Tag Archives: police shootings

The NFL Is In Ethics Zugswang, But It’s For A Good Cause

Remember this, the essay a University of North Carolina athlete submitted to one of his courses—he got an A—leaked to the news media in 2014?

On the evening of December Rosa Parks decided that she was going to sit in the  white people section on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. During this time blacks had to give up there seats to whites when more whites got on the bus. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. Her and the bus driver began to talk and the conversation went like this. “Let me have those front seats” said the driver. She didn’t get up and told the driver that she was tired of giving her seat to white people. “I’m going to have you arrested,” said the driver. “You may do that,” Rosa Parks responded. Two white policemen came in and Rosa Parks asked them “why do you all push us around?” The police officer replied and said “I don’t know, but the law is the law and you’re under arrest.

I think about this when I’m reading manifestos from pro football players who think the on-field protests that they can’t adequately explain are vital to national discourse. The protests aren’t, and the protesters aren’t. All of the articles about how protests are inherently patriotic are revealed as lies when the protests they are extolling are this divisive, this costly, and this pointless. The Kneelers are almost entirely filthy rich, maleducated, pampered, narcissist dead-heads whose critical thinking skills are infantile, and whose literacy is dubious. What entitles them to a national canvas every Sunday upon which to scribble their graffitti? Nothing. And by continuing to scribble, they are gradually reducing the visibility of that canvas, as well as the viability of their own occupation, which is short-lived already.

The NFL, meanwhile, is stuck in ethics zugswang by its own incompetence. Allow the players to continue making a mindless Fall ritual of mob ecstasy over the visceral pleasures of watching behemoths in armor crush each other an exercise in cognitive dissonance, and the NFL betrays its ticket-buyers, business partners, sponsors and stock holders. Tell the players to protest on their own time, and the NFL is siding with a President who crossed a line by telling a private business how to manage its employees, and setting itself up as opposing “police brutality,” thus Black Lives Matter, thus African Americans.

Meanwhile, the liberal punditry and news media, which doesn’t give a fig about football, is cheering on the Kneelers even as it drives the NFL into cultural harikiri. It’s a little like some of the more disgusting of the anti-gun fanatics when they reacted to the Las Vegas shooting: “Well, it was a lot of conservatives, so who cares, as long as we can use it to ban more guns.” Same here: Liberals, who are far from the core audience for pro football, are quite happy to see the NFL form a circular firing squad if it furthers “the resistance” and progressive narratives, if even for a little while.

An instructive example was a column earlier this month from the Times’ latest hard left op-ed writer, David Leonardt. Called “The Choice Between Winning And Kneeling,” it purported to be a “protest smart” exhortation to the NFL kneelers, without ever articulating exactly what this foggiest of all protests is supposed to win.

Leonardt begins with five inspiring and completely irrelevant paragraphs about the civil rights protests on the Sixties. This is intended to sanctify the NFL kneelers’ grandstanding, but accomplishes the opposite. That protest movement had clear and specific goals. Blacks and fair Americans wanted an end to Jim Crow. They wanted blacks to be able to vote, as the law said they could. They wanted an end to segregation, and discrimination by public commodities. They wanted to have equal justice under law enforced.

Making the intellectually dishonest leap from Selma to the football field, Leonhardt states, “The professional athletes doing political battle with President Trump are heirs to the civil-rights movement. They are protesting government-sanctioned violence against African-Americans,” thus falling flat on his face immediately. Wait: are they opposing President Trump, or are they “protesting government-sanctioned violence against African-Americans”?  Is he suggesting that Trump favors violence against African-Americans?  Who and what is the protest about?

Well, some are protesting one, some are protesting the other, and some are just going along for the ride. By what measure does Leonardt make the factually false statement that violence against African American is “government-sanctioned”? The U.S. government encourages people to kill blacks? No,  it doesn’t.  Leonardt dishonestly links to the Washington Post data base on police shootings, as if this supports his slur.  Among other things, those statistics show more whites shot than blacks. Never mind. Leonardt is just trying to pretend the NFL players have a clue what they want.

We know what legislative and societal measures Martin Luther King wanted. What measures would address the Kneelers’ concerns? A law declaring that police must never shoot blacks when the officers felt threatened? Officers counting to five before using their gun if a suspect is black, and just to three if he’s white? Automatically pronouncing any officer who shoots and kills a black man as guilty of murder? Dispensing with juries when white officers are involved, and using “innocent until proven guilty” as the standard when black officers are involved? Colin Kaepernick thought that any officer who shoots a black man should be automatically suspended without pay, before any investigation. Is that the goal? As I have noted before, “ending systemic oppression”  is just a slogan. It is meaningless. If it is meaningless, so is the protest calling for “something” to be done about it.

Leonhardt doesn’t care. He just wants to promote societal division; it’s the Leftist Way. “From a moral standpoint, this issue is clear. The athletes are right — and have every right to protest as they have. Trump is wrong, about the scourge of police violence and about freedom of speech,” he writes. Really? What are the athletes “right” about? Even they don’t know.  The President has never said that police violence was or wasn’t a problem, but I thought Leonardt just wrote a few sentences before that the protest was about “government-sanctioned violence against African-Americans,” didn’t he? But he linked to a source about police shootings involving all races. Whatever! This is an op-ed for the choir, and not its brightest members, either: there’s no genuine analysis or reasoning, just shotgun endorsement of broad progressive cant. Blacks oppressed. Police bad. Guns bad. United States racist. Trump racist.

Trump, of course, is completely correct about freedom of speech in this matter: employees don’t have a right to turn the workplace into their own, personal Sixties college campus. But, you see, Trump is intrinsically “wrong,” so even when he’s right, it’s wrong. Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: “Comment Of The Day: The NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck, Part One”

I don’t like only covering one ethics topic on a given day, but the NFL National Anthem Train Wreck posts certainly generated enough high-level commentary to justify it this time. My two posts on the topic also sparked several candidates for Comment of the Day. This one, by Chris Bentley, challenged the central premise of the NFL kneelers, to the extent that they have a premise: they certainly have been neither persuasive nor consistent in articulating whatever they think they are kneeling for.

Here is Chris Bentley’s Comment of the Day on the post (by Chris Not Bentley),Comment Of The Day: The NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck, Part One:

“…of a man who said that he couldn’t honor a nation that “oppressed” blacks…”

Sincerely asking, Chris, because I took issue with when Kaepernick made the initial claim, and take issue with you repeating it. How is ours a nation that oppresses blacks?

That is a bold, and wide ranging claim to make. And, as I have invoked before (and at times you’ve shot down, at times legitimately, and at times not, IMO), how can a country that oppresses an entire race of people, a group of people that share the same race as I, somehow not oppress me? Not oppress my father? My brother? My sister, uncle, niece, cousins?

If there is something that makes us different, that makes Thomas Sowell, and Jason Riley, and Walter E. Williams, and Derrick Green (writer for Project 21, a leadership network for Black Conservatives), and many other blacks who are apparent immune to this different, then why is no time devoted to identifying what that secondary component is, that causes us to be excluded from this oppression? We spend so much time discussing intersectionality, but ignore the intersection where systemic racism meets some unknown, unspoken characteristic possessed by some of us, where we become immune to that aforementioned systemic racism. If that’s our goal, eradicating racism, why is no one asking those of us who aren’t finding racism around every street corner, what our secret is? Why are the cameras consistently shoved in the faces of the victims of our racist society, but never us? (You and I both damn well know the answer)

To me, it’s be like someone claiming that Jack is biased against ALL commenters that have “Chris” in their screen name. If Jack’s never been biased against you, can that claim be credibly made? Shouldn’t there be a deeper dive, to identify other characteristics held by the group being infringed upon, rather than lazily basing it on a trait that’s also held by many people who haven’t been affected?

But, to my original question…by what metric can one claim that America is oppressive towards blacks?

Is it the ritualistic, indiscriminate killing of blacks by cops? B/c according to the Washington Post Police Killings tracker, in 2017, twice as many whites are killed by cops than whites (164 to 326). And while, yes, Im fully aware that means (since whites outnumber blacks 5 to 1) that blacks are MORE LIKELY to be killed, it also means that whites are killed in high enough number, that police killings cannot be solely about race. And 95% of police killings involve men, but there’s no outrage about that…so if we’re being intellectually honest and consistent, it cannot be about police killing rates relative to a particular demographic’s representation in the population, right? Unless we’re willing to admit that men are over represented in activities that bring them into violent contact with police…but that can’t be it, unless we’re ALSO willing to admit (I think you see where this leads)…

Is it about black poverty rates? 46% of Black families with children that are headed by single Black women live in poverty, vs 8% of black families where the parents are married (which obviously trails statistics for while single mom headed households/married households), but as of 2014, only 29% of black adults were married, down from 61% in 1960. It stands to reason that a 2 income household leads to more financial stability, and is something that can be created regardless of how racist our society is (I mean, the black marriage rate was 80% in 1890, when the US was still in the immediate shadows of the Civil War and Reconstruction). Did the legacy of slavery just…skip a few generations? Is systemic racism somehow preventing us from marrying one another? Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: The NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck, Part One

Yeoman commenter Chris issued a detailed response to the first of two posts about the anthem protest fiasco. It’s not all rebuttal, and raises other related issues; Chris is clear and articulate, and I wanted to get this up now so commenters could respond here.

I’ll just argue immediately with one of Chris’s points, because I have always found it bizarre when I have encountered it elsewhere.  The Left’s aversion to rituals like standing for the National Anthem or saluting the flag seems to me to be a wonderful example of missing the crucially important forest for a scrawny tree. Rituals, traditions and ceremonies bind people, cultures and societies together. They also bind other cultures together, including small ones, like families. Singing and listening to that Anthem at public events is at worst harmless, and at best a binding and powerful group experience. I feel sorry for people who don’t or can’t experience it, just as I feel pity for those who cut themselves off from the culture’s celebration of Christmas to show their aversion to Christianity or religion. I have seen what havoc is raised in a family when a long and beloved tradition is suddenly rejected by a child. The family is wounded, and all its members are affected. This is just a microcosm of what happens in a nation when there is the kind of widespread rejection of values and symbols that Chris and those like him advocate.

The National Anthem at sporting events is theater, spectacle, and symbolic. Anyone on the field is part of the spectacle, and has the power to diminish the experience for people who care deeply about it. They also harm the tradition itself. For an organization like a sports team, it is important to make any on-field display professional, uniform, and pleasing to the audience. A player intentionally refusing to conform with the ritual and thus disrupting it is, at the minimum, rude and selfish. A team has every justification to take measures to prevent some players from standing respectfully, others kneeling, others turning their back, some waving competing flags and others making farting sounds. It looks bad. It will turn the tradition into a farce. Most important of all, it weakens the country and the culture. National pride and respect is part of the connective tissue that ensures the strength and health of any society. I cannot fathom why so many on the Left cannot grasp this concept, and I have dark suspicions that they do grasp it, and this is why they try to tear our traditions down.

Commenter John Glass also passed this along:

The specific rule pertaining to the national anthem is found on pages A62-63 of the NFL League Rulebook. It states: ‘The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem. ‘During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition… …It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.’

Any employer has a right to set such rules and conditions for on the job conduct, and any employee has a right to ply his trade, or another, elsewhere.

Here is Chris’s Comment of the Day on the post, The NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck, Part One:

sports should not be made a party to the current progressive indoctrination strategy of making everything in American life a political lecture

I agree, which is why the National Anthem should not be played at sporting events.

Nobody pays to go to sporting events to see continuations of the political disputes and debates they watch sports to avoid. Sports is entertainment, and entertainment is escapism.

I agree, which is why the National Anthem should not be played at sporting events.

It’s a useful distinction, and there is no question that the President, as misguided and inappropriate as his remarks were, wins the argument with the many, many millions who just want to watch their favorite teams without being bombarded by political bombast and grandstanding.

I agree, which is why the National Anthem should not be played at sporting events. (And was Trump’s statement not political bombast and grandstanding?

Players are welcome to have political views and to take part in demonstrations and other activism, but not while wearing their uniforms, and not on the field.

I agree, which is why players should not be forced to take part in a political demonstration during sporting events.

Yesterday, over a hundred NFL players “took a knee” during the National Anthem to protest…something…as the news media cheered them on.

It was very clear to me what they were protesting; you describe it here:

The US doesn’t need any more division now, and Trump’s crude outburst was indefensible. Presidents should not comment negatively on the conduct of citizens when they are acting within their Constitutional rights. Nor should they interfere with the policies and disciplinary decisions of private businesses

That’s what they’re protesting. It’s what I would be doing too. I’ve said before that I think flag burning is idiotic, but if Trump followed through on his threats to make flag burning illegal, I would become a flag burner. There may not have been a specific threat here, but the principle is the same. If Trump calls people who take a knee during the national anthem “sons of bitches,” then let me be a son of a bitch. Continue reading

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The NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck, Part Two

The overview of our latest Ethics Train Wreck continues from Part One

  • Slate published an essay by African-American musician John Legend that itself makes an excellent case against the protests while supposedly glorifying them. Never mind the standard anti-Trump spin at the beginning about “Islamophobia” and the rest, though it is nice for any author to state up front that he’s completely biased and his opinion should be discarded as such. Legend and Slate have the audacity to evoke actual protests that were clear and targeted in comparison the all-purpose “knee”:

“Protest is patriotic. Protest has played a critically important role in elevating the voices of the most vulnerable in our nation. Protest in America has been essential to ending war, to demanding equal rights, to ending unfair practices that keep citizens marginalized. If we quell protest in the name of patriotism, we are not patriots. We are tyrants.

Would there have been a Civil Rights Act without the Birmingham protests? When Bull Connor unleashed his fire hoses and dogs on the schoolchildren taking to the streets, racial disparities and the violence facing people because of the color of their skin became the issues of the times. With savage images of the brutal attack in the news every day, President John Kennedy had little choice but to push for a Civil Rights Act that demanded equal services and equal rights.

Protests in Selma, Alabama, changed the trajectory of this nation and catapulted the Voting Rights Act into being.”

A recipe for tapioca would be as germane to the NFL protests as the Selma march. There is no definable law, principle or position these protests bring into focus. Let’s check the Ethics Alarms Protest Ethics Checklist against the NFL grandstanding:

1. Is this protest just and necessary?

No. How is it just? How is it necessary?

2. Is the primary motive for the protest unclear, personal, selfish, too broad or narrow?

Unclear and too broad by definition, since no two protesters make the same argument.

3. Is the means of protest appropriate to the objective?

Obviously not. What does football have to do with “racial justice”?

4. Is there a significant chance that it will achieve an ethical objective or contribute to doing so?

None whatsoever.

5. What will this protest cost, and who will have to pay the bill?

It’s already cost the NFL millions. But nobody is protesting the NFL…

6. Will the individuals or organizations that are the targets of the protest also be the ones who will most powerfully feel its effects?

No.

7. Will innocent people be adversely affected by this action? (If so, how many?)

Sure: every single fan who wants to just watch football.

8. Is there a significant possibility that anyone will be hurt or harmed? (if so, how seriously? How many people?)

The relentless politicizing of sports and entertainment harms U.S. society and frays the fabric of democracy. That means everyone.

9. Are you and your group prepared to take full responsibility for the consequences of the protest?

Clearly not: witness the constant complaining that NFL teams won’t hire Kaepernick so their season is dominated by racial politics rather than, you know, football..

10. Would an objective person feel that the protest is fair, reasonable, and proportional to its goal?

No.

11. What is the likelihood that the protest will be remembered as important, coherent, useful, effective and influential?

My guess: no chance whatsoever, unless unintended consequences count, like getting more votes for President Trump and crippling the NFL count.

12. Could the same resources, energy and time be more productively used toward achieving the same goals, or better ones?

It’s hard to imaging what wouldn’t be a better use of resources, energy and time.

Verdict: It’s an unethical protest. There is nothing patriotic about unethical protests. We have a right to protest; as with free speech, that doesn’t make all examples of exercising that right good, and certainly not “patriotic.”

  • However, let me argue in the alternative, as lawyers often do. Let’s say that, as Legend claims, all protests are patriotic. Fine. Then then Charlottesville protest against tearing down a statue of Robert E. Lee was also patriotic. Why, the, was the President attacked—by Legend and Slate, among others, for not condemning it?

The Left believes that protests are sacrosanct only when they are doing the protesting. There is nothing wrong or unpatriotic about accurately labeling a dumb, badly-conceived or destructive protest, and this one is all three.

“Football was down. The end. We, the good people who read the NYT, must say no to football. What is known cannot become unknown except by willful, immoral forgetting. No decent person can take pleasure in football. No fit parent can allow a child to take up the game. The era of American football is over. Bury it. We can end the misery through the simple and necessary refusal to watch anymore. Say no, America… or hey, wait a minute. Here’s that nasty President of the United States and he’s calling for a boycott of football…

So, watch the liberal media endeavor to save football from bad old President Trump. He’s a racist. This is his racism once again, stirring up the stupid people who voted for him. Here‘s the NYT today:

“The tweet suggested that the president, who used an expletive on Friday night to refer to players who kneel or sit in protest during the anthem — a practice that took hold last season among some African-American players after Colin Kaepernick, the now-former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, did so to protest racial and social injustice — is bent on deepening a bitter culture-war fight with the N.F.L.

It is a highly charged debate, with unmistakable racial undertones, pitting advocates of free speech who argue that professional athletes should have a right to use their positions to call attention to social issues against those who contend that refusing to honor the anthem disrespects the military and the nation, and that sports is no place for such displays.”

 Ann’s line:

“Let the brain damage continue. We’ve got a culture war to fight.”

Continue reading

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The NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck, Part One

Ah, the post unwritten!  Just three days ago, I was considering a post about the ethics dilemma I face regarding the NFL. On September 21 I read that four  NFL players ( Seattle Seahawks’ Michael Bennett, Philadelphia Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins, Eagles’ Torrey Smith and former NFL player Anquan Boldin) sent a letter beseeching Commissioner Roger Goodell to make November a month of “social activism,” meaning a month of promoting Black Lives Matters, attacking as police’ and the nation whose public they protect as racist.

“Since 2016, police have shot over 300 men and women in this country. Some of the names and stories are familiar—Jordan Edwards, Trayvon Martin, Alton Sterling, but hundreds of others are not,” the memo says. This is typical of the level of erudition much of the news media, and many voices  on the Left, including President Obama, have been enabling and praising since Colin Kaepernick began his showboating, incoherent  protest against the National Anthem last year. The officer who shot Jordan Edwards was fired and indicted. Trayvon Martin wasn’t shot by police. I can’t imagine how Mike Brown was left off the list, with a reference to “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” Probably a typo.

The next day, we learned that Aaron Hernandez, the Patriots star convicted of murder who hanged himself in prison in April, suffered from a severe case of CTE, “the most severe case” ever seen in a former football player so young.” He was 27. Of course, not a lot of 27 year olds are in a position to have their brains dissected. CTE is the progressive brain disease caused by repeated brain trauma, and there is convincing evidence that the NFL is crippling its players.

My post was going to be about the ethics conflict I face, as one who believes that it is unethical to support the NFL’s profitable mayhem and who also believes that sports should not be made a party to the current progressive indoctrination strategy of making everything in American life a political lecture. The NFL would hasten its own demise, the post would argue, by agreeing to the ridiculous social activism proposal, thus saving brains and lives. Yet this would also exacerbate the divisive and obnoxious trend in the culture wars to politicize aspects of society that should unify us.
What’s a responsible ethicist to do? But it was a busy week, and I thought I could get the piece written over the weekend, which would have been timely if President Trump hadn’t jumped into the issue with both feet. The President ad-libbed an attack on the Kaepernickies during a rally in Alabama, saying,

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” Trump said. “You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it [but] they’ll be the most popular person in this country…But do you know what’s hurting the game more than that? When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem. The only thing you could do better is if you see it, even if it’s one player, leave the stadium. I guarantee things will stop. Things will stop. Just pick up and leave. Pick up and leave. Not the same game anymore, anyway.”

This immediately turned the National Anthem protest stunt launched by the correctly-unemployed former 49ers quarterback into a late-developing ethics train wreck, and rendered my planned ethics quiz moot. So before anything else stupid happens, let me get down what I hope will be some clarifying observations.Observations:

  • This one is simple, and paramount: Nobody pays to go to sporting events to see continuations of the political disputes and debates they watch sports to avoid. Sports is entertainment, and entertainment is escapism. The same goes for music concerts, movies, plays and musicals. A football player making me watch his half-baked “protest” on the field is no more welcome than the cast of a musical making me sit still to hear its partisan ranting after the show.

Sporting events and other popular entertainment are crucial because they unite society, even if its members disagree passionately on other matters. It is dangerous and unhealthy to remove this crucial oasis of relief from debate, especially now. This should be obvious. It isn’t obvious only to full-time activists who don’t care about the purpose of entertainment or the needs of their audiences. Their objective is to achieve a political agenda by any means possible, regardless of the damage to civil society.

  • A term being used a lot lately on conservative websites is “normals,” describing the Americans who don’t regard politics as the sole focus of their waking hours, and who resent, as the Wall Street Journal termed it, The Politicization Of Everything.

It’s a useful distinction, and there is no question that the President, as misguided and inappropriate as his remarks were,  wins the argument with the many, many millions who just want to watch their favorite teams without being bombarded by political bombast and grandstanding.

  • The NFL could have and should have stopped this train wreck before it left the station by simply re-stating the same standards it had consistently maintained for decades. Players are welcome to have political views and to take part in demonstrations and other activism, but not while wearing their uniforms, and not on the field. Almost exactly a year ago, a player was told by the NFL that he could not wear cleats commemorating 9/11.

Why then did pro football allow Colin Kaepernick to make a far more divisive and incoherent political statement on the field later in the year? The answer is cowardice and abandonment of integrity in the face of race-based politics, the same reason the University of Missouri capitulated to racialist demands by its football team. Most of the players in the NFL are black, so the mostly white leaders of the NFL decided to avoid a confrontation. In doing so, it aligned itself with groups and positions that a large segment of the NFL’s fan base abhors, resulting in lost ratings and revenues. This was a breach of business ethics. The NFL’s business is football, not picking sides in the culture wars.

  • Yesterday, over a hundred NFL players “took a knee” during the National Anthem to protest…something…as the news media cheered them on. This was predictable, and the big question is whether the President prompted the reaction intentionally. I am certain he did not; we know by now that Trump  just blurts stuff out without considering consequences of any kind. The US doesn’t need any more division now, and Trump’s crude outburst was indefensible. Presidents should not comment negatively on the conduct of citizens when they are acting within their Constitutional rights. Nor should they interfere with the policies and disciplinary decisions of private businesses, which he did, and which President Obama also did when he endorsed and defended Kaepernick’s stunt last year.

Both were equally inappropriate and unethical, and abuses of power, influence and position. Of course, Obama’s statement was more dignified and articulate than Trump’s—whose wouldn’t be?—and everything Obama did was greeted with swooning and cheers from the media, while anything this President does is presumed to be an abomination.  They were still two sides of the same unethical coin. Continue reading

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Ethics Quiz: Looters

Looting has been reported in Houston. There are not too many species of human detritus lower than those who take advantage of natural disasters to prey on their neighbors, so the question arises, is it ethical for a city government to order police to shoot them?

This question usually arises in the context of martial law. A curfew has in fact been declared in Houston to minimize the looting; presumably an announcement that looters will be shot on sight will be even more effective deterrence. There are good reasons to discourage looting with strong measures. The conduct threatens civilized society itself, because it is not civilized conduct. If looting becomes widespread, the rule of law is suspended, and worse crimes may follow. In a situation like Houston’s, looting also forces law enforcement to choose between rescuing property and rescuing people. If police openly make the choice to let looters loot while they devote their attention elsewhere, then Looting Season has been declared officially open.

Over the years we have occasionally heard that orders were given to shoot looters on sight, but few looters have been shot. Usually the order is enough, which suggests that the order to shoot is a bluff, but usually an effective one.

Police shoot unarmed citizens alarmingly frequently already, however: that’s one order that shouldn’t be given in jest. Presumably most looters are unarmed; I’m not going to concern myself with the question of whether armed looters can be ethically shot. The answer to that is yes, especially when they shoot at rescuers, as apparently some have in Houston. No, your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is this:

In a natural disaster, is the order to shoot looters on sight ethical?

Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/20/17

Καλημέρα!

[This is pronounced “Kaliméra!,” not to be confused with “Calamari!” My father frequently got them confused when he visited Greece with my mom, the former Eleanor Coulouris, and embarrassed her by greeting the natives some mornings by cheerily saying, “Squid!]

1. The newspaper Arts section headline says, “Mayor Ties Arts Money To Diversity.”

The mayor in question is New York City’s DeBlasio, and since his own family is “diverse,” naturally every other entity has to be, or it is baaaad. This is why I oppose government funding of the arts unless it guarantees that the nation, state or city will not attempt to use its support to control the arts organizations in any way.  Of course, governments will never do that, because manipulating the arts to advance  political agendas is usually the underlying motive in arts grants. Ideologues like De Blasio—wow, he’s terrible—will constantly be grandstanding and doing everything in their power to manipulate artists and their art to ensure that they send the “right” messages—you know, like Nazi art and Communist art. It is exactly the same theory and practice: art as political indoctrination.

Quick: who thinks that De Blasio will be focusing on “diversity” in the management (or on the website) of the Dance Theater of Harlem? Even if the government doesn’t attach strings to its support, arts organizations know that there are more of them than there is tax-payer money to disperse, so there is terrible and often irrsistable pressure to distort their product to give their state funders what the artists think they want—just to be safe.

My professional theater company refused to do that, sticking to the integrity of our mission and not resorting to tokens and virtue-signalling. My now defunct professional theater company, that is.

2. Yesterday, I highlighted the head-blasting comments of New York Times film critic A.O. Scott and his alternate-universe pronouncements about the Obama presidency. To be fair to A.O., his entire profession is packed with historical and political ignoramuses who make their readers dumber with every review. I once created a theater reviewer’s code of ethics, which I mailed to a critic, who sent it back to me with a note that said, “Mind your own business.” Years ago, I published an essay that was called “Why Professional Reviewers Are Unethical,” that began,

When Variety announced that it was firing its in-house film and drama reviewers, there was much tut-tutting and garment-rending over the impending demise of professional reviewing in magazines, newspapers and TV stations. The villain, the renders cry, lies, as in the Case of the Slowly Dying Newspapers, with the web, which allows any pajama-clad viewer of bootleg videos to write film reviews, and any blogger who cares to write a review of a play. “I think it’s unfortunate that qualified reviewers are being replaced,” said one movie industry pundit, “but that’s what’s happening.”

I say, “Good. It’s about time.”

It’s not happening quickly enough, though. “Dunkirk” is opening this week, and, as I predicted, film reviewers are showing their utter historical ignorance. The Washington Examiner skewers them deftly in an essay called “Why the (True) History of Dunkirk Matters.” Highlights, or rather lowlights:

  • USA Today critic Brian Truitt complains that “the fact that there are only a couple of women and no lead actors of color may rub some the wrong way.” He is not the only film critic to observe this.

Morons.

  • Slate.com critic Dana Stevens claims that the British Army at Dunkirk was the “last bulwark against Nazi invasion of the British mainland.”

Not even close to true. Continue reading

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