RE: virus: Real ethics

Gifford, Nate F (
Mon, 10 Nov 1997 18:36:15 -0500

From: David McFadzean[]
Sent: Monday, November 10, 1997 4:32 PM
To: Gifford, Nate F
Subject: RE: virus: Real ethics

At 02:46 PM 11/10/97 -0500, you wrote:
> ----------
> David McFadzean wrote
> >At 12:34 PM 11/10/97 -0500, William Roh wrote:
> >>upper hand on everyone else. I pitty the Black islamic man
who is
> >>anywhere near a robery when the cops are looking for the
bad guy.
> >I didn't know you Americans had a law that said black
islamic men
> >are guilty of all proximal crimes. That certainly doesn't
> >(Or maybe you're confusing law with enforcement :)
> There are several levels of abstraction here Dave .... and
I'm not
>sure if you're playing devil's advocate - in which case I have
other things
>to do - or you have a point - in which case make it please - or
you really
>are as naif as this thread indicates - in which case - educate
>hand the group over to Brodie and go live on 8K per year for a year
or two.
>Don't forget to visit the public health system without insurance
during that

I don't know what you think I said, but you are so far off base I
don't think I'll dignify your rant with a response.

My point is that unless their is a law that black men should be
unfairly, the fact that they are should not be taken as evidence
the law is unfair. Understand?

Right, and I think where we disagree is that "the law" is what you
have on the books. The TV show "Law & Order" does a fair job of going
through the various levels of abstraction .... initially you have the
application of the law .... where the detectives use what might be
considered "Unfair" tactics to get information .... then you have the trial
side where the prosecution does their number .... sometimes the show is
based on the prosecution screwing the little guy and sometimes the show is
based on the prosecution being outgunned ... and sometimes all the conflict
is on the enforcement side .... anyway the denouement is generally "Was
justice served?"

Your original point was is there room for "ethics" in the law?.. and
I claim that while the law may be partially based on "ethics" ... it is
based on ethics in whatever way the law makers take ethics into account
while drafting the law - HA!. Once the law is on the books we are looking
at a meme complex called .... the legal system. My assumption that the
legal system is a meme complex instead of something more objective may be
the root of my religious fervor on the issue. Your view of the complex
depends on how it infects you ... and those routes of infection depend on
your class.

The idea I'm trying to communicate impinges on Wade's latest
contention that memes are objective entities that can be studied in situ.
It may be possible to isolate some neuro-physiological process called "law"
in both a judge and a crack dealer. But, I claim the structure of that
process will be completely different in the two. This is based on
conversations I've had with people whose conception of civics was a lot like
Piaget's principle of conservation in pre-schoolers. In Society of the Mind
Minsky relates that one of his cognitive psych friends ran the experiment of
pouring water from a short thick glass into a tall skinny glass on his
daughter. His daughter answered "I don't have conservation yet, but my
brother Billy does." The point was that she still believed that the tall
glass would hold more ... but in a meta way she believed that "when she got
conservation" she would quit believing that. My point is that while some
laws ... particularly those based on the golden rule ... are undoubtedly
fair. But most of the body of law is based on HOW THE LEGISLATORS CLAIM
THEY WANT TO BE TREATED <done unto> .... and not how the person that does
the crime wants to be treated. Examples:

1) Abortion - Pro Choice: if my mom hadn't wanted me then I think she
should have had the right to an abortion. Pro Life: wonder if Mary had
decided to have an abortion instead of giving birth to the christ child.
2) Gun Control - Pro Gun: I want to carry a weapon, and if you don't
that's your choice. Pro Control: Arming the world makes the world that much
more dangerous.
3) Euthanasia - Pro: We talked about it and I killed him. I hope
someone does the same for me when I'm that bad off. Anti:Just because
someone is completely paralyzed doesn't mean they don't want to live ...
just look at Christopher Reeve.
4) Vegetarianism: Pro: Meat is murder. Anti: Meat tastes good; Animal
Rights: Pro: All animals have equal value. Anti: Humans RULE!

All these are examples where people are on the opposite site of a cognitive
divide ... so if your ethical standard is the golden rule then someone is
going to think the law is unethical. Unlike conservation I don't think that
you eventually grow into one view or the other ... it depends on the sum of
your experience. Where ethics and justice come into it is where class comes
into it. It would not be a problem for me to: A) Get my wife a European
abortion if thats what she wanted. B) Come up with some ruse for legally
carrying a gun ... even though Ohio does not have any provision for me to
legally carry a concealed weapon. C) Take my ailing parent to Dr. Kevorkian
if thats what they wanted. D) Live a vegetarian lifestyle. If I were dirt
poor A) Medicare will no longer pay for an abortion. B) I probably couldn't
even afford the cost of a carry permit in a state that sold them <Divide the
cost of the carry permit by the minimum wage .... > C) Well ... its not like
the system would be keeping my Daddy artificially alive if I couldn't pay
for it ... D) When The Man <tm> is using my bones to make his bread what do
I care about some damn cow?

Final point: The cops who beat Rodney King were not guilty of assault ...
but were guilty of violating his Civil Rights....what was that all about?
It seems that those are two bullshit laws compounding to make something that
looked "good" but seemed to leave a "bad" taste in everyone's mouth.

Have I missed the point again?