Ethics Grab Bag: 6/18/20: Absolutism, DACA, Cancel Culture And Pancakes

1. Oh, I’m sure that will help a lot. Quaker announced yesterday that the Aunt Jemima brand would be rebranded and renamed “to make progress toward racial equality.” Yeah, I’m sure the pancake box design and hearing that demon name “Jemima” has retarded the progress of racial justice for decades.  I couldn’t care less what pancake mix is called and I doubt that anyone else does, but  if any portion of the market claims to find the logo offensive, that’s a good reason to ditch it, which I assume means that Uncle Ben’s Rice will be called “U.B.R.” soon. Nonetheless, Quaker’s move isn’t substantive. It’s virtue signaling, and at this point, more historical airbrushing. Getting rid of Aunt Jemima will cost Quaker millions of dollars, and probably raise the price of the product. It won’t affect racial equality one iota.

Meanwhile, cultural context and history is lost. The R. T. Davis Milling Company hired former slave Nancy Green as a spokesperson for the Aunt Jemima pancake mix in 1890, and she continued in that role  until her death in 1923. Green appeared as Jemima beside the “world’s largest flour barrel” while operating a pancake-cooking display at Chicago’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. After the Expo, Green was given a lifetime contract to  promote the pancake mix. Aunt Jemima was Nancy Green’s one link to immortality.

2. Today’s SCOTUS decision on DACA. Here’s how NPR put it: “A narrowly divided U.S. Supreme Court extended a life-support line to some 650,000 so-called DREAMers on Thursday, allowing them to remain safe from deportation for now, while the Trump administration jumps through the administrative hoops that the court said are required before ending the program.”

The President called this a political decision in his inimitable, meat-axe way:

This is an especially stupid tweet. Every time SCOTUS doesn’t back the administration isn’t a political decision, and lumping apples and kumquats together, which is what generalizing about decisions as diverse as the gay discrimination decision and this one is, just shows that the President doesn’t read the opinions he’s complaining about, and only cares about the results. (Of course, in this he is like most Americans, sad to say.)

After wading through as much of the assorted opinions in the case as I can stand (Great thanks, once again, to valkygrrl for sending me the link), I think that’s unfair.

Chief Justice Roberts, again the swing man, joined with the four liberal Justices and authored the majority opinion. This sentence says it all: “The dispute before the Court is not whether DHS may rescind DACA. All parties agree that it may. The dispute is instead primarily about the procedure the agency followed in doing so.” That means that the decision isn’t about substance or policy, but rather process. Process decisions are not, or shouldn’t be, political. This note also undermines the idea that the Justices were just acting in partisan lockstep:

ROBERTS, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, except as to Part IV. GINSBURG, BREYER, and KAGAN, JJ., joined that opinion in full, and SOTOMAYOR, J., joined as to all but Part IV. SOTOMAYOR, J., filed an opinion concurring in part, concurring in the judgment in part, and dissenting in part. THOMAS, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in part anddissenting in part, in which ALITO and GORSUCH, JJ., joined. ALITO, J., and KAVANAUGH, J., filed opinions concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part.

If the President paid attention, he would see that a majority of the Court found that his actions regarding DACA were not motivated by “animus,” thus denying Big Lie #4.

I am unalterably opposed to DACA, for reasons stated frequently here. The short version: it is incompetent and irresponsible law-making to provide an incentive for people to break the law. DACA is fueled by emotion and sentimentality (“Think if the children!”) and is an incremental step toward open borders. However, other than some dicta among the concurrences and dissents, there is no reason to see the decision as either favoring or disfavoring the law. Continue reading

Three Intriguing Updates And Supplements To Recent Posts!

1. This Time, Blame The Victim (3/24/2020) and High Noon Ethics Showdown, 4/2/2020: Reality Dawns

From the National Review:

Arizona police are now conducting a homicide investigation into a woman who claimed she gave her husband fish tank cleaner after President Trump claimed the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine was an effective treatment for coronavirus.

Wanda Lenius told NBC News last month that she and her husband Gary consumed fish tank cleaner because it contained a chemical that Trump suggested might be an effective prophylactic and treatment for coronavirus. The cocktail, which contained four teaspoons of fish tank cleaner mixed with soda water, put Wanda in the ICU and killed Gary. “My advice,” Wanda explained, is “don’t believe anything that the President says and his people because they don’t know what they’re talking about.”

When I wrote the first post about Wanda Lenius, who, she said, persuaded her  husband to swallow fish-tank cleaner because the President had promoted chloroquine, one of the ingredients, as a promising treatment for Wuhan virus infections, commenter Joe Fowler suggested that the story sounded to him as if she had figured out how to bump off her husband, writing,

Am I alone in finding it suspicious that the couple that consumed the fish tank cleaner is presumed to have done exactly what the wife is claiming? The husband is dead in bizarre circumstances, poison in fact…. The “Trump told us to do it!” nonsense is just too perfect a narrative for the corrupt media, They can’t help but use it.

Blogger Ann Althouse also suggested that foul play might be involved, and so did my wife. later we learned that far from being a robotic Trump-follower, the woman was, in fact, an active anti-Trump donor. She and her husband had a contentious relationship that had include a domestic abuse complaint.

Stay tuned... Continue reading

First They Came For Tiger Lilly, And I Said Nothing. Then They Came For The Land O’Lakes Girl…

(Actually, I did say something about Tiger Lilly…)

Well, it finally happened. Land O’Lakes  capitulated, as spineless corporations are wont to do, to silly and contrived political correctness bullying and is sending its iconic Land O’Lakes Indian Maiden logo to the Happy Hunting Ground. The comely illustration that has appeared on  containers of butter and margarine since 1928 will be replaced by photos of real Land O’Lakes farmers and co-op members, along with the phrase “Proud to be Farmer-Owned,” according to a company release. Gee, what fun.  As I wrote here, the company had already eliminated the logo’s famous capacity for sophomoric snickers in 2018…

“…so you could no longer do the “boobs trick” by folding the package just right and making a little flap on the butter package that  young Elizabeth Warren or whatever her name was held that when raised  would show her oddly shaded knees as something less pedestrian. Why they would bother papering paper over one of the longest-running and most famous commercial artist gags ever after decades, I don’t know. In its day, the gag was considered obscene, but by 2018 it was Americana. I had an uncle who kept one of the risque package cut-outs in his wallet.”

(You can see how the gag worked at the link.) Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/13/2020: I’m So Sorry I Missed Your Birthday, Mr. Lincoln.

I am awash with shame.

Yesterday was Abe Lincoln’s birthday, and I didn’t remember until late last night. This is the inevitable result of Presidents Day, the lazy combination of Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays into one floating holiday that lumps all our Presidents together as if they were equally laudable. (They are all laudable, but not equally.) Thus Franklin Pierce gets as much love from our calendar as Abe and George, which is ridiculous. ( President Pierce’s birthday I remember, because it’s the same date as my wedding anniversary, November 23.) In the old days before the blight of Presidents Day, school children would spend both February 12 and 22  learning about and doing projects related Lincoln or Washington. Without either of these great leaders, we probably don’t have a nation today, or if we do, it would be a vastly diminished one. Our first and Sixteenth Presidents tower over the rest in leadership ability, vision, and impact on our history and culture. Both deserve their own holiday, because every American should take at least a day out of every year to remember these two icons and honor their essential contributions, at great sacrifice, to the existence of the United States of America as well as the welfare of all of its citizens, past, present and future.

Today, most Americans couldn’t describe what Lincoln said at Gettysburg, and that’s not a recent phenomenon. In the classic movie “Ruggles of Red Gap,” a barroom full of Americans in a Western frontier town are unable to recall Lincoln’s message, but the very British butler, recently immigrated, can. Charles Laughton, who played the butler, continued to deliver Lincoln’s masterpiece throughout his career after that scene became the highlight of the movie. You can watch it here—I’d embed it, but there is no YouTube version.

1. Self promotion dept. I’ll be participating in a live podcast later today, discussing the ethical implications of nepotism. Details to come.

2. Still more developments in the Houston Astros cheating scandal. Earlier this morning I watched a live press conference from the Astros Spring Training camp about the sign stealing scheme. From a public relations standpoint, the spectacle made the Astros problems worse.

Stars  Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve spoke for a grand total of 90 seconds, sounding for all the world  like American prisoners of war in North Korea. Owner Jim Crane did most of the talking, which was unfortunate for the Astros and baseball. He  took no responsibility at all for what went on in 2017, though he was at the top of the organization chart: this is called the “Ken Lay excuse.” Worse, Crane repeatedly refused to acknowledge that using a secret camera to relay to the Astros dugout the opposing catchers’ signs telling pitchers what to throw, which were then relayed to  Astros batters by players banging on trash cans, constituted cheating. All Crane would say was “We broke the rules. We can argue about what you want to call it.”

Worse still, Crane said that it was impossible to say whether the team’s full year of sign stealing, including the playoffs and the World Series (which the Astros won), gave his team a competitive advantage. “Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t” he said. “Our opinion is this didn’t impact the game. We had a good team. We won the World Series and we’ll leave it at that.”

In later interviews with the players after the press conference, it sounded like everyone had been prepped to keep saying “2017” over and over, because there are lingering suspicions that the Astros scam extended into 2018 and 2019. As commentator Matt Vasgersian mused afterward on the MLB cable channel, if the Astros had won a championship cheating all the way through 2017 and hadn’t been caught, why would they suddenly stop the next season? Continue reading

Two-Day Ethics Catch-Up/Warm-Up, 6/28/19 and 6/29/19: Racists, Bigamy, And Jimmy Carter

Good evening and good morning…

I tried so hard to get to the office and the keyboard last night to complete the Warm-Up, but video shooting, exhaustion and sick dog complications made it impossible. I don’t know if slow and steady win anything, but they do make progress…

1. Racist comments poll results: I’m surprised. The overwhelming majority—about 92%— is anti-racist comment censorship. Let’s read the one in question, and tell me if it makes you rethink your vote. How much stuff like this do you want to read?

but ethics..?…in general, doesn’t the word, ‘ethics’ pertain to – things that are helpful or things that are helps or a thing or things that help and/or are helpful ? You can call me a racist, if you like but I don’t hate niggers because of the color of their skin – isn’t that what a racist is ? oh no, no, no, no, no, contraire mon frere…l hate niggers like I hate stepping in shit, as I’m apt to slip and fall and hurt myself. I would have to strongly disagree about your terming of chimpmania and other similar sites as being, ‘unethical’ – chimpmania – specifically, helped me to make my decision, in regards to staying as far and wide and clear and away from niggers, as I possibly can. Whether you can comprehend or not : I’ve seen enough – visually, first-hand to know better than to have anything to do with them. I don’t hate niggers because they’re black, l hate niggers because they’re niggers – my daddy didn’t teach me to hate niggers – niggers taught me to hate niggers. And let me clue you in on the simplest of FACTS about niggers…they come in all shapes and sizes and colors and disguises.

I live in a city that’s 89% White and 4% black and the rest ? – whatever the hell else. Now, which do you think the ethnic group or racial group is that supplies the greatest number of niggers in this city – blacks ? nope… …you figure it out and yes I AM a WhytAy !

  • What do you learn from this?
  • Is it fruitful or worth the time to rebut it?
  • Does a comment like this contribute anything to public discourse or comprehension of relevant issues?
  • Do you want someone capable of writing this to be participating in other discussions?

2. Ethics Dunce: Jimmy Carter. Yes, the former President decided to choose now to announce that Presient Trump would not have been elected without Russian interference. “There’s no doubt that the Russians did interfere in the election, and I think the interference, although not yet quantified, if fully investigated, would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016,” Jimmy said. Jimmy is and has always been something of an arrogant jerk. “Although not yet questioned” is a euphemism for ” there is no evidence of this whatsoever, but I believe it anyway.” It is exactly as valid a statement as the President’s statement that illegal immigrant votes cost him the popular vote, which is to say that it has no validity at all. Yet look at all my Facebook friends and yours, citing the failed President as proof that Big Lie #2, “Trump is not a legitimate President” isn’t a lie after all.

This is not just appeal to authority, a logical fallacy, but appeal to a proven-unreliable authority, a stupid logical fallacy. Jimmy’s various fact-free pronouncements since his ejection from the white House by Ronald Reagan have been marked by their fealty to confirmation bias. My favorite was his conclusion that he has been the most accomplished ex-President in U.S. history. William Howard Taft (who went on to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), John Quincy Adams (who had brilliant career in the House of Representatives after he lost to Jackson), and Herbert Hoover, whose humanitarian accomplishments post-Presidency dwarfed Carter’s, would beg to differ. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/7/2018: Something In This Post Is Guaranteed To Send You Screaming Into The Streets

Good Morning!

1 Oh no! Not my permanent record! My wife gave a small contribution to Mitt  Romney’s campaign, and has been hounded by RNC robocalls and mailings ever since. GOP fundraising started getting really slimy under the indefensible Michael Steele’s leadership, and continued to use unethical methods after Steele went on to job at a bait shop or something. Last week my wife got an envelope in the mail with a block red DELINQUENCY NOTICE! printed on it. A lie, straight up: there was no delinquency, just a my wife’s decision that she would rather burn a C-note than give it to the fools and knaves running the Republican Party. She registered an official complaint with the RNC, and received this response from Dana Klein, NRCC Deputy Finance Director:

“My job as the Deputy Finance Director is to communicate with supporters to let them know the status of their NRCC Sustaining Membership. Unfortunately, I have bad news for you. As of right now, you have a delinquency mark on your record for your failure to renew your membership. But, I have some good news. You can remove this delinquency mark if you renew by the FEC deadline on Wednesday.”

Both my wife and I were professional fundraisers for many years. This is deceptive and coercive fundraising, and anyone who voluntarily supports an organization that uses such tactics is a victim or an idiot.

Or, I suppose, a Republican.

2. Another one…This is another one of the statements that I am pledged to expose every time I read or hear it: a Maryland legislator, enthusing over the likelihood that a ballot initiative will result in legalizing pot in the state, ran off the usual invalid, disingenuous and foolish rationalizations for supporting measure. (Don’t worry, pot-lovers: I’m resigned to this happening, not just in Maryland, but nation wide. As with the state lotteries, our elected officials will trade the public health and welfare for easy revenue every time. Minorities and the poor will be the most hurt, and the brie and pot set couldn’t care less.) Only one of his familiar bad arguments triggered my mandatory response pledge: ” to legalize a drug that is less harmful than alcohol.”

This is the bottom of the rationalization barrel, “it’s not the worst thing.” Alcohol is a scourge of society, killing thousands upon thousands every year, ruining families and lives, wrecking businesses, costing the economy millions of dollars. Just yesterday there was a report that fetal alcohol syndrome was far more common that previously believed. There is no question, none, that U.S. society would be healthier and safer without this poison accepted in the culture: unfortunately, it was too deeply embedded before serious efforts were made to remove it. Now pot advocates want to inflict another damaging recreational drug on society, using the argument that it’s not as terrible as the ones we’re already stuck with. Stipulated: it’s not as harmful as alcohol. It’s not as harmful as Russian Roulette or eating Tidepods either. I have a bias against taking seriously advocates who use arguments like this; it means they re either liars, and know their logic is absurd, or idiots, and don’t.

3. Riddle me this: What do you get when you cross casting ethics, weak and lazy school administrators, political-correctness bullies-in-training with “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”?

Answer: a cancelled high school musical, and per se racism supported by the school.

New York’s Ithaca High School was beginning production of the Disney film-based musical “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” but made the unforgivable error, in the eyes of student activists,  of casting of a white student as a Romani heroine Esmeralda, played in the classic film by that gypsy wench, Maureen O’Hara, and in the Disney version by a Toon.  Several students quit the show in protest,  and formed an activist group to reverse the decision. It sent a letter calling the casting “cultural appropriation” and “whitewashing,” calling the student the “epitome of whiteness.” The letter admitted that she was also “a stellar actor, singer and dancer” that any stage would be “lucky to have,” but what is the talent, skill and competence required for a role compared to what really matters, her skin color? The students demanded that the school either choose a different show or recast Esmeralda a black and brown actress. Continue reading

The End Of Chief Wahoo

The Cleveland Indians will yield to political correctness and ditch the team’s 70 year-old logo, Chief Wahoo. Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred pressured Indians chair Paul Dolan into making the change, which had been demanded by Native American activists for decades. A version of the red-skinned, hook-nosed caricature of a Native American first appeared on the Indians’ uniforms in 1948, when the team won its first American League pennant after many frustrating years. The logo caught on in part because the team’s fans had good associations with the image—the cognitive dissonance scale strikes again!—and then grinning indian became part of team tradition.The various groups that bullied other teams to change or eliminate names or logos with any hint of ethnicity on spurious grounds made banning Wahoo a priority, along with the Atlanta Braves “tomahawk chop” and especially the Washington Redskins nickname.

Apparently Manfred used the 2019 MLB All-Star Game as leverage, telling the club that either Chief Wahoo goes or the All-Star Game would end up somewhere else.

I have no affection for the logo, which is grotesque and anachronistic, but as with the Redskins, the protests were part of a power play by the Left and not the result of genuine, widespread offense affecting Native Americans. Nobody was made into a racist or caused to hate Native Americans because of Chief Wahoo, and sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon. There was no racist intent: people do not associate names and images that represent what they hate with teams they love. (The cognitive dissonance scale again. Is there anything it can’t explain?) As with the Redskins name, I feel as if the Cleveland Indians logo needed to stay as a matter of principle. Again, the attack on team names and symbols is about power, and bending others to their will.  Polls and surveys showed that most Native Americans didn’t care. But this is just another brick in the wall, and the censors of art, history, tradition, thought and language will never stop. Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: The Catlettsburg (KY) Police Department

punisher-logo2

This story does not fill one with trust and respect for the judgment of our warriors in blue.

The Catlettsburg, Kentucky, Police Department placed large decals on its police vehicles that show the comic book character “The Punisher’sskull logo emblazoned with the “Blue Lives Matter” slogan. Behold:

punisher-logo

The city council and mayor approved the design and decals, which were funded by local taxpayers.

Morons.

The Punisher is a Marvel Comics anti-hero who is a murderous vigilante.  He summarily executes bad guys. From Wikipedia (which apparently they don’t get in Kentucky)…

The Punisher (Frank Castle) is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character… is a vigilante who employs murder, kidnapping, extortion, coercion, threats of violence, and torture in his war on crime.

Exactly the image that police departments want to convey to the public!

The Punisher’s  logo has become a symbol of “Blue Lives Matter,” featured on merchandise and Facebook posts supporting police officers against the “forces of evil,”  as in those who view the police as enemies of minorities and justice.  “American Sniper,” the 2015  film based on Navy SEAL  Chris Kyle’s life, popularized the Punisher comics, which Kyle admired. Catlettsburg Police Chief Cameron Logan thought it was just  a “warrior logo,” and didn’t know it was associated with the vicious and lawless comic book character, even though the comic itself was featured in the film. He knows now, though.

“We’re getting so many calls, and they’re saying that the Punisher logo [means] we’re out to kill people, and that’s not the meaning behind that,” Logan says. “That didn’t cross my mind.”

Wait…mind?

The logo is a death’s head! What do you think a death’s head means?

Now that his police have removed the car decals, the Chief say he regrets using the image, calling it an oversight, and  promises that in the future he’d do “a little more research” …before emblazoning death symbols associated with lawless killing on his vehicles.

That’s nice.

 

Logo Ethics: How Insane Is Campus Political Correctness? A Quiz

Here are four logos from U.S. institutions of learning.  Each was or  is under attack by groups of students or administrators as being “offensive,” and in each case, the school’s administration either spent or is spending time and money to comply with the concerns. You have to guess the reason for the offense in each case.

Ready? Here’s number #1, from Brooklyn College:

Logo1

Give up? Well, back in 2009, we have recently learned, Karen L. Gould, who had just taken over as the first woman president of Brooklyn College, raised $107,000 to replace the old logo (the silhouette of the school’s landmark La Guardia Hall clock tower), because she thought it looked like a giant penis. [An earlier version of the post surmised that she therefore believed the logo was sexist. There is no evidence of that; it was my surmise and my error.]

She would not be happy living in Washington, D.C., clearly.

Ready for the next one? Here’s #2, from the University of Connecticut: Continue reading