Finalizing The Sadly Useful School Anti-Violence No-Tolerance Insanity Scale

Alas, the deadly pizza gun is only a #5 now...

Alas, the deadly pizza gun is only a #5 now…

In January 2013, I realized I had used “Now this is the worst example of insane no-tolerance school conduct that there can ever be!” multiple times, and that it was time to make some close calls. I asked readers to rank the following real examples of child abuse by schools, in which children of various ages were punished cruelly and excessively for harmless conduct that violated a poorly envisioned no-tolerance rule. This was the list:

1. Biting pizza into the shape of a gun.

2. Pointing a finger in the shape of a gun and saying “Bang!”

3. Threatening to shoot a student with a bubble gun.

4. A deaf child who makes the obvious sign-language symbol for gun,  to “say” his own name, because his first name is “Hunter”

5. Expelling a student and bringing charges of criminal assault for shooting another student with a spitball through a straw

6. Accidentally bringing a paring knife to school in a lunch box

7. Drawing a picture of your father holding a gun

8. Playing with a LEGO figure carrying a LEGO automatic weapon

9. Drawing a picture of a gun

10. Writing a poem about the Newtown shooting.

I  received a lot of responses on the blog, more off-site. I never published the final results, however, which also takes into consideration my own positions. Here, from most defensible to most insane, is the current order, and why each entry landed where it did: Continue reading

The 27th Victim

NANCY-LANZA

Somehow, before yesterday, it had escaped my notice that the various commemorative events relating to the massacre in Newtown, Conn. have intentionally omitted mention of Adam Lanza’s mother.  This week, Gov. Dannel Malloy has asked that churches across the Connecticut toll their bells 26 times, once for each victim of the massacre–each victim other than Nancy Lanza, that is. A vigil with 26 candles was attended by President Obama last December, and moments of silence at sporting events around the country often are timed to 26 seconds. Last April’s Boston Marathon was dedicated to the grieving Newtown families, with one mile of the traditional 26 mile race dedicated to each victim. There were 27 victims that day, of course: Adam Lanza’s long-suffering mother was victim #1, shot dead in her bed by the son she loved. Why doesn’t her death count? Continue reading

Slate Gives Us A Lovely Example Of Deceit

Deceit_Cvr_CMYK

Thanks, Slate!

A lot of people have trouble with the concept of deceit, which is the intentional use of apparently true statements to deceive. Now I have a wonderful example to give them, thanks to Slate’s use of the most sneaky of lies as its recent contribution to the Post Sandy Hook Ethics Train Wreck, Media Anti-gun Propaganda Division.

Slate compiled a list it called “How Many People Have Been Killed By Guns Since Newtown,” and illustrated it with an “infographic.” The list was widely used in the current “those crazy Republican gun nuts have blood on their hands” campaign led by the President, the Vice President, Mayor Bloomberg and others.  The list is unreliable, however, as an advocacy device, since one of the names it includes is Boston Marathon terrorist Tamerlan Tsarnaev, killed in a shootout with police. How many other gun casualties are on the list that are perfectly justified, legally and ethically, unless one is an anti-gum absolutist who thinks neither the police nor other law enforcement should have access to firearms either? Quite a few, it turns out.

The only explanation for including Tsarnaev (and the others) is to mislead the public and inflame fear and passion by maximizing the raw number of names on the “shooting death list.” Yes, this is literally an accurate (I guess) list of every gun death since Newtown, but if the purpose of the list is to dramatize the need for anti-gun measures in the wake of the Sandy Hood shooting, why is a Boston Marathon child-killer on the list? What does his death have to do with the defeat of gun-control legislation in the Newtown aftermath, or the Newtown massacre generally? Nothing…except that it inflates the number, to be used in fear-mongering and misrepresentation. And that is exactly how Slate’s list is being used…as if it didn’t know. Those defeated, Newtown-inspired anti-gun measures would not have have saved the terrorist, nor does anyone sane wish they could have. Continue reading

The GOP Out-Newtowns The Democrats…Impressive! Also, BLECHHH!

"Anything you can do I can do better...!" An appropriate accompaniment, and, ironically enough, from "Annie Get Your Gun"!

“Anything you can do I can do better…!” An appropriate accompaniment, and, ironically enough, from “Annie Get Your Gun”!

Further proving my conviction that there is no ethical difference between the two political parties at all (they are both habitually dishonest, corrupt, incompetent, hypocritical and Machiavellian), the Republicans opposing immigration reform are in the process of proving they can play the Newtown game too, only more shamelessly. This is why neither party can ever maintain the moral high ground in any issue, ever. While one party is using unethical arguments and tactics, it is just a matter of time before the other party, despite all its protests when it is the target of  them, will employ exactly the same measures—and argue that it’s not, of course.

Blechhh.

The Newtown game, if you didn’t get the reference, is when apolitical  party cynically seizes on a human tragedy and draws a specious and tendentious connection between it and a desired policy initiative. Gun control was never about stopping elementary school massacres, since what occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary was unprecedented, but suddenly the old, old debates about semi-automatic weapons and background checks were cynically recast as test of whether lawmakers cared about kids or not. Which is more important, an archaic Bill of Rights provision about militias, or saving toddlers from being mowed down in cold blood? Why, if only one child is saved, isn’t it worth limiting our right to arm ourselves? Have you no heart? Gun supporters, Republicans, conservatives and fair minded citizens  capable of thought were properly offended at these tactics, while, naturally, the integrity-free mainstream media adopted the same “save the children” mantra.

None of this stopped the Republicans who continue to oppose unavoidable measures necessary to clean up the mess left by decades of bi-partisan negligence regarding illegal immigration from using the latest high-profile tragedy—the Boston Marathon bombing—as a tool to derail the  push for immigration reform.  Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week: President Obama

“The notion that two months or three months after something as horrific as what happened in Newtown happens and we’ve moved on to other things? That’s not who we are. That’s not who we are. And I want to make sure every American is listening today…Shame on us if we’ve forgotten. I haven’t forgotten those kids. Shame on us if we’ve forgotten.”

—-President Obama, at a White House event designed to re-energize the push for stricter gun control laws.

Wrong.

Right back at you, Mr. President.

Right back at you, Mr. President.

Shame on the President…for not only making a facile, lowest-common-denominator appeal for gun control regulations, but for implying that policy should be made in the heat of emotional rather than after rational debate and analysis, looking at all sides of an issue, rather than just the most sensational.

Shame on the President…for insulting principled opponents of the Democrat’s irresponsible, hysterical and cynical effort to portray the complex issue of fire arms regulation as a matter of “saving the children” by accusing them of forgetting the horrendous massacre of toddlers at Newtown.

Shame on the President…for dishonestly suggesting that the measures under consideration, good and bad, would have necessarily done anything to prevent the Sandy Hook rampage by a deranged killer. If it would not, then why is the date of the event, whether it was 10, 100, or 1000 days ago, relevant to anything? Investigators found that Adam Lanza had a 28 inch Samurai sword in his arsenal. How many children might he have killed in the same amount of time with that, rather than his assault rifle? Watch “Kill Bill, Part I” and get back to me. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Developing A School Anti-Violence No-Tolerance Insanity Scale

More deadly than a spit-ball? Less threatening than a pizza?

More deadly than a spit-ball? Less threatening than a pizza?

The latest example of mind-numbing school no-tolerance hysteria comes from rural Pennsylvania, where a kindergarten student has been suspended for threatening to shoot another student with a pink Hello Kitty bubble gun. I confess that I have nothing new to say about this idiotic and cruel incident that I haven’t said before about, say, the school principal who attempted to punish a 4th grader in 2010 for playing with a LEGO figure who was carrying a two-inch LEGO “gun”:

“The ethical duty being violated here, along with the ethical values of fairness, prudence, proportion and respect, is competence. A school administrator who does something like this is not competent, and any school system that gives such a person responsibility for the education of young children is also incompetent.”

…Or about the school administrators that punished a 10-year-old who had bitten a slice of pizza into the shape of a gun, an incident that admittedly sent me over the edge when I wrote:

“This is the Apocalypse, the bottom of the barrel. This disgraces teachers, schools, administrators, the U.S. educational system, America and the human race. Incompetence, unfairness, abuse of power, irresponsible behavior and stupidity, all flowing from a system that has lost its way and is in despair. We are officially in the Twilight Zone, Bizarro World, Cloud Cuckoo Land, and Oz, all to the detriment of our poor students, needing an education, and encountering only rigidity, cowardice and foolishness.”

In the wake of Newtown, however, with supposedly responsible elected officials running around making absurd statements about how we have to choose between the Second Amendment and “saving our children,” the entrenched no-tolerance fanaticism in the schools has become more virulent and widespread, though it could not have become more damaging, irresponsible or stupid than the pizza episode. Continue reading

What An Untrustworthy National Media Has Brought Us To: The Sandy Hook Truthers

One big wedge is missing.

One big wedge is missing.

Until recently, I was happily unaware that an active conspiracy theory has metastasized around the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, what can be thought of as the soot and sludge of the still-rolling ethics train wreck created by that tragedy, except that this is unfair to soot and sludge. The internet is abound with theorists, including at least one professor, who believe that the shooting was an elaborate hoax, possibly engineered by the Obama administration to facilitate gun confiscation and the repeal of the Second Amendment.

In a recent incident reported by Salon, a Newtown man who sheltered some students from the school after the shooting has been relentlessly harassed by Sandy Hook Truthers who have accused him of being part of the government plot. Continue reading

Will Somebody Please Explain To The President That Children Are Not Props, Puppets or Set Dressing?

Finger puppets

“White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced this afternoon that President Obama will unveil a “concrete package” of gun control proposals including assault weapons bans, high capacity ammunition magazine bans, and closing loopholes on background checks. Carney said that the president will be joined by Vice President Joe Biden as well as children who wrote to the president after the Newtown shootings.“They will be joined by children around the country expressing their concerns about gun violence and school safety, along with their parents,” Carney confirmed”—News reports.

What, no babies? How about golden retriever puppies?

Jerry’s Kids in wheelchairs?

How about the bodies of recent shooting victims?

As Kant would remind us, children are not props, should not be used as props, and should not be forced to serve as meat puppets and sentimental set dressing for political announcements. This is dehumanizing and disrespectful of their autonomy.

It is even more disrespectful than treating the American public like idiots.

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Graphic: Aliexpress

Ethics Dunces: The Videogame Burners of Southington, Conn.

book burning

On January 12, they are burning “violent videogames” in Southington, a Connecticut town not far from Newtown, scene of the Sandy Hook massacre.

Is there a more irresponsible, historically ignorant, un-American, First Amendment-offending, foolish, ignorant and ugly act than burning speech and art because you object to their content? They burned rock and roll records  in the Bible Belt during the 1950s—that was stupid, disgusting and frightening. Hitler, you may recall, burned books; the USSR too. In 2013, consigning electronic media like videogames to the flames is indistinguishable from burning books. I would expect American citizens of normal intelligence to immediately realize that.

I guess I would be wrong.

The local group organizing the bonfire has put out some rationalization for it. I could not care less what sad reasoning and warped values motivate their book-burning. It is a symbolic insult to freedom of thought.

No question: book burnings are legal and protected speech. It is also conduct redolant of mob rule, ignorance, intolerance, fear, hate, and Ray Bradbury novels. Some activities have earned permanent revulsion, legal or not, in American culture because they are the traditional tools not of democracies, but of totalitarian governments,  the enemies of democracy and free thought. Book burning is one of them.

And burning videogames is exactly the same thing.

Update: The news accounts eventually make it clear that the group will collect the various forms of violent entertainment in a dumpster, which will also include movies and recordings, and that the actual incineration will be performed by city workers, as part of their rubbish disposal duties. Is this better? Worse, because now the town government is participating? I don’t think it is useful or enlightening to play parsing games. I see this event as indistinguishable from a book-burning, and while The Guardian’s description of it as such could be called misleading (or inflammatory?), I salute them for correctly diagnosing what this is in its essence.

Hollywood’s Ridiculous Hypocrisy on Guns

"Say hello to my little friend! And while we're on the topic of guns, don't you think it's time to be sensible about gun control?"

“Say hello to my little friend! And while we’re on the topic of guns, don’t you think it’s time to be sensible about gun control?”

In a move stunningly unconscious to outrageous hypocrisy, the group “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” have posted a video on on its website and Youtube (of course), featuring an impressive array of solemn Hollywood celebrities chiding Americans for not doing something about guns “yesterday” and to “demand a plan” to end gun violence. The problem? Many of these same celebrities owe their presence on the video to Hollywood’s obsession with gun violence, without which they would be just anonymous pretty faces. They owe their mansions and private planes to that gun violence too, which they have happily, willfully and lucratively acted out in scores of violent films and television shows. How can they presume, given how they make their living, to lecture anyone on the topic of guns?

I have some theories. Many of them are dumb as bricks. Most of them are automatic co-signers of the manifesto for any cause branded as liberal, the Hollywood religion,and don’t bother to think about whether it is consistent with their life choices or not. Probably all of them, working every day in one of the most ethics-free, cut-throat, dishonest and hypocritical sub-cultures that has ever existed in the United States are completely numb to the concept of hypocrisy, as apparently are the mayors, who work in the culture of politics, which is only somewhat better. Continue reading