Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2021: To Boldly Go…

Shatner in space

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.

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Let All Good And Objective Americans Deride And Mock San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Those Who Voted For Her, And Anyone Who Dares To Defend Her…

SF-Mayor-London-Breed

What a ridiculous excuse for a mayor.

What an embarrassment to her city and party.

What an arrogant, silly, clueless fool.

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.”

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Tales Of The Great Stupid: Yes, San Francisco Really Is Going To Pay Potential Criminals Not To Shoot People

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!

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San Francisco’s Hard Lesson In Unethical Ethics

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!

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Afternoon Ethics Delights, 4/6/2021:

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.

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Ethics Dunces: The San Francisco School Board [Corrected]

Rushmore 6

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.

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First Snowfall Ethics Accumulation, 12/16/2020 [Corrected]

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.

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The Pre-Unethical Condition Of Planning A Public Memorial: The Maya Angelou Debacle [Corrected]

_maya_angelou_proposal

(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…

Lucy statue

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.

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Constitution? What Constitution? A “White Lives Don’t Matter” Program In San Francisco

This is just one more Exhibit in the case to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt  that the current “movement” exploiting the death of George Floyd is not concerned with seeking equality of opportunity or eliminating “systemic racism.” Instead, it seeks to install a system that favors races it cares about over others. You have to admit, the evidence is damning.  If this were a trial, I’d request a directed verdict.

From the S.F. Gate:

Mayor London Breed Announces Launch of Pilot Program to Provide Basic Income to Black and Pacific Islander Women During Pregnancy …

Mayor London N. Breed, in partnership with Expecting Justice, today announced the launch of the Abundant Birth Project, a pilot program that provides targeted basic income to women during pregnancy and after giving birth. The pilot will provide an unconditional monthly income supplement of $1,000 to approximately 150 Black and Pacific Islander women in San Francisco for the duration of their pregnancy and for the first six months of their baby’s life, with a goal of eventually providing a supplement for up to two years post-pregnancy. Expecting Justice, a collective impact initiative led by Dr. Zea Malawa at the San Francisco Department of Public Health and supported by the Hellman Foundation and the UCSF California Preterm Birth Initiative, will study the resulting health impacts of the pilot program, which is the first of its kind in the United States….

The program is racially discriminatory on its face, and Breed, Dr. Zea Malawa, the San Francisco Department of Public Health,  the Hellman Foundation and the UCSF  are either civically ignorant, racists, dumb, hoping to get away with something they know is illegal, or some combination of two or more of these.  So are other funders mentioned in the mayor’s press release:Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Genentech, the Kellogg Foundation, San Francisco Health Plan, Tipping Point, Economic Security Project, Walter and Elise Haas, San Francisco Foundation, and the Friedman Family Foundation.

The program cannot withstand the inevitable legal challenge. Eugene Volokh, a Constitutional law specialist, explains, Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/16/2020: Dreadlocks, Kareem, Scrabble And “Political Slogan? What Political Slogan?”

1. This Morning’s Grovel: A white Seattle hairdresser apologized profusely for daring to wear dreadlocks. The key quote: “I have come to understand—far too belatedly—that my hairstyle is harmful.”

To lightly paraphrase Orwell: ‘She loved Big Brother.’

It’s hard to work up any sympathy for people like Irene—weak, ignorant, unwilling to stand up for basic  human rights, like being able to wear your hair any damn way you want to. This is yet another of the one-way “rules” that are being delivered by edict as an alleged remedy for “systemic racism”: Blacks can do anything they want to, whites are severely limited. The hair rules: black women can straighten their hair, dye it blonde, adopt any style the choose as a method of self expression, but a white woman who chooses dreadlocks has “harmful hair.”

Those who won’t stand up for their own liberties deserve to lose them. Irene is a fool, and betraying the values of her country. Continue reading