There Are Many Ethics Villains In This Story, But The Boys Put In Handcuffs Aren’t Among Them.

In July of 2019, 10-year-old Gavin Carpenter and a friend were playing outside with toy weapons near a Fort Carson, Colorado intersection, acting out a favorite video game scenario. One of the weapons was an an orange Nerf bow that apparently didn’t work.  Gavin had a toy gun with an orange tip. It was also broken. The boys might as well have been using their fingers, or sticks.

As part of the game, they pretended to shoot at passing cars. One driver stopped, and was furious, shouting at the boys, who ran  to a grandparents’ house. The man called the police.  The County Sheriff’s deputies arrived and arrested both Gavin and his friend. They were  handcuffed and taken to the Colorado Springs Police Department for mugshots and fingerprinting.

For pretending to shoot at cars with obvious toys that couldn’t shoot anything. And they were ten.

Gavin was finally released into his parent custody at10:30 p.m. They  hired an attorney to help get the charge expunged from Gavin’s record, but the District Attorney was intent on prosecuting.  The boys were moved into a diversion program requiring community service,writing an essay, and other hoops to jump through. 216 days later, what was charged as Felony Menacing was finally expunged from their records

Now the rogues gallery inhabiting this revolting episode: Continue reading

Ethics Comes In Like A Lion Warm-Up, 3/1/2020: Dead Ethics Alarms In New York, London, And Washington, D.C.

That’s my father’s favorite March!

Mine too.

For some reason there has been a breakdown of civility in the comments lately. This has happened from time to time; something in the air or too many social media rants or something; I don’t really care. You all know where the lines are; you cross them intentionally when you cross them. I appreciate the use of a vulgar word or harsh phrase as much as anyone; “asshole” is particularly tempting, because there is no non-vulgar term that quite captures the essence of its meaning. I also prefer to keep moderation light here, and for the most part, the select commenters who have passed my standards and answered the three questions at the bridge correctly usually make me proud, especially when I see what crawls onto other sites’ comment sections.  The would-be Ethics Alarms participants who send in entries like “Your a Trump-loving fuckface LOL!are all stacked up in the spam vault, and you would not believe how many of those I have to read to maintain the high level of participants here. I do not care to read that kind of gutter residue on the blog itself.

I just trashed a full comment by a regular commenter here, something I have not done in over ten years, and I’m not happy about it. Let’s keep that lapse the anomaly that it is.

1. From the “When ethics alarms don’t ring” file. Pop Quiz! If you were on the staff of a fashion show about to begin at what the New York Times calls “New York’s famed Fashion Institute of Technology”—which I have never heard of—and several of the models appeared backstage preparing to go out looking like this…

…what would you do?

The answer is that no matter how high or low you were on the metaphorical totem pole, you would be obligated to throw a fit, phone the brass, tell everyone in sight that they are out of their minds, and do everything short of calling in a bomb threat to halt what you know without a shadow of a doubt will result in a public relations disaster.

Incredibly, not a single person raised the obvious objection except an African-American model-who refused to don the giant lips and monkey ears. After the predictable uproar, two F.I.T. administrators were suspended, and  the school’s president, Dr. Joyce Brown (who is African-American) issued a public statement admitting that the Feb. 7 show, intended to demonstrate the work of recent graduates of the school’s M.F.A. program, “failed to recognize or anticipate the racist references and cultural insensitivities that were obvious to almost everybody else.”

Wait—if they were obvious to almost everybody else, why were they not obvious to anyone involved in the show? Continue reading

KABOOM! At What Point Do Parents Blow The Whistle On Flagrant Ideological Indoctrination In Our Schools?

Kaboom.

Just what I need on a Sunday morning: a head explosion.

Some background while I gather my thoughts and brains…last night, among the various freakouts and huzzahs after Bernie Sanders lapped the field in the Nevada Caucus, was this observation, from conservative pundit Paula Bolyard:

“It’s breathtaking to contemplate that a socialist—again, I remind you that Sanders is not a member of the Democratic Party—could be a legitimate contender for the presidency. It seems unthinkable that millions of people who lived through the Cold War, and remember the fear and loathing of all things Soviet, will march to the polls in lockstep in November to pull the lever for Sanders, and yet here we are. Thousands upon thousands of Baby Boomers, who should know better, have already voted for the aging bolshie in Iowa, Nevada, and New Hampshire.

Make no mistake: the Democratic Party is in thrall to socialism, if not communism. Those in the younger demographic, in particular, are increasingly demanding free everything—and the younger you go, the more stuff they’re demanding….They’ve been mal-educated in our public schools and universities and believe they are on the right side of history by supporting socialism.”

It’s hard to think about, but these kids aren’t going to stop until they get socialism—good and hard…Only then, when the quality of life they’ve become accustomed to as privileged Americans has become a distant memory, will they see the light.”

Bingo. Among the many groups accountable for a fantasist like Bernie being a factor in the 2020 Presidential race are multiple generations of lazy parents who paid little attention to what their children were being taught in elementary school s and high schools, and the textbooks they were reading. The anti-American Leftists bred in the campus uprisings of the Vietnam era took over faculties up and down the educational system, leading to curriculum (and worse, editorial comments) that opposed core American values rather than explicating them. The process continues, and could not continue without widespread parental apathy.

Now on to what exploded my head. During a history lesson in an advanced placement class at Loch Raven High School, a powerpoint presentation included a slide that featured a photo of President Trump above a swastika and hammer-and-sickle.

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/7/2019: The Duke’s Revenge, Biden’s Integrity, The VA’s Incompetence, And A Teacher’s Cruelty [UPDATED]

Good Morning!

Last night we managed to watch both “The Longest Day” and “Saving Private Ryan,” which especially amused me as I recalled the places my father shouted at the screen. Especially after “The Longest Day,” the complete absence of any sense of what the D-Day invasion was about or why we were fighting at all is particularly irritating, but then that’s Spielberg all over.

I also recalled the story about John Wayne’s participation in “The Longest Day.” (The Duke is really good in it, though if there is a star of “The Longest Day”, it is Robert Mitchum as  Brigadier General Norman Cota, Assistant Commander, 29th Infantry Division, the man who was also a primary hero of D-Day itself. )

You who else is surprisingly good? Paul Anka, in his small role. He was only in the movie because he wrote the title song, but the singer shows a genuine talent for projecting his character on screen.

[Correction note: I originally wrote, “As far as I can determine, it was Anka’s only film appearance.” Wrong, Ethics Breath!  Reader VinnyMick points out that Anka has several other, less successful, screen appearances. I regret the error.]

This was a passionate,  emotion-and-patriotism- driven project by Darryl F. Zanuck, and he was betting everything on its success: the studio, his personal finances, his love life (Zanuck’s girlfriend at the time had the only female role in the movie), everything.  The producer realized that he had to have Wayne in the film for credibility, as the Duke had been  the Hollywood face of the American fighting man in World War II.  Wayne knew it too, but was angry with Zanuck, who had mocked Wayne’s equivalent project of the heart, “The Alamo.”

He refused to do the film for scale (then $25,000) like the many other Hollywood stars in the film, and insisted on receiving $250,000 as an expensive crow-eating exercise for Zanuck. (That was what Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Rod Steiger, Red Buttons, Richard Burton, Peter Lawford, Eddie Albert,  Jeffrey Hunter, Robert Wagner and Robert Ryan received combined. ) Even though the producer had Charlton Heston lined up to play Wayne’s role if no deal could be struck, he agreed to the punitive fee, as well as giving Wayne special billing in the credits, an out-of-alphabetical order “and John Wayne” at the end.

Yes, that was revenge…but Zanuck didn’t have to agree to it. The lesson is worth remembering: don’t spite anyone gratuitously, or make an enemy casually. You never know when you might need them.

1. Biden flip-flops, but at least he flipped in an ethical  direction. Joe Biden is not modelling a lot of integrity as he desperately tries to appease the radical Left in his party so they might hold their noses and vote for an old, sexual harassing white guy to run against President Trump. His latest reversal was to repudiate the Hyde Amendment, which he had once supported and indeed voted for in the Senate. That’s the law that forbids any taxpayer funds from being spent to fund abortions.

The Hyde Amendment never made any sense. If abortion is a right, and it has been one for decades, then government support for access to that right ought to be no less a requirement than with any other right. The Hyde amendment stands for the proposition that if enough Americans don’t agree with government policy, they should be able to withhold financial support of it. That, of course, wouldn’t work as a universal principle, so the Hyde Amendment is an ethical and legal anomaly. I doubt Joe’s flip-flop is one of principle rather than expediency, but it’s still the right position to have.

2. Nevertheless, Joe’s not going to make it. The New York Times—it wants someone else to get the nomination, so it is reporting negative things about Biden that it might bury with another candidate—revealed once again that Biden repeatedly lied about participating in 1960s civil rights marches,  despite being warned by aides not to do it. Such straight-out falsehoods are debilitating for a candidate who will be claiming to be the champion  to elevate the Presidency beyond the incessant petty lies of Donald Trump; this was one reason Hillary Clinton was unable to exploit candidate Trump’s mendacity. She’s a habitual liar too.

So is Joe. It happens when you will say anything to get elected. Continue reading

“Wait, Say That Again, Please…This Damn Little Girl I’m Walking With Keeps Distracting Me…”

Just because it is becoming an “old man shouts at cloud” cliche to point out that electronic devices are encouraging bad habits that will do unpredictable harm to society and human relations in the future doesn’t mean the observation isn’t true, or that it shouldn’t be heeded.

Yesterday, while walking Rugby in a glorious afternoon sun, I found my attention  diverted by the sound of a tiny child’s shout of glee and wonder.  A little girl, resplendent in a pink dress but not yet capable of coherent speech, had seen my happy Jack Russell from across the street and was pointing to him, laughing, and trying to get the attention of her mother as the two walked along in the opposite direction of where we were headed.  I also tried to get the woman’s notice, since my practice is to take Rugby to kids when they exhibit the reactions the little girl was running through.

The mother, however, was fully occupied talking on her cell phone. She never looked up, never saw me, never saw Rugby, or acknowledged her daughter. She just snatched the girl’s hand—the little girl had been previously hustling to keep up with her—and pulled her past us as the toddler looked longingly behind, and Rugby wagged his tail. Of course, she never interrupted the call, which I’m certain was crucial to world peace.

I see this all the time, more and more frequently: parents spending “quality time” with their children by having the kids walk along side of them (or behind), almost completely ignored, while they give most of their attention to chatting or texting to some distant friend or associate. The behavioreven bothers me when it is a dog rather than a child who being ignored, but dogs recover from neglect, emotional and otherwise, a lot better than children.

That woman, I thought, wouldn’t chat away on a phone call if she were walking with an adult companion, and then I instantly erased the idea: I have seen people doing that, too. Recently, waiting for my wife outside of the 7-11, I witnessed the depressing sight of  four teenagers walking along together, saying nothing, all with their eyed fastened to smartphones. Continue reading

Contender For Unethical Quote Of The Decade: Rep. Maxine Waters (D., CAL)

“If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

Maxine Waters, race-biting fool extraordinaire and, astoundingly, a member of Congress, endorsing the Red Hen restaurant’s denial of Sarah Huckabee’s right to enjoy a public accommodation with her family, and encouraging more of the same.

“Creating  crowd”  to harass someone who is doing no harm is called “inciting a riot.” If I see anyone trying to “create a crowd” to tell a citizen that he or she is not welcome, I’m calling the police. In the alternative, I’ll “create a crowd” of fair and decent Americans to make the point that bullies and bigots aren’t welcome in a civilized society. Fortunately most rational people realize that Waters is a vicious idiot, but the Democrats have an obligation to make her cool it.

She is going to get someone killed, and those who tolerate and enable her will be complicit.

Ethics Observations On The Red Hen

Believe it or not, I had not heard about a Lexington, Virginia restaurant kicking out Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her family who were there to enjoy a meal when I wrote, a couple of hours ago, in part…

The virtue signaling fad is officially dangerous… since sanctuary cities are applauded for defying law enforcement, and more and more private establishments are basing their service on the political view of potential customers…This will spread, and we will have a completely dysfunctional society if and when it does. It is the natural progression of the divisive strategies and rhetoric employed by “the resistance” and the news media, and is undiluted cultural poison.

Here’s the story: Stephanie Wilkinson, the owner of the bucolic rural Virginia restaurant, was called at home and told the President’s spokeswoman was dining there with a group. Asked what the staff should do, she somehow couldn’t think of the correct and ethical answer, which is “Give her and her group the same hospitality and excellent service we strive to give all our customers. We don’t discriminate.” Instead, she drove to the establishment and told Sanders to leave. Sanders tweeted,

“Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left. Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so.”

For her part, the owner told the Washington Post that she would do it again, because “there are moments in time when people need to live their convictions. This appeared to be one.”

Sanders is right, and Hutchinson is despicable, un-American, unethical, and wrong.

Other notes: Continue reading