Remember Justin Carter? Last I checked, he was being tried for making a joke on Facebook, because of the culture of fear and speech monitoring created by the irresponsible hysteria over guns and terrorism. He faces prison time. That this is a freedom-suffocating societal illness that threatens any and all of us is chronicled in Ken White account, and accompanying commentary, on the astonishing mistreatment of Bergen Community College Professor Francis Schmidt by the school, which was sent into a frenzy of terror because he posted to Google+ “a cute picture of his young daughter wearing a Game of Thrones t-shirt in a yoga pose next to a cat.” Inside Higher Ed reports what happened next: Continue reading
Tag Archives: First Amendment
In a jaw-dropping post on Gawker-–I would suspect link bait if this wasn’t a disturbing trend-– a supposedly (formerly?) reputable journalist argues that anyone who challenges global warming orthodoxy should be prosecuted as a criminal. Here is Adam Weinstein making a fool out of himself (actually, only a fool could write such crap), and doing it by quoting as an authority the absurd Prof Lawrence Torcello, whose earlier advocacy of punishing global warming skeptics I wrote about in this post. Weinstein:
Those denialists should face jail. They should face fines. They should face lawsuits from the classes of people whose lives and livelihoods are most threatened by denialist tactics. Let’s make a clear distinction here: I’m not talking about the man on the street who thinks Rush Limbaugh is right, and climate change is a socialist United Nations conspiracy foisted by a Muslim U.S. president on an unwitting public to erode its civil liberties. You all know that man. That man is an idiot. He is too stupid to do anything other than choke the earth’s atmosphere a little more with his Mr. Pibb burps and his F-150′s gassy exhaust. Few of us believers in climate change can do much more—or less—than he can.
Nor am I talking about simple skeptics, particularly the scientists who must constantly hypo-test our existing assumptions about the world in order to check their accuracy. That is part and parcel of the important public policy discussion about what we do next. But there is scientific skepticism… and there is a malicious, profiteering quietist agenda posturing as skepticism. There is uncertainty about whether man-made climate change can be stopped or reversed… and there is the body of purulent pundits, paid sponsors, and corporate grifters who exploit the smallest uncertainty at the edges of a settled science.
I’m talking about Rush and his multi-million-dollar ilk in the disinformation business. I’m talking about Americans for Prosperity and the businesses and billionaires who back its obfuscatory propaganda. I’m talking about public persons and organizations and corporations for whom denying a fundamental scientific fact is profitable, who encourage the acceleration of an anti-environment course of unregulated consumption and production that, frankly, will screw my son and your children and whatever progeny they manage to have.
Those malcontents must be punished and stopped.
Fundraising Ethics Controversy in Michigan! Naming Buildings After Big University Donors: Ethical or Not?
I worked in the development (capital fundraising) office of Georgetown University for many years, and am well aware of the sausage-making that goes into attracting big donations. Thus the controversy that recently erupted in Michigan is of interest both for its ethical content and the way it dances around inconvenient truths.
With the college student’s wonderful knack for avoiding the obvious, the student newspaper of Grand Valley (Michigan) State University declared ethics war on what it called “billboards”: buildings and lecture halls named after corporate and individual donors. With naivete and boundless ignorance of the world of philanthropy and non-profit fundraising, the editorial declared (among other things)…
- “What’s next? Will we turn Lake Huron 133 into the “Amway Lecture Hall?” Will the backs of our chairs have plaques dedicated to the lower-level donors?” COMMENT: For enough money, of course the university would rename the hall. Why should it care what a lecture hall is called, if it can avoid having to raise tuition? As for the backs of seats: did the editors do any research at all? Opera companies, theaters, museaums and other non-profit entities do exactly this. So what?
I say “suddenly” because I always thought of censorship and mind-control as Big Brother, “1984″ stuff, the tools of fascism and totalitarian dictators. Yet for several years, the primary calls for impeding open debate and limiting the tools that facilitate it have been coming from the left. No labels. No “eliminationist rhetoric.” Ban “retarded.” Ban “nigger.” Now a best-selling feminist, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, has launched a fatuous campaign to ban the word “bossy,’ on the theory that it is wielded against incipient female leaders and crushes their spirits and aspirations. (I would counter that any girl who can’t stand up to a word isn’t a very promising leader to begin with.) Unable to mold human nature to its liking with reason, facts and persuasion, the increasingly popular tactic seems to be removing the ability to engage in the kinds of thinking and conduct that liberals, with varying justification, find repugnant. Linguists have shown that ideas that can’t be expressed are difficult to form, much less argue for. Eliminate bigotry, bias, inequality, and social injustice by making them impossible to articulate, and then even conceive! Brilliant!
Now Lawrence Torcello, an American philosophy professor with a Ph.D. from the University at Buffalo, has published an essay in the academic website The Conversation arguing that dissent about climate change and the human role in it is so sinister that it “ought to be considered criminally negligent.” Continue reading
1. As we now know, Governor Brewer vetoed AZ SB1062, the so-called “religious freedom” bill that was widely (and accurately) interpreted as support for discrimination against gays. In the previous post, I suggested that her delay in doing so sent a message that was as hostile to gays as the law itself: if she felt the law was ethically wrong, then she should have and would have announced that she would not sign the bill long ago. Instead, she waited to see how much economic damage the law would do to the state, and then vetoed it, not because this was the right ting to do, but because it was the pragmatic thing to do. (As the satiric Borowitz Report put it, “The state of Arizona found itself in the middle of a conundrum today as it awoke to the awkward realization that gay people have money and buy stuff.”) USA Today noted that, to the contrary,”Some political insiders believe Brewer has allowed furor over the legislation to build to thwart social conservatives’ attempts to push a similar bill later.” I doubt it, but if so, Brewer allowed her state and her fellow Republicans to be represented nationally as homophobic for as long as possible to spare herself the inconvenience of vetoing a second bill.
2. Despite the extravagant debate over the bill, almost no commentators actually published the bill’s text in the commentary. The reason appears to be that since the bill is really an amendment of an existing law, it takes a modicum of intelligence to figure out what’s going on. Here it is (the original law is in black; the new text is in blue; what has been removed in the amended version is struck through): Continue reading
Conservatives just can’t help themselves, it seems.
They can’t avoid undermining their historically vital role in counterbalancing the process of societal entropy and the degrading of individual liberty by central state control, by periodically making themselves and their philosophy look so hypocritical and ridiculous that their power to persuade is crippled. One traditional way conservatives ensure that they will be reviled and mocked by anyone under the age of 50, even when the are right, is their addiction to celebrating censorious wackos who seem to have been only recently unfrozen from the glaciers that have imprisoned them since around 1954.
This afternoon I watched with my jaw agape as a panel of “experts” on Fox cheered the ridiculous actions of Judy Cox, who was horrified to see T-shirts sale for in a Utah college town store that sported the images of winsome women in scanty attire—you know, like one can see on television every hour of every day, but more dignified. Judy, who was concerned for the sensibilities of her 18 year-old son (also known as “an adult”) and those like him whose morals will be permanently warped by such images, promptly had a cow:
“Cox said she complained about the window display to a store manager and was told the T-shirts couldn’t be taken down without approval from the corporate office. She then bought all 19 T-shirts in stock, for a total of $567. She says she plans to return them later, toward the end of the chain store’s 60-day return period. The shirts cost about $28 each on the website for PacSun, which sells beach clothes for teenagers and young adults.“These shirts clearly cross a boundary that is continually being pushed on our children in images on the Internet, television and when our families shop in the mall,” Cox said in an email to The Associated Press.”
…and isn’t that a revolting development?
Few things infuriate me more than when unethical conduct by an individual or organization force me to side with the supporters of a position or a cause that I oppose myself. Last year, to cite the most egregious example, I found myself in the same camp with the National Rifle Association, Ted Nugent and worse when anti-gun zealots, uncritically backed by the news media, used dishonest, misleading, irrational and emotional appeals to try to pass more stringent gun ownership regulations on the wave of national horror over the Sandy Hook shooting. Indeed, the more fake statistics and shameless slippery slope arguments (“If we can save the life of only one child…”) that were aimed at guns and law-abiding gun owners, the more I saw the wisdom of Second Amendment absolutism.
Thanks to the exorbitant and irresponsible rhetoric by the likes of Diane Feinstein, Joe Biden, Andrew Cuomo, Piers Morgan, Jim Carrey and others—Don’t tell ME what I “need” to protect my family and home; there’s a possible serial killer on the loose in my Alexandria, Virginia neighborhood at this very moment who has been randomly knocking on doors and shooting people—I no longer trust the government to make rational decisions that affect my options as a potential gun owner. Good work, guys. Before you started using kids as props, lying about the number of shootings, and sounding for all the world like a nation trying to make sure only the government could own legal weapons, I was a supporter of more stringent firearms regulations. You lost me. I am officially convinced that we may need guns to protect ourselves against power-abusing people like you.
Now members of Congress are trying to strong-arm Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder into changing the name of his football team, using the power of the government to pressure him, through the National Football League, into bending to their will on a matter that is absolutely none of their business. Great. Now I have to stand shoulder to shoulder with Snyder, whom we in the Washington area know as a spoiled rich kid, a bully, an egomaniac and a meddling fool who has progressively reduced the region’s beloved football team to tragic joke.
And you should stand with him too, if you think our Bill of Rights is worth preserving. Continue reading
Driving along, minding my own business, on the way to picking up some cranberry juice and dishwasher detergent, I chanced to turn on channel 89 on Sirius-XM, where, by no special intent of mine, the baseball show “Power Alley,” with hosts Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette (the latter a former and probably future big league general manager) was covering the A-Rod suspension story, currently the hottest scandal in sports. Ferrin is a baseball commentator, and he was railing about the statement of a lawyer, quoted on the show, that it was Alex Rodriquez’s refusal to testify at his hearing before a union arbitrator that sealed his doom and resulted in his season long suspension by Major League Baseball being upheld.
“What about his Fifth Amendment rights?” Ferrin was saying. “I am very disturbed by this. Rodriguez doesn’t have to testify! He has every right to refuse! I find it very disturbing that we are being told that a man lost his livelihood because he asserted his rights as an American! It’s just wrong!”
At this point, my car is weaving all over the road as I try to find my cell phone to call the show (I had left it at home) and scream. The Fifth Amendment, which among other things protects citizens against compelled testimony against themselves under threat of government action, has nothing to do with Alex Rodriquez and his arbitration hearing—-Mike Ferrin, you incompetent, blathering fool. The Fifth Amendment does not apply to private proceedings, of which a labor grievance arbitration is one. Continue reading
Jennifer Lawrence is a young break-out movie star. She’s talented and charismatic. Now she need to learn that people pay attention to what celebrities think and say, too much so, in most cases, and she either needs to improve her knowledge base to say, 7th Grade level, exercise judgment by not spouting irresponsible and ignorant opinions as if the national media was a typical blog comment thread, or shut up about anything weightier than what it is like to work with her co-stars and what she eats on location.
I point this out because, in a regrettable instance of the aged fool interviewing a newly-minted one, Barbara Walters—who just told Piers Morgan, on the topic of Barack Obama, that “We thought that he was going to be – I shouldn’t say this at Christmastime, but – the next Messiah“—-interviewed Lawrence for Barbara’s upcoming “Most Fascinating People of 2013″ TV special, and Jennifer opined,
“I just think it should be illegal to call somebody fat on TV. If we’re regulating cigarettes and sex and cuss words because of the effect it has on our younger generation, why aren’t we regulating things like calling people fat?” Continue reading
“Guns and Ammo Magazine,” a stalwart of gun rights advocacy, fired contributing editor Dick Metcalf after he penned, and the magazine published, an editorial advocating moderate gun control.
In his opinion piece titled “Let’s Talk Limits,” Metcalf wrote in part,
“Way too many gun owners still seem to believe that any regulation of the right to keep and bear arms is an infringement. The fact is, all constitutional rights are regulated, always have been, and need to be….All U.S. citizens have a right to keep and bear arms, but I do not believe that they have a right to use them irresponsibly.”
The Horror. You would have thought he had come out for legalized cannibalism. Readers attacked the editor and the magazine on social media, and threatened to cancel subscriptions. “Guns and Ammo” editor Jim Bequette posted an apology to readers on the magazine’s website, saying he should never have run the column:
“In publishing Metcalf’s column, I was untrue to that tradition, and for that I apologize. His views do not represent mine — nor, most important, ‘Guns & Ammo’’s. It is very clear to me that they don’t reflect the views of our readership either. I made a mistake by publishing the column,” he continued. “I thought it would generate a healthy exchange of ideas on gun rights. I miscalculated, pure and simple. I was wrong, and I ask your forgiveness.”
Bequette not only announced that “Guns & Ammo” had fired the author, but also that he was leaving as well.
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz for today is…