Insomnia Ethics Dump, 8/19/2019 (at 3:16 am): What Keeps Me Up At Night

Hi.

So depressing to observe the reactions of the Facebook Borg to my post about Elizabeth Warren’s self-outing as a lying demagogue. They couldn’t process it; they put their metaphorical fingers in their ears and hummed; they attacked the messenger (me); they channeled the generally-derided Politifact whitewashing of the “Mike Brown was murdered” lie. One lawyer friend apparent deep-dived Ethics Alarms to try to  find a post that would contradict my position regarding Warren (and Kamala Harris). She couldn’t, but pretended she had by metaphorically waving an essay in which I applauded a man acquitted of murder by reason of insanity who later admitted to others that he had killed someone when he was younger and insane. (I can’t find the damn thing myself.)  She then called me a liar and a hypocrite, because I had described the man as a murderer when he was innocent in the eyes of the law. A lawyer made this argument, mind you. I explained, not too nicely, that her analogy was idiotic, since there was no murder and no crime in the Brown case, so law prof Warren’s calling it either was dishonest and indefensible, while in the case of the recovered madman, there was a murder, a crime, and a murder victim. Though the acknowledged killer he was fortunate enough to have committed his crime in a state that holds the insane unaccountable, that fact didn’t change the act or the  crime.

I don’t know why I bothered. Warren fans, like Bernie Bros, appear to be completely immune to facts and reality.

1.  Why is there such a compulsion to corrupt the innocent, even the fictional innocent? I was hardly an admirer of those late 60s and 70s Sid and Marty Kroft Saturday Morning TV shows with people dressed in huge, garish thing-costumes and being relentlessly cheery. You know the ones: “H.R. Puffnstuff,” “The Banana Splits Adventure Hour,” “Lidsville”—those. In addition to being assaultive and unfunny, they also inspired Barney, for which the Krofts should never be forgiven.

Still, lots of kids loved the shows and characters, and they should be able to cherish those memories. Hollywood, however, seems determined to debase everything it can, especially fond memories, either by sexualizing them or making them dark, or both. (The re-boot of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and “Riverdale,” the series based on the “Archie” comics, are cases in point.) Now we have the new in which are re-imagined as murderous psychopaths.

Nice. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On A Massacre Averted

Another day, another psycho tries to mow down strangers! In Springfield, Missouri, a man appearing to be in his 20s  pulled up to a Walmart, and put on body armor. He walked into the store and began pushing a cart around the store, recording himself on his cell phone.  An alert store manager saw a threat and triggered a fire alarm; the Springfield police  responded within three minutes of the call. Police say that the man had tactical weapons  and more than 100 rounds of ammunition When the would-be shooter left through an emergency exit an off-duty firefighter carrying a legally concealed weapon held the man at gunpoint until police arrived. Observations:

  • It won’t be, but this should be regarded as another mass shooting. Only moral luck made it different from El Paso or Dayton. Sometimes the store managers won’t react quickly enough. Sometimes there won’t be a bystander with a gun and the guts and skill to use it.

The important fact is that a crazy individual entered a public place with the intent to commit murder and the means to so it. Whether a particular attempt was or was not successful is irrelevant from a policy perspective.

  • The lesson of this near-miss is not that everyone should have guns. Resorting to the culture of the Old West is not in anyone’s best interests.

Second Amendment advocates make themselves look foolish by constantly falling back on this”solution.”

  • The hysteria-driven blanket coverage of the latest shootings makes mass shootings more likely.

Censoring the facts and basic reporting, as they did in New Zealand, is not an option here, nor should it be, Some basic restraint from cable news, talking heads and politicians, however, is both reasonable and necessary.

  • This isn’t a video-game driven phenomenon, nor a political divide-driven phenomenon, nor even a “too many guns” problem. It is a problem driven by a culture that now elevates mere attention to the equivalent of self-worth, in a nation that holds—and correctly and importantly so— that each individual, in the end, is responsible for his or her own success or failure.

We have discussed this phenomenon in many contexts on Ethics Alarms, ranging from the movie “Fame’s” warped message that the goal of young lives should be to “live forever” through becoming famous, to the reality-show driven delusion that merely being famous signifies anything but luck, and certainly not societal worth. The Sondheim musical “Assassins” posited that Presidential assassins were desperate, shadowy failures in a success-obsessed culture, who not unreasonably determined that murdering a President was the perfect way to rescue their lives from powerlessness and obscurity. The problem with thesis, though it spawned some good songs and thought-provoking drama, is that history doesn’t back it up at all, and the number of assassins and attempted assassins is too small a sample to make any valid generalizations.

  • In today’s hyped  media and information-glutted society, however, the theory makes more sense, except that it is infinitely easier to shoot up a church than kill a President, and social media makes a killer’s manifesto easy to disseminate for maximum news fodder. The Unabomber had to bargain to get his declaration published in the press.

Today a single social media post will do the trick, with fame (infamy, fame, what’s the difference?) to follow,

D-Day 75th Anniversary Ethics Warm-Up, June 6, 2019: Stumbling As We Try To Keep America Worthy Of Their Sacrifice [UPDATED!]

U.S. WWII veterans from the United States attend a ceremony at Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial situated above Omaha Beach to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day, in Colleville-sur-Mer, France.

I have a special reason for being a devotee of D-Day: I may be here because my father missed it. He was supposed to be in the invasion, but as an observer, not a combatant. Dad never explained how he got that plum assignment, but before he had the honor, an idiot in his company blew part of my father’s foot apart while playing with a hand grenade nearby. (You’ll be happy to hear that said idiot advanced human evolution by blowing himself up in the process.) Thus Jack Sr. was in an army hospital on June 6, and had to wait for the Battle of the Bulge to be part of an iconic W.W. II conflict.

1. Somehow, I don’t think this is the society they thought they were fighting for…

At Rutherford High School in Bay County, Florida, a teacher  wrote “WTF” on a student’s science homework. His mother complained, calling the vulgar acronym “inappropriate.”

Boy, what a prude.

I just saw another of the increasingly common TV ads where evoking a vulgar word is used for humorous value.  One of the cell phone networks includes an exclamation of “Holy shirt!” (Get it? HAR!) when a father’s gray attire suddenly explodes into color as soon as the family upgrades its network.  “What the Shirt” is also a trendy shirt company.

In a culture where casual public vulgarity is treated as normal and even clever, it is no surprise that alleged professionals often have no functioning ethics alarms regarding their language, or any sense of respect, etiquette, gentility or decorum. After all, when a newly elected Congresswoman thinks it’s appropriate to shout “We’re going to impeach the motherfucker!” and suffers no adverse consequences, what do we expect?

2. Somehow, I don’t think this is the society they thought they were fighting for…wait, didn’t I just write that?

Sueretta Emke complained that she was dining with her family at a Golden Corral in Erie, Pennsylvania, when the manager told her that her attire was inappropriate and that some customers had complained. Asked Emke said the manager couldn’t answer when she was asked what was so inappropriate about her outfit. It was a mystery!

For some reason the phrase “res ipsa loquitur” keeps coming to mind.

Call me crazy, but I doubt that if  Ms. Emke’s croptop and Daisy Dukes had fit her more like this…

…anyone would have complained, or even if someone had, that the manager would have ejected her.  She was being fat-shamed. On the other hand, even at a Golden Corral, diners should have enough respect for others to adopt at least minimum standards of appropriate attire. On the OTHER hand—Did you know that Edward Albee wrote a play called “The Man With Three Arms? It was not a success—unless restaurants have stated, publicized and displayed  dress codes, it is unfair to arbitrarily discriminate against the unattractive exhibitionist and slobs while allowing the attractive ones to dine unmolested. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Open Forum Ethics (Justice System Thread)”

The Open Forum this week raised several new ethics topics I will be posting on soon, in addition to its bumper crop of Comments of the Day. The latest of these is another by Michael R., following  the posting of this link.

Here is Michael R’s Comment of the Day on the justice system thread in Open Forum Ethics:

I have wondered about the ethics of citizens shooting criminals when they are legally justified. Should a citizen try at all costs to avoid shooting a criminal when legally justified or should citizens shoot and attempt to kill criminals any time it is legally justified? Sad to say, I am beginning to think the latter is preferable. I will give an example to illustrate why.

A man committed 5 home invasions in 1 day in my neighborhood about 2 years ago. During the first 4 home invasions, the residents were armed and drove him off. In the 5th, the resident held him at gunpoint for police (my neighborhood is kind of rough for home invaders). The police told the 5th homeowner he should have killed the man. You may wonder why. The criminal was convicted on all 5 counts of home invasion as well as being a felon in possession of a firearm. Justice, right? Well, he has already been released from prison. He severely beat two women while robbing them. He led police on a high speed chase in a stolen car while shooting at them. He was shot and crashed the car (doing extensive property damage). He will require extensive medical care at state expense for the rest of his life. If the homeowner had killed him, those women wouldn’t have been beaten and robbed, the car wouldn’t have been stolen, and the public wouldn’t be paying millions to take care of this criminal. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/18/18: The Persecution Of Josh Hader And Impeachment Plan N [UPDATED]

Good Morning!

It’s 4:40 am. I can’t get to sleep because I’m nauseous and my stomach’s upset, probably because of Fox’s miserable coverage of the baseball All-Star game as if it was a slow day on the boardwalk. At points when the game would normally be suspenseful, the awful Joe Buck was having inane conversations about facial hair and other trivia with players in the field. Such utter disrespect for the sport it was covering in what is supposed to be a showcase!

1. Speaking of the All-Star game...Milwaukee Brewers reliever Josh Hader,  who has been a break-out relief pitching star this season, gave up four hits and a three-run homer, his worst performance of the year, on his biggest stage to date, the All-Star game in Washington, D.C. That was the least of his rotten day, however. Earlier in the evening, some  sleuth dived into Hader’s Twitter history and found some high school tweets with racist, anti-gay and sexist words and sentiments in them. The dirt was slurped up by reporters while the game was going on, and they confronted Hader immediately after the game, which Hader’s team, the National League All-Stars, lost by two runs, or one less than he had given up.

To his credit, Hader didn’t deny that he had written the tweets. “No excuses. I was dumb and stupid,”he said. He was 17-year-old when he published them.

Let’s say that again: he was 17. This shouldn’t be news, and it shouldn’t have been reported. Yet some are speculating that Major League Baseball will fine or otherwise punish Hader, and worse, that they should. If they try, I hope the players’ union makes them sorry. Hader was legally a minor; he hadn’t been drafted by a MLB team yet when those tweets were made, and  MLB didn’t even have a social media policy then. If Hader is punished, it will be one more example of craven organizational misconduct and abuse in response to, or fear of, the speech police and the political correctness mob.

2. Per se negligent homicide. In another situation in which I reject the “he’s been punished enough” defense, six-year-old Makayla S. Bowling  was shot in the head and killed by her father last week when his gun accidentally discharged while he was cleaning it. He didn’t know the gun was loaded. He did know his daughter was within shooting range, however. The authorities won’t prosecute unless they find evidence of foul play, but there is already sufficient evidence of fatal negligence. He should be charged with manslaughter.

3. Plan N! Some Democrats and journalists who have real jobs and don’t live in a padded room really are saying in public that Donald Trump should be impeached for what he said in a press conference in Helsinki. Astounding. Astounding, and unethical, because a lot of Americans—you know, like the ones on Facebook who are passing around a meme showing Obama with the legend “Share if he’s your favorite President!” (Why not just a label that says “I have never read an American history book”?)—are so ignorant about law, politics, diplomacy, and just about everything else, that they can be convinced by ravings.

If you are keeping track, and it is hard, be sure to add Plan N (Calling comments at a press conference treason) to the list of “resistance” impeachment and removal plots. Oh, heck, I need to update the list anyway: Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/3/2017: In the Wake Of Las Vegas…”

I would love to post a Comment of the Day by a full-throated and honest advocate of new gun control measures that will “stop gun violence,” but have yet to read one that isn’t a poorly-veiled attack on the Second Amendment. On the other side, we have Rusty Rebar, one of many Second Amendment advocates on various post-Las Vegas Strip massacre threads here, who registered a tough indictment of the “do something!” anti-gun lobby.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/3/2017: In the Wake Of Las Vegas…

“Hell, the NRA used to support background checks, although they no longer do. What’s changed? Why is there that disconnect?”

I think this is attributable to the gun control crowd. The NRA used to be more conciliatory when it came to “common sense” laws. But the gun control crowd kept pushing and pushing, and the NRA has basically said “not one more inch”. So now, even something that is considered “common sense” to everyone will get no traction, because the gun control crowd kept pushing things.

I have said this before, and will recap here. There is a way to do background checks that will be acceptable, and even preferable, to everyone, but the gun control crowd would never allow it.

First, we need to understand the purpose of a background check is to determine if the person buying the gun is legally eligible to do so, nothing more, nothing less. That is not what gun control proponents want though, they want more, they want a registry of all purchases. That is beyond the scope of a background check. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/3/2017: In the Wake Of Las Vegas…

Good Morning.

1 The reaction of the anti-gun forces is so depressingly predictable, the arguments being put forth are so well-worn, the demonization of those who comprehend the importance of the Second Amendment so shameless and the misrepresentations are so familiar. I am considering just ignoring it this time, and referring anyone to the copious essays already written here tagged with Sandy Hook Ethics Train Wreck. Maybe I should just re-publish them after using a search and replace to switch Sandy Hook and New Town with “Las Vegas Strip.”  I’m sure in future months we can look forward to testimony at various legislative hearings by family members of the slain and wounded, as our elected officials, as usual, choose to use emotion, sentiment and grief to ram through legislation that they could not and cannot justify if the public’s attention isn’t distorted. I was on the road most of yesterday: has Hillary shot off her mother yet? Obama? Piers Morgan? Jimmy Kimmel? Diane Feinstein? I honestly haven’t had a chance to check. How quickly did some predictable Ethics Alarms commenters use the tragedy to start attacking gun ownership? By the time I finish the Warm-Up, I’ll probably know. I’ve made a few wagers with myself…

2.  Fake news, hoax postings and irresponsible rumor-mongering was rampant after the shooting. Is there any point in noting that ISIS, with its apparently false claim that this was one of its terror attacks, is unethical?  How about 4chan, which deliberately pinned the crime on the wrong man, and habitually inaccurate conservative websites like The Gateway Pundit, which circulated the lies? Twitter users with the character of poorly raised reptiles also got in on the fun: From the New York Times:

In a telling exchange, Gianluca Mezzofiere of Mashable reached out to the operator of one Twitter account sharing misinformation and reported the following:

Mashable reached out to the troll to ask why he’s spreading misinformation during such a critical time.

“I think you know why,” he replied. “For the retweets :)”

When Mashable pointed out that it’s unethical to spread misinformation when people are desperately looking for their missing family and friends, he just said: “You are right I’m sorry.”

“Jack Sins” said he chose TheReportOfTheWeek (aka Reviewbrah) just because he’s a meme and tweeted Johnny Sins because he “is a living legend.”

Asked whether he’s done it before and whether he’d do it again, he replied:

“Yes and maybe.”

Continue reading