Hmmm, why does this concept sound vaguely familiar?
That’s Jeff Lawson above, CEO of Twilio, a “customer engagement software company,” whatever that means. He just announced that because of Joe Biden’s non-recession he’s going to have to reduce the workforce by 11%, meaning that more than 800 loyal, hardworking, not quietly -quitting Twilio employees will be put out onto the streets. But he assured employees (and progressives, and anti-white racists) that the company would make firing decisions through an “Anti-Racist/Anti-Oppression lens.”
Translation: “I’m firing whites, males and straight people first.”
Hot on the heels of New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ quick default to the routine Democratic Party playbook racism defense comes the utterly predictable response of Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton to the public voting three uber-woke members of the San Francisco school board out of office this week in the city’s first successful recall election in nearly 40 years. School board president Gabriela López and members Alison Collins and Faauuga Moliga are out after more than 70% of voters rejected each of them.
Like parents in so many other municipalities, parents in San Francisco—yes, even there!—showed that they were mad as hell about school closures and seeing political correctness and leftist indoctrination rule their children’s education, and they weren’t going to take it any more. The real reason, though, according to Walton, was that Donald Trump, racism, and “closet Republicans” with “conservative values” have corrupted the city.
“Trump’s election and bold prejudice brought a lot of that out, even in our Democratic and liberal city,” Walton told the news media. “There are a lot of people who do not want people of color making decisions in leadership, even though the voters said that is what they want.”
Yes, no one can legitimately conclude that the decisions and policies made by elected “people of color” in a particular situation are just wrong because they don’t work. People of color only make the right decisions, sayeth Shamann Walton, a person of color himself. Believing otherwise is proof positive of racism, and besides, Donald Trump.
We’ll see how this strategy—denying basic respect to those with opposing views and instead declaring opponents’ motives to be based on racial hatred rather than legitimate differences of philosophy— works for flailing Democrats in the coming months.
1. William Shatner didn’t die. It doesn’t matter. People really don’t get moral luck, do they? Of course, only a tiny percentage of the public reads Ethics Alarms. 90-year-old William Shatner flew into space yesterday aboard a ship built by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company. The former “James T. Kirk” and three fellow passengers boldly went to an altitude of 66.5 miles over the West Texas desert in the fully automated capsule, then safely parachuted back to Earth. The flight lasted just over 10 minutes. I had previously and correctly pointed out that Bezos had violated basic Kantian ethics, the Categorical Imperative, by exploiting Shatner and placing the old egomaniac at risk in order to promote Blue Origin. “But Shatner consented!” Bezos apologists kept telling me. So if someone consents to being used as a means to an end, that makes using a human being as a means to an end ethical?
Well, sometimes—Kant was an absolutist, and there are no absolutes. However, Shatner’s exploitation doesn’t qualify as an exception. What if the stress of the flight had killed him? Then many would be questioning Bezos’s motives, but the ethical problem is the same whether Shatner survived or not. That the flight didn’t end up looking like an elaborate grand suicide for an iconic actor who knew his time had almost run out anyway was pure moral luck.
The usual Ethics Alarms tag I would consider in this kind of story, “Incompetent Elected Official of the Month,” just doesn’t do San Francisco Mayor London Breed justice. Letting her astounding explanation for why she violated her own mask mandate simply brand her as incompetent would be a cruel insult to all previous incompetent elected officials. Previously, Ethics Alarms wrote about Breed being videoed unmasked, singing, and dancing with a largely unmasked crowd inside a jazz club in the Tenderloin last week. This made her the latest Democratic mayor, governor or other official—and there have been a ridiculous number of them— to regard themselves as immune from their own pandemic restrictions on “the little people” they deign to govern. However, none of these hypocrites have come within miles of Breed’s mind-melting hauteur. Here’s what she said:
“We don’t need the fun police to come in and micromanage and tell us what we should or shouldn’t be doing. My drink was sitting at the table, I got up and started dancing because I was feeling the spirit and I wasn’t thinking about a mask.”
Do I really have to explain again what’s wrong–as in unethical— with policies like this? Paying kids to do their homework, not to skip school, or not to use drugs; paying young women not to get pregnant, paying people to get vaccinated—all of these desperate plans undermine societal ethics, turning what must be taught as basic duties of responsible citizenship and life management into quid pro quo trade-offs. Such formulas reward the refusal to behave ethically by paying social miscreants to conform to ethical norms.
Ethics Alarms has written about these offensive programs many times. This one may be the worst of all. The only argument proponents can come up with is extreme utilitarianism: the ends justify the means. In such cases, however, the means involves rejecting ethics, duty and responsibility as essential motivations for good behavior and adopting habits of virtuous conduct.
Naturally, the latest pay-the-bad-guys scheme comes from San Francisco, where the District Attorney has solved the shop-lifting problem by making petty theft legal. I was preparing to write about this when I read that Governor Newsom’s test-marketed theme to win his recall election will be “It’s me or Trump.” This parody of a progressive governor has created a state culture where paying thugs not to kill is looked upon as reasonable, and he thinks implying that Trump, who isn’t running for anything in the Golden State, would be worse will attract votes. And he’s probably right!
It shouldn’t be a difficult concept to grasp, but history tells us it is: idealism unmoored to human nature and reality lead to disaster with depressing consistency. Thus “ethical” plans and motives that rely on fantastic and contrived versions of how the world might works under ideal circumstances are in truth not ethical at all. They are incompetent. They are irresponsible.
And thus we have the current fiasco in San Francisco, where the progressive voters left their hearts while their brains AWOL. The Martian leader of the invasion in “Plan Nine From Outer Space” has it right. Meet Chesa Boudin, the City on the Bay’s visionary District Attorney, elected in 2019.
Boudin had, it is far to say, no qualifications for the job of the head prosecutor of a major U.S. city with a growing crime problem. He had never prosecuted a case. But then he didn’t think most cases should be prosecuted. He dreamed of something kinder, gentler, that didn’t require anything so crass and mean as “punishment.” His experience with America’s judicial system showed him that there had to be a better way, as Robert Redford’s clueless idealist in “The Candidate” kept saying. He is “the son of jailed Sixties radicals,” and his kind and caring parents are the inspiration for his campaign against what civilizations have known for eons, but America’s progressives have chosen to forget: bad people abound, and if society doesn’t stop them, they will stop society.
In my value system, and one I am proud to say has been consistent on this issue all my life, Chesa Boudin’s parents, his role models, were bad people. They were members of the Weather Underground, a domestic terrorist organization that bombed banks and government buildings, including the US Capitol. They wanted to bring “The Man” down, man. The Weathermen were too mild for Mom and Dad, so they formed the May 19th Communist Organization, more violent and anti-American still. In 1981, the Boudins took part in the armed robbery of a bank truck. A security guard and two policemen were killed, and Chesa’s parents were convicted of felony murder. At the trial, they explained that the stolen $1.5 million was needed to fund the creation of a black nation-state in the American south. Good plan!
The U.S. entered The Great War on this date in 1917, surely among the most disastrous decisions the nation has ever made. Unfortunately, almost all of the debate over whether we “should” have gotten involved in the seemingly pointless quarrel among the European powers is polluted by hindsight bias, consequentialism, and a disregard for moral luck. Yes, it’s true that The Great War led to a far worse one, and that Germany winning what became World War I probably would have kept Adolf Hitler painting houses. But that’s cheating: we can only assess the legitimacy of the U.S. entering the war on the basis of what was known at the time.
1. Baseball uniform ethics. Oh yeah, this makes a lot of sense. The Boston Red Sox uniforms have been red, white and blue for almost a century—perfect for the team’s annual Patriot’s Day game, which occurs in the morning so the crowd can watch the end of the Boston Marathon. Only Massachusetts, Maine and Connecticut celebrate Patriot’s Day, when Paul Revere (and his two friend) rode to warn the Boston suburbs that the British were coming in 1775.
Well, Nike is now pulling baseball’s strings (there is evidence that the company that employs Colin Kaepernick as a spokesperson helped push MLB into punishing Atlanta for Joe Biden’s made-up racist voting law claims), and part of its deal with the sport is that it will design new uniforms for many of the teams. Here are the uniforms the company thinks the Boston Red Sox should wear to celebrate Patriots Day, since those old colors just reflect the flag of the racist nation founded on the backs of slaves:
They look like eggs.
And of course, no red socks.
2. The rest of the story! Remember this post, about San Francisco’s lunatic school board declaring that one-third of the city’s school names, including those honoring Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, James Madison and both Roosevelts , Presidents Monroe, McKinley, Herbert Hoover and James Garfield; John Muir, the naturalist and author; James Russell Lowell, abolitionist poet and editor; Paul Revere, Robert Louis Stevenson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Daniel Webster, and current California Senator and former city mayor Diane Feinstein must be replaced so as not to honor individuals who were, in the words of an over-acting character in “The Birds”,
Rendering the equivalent of Tippy Hedren’s slap to these idiots has been, well, just about everybody, from historians, scholars, parents, anyone with an IQ above freezing, and even San Francisco’s reliably woke mayor. Implementing the re-naming was also expected to embroil the city in litigation. So now, the school board, after pausing its grand cancellation project, is expected to overturn its decision after wasting a lot of time and money, and making the city appear even more absurd than it usually does, which is quite an achievement.
You would think that someone on the school board would have been sufficiently smart, competent, responsible grounded in reality to predict the fate of such a mass historical airbrushing. Nope!
This isn’t called The Great Stupid for nothing, you know.
I was going to write an Ethics Dunce post about Jamie L.H. Goodall, a staff historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History who wrote a truly stupid piece for The Washington Post headlined“The Buccaneers embody Tampa’s love of pirates. Is that a problem?” Goodall is triggered by the fact that the NFL’s now champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers carry a nickname that romanticizes pirates, who were bad people.
Of course, everyone knows pirates were (are, since there are more pirates operating now than back in the “Arrrgh!” days) bad, but they were scary and tough, see, and teams are named after scary and tough symbols, sometimes. Only people who have nothing better to do but to try to bend others to their will make the fatuous kinds of arguments Goodall does. ( “There is danger in romanticizing ruthless cutthroats…Why? Because it takes these murderous thieves who did terrible things — like locking women and children in a burning church — and makes them a symbol of freedom and adventure, erasing their wicked deeds from historical memory. These were men (and women) who willingly participated in murder, torture and the brutal enslavement of Africans and Indigenous peoples.” ) Oh yeah, we had to get the racist angle. I wonder how the good people of Pittsburgh managed to have a much-loved baseball team called “The Pirates” for more than a century without anyone, or any of their many, many proud African American and Caribbean players feeling that they were honoring raping and pillaging. Perhaps it’s because the team doesn’t and neither do “Treasure Island” and “The Pirates of Penzance (which I have performed in and directed).
The problem isn’t the Buccaneers; it’s the far too successful ongoing strategy of the oppressive Left, which seeks to keep anyone with normal sensibilities and an appreciation of history, literature, humor, whimsy and proportion constantly apologizing and retreating under a barrage of manufactured indignation and artificial moral superiority. The blunder has been that instead of responding to the power-hungry ideologues and their allies like Goodall who make these claims with the mockery and contempt they deserve, those under assault make the mistake, again and again, of saying, “Well, if it bothers you that much, okay. We’ll give you what you want. After all, it’s only a name.”
But it’s not only a name. It’s a word, a street, a mascot, a flag, a logo, a book, a song, a movie, a statue, an artist, a leader, a President, a Founder, a culture, and a nation. The strategy and its purpose should have been obvious long ago, and it should have been fought against hard, right at the beginning, with all the fury and determination that goes into any other existential battle. Or a war.
As I said, I was going to write this post about Jamie L.H. Goodall, but her idiocy is already a cliche, and at this point, arguing over team names is a distraction. (Too bad, though, as I had a fun post ready explaining how almost every professional sports team name was vulnerable to woke attack.) But I realized that the recent action by San Francisco’s school board represents the metastasized end game in the totalitarian Left’s cultural bull-dozing plan.
For the record, I believe that Dean Martin’s is the definitive version of this holiday favorite. It’s the perfect vehicle for his inimitable style, which always makes me smile. I miss Dean; indeed I miss all of the great singers whose Christmas offerings come up on the Sirius-XM “Christmas Traditions” channel, because they are all dead, every one of them. In one short trip, I heard Bing, Dean, Rosemary Clooney, Burl Ives, Nat King Cole, and Karen Carpenter. All gone. Christmas songs shouldn’t make you sad.
1. No, “doctor” doesn’t mean “teacher.” The disingenuous nonsense defenders of Jill Biden and anyone else who insists of being called “Dr.” because they have a doctorate is stunning, and the hypocrisy is hilarious. When the pompous one was a Trump White House aide, the biased media mocked him. Now that the insecure title-wielder is a Democrat, the rules are different. Got it.
One particularly off-base defender of the non-medical “Dr.” in the comments writes, “Doctor means teacher.” No, it obviously doesn’t, or all teachers would be called “doctor.” My best high school teacher, Miss Rounds, who taught Latin, actually had a PhD but never asked her students to call her “Dr.,” because, you see, that would be stupid. Funny: none of the lists of synonyms for “doctor” include “teacher,” and none of the lists of synonyms for “teacher” include “doctor.”
But mirable dictu! The embarrassingly Orwellian Miriam Webster Dictionary, as it showed in this episode, has as its #1 general definition of “doctor” is “a learned or authoritative teacher.” I thought it had changed the definition to cover for Jill, just as it had changed a definition to follow the Democratic narrative in October (and as Dictionary.com did this very month). But no, Commenter Phlinn found that Miriam Webster has its outlier definition at least since January, hence this correction.
Now, if only on-line dictionaries were trustworthy and didn’t pull their partisan games, I wouldn’t suspect them. But they do, I am, and I am not wrong to be.
(The ghost family isn’t part of the design, in case you were wondering…)
I use the term “pre-unethical conditions” to describe situations which have a record of leading directly to ethical conflicts and misconduct. “Ethics Chess,” another Ethics Alarms term mandates that a participant think multiple moves ahead, and thus anticipate, plan for, and with luck and skill, even avoid the ethical perils ahead. The task of honoring a famous or accomplished public figure with a monument or memorial structure for the ages once was simple and straightforward: you put up a statue after a respected and credentialed artist designed it. Of course, if you picked a hack to do the job and got something like this…
That’s supposed to be Lucille Ball, in a now-replaced statue in her home town.
..there would be trouble, but usually the standards for statues were reasonable and the public easy to satisfy. That was fortunate, because any committee decision involving art of any kind is bound to be contentious; as the saying goes, there’s no accounting for taste. I’ve had to oversee the organizational acceptance of a new logo more than once, and it is impossible. When the board meeting reaches the point where members are scribbling their own crude designs on pads, you know you’re doomed. Public art is much, much worse, because it’s more visible, there are people who make their livings criticizing whatever the final result may be, and it’s expensive. Good luck.