Further Notes On “Stuff Happens,” “DO SOMETHING!!!” And The Dishonest, Hysterical And/Or Delusional Anti-Gun “Position”

1) In the clip above, the National Review’s Charles C. W. Cooke asks MSNBC analyst Mark Halperin and “Morning Joe” house progressive Mika Brzezinski to explain what kind of measures would satisfy the hysterical calls of a Morning Joe panel to “DO SOMETHING!!!” about gun violence. Cooke referenced the President’s angry (irresponsible, partisan, useless) attack on Congress’s failure almost immediately after the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, and accused ant-gun forces of acting as if they had solutions to gun violence (that don’t involve trashing the Bill of Rights) when they don’t. [I pointed out in yesterday’s post that they don’t because there aren’t any.] He said to Halperin:

“Joe Biden doesn’t know how to fix this problem. I don’t know how to fix this problem. I think it’s fair to say you don’t know how to fix this problem. It’s a very complex question in a country with 300 to 350 million guns on the street. The way they talk is as if they have the answer and there are these recalcitrant forces in the country that say ‘no, no, no,’ even though deep down they know their legislation will work. That’s simply not the case. It’s far more complicated than that.”

As you will see, Halperin had no actual proposals, ducking the issue by saying that he’s “not an expert in the field.” But he said that he wanted leaders to “have a thirst and hunger and passion to try to come up with solutions.”

I will accept this as a legitimate argument as soon as I hear any plausible solution that does not involve banning guns, making it excessively difficult for law abiding citizens from arming themselves, or engaging in pre-crime measures against citizens who have had episodes of mental illness or who are suspected of having such episodes. The proposals I have heard are incremental and will not accomplish the goal, ergo more obtrusive measures will be proposed and pushed by identical arguments and hysteria, until…we end up banning guns, making it excessively difficult for law abiding citizens from arming themselves, or engaging in pre-crime measures against citizens who have had episodes of mental illness or who are suspected of having such episodes.

Either anti-gun “DO SOMETHING!” advocates like the President, Mika and Halperin know this, intend it and are not being honest about it, or they are naive.

2) Jeb Bush responsibly addressed the impulse to stampede support for ill-considered solutions in the wake of tragedy…

The text:

“Yeah it’s a — we’re in a difficult time in our country, and I don’t think more government is necessarily the answer to this. I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everybody else. It’s just, it’s very sad to see. But I resist the notion, I had this challenge as governor, because, look, stuff happens, there’s always a crisis. And the impulse is always to do something, and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”

You will note that Bush did not shrug off the Oregon shooting by saying “stuff happens.” Nonetheless, the completely principle-free Debbie Wasserman Schultz mischaracterized what Bush said with a fatuous tweet:

“A message for Jeb Bush: 380 Americans have been killed in 294 mass shootings in 2015 alone. “Stuff” doesn’t just “happen.” Inaction happens.”

Inaction regarding what, you shameless hack? What action are you proposing that would actually prevent a shooting like this week’s? Or the Norfolk shooting of the TV reporter? Bush is absolutely correct: bad stuff happens, and that does not mean that the government can or should rush to “DO SOMETHING!” Continue reading

Regarding Gun Violence, CNN’s Alisyn Camerota Can’t Handle The Truth…and She’s Not The Only One.

This morning on New Day, CNN’s Alisyn Camerota this morning hectored and badgered a GOP Congressman—as soon as I find the video, I’ll add his name–on the issue of gun regulations in the aftermath of the most recent mass shooting. Her fevered attitude and rhetoric, combined with the Congressman’s measured responses, should serve as a template for the commentary on future shootings.

It was an infuriating conversation, and like all recent conversations and speeches about guns, including the President’s irresponsible statement following yesterday’s shooting, it springs from an unwillingness to face facts, accept the nature of rights, and to be straightforward about what gun control proposals really mean.

The following are facts. Alisyn Camerota, like the President, and like her partner Chris Cuomo, who opined that anyone opposing gun control was “delusional,” either can’t accept them, or is unwilling to be honest and candid about their implications.

1)  Rights, if they exist and are upheld by the government, will always be abused by some people.

2) The only way to stop people from abusing rights is to end the rights. Continue reading

Yes, Aaron Schock Is Untrustworthy. Why Wasn’t that Obvious From The Start?

SchlockRep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill) resigned from Congress this week, effective March 31, after it was revealed that he charged more driving miles of travel to taxpayers than he had mileage on his car. This was just the latest indication that Schock was infected with a fatal sense of entitlement, which you can read about here and  here. I’m not going to waste time declaring the Congressman unethical: obviously he is unethical. What concerns me is that he was elected to Congress three times despite being such a textbook example of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder victim that everyone should have been running away. This was a stunning instance of voters, journalists and pundits being naive, ignorant and incompetent. Continue reading

Laser Pointer Abuse: Why Ethics Gets Complicated

laser pointerThis month, the FBI announced that it was expanding a program rewarding anyone who reports an incident of an individual aiming a laser pointer at an airplane with $10,000. ( This use of the cheap lasers is a federal crime.) The bounty was previously offered in a handful of cities, but because it seems to have reduced the number of laser strikes on planes, it is being expanded nationwide.

Wait…is this really a problem? It’s several problems, in fact. The main problem is that laser pointers can, if the wielder of one gets “lucky,’ bring down an airplane. The related problem is that this country is littered with so many unbelievable assholes that we even have to discuss this….and imagine what other stupid, dangerous, irresponsible things they do when they aren’t trying blind pilots thousands of feet in the air.

Incidents where laser pointers interfered with the operation of commercial airliners have increased a ridiculous 1000% rate since 2005, when federal agencies started compiling statistics. Last year, there were 3,960 laser strikes against aircraft reported, an average of almost 11 incidents per day.

Some ethics-related thoughts:

1. There is no way around it: sociopaths, who are essentially ethics-free, are a constant threat and blight on society. Aside from the children involved, whose conduct can be chalked up to immaturity and flawed reasoning, the people who would aim a laser pointer at an airplane just for the hell of it are kin to those who set fires, vandalize buildings, create computer viruses and generally make life ugly and dangerous for the rest of us because they can. You can’t educate them or give them a sense of right and wrong. All you can do is make laws with harsh punishment for the stupid, destructive conduct these individuals engage in to give themselves a sense of power and importance. Ethics is irrelevant; their ethics alarms can’t be repaired, because they don’t exist. The laser-abusers  illustrate the maxim often quoted here that “When ethics fails, the law steps in.”

2. Anyone who uses a laser pointer this way and who is aware of the potential results is capable of much worse. This is signature significance, don’t you think? It is tempting to use such a crime as a justification for pre-crime: anyone who would do this is too stupid or too inherently anti-social to be trusted in a free society. Pre-crime, however, is a concept too prone to abuse, a slippery slope that the Constitution wisely precludes. I would, however, see no reason not to require a conviction of this crime to be disclosed to every potential employer, for all time. Nobody should trust someone who even once would risk causing an airplane to fall out of the sky because it would be cool, and I don’t care if the reason for the act was the lack of brain cells, IQ points, the sense God gave a mollusk or a missing conscience. I don’t want you in my neighborhood, near my family, or in my workplace. I don’t trust you. and I never will. Does this place a burden on you, if others feel as I do? Good, and too bad for you. Don’t try to shoot 757s out of the sky for laughs, and you won’t have the problem. Continue reading

Privacy, Facebook, And School Abuse of Power

Riley StrattonIt can a bit late to the party, in my view, but the ACLU just delivered a crucial blow to Big Brotherism in the schools. Addressing an issue that Ethics Alarms flagged in 2011, Minnewaska Area Schools (in Minnesota) agreed to pay $70,000 in damages to Riley Stratton, a 15-year-old high school student,

for violating her rights. It also agreed, as part of the federal court settlement, to rewrite its policies to limit how far a school can intrude on the privacy of students by examining e-mails and social media accounts created off school grounds.

In 2012, the ACLU Minnesota Chapter filed a lawsuit against the Minnewaska School District after it suspended Stratton for a Facebook post, written and published outside of school, in her home, in which she expressed hatred for a school hall monitor who she said was “mean.”  After the suspension, Stratton used Facebook to inquire which of her “friends” had blown a whistle on her. School officials brought the young teen into a room with a local sheriff and forced her to surrender her Facebook password. Officials used it to searched her page on the spot; her parents were not consulted.

“A lot of schools, like the folks at Minnewaska, think that just because it’s easier to know what kids are saying off campus through social media somehow means the rules have changed, and you can punish them for what they say off campus,” Minnesota ACLU attorney Wallace Hilke said. “They punished her for doing exactly what kids have done for 100 years — complaining to her friends about teachers and administrators. She wasn’t spreading lies or inciting them to engage in bad behavior, she was just expressing her personal feelings.”

Not that it was any of the school’s business if she was spreading lies or inciting others to bad behavior. This phenomenon, where schools decide that they have a right to punish students for non-school activity, words and thoughts  was discussed on Ethics Alarms, and condemned as unethical, here, here, here, and here, and more recently here.

Minnewaska Superintendent Greg Schmidt protested (the school settled without admitting any wrongdoing) that the school only wants to make sure kids understand that actions outside of school can be “detrimental.” “The school’s intent wasn’t to be mean or bully this student, but to really remedy someone getting off track a little,” Schmidt said. Not your job, you officious, censorious, child abuser. This is the sole realm of parental authority. I have seen enough wretched judgement from your breed, Mr. Schmidt—like (I’m picking examples randomly) here, here, here, here and here—to convince me and anyone with a cerebral cortex that school administrators lack the training, wisdom and judgment to know what “going of track a little” is for a 13-year old.

Stay out of my kids’ life and my family’s life. You have enough trouble running schools properly…work on that.

________________________

Sources: Daily Caller, ACLU, Minnesota Star Tribune

What’s Wrong With The Florida Cyber-Bullying Arrests? Everything.

“Bullying, as they are supposed to teach you in school, is when someone uses their superior power to subordinate and humiliate someone weaker than themselves. This is wrong, and it is always wrong.”

The Sheriff of Polk County...wait, no, that's Tom Cruise, searching for pre-criminals in "Minority Report." Well, close enough.

The Sheriff of Polk County…wait, no, that’s Tom Cruise, searching for pre-criminals in “Minority Report.” Well, close enough.

This is a quote from an Ethics Alarms post earlier this year, about a school that forced students to do embarrassing things in a warped effort to discourage bullying. There is a disturbing societal consensus brewing that opposition to bullying justifies all sorts of extra-legal, unethical, excessive, abusive and unconstitutional measures, and there are a dearth of persuasive voices point out that this consensus is dangerous and wrong. Those potential voices are being stilled by a kind of cultural bullying. How can you defend bullies! Look at the victims! Think of the children! What a horrible, unfeeling person you are!

This is the only explanation I can generate for the fact that none of the commentary and media coverage regarding the Florida arrests of a 14-year-old girl and a 12-year-old girl on trumped-up charges of “stalking” following the suicide of Rebecca Ann Sedwick pointed out that the arrests were a travesty of the justice system, an abuse of power, child abuse, legally and constitutionally offensive, and, yes, bullying of a different kind. Continue reading

The Price of American Principles

As everyone knows by now, Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, a 39-year-old Arlington-born Army psychiatrist, shot and killed 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, wounding many more.  Although he originally told the Army that he was not especially religious, Hasan had become a devout Muslim in recent years. You didn’t have to be the Amazing Kreskin to predict what the combination of a Muslim soldier and a shooting spree would spark from some voices on the Right: immediate “I told you so’s” about how politically correct squeamishness prevent sensible profiling that could prevent such tragedies. Continue reading