Reader JP, who is a minister, had a fascinating reaction to the post about the Australian cartoonist in the process of being “canceled” because he had the audacity to mock mothers who pay more attention to their cell phones than their infants. Australians, especially mothers and feminists, are furious…because he criticized conduct that nobody denies occurs.
Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “From Australia, A Cancel Culture Chapter That I Don’t Understand At All”:
“Is guilt driving the attacks on Michael Leunig? Is that it? They are punishing a truth-teller for using satire and humor to hold a mirror up to their faces like satirists and social commentators are supposed to do? If that cartoon sparks such anger, what would these people have done to Swift, Voltaire, Gilbert, Shaw, Parker, Wodehouse, Vidal, or even Dave Barry?”
A few years ago, I was teaching this class on 1 Corinthians. It had been going on for about a month at this point where we got to the section on marriage, divorce, and adultery. Most of the class focused on the marriage part. Very little was said about divorce and adultery. I didn’t focus on it too much. In a class like this, I tend to let discussion stay with the interests of the class. I did address divorce and adultery as real problems of the church and said they should not be ignored.
After class, a women came up to me and let me have it. According to her, divorce and adultery were “none of the church’s business.” She was pretty passionate about it, so I let it go. She wasn’t at the next class I assumed she was making a point because she thought that I would never agree with her.
A month later, her husband dragged her into my office, saying she been committing adultery. He wanted to know what he should do about it. She wouldn’t look a me. I suggested a professional counselor, and that was the last time I saw either of them. Continue reading
Nor should I be.
Nor should you.
Once again, the New York Times has published another of its entries into what I call “The Good Illegal Immigrant” files. The “good illegal immigrant” is a contradiction in terms, as much as “the good embezzler” or “the good bigamist.” This ongoing propaganda by the Times as the journalistic vanguard of the open borders mission of the American Left is in its fourth year. These features are stuffed with emotionally manipulative tales and quotes about the travails of residents of the United States who broke the law by coming here, and who continue to stay here, reaping the benefits that are supposed to be reserved to citizens while being nauseatingly self-righteous about it. The Times surpasses itself this time, with “Telling the Truth Wasn’t An Option” by Julissa Arce, illegally in this country from the age of eleven, whose dilemma was finally resolved when she married an American citizen.
It’s convenient that the title itself embodies a rationalization, indeed a couple whoppers from the Ethics Alarms list: #25, The Coercion Myth: “I have no choice!” and #31. The Troublesome Luxury: “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford right now.” Telling the truth is always an option if one has the courage and integrity to be accountable. The headline applies to anyone who is engaged in an ongoing crime, or guilty of a past one, except that in this case, the individual feels uniquely entitled to not only avoid the just consequences of her own actions, but to seek sympathy for her discomfort in doing so. Continue reading
First prize in the rationalization derby!
Active Ethics Alarms reader/commenter Steve Witherspoon tracked down the transcript on Senator Schumer’s remarks in response to Mitch McConnell’s accurate attack on the senate Minority Leader’s unconscionable comments at the Supreme Court, thuggishly threatening Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh over decisions they haven’t made yet.
I’ll interlineate the text—I’m sorry it’s all in caps, but that’s how C-SPAN’s transcripts are—pointing the astounding number of rationalizations Schumer nicked while trying to justify the unjustifiable.
THANK YOU, MADAM PRESIDENT. NOW, MADAM PRESIDENT, I JUST LISTENED TO THE REPUBLICAN LEADER, AND THERE WAS A GLARING OMISSION IN HIS SPEECH. HE DID NOT MENTION WHAT THE RALLY YESTERDAY, MY SPEECH, OR THE CASE BEFORE THE COURT WAS ABOUT.
The issue at hand is the Minority Leader of the Senate threatening, by name, two Supreme Court justices. The context of such threats is absolutely irrelevant, because such threats, as McConnell correctly made clear, are indefensible. Schumer is signalling that his defense will be based on Rationalization 2 A. Sicilian Ethics, or “They had it coming.“ “This argues that wrongdoing toward a party isn’t really wrong when the aggrieved party has aggrieved the avenger. The victim of the unethical conduct no longer deserves ethical treatment because of the victim’s own misconduct. But the misconduct of a victim never justifies unethical conduct directed against that victim.”
A WOMAN’S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO CHOOSE. TO THE WOMEN OF AMERICA, WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT HERE, WHAT I AM FIGHTING FOR HERE IS YOUR RIGHT TO CHOOSE.
At least three rationalizations are implied here:
- 25. The Coercion Myth: “I have no choice!” “The unethical option involved less sacrifice, less controversy, less criticism, less effort…in short, less courage, than doing the right thing. … But you still had a choice, and you are still accountable for the choice you made.”
- 25A. Frederick’s Compulsion or “It’s My Duty!” “We all have competing duties; that’s what makes ethics difficult…Ethics requires that when performing a duty will unquestionably result in injustice and harm to others, some consideration and balancing must be applied, followed by making one or more difficult choices. Duty itself is not enough to dictate those choices, and ethics may, and often does, dictate that a duty must be superseded by other priorities.”
- 28. The Revolutionary’s Excuse: “These are not ordinary times.” “An argument for those who embrace “the ends justify the means”—but only temporarily, mind you!—the Revolutionary’s excuse has as long and frightening a pedigree as any of the rationalizations here….This rationalization suggests that standards of right and wrong can and should be suspended under “special” circumstances, always defined, naturally, by those who defy laws, rules, and societal values. ..Unethical conduct has become ordinary, the new normal. This is, it is fair to say, the current state of American politics.
I’m blotto, my friends.
It’s been a long day. But I still have some items to review in my waning moments of clarity…
1. Again, movie Bowdlerizing. Why does this keep happening? I know it was routine in the Sixties to bleep and cut vulgar words out of movies on TV, but even then it was a practice that marred films great and small, ruined the directors’ and the screenwriters’ craft, and warped character, humor and intensity. Now, when Congress members spit out charming epithets like “motherfucker” at will, the sensitivity to tender ears makes no sense at all. Why don’t studios and directors stand up for the integrity of their work? All the “Forget you!” exclamations are bad enough, but sometimes memorable exchanges are lost to dumb Puritanism.
Last night I watched the end of “Stand By Me” before I went to bed. In the climactic scene where Ace and his gang of hoods tries to take the dead body from the four 12-year-old protagonists, young Gordie LaChance (Played by a pre-“Star Trek” Wil Wheaton) points a revolver at the gang leader ( Kiefer Sutherland). When Ace accuses Gordy of bluffing, the mild-mannered kid cocks the gun and says, with chilling intensity, “Suck my fat one, you cheap dimestore hood.” That line was excised completely, as was the humorous retort by Chris (River Phoenix) after the gang retreats, “Suck my fat one? Who told you you had a fat one, LaChance?” To which Gordie replies, “Biggest one in four counties.”
2. More on Schumer… I’m desperate to find a full transcript of Schumer’s Senate remarks today defending himself against Mitch McConnell’s absolutely fair and accurate condemnation of Schumer’s threatening rant against the two Supreme Court justices yesterday. I heard it live this morning, and I thought, “Wow! This may be the most impressive array of non-stop rationalizations to try to excuse the inexcusable that I’ve ever heard!”
I know this: it culminated in #64, Yoo’s Rationalization or “It isn’t what it is, ” when the Senator said, “Of course, I did not intend to suggest anything other than political and public opinion consequences for the Supreme Court, and it is a gross distortion to imply otherwise.” Of course! It’s a gross distortion to imply that Schumer meant what the clear meaning of his words conveyed, rather than something that his words didn’t suggest at all. Continue reading
That is, the advice columnist’s answer to an easy ethics question last week was dead wrong. Once again, the advice-giver in question is Philip Galanes, the Times proprietor of Social Q’s, essentially that paper’s version of “Miss Manners.” Galanes, I now see upon googling him, is a novelist and a lawyer. That explains, perhaps, his unfamiliarity with some of the more nuanced aspects of ethics. Here’s the question he received in its entirety:
My brother died last year and bequeathed his entire (small) estate to me. He had one child, a daughter, to whom he left nothing. Feeling sorry for her, I told my niece I would give her half of the estate. (None of this becomes official until April.) But my circumstances have changed dramatically. My husband was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He is undergoing treatment, but we face a very uncertain financial future. I would now like to keep the entire estate. My niece is doing well financially, with many earning years ahead of her, unlike me. Is there a way to tell her I’ve changed my mind so she won’t hate me forever?
The Social Q’s verdict: “…Say, ‘I’m sorry if your father’s will hurt you. I promised you half of my inheritance out of love for you and hoping to heal any pain the will caused. But my husband is seriously ill, and I can’t afford to give you the money now. If I can make it up to you later, or in my estate, I will do it.’….For readers worrying about a verbal contract here, let’s assume B’s promise falls into one of several exceptions that requires agreements to be in writing….”
Here’s the ethical answer: Continue reading
I saw Ann Althouse’s post about a seat reclining dust-up on American Airlines, and immediately decided that the issue wasn’t worth posting about, since in my view, the ethical choice is clear. Then the issue exploded all over cable news and the web, so here I am. It would be so much easier if more people read Ethics Alarms.
A woman had posted on Twitter mid-flight:
She attached the video. Many of Ann’s commenters opined that the woman was a “jackhole” herself (for some reason I’ve never liked that term) for videotaping him and sending his face hither and yon rather than having a civilized discussion with him. How the flight attendant could justify siding with a jerk who was punching a seat, I cannot fathom. Now “Wendi” says she is considering suing American.
I addressed this issue in 2014, in the context of a product called “The Knee Defender,” which a jackhole could install to prevent the seat in front of you on a plane from reclining. I was pretty ticked off about it, too. In fact, I got on a roll: Continue reading