End Of Week Ethics Exegesis, 1/20/2023, SCOTUS Ineptitude, The Child Shooter’s Parents, A Coinkydink, And More…[Corrected]

[NOTE: This was another one of those posts that I had to squeeze in and get up before I had a chance to do a careful proofing. Coming back to it hours later, it is so embarrassing to find all the irritating little typos: missing letters, transposed letters, words I thought I typed in but didn’t. Ugh. I’m sorry.]

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The mainstream media (and Democrats, but I repeat myself) is doing everything it can to try to make Lyin’ George Santos the big story rather than Joe’s Biden’s document scandal, which has nicely exposed Biden’s hypocrisy along with that of law enforcement and the Trump-Deranged. The Republicans have made it easier for them than it should be: Kevin McCarthy should have created a committee called “Shameless Lying Committee and placed only Santos on it, and made him chairman. Oh, maybe have Adam Schlitt on it to keep George company. McCarthy’s canned line about how Santos was elected to represent his district by voters and they deserve representation is worse than if he said nothing at all. Santos gets to vote on bills, and that’s all an incompetent, lazy, gullible district like his deserves. (If Santos says one more time that he’s done nothing wrong, I may jump out my office window.)

Back to the news media: This morning I watched CNN, Fox, News, and BBC all at once on the DirecTV “News Mix” channel. The experience would be depressing to anyone under the delusion that broadcast news is anything but a confederacy of dunces. As the abrasive and smug “Fox and Friends” kept repeating the same outrage about Joe’s stash of classified materials, CNN interviewed high school students in Santos’ district in an obviously carefully staged segment purporting to show that teens are more ethical and instinctively wise than their elected elders. (Hey, look at these kids! Let’s let 16-year-olds vote!) When one student said that Congress should vote to expel Santos, his grandstanding teacher didn’t point out that Congress can’t, probably because the teacher doesn’t know.

Neither CNN nor the teacher brought up Joe Biden’s career of making up credentials and experiences, which would have been an interesting counterpoint for the aspiring Democrats in the student group (there was one self-proclaimed future Republican, which doesn’t mean there weren’t others afarisd of getting wedgies) to ponder: the thrust of the segment was that Santos and the GOP acceptance of him pushed the students into the Blue.

MSNBC, as usual, was even more flagrant in its bias, and also funnier. It had—get this—Al Sharpton and former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele discussing how corrupt and incompetent Republican House members were. Michael Steele calling anyone incompetent is like, well, Sharpton calling anyone corrupt. Steele is now a Never-Trump talking head for MSNBC in the Ana Navarro mold, because his flip-flop was the only way anyone would hire him to give his opinion on anything. He was a disaster as RNC head, embarrassing the party by such stunts as okaying a fundraising mailing that intentionally masqueraded as a census document—while the census was underway. Congress passed a bi-partisan law making such chicanery illegal.

Mostly Steele is just an idiot. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it should be flashed up on the screen any time this dolt tries to be a pundit. When he was running to be re-elected RNC head (he lost), Steele was asked during the one debate among the contenders to name his favorite book. The other hacks (like Reince Priebus, the eventual winner) said that a Ronald Reagan’s biography was their favorite book, but Steele, trying to seem erudite, said “War and Peace.” “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” he quoted (from “A Tale of Two Cities”), causing questioner Tucker Carlson to facepalm.

1. The SCOTUS Dobbs leak can’t be found. That’s bad enough. Equally bad were the stunning revelations of sloppy procedures at the Court, probably long the status quo, that nonetheless made this scandal inevitable. From the 20-page report

1. Too many personnel have access to certain Court-sensitive documents. The current distribution mechanisms result in too many people having access to highly sensitive information and the inability to actively track who is handling and accessing these documents. Distribution should be more tailored and the use of hard copies for sensitive documents should be minimized and tightly controlled.

2. Aside from the Court’s clear confidentiality policies and the federal statutes outlined above, there is no universal written policy or guidance on the mechanics of handling and safeguarding draft opinions and Court-sensitive documents, and practices vary widely throughout the Court. A universal policy should be established and all personnel should receive training on the requirements.

3. The Court’s current method of destroying Court-sensitive documents has vulnerabilities that should be addressed.

4. The Court’s information security policies are outdated and need to be clarified and updated. The existing platform for case-related documents appears to be out of date and in need of an overhaul.

5. There are inadequate safeguards in place to track the printing and copying of sensitive documents. The Court should institute tracking mechanisms using technology that is currently available for this purpose.

6. Many personnel appear not to have properly understood the Court’s policies on confidentiality. There should be more emphasis on training so that all personnel fully understand the policies.

7. Bills were introduced in the last Congress which would expressly prohibit the disclosure of the Supreme Court’s non-public case-related information to anyone outside the Court. Consideration should be given to supporting such legislation.

Summary: The Court’;s security has been incompetent and inexcusable.

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Gee, Can We Lock Up The Parents For THIS Shooting?

Ethics Alarms has always maintained that when a child gets control of a real firearm and shoots it, the parents must be held criminally responsible, not only for the consequences of the shooting, but for allowing the child access at all. I also believe that this should be strict liability: I don’t care if the child is a whiz at picking locks or a precocious little Michael Corleone. If you own a gun and your kid gets a grip on it, you’re the menace to society.

I can’t imagine a more perfect illustration of the need for this policy than the story out of Richneck Elementary School in Newport News Virginia. A 6-year-old boy shot and wounded his first grade teacher yesterday. He apparently did it intentionally—he had some dispute with her, we are told—and is a good shot: she is in critical condition.

The Washington Post story about the shooting is infuriating:

Newport News Police Chief Steve R. Drew said at a news briefing…’We did not have a situation where someone was going around the school shooting.’”

Oh, the first grader wasn’t an active shooter then! We could guess that. What about the parents?

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One More Time: Hold Gun-Owners Criminally Liable When Something Like This Happens

We have covered such incidents before, but it bears repeating.

Tiffany Callaway, a Miami-Dade Corrections officer, left her five children unsupervised in her home while she was working. While she was gone her 13-year-old son got a shotgun out of a firearm case in the master bedroom closet. He accidentally discharged it. His eleven-year-old brother was fatally shot in the chest, and died.

In a masterpiece of gall, Callaway started a GoFundMe page to attract donations. “Imaging life without him is something we never thought we’d have to do as a family,” she said.

“Only goes to show it can impact anybody in the community,” said Miami-Dade Police Director Alvaro Zabaleta in another fatuous pronouncement that misses the point. “It” won’t “impact” anyone who doesn’t leave young children alone with access to deadly weapons.

Apparently no charges will be filed against the officer. Ridiculous.She is 100% responsible for the death of her child and the trauma to the older child who fired the weapon. She was negligent to leave them alone in the house, negligent in not training them regarding gun safety, and negligent in not having the gun secure, Police say they are investigating whether the gun was properly secured—what is there to investigate? A kid got a hold of the gun, which was loaded, and fired it! Of course it wasn’t properly secured: it it were properly secured, no one would have been killed.

No wonder anti-gun fanatics think guns just kill people all by themselves.

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