Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz: The Paintball Attack”

This is a record for Ethics Alarms; johnburger 2013’s Comment of the Day on the paintball shooting ethics quiz is being honored before it has gotten out of moderation. (Too many links will do that.) It’s also jumping ahead of several other COTD’s on the runway, and the reason is—in addition to the fact that I’ve been feeling lousy recently and catching up requires more time and energy than I’ve had left after trying to keep up with paying work and the daily personal catastrophes—that I find the story of the paintball siege and resulting death raises fascinating and perplexing issues that transcend easy answers in ethics and law.

Some will find jb2013’s (that’s my nickname for him; I hope it’s not presumptuous of me) post provocative. He was reacting to commenter Alizia’s speculation that such episodes are inevitably populated by citizens who are not, shall we say, the sharpest knives in the drawer. It is a topic that Americans are not supposed to talk about of think about: democracy means letting a lot of really, really, dumb, ignorant people having power over your life and influence over your culture and society. As in the short story : “The March of the Morons,” it is the duty of the minority that is not semi-literate, crude, ruled by passions and emotions and lacking the critical thinking and problem solving skills of my Jack Russell Terrier to keep the rest from hurting themselves and lousing up the country beyond repair, but to do so without infringing on their rights and liberty. In today’s dangerously polarized public, both sides regard the other as over-stocked with dolts, and both are, sadly, correct. A majority of Republicans think Barack Obama is a  Muslim. A majority of Democrats think we have just 12 years to address climate change or we are all doomed.  A majority of both believe in ghosts.Most can’t name ten Presidents, or identify half of the Bill of Rights, or tell you the significance of today and tomorrow to world history. No, I don’t think such people are qualified to vote, and the fewer of them who do, the better off we are. Sill, the Founders articulated principles that ensure them the right, and we have to respect that and do the best we can, relying on the “wisdom of crowds,” the phenomenon, unknown to George, James, Ben, Tom and the rest, that seems to make group decisions wiser that the composition of the groups would predict.

Contrary to all the Democratic Presidential candidates, Michelle Obama and others who maintain that America was never great, this has worked out rather well so far.

Watching cable TV is both educational and terrifying—just binge on true crime shows and listen to the interviews with family members and friends of the victims and perps. Observe the cretinous plots and actions of the adulterers, sociopaths, psychopaths,  and petty thieves, thugs, pugs, mugs and Methodists. I literally don’t know people like these, and never have; I’ve never had a relationship of any kind with someone who regularly uses “ain’t no..,”  or who mixes up statue and statute. That’s my bubble: I have to constantly remind myself that my mini-world is the outlier, and my responsibilities lie in the real one.

Here is johnburger2013’s comment on Ethics Quiz: The Paintball Attack:

You raise an interesting point. I live in Houston – where it is frickin’ hot and humid (PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!!!) – and I saw this story on the news. It happened in South Houston. A little bit about South Houston: Stay the hell out of there. At all costs. It is as close to a Hell Hole as one can get without actually being in a Hell Hole. It is an unincorporated area of Harris County, Texas, at the southern edge of the City of Houston. It is politically independent of the City of Houston and is a major petrochemical center in the region, with atmospherics to show for it. It is about 78% Hispanic, where Spanish is the primary language spoken. The median income is $42,615 (as of 2016). It is above the state and national averages in property and violent crimes.* Gang activity is a problem. Just for grins, read through this report from the Texas Department of Public Safety from 2018 to see what gangs operate in here. It’s a fun read. Continue reading

Comment of the Day (And Response): “MORE Gender Issues Confusion Monday, PART 3:The New York Times’ Hit Piece On Donald Trump And Women”

I am late posting this provocative and wide-ranging comment from repeat-Comment of the Day author Chris Marschner. Chris attempts to explain, and even defend, the unwillingness of  Donald Trump supporters to find literally any misconduct or verbal outrage sufficient reason to reject him. On the way, he touches on affirmative action, SNAP, voter ID laws, the transgender bathroom controversy, and more.

I’ll have some substantial comments at the end. for for now, here is Chris Marschner’s Comment of the Day on the post, MORE Gender Issues Confusion Monday, PART 3:The New York Times’ Hit Piece On Donald Trump And Women:

[Commenter Humble Talent] stated, “Pundits don’t understand why saying dumb things about women or minorities doesn’t skewer him. I do: His voters don’t care. His voters don’t care where people pee, they don’t care how many abortions the lady down the street gets, they don’t care about racism, sexism or whatever-phobias. They care about taking care of their families. They care about jobs. This is the demographic Bernie and Trump tapped into. People not like us. Uneducated people. People living day to day. Bills to pay and mouths to feed, when nothing in the world is free.”

First let me say that I find Trump’s rhetoric distasteful and I did not vote for him in the Maryland primary.

Labeling all Trump supporters as “uneducated and unlike us” may be too simplistic. Actually many do care where people pee or how many abortions take place. You might want to consider that it is just a matter of priorities when faced with the possibility that a progressive candidate like Hillary Clinton might get elected leading to further stagnation of their upward mobility while forcing them to succumb to even more government intrusion into their lives.

Perhaps there is also a group of educated voting taxpayers who are tired of being labeled as social misanthropes when engaging in reasonable debate over a variety of issues. Many well educated people who earn more than the median income but less than that which is necessary to be absolutely financially independent understand the economic repercussions of challenging some progressive ideas that are at odds with their own reasoned thinking. How exactly does a conservative faculty member debate a topic when he/she runs the risk of being labeled a racist, Uncle Tom, misogynist or other type of person in what could be called the “Hater” segment of society for not towing the employer’s or the group’s normative thinking. How many business owners publically regurgitate the progressive ideology or opt for a low profile to avoid the onslaught of protesters that can threaten that which they may have spent a lifetime working long hours to build

I could also argue that many private corporate cultures are an outgrowth of weighing the economic pros and cons of taking an ideological stand and often opt for the culture that prevents further costly governmental intrusion into their operating policies. Only a few have challenged the government’s desire to dictate corporate culture and policy.

Continue reading

To The Un-American Secessionists

Led by Texans, the White House is being deluged with petitions from all around the nation asking that various states be allowed to secede from the U.S. because the prospect of another four years of President Obama is so heinous. My immediate reaction is that this proves that conservatives are lazier than progressives, whose solution to a similar disappointment with parties reversed in 2004 was to pack up and move to Canada, or at least to make noises about it.  Conservatives apparently want to stay at home and leave the U.S.too. How convenient.

In 2004, when liberals and Democrats were acting like spoiled brats, I posted the following essay entitled “Escape to Canada and the Ethics of Democracy.” I think it is instructive to re-publish this post unedited to clarify what is wrong with the conservative tantrum of 2012. Oh, I could have changed “left” to “right,” Canada to Texas and Bush to Obama and Alec Baldwin to Ted Nugent, but it hardly seemed necessary, for my diagnosis and conclusions are exactly the same, just with a different group. It also seems prudent to leave the essay in its original form to remind smug liberals like Jon Stewart, now having a ball mocking Republicans, that Democrats disgraced themselves in a similar manner not that long ago. Being a hysteric, an alarmist, a bad citizen and a poor loser isn’t confined to members of one partisan group—it just seems that way at the moment. Now the conservatives are the silly people who are rejecting the principles of self-government that they were fervently  lecturing us about, because, you see, those principles didn’t work out their way…this time.

Here is “Escape to Canada and the Ethics of Democracy,” from The Ethics Scoreboard on November 17, 2004: Continue reading

Stephen Decatur, Eduardo Saverin, and the Unpatriotic Hypocrisy of the Right

Stephen Decatur

I admit that I am often ambushed by the hypocrisy of both political parties and their followers. The ability of both conservatives and progressives to completely reverse positions and advocate exactly what they had passionately opposed mere months, weeks, or even minutes before is breathtaking, and I never seem ready for it. For example, after the Democrats had tried to pin the shooting of Rep. Giffords on the harsh rhetoric of  Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and others in the conservative camp, I really wasn’t ready for them to ratchet up the metaphorically violent metaphors themselves within a few weeks, but they did. Similarly, after conservatives had mocked and condemned the discouraged liberals who had fled the U.S. in dismay after George W. Bush was re-elected, I was unprepared for the unseemly applause emanating from the Right when Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin decided to become an ex-American to save mega-millions on his tax bill.

Lock-step ideology is damaging enough, but lock-step ideology without consistent values, principles and priorities is dangerous, and that, I fear, is what we have on both ends of the political spectrum in America today.

Stephen Decatur (1779-1820) was a genuine American hero, once featured in grade school history lessons but now, like so many others, the victim of cultural oblivion. One of the greatest naval commanders in U.S. history, Decatur had his meteoric career was cut short by a duel, and as his exploits on the waves have faded from memory, the one feature of his remarkable life that is best remembered is his legendary  toast, made in April 1816,  that became an iconic, if often misunderstood, expression of American patriotism:

“Our Country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong.” Continue reading

The Ignorant Citizen’s Ethical Duty Not To Make Others As Stupid As He Is

Here is the problem, of which the worst of the Tea Party movement is only the latest in a long line of examples.

We want typical citizens to participate in the democratic process. It is critical that they do. But the Framers recognized that participation in self-government needs to be responsible, and that responsible democratic government requires knowledge, common sense, and wisdom. They also recognized that the majority of any population doesn’t possess that; this is why they originally limited the right to vote.

Okay, that was a big mistake: if you are going to have free society, everyone should have a say in it. Still, a citizen has an obligation to be civically literate before he or she starts trying to tell everyone else the best way to run the town, the state or the country, and civic literacy, as anyone can tell by reading the comments on any news or public affairs website (except this one, of course), civic literacy, not to mention common sense, is in short supply. People either don’t value civic literacy, or more likely, don’t recognize when they don’t have it. Continue reading