Once Again, An Analysis Of A SCOTUS Decision Is Distorted By Emotion And Ignorance

This is a problem. And I’m just talking now about the previous SCOTUS ruling that launched a freak-out yesterday. As you probably know by now, the leaked SCOTUS ruling rebuffing Roe v. Wade is no longer a leak.

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to strike down a restrictive “needs-based” concealed carry laws in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.  Even though Justice Thomas’s majority opinion was tight and clear as well as consistent with SCOTUS precedent as well as, of course, the Bill of Rights, such worthies as President Biden claimed that, in the President’s words, the ruling contradicted “common sense and the Constitution.”

What are the odds that Joe read the opinion before declaring that? I’d say “none.” Making such a statement while carrying the presumed authority of President without knowing what the Court’s analysis was is completely unethical and an abuse of position.

David Harsanyi, writing at RealClearPolitics, accurately writes,

The modern left doesn’t even bother pretending they believe the Supreme Court has a responsibility to act as a separate branch of government and adjudicate the constitutionality of law. Rather than even ostensibly offering legal reasons for their ire, Democrats simply demand the Supreme Court uphold public sentiment (or, rather what they claim is public sentiment), even though SCOTUS exists to ignore those pressures. The fact that that attitude has congealed as the norm in one of our major political parties does not bode well for the future of the Republic.

It is particularly disheartening that the three liberal justices in their dissent stooped to fueling this distortion of the Court’s role. Their arguments were almost all irrelevant to the  constitutional issues and the Court’s previous rulings regarding the Second Amendment. Instead, Sotomayor, Breyer and Kagan took the low road of evoking recent shootings and incidents of gun violence as if current events should permit the limiting of explicit Constitutional rights. 

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PM Ethics Pie, 6/23/2022: Guns, Mostly

On this date in 1972, the eventual ethics train wreck known as Title IX was passed. Its stated purpose was to prohibit sexual desecration on federally funded campuses, but since most of that discrimination was against women, the law was eventually weaponized to be an anti-male measure, notably by the Obama administration and its pressure on schools to employ a presumed guilty approach to student accusations of sexual harassment and assault. Title IX or something like it was clearly needed, but the law stands as a useful example of how, when a failure of ethics makes it necessary for law to step in, the law too often mucks things up.

1. Pop Ethics Quiz!

That’s a fantastic duo-costume at a cos-play convention: Peter Pan and his shadow! But is it offensive? Isn’t that “blackface”? If not, why not? Of course it isn’t supposed to evoke minstrel shows or be denigrating to blacks, but neither was Laurence Olivier’s make-up to play Othello on film. Define the rule for me. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Update On The Uvalde Massacre Extension Of The Sandy Hook Ethics Train Wreck, Part 5…”

Michael provides some much needed perspective (legally correct, too) on gun control issues in the wake of the Memorial Day weekend freak-out on the topic. You can read the Heller case here. It is amazing how many people (and pundits) shooting off their unregulated mouths on the topic of guns have never bothered to read the SCOTUS opinion that constitutes the latest boundaries on the Second Amendment.

Here is Michael’s Comment of the Day on this post:

***

Let’s get something correct in the debate about regulation of firearms.

Heller, often cited, does NOT preclude regulation. In fact, Justice Scalia’s (certainly not a left-wing progressive, rather a proponent of originalism) opinion suggests the contrary. Toward the end of the Heller opinion, he states “the problem of handgun violence in this country” is real and the government has “a variety of tools for combating that problem, including some measures regulating handguns.” The Constitutional requirement of Heller is that the government may not disarm citizens in their homes. Justice Scalia recognized regulations of several types of government regulation as presumptively lawful: “conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms,” bans on carrying weapons in “sensitive places,” and he noted the “historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’” See (for example) the FDR era laws that restricted guns presumed to be the type used in mob violence. Continue reading

From The “My Mind’s Made Up, Don’t Confuse Me With Facts” Files

The above political cartoon is from Alas! A Blog, where Ethics Alarms exile Barry Deutsch reigns. Barry was formerly a stand-out advocate for the Left on Ethics Alarms until he self-banished for reasons not relevant here. He’s a smart, ethics-savvy, informed, articulate and passionate straight down-the-agenda progressive; he’s also a political cartoonist by trade, an art form I believe has passed its pull date, and that now mostly serves as a device to make dishonest or simplistic arguments for knee-jerk partisans, kind of a visual Charles M. Blow column. I check in on Barry’s blog periodically, and when I did yesterday I was greeted by the above cartoon, drawn by Barry and written by his occasional collaborator Rachel Moore.

It surprised me, not because of its routine anti-Second Amendment message, for as I said, Barry’s progressivism checks every box. It surprised me because I find it astounding that anyone as informed as Barry would pick this, of all times, to unveil that cartoon.

Two days ago, the New York Times reported that the Ukranians were fending off the Russians in part because of armed civilians:

Here, as elsewhere in the fighting around Kyiv, the Ukrainian military achieved its battlefield success by deploying small, fast-moving units largely on foot that staged ambushes or defended sites with the benefit of local knowledge. Many such units are based in central Kyiv, commuting to the war zone by car.

This is not a perfect analogy to the situation that would arise should the United States government decide to “wipe out freedom,” but it certainly ought to be food for thought for those gun-hating zealots who ridicule the very idea that self-defense and the ability to present armed resistance to government tyranny are basic liberties worth protecting in the U.S. Continuing to make the most crude and insulting version of that argument at this time appears to expose an ideological position that is no longer susceptible to modification or reason.

If you like political cartoons, Barry is certainly a talented one , and you can support his art on Patreon.

Ethics (And Judicial) Hero: Federal Judge Roger Benitez

cartoon-guns

If one bothers to read his opinion, which most anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment zealots will not, including your outraged friends on social media, it is clear that that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California judge’s long overdue ruling striking down the state’s three-decade-old unconstitutional ban on so-called “assault weapons” is well reasoned, well-researched, and difficult to rebut. As usual, those who want to remove the right to bear arms from law abiding Americans (while law-defying Americans continue to do as they please) are resorting to emotion and dishonesty to argue their case.

It is unfortunate that the judge, who is not one of those evil Trump judges but a moderate appointed by President Bush II, began his opinion with an invitation to be misquoted and misunderstood. “Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment,” Judge Benitez wrote, so furious would-be gun-grabbers are aping California Governor Gavin Newsom, who tweeted,

“Overturning CA’s assault weapon ban and comparing an AR-15 to a SWISS ARMY KNIFE is a disgusting slap in the face to those who have lost loved ones to gun violence. This is a direct threat to public safety and innocent Californians. We won’t stand for it.”

This raises the question, so frequently encountered on Ethics Alarms, of whether a speaker is deliberately lying, or just stupid. In this case, it is also possible that he only read the first sentence, which is irresponsible. Benitez, as the rest of his opinion makes crystal clear, was comparing the versatility of an AR-15 to a Swiss Army Knife, not their characteristics as weapons. An important part of his opinion explains that when the California legislature banned semi-automatic rifles,it never even considered the weapon’s value for self defense, and not just as a “sporting rifle.” (The Red Sox have a utility player named Marwin Gonzalez, and I have heard him compared to a Swiss Army Knife because he can play almost any position; in other words, he’s versatile. No baseball writer has been so foolish as to mock the characterization by saying that the comparison is ridiculous because the knives aren’t alive, Gonzales isn’t Swiss, and he’s much, much bigger.) It is also a non sequitur to call a ruling based on black letter law a “slap in the face” to anyone. Not following the Constitution, as California frequently wants to do, is a slap in the face of democracy.

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The Murder of Megan Montgomery And The Death Of Journalism [Corrected]

-megan-montgomery-jason-mcintosh

Here is the NBC News headline: “The state of Alabama took his gun away. When authorities gave it back, he shot and killed his wife.” Here is the sub-head: “Alabama authorities took his gun away after a violent domestic incident. Nine months later they gave it back, and he used it to shoot and kill his wife.”

And this is what readers don’t learn until, (let’s see) 17 paragraphs into the story:

“On the night of Feb. 23, 2019, [Megan] Montgomery and [Jason] McIntosh got into a physical altercation at their home. Fellow officers from McIntosh’s department responded to a 911 call from McIntosh, who reported that Montgomery had a gunshot wound. According to the responding officers, Montgomery said she had grabbed McIntosh’s duty weapon with her right hand for her own protection. The two began to struggle for the weapon. Montgomery, 5’8″ and 135 pounds, was shot in her upper right arm. McIntosh, 6’4” and 225 pounds, told the responding officers that during the struggle he thought Montgomery had his cell phone in her hand. According to the report, McIntosh said it was only when the gun went off and the bullet hit his wife that he realized they’d been fighting over a gun. Because McIntosh was a police officer, the head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) ordered Special Agent Vince Cunningham to investigate the incident….Cunningham took McIntosh’s firearm as evidence. He interviewed Montgomery on Feb. 26, 2019. She told him that during the incident “she was afraid,” according to the investigative summary written by Cunningham…The ALEA summary says that when Montgomery was asked if the shooting was an accident, she said yes. The summary also says that the officer who took Montgomery to the emergency room told Cunningham that when doctors asked Montgomery what happened, she told them, “He shot me.”….The district attorney did not file charges, concluding in a letter there was “no evidence of the commission of any felony offenses by either Mr. Mcintosh or Ms. Montgomery.” The DA left open the possibility that the City of Hoover could file a misdemeanor offense against either one of them. That never happened. Meanwhile, McIntosh was repeatedly texting ALEA Special Agent Cunningham asking to get his gun back, according to documentation reviewed by NBC News. McIntosh claimed he needed the gun to get a new private security job….Though he had used it as a duty weapon with the Hoover Police Department, the gun was his personal property.”

That is all material information necessary to understanding the tragic incident, isn’t it? Indeed, if the story is really intended to let readers know what happened and why, that part of the story needed to be part of the narrative, right at the beginning. Instead, the reporters set out to spin the facts to maximize anti-gun rights sentiment. An estranged wife with a history of physical altercations with her husband was shot and killed by him after an earlier incident involving his gun, after she had filed for divorce, after a restraining order, and after he had been given his gun back by the backwards state of Alabama. Outrageous! How could that happen?

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Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/27/2020: It’s Come To This…

…I have to rely on cute Jack Russell Terrier videos to keep me from heading to the bridge…

1.  No, guys, it’s not unethical to retract a bad law. SCOTUS Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr, Thomas and Gorsuch were annoyed that the Supreme Court refused to consider the Constitutionality of a New York anti-gun law after the state not only repealed the law, but passed a law preventing a similar law from being passed again. The Supreme Court today dismissed a major gun rights case that Second Amendment activists had hoped would clarify the right to bear arms. The decision dismissing the case was unsigned, but the dissent was signed, so we also know who made up the majority.   “By incorrectly dismissing this case as moot, the court permits our docket to be manipulated in a way that should not be countenanced,” Alito et al. hurrumphed. The law’s removal rendered the case moot and denied the Court an opportunity to explore whether there is a right to carry a gun outside the home.

I’d say that when the prospect of being slammed by the Court makes a state back down from an overreaching law, that’s a win. Stop complaining. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/22/2020: Krugman, Whitmer And Lemon

Good morning, all!

1. Bad guys 1. Paul Krugman’s column yesterday had the despicable headline, “The Right Sends In The Quacks.” “The quacks” according to Krugman are the Americans who are protesting in public to send a vivid message to increasingly dictatorial mayors, governors and police departments that opening society and allowing people to live their lives like free citizens rather than inmates needs to be a priority, a concept many in office as well as much of the news media appear to have discarded.

Why are the protesters “quacks?” Well, for one thing, they don’t regard protesting government policy as a non-essential activity, as we were told last week by one of our courageous, first-responder police departments. Second, many of them wore MAGA hats, meaning they are per se racists and idiots. Worst of all, some of them carried guns, legally, but still. Guns bad.

Although if I were a protest consultant, I would advise against the guns, legal weapons symbolize the Second Amendments assertion that individual rights much not be squashed by government over-reach, and that citizens have a right to arm themselves as a matter of self-defense, against their own government if necessary. It may be a message that progressives and anti-Second Amendment fanatics are incapable of processing, but it is a crucial message nonetheless, particularly when Americans are witnessing things like this, or this.

2. Or this: Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, currently the face of Wuhan virus crypto-totalitraianism, told  Rachel Maddow last week that she was considering extending social distancing guidelines in response to Michigan  protests against her stay-at-home restrictions. “We might have to actually think about extending stay-at-home orders, which is supposedly what they were protesting,” Whitmer said.

“Supposedly.” Nice. Continue reading

Monday Morning Ethics, 3/30/2020: As Another Fun Week Looms…

Yes, I’ve been thinking about this episode (“The Shinning”) of “The Simpsons” a lot lately…

Of course, in my case, I’m writing on the walls, “No baseball, no seminars make Jack Go Crazy!”

1. And speaking of people going crazy: the various anti-gun mayors and governors who are arguing that gun stores are “non-essential” are displaying their irrational Second Amendment phobia, much like Ohio and Texas attempting to prohibit abortions as “non-essential” surgery. The ability to self-arm is more essential at times of social disruption than usual. Looting and attacks on homes are just around the corner as resources dwindle and people become desperate, and we already have plenty of evidence that irresponsible, anti-social and unstable members of the public are not as rare as we might wish. The comparisons of the Wuhan virus crisis to zombie scenarios (as in “World War Z”) are invitations to hysteria, but in one respect the analogy is apt. Guns are useful tools to have around in both situations.

2. Good. From CNN:

The Justice Department has started to probe a series of stock transactions made by lawmakers ahead of the sharp market downturn stemming from the spread of coronavirus, according to two people familiar with the matter. The inquiry, which is still in its early stages and being done in coordination with the Securities and Exchange Commission, has so far included outreach from the FBI to at least one lawmaker, Sen. Richard Burr, seeking information about the trades, according to one of the sources. Public scrutiny of the lawmakers’ market activity has centered on whether members of Congress sought to profit from the information they obtained in non-public briefings about the virus epidemic.

And if this causes the Republicans to lose control of the Senate, they deserve it. Burr, in particular, should resign now. He should not be allowed to run for re-election.

3. I would think that this is a slippery slope we don’t want to get on… Continue reading

After School Ethics Special, 1/6/2020: Stupidity On Parade

 

“Help?”

A grateful pointer to Althouse for finding this photo, which raises automatic ethics questions. I am viscerally opposed to putting sweater, clothes and costumes on dogs, in part because all of our dogs have hated it, and one, our feisty Jack Russell Dickens, would twist himself like a contortionist to get out of any garb, whereupon he would rip it to shreds. Several of her commenters make a great point, however: it is unethical to force dogs bred for warm and dry climates to live in wet, cold ones. I have dog-lover friends who insist that dogs are humiliated by being dressed up, like Ralphie in his bunny pajamas. That, I think, is a stretch.

1. Don’t blame Disney. Emerson Elementary School in Berkeley, California decided to raise money for the PTA by selling tickets to a screening of  The Lion King. CNN explains,

“One of the dads bought the movie at Best Buy,” PTA president David Rose told CNN. “He owned it. We literally had no idea we were breaking any rules.” While the school doesn’t know how exactly the company discovered the movie was played, Rose said the school’s PTA will “somewhat begrudgingly” cover the cost of the screening. An email sent to the school by Movie Licensing USA informed Emerson faculty that the company had “received an alert” that “The Lion King” was screened during an event on November 15. Movie Licensing USA manages licensing for Disney and other major studios. And since the school does not have a license with the company, it’s been asked to pay $250 for the screening — and $250 per showing of the movie at any future events at the school.”

What? “Somewhat grudgingly”? They had “no idea” charging for tickets to see copyrighted material broke any rules? Those rules are well-displayed on any DVD, and any duty of reasonable intelligence should be able to figure out what’s illegal about doing what they did. There weren’t any lawyers among the organizers and attendees?

In its story about this episode, Boing Boing, an entertaining site with an annoyingly “woke” staff, implies that Disney is being an greedy old meanie, and that the PTA was an innocent victim of another evil corporation.  Wrong, and stupid. If companies don’t protect their copyrights and trademarks, they can lose them. Disney has been overzealous in this area, but not on this occasion.

2. KABOOM! Chris Matthews suggested yesterday that the Democrats should consider nominating Adam Schiff for President. Continue reading