Morality and ethics aside…

I’d be lying if I said I don’t have deep misgivings about what appears to be the exercise of increasingly unchecked power by both the federal and state governments. That’s especially true when the discussion turns to the he power of the state to “lock down” people within entire geographic areas or perhaps the entire country. Where it makes perfect sense from a medical or harm reduction standpoint, it creates ponderous questions about due process rights, false imprisonment, and the Constitutional protections Americans enjoy against arbitrary government action. Where government reasonably can require a contagious person into quarantine, does that power also extend to people who aren’t sick? Should it?

I guess you can go ahead and add constitutional scholar and medical ethicist to the long list of things that I’m not.

The morality and ethics aside, I’m wondering at what point people begin to reject medical advice in favor of “living their best life” and rolling the dice. Having spent a lifetime watching people, and Americans in particular, I hope you’ll forgive me if I doubt the average person will be perfectly willing to live under a regime of social distancing, isolation, closures, and economic armageddon for as long as the 18 months or more that Imperial College is speculating it may take for COVID-19 to run its course

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Moral outrage. When you give a television show to a bunch of self-identified conservative rednecks and then get bent out of shape when they say something conservative, I’m not sure you’ve got a lot of room for moral outrage. I have a hard time believing A&E didn’t know what they were getting when they hired the cast of Duck Dynasty. While I personally disagree with a lot of Phil’s philosophy, I fully support his decision to answer questions directly and honestly based on his beliefs. I guess maybe I’m just troubled by a world where a man’s thoughts and opinions need to be vetted through a staff of crack lawyers before he can say them out loud. I disagree with people almost every single day. Somehow I manage to do it in a civil manner and without getting my little feelings hurt when someone doesn’t subscribe to my belief system hook, line, and sinker. Life’s just more interesting when you’ve got people who challenge your assumptions about what’s good, bad, right, and wrong.

2. The First Amendment. All day I’ve been listening to people argue that A&E is violating the 1st Amendment by sidelining Phil Robertson in response to his quote in GQ Magazine. Here’s the hitch: The 1st Amendment was written to prevent the government from interfering with freedom of speech. That leaves private businesses largely free to hire, fire, suspend, fold, spindle, and mutilate their employees in any number of ways based on what they say and do both on the job and during non-duty hours. As long as the company acts in accordance with the law and any contracts in force, they’re basically able to do as they please. Now whether those decisions are good or bad from a moral or business perspective, I’m in no place to judge. In any case, timing it right sure can generate a hell of a lot of free publicity for cable’s highest rated non-scripted show. So just remember that while Uncle Sam might not jump up and stop you from putting your foot in your mouth, with your freedom of speech comes the consequences of that speech.

3. Being in charge. Being a supervisor was one of the biggest reasons I left my last job. Plenty of people have that skill set. Some of them even like it. I don’t on both counts. I’m ill suited to it if by no other reason than by temperament. Even when the dark cloud of supervision rears its ugly head even for a few short hours, I’m reminded intensely why I’ll spend the rest of my career struggling mightily to avoid it.

Celebrating Columbus…

I’m told by today’s endless media loop that celebrating Columbus Day isn’t cool. Blah, blah, genocide, blah, blah, conquest, blah, blah not a very nice man. Blah. Here was a guy who loaded three small wooden ships, pointed them west, and hoped at some point to find land waiting for him on the other side of the ocean before he ran out of food and water.

Christopher_Columbus“But, but,” they say, “He was looking for the Indies and only landed in the Caribbean by accident.” I suppose that’s true… but since I know people who can’t go across town without using their in-car navigation system, Google Maps, and hand written directions, I’m willing to cut the guy some slack considering he decided to cross an ocean using wind power and maps that were, at best, a wild ass guess of what might be out there.

“But, but,” they say again, “He killed all those nice natives.” Yeah, he did that. Can’t deny it. What seems to be forgotten in the discussion is Europe in the 1400s was a regular charnel house. Between the black plague and the Hundred Years’ War, letting the bodies hit the floor in the new world most likely didn’t particularly strike anyone as an unnatural state of affairs. All of our contemporary assessments of Columbus come from a 21st century perspective that is at least a full lifetime removed from any real concept of mass die-offs caused by war and pestilence.

We simply lack a point of reference for what “normal” was in the late 15th century. Even as a student of history, I always had a problem with those in the business who feel the need to apply contemporary morality to historical events. History is all about subtlety and context… and both are completely lacking when we try to hold Columbus to the standards of modernity.

Today, I’m celebrating Columbus Day. If that’s not cool, well, so be it.

I had no idea…

I had no idea how many websites I went to on a daily basis that I didn’t feel I could visit safely while I was stranded using my work laptop for the last week and a half. The good news is that my laptop is back and all the websites of questionable morals are right where I left them. Thank god for those who know how to bring the innards of this infernal box back to life! A computer with a mile-wide Puritanical streak is no fun at all.