Yeah, I know I’ve been using this clip and the “Blazing Saddles” “You, know, morons” clip too often lately, but it is because people proclaiming objectively stupid positions that are being taken seriously is becoming an epidemic, and one that has the potential to do more damage than any virus.
Today’s example: a study published in the journal The Lancet reveals that an experimental drug called vosoritide increases growth in children with the most common form of dwarfism, achondroplasia. Taken early enough and long enough, such children can grow at nearly the same rate as children without the malady. Achondroplasia leads to eventual back pain and breathing difficulty in addition to guaranteeing that its sufferers will look up to jockeys and call Mickey Rooney imitators “Stretch” for their entire lives. Yet the existence of a treatment has sparked opposition among some parts of the “Little Person” community, which insists that being only four feet tall is “a unique trait to be celebrated, not a problem in need of a cure.”
Our rescue dog Spuds is gradually coming into his own now: after being starved by his previous owner, he finally is secure enough to leave some food in his dish and finish it later. He’s also finding his inner puppy at 2 and a half, which is both challenging for us as he gets stronger, and fun. I honestly don’t know how we went so long without a dog in our home after Rugby left us.
Ann Althouse, whose opinions have been unusually visible on Ethics Alarms today, raised two dog-related ethics issues since we adopted Spuds last month, and since the dog left me panting by running me over hill and dale this morning as I allowed him to run off leash for the first time, addressing them now seems like a timely task.
(As I type this, Spuds is trying to climb onto my desk…)
1. On August 23, Althouse wrote,
Why don’t the people who think you should get a “rescue” dog when you want a dog also think you should get a “rescue” child when you want a child? In fact, isn’t the argument for adopting an older child with special needs even stronger than the argument for adopting an older dog that hasn’t had the advantages of a loving home and careful training? After all, many dogs are euthanized, but we strive to keep all our children alive even when they have terrible behavioral problems. And dogs are kept under the control of owners all their lives, while children become adults and are allowed to move about freely in the world even when they are quite dangerous. It’s therefore especially important to take great care of all of the children who have been born into this world.
People will say that they want their own biological offspring, but what makes you think what you have to give genetically is so wonderful? Dog breeders have much higher standards selecting which dogs to use for breeding. People just decide to use themselves. When you have your own biological children, you’re picking yourself because you are yourself. I’m not saying that’s wrong. In fact, I think it’s quite beautiful, making something out of your own body and the body of a person you love. So I’m beginning to see the answer to my question. When you have your own child, you’re not being a eugenicist, looking for the ideal baby. You’re accepting the randomness of who you happen to be and who you’ve found to love. The baby grows out of that is more like a rescue dog than a breeder’s dog.
I do think Althouse answered her own question., at least the human part. Having a child (or many) with someone you love is part of the human experience, helps bind couples and society together, and is a spiritual as well as a natural biological act. Of course, that description assumes a lot: that the child was planned, that the parents love each other, that they are married, and that there are no known toxic hereditary traits to avoid. Continue reading
1. Related to absolutely nothing anyone is currently thinking about...I was re-watching “Spotlight” to remind myself that the news media sometimes does its job, and again was reminded how Hollywood constantly makes Americans more ignorant by its sheer arrogance and laziness. The film, which reasonably accurately recounts how the Boston Globe’s investigative “Spotlight” team broke the story of the extensive Catholic Church cover-up of pedophile priests, a scandal still unfolding now, 20 years later, has a scene in which a lawyer who represents the victims of such priests tells a reporter that he’s effective because he’s an “outsider.” “I’m Armenian,” he says. “How many Armenians do you know in Boston?” Having been brought up in Boston, I know that the answer to this question is “A LOT.” Boston was a center of Armenian immigration at the turn of the 20th Century, and its Armenian community, in the city and especially the suburbs, is huge and influential. There are many Armenian organizations as well. In Arlington, Mass., where my family lived, Armenian-Americans were prominent in business and government. The little side street where we lived, Brunswick Road, had ten families living on it: the Marshalls, the Gares, and the Moreland, the Zeffs (who were Jewish, then two Sakoians, the Nazarians, the Catherians, the Berbarians, and the Masmanians. Just Googling “Boston Armenian conmmunity” would have let the film-makers know the scene was nonsense, and they couldn’t be bothered.
2. And speaking of sexual predators…the cover-up of sexual predators in the coaching ranks for Olympic sports is being exposed slowly but surely. Last month a lawsuit was filed against Richard Callaghan, an elite American figure skating coach best known for coaching Tara Lipinski to an Olympic gold medal in 1998 and coaching Todd Eldredge to a world title and six national championships. The suit alleges ongoing sexual abuse of one skater that endured over two decades. Callaghan’s victims were male, not female, but the story is familiar: parents guilelessly entrust their talented athletic children to mentor/coaches in swimming, skating, and gymnastics, without considering for a moment what attracts many of these people to working with children and teens.
Another sport that is coming to terms with a sexual predator is equestrian competition. George Morris, an Olympics equestrian coach known as a “kingmaker” for his success with riders, was barred for life from the sport by the United States Equestrian Federation based on an investigation of alleged sexual misconduct He is now facing lawsuits filed this month by two people claiming that he raped them as teenagers. Jimmy Williams, another riding coach who guided many Olympians and was also named in a lawsuit by a woman who said Williams had sexually assaulted her from the ages of 12 to 17. Though Williams died in 1993, he was recorded as barred for life from the federation in 2018—yes, a dead man was banned for life— after an investigation by The New York Times revealed accusations by nearly a dozen women, including the Olympian Anne Kursinski, that he had preyed upon them as girls.
Parents are so desperate to live vicariously through their offspring that they willingly hand their kids over to the care of predators. I’m sorry to say this, but absent thorough, thorough investigation, it is irresponsible to trust these coaches. The history and what we know of human nature presents too much of a risk.
The same applies to allowing children to work in professional theater, TV, and movies. Continue reading
The rebellion of 15-yeqr-old Claudia Conway against her politically prominent parents, Trump Counsellor KellyAnne Conway and NeverTrump jerk George Conway (when one devotes one’s time to publicly attacking one’s spouse’s employer, one is, by the Ethics Alarm definition, a jerk. Also an asshole.) qualifies for the famous George Kaufmann reaction, which has been quoted here frequently, when crooner Eddie Fisher (husband of Debbie Reynold and Elizabeth Taylor, father of Princess Leia) visited ’50s TV panel show and complained about his love life:
Mr. Fisher, on Mount Wilson there is a telescope that can magnify the most distant stars to twenty-four times the magnification of any previous telescope. This remarkable instrument was unsurpassed in the world of astronomy until the development and construction of the Mount Palomar telescope.The Mount Palomar telescope is an even more remarkable instrument of magnification. Owing to advances and improvements in optical technology, it is capable of magnifying the stars to four times the magnification and resolution of the Mount Wilson telescope.Mr. Fisher, if you could somehow put the Mount Wilson telescope inside the Mount Palomar telescope, you still wouldn’t be able to see my interest in your problem.
Why am I writing about it, then? Claudia is an unusually spoiled teen, but a teenager rebelling against her parents is neither news nor intrinsically interesting. However, her rebellion is publicly embarrassing her parents while turning her into a celebrity, That shouldn’t happen, and it is the result of multiple instances of unethical conduct that it has happened.
Claudia has been assailing her parents on social media all summer, and her insulting attacks, notably on Tik Tok where one of her videos referred to her mother as “Smelly Kelly,” have “gone viral’ much to the joy of Trump Haters everywhere. (Nobody cares about George Conway, except as a resistance tool.) Now she has announced that she’s seeking emancipation from her parents because co-existing with two conservatives who love her and who have provided the very essence of privilege is just too, too horrible to bear.
- Two career-focused and neglectful parents weren’t sufficiently attentive to the basic duties of parenthood to convey to their daughter minimal ethical values, including one’s obligations to family.
KellyAnne Conway has publicly encouraged her daughter to have “independent” views. That’s self-serving cover. Her daughter has watched her father attack her mother’s job and employer in public, and has seen her mother shrug it off as if her husband was a just another Trum- deranged stranger. That is the respect for family, love and loyalty that has been modeled for her. Claudia’s conduct is the natural and predictable result.
- I don’t know what kind of ideological indoctrination Claudia has undergone in the high-priced private schools she attended, but it’s an easy wager that she has been subjected to constant progressive brain-washing away from home, and limited influence by her parents in it. My wife and I briefly sent our son to one of those schools, and Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” was presented as part of the science curriculum. For decades, parents have naively and negligently trusted our education system, because it saved them time and anxiety to do so. The United States is now reaping the whirlwind as a consequence.
It is clear, or should be, that parents must not trust teachers, public schools, private schools, colleges, universities,or the administration of those schools, to keep politics out of education. That is the revelation that the riots around the nation engineered by anti-American revolutionaries should be bringing home.
- Social media has the capacity to make our children monsters. It gives them power they are neither mature, responsible, experienced nor wise enough to handle. Claudia could be the poster girl for this phenomenon.
She is the victim here.
In one of her whiny tweets, Claudia writes that her parents have ruined her life. I think she’s right, but not for the reason she thinks.
The conservative media does itself and its cause no favors when it indulges in the same kind of warped and biased logic, as well as shameless appeals to emotion, that it–rightly–accuses the Left-leaning media of inflicting on the public.
This story is stunningly simple from an ethics perspective. Walt Disney World has a rule that all visitors must wear masks at all times. A careless father who didn’t bother to do his research and preparation for a family trip to the theme park arrived to find that his 7-year-old daughter, who cannot wear a mask due to a disability, would not be allowed in. That was the correct call by Disney. It doesn’t matter whether the rule is excessive or extreme: this is a pandemic-related health rule for the safety, peace of mind and security of Disney’s guests. If everyone doesn’t wear masks, then no one will regard the rule as fair or serious. There can’t be exceptions to such rules, especially, “Aw. just this once, after all, the kid has a disability and has really been looking forward to this” exceptions. Continue reading
1. Is this fair? Houston-based freelance photographer Bill Baptist shared a meme on his Facebook page that parodied the Biden-Harris campaign logo. It read, “Joe and the Hoe.”
Former WNBA star Sheryl Swopes saw Baptist’s post, shared it on her own timeline and demanded that the NBA to fire the photographer. So he was fired. Baptiste tried the inevitable grovel, writing,
“I deeply regret posting on my Facebook page a phrase that I saw and copied from others as a sample of some people’s reactions to Biden’s selection of Senator Harris as his choice for VP. The phrase I posted does not reflect my personal views at all. I should not have been so insensitive to post the statements by others. I sincerely apologize to all of those who have rightfully been offended and I have taken the post down from my FB page. It was a horrible mistake on my part.”
It didn’t save his job.
- Does sharing a tweet or a meme necessarily mean “I agree with this”? Can’t it mean, “Look at this”?
- What kind of person actively seeks to have people fired for words or conduct that have nothing to do with their jobs? My answer: cruel people.
- In this episode, Sheryl Swopes showed herself to be a worse human being than the photographer.
- Kamala Harris exploited a sexual relationship with power-broker Willie Brown to advance in her career. The meme could be considered legitimate satire if she were white. Is it illegitimate because she is sort of black?
2. And the Ed Wood Award goes to...The Orpheum Theater in Memphis. Ed Wood, bonkers director of such camp classics as “Plan Nine From Outer Space,” was creative, courageous, indefatigable, and passionate. He was also completely incompetent, and not smart enough to realize it. That brings us to the Orpheum, which installed a nine-hole miniature golf course on its stage to create a revenue stream during the pandemic. Continue reading
This seems like a propitious time to keep reminding people, especially those who are currently engaged in trying to tear up the culture and the nation into little pieces without a clue about what to do next, that some things are worse than racism. Lots of things, actually. At some point, we will have to have this debate and that truth must be established.
In ethics, we judge conduct, not thoughts, beliefs, desires and even words, if they are not truly linked to unethical conduct. “Cancelling” people based on past racist or bigoted sentiments that do not seem to have been consistent with later conduct is unfair and oppressive. The current movement to punish American citizens based on their failure to conform mandated thoughts and specific beliefs is at its core totalitarian, and is doomed to failure, or worse, success.
Playwright Arthur Miller committed one of the most nauseating acts of selfishness, cruelty and betrayal imaginable, but he wrote some of the most ethically resonant dramas in the American theatrical canon: “Death of Salesman,” “The Crucible,” ‘All My Sons,” “A View From the Bridge,” “The Price.” More than any other U.S. playwright, indeed writer in any genre, Miller earned a reputation as the culture’s herald of morality. When he died in 2005, Miller was celebrated as perhaps our greatest playwright (he isn’t, but he’s certainly near the top.) He was also lionized as a lifetime ethics hero, in particularly because of his refusal to “name names” before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, and his vocal opposition to the Vietnam War. His battle with HUAC caused Miller to be convicted of contempt of Congress in May 1957, when he was sentenced to prison sentence, fined, blacklisted, and forced to surrender his passport.
Then, two years after the obituaries and tributes The Atlantic magazine revealed a horrible secret— not a skeleton in Miller’s closet, but a living, breathing, son.
Miller married the last of his wives, photographer Inge Morath (she came after Marilyn Monroe) in February, 1962. The first of the couple’s two children, Rebecca, was born on September 15, 1962. Their son, Daniel, was born in November 1966. Miller was excited about the birth until doctors diagnosed Daniel as having Down syndrome. Against his wife’s wishes—she couldn’t have objected too strenuously— Daniel’s famous father sent the newborn to a home for infants in New York City within days of his birth, then four years later to Southbury Training School, then one of two Connecticut institutions for the mentally challenged. There Daniel stayed until he was 17. Of that place, The Atlantic’s Suzanna Andrews wrote,
By the early 1970s, however, around the time Arthur Miller put his son there, Southbury was understaffed and overcrowded. It had nearly 2,300 residents, including children, living in rooms with 30 to 40 beds. Many of the children wore diapers, because there weren’t enough employees to toilet-train them. During the day, they sat in front of blaring TVs tuned to whatever show the staff wanted to watch. The most disabled children were left lying on mats on the floor, sometimes covered with nothing but a sheet. “In the wards you had people screaming, banging their heads against the wall, and taking their clothes off,” says David Shaw, a leading Connecticut disability lawyer. “It was awful.”
One observer reported that the institute reminded him of a Hieronymus Bosch painting. Continue reading
Yoo’s Rationalization, or “It isn’t what it is” seems to have become popular in recent weeks, and this collection reflects that hellish development.
1. Some things just aren’t true because you want them to be. In Great Britain, Freddy McConnell gave birth after transitioning (but obviously not completely, correct?), so he is fighting in the courts to be officially listed as his child’s father rather than his mother. His argument has been repeatedly rejected, most recently when he unsuccessfully appealed the court decision that he could be registered only as his son’s mother. He now wants to take his case to Britain’s Supreme Court.
What is it about people who think that the law can and should declare up to be down (because they prefer down) and why do they feel it is reasonable and ethical to take up time and resources to try to force the government to endorse an eccentric interpretation of reality? This reminds me of the argument that Bruce Jenner’s victories in the Olympics should be recorded as wins by his future female alter-ego. But women can’t compete in those events, can they? Similarly, the human being that gives birth to another human being is that individual’s mother, by definition. Like Abe Lincoln’s quip about how a dog doesn’t have five legs just because you call its tail a leg, McConnell can call himself anything he likes, and have his child call him what he likes. But he’s still kid’s mother.
Own it, dude, and stop wasting everyone’s time.
2. Wait, what? The New York Times has a story headlined, “‘Murder Hornets’ in the U.S.: The Rush to Stop the Asian Giant Hornet/Sightings of the Asian giant hornet have prompted fears that the vicious insect could establish itself in the United States and devastate bee populations.”
Explain, please, why it’s somehow racist to call the virus that came from the Wuhan Province in China “the Wuhan virus,” or the Chinese virus, but the same paper that has championed the cheap Trump-bashing tactic of condemning the naming of a pandemic after its place of origin refers to a “vicious insect” from Asia the “Asian Giant Hornet’?
Then there is this head-exploder: In China, Wuhan has passed Beijing as the top domestic destination for Chinese tourists. It ranked only eighth before the pandemic.
The hashtag “武汉成为疫情后网民最想去旅游的城市,” roughly translated as “Wuhan is the top city netizens want to visit after the epidemic” has become viral on Chinese social media. Why? Apparently it’s because something momentous happened there. History!
So to sum up: Chinese people regard Wuhan as the origin of the pandemic, and that makes it more attractive to them as a tourist destination, but if Americans identify the same area with the pandemic here, they are racist. Continue reading