Ethics Quote Of The Month: New York Times Columnist Ross Douthat

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“It was mildly creepy to hear that the custodians of Theodor Geisel’s estate, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, consulted with a ‘panel of experts’ and decided to cease publishing six Seuss titles because they ‘portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.’ But it was much creepier that so few people notionally in the free-expression business, so few liberal journalists and critics, seemed troubled by the move.”

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, one of the paper’s three token conservatives (or perhaps “non-knee-jerk Democrats” is more accurate), in his column, “Do Liberals Care if Books Disappear?”

The question is a rhetorical one. Douthat knows the answer, and so do regular Ethics Alarms readers: “Only if the books that disappear are those they agree with.” Though the column focuses on the Dr. Seuss metaphorical book-burning, Douthat properly interprets what it signifies. Of course, he is appropriately late to the party, for it was obvious well before “If I Ran the Zoo” was under attack that the totalitarian-tending Democrats and their progressive supporters and allies were in favor of “good” censorship. Never mind—Americans rushed to their mailboxes to vote an anti-free speech regime into power anyway.

Better late than never for Ross, I guess. Here are some highlights (but read his whole piece):

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George Washington’s Birthday Ethics Warm-Up, 2/22/21: Happy Birthday, George! We’re Sorry Your Country Has Become Populated With So Many Ignorant, Ungrateful Fools…

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If there is any American whose birthday should be a national holiday, it is George Washington, born this day in 1732 in Westmoreland County, Virginia, the first of six children of Augustine and Mary Ball Washington. If I have to tell you the reasons he was “the essential man” in American history, well, I guess you’re the product of our current public school system, a recent college graduate, a Democrat, a Black Lives Matter enthusiast, or something. There is no rational excuse for every American, yes, even African-Americans, to not be grateful for this day. Martin Luther King is now the only individual to have a national holiday dedicated to his honor, while Washington’s memory was dumped into a hodge-podge of lesser figures including Franklin Pierce, William Henry Harrison and now, Donald Trump. King is worthy of his day, but to honor King over Washington is as good an example of “putting the cart before the horse” as one could find. Shame on us. True, George is not lacking honors, with the capital city named for him, a towering monument, cities and towns in many states, Mt. Rushmore, and his image on both the most-used bill and coin. Nonetheless he earned all of it, and this date should be a holiday.

On The Ethics Alarms home page, you will see to your right a link to the list of ethical habits some historians believe made Washington the remarkably trustworthy and ethical man he was, ultimately leading his fellow Founders to choose him, and not one the many more brilliant, learned and accomplished among them, to take on the crucial challenge of creating the American Presidency. Directed to do so by his father, young Washington copied out by hand and committed to memory a list called “110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.”  It was  based on a document compiled by French Jesuits in 1595; neither the authors nor the English translator and adapter are known today. The elder Washington was following the teachings of Aristotle—another Dead White Man whom most Americans alive today couldn’t tell you Jack S-word about— who held that principles and values began as being externally imposed by authority (morals) and eventually became internalized as character. As I wrote when I first posted them here,

The theory certainly worked with George Washington. Those ethics alarms installed by his father stayed in working order throughout his life. It was said that Washington was known to quote the rules when appropriate, and never forgot them. They did not teach him to be a gifted leader he became, but they helped to make him a trustworthy one.

Would that readers would access that list more often. And politicians. And lawyers. And educators…

1. How ignorant and ungrateful? THIS ignorant and ungrateful

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If Progressives Agree With Hate Speech, It Isn’t Hate Speech Any More…Do I Have That Straight?

Clarence Darrow said, in his famous closing argument that saved Dr. Ossian Sweet and his family from a murder conviction,

“I am the last one to come here to stir up race hatred, or any other hatred. I do not believe in the law of hate. I may not be true to my ideals always, but I believe in the law of love, and I believe you can do nothing with hatred.”

Darrow was a progressive, you know, and sometimes a radical one. He was, after all, a great admirer of John Brown. A constant theme in his work, however, both in court and in his many debates and essays, was avoiding hatred, and seeking love. In another of his famous trial, in which he saved thrill-killer Nathan Leopold and Dickie Loeb from the gallows, he concluded his closing argument for mercy this way:

If I should succeed in saving these boys’ lives and do nothing for the progress of the law, I should feel sad, indeed. If I can succeed, my greatest reward and my greatest hope will be that I have done something for the tens of thousands of other boys, or the countless unfortunates who must tread the same road in blind childhood that these poor boys have trod, that I have done something to help human understanding, to temper justice with mercy, to overcome hate with love.

I was reading last night of the aspiration of the old Persian poet, Omar Khayyam. It appealed to me as the highest that can vision. I wish it was in my heart, and I wish it was in the hearts of all:

“So I be written in the Book of Love,
Do not care about that Book above.
Erase my name or write it as you will,
So I be written in the Book of Love.

But at some point, and relatively recently, wielding hate as a weapon has become a fetish of the Left that once styled itself in Darrow’s tradition. Even though today’s progressives and Democrats loudly deplore what they call “hate speech,” even to the point of insisting that speech they disapprove of is unprotected by the First Amendment, they are willing and eager to not only deploy the rhetoric of hate but to encourage hate in furtherance of their own agenda.

This is undeniable; mine is an objective observation. Donald Trump was defeated by four years of carefully cultivated (but still reckless and destructive) hate. (Not surprisingly, his supporters—and Trump himself—hated right back. Hate is like that.) As the year closed and a new one dawned, Lefist allies like Twitter, Facebook and the Big Tech companies escalated their campaign to silence opinions that their highly selective and biased definitions of “hate” required, while allowing other, equally inflammatory opinions from those with whom the metaphorically traveled ideologically (or who were the enemies of their enemies, as the saying goes.) As the New York Post said of Twitter, “All the evidence suggests Twitter doesn’t police according to any neutral standards, but with an eye on what bothers its woke workforce.”

On January 19, the latest entry in the category of approved woke bigotry and hate arrived. HarperCollins released “I Hate Men,” a recent French sensation by Pauline Harmange and translated by Natasha Lehrer. Gushes the Amazon blurb,

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Comment Of The Day: “Crowbar, ProBar, Whatever…”

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Disclaimer:The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of Ethics Alarms or ProEthics, Ltd.

I probably should post that before every Comment of the Day. I don’t choose a COTD because I necessarily agree with it. In the case of Null Pointer’s Comment of the Day below, there are some conclusions I don’t agree with and some assertions I am dubious about, but the over-all thrust of the comment is spot-on.

There is also an Ethics Quote of the Week in there:

“I read this quote on some Lefty site tonight: “’Pretty funny, no? …On Fox & Friends, the nitwit anchors can’t even agree on what is wrong or right!'”

Journalists aren’t supposed to decide what’s “wrong or right,” but it is clear that progressives, and that obviously includes most journalists and their editors, do, and that’s exactly why they are tending toward totalitarianism and away from democracy.

Here is Null Pointer’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Crowbar, ProBar, Whatever…

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Comment Of The Day, A Question And An Answer, From The “Election Day Open Forum”

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Sarah B. provided the Comment of the Day and it’s featured question.

Mrs. Q applied her now familiar wisdom and perspective, and offered an answer, and at the end, I’ll take a shot at my own.

First, here’s Sarah’s Comment of the Day on today’s Forum:

Here is my question of the day. Sorry, but you need some exposition. I have a family member who has stage four TDS (frankly, on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being willing to discuss positions that disagree with your own though you include a great many invectives and 10 being incapacitated by hatred to the degree that you won’t play bridge because of trump cards, her stance requires exponents) who had a post on Facebook today urging everyone to vote. Her claim was “Vote for Life” with pictures of a black guy with someone on is neck, a hospitalized person with COVID, a drowning polar bear, and a person standing with a rainbow flag. She has stated that anyone who disagrees that Floyd was killed by cops is a racist and she will act decisively to remove their racism. She has also said that voting for Trump is the same as committing genocide. She is willing to cut her sister out of her life, just for asking the question of, if a man overdoses in the custody of police, is it really racism that killed him. She then accuses anyone who might think that voting anything other than Democrat for any government position at all as guilty of crimes. Nothing, in her view, is acceptable other than a 100% Democrat government and if even a single Republican keeps a statewide position, much less a federal one, it is a sign that we live in a nation that is too racist to exist and must be eradicated (with totalitarian methods that she claims are the only way to protect our rights). She is already claiming that Trump is harassing voters, and that if he gets more than 20% of the vote, it will be through intense fraud, worthy of throwing him and any who voted for him in prison for life.

I won’t say that the Right doesn’t have some bad folks too, but every one of my former friends on the Left of the political spectrum is acting like she is the most reasonable person available. Aside from her hundreds of Facebook likes, she has received a great many accolades on how she is the perfect example of professionalism and reasonable behavior, and how she is treating those who disagree with her as better than they deserve and how she is almost too kind in her pronouncements.

As a note, she is the wife of a prominent Democrat in her state and he and his cohorts make her seem sane and Trump seem like the most polite, restrained, and gentlemanly man I’ve ever met.

This woman is now claiming that anyone who says MAGA, or wears red, or claims Trump is not a (fill in big lie here) with any amount of data to back it up, or even mentions the Biden laptop issue, is engaging in voter suppression. She has said that we need re-education of the deplorables who would consider Trump. That is, she says, the only way we can avoid being overcome with fascism, totalitarianism, and racism.

How do we deal with people like this moving forward? How do we keep the American experiment alive when people like this, at least in my life, seem very common?

Now here is Mrs. Q’s response…

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Joe Biden, The Human Lawn Chair

“Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States…”

I’ve been thinking about what would be the fair and expository Ethics Alarms nickname for Joe Biden, and I’ve settled on “The Lawn Chair,” or TLC for short.

In 2016, I wrote repeatedly in posts and comments that I would vote for a lawn chair over Donald Trump, using the same standard that I had applied in the past to first term Presidents who I had found unacceptably incompetent or untrustworthy (Nixon, Carter, Bush I, and Bill Clinton). Joe Biden, in his drastically diminished 2020 model, is the closest thing a U.S. Presidential contest has had to an actual lawn chair, and it is clear that those preparing to vote for him to lead the nation at this critical time would literally vote for a lawn chair over President Trump. In this there is epic hypocrisy.

Feminists who once proclaimed that sexual harassment and sexual assault, determined on the basis of unsubstantiated accusations, were sufficient to disqualify a man for high public office are supporting Biden, who has been photographed numerous times engaging in sexual harassment as Vice-President, and has been accused “credibly” (as they said about Brett Kavanaugh’s less than credible accuser) of sexual assault. Heck, one such feminist is his running mate. Soft coup proponents who have argued that President Trump is sufficiently cognitively handicapped that the 25th Amendment should be employed to remove him are supporting Biden, who is obviously more mentally impaired now than Trump has ever been even in the fever dreams of progressives.

Then there is the lying. Continue reading

Shocked—-Shocked!—That There Would Be Violent Protests Over An Unambiguously Justified Police Shooting

Okay, I confess. I’m not shocked.

I’m not even surprised.

It has been obvious for years that a critical mass of protesters/demonstrators/rioters who have repeatedly  inflicted their outrage on communities across the country are not doing so because of any reasonable and responsible desire to obtain police reform or address legitimate racial injustice issues. Responsible protests are based on facts, and the majority of the Black Lives Matter-triggered protests, inevitably endorsed by the Democratic Party, have neither waited for the facts to be determined nor cared what they were once they were determined. The objective is to create division, intensify racial hate, intimidate the community to promote concessions and capitulation, to gain power for extreme left and other activist groups, and to do harm.

Last month,rumors that Chicago police had killed an unarmed 15-year-old boy was all that was necessary to cause the mobs to hit the streets, although, according to ABC News, police had justifiably shot an armed adult male who allegedly opened fire on them. But Facts Don’t Matter: 13 police officers injured and neighborhood were trashed.  Also in August, false reports that law enforcement had killed an unarmed man resulted more rioting and looting. Just 90 minutes after the incident, they released a video and statement showing that an armed murder suspect committed suicide when police approached him. Never mind! Any death of a “person of color” with police in the midst of trying to do their dangerous and difficult jobs is provocation enough for violence, slogans, and chaos.

It was considerate of the unusual suspects—Look! Another Casablanca reference! —to eliminate all doubt by rioting over the shooting of madman who rushed a polite officer with a huge knife:

Would you have shot that guy? Oh, why didn’t the brutal police officer wing him? Hey, he didn’t even have a gun! That’s not fair!

That incident was sufficient provocation to sent 100 “peaceful protesters” into the streets of Lancaster, Pennsylvania last night. They vandalized the police station, broke windows, threw bricks, damaged private businesses and looted. They damaged a post office, because post offices are always shooting people of color. “Death to cops” was spray-painted on one building, See? The victim was only attempting to carry out the will of the woke. He was a martyr!

The objective of these protests/demonstrations/riots is to make it impossible for police to function, to intimidate them so that they allow dangerous people to break laws and evade arrest with impunity, and to surrender society to chaos.

The man who charged the officer with a knife was alreday facing trial for stabbing four people in 2019; he wasn’t kidding. Naturally, his family, including his sister who called the police, told the news media that he was a pussycat. This was all the fault of “the system.” “He had an episode. He was just incoherent and acting out,”  she said. “I called to find out what the procedure was to get him some help.”

You know, acting out!

By trying to stab people! Continue reading

True in 2018, Truer Now: “Admit It, Liberals, Progressives, Democrats, “The Resistance,” The Left, Or Whatever You Call Yourselves: You’re The Bad Guys”

The title in quotes above was attached to this post, nearly two years ago. It began,

In “Falling Down.” a movie I like better every time I see it (or think about it), Michael Douglas plays a man who snaps, Sweeney Todd-like, and begins shooting people after the collective injustice, meanness, cruelty, stress and stupidity of daily life becomes unbearable. Finally cornered, he hears a law enforcement officer demand his surrender. “I’m the bad guy?” he says, in a stunning moment of self-awareness. “How did that happen?”

We’re still waiting for that moment of self-awareness from the Left. How it happened in their case is a matter of historical record: accumulated arrogance, cynicism and the rejection of their own ideology’s core principles–you know, liberalism?—did the trick. What was left was pure power-seeking, anger, hate, and “the ends justifies the means,” the “ethic” of fascism and totalitarianism.

That post was triggered by the disgusting assault on the character of Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing. I thought that was as low as they could go. I was wrong.

Today I learned from Prof. Turley about an example of the Left’s shameless corruption that I would not have dreamed of even when I wrote those words (Before I go further, let me also repeat a footnote from that post, which read,” I am not playing the game I have had commenters play, protesting that there is no monolithic “Left” and that progressives are not necessarily Democrats, who are not socialists, and that “the resistance” and antifa are distinct, while the news media isn’t political.  Baloney. When these groups and their leadership show any independence and stop supporting the monolithic unethical conduct all of these components of the left have engaged in since November, 2016, I’ll begin taking that complaint more seriously.)

The GW law professor saw this Facebook exchange:

Crankshaw is a staffer with the ACLU. Tompkins is an Assistant Professor and Diversity Scholar at Transylvania University, where Sandmann will be attending. Turley wrote in part… Continue reading

Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/5/2020: Welcome To The No Nervous Breakdown Zone!

Apropos to this morning’s post: I just read a thread on Facebook entirely populated by people I knew, some of whom have befriended me. They are mostly lawyers, and after reading what was written, I could only comment that their conversation was deranged. I didn’t feel like arguing with people who could really write that if the Democrats didn’t win in November, Americans would lose their civil rights (when it is the ideological compatriots of these individuals who are stripping away the rights of free speech and association, championing race-based policies, and condemning the President for insisting that universities observe due process when a student is accused of sexual misconduct. How can they write that? What happened to them? Then there was the section of the thread in which they discussed that the President was certain to refuse to leave office if he is defeated, and my personal favorite, the assertion that those defending Kyle Rittenhouse are racists.

These are lawyers. They were taught about the requirement that every individual has a right to a fair trial, which means that he or she must not be pronounced guilty in the court of public opinion before all the facts are known, and proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. They should know, as I do, D.C. Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2 (b), which says, “A lawyer’s representation of a client, including representation by appointment, does not constitute an endorsement of the client’s political, economic, social, or moral views or activities.” Moreover, it is very likely that Rittenhouse, if he is ever tried, will be found not guilty. Did these deranged lawyer watch the video? I hope not, or they have really lost it. Rittenhouse acted in self-defense, and appears to be in the process of being railroaded by a racially biased justice system in Wisconsin, driven by the media and uninformed public opinion. I’ve seen the video. I’ve also been a prosecutor. I would not charge him, just as would not charge the officer who shot Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. I’ve also been a defense attorney, and  I would take on Rittenhouse’s defense confident that I had a winning case.

I also was struck by the snide comment about those who object to “Black Lives Matter” signs being obvious racists. I flagged that group as being a racist hate group when it first raised its ugly, divisive head, and damn right I object to seeing signs extolling a group responsible for riots, arson, and terrorizing diners in D.C. by demanding that they raise their fists.

Finally, these formerly rational professionals—who were once even as you or I! —-had the gall to talk about how Republicans and conservatives were promoting violence and a civil war. Yes, the end of the spectrum that includes the antifa, the rioters, and a party that has worked for four years to undermine our democratic processes, is really accusing others of seeking division and violence. This warrants FOUR standard Ethics alarms clips: This one,

…this one, of course,

…I have to use this one, though these people one were not morons…

And finally,

Get well quick, friends. Please. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Ann Althouse

“There are way too many people who should know better who are stirring up the forces of chaos. The idea that these people are going to help if there’s new chaos as the vote is tabulated and fought over seems overly optimistic. We are already having a national nervous breakdown and if there are “sober people” who “see reality unblinkered by the lens of partisanship,” where the hell are they? Partisanship clouded the perception of reality quite a while ago, and it’s going to continue and get worse in the next 2 months. Who has the credibility to “preserve the order of our civic structure” so we can get through some creditable tabulation of the vote? Nobody. Nobody even wants it. The fact that the discussion is focused on the idea of big bad Trump refusing to leave makes it all too obvious.”

Blogger/ retired law prof. Ann Althouse, expressing dismay at David Brooks’ most recent outbreak of Stockholm Syndrome, as the pompous former conservative pundit continues his forced evolution into a pompous “resistance” columnist for the New York Times with “What Will You Do if Trump Doesn’t Leave?/Playing out the nightmare scenario” 

I don’t think Ann’s is an ethical quote, but it is an ethics quote, with ethical revelations contained in it. Some points:

1. The “Trump won’t leave office if he’s defeated” refrain is a Big Lie, and pure fearmongering and slander by the AUC. There is no hint of evidence that he is so inclined, except through  accepting the Big Lie that spawns this one, Big Lie #3, “Trump Is A Fascist/Hitler/Dictator/Monster.”

Biden has repeated this despicable claim, as have many of Brooks’ colleagues. I will say again: the only political party that has ever challenged the legitimacy of an election result in 150 years is the Democratic Party, and the only losing candidates who refused to honorably accept defeat were Al Gore and Hillary Clinton. Continue reading