Tag Archives: Ethics

A brief but fascinating look into the life of two KKK groups

From the Washington Post: A photographer hung out with the KKK in Tennessee and Maryland. Here’s what he saw.

KKK Wedding

It’s fascinating to see these people doing their thing. I’m surprised to see that these people closely match my idea of the KKK. It’s rare that one’s idea of a group so exactly corresponds to the actual people in that group.

Outrage Isn’t Going to Prevent Another Brock Turner

The Internet has been on fire with outrage over the lenient sentence given Brock Turner. What good do we think that will do his victim, us individually, or society? I’m disappointed that this young man refuses to take responsibility for his actions, for shattering the life of a young woman. None of us can make him accept responsibility for what he’s done, and continues to do, since his refusal to formally accept that he’s raped a woman and severely harmed her, and that this was wrong, is making it more difficult for her to move past this trauma.

I propose that we spell out what we want from Brock, from his parents, the justice system, lawmakers, and society, and why we want each of these things. We have a responsibility to prevent this from happening to others. Raging against decisions and people we disagree with will do little or nothing to prevent this from happening again.

Here’s my list, at least as a starting point.

1. Brock Turner needs to admit that he raped this woman, and that it’s entirely his fault. He should formally apologize to her.
2. Brock Turner’s parents need to formally admit that their son did something terrible, and that he should face the consequences of his actions.
3. Brock Turner should be sentenced to several years of community service, of a kind that will develop empathy and provide a genuinely needed service to society.
4. Lawmakers should create laws that ensure restitution for victims of sex crimes, from the offender where possible and the state otherwise, and that restitution should be opened ended enough to provide whatever is necessary to help the victim recover fully (as fully as humanly possible).
5. What can we do to prevent rape? There are many things we can do better. Talking to boys and girls is necessary but clearly not sufficient. What else can we do? Where is the balance between liberty and security? Where should the responsibility for rape prevention fall?

For background: I’m a married father of a college age daughter and two high school age sons. This issue is immediately relevant to my life.

Google Plus vs Facebook

I recently started using Facebook a couple times a week, largely because there are a few people I care about who use only Facebook. Here’s the difference between the two social networks.

Facebook has accumulated and kept so many people for so long due to simple human inertia. Most humans are averse to spending time and effort to move to a new experience or platform unless there’s great reward and little risk in doing so. Facebook spends a huge amount of time and money, including employing many scientists, specifically to determine and maintain a balance where the pain of using Facebook is less than the pain of leaving it. The reward for using Facebook is the ability to connect with friends, play mindless games, and be served information you want.

Looking at Google Plus, it’s clear that not only would you have to rebuild your social network essentially from scratch, leaving behind many friends who are kept on another network by their own inertia, but you’ll have to learn a potentially more complex system, all without guaranteed reward. Google Plus also requires more effort to experience its potential rewards than Facebook. With Facebook, you can be mostly a passive consumer of information and services and experience much of what it has to offer. With Google Plus, you need to be more active in seeking out worthwhile sources of information and interactions. There are far more deep and intellectually challenging conversations to be had on Google Plus, but participating in them requires significant effort and many people aren’t interested in those conversations, especially at the cost of expending that effort.

Should we respect all beliefs?

I’m reposting an intriguing question I encountered on G+. The original post is first, including a beautiful picture as well as a comment by Sam Harris, followed by my response.

Should we respect all Beliefs? Here’s an interesting take by Sam Harris…

Consider for a moment this notion that you should respect other people’s beliefs. Where else in our discourse do we encounter this?

When was the last time anyone was admonished to respect another person’s beliefs about history, or biology, or physics? We do not respect people’s beliefs; we evaluate their reasons.

Illusion Art 4

Harris’ take on this is thought provoking and tempting to follow, isn’t it? My response is below.

We don’t need to respect people’s beliefs. We do need to respect people. It’s fine, and very desirable, to critique a set of beliefs. That’s fundamentally different than criticizing a person for their beliefs.

If you critique beliefs by analyzing them and pointing out deficiencies as well as strengths, especially in a process of dialogue, then you gain understanding of the framework in which those beliefs exist, and you also allow the person holding those beliefs room to engage you openly and examine their beliefs if they’re willing. If you criticize the person, then you shut down the possibility of dialogue and place them in a defensive stance, focused on defending themselves and their beliefs.

What do you think?

Here’s a link to my reshare of the original post – https://plus.google.com/+ChristopherLamke/posts/jBEWpqBvbdV – The comments on mine and especially the original are worth reading if you’re exploring this topic.

Citizens should retain their voting rights, without exception

Voting should be an inalienable right, not forfeited by any conviction. The right to keep arms should be restored upon completion of an offender’s sentence unless he was convicted of crimes of violence.

Virginia’s Governor recently restored voting rights to a large number of felons. You can read the New York Times’ account of this here – http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/23/us/governor-terry-mcauliffe-virginia-voting-rights-convicted-felons.html

I’ll present here a brief dialogue between me and a very smart G+ friend. I think it covers the issues here well.

Friend: Quick hypothetical…
If rights should be restored in full after a sentence is served, would you include the 2nd amendment rights? I believe the question is purely academic because where federal law allows for states to decide the issue with regard to voting rights, I believe it strictly prohibits the same for gun ownership. Could be mistaken about that.

I honestly feel the nature of the crime should be considered with the answer being a clear “no” in cases of violent crime.

Me: That’s a very good question. For violent crimes, I would say gun rights should remain suspended. In fact, my stance would depend on what right we’re talking about. I treat voting differently because it’s the primary and most powerful voice the citizen has in a democracy. As long as our votes are fairly counted and elections determine the leadership of our nation, we can save ourselves (or be the instrument of our own destruction).

For a felony having nothing to do with violence or force, I don’t see why someone shouldn’t have their firearms rights restored after their sentence is served. The right to self defense should be inherent. There’s an argument that firearms specifically are very rarely needed for self defense, but that would be a distraction from the main issue of whether this right is inherent. We could also consider the other legitimate uses of firearms, such as hunting or sports, and whether there’s a compelling reason the state should prevent a felon from engaging in these activities. This could get tricky to implement, but we could start with the standard of whether a reasonable person believes the felon would be likely to illegally use a firearm and see where that takes us.

Friend: Well, in the case of voting rights, wouldn’t the same principle hold true in regards to crimes of moral turpitude? Do you want the former leaders of Enron to have a say in who becomes the leader of the free world?

Me: I thought about moral turpitude as a disqualifier, but I think it’s more important to treat the right to vote as inherent than to allow exceptions and weaken this right. I think the moral turpitude argument could have unintended consequences, and I note that some of the most immoral people (e.g. Don Blankenship) are either walking free with all their rights intact or not convicted of any felonies. For democracy to work, we have to trust that the masses of the people won’t be so shortsighted, fearful, or ignorant as to vote a disastrous person into power. I know this isn’t the best time for that trust and the Bush 2 Presidency is a counterexample, but I still prefer democracy to the alternatives.

Both: We were in agreement and ended the discussion at this point.

 

So what do you think about this? Feel free to tell me in the comments.

 

Four Items to Exclude from Your Work Emails

Fast Company has a good article detailing four items to exclude from your work emails. This is work focused, but the idea behind excluding these is relevant to personal emails as well.

These are good rules of thumb. This is largely about retaining your humanity in the bustle of work life. We need to see the people we’re communicating with as individuals, not communications endpoints. This is sometimes important individually, always important in the aggregate.

I sometimes send or respond to 50+ emails a day as tech lead of a ~15 person agile team, with a number of core members and an equal number of temporary staff, with all the logistical and technical setup, expectations setting, and insecurity that goes with that. It’s more than a handful, and the only way to keep the team productive and keep everyone engaged and reasonably happy with their work is to treat them individually as human beings, not just collectively as a team.

For a long time, I had a sticky note on one of my monitors reminding me to “Slow Down. Be Kind.” I brought the note home during an office move. I need to put the original back up at work and make a copy for home. I’m often better at following the note at work than home and I need to fix that.

Source: 4 Types Of Useless Phrases You Need To Eliminate From Your Emails

US Firearms Deaths – Comparison to Wars

Earlier this year, Neil deGrasse Tyson posted a set of statistics on firearms deaths compared to deaths from war and terrorism. At a minimum, it should make you think about how much we sacrifice for our love of firearms.

For those of you wondering, these statistics are accurate. The source below has done the work of researching that.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Guns, and Statistics

 

Deadly weapons aren’t for everyone

Gun-toting Florida mom shot in the back by her 4-year-old may go to jail for 180 days

jamie-gilt

BoingBoing’s coverage of this incident, including the offender’s/victim’s pic is perfect.

This is why I want serious firearms regulation. I’ve met far too many people like this, including some in the military and law enforcement, but civilians are generally worse. We need to have strong weapons laws with serious bite to them. Carrying deadly weapons isn’t for everyone, as this woman clearly demonstrates, and we will be forced to have this lesson repeated daily until enough of us learn it to take decisive action.