Tag Archives: First Amendment

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Prof. Glenn Reynolds

 

Obama float

“To even investigate something like that is itself a civil rights violation.”

—-Prof. Glenn Reynolds, the “Instapundit, commenting on the news that the Department of Justice is investigating as a possible civil rights violation the anti-Obama float that appeared in a Nebraska Independence Day parade.

He is correct. This is government intimidation and an attempt to chill political speech. The float was crude and its sentiment was misplaced, but sending government agents to investigate it is indistinguishable from sending the FBI to knock on your door after your letter to the editor  critical of the President appears in the paper.

Where are the liberals who will have the integrity to call this what it is?

I can’t wait to find out.

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights

Political Correctness Delusions #2: The U.S. Military Naming Its Helicopters After Native American Tribes Is A Slur

Military Helicopters 0088

The scourge of political correctness causes many kinds of damage, but the most ominous is that it intentionally greases a steep slippery slope. The effort to constrain private and public expression according to an endlessly versatile definition of “offensiveness”  is a desirable weapon for political activists, grievance bullies, censorious and debate-challenged advocates, weenies, and busybodies. Once one specious argument for strangling another small sliver of free speech succeeds, usually after capitulation in the face of relentless vilification and hounding aided and abetted by the press, this ugly and anti-American faction of the progressive movement just moves on to another target. The process  will never end, although it will get more oppressive, restrictive and absurd. That is, it will never end until a backlash and an outbreak of rationality stops it in its tracks.

The Patent Office’s politically motivated (and doomed) attack on the Washington Redskins was an example of political correctness at its worst, and sure enough, here comes another deluded censor with a related and even sillier grievance. Simon Waxman wrote a jaw-dropping op-ed for the Washington Post arguing that the military’s use of Native American names and works on its helicopters and weaponry is a “slur.” Why, you ask? Because the white man cheated and defeated the Indians using superior fire power, that’s why. Yeah, sure, we pretend to honor their bravery now, but that’s just to salve our guilty consciences.  He blathers…

The message carried by the word Apache emblazoned on one of history’s great fighting machines is that the Americans overcame an opponent so powerful and true that we are proud to adopt its name. They tested our mettle, and we proved stronger, so don’t mess with us. In whatever measure it is tribute to the dead, it is in greater measure a boost to our national sense of superiority. And this message of superiority is shared not just with U.S. citizens but with those of the 14 nations whose governments buy the Apache helicopters we sell. It is shared, too, with those who hear the whir of an Apache overhead or find its guns trained on them. Noam Chomsky has clarified the moral stakes in provocative, instructive terms: “We might react differently if the Luftwaffe were to call its fighter planes ‘Jew’ and ‘Gypsy.’ ”

Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Sports, U.S. Society, War and the Military

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Hillary Clinton On Government Control Of Non-Conforming Viewpoints

mind-control-tests

“I believe that we need a more thoughtful conversation, we cannot let a minority of people — and that’s what it is, it is a minority of people — hold a viewpoint that terrorizes the majority of people.”

—-Hillary Clinton, forcefully inserting her leg in her mouth up to the knee during a CNN town hall as she talked about gun control, and, apparently, the new Democratic-progressive goal of government censorship of words, thoughts and beliefs.

Yup, Hillary really said that we cannot allow a minority to hold viewpoints the majority objects to. Oh, I know: she just said “terrorizes.” But if you can stop people from holding terrorizing viewpoints, there will  no longer be any prohibitions on barring other viewpoints that “the majority” believes are unwise.  This is the progressive paradise, I guess: all dissenting thoughts, opinions and viewpoints banished. I can almost feel the electroshock treatments now.

This is just a gaffe, right? I doubt it. I don’t think someone committed to free speech, open discourse, liberty and pluralism makes such a gaffe. The Left has been working over-time to suppress opposing opinion, dissent and non-conforming views for much of this President’s administration. Why should we believe this is a mistake?

Hillary will, and should, have this quote shaken in front of her face from now on. It is disgraceful, and terrifying (but I’m probably not part of Hillary’s “majority,” so what terrifies me doesn’t matter) for a former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State to assert such an un-American sentiment.

And immediately, the news media has begun trying to clean up the mess. The Huffington Post, realizing most people read headlines, not full posts, titled its report this way:

“Hillary Clinton On Gun Control: We Can’t Let ‘A Minority Of People’ Terrorize The Majority”

That is, you will notice, a lie. That is not what she said, and it is not up to journalists to decide for us what she “meant.” She said, very specifically, “holding viewpoints” is what we cannot permit, although the Constitution and a long line of Supreme Court cases says quite specifically that viewpoints are exactly what the government must permit. Later she said,

“I don’t think any parent, any person, should have to fear about their child going to school or going to college because someone, for whatever reasons — psychological, emotional, political, ideological, whatever it means — could possibly enter that school property with an automatic weapon and murder innocent children, students, teachers.”

This is less totalitarian, arguably, but dumber. “Could possibly” enter that school? I guess we have to lock them up, then, right, Mrs. Clinton? Can’t take any chances.

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Pointer: Democratic Underground

 

 

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Five Ethics Observations On The Redskins Trademark Decision

Washington-Redskins

1. Several commenters predicted that the ruling of the U.S. Patent Office cancelling the registered trademark of the Washington Redskins would warrant a “Kaboom!” here, the Ethics Alarms designation reserved for occurrences or statements so outrageous that they make my head explode. Please. Even pre-weakened by previous cranial fireworks, my head isn’t that unstable. The decision was neither a major surprise, nor was it as momentous as the ignoramuses in the media, social media, and Harry Reid pronounced it to be.  (More on the decision here.) The Redskins retain their federal trademark registrations until all appeals have been exhausted, and that process could take years. The registrations will be canceled only if the team loses all appeals, and if I were owner Dan Snyder, I would appeal up to the Supreme Court if I had to. This should be done not to preserve the Redskins name, which is archaic and at this point more trouble than its worth, but to beat back the forces of government censorship of thought and words, of which the anti-Redskins campaign is a significant, if relatively trivial, part.

2. Washington Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins, not a fan of the name, beat me to a column about what is really troubling about the decision, as she wrote… Continue reading

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Ethics Quote Of The Month: Constitutional Scholar Floyd Abrams

This is a long quote, and deserves to be.

You can read it in its entirety here.

Wacky!

Wacky!

The whole quote is the testimony of Floyd Abrams, the renowned Constitutional lawyer who argued Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, before the U.S. Supreme Court, regarding a cynical Constitutional Amendment, S.J.19, ostensibly proposed to change the First Amendment so Citizens United can be overturned, but really as a campaign issue, since the chances of amending the Constitution are nil, and they know it. This proposed amendment is the Left’s equivalent of the despicable flag-burning amendment pushed by Republicans in the late Eighties, just as disingenuous, just as offensive to free speech, equally constricted to appeal to voters who don’t understand what free speech is.

The Citizens United opinion has been blatantly misrepresented by everyone from Occupy Wall Street to the President, and continues to be a source of political deceit by Democrats and their allies in the media, often out of ignorance. If you have friends who are prone to say silly things about “corporations being people” and “billionaires buying elections,” you should tell them to read Abrams’ testimony, and learn some things they should have learned in high school.

Some highlights (there are many more): Continue reading

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“Camp Kill Jews” Ethics

And they say “Washington Redskins” is offensive.

"What a charming name! What does it mean in your language? Oh...wait, WHAT???"

“What a charming name! What does it mean in your language? Oh…wait, WHAT???”

From Spain comes the news that the town of Castrillo Matajudios, which literally means “Camp Kill Jews,” has voted to change its name after 400 years. This appears to be part of Spain’s recent, rather belated, I would say, efforts to acknowledge and express regret to Jews for the persecution they endured during the Spanish Inquisition.

Strange as it seem, the current name probably came into being not to denigrate Jews, but to protect Jews in the town who had officially converted to Catholicism under threat of torture and death. As such, it is a piece of history, and the words convey information about the town, the country, and the people who lived there, not a slur….except to someone who knows nothing about the town.

I’m not aware of a perfect analogy for this situation. It has some similarities to the plight of the towns of Blue Ball, Pennsylvania, named for a famous and long-gone hotel in the area, and the Amish community of Intercourse, Pennsylvania, named when a common uses of that term conveyed “fellowship.” In a  parallel universe where political correctness was dictated by social conservatives rather censorious progressives, these towns might be getting coercive signed letters from Republican Senators “suggesting” that they change their names to something less offensive, even though, as with the Redskins name, history and context would be lost. Continue reading

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Ethics Quote Of The Week: Michael Kinsley

“As the news media struggles to expose government secrets and the government struggles to keep them secret, there is no invisible hand to assure that the right balance is struck. So what do we do about leaks of government information? Lock up the perpetrators or give them the Pulitzer Prize? (The Pulitzer people chose the second option.) This is not a straightforward or easy question. But I can’t see how we can have a policy that authorizes newspapers and reporters to chase down and publish any national security leaks they can find. This isn’t Easter and these are not eggs.”

—-Pundit and former editor of Slate Michael Kinsley, reviewing the book by Edward Snowden co-conspirator Glenn Greenwald’s book, “No Place to Hide.”

This is the heroic image the press has of itself, as it protects useful criminals and traitors. Unfortunately, it's a self-serving fantasy.

This is the heroic image the press has of itself, as it protects useful criminals and traitors. Unfortunately, it’s a self-serving fantasy.

I lost much of my respect for Kinsley (full disclosure: we’re college classmates; he’s a celebrity journalist, I’m not) when he was shouting liberal talking points at Robert Novak every week on “Crossfire.” I knew Mike was more nuanced than that, and later he admitted as much in various essays: it was all for show. He later admitted that he sometimes endorsed books without reading them completely, and began writing these odd op-eds that appeared to mock the very position he seemed to be taking. Kinsley is suffering from Parkinson’s Disease*, and perhaps that’s a factor in his self-conscious sense of remove from his own writings, but the impression he has given for decades now is of a detached intellectual who looks down his nose at the very profession that feeds him, and who finds it amusing that the rubes still hang on his words, when he doesn’t give them much thought himself.

This quote from his review of Greenwald’s book (hmmm…did Kinsley actually read this one?) fits the bill. It is sloppy, but sufficiently specific to be unethical. He is essentially suggesting censorship of the press, which is an irresponsible position. The publishing of leaks should not be infringed. Chasing them down, however, is another matter. Current laws, if Democrats would leave them alone, are currently sufficient to discourage criminal acquisition of national security documents: just throw journalists who won’t reveal their criminal—that’s what they are you know, like Snowden—sources in jail until they crack, rot, or both, for obstructing justice When journalists actively aid and abet the theft of documents and data, like Greenwald did, before they are acquired and published, prosecute them too, along with their souces. Publishing such documents or using them for investigations are legitimate and First Amendment-protected activities, but nothing in the Constitution protects the leakers, traitors and thieves, or journalists who conspire to help them break the law—which is the stealing, not the publishing.

I have called what the press does with stolen material “information laundering.” That function, unfortunately, is too important to the role of the press in our democracy to regulate or constrain it, no matter how often it is abused. Still,  this should not make those who aren’t journalists immune from prosecution, or journalists who cross the line that divides reporting the news from making it.

* This is a correction; the original post said MS. I apologize for the error; I shouldn’t have relied on memory.

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Sources: New York Times

Cartoon: Doyle, Baylor

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Unethical Quote Of The Week: SunTrust Bank

pop weasel2

“SunTrust supports the rights of all Americans to fully exercise their freedoms granted under the Constitution, including those with respect to free speech and freedom of religion.”

—-SunTrust Bank, doing its best Cracker Barrel imitation by reversing its decision, announced  earlier in the day, to pull all of its listed properties with the Benham brothers’ bank-owned property business.

SunTrust was following the lead of craven, political correctness bully-enabling HGTV, which a week ago announced it was canceling a planned home renovation show hosted by the Benhams as punishment for their conservative views on same-sex marriage, because, as we all know, gays are the heart and soul of the home renovation business. Thus emboldened, the bank decided that citizens opposing same-sex marriage as taught by the faith they had been raised to embrace deserved to have their business harmed, since that’s what the SunTrust suits’ moistened fingers in the wind told them their sensitive, right-thinking customers wanted.

But the announcement turned that wind into a roaring hurricane of protest from conservatives, and, we can at least hope, some actual liberals among Democrats who comprehend that banks should not be enforcers of the growing, un-American movement to make life nasty, brutish and short for anyone who dares to see the world differently from the news media, the universities, and the rest of the thought-crime legislators among us. Thus the quick reversal, and the noble words above.

So why is SunTrust’s impeccable affirmation of their iron-clad support for our precious freedom unethical? Continue reading

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Harvard’s Black Mass: An Ethics Problem With No Answer

 

Impossible.

Impossible.

P versus NPthe Hodge conjecturethe Riemann hypothesisthe Yang–Mills existence and mass gap The Navier–Stokes existence and smoothness. The Birch and Swinnerton-Dyer conjecture. These are some of the unsolved problems of mathematics, but they are child’s play compared to the unsolvable ethics dilemma concocted at Harvard College.

Is Harvard right to allow students to hold a historic recreation of a Black Mass? Is Harvard wrong? Is it unethical for the students to engage in the project? Is it gratuitously insulting to religion, particularly Catholicism? Does it even matter if it is?

To bring you up to date:

The Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club is planning to recreate a “satanic black mass” on campus next week, enacted by Satanic Temple, a New York-based, Satanist group that engages in outrageous displays to draw attention to First Amendment rights. “Our purpose is not to denigrate any religion or faith, which would be repugnant to our educational purposes, but instead to learn and experience the history of different cultural practices,” the HECSC said in a statement.

The statement lays the foundation for a hung jury in seeking an ethics verdict. Since the Black Mass was originally devised to denigrate the holy mass, saying that recreating the mass isn’t intended to denigrate religion is the kind of thing Captain Kirk used to say to evil, logic-bound computers to make smoke come out of their hard drives. “It-is-true-but- it’s-not-true-but-nothing-can-be-true-and-not-true–KABOOM! Continue reading

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HGTV And Corporate Cowardice: Hold Companies Accountable For Stifling Speech, Opinion, And Thought

"Remodeling Homes, and Wrecking Democracy"

“HGTV: Remodeling Homes, and Wrecking Democracy”

Once again,  a company that is in effect punishing an American for his or her views on a complex social or political issue is being excused as simply “watching out for the bottom line.” This time, it is cable network HGTV, which cancelled a planned cable show about home repair because one of the prospective stars expressed an opinion adverse to gay activists. Last week, it was the NBA; before that, the agent of activist vengeance was Mozilla, and before that, A&E, until it decided that it was more profitable to do one “right thing” (not punish the duck call eccentrics for being open about who the network and its viewers always knew they were) rather than what it had decided earlier was the “right thing” (“STONE THE BIGOTS!!!”). None of these profit-making organizations are the least bit interested in what is right or wrong, of course, and probably don’t give the ethical implications of their acts a moment’s thought. All they are worried about is money, and what they will grandstand as their “principled decision” will always, amazingly, coincide with whose bullying tactics are more likely to succeed. Continue reading

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