Tag Archives: First Amendment

Now THIS Is An Abuse Of Police Power

The trooper is on to something...it is amazing how persuasive a sermon can be when it's backed up by a gun...

The trooper is on to something…it is amazing how persuasive a sermon can be when it’s backed up by a gun…

According to the complaint filed in a U.S. District Court, Indiana State Trooper Brian Hamilton stopped Ellen Bogan to give her a ticket,proceeded to grill her on whether she had yet accepted Jesus Christ as her savior, and then gave her a pamphlet to help her see the light.

Quite reasonably, Ms Bogan felt coerced and was ready to swear that she had the Bible tattooed on her back if hse had to get away from the Preacher Policeman After the prolonged stop, Trooper Hamilton said “God bless you,” which was nice, and then went on to find other motorists to proselytize at gunpoint.

This is what the First Amendment to the Constitution is concerned about when it prohibits the state from interfering with citizens’ free exercise of religion. It’s wonderful that Trooper Hamilton is a good Baptist and all, but he is in the wrong line of work, and needs to have a forced occupation change immediately. A badge doesn’t give him the right to use his authority as a police officer to bully motorists into endorsing his favorite brand of Christianity. In fact, the badge, the gun and the nature of his employer take that right away from him while he’s working.

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Pointer: Fred.

 

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Filed under Citizenship, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Religion and Philosophy, Rights

Free Speech vs. Ethics: Goddard College and the Cop-Killer Commencement Speaker

Next gig for the Cheshire home invaders: Commencement honors at Goddard?

Next gig for the Cheshire home invaders: Commencement honors at Goddard?

Convicted  cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal was the commencement speaker at Goddard College, in Plainfield, Vermont today, having been chosen by graduating students. He is a controversial figure, convicted in the 1981 slaying of Officer Daniel Faulkner, sentenced to death, and eventually sentenced to  life in prison without parole after a long legal battle.  Abu-Jamal’s speech was prerecorded by Prison Radio and broadcast.

Goddard is not your typical college. It is liberal/radical even by current college standards. Students design their own curriculum. It holds 20 commencement ceremonies each year so students in each degree program can have personalized graduations. Abu-Jamal, himself a political radical, received a bachelor of arts degree from the college in 1996, completing his coursework by mail. Before the killing, Mumia was a member of the Black Panthers. While imprisoned he has become a cultural icon to the radical left as an activist against institutional racism.

As you would expect, a lot of people have problems with Mumia receiving this honor. Maureen Faulkner, the widow of the officer killed by Abu-Jamal, condemned Goddard’s decision.The Vermont Troopers Association issued a statement saying that it was “ outraged that Goddard College is hosting a man who shot and killed a police officer.”  But Goddard is proud as punch that its students chose the convicted murderer. Said the acting President:

“As a reflection of Goddard’s individualized and transformational educational model, our commencements are intimate affairs where each student serves as her or his own valedictorian, and each class chooses its own speaker. Choosing Mumia as their commencement speaker, to me, shows how this newest group of Goddard graduates expresses their freedom to engage and think radically and critically in a world that often sets up barriers to do just that.”

Well, that’s one way of interpreting it. Or, we might justly conclude that the graduates of Goddard have been taught to have contempt for decency, justice, law enforcement and the legal system, and since they admire murderous criminals, might see nothing wrong with being one. Ask me if I want to hire anyone with  a Goddard degree. Go ahead. Ask.

Naturally, defenders of Mumia’s honor think it is perfectly acceptable because it embodies the principle of free speech. I’m not sure it does….not at all. Unpopular speech embodies free speech. Encouraging popular and offensive speech by someone who is not worthy of emulation embodies bad taste, dubious values and anti-social priorities. Show me that Goddard students would welcome speeches by Ted Cruz, Bill O’Reilly, Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney, and then I’ll accept that the campus is supportive of free speech.

Meanwhile, why stop with Mumia? Why not have that Isis guy who beheaded the American journalist speak at commencement, with his hood, of course? Surely that would expresses graduates’ freedom to engage and think radically and critically in a world that often sets up barriers to do just that. How about the Cheshire home invasion killers, Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky, who raped the family’s young girls and mother before burning their house down around them? If it’s free speech to allow the scum of the earth speak at a commencement, if someone is crazy enough to want to listen to them, let’s really go for it.

That doesn’t make it right, however. All allowing Mumia to speak at commencement shows me is that the students are exercising their rights to promote freedom of expression, and doing so in a context and manner that is less dignified, justified, respectful or reasonable than having the honor delivered by a circus performer who communicates in farts, Carrot Top, or Honey Boo Boo. It shows me that the culture created by Goddard is toxic, and that the students who graduate from there without sufficient resistance to its influence will range from useless to annoying to dangerous.

Their parents must be so proud.

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Sources: Washington Post, Huffington Post, Philly

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Filed under Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights

Ethics Quote of the Week: Ken White of Popehat

First Amendment“…Our freedoms are recognized or denied based on court rulings. Our understanding of those court rulings often derives from media coverage of them. When we do a lousy job of covering law, or when we put up with journalists doing so, we’re doing a lousy job as citizens.”

—-Attorney-Blogger Ken White, after meticulously exposing how the media, old and new, completely misrepresented a Texas court’s striking down  an overly broad statute as protecting “upskirt” photographs.

Ken White has delivered another masterpiece, expertly debunking the news media’s criminally ignorant analysis of a Texas Court opinion. I must admit, when I saw the headline “Texas Court: Ban on ‘Upskirt’ Photos Violates First Amendment Rights” and its ilk around the web, I just assumed that reporters were being sensational and dumb as usual, and moved on to other things. Thank goodness Ken was on the case, and properly flagged the danger in lawyers reacting this way. We have a tendency as a profession to think, “Well, there they go again, completely misunderstanding the law, poor dears” when we should be working overtime to set the record straight. I admonish my seminar attendees for doing this regarding the public’s distorted view of legal ethics, and fell into the same trap myself.

Ken’s dissection of the flat-out wrong reporting on this case is frightening: it is clear that most reporters are incapable of understanding what court opinions mean, yet there they are, writing nonsense and making the public more ignorant, not to mention making them think taking upskirt photographs is legal and constitutionally protected.

Counselor White has had a busy year that has kept him from providing his usual volume of daily enlightenment. He is back in top form, and we should all be grateful.

 

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Filed under Citizenship, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, The Internet

Knock-Out Punches, Murder and Political Correctness Bullying: Let’s Play “SPOT THAT DECEIT!”

Game show set

I am fascinated by deceit, and not just because I live near Washington, D.C., where it is the official tongue. It is fascinating because deceit is often the most effective kind of lie, tricking a listener or a reader  using their own assumptions, desires, misplaced trust or inattentiveness against them by stating a literal truth to imply an actual falsehood. Most of all, deceit is fascinating because so many people, including those who employ it habitually, think that it isn’t a lie at all.

This morning I found three wonderful examples of deceit, brought to our attention by three distinguished bloggers, so let’s play the challenging, exciting and never-ending game that’s sweeping the nation…

Spot That DECEIT!

Let’s warm up with something easy…

1. The NFL Deceit

Law prof-blogger Ann Althouse found it difficult to believe that the NFL hadn’t seen the videotape showing Baltimore Ravens stat Ray Rice knocking out his fiancee with a well-aimed punch before it gave him his first, absurdly light punishment, though the official spokesperson yesterday said…

“We requested from law enforcement any and all information about the incident, including the video from inside the elevator.That video was not made available to us and no one in our office has seen it until today.”

OK, audience…

Spot That DECEIT!

Continue reading

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Ethics Quote of the Month: Ken White, of Popehat

JohnPaulJones

“Civility is not weighed equally with free speech. It is not a prerequisite of free speech. It is a value, an idea, to be tested in the marketplace of ideas with other vales. Free speech is often uncivil. Lenny Bruce was uncivil. “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” was uncivil. “I have not yet begun to fight” was uncivil. “I called you naughty darling because I do not like that other world” was uncivil. “Now, if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children and with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments, I submit; so let it be done!” was uncivil. The equality of all humans regardless of station has always been a deeply uncivil idea, because “civil” usually means “that which makes me comfortable.” Comfortable people paint nice watercolors but otherwise don’t accomplish much.”

Ken White, First Amendment lawyer, wit, philosopher and blogger par excellance, in a masterful dismembering of a sinister  email about free speech sent to Berkeley students, faculty, and staff by U.C. Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks .

An equivocating, double-talking, free-speech degrading college administrator attempts to warp our nation’s values in the minds of the young, and Ken exposes the university’s censorious and timid soul for the dangerous fraud and the disgrace to intellectual freedom that it is.

As Carly Simon said once about James Bond, nobody does it better.

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Filed under Education, Etiquette and manners, Rights, U.S. Society

Quote of the Week: Joan Rivers

joan-rivers-giving-finger1

 

AHHHHGGGGGRRRRRhhhrrrah….

Comedienne Joan Rivers, 81, in her reported final words before expiring yesterday.

Just kidding.

Too soon?

Joan Rivers would rate Ethics Hero status if I did not have a philosophical objection to calling someone a hero because everyone else is a weenie. Yes, Rivers spouted off whatever outrageous, impolitic, offensive thing that materialized in her nimble brain regardless of who it might offend, as long as she felt someone, or a critical mass of someones, would find it funny. That is the proper mindset for any professional comic, but it has become both a rare and dangerous one, as we regularly see comedians grovelling in remorse as soon as sufficient numbers of well-placed critics designate a joke as “insensitive.”

Rivers, whom I can never recall making me laugh for a second, served an important cultural purpose while she was alive, as do Jackie Mason, Mel Brooks and Don Rickles, perhaps the last remaining in-your-face comedians from the days when funny was all that mattered, and careers weren’t ended  by stepping just a little too far over the line, or even a lot too far. Her successors, like Sarah Silverman and Lewis Black, don’t count: they are vicious toward whatever group or groups their audience deems deserving of abuse, and only them. In the end, it is likely that the only clowns with the license that Rivers enjoyed will be animated cartoons, like Peter Griffin(“The Family Guy”) and Homer Simpson. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Etiquette and manners, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Professions, Rights, U.S. Society

Ethics Quiz: The Strange Case Of The 2902 School Shooting Victim

Who knows what dark thoughts lurk in the imagination? And does it matter?

Who knows what dark thoughts lurk a teacher’s imagination, unless he tells us? And should  it matter if he does?

Patrick McLaw, an eighth grade language arts teachers at Mace’s Lane Middle School in Cambridge, Maryland, has been placed on indefinite administrative leave by the Dorchester County Board of Education and the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office. This measure was taken after it was discovered that McLaw had serveal aliases, two of which he has used to write novels. One of those novels was about the largest school shooting in the country’s history, set in the year 2902.

Because these books terrified parents, apparently, Dorchester County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Henry Wagner felt it necessary to announce that  the Dorchester County Board of Education had moved swiftly, saying, “We have advised our community that the gentleman has been placed on administrative leave, and has been prohibited from entering any Dorchester County public school property.” That’s not all that happened. McLaw was taken into custody for an “emergency medical evaluation.” The same day,police swept Mace’s Lane Middle School for bombs and guns.

This sounds like a Kafka novel. Of course, if Kafka had been a middle school teacher in Cambridge Maryland, parents probably would be afraid that he was going to turn their kids into cockroaches.

How can this hysterical reaction to a teacher’s novel be justified, legally, logically or ethically?

Your Labor Day Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz  involves yet another possible variation on “The Naked Teacher Principle”:

Is there an “Alarming Novelist-Teacher Principle” ?

Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Education, Government & Politics, Quizzes, Rights, Workplace