Ethics Observations On A New York City Wuhan Virus Ethics Train Wreck Incident

Let’s go through this one step by step. The quotes are from The Intercept’s account.

Police officers arrested three people in Brooklyn over the weekend after they allegedly “failed to maintain social distancing,” court documents reviewed by The Intercept show.

Comment: Remember this photo from two days ago?

I don’t comprehend how anyone in New York City can be arrested, fined or anything else for “failing to maintain social distancing” when authorities daily ignore and accept the lack of social distancing on a mass scale. It is unethical for law enforcement to be that arbitrary and inconsistent. Continue reading

Noonish Ethics Warm-Up. 3/24/2020: The Web Is Alive With The Sound Of Zugswang!*

So far, there have been only 28 Wuhan virus deaths in Austria…

1. There is nothing strictly unethical about the Democrats attempting to use the current crisis to get some of their non-pandemic agenda items, like them or not, passed. That’s politics. They would be remiss if they didn’t try that. It will be unethical if their efforts materially interfere with the efforts to assist individual and business victims of the Wuhan virus, and if that is what they do, there is ample evidence to hang them, like this:

…if, that is, the facts are reported fairly.  Speaker Pelosi’s House bill including such pork as support for the Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts is also a “smoking gun.”

2. Ethics Quote of the Week from Dr. Fauci: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/16/2020: Zugswang!

Good morning, inmates!

I’ve been reading that social isolation may be deadly. Zugswang!

Last week “ethics zugswangmade a return to Ethics Alarms, and you can expect to read a lot more of it. The chess term describing the dilemma is which the only safe move is to stay still, and staying still is impossible, seems to be applying to increasing numbers of dire situations recently, especially in the ethical sense, in which all choices are unethical.Upon reflection, several posts involved ethics zugswang even when I didn’t use that term. The woman whose student loan debts topped 900,000 dollars is in zugswang. Progressive feminists who use gender-baiting as a partisan weapon are in self-condemned zugswang when political allies use misogynist terms against conservative women.

It’s really fun saying “zugswang,” but I will try to touch on some matters that don’t involve ethics zugswang….like…

1. “Hogan’s Heroes” ethics. I never thought it would happen, but a cable channel is re-running “Hogan’s Heroes” episodes. The very popular Sixties sitcom about POW prison camp and the wacky and inept Nazis running it has been thoroughly excoriated as outrageously tasteless and politically incorrect. My father loved the show because anything that made the Nazis look ridiculous was aces with him. Is it tasteless and offensive to show “Hogan’s Heroes” today?

It was clearly satire, in the same spirit as Larry, Moe and Curly playing Hitler and cronies, or Charley Chaplin in “The Great Dictator”—or, to pick a recent example, the child’s view of Hitler as an imaginary friend in “Jo-Jo Rabbit.” The show obviously took its inspiration from “The Great Escape,” of which it is virtually a parody (without the executions, of course.) WW II vets like my father were accustomed to the Nazis being ridiculed and trivialized in the process. In an age that has seen the Holocaust Museum’s exhibits and widely distributed documentaries about the full barbarity of Nazi Germany, the satire may no longer work.

There are other reasons why “Hogan’s Heroes” is no longer funny, despite the very talented cast. Its laugh track is annoying now, especially when the jokes are old and repetitive: how hard can you keep laughing when Sgt. Schultz (John Banner) says “I know nothing! NOTHING!” for the thousandth time? Perhaps the kiss of death for the series is the ubiquity of series star Bob Crane as Hogan, Crane was always smarmy for my taste, but knowing his fate—Crane was bludgeoned to death by a likely participant in his sick S & M porno ring that involved, among other revolting activities,  secretly videotaping women engaged in sex—make watching the show a painful experience. Continue reading

It’s Time Again For The Ethics Alarms Mailbag! The Question: Wait, What? Your Vote In 2016 Was A Write In?

Here I was, all set to write a substantial post  updating the newly launched Coronavirus Ethics Train  Wreck, and I encountered this question in the comments to today’s Warm-up, in reaction to my reply to another commenter:

“Wait…at the time you were lecturing all the commentariat about how it was unethical to “throw away your vote” by not voting for one of the two major political party candidates? When did you change your mind on that a do a write-in?”

The questioner was Tim Levier, one of five active Ethics Alarms regular commenters who date back to the old, still off-line (but coming back!) Ethics Scoreboard, so attention had to be paid. If he could have missed my late campaign reversal of the position he described–I would describe my stated logic a bit differently, as “the lesser of two evils is still the lesser of two evils—then that critical moment could have been missed by anyone, or even everyone.

Thus I went back into the October and November 2016 archives, which was fascinating.:

  • As always when I do this, I start wondering what became of some previously active commenters. Whither THE Bill? Where have you gone, wyogranny, T Bird, carcarwhite, joed68?

I know I take this too personally, but it still bothers me.

  • You know, this is damn good blog: thorough, extensive, unpredictable, well-written, diverse, funny, educational. I like it! The only one that comes close to being as interesting without descending into periodic eccentric weirdness or ideological rigidity was the old Popehat, and that’s gone now.  I worked hard on it that year, and have ever since. It should have a lot more traffic and influence than it does, but that’s a reflection on the inadequacies and bad taste of those who don’t come here. I’m proud of the product.

There. I said it.

  • The first time I expressed doubt in my position that I would have to hold back my gorge, defy my principles, and vote for Hillary Clinton was earlier than I thought. It was here, on September 25, 2016. The subject of the post was Clinton’s campaign manager, Robbie Mook, saying that  debate moderators should run interference for her and intervene to contradict and rebut Trump’s assertions, “unlike every other Presidential debate and every legitimate and fair debate of any kind, where that responsibility rests with the debaters.”

I responded to his  Unethical Quote Of The Month by writing, in part, Continue reading

Comment of the Day Trio: “Principled Or Betrayer: Pete Buttigieg’s Brother-In-Law, Pastor Rhyan Glezman”

I won’t make a habit of this, I promise: a Comment of the Day deserves its own post. However, the comments on the question of whether Mayor Buttigieg’s brother-in-law was crossing ethical lines or not by making an inter-family disagreement into media fodder have been uniformly excellent, and bundling the three of moderate length coming up makes sense to me.

Incidentally, the polling shows a real split of opinion, but 59% agree on the basic question: they feel the pastor was ethical. (I’m still not sure about that.)

Here’s the poll so far…

The first of the trio of Comments of the Day on “Principled Or Betrayer: Pete Buttigieg’s Brother-In-Law, Pastor Rhyan Glezman” comes from James M….

As a pastor, Pastor Ryan Glezman has an obligation to attempt to resolve his conflict with his brother-in-law in a way that respects Biblical teachings. (If he doesn’t respect the wisdom of the Bible, he’s probably in the wrong line of work…)

Fortunately, the Book of Matthew, Chapter 18, has some straightforward instruction for dealing with such conflicts. Since both profess to be believing Christians, they are “brothers”, and Matthew’s Gospel gives clear direction:

Verses 15-17:
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.
16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Pastor Glezman has expressed his concern that Pete Buttigieg’s frequent forays into Biblical interpretation pose a risk of leading others astray. He didn’t go public over this right away: Mayor Buttigieg has been bloviating about what he thinks Christians should do for quite some time now. Based on that, I’d guess that the pastor has already attempted to privately address the issue with his brother-in-law, and has now moved to treating him as if he were “a pagan or a tax collector”.

Since Chapter 18 gives dire warnings to us all not to cause others to stumble in their faith, Pastor Glezman has ample cause for his concern. Pete Buttigieg’s religious pronouncements do pose a risk of misleading others.

The chapter also emphasizes the vital importance of practicing forgiveness and grace when we deal with others. Now, some people think that means that Christians need to let bad actors continue to cause problems, “turning the other cheek” and “going the extra mile”. That is only part of the truth. Our obligation as Christians includes helping bad actors to understand whatever they’re doing wrong and repent of doing it. We’re not doing a bad actor any favors if our compliance leads him to continue screwing up. We need to approach the problem with love for the bad actor, but we may also cause the bad actor significant heartburn if that’s what it takes to deal with their behavior.

Next is first time commenter Barbara Ravitch. I love when a new commenter enters with such a high-level splash, and with some recent defections and unexplained disappearances, the Ethics Alarms binders full of women could use some replenishment.

Here is her Comment of the Day: Continue reading

Travel Notes…[UPDATED]

Every trip I take seems to require some ethical clarification…

  • Lose-lose. At our hotel in Ft. Lauderdale, a convention of either transvestites, transgender individuals, or some combination of the two dominated the hotel. The organization was “Himmaher”…I think I’m spelling it right. [Correction: I wasn’t. And that wasn’t the organization; it was the name that was listed for the gathering, and the name was HIMMERSHE. Thanks to Zanshin in the Comments below for the correction.]

I had several illuminating encounters. I don’t know that this is true of all such people, but the members of this association or club all seemed to want to make any non-club member they saw as uncomfortable as possible. Yes, that’s unethical. How you choose to dress, what you choose to have lopped off, and who you want to sleep with could not interest me less, and that is the  attitude a society like ours should strive to encourage. (None of those things should engender and advantages, either.) But what these people seemed to be seeking was imposed ethics zugswang. If you looked directly at them, the response was a chip-on-the-shoulder, “Go ahead and stare, honey: neverf seen a freak before?” If you appeared to be avoiding staring—I regard a six-foot ex-male standing in the middle of a hotel lobby in a  wig, skimpy bathing suit, 6 inch heels and speaking loudly in a base voice as parading a psychological problem or ten, and deserving the same social courtesy I would offer to a Tourette’s victim or a hebephrenic—then the individual decided to make it a project to get you to stare, as if your failure to provide the attention they craved was an insult.

Yeah, I know this is a stage, similar to the early stages of the gay rights movement. Continue reading

Saturday Afternoon Ethics, 6/23/18: Pondering Pandering And Zugswang By The Sea

Good afternoon.

It’s a good thing that I don’t pay myself anything for this, because I’d have to fire myself. Thanks to a full fledged computer crash at 6 am., all of my plans this morning to get a post up, get my notebook organized for tomorrow’s ethics training, and complete the outline for my Smithsonian Associates program on the influence of Gilbert and Sullivan on 21st Century America week from today before I had to fly to Tampa were as dust in the wind. This is especially bad for Ethics Alarms, as the blog gets virtually no traffic after noon on Saturday, no matter what I write about.

So here I am at the Wyndham Grand on Clearwater Beach—the sun is shining, the ocean is gleaming, and the pool, music, bar and beautiful women are right below my balcony—and what’s the first thing I do? This.

1 Ethics Zugswang and the illegal immigrant kids. The news media is now telling us that the President’s executive order creates an inherent conflict if he is serious about “no-tolerance” immigration violation enforcement. Yes, we knew that, or at least the people who didn’t blind themselves, Oedipus-like, rending their garments over “Think of the Children!” mania knew it. See, it goes like this:

A. Entering the country illegally is a crime.

B. People who commit crimes are supposed to be arrested, or more such people will commit those crimes.

C. Illegal immigration is a federal crime.

D. Children who accompany their parents while committing federal crimes cannot, by law, be  imprisoned with their parents.

E. They also cannot be held at all for more than a proscribed time, which is too short a period to process their law-breaking parents.

F. If the children have to be returned to their parents,, then the parents cannot be punished for breaking immigration laws.

G. If the children are separated from their parents, the government officials doing so are evildoers who must be shamed, excoriated and condemned.

F. Thus government officials are supposed to ignore the law, by the principle that Children Invalidate Laws, which they didn’t teach me in my college government classes or in law school but apparently that’s a rule.

G. But government officials are sworn to uphold and enforce the law.

Ethics Zugswang.

This Gordian Knot requires some distortion and deceit to stay tied, however…

One: “No-tolerance” is being used by the media to make “enforcing the law when people break it” sound like the equivalent of a school suspending a student for making his fingers look like a gun. Law enforcement is not supposed to “tolerate” crime and law-breaking. Illegal immigration is a serious breach of law, and what the news media is calling “no-tolerance” is really just enforcement.

Two: The Obama Administration opted for “catch and release,” which can be fairly described as “pretending to enforce the law, but not really doing it.” It was a dishonest, cynical, incompetent and unethical policy.

Three: There is no justification for treating the children of illegal immigrants differently from the children of citizens who are arrested and who have no one to care for their kids.

Four: The principle being advocated by the hysterical critics of the “separation of families” at the border (the accurate description is “the arrest of illegal border-crossers) is, now correct me if I’m wrong, “If a child or children accompanies a parent when the parent is apprehended while trying to violate a law carrying a substantial penalty, that parent will be treated with more leniency than if a child did not accompany him or her.” My puzzlement arises from this conundrum: Why do only law-breaking non-citizens get this benefit? Why don’t we “catch and release” good old American single parent bank robbers and burglars who bring their toddlers along as a “Get out of Jail ” card?

Five: What’s the difference? Here’s the difference: the progressive ghetto of our culture has adopted the convenient fiction that illegal immigration isn’t a crime at all, and illegal immigrants are heroes, or martyrs, or potential Elizabeth Warren voters, or something, but certainly they aren’t doing anything wrong. It’s an act of love (said Jeb Bush, proving that he had  squishy soft nougat center). Then why do we have a law against it, Jeb, et al.? Oh, because you can’t have open borders, that would be ridiculous and irresponsible. History shows us that. A nation most protect its borders!

Ethics Zugswang.

It is not ethics zugswang, though. It may be political zugswang because of the greed, dishonesty, emotionalism, and rationalizations driving this issue (in addition to its usefulness as another excuse to undermine this particular President), but the ethics are clear:

—The government’s primary duty is to enforce the laws.

—The integrity of national borders must be ensured using laws.

—The illegal border-crossers are breaking the law.

—They should be punished exactly the same regardless of whether they have brought children along or not.

—The responsibility for placing the children in this position belongs to the parents, and only the parents.

—Making the fate of the children the primary focus of any portion of the illegal immigration debate is intellectually dishonest, manipulative, and unethical, or, at best, innocently ignorant and emotional. Continue reading