Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 8/1/2021: Simone Biles-Free Zone Edition!

Tower shooting

I don’t think that we need to debate the ethics of deranged mass shootings. The first one I was ever aware of occurred on this date in 1966. Charles Whitman, a former Eagle Scout and Marine, brought a stockpile of guns and ammunition to the observatory platform atop a 300-foot tower at the University of Texas. He had packed food and other supplies, and before settling in for 90 minutes of deadly target practice, killing some victims from as far away as 500 yards—he was a trained marksman—Whitman killed the tower receptionist and two tourists. He eventually shot 46 people, killing 14 and wounding 32 before being killed by police. The night before, on July 31, Whitman wrote a note saying, “After my death, I wish an autopsy on me be performed to see if there’s any mental disorders.” Whitman then went to his mother’s home to murder her, using a knife and a gun. He returned home to stab his wife to death.

Whitman’s story does raise medical ethics issues. He was seeing a psychiatrist, and in March told him that he was having uncontrollable fits of anger. Whitman apparently even said that he was thinking about going up to the tower with a rifle and shooting people. “Well, your hour is up, Mr. Whitman. Same time next week, then?” The intersection of mental illness with individual rights continues to be an unresolved ethics conflict 54 years later. In addition, the rare but media-hyped phenomenon of mass shootings has become a serious threat to the right of sane and responsible Americans to own firearms. See #5 below.

1. The King’s Pass in show business. A new book by James Lapine tells the antic story of how the Sondheim musical “Sunday in the Park With George” came to be a Broadway legend. Lapine wrote the book and directed the show. The cult musical—actually all Sondheim shows are cult musicals–eventually won a Pulitzer Prize ( you know, like the “1619 Project”) and bunch of Tony nominations. I was amazed to read that the show’s star, Mandy Patinkin, at one point walked out on the production and was barely persuaded to return. Lapine writes that he never fully trusted Patinkin again. Why does anyone trust him? In fact, how does he still have a career? Patinkin has made a habit of bailing on projects that depended on him. He quit “Chicago Hope,” and later abandoned “Criminal Minds,” which had him as its lead. To answer my own question, he still has a career because of “The King’s Pass,” Rationalization #11. He’s a unique talent, unusually versatile, and producers and directors give him tolerance that lesser actors would never receive. Mandy knows it, too, and so he kept indulging himself, throwing tantrums and breaking commitments, for decades. He appears to have mellowed a bit in his golden years.

2. Speaking of Broadway, the ethical value missed here is “competence”…There is more evidence that the theater community doesn’t realize the existential peril live theater is in (the medium has been on the endangered list for decades) as it copes with the cultural and financial wreckage from the Wuhan Virus Ethics Train Wreck. Just as theaters are re-opening, the Broadway theater owners have decreed that audience members will be required to wear masks at all times.

I have one word for that: “Bye!” Maybe some fools are rich, submissive and tolerant enough to pay $100 bucks or more for the privilege of being uncomfortable for three hours. Not me. My glasses fog up when I wear masks. I have been vaccinated; I’m fairly sure I was exposed to the virus before then and had minimal symptoms, and much as I believe in live theater, I will not indulge the politically-motivated dictatorship of virtue-signalling pandemic hysterics. The industry is cutting its own throat, but then theater has never been brimming with logic or common sense.

Continue reading

What Its Fraudulent Anti-Gun Video Reveals About “Change the Ref”And Everyone Applauding it

Change the Ref

The anti-gun group “Change the Ref” pretended to represent a fake school, “James Madison Academy,” when they invited former NRA president David Keene to give a speech at a graduation ceremony. He was told that he was participating in a rehearsal, as he addressed a stadium of empty chairs. Another gun rights advocate, John Lott Jr., also was lured into the trap by the same ruse.

In reality, the group was filming an anti-gun video. As Keene exhorted the imaginary students to revere the Second Amendment, the video added audio from 911 calls, and the sounds of terrified students during an active shooter episode (or simulations of them). Keene addressed empty chairs, 3,044 of them, allegedly representing children and teenagers who were shot and killed before they could graduate from high school, though he wasn’t told that. Just a rehearsal! After they provided the desired footage to be used against their cause, Keene and Lott were told that the ceremony was canceled.

Change the Ref was founded by Patricia and Manuel Oliver, parents of a boy killed in the Parkland, Florida, shooting. The video is called the “The Lost Class.” Powerful! Clever! Also dishonest, unfair, disrespectful, unforgivably unethical and one more thing: signature significance. A group that would do this is untrustworthy. Nothing it says or publishes can be trusted; none of its arguments can be taken at face value; none of its statistics or analysis can be relied upon by anyone. With this video and its abuse of Lott and Keene, Change the Ref exposes itself as practicing “by any means possible” warfare, not legitimate policy advocacy. It believes that the ends justify the means—their ends. It is a perfect match for the current progressive movement, which has taken an ominous turn to totalitarian strategies with its full embrace of Alinskyism.

Good to know.

Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn)

“The reason that we’re in the crisis that we are today is not because of anything that China did,  it’s not because of what the WHO did, it’s because of what the President did. He didn’t take this virus seriously. We weren’t going to be able to keep every case out of United States, but we didn’t need tens of thousands this of people dying.”

—Senator Murphy, in an appearance with CNN’s Anderson Cooper

The Democrats have decided, I presume in a conference call or something, that their best chance at winning the fall elections is to accuse Donald Trump of killing people. For an opposing party, indeed for any responsible citizen, to deliberately try to undermine trust in a President during a national emergency is unprecedented and irresponsible, as well as dangerous.This is what the Democrats have come to.

The statement was made in the midst of  comments in response to Cooper’s question, “You believe that the president made mistakes that ended up costing lives?” Maybe Murphy does believe that; like the rest of the “resistance” and his party, it is beneficial for him to believe that, so confirmation bias applies. Nonetheless, whatever he believes, the belief is unprovable, and as the death toll from the Wuhan virus appears to be falling not just short, but dramatically short of the models and “expert” projections, the accusation is transparently desperate. 80,000 Americans died of the good, old-fashioned flu virus in the winter of 2017. The estimates now for the Wuhan virus, more deadly, more easily transmitted with no vaccine or proven treatment, are as low as 100,000. It is obvious that the position of the Axis of Unethical Conduct (AUC),that is the Democrats, the “resistance” and the news media, is that whatever happens, it would have been better if Trump did something different than he did. The question is only how many Americans are either so hateful or so gullible that they will accept that.

“Absolutely,” Murphy replied to Anderson. “The fact that we didn’t start buying up medical supplies, masks, gowns, face shields early on, when we were begging for that funding in early February. The fact that the president didn’t put in place an effective plan to develop new tests. The fact that he didn’t work with governors and mayors to push social distancing measures earlier has cost lives.”

Earlier! Sooner! Continue reading

The Return Of The Finger Gun

 

If finger guns are made illegal, only those with fingers will have guns. No, wait..if fingers that can be be made into guns are illegal, only criminals will have fingers. No, that can’t be right…

I cannot resist posting this right after the previous post.

The last time Ethics Alarms discussed punishing children for making finger guns was in 2013. A six-year-old boy in Maryland’s ultra-progressive Montgomery County was suspended from school for making a finger and thumb gun gesture.

This came at the height of post-Sandy Hook anti-gun hysteria, though that was no excuse. I concluded the post,

This is, in order of importance,

  1. Child abuse. This young boy is being treated like a wrongdoer because the adults around him are acting like babies. Will they suspend him for making really scary faces next? Biting his pizza slice into threatening shapes?
  2. Proof of incompetence on the part of the school administrators. Why incompetence? They are stupid, that’s why. Only certifiably stupid people would think it is fair, sensible or reasonable to punish a first-grader for making a gesture kids have been making on playgrounds for hundreds of years, without a single casualty.
  3. Why many people lose respect for anti-gun zealots early in life. They forfeit all respect by acting like ninnies.

The dismaying aspect of this is ridiculous episode is that it has happened before in other schools, and clearly the message wasn’t sent clearly enough to the previous offenders–that is, the fools who victimized innocent children for miming, drawing or otherwise suggesting guns—that this kind of conduct is a career-ender. It should be; it has to be. Such irrational fearfulness, bad judgment, panic, disregard for the sensibilities of the young, lack of proportion and brain dysfunction forfeits all right to trust, and such fools must not be allowed to have power over young bodies and minds.

Nevertheless, it has happened again. Continue reading

Ethical Quote Of The Month: Vox

“Realistically, a gun control plan that has any hope of getting us down to European levels of violence is going to mean taking a huge number of guns away from a huge number of gun owners.”

—Vox writer Dylan Matthews, in an essay titled “What no politician wants to admit about gun control.”

Now, this quote isn’t ethical because what it advocates is ethical, or even because what it claims is true, or proposes is feasible. It’s ethical because it is, refreshingly, honest. Vox admits what the advocates of “sensible gun regulations” do not and dare not. Nothing short of confiscating guns, which will require gutting or eliminating the Second Amendment, will “get American gun violence down to acceptable levels,” which Matthews defines as “European levels.”

The lead-in to the quote above is this…

But let’s be clear about precisely what kind of decision is letting events like this recur, most recently in Dayton and El Paso. Congress’s decision not to pass background checks is not what’s keeping the US from European gun violence levels. The expiration of the assault weapons ban is not behind the gap. What’s behind the gap, plenty of research indicates, is that Americans have more guns. The statistics are mind-blowing: America has 4.4 percent of the world’s population but almost half of its civilian-owned guns.

In other words, the U.S. has about 11 times the guaranteed personal liberty of the rest of the world. I suspect it’s greater than that.

Vox seems to be puzzled as to why Americans regard the right of self-protection and not having to be both symbolic and actual lackeys and wards of the State more highly than nations elsewhere, whose citizens fled their cultures to create and enjoy ours.  There’s no mystery. The United states has more guns and gun deaths  because it has the Second Amendment, and the nations progressives love so much do not. Another version: America is like it is because this is the nation and culture we created, more individualistic, more independent, more self-sufficient, more violent,  more defiant, and less respectful of authority than other nations.

The availability of so many guns (and it is the availability of guns, not the number, that confiscation is aimed at) is more significant as a symptom of American greatness rather than American pathology, although the two are inextricably linked. To progressives (Many? Most? Some?), removing citizens’ right to be armed serves dual purposes: removing the risk of gun abuse (they think), and also watering down those elements of the American character that have made installing a “benign” nanny state with a managed economy and life style so difficult for them.

Vox deserves credit for not continuing the deception, and revealing what has always been the objective of “sensible gun control.” It is forcibly disarming citizens, because the anti-gun Left  knows none of the incremental measures they champion will work.

Now Vox needs to take the next step: admitting that gun confiscation will never happen.

If what politicians are proposing won’t work, and the only measure that might work (but wouldn’t) can’t happen, what’s all the shouting about? Gun violence is a feature of America, not a bug, and America is staying America.

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/5/2019: Preparing For Yet Another Anti-Gun Freak-Out Edition

Good Morning!

 Notes on the impending gun control summer re-runs..

  • There is literally no significance to the fact that there were two mass shootings within 48 hours of each other last week. None. It is pure moral luck, nothing more. If the shootings had occurred weeks apart, or months, the same factors would have been at play, and the same number of people would be dead or injured.

A responsible news media would explain this, as the public looks at these things emotionally rather than rationally. Instead, the news media is doing the opposite.

  • President Trump has decided that it is politically expedient to “do something,” so he tweeted this morning that he favored “strong background checks” in order that “those killed in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, [not] die in vain.” This will annoy Second Amendment champions, and it is certainly a nice example of the “Barn Door Fallacy.” Background checks, however strong, wouldn’t have stopped these shootings in all likelihood, or the vast majority of mass shootings.

It is also possible that the President is being smarter than it seems, since he mentioned some kind of more gun regulations for actual immigration reform compromise. Of course that kind of trade-off makes sense. I suggested that exact deal when Obama was President, but he preferred to whine about how he couldn’t work with Congress rather than compromise. Trump will compromise, in part because he’s a pragmatist, in part because he has no ideals.

The Democrats won’t, though. Continue reading

Another Mass Shooting, More Reminders Of Why The Anti-Gun Left Cannot Be Trusted

When there was a mass- shooting in Virginia Beach last week, I wondered if this time the determined gun-grabbers would pretty much leave it alone. After all, it was carried out with hand-guns, legally purchased. The perpetrator had no criminal record or psychiatric issues. None of the so-called “sensible gun regulations” that we are lectured about constantly would have stopped him.

My curiosity was quickly slaked when the sad, openly partisan shell of Dan Rather, who was once respected when he was able to pretend that he was an ethical, objective  journalist before the mask dropped, appeared  on “CNN Tonight,”  to accuse Second Amendment-respecting members of Congress who do not rush to disarm law-abiding Americans in the wake of every shooting as “bought and paid for by the gun lobby.” This, of course, is the present disgraceful ideological certitude of the Left: no one of good faith and virtuous objectives can possibly disagree with progressive cant, so dissenters must be evil or corrupt. But, to take an example I am extremely familiar with, if the trial lawyers spend millions to support mostly Democratic legislators who refuse to accept “sensible” reforms to the current civil justice system that makes plaintiffs’ attorneys millionaires, the representatives who vote their way have just been persuaded by the innate rightness of their arguments. The same is true of Democratic support of illegal immigration, abortion, climate change policies, legalizing pot, and on and on—but according to Rather, only gun supporting Congress members are “bought and paid for.”

Boy, do I feel like a chump! Here I am, thinking I was a non-gun owning ethicist who has studied our history, the law, the court cases and the statistics, and thought about the issue a great deal over many years.  I’ve concluded, without anyone paying me a cent, that the Second Amendment is the bulwark of the Bill of Rights, and one of an essential and indispensable defense against the desires of power-seeking politicians to reduce individual liberty in the U.S. to advance an agenda of suffocating government control. What’s the matter with me?

Then came another of the Democratic Presidential candidates, this time the slippery Cory Booker, who also addressed my internal curiosity. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Refresher, 3/24/2019 [PART II]: Bill of Rights? What Bill Of Rights? [CORRECTED]

Now it’s “Good afternoon!”

Sunday’s depressing ethics potpourri continues…

3. Psst! San Antonio! This is unconstitutional! The San Antonio City Council rejected  Chick-fil-A ‘s application for a site at its airport this week because the company’s foundation has contributed to organizations that oppose same-sex marriage

Councilman Robert Treviño told the news media that the council made the decision based on “inclusivity.”

“With this decision, the City Council reaffirmed the work our city has done to become a champion of equality and inclusion. San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior. Everyone has a place here and everyone should feel welcome when they walk through our airport.”

Have these fools and censors even read the Bill of Rights? A government can’t penalize a business because it doesn’t like the opinions of its owner or management. This is viewpoint discrimination, and a screamingly obvious First Amendment violation. As Chick-fil-A accurately pointed out in its response, no one has ever been refused service or treated differently in one of the company’s restaurants because of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity. That’s their LGBTQ “behavior,” not their entirely legal and protected choice of charities and non profits.

Once again from the Democratic Party and the Left we whiff the rotten stench of nascent totalitarianism. Believe as we do, or be punished. This is the same company several Democratic mayors said were not welcome in their cities. Once again, this unconstitutional and undemocratic act by San Antonio’s Democrats is assured of a reversal by the Supreme Court, and if Justice Ginsberg still has most of her marbles and Sotomayor isn’t chasing rainbows and unicorns, it ought to be a 9-0 vote.

Local government actions like this ought to concern followers of both parties equally. The First Amendment should not be a partisan issue. Continue reading

Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/17/19: March Ethics Madness!

Good morning!

Any week that starts off with John Belushi’s immortal reflections on March just has to be a good week.

1. Connecticut: Judicial ethics and guns. Anti-gun fanatics are cheering this week’s ruling by the Connecticut Supreme Court  reversing  a lower court judge dismissing a lawsuit by the families of victims of the Sandy Hook shooting against Remington Arms Company, allowing the case to proceed. In the 4-3 decision the court  possibly created a path that other mass shooting victims can follow to get around the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, known as PLCAA, which has protected the manufacturers of the AR-15 assault rifle from lawsuits, thus setting the stage for a sensational “Runaway Jury”-type trial. The court’s reasoning is that the Sandy Hook families should have the opportunity to prove that Remington violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) by marketing what it knew was a weapon designed for military use to civilians. The problem is that the ruling ignores the law, as John Hinderaker explains (but he’s not the only analyst trashing the decision):

“Firearms of all kinds have been ‘designed for military use.’,” he writes. “The 1911, designed by John Browning, was the standard U.S. military pistol for many years and remains one of the most popular pistol designs today. So what? There is no such exception in the Second Amendment…Under the Supremacy Clause, federal law will govern over state law. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act is intended to avoid precisely the result reached by the Connecticut Supreme Court. The PLCAA puts firearms manufacturers on the same plane with all others. If their products are not defective–if they do not malfunction–they are not liable. If someone stabs a victim to death with a knife, the victim’s heirs can’t sue the knife manufacturer. It is the same with firearms.”

Hinderaker correctly concludes that significance of the ruling is not that it opens a road for the Second Amendment to be constrained, or for ruinous liability to applied to gun-makers, but that it shows how courts will deliberately ignore the law to reach political goals. Continue reading

2018 Ethics Retrospective Poll #4: The Ethics Train Wrecks!

Nominations for “Ethics Train Wreck Of The Year”

This one is self-explanatory, I think. Don’t automatically default to the obvious choice.

(Still rolling and still being used illicitly to exert gender-based power while undermining civil rights.

(which encompasses “the resistance,” the “Get Trump” campaign by the news media, and the ongoing effort to concoct a justification for impeachment)

(The Parkland shooting aftermath was nothing but a resuscitated and refueled version, with different demagogues, and the same lies)

(Statues are still falling, universities are still purging their histories, and “The Sound of Music” can’t mention Nazis…)

(An offshoot of the Harvey Weinstein express,  and perhaps the canary dying in the mine…)

(So long-running and constant that I forgot to call it one, with the “Think of the Children! caboose.)

The Big Tech Social Media Ethics Train Wreck, which has pulled out of the station, will have to wait a few months before we can assess it…

The poll: