Tag Archives: ignorance

The 69th Rationalization: The Patsy’s Rebuke, or “It’s Not My Fault That You’re Stupid!”

Ethics Alarms Rationalization 36 B, The Patsy’s Rebuke, or “It’s not my fault that you’re stupid!”closes a yawning loophole in the Victim Blindness rationalization set on the Ethics Alarms list.

Rationalization #36, Victim Blindness,  holds that a purveyor of unethical conduct should be exonerated if his victim “asked for” mistreatment or should have taken affirmative steps to avoid it, and #36 A, The Extortionist’s Absolution, holds that when there were sufficient warnings that a victim was at risk, that victim can’t complain about results he could have and should have avoided.  The newly minted rationalization, the 69th  on the list overall,  covers the related but distinct situation where deception, fraud or misrepresentation would be “obvious” to a perceptive, intelligent, educated individual, so nobody but the victim of that deception is blameworthy.

This was brought to my attention by a reader who raised the situation where statistics that may be technically accurate are used by activists to confuse, deceive, or mislead people who are either not sufficiently well-trained in math and statistics, or not adept at critical thinking. In this, The Patsy’s Rebuke has a kinship with #29 (a), The Gruber Variation, or “They are too stupid to know what’s good for them.’

Politicians, policy advocates, scientists, academics, lawyers and doctors, among others, all are prone to using 36 B to justify their adoption of deceit and obfuscation to accomplish their ends. Lawyers use jargon to sound authoritative and obscure meaning from laymen. Policy advocates quote statistics to “prove” what the numbers really don’t prove, counting on the inability of the trusting, inattentive, ignorant and gullible to see the flaws as insulation against rebuttal. By the lights of  The Patsy’s Rebuke, for example, making the false assertion that Hillary Clinton is the most experienced Presidential candidate ever can be rationalized by arguing, “Hey, that’s my opinion. I personally think being First Lady counts more than any other experience, and was counting it double. It’s not my fault that you are ignorant of Presidential history and too dumb to know how to google the experience of other candidates. I’m not trying to deceive anyone; I assume my readers are educated and informed.”

That’s a lie, of course. Advocates use statistics, falsity, jargon and ambiguity with the assumption, sadly justified, that most listeners and readers are both overly trusting and lacking in the training and acumen to know when they are being manipulated. If anyone is misled—and the intent is to mislead them— it’s their own fault for being stupid, lazy and ignorant.

It is not, however. Politicians, policy advocates, scientists, academics, lawyers and the rest have an ethical obligation to recognize the abilities of their likely audience (including those who will relay or interpret it, like the news media), and make their meaning as clear, direct and unambiguous as possible.

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Pointer: Zoltar Speaks!

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No, Ashleigh, That Isn’t “Libel,” And Why Are You Hosting A CNN Show Called “Legal Affairs” When You Don’t Know That?

Ashleigh-Banfield

In an epic clash of incompetents, CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield challenged Michael Cohen, one of Donald Trump‘s advisers over his retweeting an internet meme that said that Hillary Clinton “murdered” the victims of the Benghazi mission assault.

After the House Benghazi Select Committee released its final report on the 2012 terror attacks, Cohen delivered his tweet featuring this…

Cohen tweet

It is about as stupid, lazy and inflammatory as most political memes, and the fact that Cohen would think it worth circulating tells us all we need to know about both him and the man who pays him, who would have probably tweeted this junk himself if Cohen hadn’t. Remember Cohen? He’s the Trump lawyer who crudely threatened the Daily Beast and went on to proclaim that spousal rape was legal, when it isn’t. Cohen is, by definition, a thug, a creep, and a crummy lawyer. Naturally, he’s also a Trump advisor. (Tell me again how Trump, that keen judge of legal talent,  can be trusted to appoint better Supreme Court justices than Clinton would. Or that Honey Boo-Boo would.)

Sparring with Cohen on her show “Legal Views,” Ashleigh Banfield lectured the lawyer and told him, “This is libel.” thus making exactly as accurate a statement of law as Cohen’s earlier one about spousal rape. It was not libel. It was inflammatory political speech in a satirical context (would anyone think Clinton actually said this, as the meme suggests?) about a public figure, clearly an opinion rather than a statement intended to be taken literally, and no more libel than “Bush lied and people died.” Banfield’s diagnosis was 100% wrong, and the fervor with which it was delivered is the calling card of a Clinton defender. Continue reading

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Ethics Dunces (All-Star “Shut Up And Sing ” Edition): Cher, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Billy Joel, Paul McCartney, Jackson Browne,Nick Jonas, Sia, Zayn Malik, Barbra Streisand, Beck, Questlove, Pusha T, Ringo Starr, Sting, Ricky Martin, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Selena Gomez, Stevie Nicks, Michael Bublé, Melissa Etheridge, Trent Reznor, Kesha, Katy Perry, Tony Bennett, Yoko Ono…

Billborad letters

A couple hundred famous singers and musicians have banded together to sign a fatuous and misleading “open letter” to Congress dictating U.S. gun policy. The letter which is being used as a publicity gimmick by Billboard (and the stars, of course), reads:

As leading artists and executives in the music industry, we are adding our voices to the chorus of Americans demanding change. Music always has been celebrated communally, on dancefloors and at concert halls. But this life-affirming ritual, like so many other daily experiences—going to school or church or work—now is threatened, because of gun violence in this country. The one thing that connects the recent tragedies in Orlando is that it is far too easy for dangerous people to get their hands on guns.

We call on Congress to do more to prevent the gun violence that kills more than 90 Americans every day and injures hundreds more, including:

  • Require a background check for every gun sale
  • Block suspected terrorists from buying guns

Billboard and the undersigned implore you—the people who are elected to represent us—to close the deadly loopholes that put the lives of so many music fans, and all of us, at risk.

The letter is many things:

1. It is scaremongering nonsense. Gun deaths are way down, and the odds of any citizen being killed in a mass shooting is beyond minuscule. Based on 2015 statistics by the broadest definition, you have a 0.00000143% chance of getting killed in a mass shooting. These wealthy and privileged people, who often have bodyguards (with guns) have much less of a risk than that. Nothing is “now threatened.” We are safer from gun violence now than five years ago, ten years ago or 20 years ago. Continue reading

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Eureka! Some Enlightenment Out Of The Orlando Terrorist Ethics Train Wreck! Presenting Rationalization #59, The Lone Inspiration Excuse, or “Do YOU Have A Better Idea?”

Eureka

The human mind’s infinite ability to devise rationalizations to justify unethical or irresponsible conduct apparently has no bounds. One way that I have discovered many of the nearly 60 excuses, fallacies, deceits, and ethical distortions that make up the Rationalizations List is to argue with intelligent people who are determined to justify conduct that is simply unjustifiable using such legitimate tools as logic, analysis, common sense and traditional ethics. Lacking good arguments and being unwilling to do that hardest thing—give up and admit they are wrong—they pin their position on a rationalization…sometimes one I had never heard before.

The public debate over the various proposals to “do something!” about mass shootings is as depressing as any discussion I have ever participated in. The willingness of gun opponents, Democrats, journalists, pundits and otherwise intelligent people to not only defy the Bill of Rights guarantee of due process but to literally ignore its existence shows how close the stinking breath of totalitarianism is to the neck on our nation, and that it is much hotter than I realized. This isn’t an exception or an anomaly. This is a result of carefully bred contempt for American values.

The intense ignorance crossed with malice toward our Constitution reached a climax of sorts today on social media, as people who should know better (and people who do know better, like erstwhile Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren) applauded the cynical and hypocritical “sit-in” by House Democrats, who said they would hold their breath until they turned blue unless the Congress of the United States voted to allow the government to take away the rights of citizens based on “suspicion.” Only rationalizations can defend this position, primarily among them “The Saint’s Excuse,” or “It’s for a good cause,” “It” is this case meaning..

  • Accepting the ethically and morally bankrupt principle that “the ends justify the means”
  • Setting a precedent for allowing the government to abridge any rights it chooses once by some standard it finds a law-abiding citizen “unworthy”
  • Enacting a provision that the ACLU has pronounced unconstitutional
  • Establishing the principle that the Congress can and will abandon the rule of law as long as enough members of the public and media let emotion overcome reality
  • Lay the groundwork for a President, like say, just to pick a crazy, impossible example out of the air, President Trump, who is as ignorant of the rule of law as the position’s supporters, to really start ripping up the Bill of Rights, beginning with Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Association.

To put it another way, it’s a really, really stupid and indefensible position.

[ The House sit-in just ended, by the way, after about a day. Nah, it wasn’t a publicity stunt! ] Continue reading

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House Democrats Sit-In To Ignore The Fifth Amendment (Thereby Disgracing Themselves)

Sit in

When is it not a partisan act to condemn an entire political party and the followers who applaud it no matter what it does?

One example is unfolding before us: the Republican Party’s absence of sufficient integrity, principle and will to deny Donald Trump the party’s endorsement and nomination for President. It’s not a partisan act to condemn this. It is objective, rational, and responsible.

It is similarly objective, rational and fair to condemn the Democratic Party and its blind, knee-jerk followers for engaging in one of the most cynical, hypocritical and pandering displays in memory: the current “sit-in” to force the House to vote on anti-gun bills that unambiguously bypass the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, denying American citizens their civil rights by government edict.

House Democrats, symbolically led by Rep. John Lewis, the elderly civil rights icon who seems now bent on making an ass of himself, have vowed to “occupy” the House Chamber until the no-fly list ban on gun purchasing is voted on, essentially shutting down that side of Congress.  For those whose brains are functioning, this is about as naked a display of political cynicism as we have seen, even topping Ted Cruz’s destructive government shut-downs.

Two days ago, it was Senate Democrats not Republicans, who voted down a bill that would have given the Justice Department power to block gun purchases by anyone on a terror watch list, provided that the government fulfilled its duty of  due process but going to court and satisfying to a judge  that the person on the list was there was a compelling reason to regard the citizen as a public threat. actually dangerous. That was the bill put forth by Senator Cornyn, a Republican. But Democrats could have the gun control provision they were screaming for be the work of that evil, NRA supported party, so it died in the Senate, 53/47, when enough Democrats voted against it to deny the 60 votes it needed for cloture.

Now the House Democrats are grandstanding and acting like children. Yesterday,  the House Democrats chanted from the floor: “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired!” and “No bill, no break!” while the House remained in recess.

It is unconstitutional to allow the  federal government power to strip the rights from citizens who have been convicted of nothing without the protection og judicial safeguards.If there is any significant controversy about this, I can’t find it. The theory seems to be that because Democrats don’t like Second Amendment rights, they don’t count, somehow. You know, Democrats aren’t crazy about First Amendment rights either.  Perhaps this is why that liberal champion of long standing, the American Civil Liberties Union, opposes the no-fly bills as vehemently as the NRA. They opposed the Cornyn bill, the closest to one that acknowledges the Fifth Amendment, as well as the Democratic, “Due process? What is this due process of which you speak?” capitulations to hysteria, writing in a letter to Senators:
Continue reading

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The New! Improved! Bipartisan! Gun Bill Is ALSO Unconstitutional…And The Statements Of The Senators About It Are Nauseating

Collins et al

The New York Times, which apparently only respects that part of the Constitution that protects biased and dishonest newspapers, cheers a newly  proposed anti-gun measure as one that “puts new muscle and momentum behind what would be one of the few restrictions placed on gun ownership in the past 20 years.”

It also takes away the rights of citizens without due process of law.

The compromise bill, proposed by Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) and backed by Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), was cooked up a day after the Senate, in the words of the Times, “refused to advance any of four measures intended to make it harder for suspected terrorists to buy guns.”

No, that’s U.S. citizens who have not been convicted of any crime, not “suspected terrorists.” It is not a crime to be suspected of anything. The government cannot take away your rights because it suspects something, or fears you might do something in the future.

Is that really such a difficult concept from elected officials and journalists? Why is that?

“Surely the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Orlando that took so many lives are a call for compromise, a plea for bipartisan action…Essentially, we believe if you are too dangerous to fly on an airplane, you are too dangerous to buy a gun,” Collins said in a news conference.

I call on my fellow citizens in Maine to remove this incompetent woman from her high office, for she is unfit to serve: Continue reading

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Ethics Hero: Mother Jones Pundit Kevin Drum

Impalings-of-Vlad-the-Impaler

It is sad and yet somehow comforting to watch the members of the crypto-totalitarian left writhe like Vlad the Impaler’s staked victims (above) as they try to deny, accuse, spin and otherwise humiliate themselves arguing against the factual assertion that the  anti-gun “no-fly list” = no gun rights ploy is blatantly unconstitutional, a breach of due process, and “pre-crime” legislation. It is sad, because it shows how far liberal ideology has fallen from its traditional aspirations, and how hypocritical it has become, embracing the “by any means necessary” approach to political power rather than actually respecting the civil rights it claims to worship. It is comforting, because it is signature significance. I thought much of the progressive movement  had become this corrupt and intellectually dishonest; now I know I wasn’t being unfair. This single episode proves it.

There is an ethical response to be adopted by someone previously cheering on the foolish Senator Murphy, or the smugly ignorant Ashleigh Banfield, once they are forced to think a bit about what these secret list tactics really mean in Constitutional terms. They don’t have to attack the messenger, often me, or make non sequitur statements about the Second Amendment is about muskets and militias. That ethical response is, “Oh. You know, I was so upset, I never thought about it that way, but you’re right. Wow. Thank-you.”

Most of them just can’t do it. It may be a lack of character, it may be a case of emotion killing brain cells, it may just be that an individual isn’t very bright, or that he just doesn’t want to be educated. That is, however, the ethical response.

If my floundering, foundering progressive friends want some inspiration to get them over the hump, I may have it for them, ironically from, of all places, Mother Jones, whose due process -mocking headline I recently dissected. That far left publications’ most prominent journalist is Kevin Drum, a progressive to his core. He is, however, also well-informed, intelligent, and true to his principles, and thus, while reporting on the various anti-gun measures being proposed as part of the cynical Democratic “DO SOMETHING!” initiative regarding guns, Kevin Drum wrote, Continue reading

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