Vermont Crosses The Line: When Government Is Cavalier About Restricting Our Liberty, It’s Time To Push Back

Right wing pundit Sarah Hoyt has been at the forefront of those arguing that it would be better and safer to accept the risk  of more deaths from the Wuhan virus than to allow state governments to behave like police states. So far, I have thought she was wrong and unduly paranoid, but Vermont’s latest action has me agreeing with her response, which was, “I’M SORRY. ARE THE PEOPLE OF VERMONT ALL OUT OF MIDDLE FINGERS?”

From the Burlington Free-Press (Bernie Sanders was once mayor of Burlington. That’s just something to keep in the back of your mind, as this episode suggests the slow but deadly spread of the Totalitarian Left Virus, which may eventually need to be called “the Burlington Virus”):

Large Vermont retailers such as Target, Walmart and Costco are now required to limit the sales of non-essential items in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The directive was announced by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development on Tuesday. The agency hopes it will reduce the overall number of people going into stores to purchase items such as clothing, electronics and toys during the state’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order.

“Large ‘big box’ retailers generate significant shopping traffic by virtue of their size and the variety of goods offered in a single location,” said Lindsay Kurrle, secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development in a news release.  “This volume of shopping traffic significantly increases the risk of further spread of this dangerous virus to Vermonters and the viability of Vermont’s health care system.”

Retailers are being asked to promote online ordering, delivery and curbside pickup to customers….

The order is here. Continue reading

Are “Pre-Crime” Measures Absolutely Unethical?

Yes.

I guess that would be a too-short essay on an important topic with special contemporary relevance, so I am bound to say more. Nonetheless, I would be more comfortable with my fellow society members and more confident of the future of the the nation if the answer to the title query was universally accepted in absolute terms. For the acceptance of the principle of pre-crime is dangerous. It places less than a spiked mountain-climber’s boot on a slippery slope to totalitarianism, which is the real-life equivalent of the Devil in the scene above from “A Man For All Seasons,” both the play and the movie, based on the writings of Sir Thomas More, in which  More emotionally refuses to arrest a man because of the evil  he might do, before he has actually broken any laws:

More’s Wife: Arrest him!

Sir Thomas More: For what?

Wife: He’s dangerous!

William Roper (More’s Son in Law): He’s a spy.

Margaret (More’s daughter): Father, that man’s bad.

More: There’s no law against that.

Roper: There is – God’s law.

More: Then God can arrest him.

Wife: While you talk, he’s gone.

More: And go he should, were he the Devil himself, until he broke the law.

Roper: So, now you’d give the Devil the benefit of law?

More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s. And if you cut them down – and you’re just the man to do it – do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.

Few more profound and important thoughts have been so eloquently and powerfully  presented in a motion picture as this scene from “A Man For All Seasons,” to which I will note (again) in passing, “Rotten Tomatoes” gives a lower score than “Birdman,”a fact that provides a disturbing snapshot of the state of our education, culture and priorities in 2019.

Both political parties have placed their feet on this slippery slope in the past. The essence of pre-crime is punishing a citizen for what he or she is, rather than for what he or she has done, on the theory that what an individual is makes that person “dangerous,” in the words of Mrs. More, for what they might do. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (and the Supreme Court that backed him) was responsible for probably the worst example of pre-crime in our history, when the United States, in full panic mode after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, imprisoned loyal Japanese-American citizens as a precautionary measure. Another panic, also not entirely groundless, led to a pre-crime mentality during the Red Scare and McCarthy episodes, seeking to punish Americans who belonged to the dreaded Communist Party, a nonetheless legal organization.

To be abundantly clear, I will define pre-crime as when the government removes a civil right, a Constitutional right, from a citizen, not as punishment for breaking a law, but based on what that individual believes, says, is or is understood to be. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: Propaganda And Fake History: How Are We Supposed To Trust A Newspaper With Editors That Allow This?”

Once again, I am behind in posting deserving Comments of the Day, in particular one from P.M. Lawrence that opens all manner  of worm cans, necessitating a bit more prep than usual. This COTD, sparked by the New York Times’s allowing fake Middle East history to sully its pages, seemed especially appropo given Vermont’s offensive capitulation to political correctness by turning Columbus Day into “Indigenous  Peoples Day.”

This is sentimentality replacing a crucial historical and cultural marker to which attention must be paid. Whatever his misdeeds, Columbus’s voyage and its discoveries was one of the great turning points in the history of mankind. Columbus’s boldness was a catalyst  for furious colonization by the western European powers , new trade commodities products and the introduction of products like corn, potatoes, tobacco and chocolate to the rest of the world, innovations in seafaring and supply preservation, and transformative contacts between cultures. It also led to the United States of America, and despite the laments of the America-haters, the world is far better for that.

Here is Steve-O- in NJ’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Propaganda And Fake History: How Are We Supposed To Trust A Newspaper With Editors That Allow This?”

No one ever mentions that the Muslims had been conquering parts of Europe for 3 centuries before Pope Urban called for a crusade, and if you point it out, the left brushes you off as pedantic at best, an apologist for brutality at the worst. The Inquisition I’ll admit was pretty bad, but, to put it in context, heresy is to the church what treason is to a government, and, when the church is as much a temporal power as the government, it should not come as a surprise that it takes steps to protect that power. The Muslims can lecture us about that when you can no longer have your head chopped off in Sunni countries if you mistakenly sound the call to prayer more than once (a Shi’ite practice, which is prohibited in Sunni countries), and the Protestants can lecture us about it when they apologize for Cromwell in Ireland and the High Commission. Continue reading

From The “When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring” Files: Photography Kills A Moose

“Yeah, the moose died, but we got a GREAT photo!”

For many reasons, some practical, some emotional, some neurotic, I don’t like cameras, I don’t like being photographed, and I have to fight the urge to dislike and distrust compulsive amateur picture-takers.  I know that’s a bias. I don’t think it informs my disgust with this story, however.

Vermont wildlife officials reported that a moose was resting on the shore at South Hero, which is part of Grand Isle in the middle of Lake Champlain, after swimming there from the New York shore, which borders the west side of the lake. A crowd of bystanders noticed the animal, and pushed in to take photographs of this wonder of nature.

This panicked the moose, who escaped back into the water. Exhausted, it drowned.  But I’m sure some of those tourists got some great shots.

Nice.

I haven’t checked, but I’m pretty sure Professor Turley is furious over this. Selfish, ignorant tourists who harm the environment they are there to appreciate is one of his constant themes. Let’s see…I’m checking….nope, Turley hasn’t reacted yet.

Well, I will.

This is a pointless, tragic, negligent killing of an innocent animal. No photograph is worth the life of a vole, much less a moose, yet too many human beings are so addicted to recording the images of their oh so fascinating lives that they disconnect the ethics alarms and common sense alerts that should tell them instinctively that…

  • Intruding on nature threatens and harms it.
  • Reality is not best experienced  through a camera lens.
  • Nobody else can enjoy a natural scene when human beings insist on imposing on it.
  • The welfare of the wildlife should be the first consideration, not an afterthought.

What is an appropriate practical punishment for tourists who do things like this? Fines are not enough, and I guess public flogging is excessive.

I guess…

Ethics Hero: Bill Lee, “The Spaceman,” An Integrity Exemplar…And I Really Need One About Now

bill-lee

If you weren’t a baseball fan in Boston during the Sixties and Seventies you may never have heard of Bill Lee, but if you were, he was an unforgettable and unique source of pleasure. Lee joined the Red Sox in 1969 as a junk-balling left-hander with a hippie streak not previously seen in the sport.  He was prone to say things like, “I think about the cosmic snowball theory. A few million years from now the sun will burn out and lose its gravitational pull. The earth will turn into a giant snowball and be hurled through space. When that happens it won’t matter if I get this guy out.”  The college students around Boston loved him, the old school baseball management types not so much. But he was good, and in major league baseball, good will always trump weird.

Lee was an excellent a reliever for four years before becoming a Sox starter in 1973, then won 17 games that season and the next two as well. The success was secondary for his often-stoned fans than his non-conformist attitude and determination to be himself at all costs. He was well-read, well-educated, opinionated and funny, and at various points in his Red Sox career, wore a gas mask, a coonskin cap and a propeller-topped beanie onto the field. Once, when the umpires refused to halt play in a downpour, Lee came out of the dugout wearing rain gear and carried an umbrella to the mound. This and other exploits caused him to be nicknamed “The Spaceman.”

Twice, once with the Red Sox and later with the Montreal Expos, Lee went on strike, refusing to play to protest the elimination of one of his friends from his team’s roster. The last time he did it, it ended his career.

Lee made up his own rules and principles, so he’s a different kind of Ethics Hero.  Above all else, however, the Spaceman has integrity down to a life-style. When he was at his zenith with the Red Sox, he often said that baseball was a still just a game to him, that it was what he loved to do, and that he didn’t care about the money. He would play baseball for whatever was available, he said, or just for the love of it. My father, who didn’t get Bill Lee, thought he was grandstanding.

He wasn’t. Continue reading

DNC Progressives Jump The Shark

Pop Quiz: Name all the ways this photo is appropriate to the post...

Pop Quiz: Name all the ways this photo is appropriate to the post…

[A “Happy Days” reference seems felicitous, since last week saw series creator, writer and frequent director Garry Marshall head off to the Big Malt Shop In The Sky. In addition to having the good taste to be named Marshall, Gary’s myrth-inducing career in TV and movies as a producer, writer, director and actor (Marshall’s turn in “Lost on America” as the incredulous casino boss whom a desperate Albert Brooks tries to persuade to give back the life savings lost by Brooks’ wife in a mad gambling spree might be my favorite comic acting bit of all time) was long and productive, and the culture will miss him greatly. As will I. ]

Attention must be paid to the fact that while the speakers at the Republican National Convention sounded scary (to some), the Democratic National Convention authorities acted scary.

Twenty-one Vermont Democrats have filed an official complaint with the party, protesting that the Democratic leadership ordered  the state party to replace Vermont Sen. Tim Ashe and party member Ken Dean with women, in the name of “gender balance” without adequate due process.

By all means, let’s make sure that gender discrimination in pursuit of the greater good and Progressive Nirvana is done with due process!

I think it’s cute that both political parties are losing their minds at the same time, don’t you? Continue reading

Free Speech vs. Ethics: Goddard College and the Cop-Killer Commencement Speaker

Next gig for the Cheshire home invaders: Commencement honors at Goddard?

Next gig for the Cheshire home invaders: Commencement honors at Goddard?

Convicted  cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal was the commencement speaker at Goddard College, in Plainfield, Vermont today, having been chosen by graduating students. He is a controversial figure, convicted in the 1981 slaying of Officer Daniel Faulkner, sentenced to death, and eventually sentenced to  life in prison without parole after a long legal battle.  Abu-Jamal’s speech was prerecorded by Prison Radio and broadcast.

Goddard is not your typical college. It is liberal/radical even by current college standards. Students design their own curriculum. It holds 20 commencement ceremonies each year so students in each degree program can have personalized graduations. Abu-Jamal, himself a political radical, received a bachelor of arts degree from the college in 1996, completing his coursework by mail. Before the killing, Mumia was a member of the Black Panthers. While imprisoned he has become a cultural icon to the radical left as an activist against institutional racism.

As you would expect, a lot of people have problems with Mumia receiving this honor. Maureen Faulkner, the widow of the officer killed by Abu-Jamal, condemned Goddard’s decision.The Vermont Troopers Association issued a statement saying that it was “ outraged that Goddard College is hosting a man who shot and killed a police officer.”  But Goddard is proud as punch that its students chose the convicted murderer. Said the acting President:

“As a reflection of Goddard’s individualized and transformational educational model, our commencements are intimate affairs where each student serves as her or his own valedictorian, and each class chooses its own speaker. Choosing Mumia as their commencement speaker, to me, shows how this newest group of Goddard graduates expresses their freedom to engage and think radically and critically in a world that often sets up barriers to do just that.”

Well, that’s one way of interpreting it. Or, we might justly conclude that the graduates of Goddard have been taught to have contempt for decency, justice, law enforcement and the legal system, and since they admire murderous criminals, might see nothing wrong with being one. Ask me if I want to hire anyone with  a Goddard degree. Go ahead. Ask.

Naturally, defenders of Mumia’s honor think it is perfectly acceptable because it embodies the principle of free speech. I’m not sure it does….not at all. Unpopular speech embodies free speech. Encouraging popular and offensive speech by someone who is not worthy of emulation embodies bad taste, dubious values and anti-social priorities. Show me that Goddard students would welcome speeches by Ted Cruz, Bill O’Reilly, Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney, and then I’ll accept that the campus is supportive of free speech.

Meanwhile, why stop with Mumia? Why not have that Isis guy who beheaded the American journalist speak at commencement, with his hood, of course? Surely that would expresses graduates’ freedom to engage and think radically and critically in a world that often sets up barriers to do just that. How about the Cheshire home invasion killers, Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky, who raped the family’s young girls and mother before burning their house down around them? If it’s free speech to allow the scum of the earth speak at a commencement, if someone is crazy enough to want to listen to them, let’s really go for it.

That doesn’t make it right, however. All allowing Mumia to speak at commencement shows me is that the students are exercising their rights to promote freedom of expression, and doing so in a context and manner that is less dignified, justified, respectful or reasonable than having the honor delivered by a circus performer who communicates in farts, Carrot Top, or Honey Boo Boo. It shows me that the culture created by Goddard is toxic, and that the students who graduate from there without sufficient resistance to its influence will range from useless to annoying to dangerous.

Their parents must be so proud.

________________________
Sources: Washington Post, Huffington Post, Philly

Why The Winooski Bacon Controversy Matters

bacon signLast week, Sneakers Bistro and Cafe in Winooski, Vermont removed a sign reading “Yield for Sneakers Bacon” from a garden at the Winooski Rotary after a woman who described herself as “a vegan and a member of a Muslim household” called the sign offensive in an online post.

“Given the large number of Muslim families in Winooski, as well as many others who do not eat pork for a variety of reasons, it seems unnecessary for this insensitive business sign to be at the city’s main crosswalk,” she wrote. Sneakers, obeying the growing U.S. cultural mandate that any individual has a veto over words and conduct that he or she finds offensive regardless of 1) whether it is offensive to anyone else and 2) whether the alleged offense is certifiably bats, apologized, and took the sign down.

I am happy to support that this decision did not play well, even in ultra-liberal Vermont, and under a barrage of criticism on the web and elsewhere, the Sneakers’ management posted the following message on its Facebook page, thus making their situation worse:

“We are here to serve people BREAKFAST, not politics. We removed the sign that was located on public property as a gesture of respect for our diverse community. There were also concerns raised about safety. Removing it was not a difficult decision. We still love bacon. We still love eggs. Please have the political conversation elsewhere.”

That idiotic statement was the disaster anyone conscious should have been able to predict it would be. And let’s be thankful this is still true. Tomorrow, Sneakers’ response may be standard operation procedure, even if ISIS doesn’t take over the country while the President is breaking par. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week (“Believe It or Not!” Division): The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

“We fail to see any reasonable connection between this defendant, his conviction more than a decade ago, his failure to fill out paperwork, and the government-mandated measurement of his penis.”

—- The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, rejecting as “extraordinarily invasive”a Vermont sex offender treatment program that required David McLaurin, who was convicted of producing child pornography, to submit to “penile stimulation treatment” as a condition for supervised release. He was shown child pornography images as the blood flow to his penis was measured.

Cheer up, Alex...it could be worse, You could be in Vermont...

Cheer up, Alex…it could be worse, You could be in Vermont…

McLaurin was arrested in 2011 for violating the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, which requires offenders to register and keep current their address information. He  received a sentence of 15 months imprisonment with five years of supervised release.

“The size of the erection is, we are told, of interest to government officials because it ostensibly correlates with the extent to which the subject continues to be aroused by the pornographic images,” the opinion states, dryly. The testing was apparently developed by a Czech psychiatrist and used by the Czech government as a way to identify and “cure” homosexuals.

Uh, yes, I’d say the court got this one right.

Unbelievable.

______________________

Facts: ABA Journal

 

 

Ethics Quiz: Is It Ethical to Confess to a Murder You Were Acquitted of Committing, or Merely Annoying?

 

Come on, O.J! If he can do it, so can you!

Isaac Turnbaugh of Randolph, Vermont recently confessed to the 2002 shooting murder of a co-worker, using a rifle to kill the victim as he was at work in the American Flatbread Co, stirring a pot of  sauce.  A jury acquitted Turnbaugh of the charges in 2004. In July, Turnbaugh contacted police and said, jury verdict notwithstanding, he indeed shot Declan Lyons in the head with the rifle and wished to surrender to authorities. Too bad, they told him. In the eyes of the law, you are “not guilty,” and have to stay that way. Double jeopardy and all that.

Your ethics quiz for today:

If you have been acquitted of a murder and have a guilty conscience about it, what is your most ethical course of action? Continue reading