From The Ethics Alarms Archives: Two Ethics Takes On Columbus Day

In 2011, I wrote an Ethics Alarm post extolling Christopher Columbus, and urging readers to celebrate this day named in his honor. Two years later, I wrote a post arguing that the holiday was a mistake. Which is how I really feel? Which is correct? I have no idea. I just read both, and found each persuasive. You know the famous observation in thethe essay “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds”? Today I like that line. Sometimes I don’t.

I certainly don’t like the current movement to cancel Columbus Day, and Columbus, out of the culture and historical record because he was not appropriately sensitive to indigenous people by 21st Century standards. That is no better than tearing down statues of Robert E. Lee, airbrushing history to avoid the inherent conflicts and dilemmas that make it invaluable to us going forward into the unknown…like Columbus did.

Here are the two posts. You decide. Meanwhile, I’m thrilled I could find the great Stan Freberg’s version of Columbus’s quest (above). More of my sensibilities about life, humor and history were effected by Freberg’s satire than I like to admit…

I. Celebrate Columbus Day, Honor Columbus

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/10/19: Omar, Warren, Clinton, And Urinals

Good morning!

Yesterday I had completed a 3-hour Ethics CLE program for a distinguish national law firm’s D.C. office, aided by my sister, retired justice Dept. and HHS attorney Edith Marshall. (This time, her role was to lead the attendees in the chorus section of my legal ethics parody of “Trouble in River City” from “The Music Man.”) I knew that I should have gotten some posts done when I returned, but a) I was exhausted and b) there were two Game Five play-off games to watch. Sometimes, baseball comes first. Priorities! Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals for an upset win over the Braves, whose horrible fate of giving up ten runs in the first inning I wouldn’t even wish on the Yankees. Imagine knowing you have lost before your team even gets up to bat, and that you’re in front of the home team fans who will have to suffer through three hours of slow, inevitable humiliation. Ugh. The Braves lost with as much dignity as possible in such a hopeless situation. And congratulations to the resurgent Washington Nationals, who came back from a late  deficit to tie the game in the eighth, and then won on a grand slam in the tenth. They are now headed to the seven game play-off to determine who represents the NL in the World Series, the first time a Washington, D.C. team has been this close since 1933. D.C. really needed this.

1. Should it matter? Minnesota Fifth District Rep. Ilhan Omar, she of “The Squad” fame (or infamy)  has filed for divorce from husband Ahmed Hirsi, whom she only married last year, though he is the father of her three children. Omar’s petition for dissolution of her marriage has been posted online here. Our sole Somali Muslim House member previously was married to  Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, who appears to be her brother and whom she married to perpetrate a citizenship fraud in 2009. Omar legally dissolved that marriage in 2017. There appears to have been a period where she was married to both men. Omar has never given a straightforward explanation for her tangled domestic affairs.

Should any of this matter? These things really do constitute “personal, private conduct,” unlike the workplace misconduct that the enablers of Bill Clinton tried to defend by using that term. If Omar did perpetrate a fraud, however, or was married to two husbands, those are very relevant to her fitness to serve as a law-maker. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “A Trigger Warning About A Trigger Warning: Audiences Should Walk Out Of The Movie Theater When This Appears”

“For May wol have no slogardie a-night.
The seson priketh every gentil herte,
And maketh him out of his slepe to sterte.”

  Now who can argue with that?  The passage is from a story Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales,” “The Knightes Tale,” the English  classic written between 1387 and 1400. I did not expect a substantive comment regarding Chaucer to follow an Ethics Alarms post (Chaucer has been mentioned in passing here in the context of the evolution of the English language), but there it was: Michael West revealed his fascinating discovery that Chaucer may have been a pioneer in more than just English literature. Michael’s Comment of the Day is unusual in another way besides its erudition. It was a comment on a post that is nearly two years old. It concerned the jaw-dropping warning that preceded the “Darkest Hour,” the acclaimed film about the wartime heroism and brilliance of  Winston Churchill:

“The depictions of tobacco smoking contained in this film are based solely on artistic consideration and are not intended to promote tobacco consumption. The surgeon general has determined that there are serious health risks associated with smoking and with secondhand smoke.”

I wrote at the time,

Winston Churchill, you see, smoked cigars. Actually he chain-smoked them, and inhaled. They were among his trademarks. Any adult who doesn’t know that should not have graduated from high school. Interestingly, shooting and bombing people are also serious health risks, so I don’t know why it wasn’t noted that the depictions of warfare contained in this film are based solely on artistic consideration.”

Whatever “based solely on artistic consideration” is supposed to mean…

Of course, showing Churchill smoking cigars is not an “artistic consideration,” but one of historical accuracy and integrity. Does this mean that there was really a debate in the studio about whether or not Churchill should be shown smoking, so as not to trigger good little progressive totalitarians, who believe in changing the past for the greater good of the present? I wonder if they considered making Winston, who was fat, appear slim and ripped, since the surgeon general has determined that there are serious health risks associated with obesity and over-eating. I don’t see why they wouldn’t, if they felt that showing people smoking in the 1930s, when almost everyone smoked,  might be interpreted as promoting smoking today.  Churchill also drank like Bluto in “Animal House.” Why no warning about that? Uh-oh—does this mean that the film, for artistic considerations, only shows Winston sipping soda water and prune juice?

That warning says to me, “We, your Hollywood moral exemplars, think you are an ignorant, illiterate  dummy who can’t tell the difference between a historical drama and a tobacco commercial. We also support the government’s belief that it should impose on every aspect of your life, including your entertainment, to protect you from yourself.”

I had, mercifully, completely forgotten about that asinine warning, and now I’m ticked off all over again. Gee, thanks, Michael, for reminding me.

Here is Michael West’s Comment of the Day on the post, “A Trigger Warning About A Trigger Warning: Audiences Should Walk Out Of The Movie Theater When This Appears”... Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/20/2019: Not Funny!

Ah! It finally feels like a September morning!

1. Not fake news, exactly, just half-baked news. On the New York Times front page, right hand column above the fold is the headline “Claim on Trump Is Said To Involve Foreign Leader.” Reading it, we learn that an unspecified complaint has been made by a an unnamed whistle-blower “in the intelligence community” that is “said” (by no named source) to involve President Trump saying something, promising something or implying something, at least partially involving the Ukraine, according to two sources also un-named. This is apparently all being investigated by the appropriate inspector general.

I’m serious. This is what the Times considers front page news now. Instantly, “resistance” members and Democrats will leap to the conclusion that whatever it is, it’s impeachable. Those who are thoroughly sick of the successive coup attempts will assume that this is one more concocted sliming by the Deep State, so we can have a “Russiagate” style investigation that will hamstring President Trump’s second term. Those who are focusing on the mainstream news media’s war on the President will conclude that the Times, having once again exposed itself as less a journalism organization than a Democratic Party hit squad with its self-indicting misrepresentation of accusations against Justice Kavanaugh, rushed a non-story into print as a diversion.

For my part, I’ll wait for actual facts, thanks. I don’t trust “the intelligence community” not to manufacture ways to undermine the Presidency, not after Comey, McCabe, the FISA fiasco, the FBI lovebirds texts, and Mueller’s statements, among other smoking guns. I don’t trust the Times reporting, I don’t trust President Trump not to do or say something that crosses ethical or legal lines, and I certainly don’t trust Congressional Democrats to determine what are serious transgressions by this President and what are typical maneuvers that have only become ominous because he isn’t Barack Obama. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The Political Punishment Of Kathy Zhu

20-year-old Miss Michigan Kathy Zhu was stripped of her title because she tweeted against the mandatory wearing of hajibs, and the about the problem of black-on-black violence.

MWA Michigan State Director Laurie DeJack announced the measure, writing Zhu,

“It has been brought to the attention of Miss World America that your social media accounts contain offensive, insensitive and inappropriate content, and in violation of MWA’s Rules and Conditions, specifically the contestant requirement of ‘being of good character and whose background is not likely to bring into disrepute Miss World America or any person associated with the organisation. Therefore, and effective immediately, MWA does not recognize you as a participant of any sort or in any capacity as it relates to any and all events of MWA. Furthermore, let this communication serve as official notice to remove any mention of yourself as a participant in MWA from all social media platforms (including photographs of you wearing the MWA Michigan sash and/or crown, and any text claiming to be a participant of MWA events).”

What were the messages that led the organization to conclude that Zhu exhibited bad character that  brought “disrepute” on the pageant group? Last year, Zhu tweeted critically  about a “Try a hijab” booth on campus, writing “So you’re telling me that it’s now just a fashion accessory and not a religious thing? Or are you just trying to get women used to being oppressed under Islam?” Later, Zhu tweeted, “Did you know the majority of black deaths are caused by other blacks? Fix problems within your own community first before blaming others.”

Zhu is refusing to apologize, and has gone on offense, writing back in part, Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/15/2019: A Double-Talking Star, A Doxxing Law Prof, And…Grandstanding Paper Towels?

It’s a good day, a new week, and anything is possible…

Perry may be a good example of that. Supposedly he was told early on in life that he had a two-digit, sub-normal IQ and should seek a trade rather than anything too intellectually demanding. Como dutifully went to barber school, and was cutting hair when his singing talent made him a star. This story should make us doubt IQ tests more than we doubt the intelligence of “Mr. C”….

1 And today’s ridiculous virtue-signaling and pandering to political correctness goes to…Brawny paper towels!

Ugh.

Keep repeating falsities frequently enough, and people will begin to think they make sense. I guess that’s the theory, right? The truth is that one gender is stronger than the other in about 99.9% of the population, or to put it another way, the average male is much larger and stronger than the average female. This is why women who make themselves look like this…

…are regarded as unusual–because they are.  But Brawny’s lie is used to, for example, pretend that there is nothing unfair about allowing biological men transitioning to womanhood to compete in sporting events as women.

From now on, it’s Bounty for me!

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, June 4, 2019: The All-Jerk Edition

You may notice that it’s no longer morning. This was begun at 7 am. Can it ever be a good morning that begins with a dentist appointment a likely root canal? Never mind that: my car broke down—transmission failure, and had just had the thing repaired—right in front of the dentist’s office, and after the appointment, I had to wait another hour to be towed home.

1. The end of the spelling bee. It seems clear that sick parental obsession with success has killed the spelling,  or should, as soon as possible. Just after midnight last week, the Scripps National Spelling Bee crowned eight contestants  co-champions after the competition ran out of challenging words. Why did these kids successfully spell auslaut, erysipelas, bougainvillea, and aiguillette, while previous winners had triumphed by spelling word like  croissant in 1970, incisor in 1975, and luge in 1984 ?

The primary reason is SpellPundit, a coaching company started last year by two former competitive spellers. For an annual subscription of $600, SpellPundit sends a huge list of words ,  sorted by difficulty level, for potential spelling champions to study. The company guarantees that it includes all words used in the spelling competitions.

Thirty-eight  of  this year’s top fifty spellers were provided the service by their proud parents. One of the this years champions, Sohum Sukhatankar, 13, of Dallas said he had spent about 30 hours a week studying the 120,000 words SpellPundit had selected from the 472,000 words in the dictionary.

Yechh. What a wonderful use of a 13-year-old’s time. When he’s on his deathbed, he’ll wihs he had those hours back.

So now the spelling bee stands for a combination of child abuse, unhealthy obsession, parental interference and rich, hyper-competitive  families buying an edge that normal families either can’t or have the sense not to. Such fun. In case you are in doubt, the jerks here are the parents.

As for the once fun and innocent national spelling bee: Kill it.

2. Soviet-style society creeps ever closer, thanks to political correctness. Dr Sandra Thomas, an associate medical examiner for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in Decatur, was moved to make a spontaneous joke while performing an autopsy. Thomas asked another doctor at the GBI’s morgue if she knew how to do a ‘Muslim autopsy’, and then lifted the neck of the dead woman and made the unique sound known as an ululation, which is commonly used in Islamic cultures at weddings and funerals.

 

Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jonathan Eisenstat reported the incident to internal affairs, and Thomas was suspended for two weeks. Of course, she apologized profusely. The deceased person was not a Muslim. Continue reading