“If your beliefs are not in line with ours, we will not adopt a pet to you.”
—Kim Sill, founder of the Shelter Hope Pet Shop in Thousand Oaks, California in her shop’s weekly newsletter.
Pro tip for Kim: if you are going to say something really stupid and offensive in public, at least do it grammatically.
Other than that, this obnoxious, virtue-signalling Constitutional scholar is informing all that she wants to tear down a crucial support-beam in the entire democratic structure of the United States. While discrimination on the basis of political affiliations and viewpoints is not forbidden under civil rights and public accommodation laws, it is a surefire way to guarantee civil unrest and a society that is divided and miserable in which to live. The pet store’s bigotry—and that’s what it is, bigotry—violates the spirit of the First Amendment and the well-established formula for a fair and open society.
This really is like one of the old horror movies, but scarier, and real. I have no idea what to do about it. The sudden and, though no one wants to admit it, coincidental wave of shooting episodes last month (and bleeding into this one, literally) might as well have been part of a conspiracy to freak-out the American public and cowardly lawmakers into surrendering the Constitutional right to bear arms in self-defense.
As always, our democracy’s Achilles heel is public ignorance, and the anti-gun news media and the usual demagogues have done a bang-up job this time around of both exploiting the ignorance and adding to it. It is especially ironic that the same side of the ideological spectrum taking aim at the First Amendment with its cynical attacks on “disinformation,””misinformation” and “hate speech” are engaging in all three daily, indeed almost hourly, in order to finally crush the Second Amendment rights of law abiding and responsible citizens—so the people who pay no attention to laws anyway will somehow be dissuaded from gun violence.
The escalated assualt is simultaneously dumb, intellectually dishonest and unethical…but effective. And it is coming from all directions all at once, like the fast zombies in “World War Z,” as long as we’re using horror film analogies. In my annoyed and fevered state, I can’t even organize all of it coherently, so I’m going to resort to bullet points for now:
As I predicted when the Uvalde shooting first was reported, the Barn Door Fallacy is in full swing. The shooter was 18, so banning gun sales to anyone under 21 is one of the most popular “Do something!” measures, because the law will go back in time and stop Ramos from murdering all those kids. That’s because he bought his guns; never mind that Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook shooter, was also under 21, and just took his mother’s guns to go on his rampage. Since the privileges and responsibilities of adulthood mostly attach when one turns 18, the sudden conclusion that 18-year-olds are dangerously irresponsible lacks integrity and consistency. Is there a line there, or not? Why there? Why are people allowed to vote for who makes laws when we think they can’t be trusted to obey them? What’s magic about 21? If two or three shooters are over 21 and under 25, will “Do something!” mean that the right to own a gun will be limited again?
The Stupid! It BURNSSSS!
The lies (disinformation/misinformation/lazy, careless or deliberate confusion of terms and deceit) make fair and informed debate impossible. Semi-automatic rifles are called automatic weapons, “AR-15-style” is used without clarification; “weapons of war” is scary and useful as a cognitive dissonance trigger but meaningless; “assault weapon” has no agreed-upon meaning, other than “bad.” Those who wield this fog of language literally don’t care about meanings and definitions…
…bringing us to “comprehensive background checks,” another “Do something” trope. What does “comprehensive” mean? Under U.S. law, federally licensed gun dealers, importers and manufacturers must run background checks for all sales to unlicensed buyers. The law bans firearm transfers to anyone convicted of a felony or committed to a mental institution. But a private seller without a federal license doesn’t need to meet the same requirement. “Comprehensive” apparently means making private sales involve background checks as well; it also could involve adding more—much more—details about a purchaser to “check.” Regarding the latter, you don’t have to be paranoid to wonder what those details could entail.
Regarding the former: how would (or could) a private gun transfer background check law be enforced? Such laws would place a serious burden on the seller. What if I had a cash emergency and wanted to sell my WWII German Luger to a collector friend who had always admired it? Getting the background check would take too much time for my urgent cash needs. I know and trust the collector. If he doesn’t pay, take my gun and shoot up a school, how would the government ever find out about the transaction? Unenforceable laws are deceptive, pretending to be something they are not—effective. That’s unethical.
In order to pursue the (batty) argument that its the guns and not the sociopathic, law-defying, violent and often crazy people who use them that are the problem, the anti-gun mob is denying that the mental health of shooters is a primary issue. (This goes along, strangely enough, with the “blood on their hands” attacks on Republicans, arguing that they have not supported significant spending on mental health treatment—which continues to be hit-and-miss no matter how much money we throw at it.) Here’s the LA Times:
Blaming mental illness for mass shootings inflicts a damaging stigma on the millions of people who suffer from clinical afflictions, the vast majority of whom are not violent. Extensive research shows the link between mental illness and violent behavior is small and not useful for predicting violent acts; people with diagnosable conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are in fact far more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violence.
This is Yoo’s Rationalization, “It isn’t what it is,” to the max. People who are not mentally ill do not shoot up schools. They do not go on shooting sprees that are certain to get them killed themselves. They do not shoot people “to get famous.” Mass shooters, like serial killers are, by definition, nuts. Laws are not likely to stop them.
And then we have “red flag” laws, which the public tends to like in polls because, as with so many of the “do something” measures, respondents have not thought about what they are or mean. These are laws that the government could easily expand to remove rights from citizens who have done nothing illegal, or who have engaged in conduct in the past that has been dealt with and is over with. “Red flag laws” are pre-crime punishment, and should be ruled unconstitutional, though there is no guarantee they would be.
Polls that do nothing but sum up mass ignorance and manipulated uninformed opinion are being used as authorities. Mother Jones (I know, I know) got all excited about s new poll published by CBS News that “found” that “three quarters of Americans believe we can prevent mass shootings if we prioritize the goal of doing so.” In other words, “Do something!” How do we stop illegal gun violence? “Prioritize it!” Oh! More than climate change? “Well, maybe not more than climate change.” More than inflation? “Well, no, inflation is killing us.” More than fighting “systemic racism”? Oh, no, nothing’s more important than fighting that! More than abortion? “Are you kidding! That’s the most important of all!” So “doing something” about gun violence is, at best, fifth on our list of priorities, even from the perspective of the Left…which means it’s not going to be “prioritized.”
Meanwhile, the public is being fed lies by the President of the United States. “We should repeal the liability shield that often protects gun manufacturers from being sued for the death and destruction caused by their weapons,” Biden said in his hysterical “do something” speech last week. “They’re the only industry in this country that has that kind of immunity. Imagine. Imagine if the tobacco industry had been immune from being sued, where we’d be today. The gun industry’s special protections are outrageous. It must end.”
Ugh. Cigarettes are a consumer product that caused death and illness to uninformed users who had been deceived by manufacturers. If a driver uses a car to murder someone, can General Motors be sued? No. If someone beats in their wife’s brains with a baseball bat, can Hillerich and Bradsby be sued? No! Manufacturers are liable when their products are faulty and negligently produced. They are not liable, and should not be liable, when a purchaser uses the product illegally or negligently. All products have “that kind of immunity,” but when anti-gun zealots devised the idea of suing gun manufacturers anyway, a 2005 law called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which shields gun companies from lawsuits based on the unlawful acts people commit using their products.
At the risk of repeating myself, “Ugh.” The Great Stupid and the Sandy Hook Ethics Train Wreck alliance is going to be much harder to fight off than Frankenstein’s Monster and the Wolf Man.
Two days after the Uvalde shooting, as all of California Democrats, progressives and anti-gun zealots were metaphorically screaming “Murderers!” at those who aren’t willing to gut the Second Amendment to pretend that various restrictions would stop evil lunatics like Ramos, the California State Senate voted to end a legal requirement that students who threaten violence against school officials be reported.
The old law mandated that whenever a school official was “attacked, assaulted, or physically threatened by any pupil,” staff must “promptly report the incident to specified law enforcement authorities.”
Gone. So, for example, the teacher in that screenshot above, taken from a video of an in-class assault, would not be obligated to report it. How odd that the state would eliminate such a restriction as the question rages over how so many people aware that the Uvalde shooter was an anti-social, gun-obsessed menace never alerted authorities. What could possibly be California’s thinking?
Decades of research show the long-term harm to young people of even minimal contact with the juvenile or criminal legal systems. Once students make contact with law enforcement, they are less likely to graduate high school and more likely to wind up in jail or prison.These harms fall disproportionately on students from marginalized groups: Black, Indigenous, and Latinx students, as well as students with disabilities, are disproportionately referred to law enforcement, cited, and arrested.
Taking the photo above as an example, that student is merely the victim of centuries of systemic racism, and justifiably enraged by a racist white supremacist culture. Reporting him just compounds the injustice.
“For a culture so steeped in violence, we spend a lot of time preventing anyone from actually seeing that violence,” says an Ethics Dunce quoted with reverence in the New York Times essay, “From Sandy Hook to Uvalde, the Violent Images Never Seen” “Something else is going on here, and I’m not sure it’s just that we’re trying to be sensitive.” Hmmm, what could that ‘something else’ be? It’s a mystery!
It’s ethics, you blithering fool. The Dunce is Nina Berman, a documentary photographer, filmmaker and Columbia journalism professor. See that least part? Is it any wonder that journalists are now our least ethical professionals? Jelani Cobb, incoming dean of the Columbia University School of Journalism, is also quoted as saying, “I’m not at all certain that it’s ethical or right to display these images in this way.”
Kapler, who is what is considered a deep thinker by the standards of Major League Baseball, refused to stand for the National Anthem. His explanation before the game:
“When I was the same age as the children in Uvalde, my father taught me to stand for the pledge of allegiance when I believed my country was representing its people well or to protest and stay seated when it wasn’t. I don’t believe it is representing us well right now.”
Erma Bombeck once wrote that it is impossible to argue with a six-year-old without sounding like a sic-year-old, and this applies to my going into much detail explaining why Kaplar’s gesture of protest is shallow, facile grandstanding and nothing better. He was a major league player from 1998-2010 and always respected the Anthem. Nothing that happened during those years made him feel the U.S. wasn’t doing the right thing? I don’t believe it. Nor is the National Anthem meant as a means of endorsing national policy. Nor is the fact the Kaplar’s father has a distorted concept of what showing respect for the nation, it’s history, its sacrifices and its values by joining your fellow citizens in an expression of gratitude and honor an excuse for his adopting a similarly infantile view.
On Ethics Alarms, I don’t allow commenters to pass moderation if all they can muster is “I agree” or ” I disagree.” It’s a lazy and useless response. It’s easy to say, “I don’t like this,” especially if you are ignorant and have nothing to contribute. OK, Gabe: what would you have the U.S. do about school shootings? We’re all ears. But he knows he works in San Francisco, where the USSR national anthem would probably attract as much fealty as The Star Spangled Banner. Insulting the nation is good enough: he doesn’t need to articulate an argument.
As Glenn Reynolds quips in such situations, “You’re going to need a bigger blog.”
The most depressing post-shooting development is that the Uvalde police completely abdicated their duty and allowed the maniac in an elementary school to keep shooting children. Texas DPS Lt. Chris Olivarez explained on CNN why police officers were reluctant to enter Robb Elementary School while the murders were going on. “They could have been shot. They could have been killed,” he said.
Oh. Well that explains it then. Of course, the police outnumbered the 18-year-old and presumably had more training, they could hear the shots, and being armed themselves, they still has a better chance at survival than the children , but, hey, look out for #1, right?
The shooter entered Robb Elementary School through an open door , barricaded himself in a classroom and killed 19 children and two teachers. Nobody stood in his way. He had been outside the school for 12 minutes, firing at a funeral home across the street. The first 911 call was made at 11:30 am, and police didn’t arrive until 11:44. A Border Patrol tactical team finally entered the school almost an hour after Salvador Ramos had started shooting students, at around 12:40 p.m. They were able to get into the classroom and kill Ramos. Continue reading →
For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to tag all of the upcoming unethical doings in the wake of the latest school shooting tragedy as part of the Sandy Hood Ethics Train Wreck, which also included the Newtown shooting freakout. They are all the same issue, with the same rhetoric, the same appeals to emotion, and many of the same players, dunces and villains. “History repeats itself, and that’s one of the things that’s wrong with history,” Clarence Darrow said.
It is particularly nauseating, in my view, to have to listen and read the “other countries don’t have this problem!” talking point. Yes, the United States is unique in a lot of ways. The major point of uniqueness is that the US allows its citizens unusual freedom, and thus attracts and has always attracted risk-takers, iconoclasts, eccentrics, nut-cases, heroes, those who resent authority, and many who think that the guarantee of liberty and the opportunity to succeed or fail is the same as a promise of success. This, in turn, means that among the unpleasant byproducts of our liberties is more violence and more crime (also more personal responsibility). “We have spawned a new race here-rougher simpler, more violent, more enterprising, and less refined. We’re a new nationality and we require a new nation,” Ben Franklin tells John Dickinson in “1776,” and while that is only a manufactured quote from various writings of Adams and Franklin, Ben was right, as usual. The Bill of Rights reflects the needs and aspirations of that “new race,” so does the Constitution’s emphasis on the right to bear arms, and so does the proclivity of that race to abuse our unusual treasure of rights. For human beings and nations, the greatest strengths are often the greatest flaws. We pay a large and sometimes bloody price for our liberties and ideals, but if one supports the American experiment and where it has brought us, the conclusion must be that the cost is worth it.
Not everyone is cut out to be an American. Those who don’t like the culture should consider relocating somewhere less stressful, and accept the reduced upside in exchange for a more sedate set of risks.
That’s the lesson of the clip above from “The Third Man” above, in the final speech of the film by Orson Wells as the mysterious rogue Harry Lime.
1.The pro-abortion signature significance keeps on coming!CNN’s Dana Bash to the Governor of Arkansas:“Arkansas already struggles to support vulnerable children. Nearly 1 in 4 children in Arkansas lives in poverty….Do you really think that your state is prepared to protect and care for even more children if abortion does become illegal there?”
Bash did not get the answer she apparently anticipated, which would have been something like, “No, you’re right, Dana. It makes mores sense to kill them. Thanks for setting me straight.”
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 “TheKing’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.
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.