Tales Of The Barn Door Fallacy: This Time The Door Was Wide Open, Yet Nobody Noticed

The Barn Door Fallacy occurs when a long-standing dangerous or risky phenomenon finally results in a well-publicized fallacy, and then, and only then, do legislatures and regulators rush to eliminate the problem that should have been apparent from the start. Often the new laws and regulations that “close the barn door” are excessively rigid or restictive : that door has to be slammed shut, and then nailed and bolted, even though that once in a lifetime tragedy has already occurred. From Ethics Alarms:

Society…and the public saddle themselves with expensive, inconvenient, often inefficient measures designed to respond to the rare event. One shoe bomber, and millions of passengers have to remove their shoes to go through airport security. One adulterated bottle of Tylenol, and every over-the-counter drug bottle requires a razor blade and the manual dexterity of a piano virtuoso to open. Two sick boys shoot up Columbine, so third graders get suspended for bringing squirt–guns to school.

Sometimes, regulators and legislators grandstand as they slam the door, hoping nobody will remember that they left it wide open and gaping for an unconscionable length of time. Continue reading

An Ethics Train Wreck So Dumb That I’m Embarrassed To Have To Write About It…

…but, as Hyman Roth said, “This is the life we have chosen.”

The train wreck farce unfolds in three acts:

Act I, Scene One: Iowa’s Carson King, 24,  was seen on “ESPN College GameDay”  holding up a moronic sign in a football game crowd that read, “Busch Light supply need replenished. Venmo Carson-King-25.”  That isn’t comprehensible English even by stadium sign standards. Needs to be replenished? Needs replenishment? Giving people positive reinforcement for being illiterate is irresponsible, and makes the public stupid.

Act I, Scene Two: People actually sent money to King’s beer fund on Venmo. With all the really desperate people in this country and all the legitimate objects of charity, this boob’s scrawled plea for beer money struck a chord. People sent in contributions who would normally sneer at homeless people begging on the street.

Act I, Scene Three:  Venmo and Anheuser-Busch, seeing a promotional opportunity, both  pledged to match  donations to Kings “Help me be a drunk!” fund. The sign raised $1.14 million.

Now comes the one moment of reason and ethics in the tale: King decided to donate the money to  the   University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.  Act I ended on a positive note.

Intermission. Continue reading

Greta Thunberg Ethics

Aw, isn’t she cute! And she has advanced degrees in climate science and computer…no? She doesn’t? Then what the hell are we listening to her for?

Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg has set sail in a zero-emissions yacht for a two-week journey across the Atlantic Ocean to speak at the UN’s climate summit. This is, of course, embarrassing and ridiculous for the U.N., and for adults everyone. Thunberg , who is 16,  founded the student climate-strike movement. As with Greta’s US equivalent, the Parkland anti-gun scold Parkland kids, Thunberg has nothing to recommend her as a legitimate authority on anything. She has multiple learning disabilities; she has no training in climate science or physics beyond what would be serviceable in a high school science fair. All she has is certitude, which is a hallmark of childhood and innocence as well as progressive, and a willingness to be exploited, sort of like Joan of Arc.

That’s not a bad comp, really. As Brendan O’Neill writes in Spiked, Continue reading

Evening Ethics Cool-Down, 8/12/2019: Invasion! Exaggeration! Extreme Injustice!

Did you have an ethical day?

Ethics are cool, you know.

(So was Bing…)

1. The New York Times this morning, apparently determined to double down on the deliberately dishonest assertion that El Paso’s Walmart shooter was channeling the sentiments of “right wing pundits” and the President, plastered a tiny print excerpt from the manifesto—which, last I checked, it has still refused to publish in complete or readable form—on the front page, with the word “invasion” highlighted every time it appeared. As I wrote in Part Two of the Ethics Alarms’ post about the screed (and the news media’s unconscionable conspiracy to withhold it from the public while journalists misrepresent its contents…)

“Yes, it is true that both President Trump and the shooter use the term “invasion,” and to many critics this single convergence is sufficient to claim that the President is “responsible” for the El Paso shooting. “Invasion” is a word, not a theory or a philosophy, and the two apply it differently. President Trump has used it to describe illegal immigration, for which it is a defensible, if inflammatory, description.

Describing legal immigration as an invasion is not defensible—invasions are not legal—and is materially different. Ironically, it is the President’s foes, who intentionally refuse to distinguish between the validity of illegal and legal immigration—just like the shooter!—who have spread the lie that the President has called immigration itself “an invasion.”

Invasion is a loaded and pejorative term, but still a fair and accurate one. Illegal immigration advocates don’t like it because the term frames the unlawful migration as destructive and wrong, which it is. The word is not misleading, as the illegal immigration apologists ‘ use of “immigration” to describe illegal immigration, and “immigrants” (or “migrants”) to describe illegals is. Nor is it deceptive, like calling support for ending the lives of unborn children support for “choice,” or calling the President’s statements “racist: when they meet no definition of racism, or calling thge standard law enforcement procedure of separating children from law-breaking parents when the parents have brought their children along as they breached the law, “putting children in cages.” The obsession with “invasion” is both hypocritical and petulant: it’s a more powerful and more accurate framing of an issue than the progressive cover-words. Yesterday a Level-5 Trump-Deranged Facebook friend started using the word “inaction” as a substitute for “The Second Amendment,” “individual rights,” and the refusal to pass useless, symbolic, incremental laws in hopes of eventually reaching gun confiscation—the real objective. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 7/27/19: Updates And News!

Saturday morning came!!

At points yesterday I was beginning to have doubts…

1. A win’s a win, and right is right, but the ACLU outs itself again.  In the wake of the SCOTUS 5-4 decision to let stand the executive order reallocating funds for a wall to address the national emergency at the border and allow construction to commence, the ACLU flagged its own bias (though it is supposed to be non-partisan) by referring to the wall in a statement as “xenophobic.”

Its lawsuit was based on alleged environmental harm risked by the wall’s construction, but the use of that word, a deliberately dishonest characterization that can only mean an endorsement of open borders , proves that the lawsuit is a sham, using environmental concerns to mask a pro-illegal immigration agenda, which most of the public opposes….as they should.

Merits of the wall aside, the game Democrats are playing with this issue, calling for undefined “comprehensive immigration reform” while opposing enforcement and refusing to recognize a genuine emergency to keep the President from a political victory, is electoral suicide. (Yet most of the field of Democratic challengers have endorsed decriminalization of border breaching, which is like an invitation to invade. Madness. Even Hispanic-Americans oppose this.)

A blind pig can find a truffle or two, and on this existential issue, the President has law, history, sovereignty, the national interest and common sense on his side.

2.  A clueless harasser gets a second chance.   Neil deGrasse Tyson, the pop-culture astrophysicist who leads the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, has been cleared to continue in his job  after the museum competed  an investigation into three sexual misconduct accusations against him. Continue reading

Slow Friday Ethics Pick-Me-Up, 7/19/2019: The Chant, The View, The Times, The Recidivist, The Fire, The Comic

Let’s see…what’s percolating today?

1. Do they even teach the First Amendment any more? I wonder how many of the Trump supporters who chanted “Send her back!” regarding Rep. Omar were doing so tongue in cheek, and realized that the U.S. can’t “send back” naturalized citizens? I admit that I’m rather afraid of the answer.

Yes, there’s a big difference between the President’s “why don’t they go back” line in his stupid tweets and “send her back,” but there’s no way he can escape some accountability for the ugly chant. He now says he disagrees with it, and except for those who will always assume the worst motives in this President, there is no reason to doubt that; after all, if he believed she should be “sent back,” he would have tweeted as much himself.

Of course, when network-anointed “experts” on social policy and politics like the ladies of “The View” broadcast ignorance of the First Amendment to their loyal and gullible audience, it doesn’t help. Co-host Joy Behar—is she the dumbest one on the panel? I think so— asked yesterday why President Trump had yet to face any legal consequences for “hate speech” directed at Democratic Rep. Omar, blathering, “Why can’t he be brought up on charges of hate speech?Why can’t he be sued by the ACLU for hate speech? I don’t get it. How does he get away with this?”

“Hate speech is tricky,”  was the best that cowardly former federal prosecutor Sunny Hostin could muster to clarify matters, making things worse. There is no such thing as “hate speech” in the law, which means it is more than “tricky,” it is a delusion, unless one means “hateful speech,” which can be a subjective definition, but is nonetheless protected by the Constitution.

If ABC were a responsible network, a comment like Behar’s should trigger an instant on-air intervention in which a team of law professors, judges and maybe a literate 6th grader or two burst onto the set and explain to this fool what freedom of speech means. Continue reading

“Reputation Laundering” And The Dirty Money Fallacy

Meharry Medical College is a 143-year-old historically black institution in Tennessee. Last week it announced that it had received the second-largest grant in its history, a $7.5 million gift to study public health issues that affect African-Americans.

But the gift has prompted attacks from African-American health experts and activists. The source of the funds, Juul Labs, is the fast-growing e-cigarette company and partially owned by the tobacco giant Altria. “Juul is cozying up to the black community, and that makes it harder for some parts of the black community to call them out on their targeting of African-Americans,” says Sharon Y. Eubanks, who is an advisory board member of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California. By “targeting African-Americans”, she means that the company and Altria market its completely legal products to blacks (among other groups), who choose to buy them. [Full disclosure: I worked as an ethics consultant for Altria for many years, and enjoyed the relationship tremendously. Altria was the reason I shaved my head.]

According to the NAACP’s Youth Against Menthol campaign, about 85 percent of African-American smokers aged 12 and older smoke menthol cigarettes, compared with 29 percent of white smokers, and Juul markets menthol pods while Altria markets menthol versions of its cigarettes, like Marboro.  And how, exactly, is the African -American community helped if Meharry,  the nation’s largest medical research center at a historically black institution, refuses the Juul grant to demonstrate, well, something?

You got me. This, however, is part of a growing fad among the virtuous and the “woke”—refusing to allow organizations, entities and families that they have decided are bad from using  alleged ill-gotten gains to do good. Continue reading