Ethics Dunce: Prof. Glenn Reynolds, the “Instapundit”

Prof. Reynolds, the iconic conservative bloggers who wields considerable influence in the right-leaning blogospehere and beyond, has frequently displayed a dismaying affection for the unethical response of “tit-for-tat.” Has seldom done so as blatantly, however, as in a post yesterday, linking to a National Review article about CUNY students shouting down General David Petraeus, who is now a lecturer there.

The Instapundit wrote:

“I think right-leaning groups should similarly hound Hillary and other Obama Administration apparatchiks — including Obama himself, when he ventures onto campuses, both now and post-Presidency. The standard of behavior has been established. Let them live with it.”

Even giving Reynolds the benefit of the doubt and assuming that he is speaking tongue-in-cheek or hyperbolically, as he often does, this is an irresponsible statement if he doesn’t mean it, and an unethical one if he does. He is considered a sage and an opinion leader among many conservatives, and for such a prominent figure to expressly approve of the downward behavioral tail-spin that inevitably results when each competitor or adversary re-aligns  ethical standards according to the unethical acts of the other is embracing all-out culture war and chaos, with no standards at all.

“They started it, so let’s give them a taste of their own medicine and see how they like it!” is street gang thinking, (Jets: “Well they began it!” Sharks: “Well they began it!” Both:And w’ere the ones to stop it once and for all…tonight!”— “Quintet” from West Side Story) as far from ethics as one can get, and this is exactly what Professor Reynolds is endorsing. That ethically bankrupt approach, and the fact that our political system has been operating by it at least since 2000, accounts for today’s poisonous culture in Washington D.C. It has crippled both the Bush and Obama administrations, paralyzed the government and divided the public. If political and intellectual leaders embrace this reaction to misconduct in one setting, they are implicitly accepting it as a justifiable strategy, and it is not. It is a brutal, unethical strategy.

Students who interfere with invited speakers’ efforts to challenge or enlighten university audiences should be disciplined; it doesn’t matter whether the speaker is an ex U.S.general or Ilsa, Wolf of Dachau. Interfering with speech isn’t protected speech, nor is it ethical protest. That behavior isn’t a “standard of behavior,” it is a defiance of civilized standards. The President, Hillary Clinton and other targets of the right should be allowed to speak, listened to politely, and then confronted, if they are confronted, with civil and articulate rebuttals on the basis of their words and ideas. For a university professor to advise otherwise is unconscionable. For one who is respected and followed as extensively as Reynolds to write this defies reason.


Spark: Instapundit

Sources: NPR, National Review

12 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: Prof. Glenn Reynolds, the “Instapundit”

  1. Here’s the problem: The Left has been doing for so long, and the Right has appealed to civility The Left has, for all I can tell, decided that civil discourse is not something the Right should have.

    Conservatives have dealt with this heckling for decades. At some point, restraint becomes weakness. If the Left will not see reason, then maybe retaliation can send the message.

  2. Professor Reynolds describes himself as a libertarian, not a conservative, and his opinion is most certainly not unethical. The left and hard left have been shouting down conservatives (and libertarians for that matter) for years on college campuses, politically affiliated gatherings, and so forth. Since few hold them to task in broadcast or print media for their inappropriate behavior, in fact quietly applauding it, let’s see if what’s good for the goose is good for…

    • Yes, as I said: completely unethical. It’s pretty dispute the Ethics 101 diagnosis–revenge is unethical, tit for tat is unethical, letting the worst actor define the standards is unethical, “two wrongs don’t make a right” by just blandly asserting the same fallacy….even adding another rationalization, the biggest of them all, “everybody doesn’t.” This is the “talking to a brick wall phenomenon” i experience all too often, but it remains depressing.

  3. Jack, did you link to the wrong video? That video shows Petraeus being heckeled as he walks to class, but it doesn’t show him being shouted down. (Either one is rude, of course), and nothing in the NR article you linked indicates that the hecklers followed him into his classroom.

    Inquiring Mind, there are many examples of right-wingers heckling Democrats and liberals – tea party members, in particular, have heckled Obama (“terrorist”), Elizabeth Warren (“socialist whore”), Barney Frank (“faggot”), John Lewis (“baby-killer”), etc.. Even the occasional right-winger is heckled, such as Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (“lean English!”).

    So basically, if the hecklers are retirees, they’re probably right-wing, and if they’re students, they’re probably left-wing. :-p

  4. Anything to the saying that the young are often all heart, and the seniors are all brains.?? (Straigthen that out if I missed a part–Thanks.)

  5. Pingback: Instapundit MegaFAIL: Fake Lena Dunham Quote Tweet | American Politics Journal

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