Entries Tagged 'AA Human Nature' ↓

Hate and the 1st Amendment

Our side is corrupt, but the other side is more corrupt.

Yesterday tech company executives were once again grilled by members of Congress. Evidently, we can no longer find the line between yelling fire in a crowded theater and protecting free speech. The internet has changed everything.

Today’s NYT had an article about Google podcasts promoting violence and spewing misinformation and hate (https://nyti.ms/3ffm4Fi). As I read, I thought, “We should just let podcasters have their say. It is only ignorant, unimaginative, weak, truth-fearing, proud and selfish people, who would listen to them. Everybody else knows those programs damage our lives. So, why would anybody listen?”

Then I thought, “Oh–I forgot. Thirty years ago, public schools started focusing on improving test scores. Now we have a whole bunch of adults who are ignorant, unimaginative, weak, truth-fearing, proud and selfish.”

You gotta love those annual school goals of having students correctly answer two more multiple choice questions. Way to go, educators. I know–you were just doing what politicians told you to do. If you had an alternative definition of the educated person, however, you could have argued against the stupidest idea that ever became the goal of education.

Capitalism at work

Our side is corrupt, but the other side is more corrupt.


Florida company accused of steering vaccines to rich donors

No surprise here. Unchecked capitalism at work–donations put them in the front of the line, don’t they?

Remember–that $30,000 gift. When do I get vaccinated?

So what if a few front line nurses have to wait a few more weeks? What do they contribute to our economy? Some of them are probably socialists, anyway—trying to make life better for others, instead of themselves.   


Let’s play Whataboutism:


Workers at Elite Medical Centers Are Vaccinated Out of Turn

Why the six virtues?


Slur, Surfacing on Old Video, Alters Young Lives and a Town


Read this NYT story https://nyti.ms/3rxt184 (12/27/2020), then think about what the principal should have done, instead of nothing.

Mr. Galligan (a mixed-race student) showed the clip (of the student using the N word) to the school principal, who declined to take action, citing free speech and the fact that the offensive behavior took place outside school.

If the school had defined the educated person as one who demonstrates the six virtues, the principal would have been expected to educate the girl, who posted the slur, about the importance of being understanding, imaginative, humble, and generous. (The first amendment does not say public schools cannot teach the six virtues of the educated person.)


the district in August released a plan to combat systemic racism. The move was followed by a formal apology in September for the district’s history of segregation.

Ironically, the school district’s failure to adopt a virtue definition of the educated person was costly to both the girl who posted the slur (and was therefore denied admission to UT-Knoxville) and to Mr. Galligan, who was subjected to years of discrimination in the school district.

Education policy makers go to great lengths to avoid defining the educated person as one who develops the virtues we want in all citizens. How is that other definition working — the one about getting correct answers on standardized tests?


If you want to know why the district’s “plan to combat systemic racism” is unlikely to be educational, read this editorial by David Brooks:


Once again, the failure of educators to adopt an inspiring, useful definition of the educated person means we fail to educate. How could it be otherwise?

Jesus demonstrated the 6 virtues


This column in today’s NYT discusses our uneducated nature and our educated nature (represented by Jesus). Was this idea part of your moral/religious education?

BTW–I wrote about this in the AC-T back in 2004.


Mitch knows best

Our side is corrupt, but the other side is more corrupt.

I hope Progressives don’t try to de-fund the police. Mitch McConnell is already doing that as he turns down a bill that includes recession relief for state and city governments.

Mitch objects to the bill because it does not include immunity from prosecution for businesses and industries whose employees were treated unfairly or injured during the pandemic. Evidently, Mitch has no faith in our legal system. Either that, or he knows corrupt lawyers will bring nuisance suits to the courts.

You gotta love how Republicans get conflicted as they try to find what is most in their self-interest. Is it business and industry? lawyers? or police? Evidently, the most campaign funds come from business and industry.

All you need are the headlines

Today’s Asheville Citizen-Times front page headline:

The Big Thanksgiving Day paper

Above that:

Your complete Black Friday shopping resource!

Our local paper nailed America in two headlines–the quintessential American holiday and the quintessential American obsession. (I had to go back to put the exclamation point after the shopping resource! headline.)

We are watching

Our side is corrupt, but the other side is more corrupt.

Trump tweet:

“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business.”

NYT report ((10/8/2020):

Compounding the political risk (of that tweet), Mr. Trump said the halt in stimulus negotiations would give Republicans time to focus on quickly confirming his Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a move that polls have shown is unpopular with voters. By contrast, Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of another stimulus bill.

Note to Amy Coney Barrett:

Being of such high intelligence and moral standing, I am sure you see that the narcissist president is using you as a tool to defend him against being convicted of crimes. We all know the president cares only about himself. He wants you on the court to rule in his favor so he won’t go to jail or have to pay fines and back taxes.

You will be asked about this in your confirmation hearing. I assume you will inform the American people that you will recuse yourself from cases involving Trump’s election. Your intelligence and morality will be in full view because Americans know what it means to have a narcissistic president. We assume you do, too–being of such high intelligence and moral standing.

Or maybe you are not intelligent and morally upstanding. Maybe you, too, care about your personal causes more than you care about the American people. Just maybe–we will see.


Mario Nicolais, a USA Opinion contributor, argued the same thing on 10/12/20202. He did not include the “we are watching” idea. But, of course, we are watching.

First amendment and social media

Our side is corrupt, but the other side is more corrupt.

“You don’t have the right to yell ‘Fire’ in a crowded theater” is a long-standing description of the limit to an Americans’ first amendment rights.

That seems to be a reasonable limit for two reasons:

  1. If there were no fire, yelling ‘Fire’ would be a lie.
  2. That lie would physically endanger a lot of vulnerable people.

In the past that was not an onerous limitation because none of us frequented crowded theaters. Now that social media formats are ubiquitous, however, do the same limits apply? Do our social media first amendment rights still end where we express a lie that physically endangers a lot of vulnerable people?

If we use the theater example, for social media situations we would ask two questions:

  1. Is the statement false?
  2. Does it physically endanger a lot of vulnerable people?

The second question is addressed in the Twitter policy that prohibits the promotion of violence. That leaves the first question unanswered, which seems to be the sticking point for Facebook.

So, for all you Facebook users, remember–it is the right of every American citizen to spread lies. (Just don’t yell ‘Fire’ in a crowded theater.)

Culture War

Our side is corrupt, but the other side is more corrupt.

According to the New York Times:

Mr. Alexander (Republican Senator Lamar Alexander) said Friday during an interview in his Capitol office. “For the Senate to tear up the ballots in this election and say President Trump couldn’t be on it, the country probably wouldn’t accept that. It would just pour gasoline on cultural fires that are burning out there.”

Earlier in the morning, I was reflecting on the “cultural fires that are burning out there.” As I wrote in my book, American public schools teach three virtues (understanding, strong character, and generosity), and three vices:

  1. lack of imagination (Sit down, shut up, and don’t ask too many questions.)
  2. fear of truth (Democracy is the best form of government.)
  3. pride (Be proud of yourself, your country, your state, and your school.)

When I go to the polls next November, I will remember that we are engaged in a culture war. What is that about democracy being the best form of government? Does it apply to countries in which voters are taught to be unimaginative, fearful of truth, and proud?

Next November’s results will be a verdict on public schooling in America. And I won’t need to know a thing about students’ test scores.

Incentives and education

Our side is corrupt, but the other side is more corrupt.

Sixteen days ago, I returned from a Road Scholar tour of Cuba, one of 4 Communist countries. China, Russia, and North Korea are the others. Yesterday I said to my wife:

I noticed that in Cuba there is little incentive to produce things to improve their economy. In our capitalistic society, however, there is always the same incentive–to get more money for one’s self.

I must clarify. When I say economic incentives are lacking in Cuba, I am not saying Cubans lack incentives to improve their quality of life. Our tour group met many Cubans doing just that. It means their economy is not stimulated in the way our economy is–by the incentive to get more money for one’s self.

Here is how Steven Brill (Tailspin, 2018) describes America’s recent economic trends in the chapter entitled, “Casino Country:”

We should remember that the innovators of what became the short-term-obsessed, casino economy were not villains. With some exceptions, the world does not divide that simply into black and white. Joe Flom, his raider-clients, the stock buy-back engineers, Lew Ranieri and Blythe Masters, even Angelo Mozilo, didn’t set out to do harm, let alone create a crash that cost America $20 trillion in lost gross domestic product and boosted the have-a-lots far above everyone else. Even those who broke the law didn’t wake up in the morning determined to destroy the economy so they could make money. They simply responded–many with trailblazing ingenuity–to the incentives put in front of them and the culture of the times. Change the incentives and change the culture and the genius of their successors can be redirected. Short-termism, which has been so devastating to so many Americans, is not immutable. (p. 85)

So, dear educators:

Who is going to change the incentives? Who is going to change the culture? Brill (2018) claims the capitalists who made millions by crashing the economy were not villains. He says they were just incentivized to make more money. And he says they responded to economic conditions with “trailblazing ingenuity.”

Really? These imaginative geniuses had no idea of the harm they were doing to others? They did not think they were stealing from others? Where did they think their money was coming from? It looks to me like Brill felt a need to fudge his description so he could promote capitalism, while telling a story about its evils.

Or maybe I missed something. Maybe I missed the news accounts of how Joe Flom, his raider-clients, the stock buy-back engineers, Lew Ranieri, Blythe Masters, or Angelo Mozilo gave back some of their imaginatively gained millions of dollars. If they are so imaginative, and they are not villains, surely they want to give some back. Oh–I forgot–they are not incentivized to give back. They are incentivized to get all the money they can for themselves. And, evidently, they are not incentivized to care about others.

So, how does the argument go–the one about how capitalism is good and communism is bad? If you believe selfishness is our human nature, you can make that argument with glee. On the other hand, if you believe selfishness is our uneducated human nature, but generosity is our educated human nature, you can’t make that argument.

Educators must start teaching the six virtues of the educated person. Our capitalist economy depends on it. Even Steven Brill says so.