From The Book Of Great Stupid: Pat Benatar’s Virtue-Signaling Self-Censorship

It is kind of sad, really. So many progressive ideologues are so bereft of persuasive arguments, real facts and non-emotion-based analysis that they must resort to a paltry supply of tools, most of which are unethical: insults, fear-mongering, intimidation, race-baiting, bullying, protests and rioting, and attempted restriction of speech and expression. It is the last that is the topic here at the moment, and an especially stupid example.

Senior rock singer Pat Benatar now refuses to perform her hit song “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” as a protest against mass shootings. That song is 42 years old, and, correct me if I’m wrong, but is the song Benatar is most associated with. Her refusing to sing “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” is like Andy Williams refusing to sing “Moon River.” But you see, in increasingly delusional Woke Land, eliminating words, pictures and song lyrics that relate to bad things, event, people, places and things, like guns and shooting, is a step toward making everyone “safe.”

Except that “hit me with your best shot” doesn’t refer to guns or shooting at all, but never mind: anything to signal virtue, however moronically. Benatar is removing a popular, indeed classic piece of popular culture to accomplish absolutely nothing constructive at all, while standing for the fatuous proposition that banning artistic works that mention guns ( even though her song doesn’t) will help address the problem of homicidal gunmen. Or maybe her idea is to hold her own song hostage until the Second Amendment is repealed.

Hmmm…is that a more or less stupid theory than the first one?

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Tuesday Morning Ethics Warm-Up. 7/19/2022: Harvard, Redheads, Uvalde, Bad House Guests And More

A lot of people find images like this, and the motto, offensive, presumably because of the association with Ronald Reagan, who brilliantly appropriated optimistic patriotism as a conservative value in response to Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” vision of the nation. Being negatively triggered by one’s own flag and expressions of pride and enthusiasm regarding the nation it represents is not a healthy state of mind, and therefore it is unethical conduct to actively promote such an attitude…which we now see being done every day.

1. It may be unethical, but Harvard at least has gall…In April, Harvard University set out to exceed its previous record for virtue signaling, committing $100 million to “redress its ties to slavery” after a report concluded that slavery played an “integral” role in shaping the University. This is the Cambridge version of reparations, and the flagrant act of misusing donated non-profit funds wasn’t even controversial. The whole board signed on without dissent, which shows how Borg-like the Harvard leadership is. “Diversity” of thought when wokeness is at issue is not welcome. In this month’s alumni magazine, amusingly, Harvard begs for contributions to keep the magazine operating at a high level (it is an excellent alumni magazine), as if  tossing away 100 million dollars on non-educational matters didn’t make the appeal ridiculous. As one contrarian alum noted in a letter to the editor, if Harvard can give away all that money to assuage its conscience about supporting and benefiting long ago from a legal and predominant practice that had gone on for centuries, “it doesn’t need mine.”

In other damning news from Old Ivy, the Harvard  web site calls Students For Fair Admissions v. Harvard,  currently pending before the Supreme Court, as a “politically motivated lawsuit.”  That’s the case in which Asian-American students allege that Harvard discriminates against them (like it discriminates against whites) in its admissions policies.  The web site states, “Harvard College does not discriminate against applicants from any group in its admission processes.” This is pure “it isn’t what it is” gaslighting. One can argue that affirmative action, which is the real issue  in the case, should continue and that it passes ethical standards via utilitarian balancing, but it cannot be denied that  the practice isn’t discrimination. The statement is a lie. Continue reading

Lapsed Sunday Sundown Ethics, 6/12-13/2022: Something!

[I hate when this happens: I had yesterday’s ethics short (well, shorter) notes almost ready to post,  things got complicated, and now it’s the next day. Well, I like that sundown photo, so to hell with it.]

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There are not too many speeches that have had a tangible impact on world events, but June 12 is the anniversary of one of them:  President Reagan challenging Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” in 1987.  Two years later, on November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall came down. Liberals and left-leaning historians disliked Reagan so much that to this day they deny him his well-earned credit for undermining Soviet communism. On the anniversary of his death last week, Twitter was full of ugly, vicious attacks on his achievements and character. Nothing inspires hate more than someone who proves that your fondest beliefs are garbage. Here is what Reagan said to the crowd of West Berliners:

“There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace.” He then called upon his Soviet counterpart: “Secretary General Gorbachev, if you seek peace—if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe—if you seek liberalization: come here, to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

All delivered, as usual, with the skills of a professional and experienced actor.

1. Ugh. Why is the principle of moral luck so elusive? A baseball controversy erupted in Chicago last week because ancient and “old school” White Sox manager Tony LaRussa intentionally walked Dodgers shortstop Trea Turner with a runner on second base  and a count of one ball and two strikesin order to have relief pitcher Bennett Sousa face Max Muncy instead. Muncy promptly hit a three-run home run to give the Dodgers a 10-5 lead in a game they would eventually win 11-9. A live microphone  caught one fan yelling “He’s got two strikes, Tony!” and “Tony, what are you doing?” before Muncy homered. The intentional walk is a baseball strategy that has largely gone into disuse because statistics don’t support it except in very specific situations. The White Sox have been a disappointing team so far this season, and that tactic by LaRussa seemed to catalyze a fan consensus that he is too old, behind the times, and the reason for the team’s performance. (He was booed in Chicago the last two games, and also faced “Fire Tony!” chants.)

So here comes ESPN’s esteemed David Schoenfield to write, “Now, to be fair here, the pounding on La Russa is also a little unfair. If Muncy strikes out, it looks like a good move.”

No, no, NO, you idiot! Whether or not the tactic is a wise one must be determined when it is executed, not after its results are known. La Russa had no control over whether Muncy homered or struck out once he had ordered the intentional base on balls. What a third party, or subsequent events, do cannot change whether a decision was competent or incompetent. That’s just luck. Continue reading

Ethics Point Made

I try to avoid memes, but attention must be paid  to this photo of his own garden by conservative blogger Charles Glasser. It appealed to me for several reasons:

1. Our home is next to an elementary school with a prominent “Gun Free Zone” notice.

2. Our neighborhood has had a sudden explosion of the bunny population, much to Spuds’ delight.

3. The “Gun Free Zone” is one of the better examples of foolish virtue-signaling, useless regulations regarding firearms, and general incompetence and dishonesty among the anti-gun crowd. Glasser’s sign will have exactly as much deterrence effect as a “Gun Free Zone” sign would have had on any of the school shooters.

4. It demonstrates the value of “Do something!” solutions.

And don’t get me started talking about the armed bunnies…

There are several comments on the post like this one:

“You need to follow that sign up with a response policy. If a bunny does invade that garden, rather than frighten it off or shoot it, you must stand around discussing what to do for at least an hour while the bunny munches away.”

Update: The Great Stupid Meets The Sandy Hook Ethics Train Wreck

This really is like one of the old horror movies, but scarier, and real. I have no idea what to do about it. The sudden and, though no one wants to admit it, coincidental wave of shooting episodes last month (and bleeding into this one, literally) might as well have been part of a conspiracy to freak-out the American public and  cowardly lawmakers into surrendering the Constitutional right to bear arms in self-defense.

As always, our democracy’s Achilles heel is public ignorance, and the anti-gun news media and the usual demagogues have done a bang-up job this time around of both exploiting the ignorance and adding to it. It is especially ironic that the same side of the ideological spectrum taking aim at the First Amendment with its cynical attacks on “disinformation,””misinformation” and “hate speech” are engaging in all three daily, indeed almost hourly, in order to finally crush the Second Amendment rights of law abiding and responsible citizens—so the people who pay no attention to laws anyway will somehow be dissuaded from gun violence.

Good plan!

The escalated assualt is simultaneously dumb, intellectually dishonest and unethical…but effective. And it is coming from all directions all at once, like the fast zombies in “World War Z,” as long as we’re using horror film analogies. In my annoyed and fevered state, I can’t even organize all of it coherently, so I’m going to resort to bullet points for now:

  • As I predicted when the Uvalde shooting first was reported, the Barn Door Fallacy is in full swing. The shooter was 18, so banning gun sales to anyone under 21 is one of the most popular “Do something!” measures, because the law will go back in time and stop Ramos from murdering all those kids. That’s because he bought his guns; never mind that Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook shooter, was also under 21, and just took his mother’s guns to go on his rampage. Since the privileges and responsibilities of adulthood mostly attach when one turns 18, the sudden conclusion that 18-year-olds are dangerously irresponsible lacks integrity and consistency. Is there a line there, or not? Why there? Why are people allowed to vote for who makes laws when we think they can’t be trusted to obey them? What’s magic about 21? If two or three shooters are over 21 and under 25, will “Do something!” mean that the right to own a gun will be limited again?

The Stupid! It BURNSSSS!

  • The lies (disinformation/misinformation/lazy, careless or deliberate confusion of terms and deceit) make fair and informed debate impossible. Semi-automatic rifles are called automatic weapons, “AR-15-style” is used without clarification; “weapons of war” is scary and useful as a cognitive dissonance trigger but meaningless; “assault weapon” has no agreed-upon meaning, other than “bad.” Those who wield this fog of language literally don’t care about meanings and definitions…
  • …bringing us to “comprehensive background checks,” another “Do something” trope. What does “comprehensive” mean? Under U.S. law, federally licensed gun dealers, importers and manufacturers must run background checks for all sales to unlicensed buyers. The law bans firearm transfers to anyone convicted of a felony or committed to a mental institution. But a private seller without a federal license doesn’t need to meet the same requirement. “Comprehensive” apparently means making private sales involve background checks as well; it also could involve adding more—much more—details about a purchaser to “check.” Regarding the latter, you don’t have to be paranoid to wonder what those details could entail.
  • Regarding the former: how would (or could) a private gun transfer background check law be enforced? Such laws would place a serious burden on the seller. What if I had a cash emergency and wanted to sell my WWII German Luger to a collector friend who had always admired it? Getting the background check would take too much time for my urgent cash needs. I know and trust the collector. If he doesn’t pay, take my gun and shoot up a school, how would the government ever find out about the transaction? Unenforceable laws are deceptive, pretending to be something they are not—effective. That’s unethical.
  • In order to pursue the (batty) argument that its the guns and not the sociopathic, law-defying, violent and often crazy people who use them that are the problem, the anti-gun mob is denying that the mental health of shooters is a primary issue. (This goes along, strangely enough, with the “blood on their hands” attacks on Republicans, arguing that they have not supported significant spending on mental health treatment—which continues to be hit-and-miss no matter how much money we throw at it.) Here’s the LA Times:

Blaming mental illness for mass shootings inflicts a damaging stigma on the millions of people who suffer from clinical afflictions, the vast majority of whom are not violent. Extensive research shows the link between mental illness and violent behavior is small and not useful for predicting violent acts; people with diagnosable conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are in fact far more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violence.

This is Yoo’s Rationalization, “It isn’t what it is,” to the max. People who are not mentally ill do not shoot up schools. They do not go on shooting sprees that are certain to get them killed themselves. They do not shoot people “to get famous.” Mass shooters, like serial killers are, by definition, nuts. Laws are not likely to stop them.

  • And then we have “red flag” laws, which the public tends to like in polls because, as with so many of the “do something” measures, respondents have not thought about what they are or mean.  These are laws that the government could easily expand to remove rights from citizens who have done nothing illegal, or who have engaged in conduct in the past that has been dealt with and is over with. “Red flag laws” are pre-crime punishment, and should be ruled unconstitutional, though there is no guarantee they would be.
  • Polls that do nothing but sum up mass ignorance and manipulated uninformed opinion are being used as authorities. Mother Jones (I know, I know) got all excited about s new poll published by CBS News that “found” that “three quarters of Americans believe we can prevent mass shootings if we prioritize the goal of doing so.” In other words, “Do something!” How do we stop illegal gun violence? “Prioritize it!” Oh! More than climate change? “Well, maybe not more than climate change.” More than inflation? “Well, no, inflation is killing us.” More than fighting “systemic racism”? Oh, no, nothing’s more important than fighting that! More than abortion? “Are you kidding! That’s the most important of all!” So “doing something” about gun violence is, at best, fifth on our list of priorities, even from the perspective of the Left…which means it’s not going to be “prioritized.”
  • Meanwhile, the public is being fed lies by the President of the United States. “We should repeal the liability shield that often protects gun manufacturers from being sued for the death and destruction caused by their weapons,” Biden said in his hysterical “do something” speech last week. “They’re the only industry in this country that has that kind of immunity. Imagine. Imagine if the tobacco industry had been immune from being sued, where we’d be today. The gun industry’s special protections are outrageous. It must end.”

Ugh. Cigarettes are a consumer product that caused death and illness to uninformed users who had been deceived by manufacturers. If a driver uses a car to murder someone, can General Motors be sued? No. If someone beats in their wife’s brains with a baseball bat, can Hillerich and Bradsby be sued? No! Manufacturers are liable when their products are faulty and negligently produced. They are not liable, and should not be liable, when a purchaser uses the product illegally or negligently. All products have “that kind of immunity,” but when anti-gun zealots devised the idea of suing gun manufacturers anyway, a 2005 law called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which shields gun companies from lawsuits based on the unlawful acts people commit using their products.

At the risk of repeating myself, “Ugh.” The Great Stupid and the Sandy Hook Ethics Train Wreck alliance is going to be much harder to fight off than Frankenstein’s Monster and the Wolf Man.

Note To Gov. DeSantis: The Tampa Bay Rays Are Not The Same As Disney

I defended Gov. Ron DeSantis’s cancellation of Disney’s long-standing special status with the state of Florida, because, ethically, partners shouldn’t publicly attack partners without consequences, and because Disney’s privilege of self-government was in great part a product of the company bolstering core American values and a family-friendly culture. No, I pointed out more than once, this was not a case of a corporation being singled out to be punished for a political position the state opposed, but a situation where special benefits could no longer be justified if Disney was no longer going to hold up its end of the original mutually-beneficial deal of yore, which could be reasonably seen as “You don’t meddle in our business, and we won’t meddle in yours.” Moreover, giving Disney special benefits that other theme parks in the state didn’t have could not be justified as fair and reasonable any longer.

It now appears that I may have been giving Gov. DeSantis more credit than he deserved, and that his slap at Disney was, at least in part, an example of a state government punishing a company for a political position it had every right to hold, state, and act upon. Yesterday we learned that DeSantis intends to veto a $35 million bill for Florida to pay for a Pasco County facility that would serve as for the Tampa Bay Rays’ spring training home. The reason is, apparently, the baseball team’s public message above.

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Comment Of The Day: “Update On The Uvalde Massacre Extension Of The Sandy Hook Ethics Train Wreck, Part 5…”

Michael provides some much needed perspective (legally correct, too) on gun control issues in the wake of the Memorial Day weekend freak-out on the topic. You can read the Heller case here. It is amazing how many people (and pundits) shooting off their unregulated mouths on the topic of guns have never bothered to read the SCOTUS opinion that constitutes the latest boundaries on the Second Amendment.

Here is Michael’s Comment of the Day on this post:

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Let’s get something correct in the debate about regulation of firearms.

Heller, often cited, does NOT preclude regulation. In fact, Justice Scalia’s (certainly not a left-wing progressive, rather a proponent of originalism) opinion suggests the contrary. Toward the end of the Heller opinion, he states “the problem of handgun violence in this country” is real and the government has “a variety of tools for combating that problem, including some measures regulating handguns.” The Constitutional requirement of Heller is that the government may not disarm citizens in their homes. Justice Scalia recognized regulations of several types of government regulation as presumptively lawful: “conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms,” bans on carrying weapons in “sensitive places,” and he noted the “historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’” See (for example) the FDR era laws that restricted guns presumed to be the type used in mob violence. Continue reading

What’s This? An Unemotional, Unbiased, Rational Analysis Of The Gun Debate In The Wake Of The Uvalde Shooting?

Indeed. Not surprisingly, it comes from the fertile mind of Prof. Eugene Volokh, proprietor of the esteemed legal scholarship blog The Volokh Conspiracy, now hanging out at Reason, after a brief residency at the Washington Post a long tenure as an independent site. Volokh takes his cue from the recent story, predictably buried by the mainstream media but fortuitously timed in the wake of the tragedy in Texas, of a gun-owning and legally-carrying woman in West Virginia who was attending a party when a man who began firing an AR-15-style rifle into the crowd. She drew her weapon and shot him dead before anyone was wounded.

Volokh asks,

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On The Uvalde School Shooting

Yesterday’s murder of children and teachers at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde doesn’t require an ethics verdict. The shooter was a monster, by any rational definition. The reactions and public statements provoked by the tragedy do require ethics verdicts, and they are largely the same. There was an immediate rush to embrace appeals to emotion, excusable with regular citizens, irresponsible for public officials, celebrities, and anyone who has enhanced influence in society.

Particularly revolting was how much was assumed or declared before the facts were known…and there still isn’t enough known, which shouldn’t be surprising since less than 24 hours passed. There are some things we can assume, however. We can assume that there will be another media-fueled freakout more or less exactly like the reaction to the Parkland shooting, but even more extreme because Democrats are desperate to find a distraction from the markers of their incompetence and failures before a reckoning can occur in November. We can assume—indeed we have already seen—that the exact same cliches, vague nostrums and deceitful statistics will reappear and be repeated, and from the same agents. I assume Don Lemon will be weeping soon on CNN, if he hasn’t already.

Primarily, I assume that the Barn Door Fallacy will take over, like it did after the Oklahoma City bombing, 9-11-01, and the George Floyd fiasco. The public, law makers, demagogues, pundits and news media will clamor for and maybe cause to come to pass draconian measures that will make life and society in the USA less free, less healthy, less conducive to human interaction, more expensive, more inconvenient, and more generally rotten, on the theory that a random catastrophe authored by a small number of human aberrations can be retroactively prevented. Barack Obama’s fatuous “if it saves one human life” nonsense will again make sense. The hope is that this tragedy creates an opportunity to eliminate obstacles to other Democratic policies. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) said the quiet part out loud: “Abolish the filibuster and pass gun safety legislation now.”

If I permitted myself to respond to this near-certainty in kind, I would write something like the audacious conservative assassin Ace of Spades posted this morning…

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Oops! So Much For That Gun Confiscation Plan…

SCOTUS cartoon

…at least until they pack the Supreme Court, of course….but with lackeys, not liberals.

The Biden Administration, eager to pave the way for the gun confiscation it claims it never would dream of, is eager to expand the “community caretaking” exception from a 1973 case, Cady v. Dombrowski, in which an officer took a gun out of an impounded car without a warrant. The Supreme Court ruled then that police could conduct such warrantless searches as a “community caretaking function” as long as they did so in a “reasonable” manner.

Since the Progressive Borg considers “sensible gun controls” inherently reasonable, and since they (it?) regards the Second Amendment as inherently dangerous to the community, the government argued that“community caretaking” should extend to homes as well as cars.

A Rhode Island man, Edward Caniglia, sued after police officers searched his home and seized two handguns without a warrant in 2015. During an argument with his wife, Caniglia had placed a handgun on the dining room table and asked her to “shoot [him] and get it over with.” His wife left and called the police the next day. She was worried that her husband had shot himself. The police found Caniglia on his porch, alive. He agreed to go to the hospital for psychiatric evaluation “on the condition that the officers would not confiscate his firearms.” But when he did, the police searched his home anyway, and seized his gun.

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