By Popular Demand: Welcome Ethics Alarms Rationalizations #55, “We’re Better Than This!” and #56, “Think of the Children!”

Think of the Children

About a week ago, I asked readers whether “We’re better than this!,” at the time being wielded like a club by Democrats to counter various Republican proposals to control, limit or cease the immigration of Muslims into the U.S., was a true rationalization that deserved inclusion on The List. The response suggested that most of you felt it was, and upon reading the responses, I agree. A rationalization is an invalid and dishonest argument used to advocate or defend questionable conduct. “We’re better than this!” fits that description, and thus I officially dub it Ethics Alarms Rationalization Rationalization#55, “The Idealist’s Delusion,” or “We’re/ You’re Better Than This.”

Like the other rationalizations, “The Idealist’s Delusion” may sometimes be fair and true, but it is still an unethical argument if there is nothing more substantive to back it up. Think of it as the reverse of  #14. Self-validating Virtue, in which unethical conduct supposedly becomes ethical because the person doing it is deemed—usually by himself— incapable of wrongdoing. Rationalization #55 uses presumed virtue to claim that a potential actor is too good to do something…without ever making the case that the considered conduct is really wrong or unwise.  #55 is a pretty neat trick, when you think about it: it simultaneously appeals to an individual or organization’s self-esteem while unilaterally declaring an objective, motive or methods demeaning. This relieves the advocate for avoiding the conduct in question of the requirement to make the case with more than vague declarations of principle. If #55 is effective, it can only be because those persuaded never engaged in critical thinking, asking and answering such crucial questions as what are the benefits of this proposed action, who will it benefit, what ethical principles does it follow or violate, and are the intended results worth the cost? The Idealist’s Delusion is a cynical tool to bypass ethical decision-making by assuming the result, and using ego and guilt to stifle objective analysis. As I wrote in the earlier post.

When “We are better than this” is followed by “because..’ and more substantive points, I have no objection to it, although “we should be better than this” is fairer. It can begin an analysis, but is not an analysis itself. However, when it is used as a substitute for analysis, it is pure rationalization.

I am also finally adding “Think of the Children!” to the list, as Rationalization #56, The Universal Trump. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: The Washington Post

Better yet, just THINK...

Better yet, just THINK…

Here is another reason Why Our Children Will Grow Up To Be Cheats And Liars: ethically obtuse thinking like that expressed by the Washington Post editors this morning.

The Jackie Robinson West Little League team was stripped of its national title for a very good reason: it had an unfair advantage over its competition, so its victory was corrupt. Its coach and administrators cheated, manipulating league boundaries to assemble a team fortified by “ringers.” The victory didn’t count because the victory was a sham. The team wasn’t playing by the rules. This is not a difficult concept, or shouldn’t be.

Yet the Post’s editors are aghast, writing, “The fact is they punished a group of children who did everything right, on and off the field — punished them for the sins of adults who did wrong and an organization that was willfully oblivious.”

Yup. That’s the way life works. That’s the way it has to work and has always worked, and the sooner children learn that lesson, the less likely they are to grow up as ethically muddled as the adults who write Post editorials. Continue reading

Observations On The Illegal Immigration Ethics Train Wreck, The Ugliest Of Them All

Illegal-Immigration

Nobody, literally nobody, has managed to stay off this Ethics Train Wreck by now. The over-flowing passenger list includes…

Democrats, who cynically want to encourage law-breaking to tilt the nation’s demographics toward what they think will be a permanent electoral advantage

Law enforcement, which has ducked its duty to keep our borders secure

Big business, which wants to preserve an underground economy that provides cheap and frightened labor that allows it to pay unconscionably low wages;

Conservatives, whose refusal to consider any path to citizenship for the millions we have already allowed to stay here by our non-enforcement of our own laws is irresponsible in the absence of any other realistic plan (mass deportation being too repulsive to contemplate);

Democrats, who have foolishly heralded policies, like the Dream Acts, that  provide an incentive for illegal immigration;

U.S. citizens who happily accept the benefits of services provided by illegals while claiming to oppose the process that allowed them to tend their gardens and care for their children

Hispanic-Americans, who have chosen heritage over country by continuing to support continued law breaking by relatives, friends, and others with whom they may share a language or a country of origin;

Congress, which as been lazy and cowardly and avoided its responsibility for decades;

The Justice Department, which has fought to prevent states from taking action to stem the illegal tide that is overwhelming their social services;

Illegal immigration advocates, who have deliberately clouded the issue by calling anyone who doesn’t advocate open borders (that is, sovereign suicide) as racist, and have used deceitful euphemisms to confound immigration, which the U.S. public unanimously supports and has done so for a century, and illegal immigration, which it has not and should not;

The mainstream news media, which has aided and abetted this confusion, supported the race-baiters, encouraged the deceptive use of euphemisms like “comprehensive immigration reform” (which means, “let’s stop enforcing immigration laws”) and outright deception, like calling “illegal immigration” “immigration, ”  while consistently misrepresented the issue as a humanitarian problem rather than a matter of sovereignty, law enforcement and common sense;

The illegals themselves.

The American public, which despite overwhelmingly opposing “amnesty,” whatever it thinks that is, remains inattentive, feckless and ignorant regarding the issue.

Have I left anyone out? Sure I have: President Obama, who has booked a luxury berth on this train. Continue reading

Ethics Trainwreck At The Border

border-warehousing-children-bbtx

Eight ethics observations on the army of child illegals clogging the Mexican border:

1. I predicted this would happen four years ago, and anyone who was paying attention should have been able to as well. Both the actions of President Obama, in essentially enacting the unethical “Dream Act” by fiat, and the rhetoric surrounding the “Dream Act” itself, constituted a national invitation to parents to send their children to the border. A nation cannot provide incentives to break the law, celebrate those who break it, and then credibly tell us that they are dismayed when a flood of law-breakers appear.

2. Even more influential in attracting desperate children to the border has been the loud, reckless and irresponsible messages coming from all quarters that the U.S. doesn’t regard law-breaking as anything but admirable and forgivable when children are involved. California, to the applause of lawyers and most of my colleagues in the legal ethics establishment, has allowed an illegal immigrant, brought here as a child, to practice law. Jeb Bush, proving himself to be muddle-headed, a rank sentimentalist, or a coward, pronounced illegal immigration with children as “an act of love.” Come on—the United States of America isn’t going to make love illegal, is it? Didn’t we just go through this with gay marriage? Democrats and illegal immigration advocates use the term “comprehensive immigration reform” as a code for “open borders,” and the code has been cracked in South America. Continue reading

Euphemisms, Manipulation And Deceit On Illegal Immigration

Not that it isn't illegal for you to be here, but come on in anyway...

Not that it isn’t illegal for you to be here, but come on in anyway…

The U.S. needs to fix its illegal immigration policies, and deal with the millions of underground, and not so underground, illegals currently in the country, having children, getting benefits, often being abused and exploited while not integrating into U.S. society. This has been true for decades, and both parties, as well as the U.S. business community, Mexico, and the illegal immigrants themselves, share responsibility for allowing a major problem to metastasize into a crisis.

The proclivity of journalists to isolate blame to one participant in this fiasco to the exclusion of the others compounds the problem, by making a bi-partisan solution impossible and giving individuals a pass on accountability who deserve none. Even worse is the habit of the news media to adopt the misleading and dishonest terminology of open-border advocates and illegal immigrant activists. Attempting to use deceptive language, exaggerations and outright misrepresentations to make ethically dubious policies seem benign to the public has become standard practice among Democrats and progressives in the Obama era (Republicans and conservatives too, but at least at the present, less flamboyantly and with less success.) Abortion is promoted in terms that leave out any mention of the act at the center of the controversy: it’s about “choice.” Life? What life? As for the issue of how a nation maintains its security and rule of law when foreign citizens are entering the country in violation of those laws at will, the news media, like the President and others, works to make the central issue invisible. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Strange Case of the Illegal Lawyer

“Hey Fred! Here comes your attorney!”

Sergio Garcia was brought across the Mexican border into California, at the age of 17 months, by his illegally immigrating parents. Thanks to the muddled and inconsistent enforcement of its immigration laws, Garcia graduated from Chico State University, a Florida law school and passed the California State Bar exam in July 2009., all while being in the country illegally. Now a special committee of the California Bar has recommended that he be licensed to practice in the state, but the California Supreme Court has reservations, and wants to read briefs on the issue. That issue is also the Ethics Alarms Quiz this weekend, and I must admit, it is a question I never thought would rise to status of a debate:

Should an illegal immigrant be allowed to practice law? Continue reading

President Obama’s Unethical Illegal Immigration Ploy

The President has been doing his summer reading

The ultimate descent of character for any elected leader is when he or she places the retention of political power above core governing principles and the best interests of the governed. I did not expect Barack Obama to sink to that state, but with the announcement yesterday of his cynical and unethical refusal to enforce the immigration laws, he has.

His administration declared yesterday that it will grant an indefinite reprieve to thousands of illegal immigrants facing deportation, and permit them to stay and work legally. This, of course, does more than effect those apprehended illegals: it signals millions more that they are in no danger of having to be accountable for ignoring U.S. immigration procedures, and signals future illegals that the borders of the United States are essentially open. Continue reading

The News Media’s Unethical Political Word Games

Reasonable people can disagree about the prudence and fairness of the various get-tough state and local laws targeting illegal immigrants, such as the recent law passed in Alabama (I like it, by the way). They can even disagree—though I personally don’t see how—about the wisdom of state-sanctioned incentives for illegals to smuggle their children into the country, like Maryland’s batty “Dream Act.”

What reasonable people should not accept and must not accept is the increasingly routine practice among many news outlets of dropping “illegal” from the phrase “illegal immigration” and “illegal immigrants” when discussing such measures. The practice is no less than a lie, an effort to misrepresent as bigotry legitimate objections to providing the benefits of American citizenship to those who willfully violate U.S. immigration laws and procedures. The papers, reporters, columnists and bloggers who do this inevitably follow the misrepresentation by denigrating anyone who doesn’t think scofflaws should be celebrated as heroes and handed the keys to the country as “nativists.”

I resent it, because my maternal grandparents were immigrants, the legal kind, and I would no more oppose the progress and success of law-abiding immigrants in the country than I would saw off my arm. I condemn it, because the tactic—and it is a tactic— is unethical journalism, an example of intentionally muddying an issue by imprecision so that the apathetic, the lazy or the none-too-bright—a sizable group, that—are confused about what is the real issue. Continue reading

Tax Deal Ethics

A few brief ethics observations on the current tax deal machinations on Capitol Hill:

  • It was an unconscionable breach of responsibility for Congress to neglect to address this issue months ago. Not only would a timely decision whether to extend all, part or none of the Bush tax cuts have avoided the present uncertainty; it would have aided the recovery, as businesses and individuals would have known what the tax requirements would be, and could invest, spend or hire accordingly. The reason the Democrats waited, even when it was obvious that their House majority was a goner and that President Obama would be negotiating from weakness as a result, was pure, unadulterated cowardice. Congress was willing to withhold needed policy certainty, harming the economy and the public, so they wouldn’t have to take a stand before elections. Continue reading

The Internet Censorship Bill and Escalating Abuse of Government Power: Why Do We Continue to Trust These People?

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a bill giving the U.S. Attorney General the power to shut down any website with a court order, if  he determines that copyright infringement is  “central to the activity” of the site.  It doesn’t matter if the website has actually committed a crime, and there is no trial, which means that the law is a slam dunk violation of the U.S. Constitution.  The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) is a little goody bought by the lobbyists and PACs of Hollywood, the recording industry and the big media companies, to block the rampant internet file sharing that has cost them a lot of money in lost sales and profits over the past decade.

I am adamantly opposed to filesharing and the ethically dishonest arguments used to defend it, most of which begin with “Everybody does it.” I sympathize with the artists whose work is being stolen, and the companies who have complained to Congress. But all the strong condemnation of filesharing by lawmakers and corporate executives doesn’t change a central fact: the Constitution says you can’t do what COICA allows. It says this in at least two places: the First Amendment, which prohibits government interference with free speech, and the Fifth Amendment, which decrees that property can not be taken from citizens without Due Process of Law. A law that lets a government official just turn off a website without a hearing or showing of proof? Outrageous. and unconstitutional. Continue reading