Tag Archives: First Amendment

From The Ethics Alarms Double Standard Files: So Apparently A Black Professor Can Be As Racist As She Wants Without Consequences, Correct?

Don't racist professors teach students racism? Just curious...

Don’t racist professors teach students racism? Just curious…

Unqualified GOP Presidential hopeful Ben Carson made one of his most reasonable statements when he defended the right of NASCAR fans to fly Confederate flags during races. Well of course he did, since this is the United States and we have a First Amendment. Except to the most ignorant members of the censorious left, this is literally a no-brainer: even brainless Americans should know better than to argue that flying any flag on private property should be prevented by law.

Ah, but special dispensation is due to racist African American progressive bullies. Thus is is that University of Pennsylvania religious studies professor Anthea Butler, wrote “If only there was a ‘coon of the year’ award …” when responding to a Daily Beast editor’s  tweet containing a link to a Sports Illustrated article on the issue.

Nice. This is per se denigrating Carson based on race, an ad hominem attack and beyond ugly and irresponsible. Sure, Butler has the same right to say what she wants as anyone, except when it reflects on her employer and suggests, as this tweet does, that she cannot be trusted to teach. Is any African American student who dares to question her political correctness orthodoxy risking being called a “coon” by this woman? I’d say so. She is validating racist rhetoric and modelling intimidation for her students and more importantly, the University of Pennsylvania’s students. Is it competent and responsible to employ such a woman? No. Is this within the acceptable range of “academic freedom”? Denigration on the basis of color? I want to hear a university spokesperson admit that, and then to stand up for the first white student who calls the professor a “coon.” Continue reading


Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Professions, Race, Rights, Social Media, Unethical Tweet

Further Notes On “Stuff Happens,” “DO SOMETHING!!!” And The Dishonest, Hysterical And/Or Delusional Anti-Gun “Position”

1) In the clip above, the National Review’s Charles C. W. Cooke asks MSNBC analyst Mark Halperin and “Morning Joe” house progressive Mika Brzezinski to explain what kind of measures would satisfy the hysterical calls of a Morning Joe panel to “DO SOMETHING!!!” about gun violence. Cooke referenced the President’s angry (irresponsible, partisan, useless) attack on Congress’s failure almost immediately after the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, and accused ant-gun forces of acting as if they had solutions to gun violence (that don’t involve trashing the Bill of Rights) when they don’t. [I pointed out in yesterday’s post that they don’t because there aren’t any.] He said to Halperin:

“Joe Biden doesn’t know how to fix this problem. I don’t know how to fix this problem. I think it’s fair to say you don’t know how to fix this problem. It’s a very complex question in a country with 300 to 350 million guns on the street. The way they talk is as if they have the answer and there are these recalcitrant forces in the country that say ‘no, no, no,’ even though deep down they know their legislation will work. That’s simply not the case. It’s far more complicated than that.”

As you will see, Halperin had no actual proposals, ducking the issue by saying that he’s “not an expert in the field.” But he said that he wanted leaders to “have a thirst and hunger and passion to try to come up with solutions.”

I will accept this as a legitimate argument as soon as I hear any plausible solution that does not involve banning guns, making it excessively difficult for law abiding citizens from arming themselves, or engaging in pre-crime measures against citizens who have had episodes of mental illness or who are suspected of having such episodes. The proposals I have heard are incremental and will not accomplish the goal, ergo more obtrusive measures will be proposed and pushed by identical arguments and hysteria, until…we end up banning guns, making it excessively difficult for law abiding citizens from arming themselves, or engaging in pre-crime measures against citizens who have had episodes of mental illness or who are suspected of having such episodes.

Either anti-gun “DO SOMETHING!” advocates like the President, Mika and Halperin know this, intend it and are not being honest about it, or they are naive.

2) Jeb Bush responsibly addressed the impulse to stampede support for ill-considered solutions in the wake of tragedy…

The text:

“Yeah it’s a — we’re in a difficult time in our country, and I don’t think more government is necessarily the answer to this. I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everybody else. It’s just, it’s very sad to see. But I resist the notion, I had this challenge as governor, because, look, stuff happens, there’s always a crisis. And the impulse is always to do something, and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”

You will note that Bush did not shrug off the Oregon shooting by saying “stuff happens.” Nonetheless, the completely principle-free Debbie Wasserman Schultz mischaracterized what Bush said with a fatuous tweet:

“A message for Jeb Bush: 380 Americans have been killed in 294 mass shootings in 2015 alone. “Stuff” doesn’t just “happen.” Inaction happens.”

Inaction regarding what, you shameless hack? What action are you proposing that would actually prevent a shooting like this week’s? Or the Norfolk shooting of the TV reporter? Bush is absolutely correct: bad stuff happens, and that does not mean that the government can or should rush to “DO SOMETHING!” Continue reading


Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

Regarding Gun Violence, CNN’s Alisyn Camerota Can’t Handle The Truth…and She’s Not The Only One.

This morning on New Day, CNN’s Alisyn Camerota this morning hectored and badgered a GOP Congressman—as soon as I find the video, I’ll add his name–on the issue of gun regulations in the aftermath of the most recent mass shooting. Her fevered attitude and rhetoric, combined with the Congressman’s measured responses, should serve as a template for the commentary on future shootings.

It was an infuriating conversation, and like all recent conversations and speeches about guns, including the President’s irresponsible statement following yesterday’s shooting, it springs from an unwillingness to face facts, accept the nature of rights, and to be straightforward about what gun control proposals really mean.

The following are facts. Alisyn Camerota, like the President, and like her partner Chris Cuomo, who opined that anyone opposing gun control was “delusional,” either can’t accept them, or is unwilling to be honest and candid about their implications.

1)  Rights, if they exist and are upheld by the government, will always be abused by some people.

2) The only way to stop people from abusing rights is to end the rights. Continue reading


Filed under Citizenship, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society

Ahmed Mohamed, Justin Carter, And White House Priorities

Wrongly accused Texas kid on the left goes to the White House; wrongly accused Texas kid on the right goes to jail. Explain.

Wrongly accused Texas kid on the left goes to the White House; wrongly accused Texas kid on the right goes to jail. Explain.

Let us stipulate that Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old Texas high school student who was the latest victim of public school cruelty, police incompetence, child abuse, and school-attack hysteria, resulting in an arrest for the Kafka crime of making a “hoax bomb”—that is, a thing that isn’t a bomb and the maker didn’t say was a bomb, but some idiot teacher thought looked like a bomb, and thus assuming  it must have been intended to make idiot teachers think it was a bomb even though even the idiot teachers knew it wasn’t— deserves every kindness and compensatory trip, photo op, meeting and accolade imaginable as a societal apology for being treated like a mad bomber by unethical adults no more qualified to teach the young than they are to fly to Gibralta using their arms as wings.


…So do all the other teens (and younger) who have been treated this badly or worse in recent years—the kids punished for gun-shaped pizza and pastries….or the students who were punished after taking weapons away from fellow students and turning them over to teachers, only to find that they were the caught in the Catch 22 of  “no tolerance” madness, seeded in part by the fear-mongering inflicted on our society by President Obama and his political allies.

Like Ahmed, Justin Carter particularly warranted high-level official mea culpas—remember him? He was another Texas teen who languished in jail for months because he made a joke on Facebook about school shootings. Nobody lifted a finger to help him, because, you see, he wasn’t one of the favored minorities to this administration. Don’t you dare argue that the distinction is that Justin made his “terroristic” comments in the context of a computer game, while Ahmed’s home-made clock was proof of special talents. Typical kids deserve fair treatment as much as budding geniuses.




In a 2013 post titled, If Only Justin Carter Were Black…Or Muslim…, I wrote Continue reading


Filed under Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights, U.S. Society

The Cake And The Clerk: If Living In A Pluralistic And Democratic Society Offends You, It May Be Time To Find Another One

Davis Protest

The kicking and screaming of the anti-gay marriage bitter-enders is becoming a national embarrassment, especially since some of the Republican Presidential candidates can’t seem to resist pandering to them. The social contract in a democracy involves accepting where the system decides to go and following along to the extent the law requires. If we don’t like a law, or a war or a government program, we are free to complain and to try to get them changed, or to pay the price for defying the law as part of the contract. We may not unilaterally declare that the law doesn’t apply to us. No, not even if we think God agrees. He’s not a party to the contract.

This is straightforward and clear. The ethics of citizenship requires it. Two current situations that have had significant developments in recent days illustrate the principle in the breach of it.

The Cake.

Jack Phillips, who is yet another Christian cake baker, lost an appeal that asserted that he had a First Amendment right to refuse to provide a cake for a gay couple to celebrate their wedding. Continue reading


Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Citizenship, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Religion and Philosophy, Rights, Workplace

Jury Nullification Ethics: Denver’s District Attorney Tries To Make It Illegal To Teach Jurors About The Power Of Juries

ZengerIs it just me, or does it seem to everyone as if  a lot of public officials have been trying to shrink the First Amendment lately?

Jury nullification is the doctrine, rich in jurisprudential and American history, that declares that juries have the power and the right to reject what they believe are either unjust criminal laws or unjust prosecutions, and acquit defendants who may have been proven guilty on the evidence, essentially nullifying the law by refusing to enforce it . They definitely have that power: once a citizen is declared not guilty, that citizen cannot be tried again. The dilemma is that neither judges nor lawyers are permitted to let juries know about nullification, since nullification defies the law. A defense lawyer mentioning it in a closing argument risks a mistrial, and bar sanctions. In most jurisdictions, judges instruct jurors that it is their duty to apply the law as it is written whether they agree with the law or not. In only a few states are jurors expressly permitted to judge both the facts and the law of the case. In 2012, New Hampshire passed a unique law explicitly allowing defense attorneys to inform juries about jury nullification.

In Denver this week, Mark Iannicelli, 56, set up a small booth with a sign that said “Juror Info” in front of the city’s courthouse. The Denver District Attorney’s Office has charged him with eight counts of jury tampering, because Iannicelli used that booth to hand out flyers about jurors’ rights to practice jury nullification to jury pool members. Yes, he has been charged with tampering with juries that aren’t even juries yet. Continue reading


Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

When Law Co-Opts Ethics: Florida’s Unconstitutional Pro-Gun Doctor Gag Law Upheld


“See doc? That’s what you get for shooting your mouth off! Get it?”

A federal appeals court this week upheld an NRA-crafted Florida law making it illegal for doctors to ask questions and record information about a patient’s gun ownership. Medical groups had challenged the law, arguing that it infringed on doctors’ First Amendment rights.

Which it does. The law is an outrageous incursion on free speech in order to protect gun owners from unwelcome anti-gun lobbying by their physicians.

Among other restrictions, the law says doctors must refrain from asking about gun ownership by patients or family members unless the they believe in “good faith” that the information is relevant to medical care or safety. It also prevent doctors from discriminating against patients or “harassing” them because of owning firearms, which presumably means that it is illegal for a doctor to tell a patient, “You’re too clumsy to own a gun, and if you blow your damn face off, don’t come crying to me.”

“The purpose of the act, as we read it, is not to protect patient privacy by shielding patients from any and all discussion about firearms with their physicians; the act merely requires physicians to refrain from broaching a concededly sensitive topic when they lack any good-faith belief that such information is relevant to the medical care or safety of their patients or others,” said the 2-1 majority opinion, written by Judge Gerald Tjoflat and joined by Judge L. Scott Coogler.

Dissenting Judge Charles Wilson argued that the law violates the First Amendment rights of physicians:

“Simply put, the act is a gag order that prevents doctors from even asking the first question in a conversation about firearms. The act prohibits or significantly chills doctors from expressing their views and providing information to patients about one topic and one topic only, firearms.”

I don’t see how anyone can dispute that analysis. I especially don’t see how the other two judges dispute it.

Doctors shouldn’t use their position of influence to try to impose their political, social and life-style views on patients. If the American Medical Association wants to declare that to be an unethical abuse of a doctor’s status and a patient’s trust, I wouldn’t complain. The law, however, has no more business telling doctors that they can’t advise their patients that owning guns may be bad for their health or their neighbor’s health than it has making it illegal for doctors to tell patients that Donald Trump is just what this country needs in the White House. What’s next, telling dentists that they can’t tell you about their brilliant kids while they’re poking around your mouth?

The state doesn’t have to get involved in what patients and doctors talk about, shouldn’t, and mustn’t. This is a job for ethics, not law. If a doctor won’t stop telling you that the Second Amendment should be repealed, the remedy is easy: tell him to shut up, or you’ll find a new doctor.

Or just shoot him.


Pointer: Legal Ethics Forum


Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Rights