Ethics Quiz: Now THIS Is An Irresponsible Mother! So…

A 4-year-old Detroit girl is in critical condition after being shot in the arm and leg. Her mother is in custody: first she said that her daughter was wounded in an attempted robbery, then she admitted that her gun went off accidentally while she was cleaning it.

Twice.

Now, this ethics quiz is based on the facts as the mother stated them. According to the reports, there are many reasons to doubt what she is now claiming—for example, police say the girl’s mother said the firearm was inside the apartment, but they did not find any gun there after getting a warrant and searching. But let’s assume, arguendo, as lawyers say, that she is telling the truth. Let’s also assume that she isn’t crazy or a drug addict.

According to the ATF, these are the conditions under which a citizen can lose the Second Amendment Right To Bear Arms:

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Ethics Dunce And Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky)

Massie photo

Res ipsa loquitur and signature significance, all in a family Christmas card.

Wow.

Rep. Massie posted that heart-warming Christmas scene just four days after the Michigan school shooting, which came to pass because another family was so gun happy that it deliberately put a semi-automatic in the hands of a 15-year-old and allowed him to return to class after clear signs that he had murder on his mind.

Merry Christmas!

I don’t have space on the blog to detail all of what’s wrong with that photo, but here’s a brief summary:

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“Rust,” Guns, And The Barn Door Fallacy

Barn door

The Barn Door Fallacy drives me crazy, and right now a particularly absurd outbreak of it is underway. The phenomenon, named after the old saw about “locking the barn door after the horse is gone,” is the product of pure emotionalism trumping reality: take extreme measures after a rare and perhaps preventable (though not necessarily) tragedy or accident as if doing so will change the fact that the unfortunate event happened. The “defund the police” madness was an obvious example: see, if there are no police, no police officer will ever unjustly kill an unarmed black man ever again! Problem solved! Brilliant!

These over-reactions are many things, all of them wrong. They are virtue-signalling by public officials who care less about solving a real problem than showing their empathy and outrage at something that “shouldn’t have happened.” They are irresponsible, because they advocate rushing into radical “solutions” to problems that are magnified by the proximity of the tragic event, and because the barn door fallacy advocates usually are insufficiently knowledgeable, often shockingly ignorant, in fact, regarding what they are grandstanding about. Moreover, the nostrums frequently are fueled by logical fallacies and rationalizations, such as “We have to do something!” and “If it saves just one life…!”

Much of the time, measures inspired by the Barn Door Fallacy make many things worse without making anything better. That is the likely result of the current Bran Door Fallacy freakout over the fatal gun accident on the set of “Rust,” in which a prop gun wielded by the movie’s star and producer, Alec Baldwin, fired a bullet that killed one and wounded another.

Now many in the movie industry are demanding that real guns be banned from all movie productions. Dozens of cinematographers have signed a pledge not to work on projects using functional firearms. A state lawmaker in California is drafting legislation that would ban operational firearms from sets.

Now, here’s a quiz: how many deaths from firearms have occurred on movie or TV production sets in the last, say, 50 years? Think about all the hundreds, thousands of gun battles and shootouts you have seen or know about. How many shooting deaths?

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Memorial Day Ethics Warm-Up, 5/31/2021…

It will be interesting to see if the news media discusses the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 any more this May 31 than it has in the past. Discussing this horrible mass murder of blacks in Oklahoma over Memorial Day weekend has always been seen as sufficiently tasteless that the story has suffered the equivalent of a historical airbrushing. When did you first learn about it? I didn’t encounter the episode in elementary school, high school, college or law school. I was 50, and furiously researching the life of Clarence Darrow so I could churn out a one man show (that was already in rehearsal) after Leslie Nielsen pulled the rights we had paid for on the Darrow show performed on Broadway by Henry Fonda. I was looking for the context of Darrow’s epic closing argument in the Sweet case (1925), in which he referenced examples of white mob violence against blacks. That was my introduction to the tragedy. How was this possible? I was and am a voracious consumer of American history, movies, and television. Yet the facts of the Tulsa Race Massacre never entered my consciousness.

Here’s one useful resource…there are many others available online. A brief summary: After World War I, Tulsa’s African American community was notable for its affluence. The Greenwood District was known as “Black Wall Street.” But on May 30, 1921, an incident between a white woman and a black man on an elevator—nobody knows exactly what happened—was reported in the Tulsa newspapers as an attempted rape. The young African-American, Dick Rowland, had been arrested, and members of the community believed that he might be lynched. When an angry white mob gathered in front of the courthouse, a group of over 70 back men, some of them World War I veterans with weapons, confronted them. A gun went off in a struggled, and chaos descended on Greenwood. A white mob of thousands overran the Greenwood District, shooting unarmed black citizens in the streets. It burned an area of some 35 city blocks, and more than 1,200 houses, numerous businesses, a school, a hospital and a dozen churches. It is estimated that 300 people were killed in the rampage, though official counts at the time were much lower. 300 is the same death toll as the 1871 Chicago fire. I knew about that tragedy by the time I was 8.

1. IIPTDXTTNMIAFB! That’s short for “Imagine if President Trump did X that the news media is accepting from Biden…”, introduced here. The current example: during a speech at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Langley,Virginia two days ago, President Biden began spontaneously complimenting a pre-teen girl who had joined her parents and two older brothers on the stage after her mother had introduced Biden to the crowd. Biden said, inappropriately and creepily, “ I love those barrettes in your hair, man. I tell you what, look at her. She looks like she’s 19 years old sitting there like a little lady with her legs crossed.” Republicans pounced, as the MSM cliche goes whenever Democrats are legitimately criticized. The episode was barely mentioned by the media dedicated to propping up Biden—that is, almost all of it—at all. IIPTDXTTNMIAFB…and President Trump didn’t even have a photographically preserved series of encounters like this:

Creepy-Joe-Biden-President

2. AHHHH! It’s a virus ! Get a gun!!! The headline on the front page of the NYT website yesterday read, “Pandemic Fuels Surge in U.S. Gun Sales ‘Unlike Anything We’ve Ever Seen.'” Incredible. People bought guns for the first time because rioting was going on all over the country, and in many places the police were doing little or nothing to stop it. Buildings were burning and being looted; citizens were being threatened. Who gets a gun to fight a pandemic? (There was never any threat of the kind of civic breakdown from the virus like that portrayed in the movie “Contagion.” Toilet paper riots?)

The degree to which the Times—the “paper of record’!—continues to distort reality to mislead the public and warp public opinion is astounding. Later in the same article, the Times said, “While gun sales have been climbing for decades — they often spike in election years and after high-profile crimes — Americans have been on an unusual, prolonged buying spree fueled by the coronavirus pandemic, the protests last summer and the fears they both stoked.”

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Pandemic Ethics Potpourri: Spring Cleaning, Chapter 1

My files of potential and ongoing ethics stories and issues involving the Wuhan virus outbreak are stuffed to overflowing. I’m not going to have time to do the full posts many of these deserve, and the rest risk dropping into oblivion. Here is the first of several collections that will at least flag issues while allowing me to keep current…

1. Golf and the virus…

  • Three Massachusetts golfing enthusiasts, blocked from the links in their own state , were charged with misdemeanors in Rhode Island after going to extraordinary lengths to sneak into that state to hit the little white balls around. Rhode Island has issued a directive requiring all travelers to quarantine themselves for 14 days after entering the state. Gregory Corbett, 51, Tyler Pietrzyk, 22, and Nye Cameron, 22, determined to make it to the Meadow Brook Golf Course drove from Massachusetts to the smallest state, changed cars in a McDonald’s parking lot, and proceeded to the golf course with Rhode Island-issued plates to the club.
  • Right: right, we’re all in this together. Here’s Michigan Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel in two tweets:

2. When the going gets tough, the tough get race-baiting. Black Americans are experiencing a significantly higher percentage of infections and deaths than other demographic groups, especially in big cities. There are many likely reasons for this, but this one is infuriating: Continue reading

Distance Learning Ethics: A Student Shows A Gun From His Home, And The School Freaks Out

“Look, Mom! Billy has a cool crossbow!”

In the first weeks of compelled distance learning in many school districts, schools encountered many issued that should have been anticipated but were not.

One student at Montgomery County, Maryland’s Albert Einstein High School horrified officials—I haven’t been able to determine what the students thought–by showing a gun. The gun was legally purchased’ the gun wasn’t loaded. No threats were made. Nonetheless , the school seemed to think that it had authority and leave to take action.

Montgomery County Public Schools Spokesperson Gboyinde Onijala told local news media that the school system is not going to tolerate anything online they wouldn’t allow in the classroom.

“For any student of ours who thinks, ‘Oh because it’s online learning, there aren’t disciplinary actions they can take,’ and they actually have that wrong. And as we spelled out very clearly to our message to the community this morning,” said Onijala. Indeed, now the school system says it will be taking disciplinary action, though Montgomery County Police announced that they did not charge the 17-year-old  who displayed the weapon.

Gee, that’s comforting. Thanks, Big Brother! Exactly what would the police charge the student with? I don’t think the school has any basis to discipline the student either, and if I was the student’s parent, I would not accept any punishment at all from that source, or the police, of course. The option of punishments would be mine, because the offense occurred on my turf, the offense being  handling my gun. Continue reading

Monday Morning Ethics, 3/30/2020: As Another Fun Week Looms…

Yes, I’ve been thinking about this episode (“The Shinning”) of “The Simpsons” a lot lately…

Of course, in my case, I’m writing on the walls, “No baseball, no seminars make Jack Go Crazy!”

1. And speaking of people going crazy: the various anti-gun mayors and governors who are arguing that gun stores are “non-essential” are displaying their irrational Second Amendment phobia, much like Ohio and Texas attempting to prohibit abortions as “non-essential” surgery. The ability to self-arm is more essential at times of social disruption than usual. Looting and attacks on homes are just around the corner as resources dwindle and people become desperate, and we already have plenty of evidence that irresponsible, anti-social and unstable members of the public are not as rare as we might wish. The comparisons of the Wuhan virus crisis to zombie scenarios (as in “World War Z”) are invitations to hysteria, but in one respect the analogy is apt. Guns are useful tools to have around in both situations.

2. Good. From CNN:

The Justice Department has started to probe a series of stock transactions made by lawmakers ahead of the sharp market downturn stemming from the spread of coronavirus, according to two people familiar with the matter. The inquiry, which is still in its early stages and being done in coordination with the Securities and Exchange Commission, has so far included outreach from the FBI to at least one lawmaker, Sen. Richard Burr, seeking information about the trades, according to one of the sources. Public scrutiny of the lawmakers’ market activity has centered on whether members of Congress sought to profit from the information they obtained in non-public briefings about the virus epidemic.

And if this causes the Republicans to lose control of the Senate, they deserve it. Burr, in particular, should resign now. He should not be allowed to run for re-election.

3. I would think that this is a slippery slope we don’t want to get on… Continue reading

The Return Of The Finger Gun

 

If finger guns are made illegal, only those with fingers will have guns. No, wait..if fingers that can be be made into guns are illegal, only criminals will have fingers. No, that can’t be right…

I cannot resist posting this right after the previous post.

The last time Ethics Alarms discussed punishing children for making finger guns was in 2013. A six-year-old boy in Maryland’s ultra-progressive Montgomery County was suspended from school for making a finger and thumb gun gesture.

This came at the height of post-Sandy Hook anti-gun hysteria, though that was no excuse. I concluded the post,

This is, in order of importance,

  1. Child abuse. This young boy is being treated like a wrongdoer because the adults around him are acting like babies. Will they suspend him for making really scary faces next? Biting his pizza slice into threatening shapes?
  2. Proof of incompetence on the part of the school administrators. Why incompetence? They are stupid, that’s why. Only certifiably stupid people would think it is fair, sensible or reasonable to punish a first-grader for making a gesture kids have been making on playgrounds for hundreds of years, without a single casualty.
  3. Why many people lose respect for anti-gun zealots early in life. They forfeit all respect by acting like ninnies.

The dismaying aspect of this is ridiculous episode is that it has happened before in other schools, and clearly the message wasn’t sent clearly enough to the previous offenders–that is, the fools who victimized innocent children for miming, drawing or otherwise suggesting guns—that this kind of conduct is a career-ender. It should be; it has to be. Such irrational fearfulness, bad judgment, panic, disregard for the sensibilities of the young, lack of proportion and brain dysfunction forfeits all right to trust, and such fools must not be allowed to have power over young bodies and minds.

Nevertheless, it has happened again. Continue reading

Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/25/19: The Rotten Standards Edition

I feel like hearing my favorite hymn this morning.

1. How TV makes the public ignorant and unethical. On a 2008 “Law and Order” episode, “Knock Off,” a New York Assistant DA tells a lawyer that since his former client is dead, attorney client privilege no longer applies. “The privilege does not survive the client,” he says, authoritatively. This is exactly 180 degrees wrong. Privilege and client confidences do survive clients; lawyers are bound by them forever, with some rare exceptions.

The show had legal advisors.  There is no excuse for this. What were Law and Order’s standards? Would it deliberately misstate law and regulations just to accommodate the plot? Apparently so.

2. According to the New York Times, we’ve been mistaken. People don’t kill people, Guns kill people, apparently all by themselves. One of the infinite ways news organizations practice unethical and biased journalism is by falsely framing facts and issues to encourage a particular public perception. The “paper of record” just went for a new record in this event with a piece titled “One Handgun, 9 Murders: How American Firearms Cause Carnage Abroad.”Incredibly, the article personifies a gun:

She came to Jamaica from the United States about four years ago, sneaking in illegally, stowed away to avoid detection. Within a few short years, she became one of the nation’s most-wanted assassins. She preyed on the parish of Clarendon, carrying out nine confirmed kills, including a double homicide outside a bar, the killing of a father at a wake and the murder of a single mother of three. Her violence was indiscriminate: She shot and nearly killed a 14-year-old girl getting ready for church.

With few clues to identify her, the police named her Briana. They knew only her country of origin — the United States — where she had been virtually untraceable since 1991. She was a phantom, the eighth-most-wanted killer on an island with no shortage of murder, suffering one of the highest homicide rates in the world. And she was only one of thousands.

Briana, serial number 245PN70462, was a 9-millimeter Browning handgun.

The thrust of the rest of the article is that the terrible murder rate in Jamaica and other third-world counties is the fault of the U.S. for guaranteeing its citizens gun rights, and not the corruption, weak government, poverty and rotten cultures, not to mention the killers they produce, in those nations themselves. “Law enforcement officials, politicians and even gangsters on the street agree: It’s the abundance of guns, typically from the United States, that makes the country so deadly,” the article says. “And while the argument over gun control plays on a continual loop in the United States, Jamaicans say they are dying because of it — at a rate that is nine times the global average.”

That’s right: all those murderous Jamaicans would become as harmless as lambs if the United States would just get with the program.

This isn’t news reporting, it’s anti-gun propaganda. Continue reading

Thank God It’s The Friday Ethics Warm-Up, 8/23/ 2019

(Dreary, gloomy day outside; working on having a brilliant day inside.)

1. Feeling guilty about the Red Sox. I haven’t watched or listened to a game in over two weeks. The reason is that it’s just not fun, it’s too stressful, and I am already stressed to the max with non-baseball matters. I’m fairly sure this is the longest voluntary sabbatical I have ever taken from my team, and it is my team, throughout 80% of my life, a constant presence, inspiration and source of enlightenment. I have never relied on the team winning to justify my interest and loyalty. I just love the game, the suspense, the players and the endless supply of unpredictable stories and surprises.

BUT…this season has been uniquely frustrating. The Red Sox won 108 games last season on the way to the World Championship, and it was, especially by historical Red Sox standards, an insanely enjoyable ride. Virtually everything went perfectly, over the season, in the play-offs, in individual games.Whatever was needed to win, somebody always came through: it was like a movie. Baseball isn’t usually like that (well, except for the Yankees for about 50 years). I even said at the time, as my wife reminds me, “The Sox are going to pay big time for this one.”

Boston was confident coming into 2019 with virtually the exact same sqaud that had been unbeatable in 2018. Regression to the mean, however, is a force of nature, and especially with this team, for some reason. Since 1918, every single time the Sox have won the American League pennant, the next season was a bust, and often a horrible bust. Devastating injuries, unexpected bad years, clubhouse dissension, astoundingly bad luck: I’ve seen it all, and before, I’ve endured it all as a fair price to pay for the joys of the past and to come. This season, for some reason, I can’t take it, and I feel like an ungrateful wretch.

2. Got it: slavery is the cause of everything bad in the United States, and all whites want black people to get sick and die. Does anyone who can think clearly think this latest bit of dishonest guilt-tripping propaganda is going to help Democrats prevail, rather than  just harden racial and partisan divisions? Continue reading