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