but they killed the dog anyway.

Bowser had apparently had a few aggressive incidents in the past, but that’s irrelevant: anyone who allows a baby or toddler to be in close proximity with their dog (or any dog) is 100% responsible if there is an episode like this. Moreover, any dog might react badly when a child tries to take away its food. In fact, you must not allow children and dogs to have food near each other.

In fact, I might react badly if a child tries to take away MY food…

Continue reading

Introducing The Ethics Alarms “Weenie Of The Week”! The First Recipient: Jay Leno

edible dogs

“The Weenie of the Week” will recognize those who enable censors, political correctness mobs, totalitarians, cancel culture terrorists and the rising fascist tide in America by prostrating themselves and groveling for forgiveness when in truth they have done nothing wrong.

Although the term “weenie” is light-hearted in its terminology, the conduct earning the title is serious and despicable. These are not only pathetic cowards, though they are certainly that. They are the modern, domestic versions of “good Germans,” who, for their own self-interests and nothing more, are willing to reject our nation’s core rights and liberties, weaken them, and indeed join the increasingly ominous effort to suffocate free expression, dissent, creativity and humor.

Comedian and former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno begins what I fear will be a long line.

Yesterday he issued an apology for making jokes in the past about Koreans eating dog meat after a 15-year campaign by the activist group Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA).

“At the time I did those jokes, I genuinely thought them to be harmless,” Leno said in a joint press release with MANAA leader Guy Aoki: “I was making fun of our enemy North Korea, and like most jokes, there was a ring of truth to them.”

Continue reading

Tuesday/Wednesday Ethics Sandwich, 3/9-3/10/21: Movies, Megxit, Major And More

Dagwood sandwich

1. Worst “review” of the Year, and other Megxit Ethics Train Wreck developments :

  • I hate to end one day (and start another) with something so nauseating, but a Times “Critic’s Notebook” entry by Salamishah Tillet titled “Taking On Royal Life’s Racism” (online, “Prince Harry Finally Takes On White Privilege: His Own”) is both incompetent and dishonest. This is no review. It is a black studies professor with an agenda using a media stunt by Oprah Winfrey and the breakaway Royals to serve as her own soap box. Using a mixed-race American who achieves some success in a difficult profession (performing), then marries a British prince with the automatic money, glamor and influence that status confers as an example of racial persecution is ridiculous on its face. This is a confirmation bias classic for the ages: the black feminist activist saw what she wanted to see in one of the worst possible settings to see it. The “review” could have been written before the interview was broadcast; I bet most of it was.
  • The U.K.’s media regulator ( that is,censor and political correctness enforcer) Ofcom is investigating Piers Morgan because 41,000 people wrote to complain about the then-ITV’s “Good Morning Britain” host stating the obvious about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s joint whine with Oprah Winfrey. On “Good Morning Britain”, which Morgan quit mid-show after being attacked by his co-host, Morgan said he did not believe Markle’s statement that she had approached the Royal family for help because she had suicidal thoughts, and was turned down. “Who did you go to? What did they say to you? I’m sorry, I don’t believe a word she said…I wouldn’t believe it if she read me a weather report,” Morgan said. Neither would I, especially when such tales were attached to no details whatsoever. Morgan is a media low-life to be sure, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t right in this case. It’s a problem, though, when the most vocal and accurate critic of a manufactured narrative is so easily discredited.
  • In the U.S., the Left will sanctify the Duchess of Sussex because she’s female and blackish, thus meaning that to question her word or character is per se racism. (She’s like a Kardashian with superpowers). The Right is mostly anti-monarchy, so any harm she does to the Royals is regarded as a plus. One poll indicates, however, that the British public is less gullible: Meghan is now the least popular Royal, even behind Jeffrey Epstein pal and likely defiler of under-age girls Prince Andrew.

It’s only because the Brits are racists, of course.

2. Is there a media critic in the United States that isn’t a partisan hack? David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun certainly fails the test. Imagine writing a column titled “If Fox News wants to be a political tool, it should be treated as such and not given access meant for journalists” after the performance of all the other news organizations from 2016 on and expecting to be taken seriously. Has the mainstream media ever committed itself to a single partisan political objective more brazenly than the propaganda campaign against President Trump? Zurawik’s claim is either delusional or a lie aimed at the deluded….of which there are many.

3. White House dog ethics. Apparently the mysteriously reported “incident” that resulted in President Biden’s two German Shepherds being banished to Delaware was more than a mere nip: the victim of a bite by Major, a rescue dog, was really hurt. “There Will Finally Be Dogs in the White House Again,” was the headline in Harper’s in January, over one of many stories cheering the fact that the new “normal” President would have a dog, unlike the weird, mean, non-animal lover on the way out. In truth, the modern White House is no place for a dog—too stressful, too many visitors and strangers— and many First Pets have been acquired as PR props rather than out of genuine love for canines. Getting a rescue dog is admirable, but they often come with behavioral problems and special sensitivities that must be addressed, or they can be dangerous. My sweet rescue dog Spuds, for example, has night terrors, and woe be to any human that wakes him up while he’s recalling past abuse.

4. Governor Cuomo is now up to SIX accusers! Who could have predicted…oh, right. I did. But I’m sure it was all just a misunderstanding, like the Governor says. Sarcasm aside, I doubt Cuomo is a threat to Bill Cosby’s total, but I didn’t expect the Cos to top 50 either.

Added: Various conservative blogs and commentators are chiding Kamala Harris, who led the unethical smearing of Brett Kavanaugh as a sexual predator based on a vague high-school incident, for not weighing in on Cuomo’s alleged conduct. Harris is a two-faced hypocrite for sure—she agreed to run with a serial sexual harasser whose wrongful conduct is a matter of photographic record—but it is not a VP’s place to get involved with state government issues.

Continue reading