Over at the Unz Report, Steve Sailer presents a nice bit on an excercise in SJW-correct moral relativism which backfired:
Whom to Leave Behind?
Instructions: The twelve persons listed below have been selected as passengers
on a space ship for a flight to another planet because tomorrow the planet Earth
is doomed for destruction. Due to changes in space limitations, it has now been
determined that only eight persons may go. …
Your task is to select the Eight (8) passengers who will make the trip. On your
own, take approximately 5 minutes and rank order of the passengers from one to
twelve based on those who you feel are most deserving to make the trip with one
being most deserving and twelve being least deserving.
Next, the entire group will come together and decides [sic] as a group the eight
(8) passengers who will make the trip. PLEASE NOTE: When you make your decision
as a group EVERYONE must agree on the final eight passengers and come to a
consensus. You are NOT allowed to vote or take a ‘majority rules’ decision.
"Deserving" - on what basis? Likelyhood of having humanity survive and procreate? Let's look at the list:
Original passenger list:
____an accountant with a substance abuse problem
____a militant African-American medical student
____a 33 year old female Native American manager who does not speak English
____the accountant’s pregnant wife
____a famous novelist with a physical disability
____a 21-year old, female, Muslim international student
____a Hispanic clergyman who is against homosexuality
____a female move star who was recently the victim of a sexual assault
____a racist armed police officer who has been accused of using excessive force
____a homosexual male, professional athlete
____an Asian, orphaned 12-year old boy
____60-year old Jewish university administrator
Joking aside, as well as the issues Sailer explores about various morals tests demonstrating the willingness of liberals to off "privileged" classes compared to "conservatives" - go read the post, the comments are gold - this is superficially similar to a lifeboat excercise that could easily be found in moral relativism handbooks used in schools and even CCD classes in the 80's. In that case, color and "diversity" checkboxes weren't the issue so much as a "cold equations" kind of setup where someone had to get kicked off the boat, and you had a list of people and as guided by the excercise, were supposed to discover who and what you valued more by who you were willing to sacrifice and save.
Like all such "save one or many" trolley excercises, the fundamental moral assumption is that there is no third way outside the parameters of the excercise - and sure, there are real world scenarios where you may have to decide that your family is more important than a gunman shooting at them, adn shoot the gunman, but in that case, you have a murderer, or one who is at least threatening murder. There is a qualitative moral distinction at play other than quantity having a quality all its own.
The first problem is that a lifeboat situation is rarely as immediate or stark as "the Cold Equations" (and even that was an artifical setup with no other escape hatches) - water can be rigged, fish can be caught, the difference between 6 and 8 people may mean short rations but those can be stretched. Things can be done to try and save everyone.
As one person put it elsewhere:
I remember an exercise like this back in grade school, which would have been the
middle 1970s. It was a lifeboat with ten people and only food for half of them,
or something like that.
I don't recall the particulars, except there was one old rich white guy who
everyone was supposed to vote against. (And predictably we did.)
Everyone except Melissa.
Melissa was, I think, a Quaker. Her family went to a meeting house rather
than a church, I remember, and her mother referred to people as "friends" with
an odd emphasis that in retrospect may have meant members of the Society of
In any event, Melissa would not agree to throw anyone off the lifeboat. She
rejected the entire thesis of the thought experiment (I didn't have the
background to put it in those terms at the time, of course.)
She maintained, and continued to maintain, that it was better that the entire
group die together than for some to live at the expense of the others.
The teacher was livid. Again, looking back I can see how Melissa's position is
destructive to any pragmatic justification of totalitarianism, but at the time
all I knew was that she had her position and she would not back down from it no
matter what. And the teacher turned the rest of the class into a witch hunt,
stirring up the rest of the students into attacking Melissa in the most personal
This is one of my strongest memories from childhood, honestly. By the end of the
class I realized that Melissa was right and the teacher was wrong. I didn't
speak out in Melissa's defense because I was afraid to and I was sure I was the
only one on her side (looking back, that may not have been true.)
The entire frame of these excercises is pragmatism - that people are cogs, some are more useful than others, and that YOU get to decide who lives or dies. While the truth is that sometimes you have to decide to kill, it's the frame, the focus, that is the important part. This excercise starts with the assumption that it's hopeless unless you winnow things down.
You may not be able to save everyone, but starting with such a low standard is guarenteed to ease the slide into moral bankruptcy.
For a real nightmare, consider the Earth First types - who would they consider most useful to perpetuate humanity when winnowing out the majority to save the lifeboat, er, planet?
As to the funnier comments:
At my middle school it is certain we would have set (immediately) to choosing the combination which would slay each other fastest.
You could do what Neal Stephenson did and have 7 broads with BPD populate the stars