Morning Ethics Warm-Up Overstock, 5/15/ 2018: It’s Use Them Or Lose them…

This is perplexing. I have a backlog of ethics stories and issues that I feel are better mentioned in the Warm-Up format, then that post run long, and the items in my basket of deplorable often get superseded by new issues, and are never seen here at all. The collective approach saves amazing amounts of time, so if I have to post each of the leftovers individually, that will preclude doing the work necessary on potentially more significant issues.

Well, today, at least, I’m posting on some of the morning issues that didn’t make the cut.

And this is why Royals used to avoid marrying commoners.

What an Ethics Dunce, and worse,  soon-to-be Royal father-in-law Thomas Markle is! Your daughter is unexpectedly in the middle of a world event (not that it should be that), and she is approaching the most exciting day of her life. One of your two duties is to be on hand to walk her down the aisle, and your other duty is not to screw things up for her and embarrass her. Markle couldn’t do either, because, it is evident, he is a low-life, the real equivalent of  Eliza Doolittle’s father in “My Fair Lady,” who after years of neglect has to try to cash in on his daughter’s good fortune.

The father of the soon-to-be royal bride couldn’t resist cashing in, doing several photoshoots with a paparazzi agency ahead of the wedding. The news reports of this provoked a negative reaction, predictably, except Tommy Boy was too greedy or dumb to predict it, and now he says that he will not attend because he does not want to embarrass Meghan or the royal family.

Too late!

Are there really people who think this is legitimate criticism?

I suppose there are, but wow.  A politically active genealogist named Jennifer Mendelsohn—she’s an idiot, by the way—spends her time digging into the ancestry of critics of illegal immigration and illegal immigrants to prove they are hypocrites, or something. Her latest target is Fox News’s Tomi Lahren (I am not a fan) and Mendelsahn really seems to think she has uncovered a “gotcha!,” tweeting…

Except the 1930 census says Tomi’s 3x great-grandmother had been here for 41 years and still spoke German. Her 2nd great-grandmother had been here for 10 yrs. Spoke no English. Her great-grandfather’s 1895 baptism from MN? Recorded in Norwegian…But as long as people like Lahren continue to push a specious agenda that suggests today’s immigrants are somehow wholly different from previous ones, I’ll keep showing just how alike they really are.

I really do think the wretched quality of thought here is more characteristic of most illegal immigration activists than people are willing to admit. I’m sure you can do this analysis yourself, but…

  • Illegal immigrants are not the same as legal immigrants. That what was once legal is no longer doesn’t make what the legal immigrants did in 1900 wrong, or what illegal immigrants doing now right.
  • There is nothing hypocritical about a citizen with immigrants in their lineage condemning illegal immigration. Indeed, there would be nothing wrong with someone with illegal immigrants in their family doing the same. If my great, great grandfather was a pirate, I can still oppose piracy. If I exist because my great-grandmother was raped, there is nothing wrong with my opposing rapists.
  • Did I mention that Mendelsohn is an idiot?

Just wanted to make sure.

Best rejoinder to her tweet: “Now do Elizabeth Warren!” Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/21/2018, Part I: More On The Parkland Bullies

Good Morning!

1 Doubling down on the Parkland thugs. I was chided yesterday when I wrote of this posed picture of the puppet Parkland student anti-gun hysterics…

...”They look like potential home invaders: if I see kids with those expressions hanging around my property, I’m getting a gun.”   The commenter, who usually is more circumspect, deliberately misconstrued my clear implication that I would buy said gun to protect home and hearth from the threatened home invaders and invaders, should it ever come to that, not these specific children, obnoxious as they are. But this is the current MO of anti-gun, pro-citizen disarming activist: they create distortion and confusion while simultaneously demonizing their opponents. Those five, sullen, vaguely threatening teens above are especially good at it.

The photo itself is visual bullying. It mimics the bad-boy thug-vibes of various hip-hop and punk rock groups who use promotional photos to show they defy authority, hate people with real jobs and would stomp on your face if they had a chance. Photos like this, for example…

…of the band Limp Bizkit, and no, I don’t want to anyone looking like them lurking in my neighborhood either. These expressions and postures are menacing and intended to be, as is most of the rhetoric from David Hogg (the one with the “I’m about to kill you” glare in the center of the Time photo) and his fellowship. Notwithstanding the cynical and transparent packaging of the Parkland students, it is way past time for adults and those interested in serious policy debate to pronounce these over-their-heads baby demogogues for what they are now: media created monsters, funded and trained to carry a calculated anti-Second Amendment message in uncivil and dishonest terms that no adult could get away with.

It isn’t surprising that they are embracing their celebrity–most people embrace sudden celebrity, kids most of all—even though they are both being exploited, and exploiting themselves, in their case, the tragic deaths of their classmates. They have been led to believe that they are consequence-proof, like the bespectacled kid who harasses and annoys bigger children is “punch-in-the face” proof, because it’s taboo to  hit someone with glasses. The Hogg Bullies can call elected officials corrupt, and murderers, and fools, proclaiming fake statistics and fearmongering at Defcon 5 levels, but if someone responds with the sharp rebukes such irresponsible discourse usually requires, he or she is told, in shock, ‘How dare you! These are grieving children!’

No, they are not. Not any more. They are full-fledged monsters engineered by the Left to distort civic discourse and policy debate regarding gun policy, allowing anti-gun zealots to bypass facts and law to go straight to mainlining fear and emotion into public consciousness. Continue reading

“Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/20/18: Bad Ideas, False Narratives, Fake News, And Hillary’s Delusion

Happy Friday!

(You too, Reuben..)

1 The persistence and peril of bad ideas. Civilizations and societies fail in part because terrible ideas take root in the public square, become  exploited by cynical and unscrupulous elites and power-seekers, and lead to policy and cultural disasters. The nation’s gradual acceptance of illegal immigration is such an idea: when the pluses and minuses of the Trump Presidency are finally totaled and compared, no one will be able to deny that taking a direct stand against illegal immigration without compromise or weasel words will be one of Donald Trump’s positive legacies.

Nonetheless, the news media continues to indoctrinate the public with the toxic concept that illegal immigration is acceptable, against all logic and experience. In yet another “good illegal immigrant” story—frankly, I’m sick of writing about them—the New York Times gives us this:

Like many of the immigrants detained this way, Mr. de Oliveira, a house painter, had no criminal history. To the Trump administration, the other thing they had in common was more germane: a legal but, until now, unenforced obligation to leave the country that had stuck to them for years, even as they pieced together lives and families in the United States.

In the later years of the Obama administration, the government mostly left people without criminal records alone, focusing instead on immigrants who had only recently arrived or had been convicted of serious crimes.

But the Trump administration emphasizes that everyone living here illegally is fair game for deportation, a policy that has bumped up immigration arrests by more than 40 percent since the beginning of 2017. Those who were ordered out of the country years ago are especially easy marks for an agency with limited resources for enforcement — especially if they walk straight into an immigration office.

Boy, that mean, mean Trump administration, insisting that aliens who steal a place in this country along with its benefits should have to return it even if they don’t break any more laws.  There is literally no logical or legally coherent argument or rationale to support any other position. I have never heard one, read one, or been able to imagine one. Would people support a policy that allowed citizens to keep the loot they stole in a single felony as long as they never broke another law? Perhaps they would, if politicians, big business advocates for cheap labor and unethical journalists kept promoting the idea over years and decades.

2. And then there are media-fed false narratives. On Headline News this morning, Lovely Robin and her cohorts were reviewing Time’s “100 Most Influential People” and picking their favorites. Who cares, at this pathetic stage of Time’s existence, what that rag decides? One of Robin’s colleagues designated Chloe Kim, the 17-year-old medal-winning Olympic snowboarder, as his favorite among the hundred. Does anyone really believe a teenage snowboarder is one of the 10,000 most influential people in the US, much less in the top 100? Is Time’s 100 really a list of  “people most likely to be on “Dancing with the Stars”? Has any medal-winner in a Winter Olympics ever been particularly influential, except maybe in the Ice Capades? Continue reading

No Wonder We Can’t Communicate With Each Other Or Have Coherent Debates: We’re Culturally Illiterate

“Who?”

Ugh.

 I was watching the MLB channel this morning, and the hosts were discussing the Milwaukee Brewers and their general manager’s statement that the team would “keep its powder dry” until the mid-season trading deadline. All three hosts professed to have no idea whatsoever what the phrase about keeping powder dry meant. In his 1988 book “Cultural Literacy,” E.D.Hirsch, Jr., argued that children in the United States are not learning the basic knowledge that they need to function competently in society. the background information about world, Western and U.S. culture that literate writers and speakers assume their audience already has. The three MLB hosts were all schooled since 1988, and clearly, the problem has only gotten worse.

The phrase at issue is a useful and formerly famous one. It comes from a reported quote from Oliver Cromwell—Teddy Roosevelt wrote a biography of Oliver Cromwell. I bet fewer than one out of a thousand Americans could tell you who he was—during the Battle of Edgehill in 1642. Cromwell supposedly told his Roundhead troops in that opening fight of the English Civil War, ”Put your trust in God, my boys, but mind to keep your powder dry.” The last part of the quote is usually evoked to mean “keep cool,” but the entire quote is more profound. As the late language maven William Safire wrote in the New York Times, it means ”stay calm” but carries an implicit, most ominous threat: ”and be prepared to blow the enemy’s head off at the propitious moment.” Prayer is great, but the Lord helps those who help themselves. Or, as a World War II slogan had it, “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!” This was made into a popular wartime song by Frank Loesser, who wrote “Guys and Dolls.” I know: what’s “Guys and Dolls”? What’s “World War II?”

This morning’s depression reminded me of an essay by Patrick Deneen from 2016, titled “How a Generation Lost Its Common Culture.” He wrote in part, Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/30/18: Classless

 

1. Of unethical, and useless, unpaid internships. There is about as a good a summary of what is wrong with unpaid internships at the UConn website as you will find. My only complaint is that the piece, by Henry Zehner, ignores my long-time objection to these positions based on my experiences with various employers who forced me to use out-of-class students in ill-defined roles. (Yes, one of them was the current Secretary of Education.) Zehner mentions that the law requires interns to do substantive work rather than low level office tasks. He doesn’t mention that only the rare intern is able to do tasks “not requiring specialized training.” My experience was that interns usually had negative effects on my time, management and productivity, as I not only had to instruct them, but also often had to re-do whatever work they completed. (Julie and LeeAnn, wherever you are, I don’t mean you.) But as for the young man who was assigned to assemble  my foundation’s annual meeting board books and explained that it took him so long because the “little slips to label the dividers kept falling into the typewriter,” the less said the better.

2. More on the art vs the artist. Last week we discussed the folly of judging art according to the character of the artist, in my post [#3 in a Warm-Up] on the op-ed. “We’ve been too forgiving of unethical artists.”

Here is an example of an artist of disgusting art being found to be disgusting: John Kricfalusi, the creator of the animated “The Ren & Stimpy Show” has been accused by a 37-year old woman of sexually abusing her 20+ years ago, apparently with her consent, but since she was under 18 at the time, such consent is legally meaningless.  So, really, is her late hit, except to gain #MeToo creds. It’s too late to prosecute the cartoonist, and he was remarkably candid about his relationships with teens while he was having them. Kricfalusi had always admitted to his disturbing taste for under-age teenage girls.

Does this old/new information mean that parents should treat “The Ren & Stimpy Show” as taboo, and that channels that feature cartoons should refuse to show it, thus robbing the show’s creator of residuals and income?

No. Kricfalusi’s art has value, if it has value, independent of his own private misconduct. “Lohengrin” is no worse or better because Wagner was a racist and an anti-Semite. The “Alice” books are wonderful, and our culture shouldn’t be robbed of them because Lewis Carroll was creepily obsessed with little girls.

Kricfalusi, for me, is an easy case. I always thought his work was sick and disturbing, and that no parent should allow any child under the age of 13 to watch it. I would feel the same if Kricfalusi was a certified saint. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Journalist Matt Pearce

“Journalism *is* activism in its most basic form. The entire basis for its ethical practice is the idea that a democracy requires an informed citizenry in order to function. Choosing what you want people to know is a form of activism, even if it’s not the march-and-protest kind.”

—-Matt Pearce, national correspondent for the LA Times, tweeting his support for the definition of journalism endorsed by Rebecca Schneid, co-editor in chief of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School newspaper, as Brian Stelter, CNN’s fake broadcast journalism ethicist, silently stood by, since it is mean and bad form to tell teenagers dictating national policy that they don’t know what they are talking about.

Choosing what you want people to know.

Choosing what you want people to know.

Choosing what you want people to know.

Choosing what you want people to know.

Nah, there’s no media bias!

Yup…

“Enemy of the people.”

Res ipsa loquitur.

Preface: On The Comments Of The Day Regarding “Unethical Website Of The Month, “March For Our Lives” Edition: Change.Org”

The recent post on the incredibly annoying Change.Org petition backing the “March For Our Lives’ sparked two epic Comments of the Day. I am gratified. That idiotic petition was signed by one of my favorite people alive, and this both inspired the post and made me depressed even before my left-wing Facebook friends started making one terrible argument after another in defense of the thing. (Not  a word from the signee. I have a feeling she was so moved by her two teenagers, even though she knows better. I hope that is the excuse. Creeping dementia would be the only other explanation.)

This is a strange issue: the ethics really orbit around tangential matters rather than the alleged controversy itself. The Second Amendment isn’t going anywhere, no matter how loud the screams are or how many demonstrations there are. As is often noted on Ethics Alarms, I am not interested in abstract ethics without real life consequences; indeed, ethical formulas that only work in theory aren’t ethical. To me, the ethics issues following the Parkland shooting are,

  • The cynical exploitation of the children by the Left
  • The equally cynical, and unwise, hesitation to hold them accountable for their worse excesses in rhetoric
  • The recycling of bad statistics and demonstrably (and demonstrated) bad arguments that have been used before to mislead and frighten the public, and
  • The unethical cheerleading  for the anti-gun position by the news media and pundits.
  • The unusually vivid disconnect between the actual facts of the Parkland shooting and the measures being “demanded” in its wake.

The fake controversy—Should the United States allow law-abiding citizens to arm themselves with reasonably state-of-the-art firearms for whatever lawful purposes they decide are necessary and to the extent those citizens feel necessary?—isn’t on the table. This is the United States of America, and that question was answered long, long ago. As long as it is the United States of America, the answer will be the same. Those sufficiently unwilling to accept that fact really are well-advised to consider Australia. I don’t say this as a “Love it or Leave it” rebuke. I’m sorry such people don’t like the basic values and culture of the country, but I would have a similar suggestion for a friend who is determined to keep protesting that the U.S. should make its national language Danish, except, of course, then I would recommend repatriation to Denmark.

The two comments will follow now in successive posts without further musings by me…

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/25/18: “March For Our Lives” Hangover Edition

Good Morning!

1 Exploitation carnage. I feel so sorry for David Hogg. No teenaged male so obviously locked into the arrogation asshole stage of the maturation process, should be exposed to public scrutiny like this. His intemperate and foolish rhetoric will haunt him for the rest of his life. He will either be humiliated when his brain cells kick in, or he will develop into a full-fledged monster. What if he wants to go in a different direction in his life and career? I wouldn’t hire him. Who would? He’s restricted to left-wing activists until he changes his name or does a high-profile mea culpa and goes on a reinvention tour. Celebrity, as Paul Petersen has spent his life trying to teach us, is disastrous for kids; never mind: the cynical, ruthless partisan operatives who made Hogg into their weapon and shield don’t care about him, just the momentary political advantages he represents. When he is chewed up and spit out, as he certainly will be, they will have forgotten his name.

2. A half-Fick sighting! A (she says) transgender woman who calls herself “Lauren” on Twitter claimed to be drugging attendees of a conservative conference in Phoenix, Arizona yesterday, tweeting

“I love my job at the phoenix convention center starbucks and i love slipping my spare estradiol pills in the coffee of anyone wearing a #WesternConservativeConference lanyard.”

Unethical Website Of The Month, “March For Our Lives” Edition: Change.Org

This page, the petition for gun control to “save our children” is what earns the “honor.” I see many Facebook friends, many on whom are genuinely gifted intellectually, surrendering to emotion and signing this junk, as junk it is. The petition neatly encapsulates the serial intellectual dishonestly,  misleading rhetoric and appeal to emotion that we will see bloviated all over the National Mall this weekend: I guess that has some value for historical purposes. Otherwise, it is an engine of ignorance designed to either attract the ignorant, make the less ignorant more so, or deceive.

Let’s look at this mess, shall we?

In the tragic wake of the seventeen lives brutally cut short in Florida, politicians are telling us that now is not the time to talk about guns. March For Our Lives believes the time is now. Created by, inspired by, and led by students across the country, we will no longer risk our lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that has become all too familiar.

Nobody is saying that “now is not the time to talk about guns.” Who has said that? The statement is straw man. Agreed: now is a good time to talk about anything: guns, pangolins, acne, cabbages and kings. We have a First Amendment as well as a Second, something those Other Civilized Nations that are always being extolled in the gun debate don’t have.

Created by, inspired by, and led by students across the country, we …

Not to be pedantic, but a serious petition should be written by someone  who can speak the language. Signers are created by students? It’s bad enough that they are being led by students, who are after all, students. They do not know enough, either through knowledge or experience, to be seriously participating in a complex policy debate, much less leading it.  “We, the undersigned adults who are duty-bound to be teaching and leading our rising generation, are allowing them to dictate to us.” Good plan. How can anyone sign such a petition and not hide their head under a bag?

…will no longer risk our lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that has become all too familiar.

This is pure appeal to emotion rather than reality. The existence of the right to own guns no more “risks lives” than the existence of anything else that is dangerous when misused. There are 10.6 deaths per 100,000 U.S. citizens due to guns according to latest statistics, including those of suicides and those killed by law enforcement. Three times that many die in alcohol-related automobile accidents. Nobody argues that we risk our lives because “someone” hasn’t taken “action” (aka, “do something,” “make it go away” “make us feel safe when nobody in a free society is ever safe”, aka. “ban and confiscate guns.”) regarding that risk we accept as part of living in a free society that includes jackasses, fools and criminals, and that’s just one of many.

There is no “epidemic” of school shootings. Students in school are safe; if they don’t feel safe, it’s because of fear -mongering from activists and the news media.

“We support the right of law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms, as set forth in the United States Constitution.”

No, you obviously don’t. This is a pure lie (or inexcusable stupidity.) A movement called “Never Again” is either lying in its title by implying that any public policy, laws or regulations will guarantee no more gun deaths, in schools or anywhere else, or it is telling us its real purpose in the name, while lying about the movement’s real intent.

Many, many, if not most mass shooters were “law-abiding” until they started shooting. This statement either endorses pre-crime measures, profiling citizens to decide if they are a risk to eventually abuse gun rights—unconstitutional—is magical thinking, or is, again, a lie. The statement—and while it is always a fine time to talk about guns, it is never a fine time to resuscitate this zombie tautology that the NRA has been knocking down for decades—is self-rebutting.  Laws only affect law-abiding people, as long as they obey laws. Restrictive gun laws are violated by criminals, because they don’t obey laws. Nobody has ever explained how a law will not infringe “ the right of law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms” while somehow keeping the same kinds of arms out of the hands of those who are not law-abiding. This is because it’s impossible.

“But with that right comes responsibility.”

As an ethicist, I object to a cynical use of the language of ethics to deceive, which is what this is. If the topic is responsibility, then we are talking about law-abiding citizens again, as well as ethical ones. They usually don’t use guns irresponsibly, or if they do (like killing themselves), such irresponsible use is not addressed by the measures proposed here. If I am a law-abiding citizen, I won’t be more likely to abuse my gun ownership whether I have had a background check or not. Irresponsible gun ownership includes not keeping guns where children—you know, citizens the age of the people “leading” those who sign the petition—can find them and hurt themselves and others. It includes not learning how to use a gun safely and appropriately. This petition isn’t about promoting responsible gun ownership. It’s about replacing the right to own guns responsibly with the right to own sling-shots.

We call on all the adults in Congress elected to represent us, to pass legislation that will protect and save children from gun violence.

There it is: “Think of the children!” A pure, unadulterated, inexcusable appeal to emotion over facts and reason. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: John Gunn

John Gunn, the father of a 12-year-old, went to his son’s school to register his objection to his son’s class being allowed to participate in the National Walk-out to Protest Gun Laws That Had Nothing To Do With the Valentine’s Day Massacre in Parkland, Florida. He videoed the exchange with principal Barbara Boggio, and posted the confrontation on the Ventura Unified School District Facebook page.

Gunn (great name, by the way!): “I want to know who authorized these kids to go out and leave the class when I wasn’t even notified about it.”

Boggio: “As our school planned for who and what, we anticipated something…”

Gunn:  “6th graders? 6th graders? When do 6th graders make decisions?…When do 12-year-olds make decisions? You’re an adult, you’re the school, you’re supposed to teach my child. You don’t influence my child in any which way. Democrat, liberal, Republican, whatever it is. I want it out of the school system. So why did my son have to sit in that class — because he didn’t leave — but why wasn’t I notified?”

Boggio: “If the student chose to leave, that’s their choice.”

Gunn: “What do you mean that’s their choice? They’re 6th graders!…If this wasn’t a protest and this wasn’t happening, you would let the kid leave?”  Continue reading