Morality


 

Moral progress in history lies not so much in the improvement of the moral code as in the enlargement of the area within which it is applied.

— Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, p. 101

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In 1878, railroad millionaire Charles Crocker decided to buy up the lots surrounding his mansion on San Francisco’s Nob Hill to improve his view of the surrounding vistas. He reached agreements with all the neighbors except for German undertaker Nicholas Yung, who refused to sell.

“I would have been happier than a condor in the sky,” Crocker wrote, “except for that crazy undertaker.”

His solution was pure spite: He built a 40-foot fence around Yung’s cottage on three sides, spoiling his view in hopes that he would sell. The fence can be seen behind the central mansion in this photo; only the chimneys of Yung’s house project above it.

“How gloomy our house became, how sad,” Yung’s daughter later wrote. “All we could see out our windows was the blank wood of the rich man’s fury. … The flowers in the garden all died, and our lawn turned brown, while inside the house everything felt perpetually damp.”

Yung held out nonetheless — according to some reports he mounted a 10-foot coffin atop the wall facing Crocker’s house — and the two maintained a senseless deadlock for years. Yung died in 1880 and Crocker in 1888; only then, when the mansion was sold to a new owner, did Yung’s heirs relent and sell their lot.

You didn’t mess with Chuck Crocker!  But my sympathies lie with the Yungs.

Imagine Crocker trying to get his “spite fence” approved by San Francisco’s Planning Commission today.

Via: http://www.futilitycloset.com/



Today is the 25th anniversary of Leon Klinghoffer’s murder by Palestinian terrorists.

Klinghoffer and his wife Marilyn were celebrating their 36th wedding anniversary with a Mediterranean cruise on the liner Achille Lauro.  Palestinians seized the ship, murdered Mr. Klinghoffer, an American Jew, as he sat in his wheelchair, then forced the crew to shove his  body into the sea.  His corpse eventually washed up on the Syrian coast.

The Foreign Secretary of the PLO initially claimed that Mrs. Klinghoffer had killed her husband for the insurance money, but the PLO eventually had to admit responsibility in the face of so many witnesses to the shooting.

Last year, the leader of the terrorists gained early release from an Italian prison “for good behavior.”

Mrs. Klinghoffer, who died of colon cancer a few months after her husband’s murder, must have had incredible strength of spirit.  Her call to her daughters from the Achille Lauro included the admonition,

Do your crying now. We have a lot of work when I come home.”

She did not want her husband’s death to be in vain.  And the Klinghoffers’ daughters, Lisa and Ilsa, still work to keep their father’s memory alive.

Sadly, terrorism is still an accepted tactic in much of the world.  So this 25th anniversary is a reminder that all of us still have a lot of work to do.


Links:  Article on Klinghoffer family

Article on terrorist’s early release

 

 


swastika

star of david

How do you say “irony” in Polish?

Two Polish neo-Nazis who were childhood sweethearts and later became skinheads have discovered what for them is a shocking family secret: They’re actually Jewish.

Pawel and Ola, identified only by their first names, are the subject of a CNN documentary about Poles rediscovering their Jewish roots generations after their ancestors hid their religious identities to escape persecution during World War II.

A few years ago, Ola found out from Warsaw’s Jewish Historical Institute that both she and her husband are technically Jews. “It was unbelievable — it turned out that we had Jewish roots. It was a shock,” she said.

At the time, she and Pawel were active in Warsaw’s neo-Nazi movement. “I was a nationalist 100 percent. Back then when we were skinheads it was all about white power… that Jews were the biggest plague and the worst evil of this world,” Pawel said.

Both 33, they’ve now embraced their Jewish identity and are active in their local orthodox synagogue.

via Neo-Nazi Couple Find Out They’re Jewish.

This is explosive.  So watch the mainstream media ignore or downplay it.

Background: the Dept. of Justice had substantively won a civil rights case for voter intimidation by the New Black Panther Party.  Nonetheless, the Obama DOJ suddenly dismissed the case,  to the consternation of the judge and several career attorneys in the Civil Rights Division of DOJ.

Now, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is investigating whether the DOJ refuses to prosecute violations of voting rights if the victims are white.

The Justice Department is ignoring civil rights cases that involve white victims and wrongly abandoned a voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party last year, a top department official testified Friday. He called the department’s conduct a “travesty of justice.”

Christopher Coates, former voting chief for the department’s Civil Rights Division, spoke under oath Friday morning before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, in a long-awaited appearance that had been stonewalled by the Justice Department for nearly a year.

Coates discussed in depth the DOJ’s decision to dismiss intimidation charges against New Black Panther members who were videotaped outside a Philadelphia polling place in 2008 dressed in military-style uniforms — one was brandishing a nightstick — and allegedly hurling racial slurs.

The case has drifted in and out of the limelight over the past year as the commission has struggled to investigate it. Former Justice official J. Christian Adams fueled the controversy when he testified in July and accused his former employer of showing “hostility” toward cases that involved white victims and black defendants. Nearly three months later, Coates backed up Adams’ claims. In lengthy and detailed testimony, he said the department cultivates a “hostile atmosphere” against “race-neutral enforcement” of the Voting Rights Act.

In general, I think a Republican take-over of the House and/or Senate could help Mr. Obama’s 2012 reelection prospects, due to the potential for triangulation that it would offer him.

However, Republicans in control of either house could hold hearings to investigate matters such as DOJ’s alleged refusal to protect the civil rights of white victims.  Those hearings would be political dynamite.

via FOXNews.com – Voting Rights Official Calls Dismissal of Black Panther Case a ‘Travesty of Justice’.

New studies show that people who are (or feel) physically clean are more inclined to make harsher moral judgments.

The study, with the somewhat Victorian-sounding name of “A clean self can render harsh moral judgment” was conducted by Chen-Bo Zhong at Northwestern University and appears in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Some 58 undergrads were invited to a lab filled with spotless new equipment. Half of the students were asked to clean their hands with antiseptic wipe, so as not to soil the shiny surfaces. Afterward all the students rated the morality of six societal issues — smoking, illegal drug use, pornography, profane language, littering and adultery — on an 11-point scale ranging from very moral to very immoral. Those who’d wiped their hands made far-harsher judgments than those who didn’t.

“Participants who cleansed their hands before rating the social issues judged these issues to be more morally wrong compared to those who did not cleanse their hands,” the researchers report.

In a follow-up study, hundreds of participants were told to read a short passage that began, “My hair feels clean and light. My breath is fresh. My clothes are pristine and like new,” made harsher moral judgments about 16 social issues compared to those primed to feel dirty by reading a passage that read, “My hair feels oily and heavy. My breath stinks. I feel so dirty.”

I’d really like to see this tested cross-culturally  (does the effect appear across cultures?) and over time (how long does the effect last?).

via Clean People Feel Morally Superior | Wired Science | Wired.com.

The love story of Nikolai Bukharin and Anna Larina, and what Stalin did to them and their infant son.

One of the most interesting interviews I’ve ever heard, with the author, Paul Gregory, at: http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2010/07/gregory_on_poli.html

Same day, I ordered the book.

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