Chevron issues what is undoubtedly one of the worst apologies in the history of terrible apologies, in the form of an expiring coupon for a large pizza and a two-liter, after a fracking-related explosion:
When the tiny town of Bobtown, Pa. was stirred by an explosion at a nearby Chevron fracking site last week, residents feared toxic chemicals were being released into the air as a fire raged for five days.
The Feb. 11 explosion was so intense that it shook the ground in Bobtown and left Ian McKee, a contractor working at the well, missing and presumed dead, says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
That sounds bad, of course, but nothing says apologetic and “responsible member of this community” like the Special Combo at Bobtown Pizza.
HT: Scott Hammond.
how does Socrates argue that doing what is unjust actually harms the doer of the injustice most of all? How does he convince even Callilces that this is in fact true?Anonymous
Wow; thanks for this great question about Socrates, Callicles, and injustice!
It’s sort of weird that you sent it to me at 12:30 this morning, since your three-page paper was due in Mr. Dobie’s philosophy class at La Salle University yesterday.
You’re going to be assessed a lateness penalty, Anonyous. According to your instructor, it’s a third of a letter grade for each day that your paper is late.
Of course, there might also be a penalty assessed if you ask another professor and then just use his answer, as you seem to be doing here …
My advice on this topic would probably have been more helpful to you a week or two ago: Read Plato’s Gorgias, pay attention in class, and go to office hours with your questions.
I’m not going to do your homework.
Via the Terrible Apologies blog:
Chief Mark Kessler is an actual Gilberton, Pennsylvania police chief currently getting YouTube famous for dropping f-bombs and blasting gunfire all over the rural landscape. By the way, his colorful use of the language is most definitely Not Safe For Work, so be careful about where you watch these admittedly hilarious videos.
1. Leaving aside the fact that it’s a fake apology, this is almost certainly the worst apology ever.
2. These are your tax dollars at work, Gilberton, PA residents.
HT: D. Harland Harris.
Kessler points out that he’s not doing anything illegal; he has the freedom to curse on YouTube as much as he’d like and it’s apparently not illegal to randomly fire these sorts of weapons where he lives.
But that doesn’t mean he’s not a complete moron, which he plainly is.
The owner of an historic inn in Pittsburgh has brought charges against a former tenant she says was supposed safeguard 50 bottles of vintage whiskey valued at more than $100,000 but drank it all instead.
The owner of the South Broadway Manor Bed and Breakfast, Patricia Hill, found 104 bottles of Old Farm Pure Rye Whiskey when she bought the historic mansion and converted it into a bed and breakfast ….
The Old Farm Pure Rye Whiskey was part of a collection of historical whiskey believed to have been consumed by Henry Frick and Andrew Carnegie in the early 1900s in Pittsburgh, Rick Bruckner, the chef at the South Broadway Manor.
"Historical whiskey … uhhhHHHhhrghhhuuuuHHHggrruhhhHHhh …"
HT: Tom Scotto.
With the penalties handed down by the NCAA today, it seems we can finally focus on what really matters to us … namely whether or not Penn State’s suffering is sufficient.
A great many people seem content, especially since these unprecedented penalties are actually a whole lot worse than the poorly-named “death penalty” that some thought would be levied against the football program. Indeed, Jason Whitlock — pleased the NCAA demonstrated that it has some integrity left — writes:
The sanctions cripple Penn State football. The four-year bowl ban, four-year scholarship reductions and the freedom granted to current players to transfer immediately without penalty or simply decline to play while maintaining their scholarships will make Penn State the Vanderbilt of the Big Ten. The reduction to Vanderbilt’s level of competitiveness is likely permanent. It’s going to take two decades for Penn State football to recover.
Others are not as pleased as Whitlock, though they are largely members of the Penn State community:
"By essentially taking away the main pillar of the university, you are almost pulling the university down," former student Ujas Patel told CNN. What really hurts, he said, is taking wins away from Paterno, known affectionately by fans as “JoePa.”
Construction vehicles and police arrived shortly after dawn Sunday, barricading the street and sidewalks near the statue, erecting a chain-link fence then concealing the statue with a blue tarp.
A live video feed posted on the website of the Centre Daily Times of State College showed workers in white hard hats draping a plastic sheet over the statue, preparing for its removal.
Penn State president Rod Erickson said he decided to have the statue removed and put into storage because it “has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing.”
"I believe that, were it to remain, the statue will be a recurring wound to the multitude of individuals across the nation and beyond who have been the victims of child abuse," Erickson said in a statement released at 7 a.m. Sunday.
January 26, 2012: Nike’s Phil Knight speaks at Joe Paterno’s memorial service and explains why Paterno is his hero and has never let him down. This particular line brought a thunderous standing ovation that lasted nearly a full minute: “This much is clear to me: If there is a villain in this tragedy it lies in that investigation, not in Joe Paterno’s response to it.”
July 12, 2012: Phil Knight released “a statement regarding the removal of Joe Paterno’s name from a child care center at Nike’s corporate headquarters. The decision to remove the coach’s name from the facility was made after the results of Louis Freeh’s investigation into the Sandusky allegations were released to the public this morning.” The statement read, in part, “According to the investigation, it appears Joe made missteps that led to heartbreaking consequences. I missed that Joe missed it, and I am extremely saddened on this day. My love for Joe and his family remains.”
I didn’t blame Knight for his remarks back in January, though I didn’t agree with them. Information was incomplete at that time and, though I personally thought it didn’t look good, Knight (and many, many others) stuck by his “hero,” believing what Paterno said.
But Knight is wrong today, flat out. Paterno didn’t “misstep” here and he didn’t “miss” something. He lied and covered up; he enabled the sexual abuse of children for many, many years.
Here is ESPN’s Gene Wojciechowski:
Joe lied. It’s that simple. And that [is] heartbreaking.
Joe Paterno, who for so many decades represented all that was good and honorable in college athletics, lied. Through his teeth.
According to the 267-page Freeh report, Paterno lied — to a grand jury, no less — about his knowledge of a 1998 sexual assault of a young boy (Victim 6) by longtime Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky in a football facility shower.
His lies and, worse yet, his silence from the time of that first reported assault in 1998 helped empower a sexual predator for the next 13 years. Paterno did nothing to stop Sandusky. He was, said former FBI director Louis Freeh, who wrote the report, “an integral part of this active decision to conceal.”
When you are a public figure of Phil Knight’s stature and when you led a public rally in support of his heroic legacy, my sense is that you need to say a good deal more today than “Oops, we missed something here.”
Joe Paterno appears to have played a greater role than previously known in Penn State’s handling of a 2001 report that Jerry Sandusky had sexually assaulted a boy in a university shower, according to a person with knowledge of aspects of an independent investigation of the Sandusky scandal.
E-mail correspondence among senior Penn State officials suggests that Paterno influenced the university’s decision not to formally report the accusation against Sandusky to child welfare authorities, the person said. The university’s failure to alert the police or child welfare authorities in 2001 has been an issue at the center of the explosive scandal — having led to criminal charges against two senior administrators and the firing of Paterno last fall.
Here’s some of what I wrote about Paterno’s moral culpability back in November:
Because he’s famous, because we know a lot about him, Paterno gives us someone upon whom we can focus our anger. In no small part, this because he seems to have done the morally wrong thing in this case by not coming forward himself (and thereby enabling the abuser). But that wrong undoubtedly pales in comparison to the moral and legal wrongs committed by university officials and, most of all, by Sandusky. No one’s going to hold a rally or overturn cars on behalf of the ousted university administrators or former assistant coach because those people are unknown to us, because they seem like replaceable parts, and because — of course — they seem to have committed a series of terrible acts. People will rally and protest for Paterno because they want to contrast him with Sandusky, to be sure, but also because he’s the living incarnation of their beloved football program.
But this isn’t really a football or sports story; it’s a story about rape, abuse, cover-up, and criminal justice. Strangely, with the firing of Paterno, it’s become a sports story that — somewhat predictably — now also includes college students behaving very badly as a result of their love of college sports. But Paterno and football aren’t really at the heart of this story; that seems to me to be more a narrative of convenience. This story is really about those who prey on children and those who fail to recognize the responsibility they have to take action when faced with allegations of rape and abuse; as I think [my friend Steve] Finamore rightly points out, we ignore that central part of the narrative at our moral peril.
A lot of people pushed back about what I thought was a post that actually took it really easy on Paterno; they argued that Paterno shouldn’t be held responsible at all because he had done something by making some sort of report. As we learn more about the cover-up from these email messages and from other sources, those who pushed back against the idea that Paterno was morally responsible for his failure to take a clear stand against rape and abuse will have to come to terms with their defense of the sports icon.
(Source: The New York Times)
When I read about Joe Paterno’s passing this weekend — on two separate occasions, strangely — I found it impossible to separate the coaching legend of so many decades from the sexual abuse scandal of recent memory. For good or ill, one event or choice can fundamentally alter public perception of a person’s life and legacy.
Indeed, this is a central element of the book project on classical heroism that I just finished. The image of ourselves that we want to present to the world isn’t necessarily the one that will actually be presented or accepted, especially if there is some sort of anomalous behavior that doesn’t fit with that image. At bottom, there are only so many decisions we can make in a short lifetime, which is why each decision we make matters a great deal.
Now, it’s almost certainly the case that few people will be able to line up every single decision and say, “Everything you see here tells one complete, clear, and consistent story about me.” But it’s so important to think critically about what we do and say because of the basic fact of our existence. As Shakespeare (5.5.27-29) pointed out, “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage / And then is heard no more.” Macbeth, into whose mouth Shakespeare puts these words, is nearing his own death and is correct that the most basic fact about human beings is that their lives are brief.
But he is wrong about the very next line that he utters, for life is not necessarily “a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing” (5.5.29-31). Macbeth might be somewhat consoled by this conclusion; he has done terrible things to others in his pursuit of power so that his life has turned out to be one that has been lived badly. But each life, however brief, can have great significance if lived well. As Janusz Korczak wrote, “The lives of great men are like legends – difficult but beautiful.”
That the best lives are filled with hardships whose navigation or endurance contributes substantially to their virtue is an idea that runs throughout the stories handed down to us from the Greeks. This is why we continue to find these stories so compelling. And it’s also the reason why we still find the lives of contemporary moral heroes to be so compelling: These are people who assign more weight to living a good life than they do to living a long life and who, as a result, end up risking more than most other people.
In no small part, they do this because they understand the stakes.
If we cling to the false hope that we might somehow stretch out our lives, we fail to recognize the finitude of our choices and thus we fail to imbue each decision or action with the importance that it rightly ought to have. When human beings face the fact of their mortality, when they give up all hope for continued existence, then they are able to think most clearly about the sort of life they want to have lived. It is only in doing so that morally heroic action becomes a possibility.
In thinking about the abuse scandal at Penn State, I think we can make a pretty straightforward argument that a great many people were morally obligated to act and failed to do so. Whether or not Joe Paterno or Mike McQueary fulfilled their legal obligation by reporting what they knew to their superiors at the university, they failed to act when they might have stopped on-going crimes against defenseless children. This is a moral failure.
Moral heroes, by contrast, are those who actively choose the way their lives will unfold and act on behalf of others because they both learned altruistic behavior from a respected model and, rather than accepting the privileged status of a non-victim, can empathize with those who are suffering.
Over the past few years, I’ve written a lot about moral heroism and how it differs from others sorts of heroic behavior. In one of the first papers I’ve published from this on-going project, I consider one case of heroic behavior from amongst the many that might be found from the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Paul Rusesabagina’s heroic struggle to save lives has been told a number of times (cf. Gourevitch 1998 and Rusesabagina 2006) and is also the subject of the acclaimed film Hotel Rwanda. Rather than rehearse the details of his well-known story, I look closely at an unexamined aspect of his efforts. I am interested not only in what Rusesabagina did or how he did it – saving more than a thousand refugees from the violence with little more than his charm, his connections, a telephone, and a well-stocked bar – but in why he was motivated to act as he did during the genocide. When so many others, all across the country, turned their backs on friends, neighbors, and even family members, Rusesabagina repeatedly endangered himself and his own family in an attempt to protect others with whom he had no particularly strong bond.
I argue that Rusesabagina was primarily motivated by an awareness of his own mortality, his personal history, a desire to distance himself from the negative behavior of Hutu like himself, and a strong identification with the Tutsi refugees under his protection. Able to cut through the genocidal rhetoric that gripped so many of his countrymen, he viewed these Tutsi not as a collective group of Others but as individual husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, children, and parents. Just as important was the experience of growing up in a household that placed little value on the Hutu/Tutsi distinction and then creating a similar household himself. Aware of himself as a Hutu from an early age, Rusesabagina was also affected by the injustice of privileging or punishing someone on this basis alone. Given this identification, paired with his recognition that the violence surrounding him would likely claim his life and the lives of his family members, Rusesabagina determined that he should do what he could to help others before he died. This focus on suffering individuals and the understanding that one’s own life is terribly brief ultimately led Rusesabagina to act against the tidal wave of violence in what he viewed as his own small way.
My conclusion has an important connection to the coverage of the abuse scandal at Penn State. Many people are baffled or disgusted by the moral failure of a supposed leader like Paterno and assume they would have acted differently; others are so troubled by Paterno’s failure that they want to suggest the problem is systemic and tied to the place of athletics at American universities. The most honest among us are asking how they would have acted if they found themselves in such a difficult and ugly situation.
My answer to all of these people is that moral heroism doesn’t arise from nowhere. Rusesabagina’s story highlights the ways in which people can be primed to act heroically, even when it’s clearly going to be very costly to do so. With that in mind, I end by arguing that it’s important to tell the stories of those who did what they could to help others, even if they were ultimately much less successful in accomplishing what they set out to do. For in celebrating moral heroism of any kind we might motivate others to act heroically, whether in a similar situation to Rusesabagina’s or a world away from such life-or-death choices.
That said, more than simply telling these stories, it is also necessary to look closely at the motivation behind the courageous actions of men like Rusesabagina. In doing so, we can learn a great deal about heroism and we can untangle heroic behavior from extraordinariness. In general, it is difficult for most people to believe Rusesabagina’s claim that he is an ordinary man, just as it is difficult not to feel awed in his presence. His actions, on the surface, seem too extraordinary. And, indeed, in looking closely at the man behind those actions, it seems clear that Rusesabagina was quite different –- even before the genocide –- than a great many of his countrymen. He was far less willing to adopt an extreme position, and far more tolerant and self-aware, than many were. In this, he was somewhat unusual for his time and place.
But this is not to say that only extraordinary people can act heroically, nor is it to suggest that he is wrong about the way he sees himself. Indeed, there is something extraordinary about Rusesabagina’s ordinariness. Rather than seeming remote from the rest of us, his example can help us to think about how we might act in his place. If an ordinary man can act so heroically, might we also be capable of it? Fortunately, for most of us, a terrible situation that calls for such heroism is unlikely to arise. But if it did, most of us would like to think that we would not be so quick to trade our values for a bit of comfort or even for an extra few hours, days, or years of life; instead, we would stand up for others. While we might never face such a test, the way to be sure we could pass it seems clear. We can follow the example put forward by people like Paul Rusesabagina by working toward greater personal identification with those who initially seem unlike us, thinking critically about the values that have been instilled in us by our families, and making choices that take into account the kind of life we want to live in the limited amount of time we have.