Sunday Evening Ethics Nightcap: 5/3/2020: It Isn’t What It Is

Good NIGHT!

Yoo’s Rationalization, or “It isn’t what it is” seems to have become popular in recent weeks, and this collection reflects that hellish development.

1. Some things just aren’t true because you want them to be. In Great Britain, Freddy McConnell gave birth after transitioning (but obviously not completely, correct?), so he is fighting in the courts to be officially listed as his child’s father rather than his mother. His argument has been repeatedly rejected, most recently when he unsuccessfully appealed the court decision that he could be registered only as his son’s mother. He now wants to take his case to Britain’s Supreme Court.

What is it about people who think that the law can and should declare up to be down (because they prefer down) and why do they feel it is reasonable and ethical to take up time and resources to try to force the government  to endorse an eccentric  interpretation of reality? This reminds me of the argument that Bruce Jenner’s victories in the Olympics should be recorded as wins by his future female alter-ego. But women can’t compete in those events, can they? Similarly, the human being that gives birth to another human being is that individual’s mother, by definition. Like Abe Lincoln’s quip about how a dog doesn’t have five legs just because you call its tail a leg, McConnell can call himself anything he likes, and have his child call him what he likes. But he’s still kid’s mother.

Own it, dude, and stop wasting everyone’s time.

2.  Wait, what? The New York Times has a story headlined, “‘Murder Hornets’ in the U.S.: The Rush to Stop the Asian Giant Hornet/Sightings of the Asian giant hornet have prompted fears that the vicious insect could establish itself in the United States and devastate bee populations.

Explain, please, why it’s somehow racist to call the virus that came from the Wuhan Province in China “the Wuhan virus,” or the Chinese virus, but the same paper that has championed the cheap Trump-bashing  tactic of condemning the naming of a pandemic after its place of origin refers to a “vicious insect” from Asia the “Asian Giant Hornet’?

Then there is this head-exploder: In China, Wuhan has passed Beijing as the top domestic destination for Chinese tourists. It ranked only eighth before the pandemic.

The hashtag “武汉成为疫情后网民最想去旅游的城市,” roughly translated as “Wuhan is the top city netizens want to visit after the epidemic” has become viral on Chinese social media. Why? Apparently it’s because something momentous happened there. History!

So to sum up: Chinese people regard Wuhan as the origin of the pandemic, and that makes it more attractive to them as a tourist destination, but if Americans identify the same area with the pandemic here, they are racist. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/9/2020: As Fact Begins To Imitate Outrageous Fiction, For Some Reason

Be careful out there…

People appear to be going nuts….in many cases, the exact same people who have, in the recent past, pressed Impeachment/Removal Plan E, ”Trump is mentally ill so this should trigger the 25th Amendment.” Ironic.

This week I stumbled across a comedy now playing on Netflix starring Stephen Yeun, most memorably seen on “The Walking Dead” with half his head caved in and his eyeball hanging out. The movie is called “Mayhem,” and is about a kind of flu that removes people’s impulse control, causing them to do and say whatever they feel like doing or saying, no matter how inappropriate or illegal. The illness strikes a BIgLaw firm, which is quarantined and locked down while its employees go bananas. It’s an excellent metaphor for what is going on right now, but much funnier.

And so far, at least, bloodier.

So far.

1. And now for something completely stupid...Even after being warned at the Golen Globes by Ricky Gervais that they know nothing about the real world and should avoid making political pronouncements, Best Actor winner Joaquin Phoenix announced after the award show that in order to help save the planet from climate change, he would wear the same tux to all the awards shows this year. He really said that. No, seriously, he really did, and he was not engaging in satire (but if the Babylon Bee used that as a story, everyone would assume it was satire.) Then designer Stella McCartney company, also apparently seriously, tweeted (because that tux the actor will be wearing is one of theirs), “This man is a winner… wearing custom Stella because he chooses to make choices for the future of the planet. He has also chosen to wear this same Tux for the entire award season to reduce waste. I am proud to join forces with you.”

I’ve worn the same tux for ten years. Phoenix doesn’t even pay for his tuxes (I pay for mine!), like his female colleagues who get their designer gowns free. There have been some funny jokes about the actor’s ridiculous virtue signaling, many involving underwear, but never mind: what I want to know is, how can anyone take people who think like this seriously, or respect anyone who solemnly nods when they hear about such pompous nonsense, “Hey, right on, man. Save the planet”? Yet a substantial chunk of an entire political party appears to be this far gone.

2.  Wait—are they trying to make our heads explode like those robots and computers that Captian Kirk would destroy by making them think about a contradictory statement? Is that their plan? I admit: I don’t understand this at all. A “Saved by the Bell” reboot, sequel, whatever you want to call it, is on the way. Starring original stars Mario Lopez (who now hosts celebrity gossip shows) and Elizabeth Berkley (whose career never recovered from her starring in the camp classic “Showgirls,” the plot sounds nauseatingly ‘woke,” as it involves now California Govetnor Zack Morris (the gown up character in the original played then by Mark Gosselaar, who actually has a career and doesn’t need to stoop this low) being criticized for closing too many low-income high schools, so he announces that the affected students will be sent to the highest-performing schools in the state, including  his old stomping grounds, Bayside High. Hilarious! I smell a hit! But here’s the beauty part: playing the role of the cutest, most popular cheerleader at Bayside, the role originally played by Tiffany Amber Thiessen, will be played by Josie Totah, a transgender female ( transgender male? I’m still unsure of the right terminology. She began life as a male). Isn’t this just a stunt? On one hand, I’ll fight to the death for the right of any actor to play any role, wear any make-up, use any device, as long as the vehicle itself doesn’t suffer. On the other hand, by casting a transgender actress who has made a point of publicizing her biological origins, the production guarantees that nobody will be able to watch “Lexi” without thinking about things that have nothing to do with “Saved by the Bell.” Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 10/27/2019: The Grant Viktor Bowen Marshall Birthday Edition

Samara Orphanage #2, where we found our son,

It’s a good day.

On this date in 1994, my son Grant was born in Russia. His mother, who was unmarried, did not abort him as many women in her position might have and do, but chose to give him up to be cared for the state, as she declared under oath that she could not. For six months, he lived in one of the packed and underfunded orphanages in Samara, near Moscow. Samara is among the most depressing places I have ever visited, only slightly edged out on my list  by Lorton Penitentiary in Northern Virginia, now shuttered, and Lagos, Nigeria.

Our adventure adopting Grant is too long and involved to record today, but I need to do that. Boris Yeltsin was closing down international adoptions, and we were in a group of four American couples racing to rescue some kids before the gates closed for an unknown period. Children were (and are) seldom adopted in Russia by Russians, and usually they end up warehoused until they reach 18, when they are released to the street. Samara was, it is fair to say, a true hell-hole, lacking drinkable water, businesses, and basic infrastructure. The nurses and administrators running the orphanages were kind, caring and dedicated, but they were also desperate. They tried every tactic imaginable to persuade Americans to adopt multiple children. I am still haunted by the faces of the kids that were introduced to us, and who we left behind. I don’t want to think about.

After a week of being shuttled and raced around the Russian bureaucracy, bribing officials with clocks and silverware, Grace and I made it to the U.S. Embassy with our new son and the necessary papers. The documents falsely stated that he was suffering from multiple maladies, the only way an infant could be adopted by foreign parents under the existing laws. In fact, he had been the healthiest baby in Orphanage #2, a trait he has continued into adulthood. He is almost never sick.

Just like Damien in “The Omen.”

We flew back to the U.S. on the “orphan plane,” a regular Moscow-to-New York flight routinely filled with U.S. parents and their adopted Russian children. The sound of crying infants and chattering toddlers was constant the whole flight. It was glorious.

I look at Grant today, a healthy, defiantly independent, iconoclastic young man with a life of opportunities and challenges before him , and reflect upon the kind of life he would be facing in Samara had a series of accidents and random events not brought our family together.

When Grant was 6, he asked me why he was born in Russia (the little sneak had surreptitiously broken into our documents box and read his adoption papers. I told him that sometimes a loving couple’s child would be born in the wrong place, and then his or her parents had to retrieve him. That was what happened with him, I explained. Grant liked that story so much he told all his friends.

The funny thing is, although I made it up at the time, I believe that with all my heart.

Happy Birthday, son.

[It’s also a good day because on this date in 2004, the Boston Red Sox ended 86 years of frustration and won their first World Series since 1918. Grant said at the time that finally he was certain that I would never forget his birthday.]

2. How’s that minimum wage increase working out for everyone? I was in a Taco Bell last night. The chain has added computer ordering, and there was one person behind the counter. Minimum wage increases cost jobs and makes automation cost-effective. It drives small businesses to ruin, and moves low-skilled Americans from work to public assistance. All of this has been well-understood and known for decades, yet the Democratic Party and all of the current Presidential candidates still pander to organized labor the economically-challenged by making minimum wage hikes a rich-vs-poor rallying cry. Given that the increases don’t affect the rich at all and hurt the poor, I judge the advocacy and disinformation awfully close to evil. If that’s too harsh, It is certainly unforgivably unethical. Continue reading

Now THIS Is Child Abuse—So Why Is A Texas Jury Enabling It?

That’s James’ father with him on the left, and his mother, after dressing James as “Luna,” on the right.

A jury in Dallas, Texas jjust ruled against Jeffrey Younger,  who is trying to stop his son’s’ mother, Dr. Anne Georgulas,  from “transitioning” him—his current name is James–into “Luna,” a female. Dr. Geogulas now can start the boy on puberty blockers and eventually cross-sex hormones.

Eleven of the twelve  jurors rejected James’ fathers petition to be granted sole conservatorship over his two sons. In this bitter custody fight, he argued that his ex-wife is “transitioning” James against the boy’s will.

I neglected to mention that James is seven years old. He cannot meaningfully consent to being chemically and eventually surgically transformed into a female at that age. It is astounding that this is legal in Texas or anywhere else. It is child abuse. It is an abuse of parental power. It is abuse that political agendas and cheerleading from the popular culture is inflicting on innocent children without adequate research or cause. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/28/2019: The Search For Inspiration

I need inspiration today…

1. No, this isn’t it…The Idiot Air Traveler. At a certain point, extreme stupidity is unethical. In China, a Xiamen Airlines passenger opened the emergency exit door of the aircraft as the plane was preparing to take off because she  felt the cabin was “too stuffy” and wanted “a breath of fresh air.”  She was arrested, and the incident caused the flight to be delayed an hour. How stupid and ignorant does someone have to be to do this? Wouldn’t you say this is signature significance indicating idiocy? Would you hire someone who did this even once? Allow her to take care of your children? Trust her with sharp objects? Allow her to buy a ticket for another plane trip?

2. Nor this.. New York City intentionally violates the Constitution. It is now against the law in New York City to threaten to call  immigration authorities on someone or refer to them as an “illegal alien” when “motivated by hate.”  A 29-page directive released by City Hall’s Commission on Human Rights announces fines of up to $250,000 per offense for, among other things, “the use of certain language, including ‘illegal alien’ and ‘illegals,’ with the intent to demean, humiliate, or offend a person.”  Mocking people because of their accents or grasp of English is also a crime now in the Big Apple. So is threatening to call ICE.

“In the face of increasingly hostile national rhetoric, we will do everything in our power to make sure our treasured immigrant communities are able to live with dignity and respect, free of harassment and bias,” said Carmelyn Malalis, the agency’s commissioner.

Maybe the whole set of new regulations isn’t unconstitutional, but the ones focused on “hate speech” certainly are. The city is simply declaring its contempt for the First Amendment with this stunt.

3. I guess this is kind of inspiring...When it pays to be trans. The old Saturday Evening Post used to have a feature called “The Perfect Squelch,” regaling its readers with a witty comeback or rejoinder that left an adversary defeated and demoralized. It wouldn’t have printed this one, but I can’t imagine a better example of the genre. This is Faye Kinley… Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Tea, 9/26/2019: A Drunk Lawyer, A Disgraceful Congressman, Uncivil Peanut Butter And The Dolls America Needs [UPDATED!]

These trustworthy scones are divine!

1. First, the important stuff: peanut butter ethics. Now Jif, the peanut butter, has joined the detestable ranks of consumer products that deliberately evoke the vulgarity “fuckin'” in its advertising. Booking.com was the first company chided here for this particular offense against minimal civility, when I wrote,

Ethics dictates that one communicates with respect for anyone within hearing distance, and unless ugly words serve a material purpose, using them is not the mark of a good citizen, a good neighbor, or a trustworthy human being. Nor is spouting vulgarity witty, and unless you are 11, and employing obvious code words that sound like curses, epithets and obscenities isn’t especially funny either, since we pretty much exhausted the possibilities at summer camp. I have no idea why anyone would want to recast the culture as a place where professionals curse like sailors and the words “fuck” and “cocksucker” are as likely to issue from a debutante’s lips as those of a hip hop artist, but that seems to be the objective now. … TV stations happily accept money from advertisers using code words for “ass” (Verizon), alluding to sexual intercourse (Reese’s), and evoking the word “shit” (K-Mart and DraftKings).

Booking.com no longer uses this device, but Jif now pronounces itself “Jif’n good!” Fortunately, this peanut butter aficionado regards Jiff as the least of the  national brands and varieties (1. Skippy Natural 2. Skippy regular, 3. Peter Pan crunchy 4. Peter Pan smooth…and Jif, bringing up the rear.

Now I won’t even buy this peanut smutter when it’s on sale.

2. Apparently the mainstream media AND the Democrats are determined to dash what’s left of their rotting credibility to smithereens with this last ditch impeachment push:

  • Today’s “Japanese Bombs Pearl Harbor” size headline across the New York Times print edition: TRUMP ASKED FOR ‘FAVOR’ IN CALL, MEMO SHOWS.” Again, this would be really funny if it wasn’t so destructive.
  • Showing unprecedented lack of respect for the office of President (and proving beyond any doubt that no American who wants fair and objective reporting on politics should tune into MSNBC), the network’s Nicole Wallace cut off the  audio at President’s   first news conference since House Democrats opened a formal impeachment inquiry,, saying,  “We hate to do this, really, but the president isn’t telling the truth.”
  • In Congress, on TV, Rep. Adam Schiff read into the record his “paraphrase” of the transcript of the President’s phone call to the Ukraine President. Sample:

“I’m going to say this only seven times, so you better listen good, I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand, lots of it, on this and on that, I’m going to put you in touch with people.”

“Is he just making this up?” Committee member Mile Turner (R-Ohio) asked. Indeed he was. Althouse’s commenters are having a field day on this. Ann’s readership is ideologically mixed, but you couldn’t tell that from the utter contempt Schiff’s stunt inspired. Continue reading

Ethics Lunch, 9/24/2019: Big Hairy Men! Teen Rants! Legalized Theft! Insulting The Poor With Kindness!

 

Yum!

Or rather, “yecchhh!”

1.  Ben Carson doesn’t think women’s shelters should admit men identifying as women. Obviously, he must be destroyed. Has there ever been a tiny minority that has triggered so many gotchas and excessive controversies like trans citizens?

Let me stipulate that Ben Carson has no business being Secretary of HUD, as he is completely unqualified and possessed of narrow brilliance in an unrelated area and crippling dufus-ness in all others, so this goes in the “Stop Making Me Defend Ben Carson” files.

Nonetheless, the current outrage over remarks he made in a closed-door meeting with roughly 50 HUD staffers at the agency’s San Francisco office are contrived, and blatant virtue-signaling to the hyper-sensitive Democratic base.

Let me also stipulate that Carson is an idiot for not being able to figure out that in any group of San Francisco residents there would be several just looking for a “Ben Carson is an anti-trans bigot” smoking gun.

Carson wrote in an all-staff email that he

“…made reference to the fact that I had heard from many women’s groups about the difficulty they were having with women’s shelters because sometimes men would claim to be women, and that HUD’s policy required the shelter to accept—without question—the word of whoever came in, regardless of what their manifested physical characteristics appeared to be.This made many of the women feel unsafe, and one of the groups described a situation to me in which ‘big hairy men’ would come in and have to be accepted into the women’s shelter even though it made the women in the facility very uncomfortable,. My point was that we have to permit policies that take into consideration the rights of everybody, including those women.”

This was relayed to the media by a few enraged staffers as Carson referring to trans individuals as “big hairy men,” as well as representing insufficiently supportive sentiments towards the transgender community. “The sentiment conveyed was these were not women, and they should not be housed in single-sex shelters — like we shouldn’t force people to accept transgender people in this context because it makes other people uncomfortable,” one staffer told the Washington Post.

To the contrary, what Carson was referencing  is a legitimate concern. Having recently been served at McDonalds by someone who certainly appeared to be a big hairy man wearing a beard, a woman’s wig and a bra, I understand the problem, and it is a problem—not at McDonalds, but surely in a women’s shelter.  Because Carson acknowledged reality,  Julián Castro, a former HUD secretary and a 2020 Democratic candidate for President, said Carson’s comments “normalize violence” against transgender people. Elizabeth Warren and other Democrats piled on.

2. Immunity again, bad judges again, KABOOM! again. Where do these judges come from?

The Fresno Police Department carried out a raid on Micah Jessop and Brittan Ashjian, who were suspected of operating illegal gambling machines, though no charges were ever brought. After the search, officers provided both men with a ledger stating that the police had seized $50,000. Jessop and Ashjian allege that the officers really took $151,380 in cash and $125,000 in rare coins, pocketing $226,380 in what was outright robbery.

Are you ready? Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 8/3/19: Lies and Ridiculous Lies

Bad day, right from the start.

An old friend, and one of my favorite people in the world, just suffered a terrible tragedy, one of those random, devastating, lightning strikes to the heart. He is much loved, and will be hearing from many, including me, once I figure out what to say. I’m always flummoxed in such situations, hating to mouth platitudes (I’m so sorry for your loss), but unable to think of anything more helpful.

1. The Washington Post factchecker is trying to be non-partisan again. I wonder how long it will last this time? He gave Cory Booker four Pinnochio’s for his statement during the last debate, “We lost the state of Michigan because everybody from Republicans to Russians were targeting the suppression of African American voters.”

That one missed the cut in the Ethics Alarms post. It is a complete lie, absolutely baseless. It is exactly as false and irresponsible as President Trump’s claim, unmoored to anything but wild speculation that widespread voter fraud cost him California. That, of course, was roundly mocked and condemned by some of the same pundits who are rooting for Booker.

Glenn Kessler explains in his article that there are absolutely no facts that support Booker’s claim. It is just made up. No data exists that indicate that Russian social media hi-jinks cost Clinton votes in Michigan, or anywhere, for that matter, much less the thousands of votes needed to flip the state. Nor does Michigan have any new measures that that would have suppressed African American voters. Indeed Clinton lost because the African American turn-out was not as strong as 2012, but that was expected, and the fall-off was approximately what was predicted. Kessler concludes, “[W]e could not find any specific examples of new laws enacted between 2012 and 2016 that could have reduced African American turnout. In fact, the Republican governor in 2012 vetoed a bill that would have required a photo ID for absentee voting.”

The worst thing  about Donald Trump, we are told, is that he habitually makes statements like Cory Booker’s. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/13/2019: Oh, All Sorts Of Things…

A rainy good morning from Northern Virginia!

1. Weekend Update: I’d like to point readers to two posts from the weekend, recognizing that many of you don’t visit on Saturday and Sunday. I think they are important.

The first is” I Hereby Repudiate My Undergraduate Degree, As My Alma Mater Has Rendered It A Symbol Of Hypocrisy, Ignorance, And Liberal Fascism” about Harvard’s shocking punishment of a college dean and Harvard law professor for defending Harvey Weinstein. There was more to the story than I knew when I posted about it (thanks, Chip Defaa! ). Ronald Sullivan’s  wife is also being stripped of her position as a dean—Harvard now designates both spouses as “deans” when they lead residence Houses. It’s not exactly  “guilt by association,” since she also only had the job by association, but she still lost her job and cpmpensation. Ronald Sullivan had quit his position as a defense attorney for Weinstein the day before Harvard announced he would not be dean of Winthrop House for the next school year. That’s not very admirable on his part, but I sympathize with his dilemma.

The other is this multi-lateral ethics break-down, which I am upset about now and will continue to be. It demonstrates how far gone rational ethical decision-making is in  some segments of our society, and honestly, I don’t know what to do about it.

2.  Here’s one of the many little ways the “resistance” is undermining the President (and in so doing, our democracy.) The Children’s Hospital Association paid for a full page ad last month in the New York Times, thanking “Congress and the Administration” for passing the Advancing Care  for Exceptional Kids Act (ACE  Kids). This is pandering, partisan, ungrateful cowardice. Laws are passed by Congress and the President, who must sign legislation into law. “The Administration” has no Constitutional role in passing laws. This pusillanimous association was afraid of backlash if it dared to publicly thank Present Trump for making their bill law.

Presidential policies, words and actions that the “resistance” can complain about are over-publicized; accomplishments that they can’t find fault with are ignored or attributed to someone else.

Here’s another example, from this week’s Times book section. In a review of a book about the decision to fight the Iraq war, the reviewer refers to “Trumpian malpractice.” That’s just an unsupported and gratuitous slur, assuming that readers believe that the President’s name is synonymous with incompetence, or trying to embed the idea that it is. Continue reading

Why I’ve Changed My Position On Transgender Athletes In Women’s Sports, Or “Ethics Evolve With Wisdom And Experience”

Yesterday I headlined the story about transgender powerlifter Mary Gregory, who just shattered multiple lifting records, Unfair, Obviously Unfair, Scandalously Unfair. Why Are Athletic Organizations Allowing This? Why Are Women Tolerating It?

Possessed of a keener memory than I, reader Luke G. “pounced,” as the news media always says when Republicans object to Democratic words and conduct that absolutely should be objected to. He wrote in part,

What made you change your mind on this issue? Several years ago you were bad-dogging me in the comments for the views you hold now- you claimed back then that there was no reason [male-to-female transgender athlete] Fallon Fox shouldn’t get to fight in Women’s UFC, because she lives as a female and had transition surgery. According to 2013 Jack, “I don’t believe that males have an unfair advantage at all. Many advantages in physical ability can be made up with skill, and that true of most professional sports.”….I’m just wondering what it was that finally pushed you to flip on this one.

I wrote THAT? Yes, I did. Boy, is it ever inconvenient having over 10,000 searchable posts around to prove your inconsistencies. Continue reading