Tag Archives: “Think of the children!”

Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/2/18: Talking Rabbits, Giant Ants, And California Progressives

Good Morning!

1. I may start banning commenters who keep saying this. A new, articulate and agenda-driven commenter, Ross Grazier, writes, “But your writing on this blog seems to be all about politics and much less about ethics.” I don’t want to drive Ross off, since the position of Ethics Alarms Knee-jerk Progressive Ratioanalizer And Denier of Mainstream Media Bias seems to be vacant at the moment, but I’m really, really sick of this common smear of my work (Ross’s comment also reminded me that I need to add the “s0 called ethicist” and “self-anointed ethicist” to the magic phrases that can get a commenter banned). Not for the first time, I decided to categorize every topic I wrote about here in the past week as political, non-political, or “mixed,” meaning that the article included substantive relevance to political figures or controversies but that the ethical issues involved were not solely political in scope or relevance. There were 42 distinct topics discussed (I did not include the Comments of the Day). Of these, 26 were non-political. Ten were “mixed.” Exactly six were  “about politics.”

I was surprised, frankly. I expected a bit more emphasis on politics.

I regard Ross’s accusation and others like it as an either an effort to undermine my credibility and the reputation of Ethics Alarms, or as an example of confirmation bias at work. Easily debunked claims that are asserted anyway in print are unethical.

2. Movie Ethics Potpourri! A. I finally saw “Peter Rabbit,” which was the subject of a (Non political, Ross!) post here. You may recall that Sony was pressured into grovelling an apology for a scene in which the animated rabbits shot blackberries into Mr. McGregor’s mouth using sling-shots, provoking an allergic reaction. Seeking its 15 minutes of cheap publicity and social media outrage mongering, Kenneth Mendez, president and chief executive of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, said, “Making light of this condition hurts our members because it encourages the public not to take the risk of allergic reactions seriously, and this cavalier attitude may make them act in ways that could put an allergic person in danger.” Naturally, there was a Change.org petition demanding that the offending sequence be removed. Now that I’ve seen the film—which is pretty good, not quite “Babe” good, but well-done and fun—I can appreciate the full insanity of the complaints.  B. The British film “Calibre,” now playing on Netflix, is a “Deliverance” style ethics movie, in which two reasonable good guys go on a hunting trip in Scotland and are hurled by bad luck and panic into a series of ethical dilemmas, managing to make exactly the wrong decision at every turn. In the end, three people are dead, multiple crimes have been committed, and the lessons are murky. This is an excellent “what would you do?” film for group discussion, though the ultimate answer is “Don’t go hunting, in Scotland or anywhere else.” C. Finally, in the rarified category of giant ant movie ethics, there is “Them!” It is a justly admired 50’s Sci-Fi flick about an alien invasion of giant ants, featuring a surprisingly accomplished and diverse cast including pre-“Gunsmoke” Jim Arness, James Whitmore, ol’ Santa Clause himself, Edmund Gwenn, ubiquitous Western character actor Dub Taylor, and Sigourney Weaver’s wacky uncle, Doodles Weaver. I hadn’t seen it for a while, and forgot that it included one of the most blatant examples of Rationalization #58. The Universal Trump, or “Think of the children!” on film.

Scientists and the military have determined that the giant ants—We’re talking THIS big:

—have invaded California (from outer space, in ant-shaped space ships!), that they pose a threat to LA, the state, and entire country, and that there may be hundreds of thousands of them. California has declared martial law. A military commander announces that the best strategy is to gas underground passages where the ants are presumably gathering, and then kill the ones who escape to the surface. No, says Big Jim. It seems that there are two small children missing that were taken by the ants from their now thoroughly masticated and dead father. As long as there’s a chance they may still be alive,  Jim says, we can’t take the chance of harming them. The man is gob-smacked. “You mean you’d risk all of Los Angeles for two kids who are probably already dead?” he asks, in a fair framing of the issue. “Why don’t you ask their mother?” says Arness. “She’s right over there.”

Well all righty then! How can you argue with that? Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Childhood and children, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Professions, Workplace

People Are Going To Hate This, But: Being A Father Doesn’t Confer An Exception From Basic Rules And Process

Case Study I:

In a perfect example of the “Awww!” Facter at work, Marc Daniels was hailed as a model dad after he jumped on stage and began dancing with his toddler daughter when stage fright paralyzed her during a ballet performance in Hamilton, Bermuda. The cute video went “viral.”

 

 

Let’s stay away from the inherent ethical problems of having two-year-olds perform on stage at all.  Let’s also stipulate that the fact that the audience applauded is irrelevant; applause doesn’t validate misconduct. Those Broadway fools applauded Robert Di Niro for saying “Fuck Trump.”

Here’s the ethics point: cute or not,  Daniels had no justification for hijacking the performance. The performance had a director. Adults were in charge of the situation.  This was his solution: how does anyone know what the next parent who feels so empowered might do? Order the number re-started? Shout at his daughter?  What if other parents were unhappy with their children’s demeanor on stage? What if they felt Daniels’ interference was upsetting and distracting their daughters? Daniels was an audience member, and the ethical limits on his performance were the same as on any audience member.  Is this a ballet only exception, or should dads jump out of the stands to complete a Little League play when their kids drop the ball? There is no difference. Let me say it again: there is no difference.

Daniels’ daughter was 2. What’s the cut-off when such parental interference is inappropriate? 4? 8? 12? 36?

I see this as part of the “Think of the children!” disease, an unfortunate and unanticipated consequence of women having equal access to levers of power and the presumed legitimacy that goes along with it. Parenting, love, loyalty and compassion outranks everything now, even law, rules, and common sense, and men have been so intimidated about “man-splaining” and are so terrified of being called sexist that they are adopting this warped hierarchy that can only result in chaos if it becomes the norm.

Case Study II: Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Family, Sports, U.S. Society

Saturday Afternoon Ethics, 6/23/18: Pondering Pandering And Zugswang By The Sea

Good afternoon.

It’s a good thing that I don’t pay myself anything for this, because I’d have to fire myself. Thanks to a full fledged computer crash at 6 am., all of my plans this morning to get a post up, get my notebook organized for tomorrow’s ethics training, and complete the outline for my Smithsonian Associates program on the influence of Gilbert and Sullivan on 21st Century America week from today before I had to fly to Tampa were as dust in the wind. This is especially bad for Ethics Alarms, as the blog gets virtually no traffic after noon on Saturday, no matter what I write about.

So here I am at the Wyndham Grand on Clearwater Beach—the sun is shining, the ocean is gleaming, and the pool, music, bar and beautiful women are right below my balcony—and what’s the first thing I do? This.

1 Ethics Zugswang and the illegal immigrant kids. The news media is now telling us that the President’s executive order creates an inherent conflict if he is serious about “no-tolerance” immigration violation enforcement. Yes, we knew that, or at least the people who didn’t blind themselves, Oedipus-like, rending their garments over “Think of the Children!” mania knew it. See, it goes like this:

A. Entering the country illegally is a crime.

B. People who commit crimes are supposed to be arrested, or more such people will commit those crimes.

C. Illegal immigration is a federal crime.

D. Children who accompany their parents while committing federal crimes cannot, by law, be  imprisoned with their parents.

E. They also cannot be held at all for more than a proscribed time, which is too short a period to process their law-breaking parents.

F. If the children have to be returned to their parents,, then the parents cannot be punished for breaking immigration laws.

G. If the children are separated from their parents, the government officials doing so are evildoers who must be shamed, excoriated and condemned.

F. Thus government officials are supposed to ignore the law, by the principle that Children Invalidate Laws, which they didn’t teach me in my college government classes or in law school but apparently that’s a rule.

G. But government officials are sworn to uphold and enforce the law.

Ethics Zugswang.

This Gordian Knot requires some distortion and deceit to stay tied, however…

One: “No-tolerance” is being used by the media to make “enforcing the law when people break it” sound like the equivalent of a school suspending a student for making his fingers look like a gun. Law enforcement is not supposed to “tolerate” crime and law-breaking. Illegal immigration is a serious breach of law, and what the news media is calling “no-tolerance” is really just enforcement.

Two: The Obama Administration opted for “catch and release,” which can be fairly described as “pretending to enforce the law, but not really doing it.” It was a dishonest, cynical, incompetent and unethical policy.

Three: There is no justification for treating the children of illegal immigrants differently from the children of citizens who are arrested and who have no one to care for their kids.

Four: The principle being advocated by the hysterical critics of the “separation of families” at the border (the accurate description is “the arrest of illegal border-crossers) is, now correct me if I’m wrong, “If a child or children accompanies a parent when the parent is apprehended while trying to violate a law carrying a substantial penalty, that parent will be treated with more leniency than if a child did not accompany him or her.” My puzzlement arises from this conundrum: Why do only law-breaking non-citizens get this benefit? Why don’t we “catch and release” good old American single parent bank robbers and burglars who bring their toddlers along as a “Get out of Jail ” card?

Five: What’s the difference? Here’s the difference: the progressive ghetto of our culture has adopted the convenient fiction that illegal immigration isn’t a crime at all, and illegal immigrants are heroes, or martyrs, or potential Elizabeth Warren voters, or something, but certainly they aren’t doing anything wrong. It’s an act of love (said Jeb Bush, proving that he had  squishy soft nougat center). Then why do we have a law against it, Jeb, et al.? Oh, because you can’t have open borders, that would be ridiculous and irresponsible. History shows us that. A nation most protect its borders!

Ethics Zugswang.

It is not ethics zugswang, though. It may be political zugswang because of the greed, dishonesty, emotionalism, and rationalizations driving this issue (in addition to its usefulness as another excuse to undermine this particular President), but the ethics are clear:

—The government’s primary duty is to enforce the laws.

—The integrity of national borders must be ensured using laws.

—The illegal border-crossers are breaking the law.

—They should be punished exactly the same regardless of whether they have brought children along or not.

—The responsibility for placing the children in this position belongs to the parents, and only the parents.

—Making the fate of the children the primary focus of any portion of the illegal immigration debate is intellectually dishonest, manipulative, and unethical, or, at best, innocently ignorant and emotional. Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/22/18: Boy, Am I Ever In A Bad Mood This Morning…

Good morning.

Grrrrr…

1. The TIME “Welcome to America” cover.  This is probably worthy of a full post, but I’m really sick of this topic, and losing respect for so many previously sane and reasonable people who have become blathering “Think of the children!” zombies that I want to spit.

TIME, that dying, irrelevant, completely left-biased news magazine, grabbed one last moment in the sun with this cover:

It nicely symbolizes the media dishonesty and public manipulation regarding the border mob of children, with or without parents. I assumed that the cover was symbolic art: obviously this stand-off never occurred. But TIME used a photo of a real Honduran girl who we were told in other media reports and viral social media rants was crying because she had been separated from her mother when mom was arrested for trying to enter the country illegally. As CBS reported today, though, the little girl was really crying because her mother was apprehended at eleven o’clock at night crossing illegally into the US, the tot was tired and thirsty. She was never separated from her mother at all. Here’s the original photo:

Perfect. Fake news, through and through. If TIME wanted to make a symbolic image, the magazine was obligated to either make it clear that it was art only. Using a photo that had already been falsely represented in the news media to represent exactly what it had been falsely claimed to represent advanced a lie. Here is the original photo:

The Daily Mail got  this part of the story  from the girl’s father:

Denis Javier Varela Hernandez, 32, said that he had not heard from his wife Sandra, 32, who was with his two-year-old daughter Yanela Denise, for nearly three weeks until he saw the image of them being apprehended in Texas.

In an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com, Hernandez, who lives in Puerto Cortes, Honduras, says that he was told yesterday that his wife and child are being detained at a family residential center in Texas but are together and are doing ‘fine.’ …

He revealed that his wife had previously mentioned her wish to go to the United States for a ‘better future’ but did not tell him nor any of their family members that she was planning to make the trek.

“I didn’t support it. I asked her, why? Why would she want to put our little girl through that? But it was her decision at the end of the day….‘I don’t have any resentment for my wife, but I do think it was irresponsible of her to take the baby with her in her arms because we don’t know what could happen.”

2. Charles Krauthammer. Unfortunately, this is what I will most remember about the conservative columnist and commentator who died yesterday. After the first Republican candidates debate, the one in which Megyn Kelly called out Donald Trump on his habitual misogyny, Krauthammer, today being lauded for his brilliance and perception, stated unequivocally that Trump had proved himself “not ready for prime time,” and that hos poor performance in the debate had effectively ended his candidacy. Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

The Controversy Over Separating Children From Illegal Immigrants At The Border: What’s Going On Here?

The current political controversy over the Trump Administration policy of separating parents from children at the Mexican border when they are apprehended for illegal attempts to cross into the United States involves many ethical issues, and, as usual, conduct and rhetoric that confounds ethical analysis, perhaps intentionally.

With most complex ethics problems, the starting point is to ask, “What’s going on here?” This is especially useful in this case, where the news media, open-borders advocacy groups, and various political faction are intentionally steering the debate, and public comprehension, into box canyons of pure emotion.

So: What’s going on here?

 Despite the fact that its editorial page is cheer-leading the box canyon effort, and its journalists are coloring reports on it with their partisan biases, the New York Times has provided the facts, if you can ignore the static Here is the main one:

“For more than a decade, even as illegal immigration levels fell over all, seasonal spikes in unauthorized border crossings had bedeviled American presidents in both political parties, prompting them to cast about for increasingly aggressive ways to discourage migrants from making the trek…Last month, facing a sharp uptick in illegal border crossings, Mr. Trump ordered a new effort to criminally prosecute anyone who crossed the border unlawfully — with few exceptions for parents traveling with their minor children.”

That’s  “all” that has happened. Illegal immigration is...illegal. The Trump Administration has decided to treat breaking immigration laws like the country is supposed to treat all law-breaking—as the crime that it is. The law-breakers are arrested. When law-breakers are arrested for robbery, murder, rape, fraud, embezzlement…anything, really…they are separated from their children. This is not remarkable, nor are the law enforcement officers typically blamed. If a man takes his child to a burglary and he is arrested, then the child is going to be, to use a phrase I am seeing too much lately, “ripped from his arms.” If he is a citizen with a resident family or not a single parent, and the child is also a citizen or in the country legally, the child will be handed into the care of a relative. If not, then that child may also wind up in the custody of a government facility.

The children are being taken from the parents because children are always taken from parents when parents are arrested for a serious crime. What is unusual, and making this situation vulnerable to emotional manipulation on the level of the gun-control debate  in which “Think of the children!” instantly lobotomizes a large segment of the public and obliterates all ability to process reality, are several factors:

  • Criminals don’t typically take their children with them when they break laws.
  • Illegal immigrants can claim to be legitimate “asylum-seekers,” even though most of them are not.
  • Progressives, Democrats and those who aren’t paying much attention either refuse to acknowledge or don’t realize that entering the country illegally is a crime.
  • The illegal border-crossers are, in many if not all cases, using their children to create exactly this political firestorm. Think of them as the equivalent of human shields.
  • Previous Presidents have been willing to be extorted through this emotional black mail–Think of the children!–to  neglect enforcement of immigration laws. This is, in great part, how the United States ended up with 11-13 million illegal immigrants.
  • It is also how the U.S. ended up with President Trump.

Under President Obama, and presumably Bush as well, children trying to cross the border illegally were also held, just with their parents rather than without them, in a politically motivated exception to usual criminal enforcement practice. Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

On The Santa Fe School Shooting

  • That the latest school shooting, this one in Sante Fe, Texas that left ten dead, came so soon after the last one, barely three months ago, is meaningless. It is moral luck. Never mind, though: the timing, like everything else in the incident, will be politicized and used for political agendas.

Well, maybe not completely moral luck. A case can be made that the increasingly hysterical and long-running news coverage these tragedies receive—the last one dominated the news for more than a month—increases the likelihood that some sick kid who wants to go out in a blaze of infamy chooses this guaranteed route. No, you can’t blame CNN, much as I would like to. Nor is there any way to limit news reports and publicity, especially when it also becomes entertainment programming, and that is what the last school shooting’s emotional finger-pointing exercises became. The publicity, however, is more “to blame” than, say, the NRA.

  • I checked developments just before I was going to write this bullet point: sure enough, the guns used and the shooter’s method of obtaining them had absolutely nothing to do with all of the “sensible” gun-control measures that have been shouted at us since Parkland. The shooter took his father’s guns, which were legal. The guns used didn’t include an “assault-type weapon.”

Indeed, this school shooting had nothing to do with gun regulations at all. Do you think that little detail will stop the anti-gun zealots from using it to advance their agenda anyway? Of course not; facts have always been irrelevant when gun-banning is the topic.

  • And, sure enough, the first elected politician to intone about the matter lied, pandered, and made the job of anti-Second Amendment advocates easier. Said Texas Governor Abbott: “We need to do more than just pray for the victims and their families. It’s time in Texas that we take action to step up and make sure this tragedy is never repeated ever again.”

How, governor? How do you make “sure” this kind of tragedy never happens again? Confiscate guns? Ban schools? Ban children? I know the idea is to say comforting things, but the idea, repeated constantly after the Parkland shooting, that such shooting can be prevented (“easily” claim the student scolds) is foolish, dishonest, and invites bad policy. Continue reading

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Filed under Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/25/18: “March For Our Lives” Hangover Edition

Good Morning!

1 Exploitation carnage. I feel so sorry for David Hogg. No teenaged male so obviously locked into the arrogation asshole stage of the maturation process, should be exposed to public scrutiny like this. His intemperate and foolish rhetoric will haunt him for the rest of his life. He will either be humiliated when his brain cells kick in, or he will develop into a full-fledged monster. What if he wants to go in a different direction in his life and career? I wouldn’t hire him. Who would? He’s restricted to left-wing activists until he changes his name or does a high-profile mea culpa and goes on a reinvention tour. Celebrity, as Paul Petersen has spent his life trying to teach us, is disastrous for kids; never mind: the cynical, ruthless partisan operatives who made Hogg into their weapon and shield don’t care about him, just the momentary political advantages he represents. When he is chewed up and spit out, as he certainly will be, they will have forgotten his name.

2. A half-Fick sighting! A (she says) transgender woman who calls herself “Lauren” on Twitter claimed to be drugging attendees of a conservative conference in Phoenix, Arizona yesterday, tweeting

“I love my job at the phoenix convention center starbucks and i love slipping my spare estradiol pills in the coffee of anyone wearing a #WesternConservativeConference lanyard.”

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