I need an uplifting ethics story about now. How about you?
Fort Wayne, Indiana sixth grader Phil Mick’s was dreading his his first day of sixth grade last week. The 11-year old was routinely a target of bullies at DeKalb Middle School. Family friend Brent Warfield of KDZ Motorcycle Sales & Service learned about the child’s problem over the Christmas holidays last year, and vowed to help him solve the problem…a solution that did not involve, as it so often does with bullying, a slippery slope-courting suppression of free speech principles.
Warfield used his connections in the biker community to promote a motorcade for Phil that would show any ill-wishers that he had friends that could reform bullies in a memorable and emphatic manner if so required. Getting the word out on Facebook and elsewhere on the web ( there is a non-profit organization called Bikers Against Bullies), Warfield attracted about 50 bikers from around the state. They gathered at a local restaurant for the motorcade, and the roaring throng took a thrilled Phil Mick to his first day of school. School principal Matt Vince said that the sound reverberated off the exterior brick walls.
Vince told reporters that he commended the motorcyclists for supporting Phil while making a statement against bullying “in a positive way.”
My father, who had to change schools often during the Depression as his single mother sought work and affordable lodging, told me that as a chubby, unethletic-looking, quiet kid who refused to be submissive to anyone he was bullied at every single new school he attended. It was a ritual of his childhood, and Jack Sr.’s only available response was to fight his larger tormentors using his fists.
“Oh, I always lost,” he told me. “But I got some good shots in, and that was enough. Bullies don’t like to keep bothering the kids who fight back;’ it’s too much trouble.”
“Plus they were afraid of my dog [a big Airedale named Bumbo].”
Phil Mick’s method is even better.
Hamburg, post allied bombing, WWII
Ethics Alarms doesn’t have many discussions of foreign policy, in part because policy is usually less about ethics and more about practical realities, theory and policy. What discussion we do have involves leadership, a secondary passion here. Warfare, in contrast, is an ethics category, but also a grand, meta-ethics morass that isn’t a safe space for ethics generally. I regard war as the ultimate ethical anomaly where the rules and theories break down. We cannot avoid encountering mobius strip sequences like..
War is inherently unethical.
Sometimes war is an unavoidable and utilitarian necessity.
In such cases, it is essential to end such a war as quickly as possible.
The quickest and the most ethical way to end such a war as quickly as possible is by overwhelming and uncompromising force.
Uncompromising force inevitably involves the maximum loss of innocent life, and is unethical.
Half-measures prolong the damage of war and are also unethical.
Wait…where were we again?
My father—the kindest man I ever knew, a grievously wounded war hero and a natural leader who hated guns, detested war (but hated what he saw at the death camp he helped liberate more), would have devoted his life to the military service of his country if he could have and who told his son that if he chose to duck the draft during the Vietnam War that he had his full support—would repeatedly rail against modern surgical tactics designed to avoid civilian deaths at all costs as madness, and a symptom of weak resolve and cowardly leadership. His reasoning: “We could not have won World War II if the news services had been allowed to publicize what war does to civilian populations. It is as simple as that. We would have lost, and Hitler would have won, killed millions more, and divided up the world between Germany, Japan and the Soviet Union. The public had no concept about the horrible things we had to do, and that I participated in, to win that war. If one side is ruthless and the other side is more concerned about collateral damage than winning…and the ruthless side knows it, then ruthless wins.
He died after only a year of Barack Obama’s Presidency, but believed him to be a dangerously deluded and ignorant man regarding the use of power and military force.
I thought about all of this as I read texagg04’s Comment of the Day on the final item of yesterday’s Morning Warm-up. which began,
5.An ethics question about the North Korea crisis: do common sense ethics apply to foreign affairs? Listening and reading various experts and authorities, I am struck by how many seem to argue that negotiation with the North Korean regime is the only palatable option. The fact that this is simply and unquestionably agreeing to international blackmail by a resolute evil-doer seems to be either unrecognized or ignored.
Here is his Comment of the Day, which Dad would have admired, on the post. “Morning Ethics Warm-up 7/7/17”: Continue reading