Why Are The Core American Rights Ethics Alarms Malfunctioning?

The spark for this post is the recent fiasco engineered by Modesto Junior College in California, which told a student that he could not pass out copies of the United States Constitution outside the student center on September 17, 2013, which happens to be Constitution Day. College police and administrators demanded that student Robert Van Tuinen stop passing out Constitution pamphlets and told him that he would only be allowed to pass them out in the college’s tiny free speech zone, and only after scheduling it several days or weeks ahead of time. Fortunately, as is almost always the case in such campus outrages, The Fire, The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (and what does it tell us that this indispensable champion of individual rights is widely regarded as a “conservative” organization?) was at the ready, and ripped off a letter to the school administrators that served the dual purpose of warning it to back off and holding it up to national ridicule.

But as with the still ongoing persecution of Justin Carter for harmless recreational  speech that alarmed some Canadian hysteric, I am less concerned with the fact of the incident than I am with the atmosphere in America that apparently has the consensus regarding our hard-won rights weakening by the day. Why isn’t the automatic response of someone asked to arrest a kid for joking on Facebook,“Of course not!”? Why wasn’t the immediate reaction of IRS agents instructed to interfere with the lawful activities of tea party and conservative organizations—yes, I know the mainstream media, taking its cues from the Obama Ministry of Truth, refuses to cover the increasingly disturbing revelations in this orgy of political speech suppression, but it is real, and it will come out—to say, “Are you kidding? NO! This is the United States of America!” And why would any school, anywhere in this nation, when presented with the possibility of declaring it impermissible to freely circulate the Constitution of the United States of America on Constitution Day not instantly slap themselves in the forehead and say, “What am I thinking? Of course a student can give out the Constitution!”?

Then there is the NSA…

These are all ethics alarms that should be hard-wired into the soul of every citizen, elected official, appointed bureaucrat and American institution. Why are they failing so often? Is it because our high elected officials so blatantly and shamelessly deceive the public at every turn that we have quietly concluded that all of our ideals are shams? Is it because the current administration has embraced the ethics-free concept that individual liberty is often just a luxury to be traded away or ignored when it gets in the way of a problem?  Is the situation amplified because this threat to our consensus on liberty is coming from the supposedly freedom-loving Left rather than the order-extolling Right, where it usually dwells, and thus liberals and progressives are allowing the powerful forces of cognitive dissonance to rot their most cherished convictions?

Perhaps it is because our education system does such a wretched job of teaching basic American values and the content of our founding documents that even those Americans with advanced degrees barely understand and respect them. What is your theory?

Whatever the cause, we need to address the problem, and fast, because the government’s respect for the Bill of Rights and dedication to the Declaration’s absolute insistence that we never be impeded in our enjoyment of life, existence in liberty, and pursuit of happiness can no longer be assumed, trusted or taken for granted, and the society it is nurturing shows signs of the same dire malady.


Sources: Above the Law, The Fire, Tax Prof Blog

19 thoughts on “Why Are The Core American Rights Ethics Alarms Malfunctioning?

  1. This is incredibly incredible. Although you (Jack) and some of your constituents here sometimes butt heads with me concerning my views on the Occupy movement, Casey the Punisher, etc., this particular post of yours should, I hope, lay bare the underlying virus which threatens to bring America to its knees. I mean, how fucking insane does it have to get before there is a mass uprising?

    Below is a Facebook post I’ve been spreading around. I (again) have my hopes up that this truckers’ strike will ignite a much needed (imo) revolution of the common people.

    Truckers To Shut Down America has been removed by the gods of Facebook. No biggie, my friends. They’ve relocated at http://ridefortheconstitution.org/ Go there and be a part of what may well prove the beginning of a new American revolution.

    Seriously, you and your readers may well disagree with me when it comes to Occupy/Monsanto/ALEC/and a half dozen other controversial topics. But, I hope there is one thing we all can agree on. Things have got to change. And the only way to affect that change is a people’s revolution.

  2. You know… I think Ill write a for-funnsies essay on this. Ill get deeper into supporting it tomorrow or the day after, but initially I’d argue that its more a reflection of a general ethics decay in our society as a result of the rise of narcissism and the decline of the church as a moral authority. The combined effect of which creates a society that is increasingly self-interested, apathetic, and uninterested in ethical police work.

    And to throw some balancing qualifiers on those statements, the combined effect is not one of doomsday proportions and I personally, am not a big fan of religion or the church.

    • You might not get a good essay score by ending your opinion with “not a big fan of religion or the church” yet you declare the decline of our society is losing the moral’s taught by a church.

      You forgot to add this piece. Reflection of the years of universities and colleges who searched for those narcissist liberal profs to warp the teachings of history and economics. And to encourage disruptive discussions would produce an easy “A”.

      • Its less paradoxical than it seems. The church is our culture’s primary means of moral indoctrination and its promotes a healthy guilt based society. Both of which are key factors in the creation of the ethical and proactive citizen that our culture values.

        On the flip side, the church has supported, on various grounds of religious reasoning, nearly every great human rights crime in our history.

        So, in the anti-consequentialist sense, I can recognize the good the church has done even as I condemn the ill it has caused and continues to cause.

        • Just out of curiosity, I’d like to know which human rights crimes you are referring to. There’s a big difference between ‘the church supports…’ and people using the bible (twisting it out of context, in most cases) to support.

          • I really want to answer that, and indeed I did in the first few drafts of the original reply and in at least one rough draft of this reply. Ultimately though I chose to omit them because any discussion of specific wrongs would undoubtedly spur heated debate that would detract from the focus of the main argument. Having said that I will provide some general context from my thinking. When I use the word church its as shorthand for the Catholic church and/or a majority of protestant denominations. And, when I say “church supports” Im referring to any position it holds or has held on the grounds of religious reasoning, regardless of whether or not those the specific reasoning is based on specific, inferred, or twisted passages.

            As an uncontentious example, we can illustrate that thinking in terms of the abolition of slavery. Nearly every southern church supported the holding of slaves based on tenuous support from the bible and prior to the movement towards emancipation nearly every church world wide was ambivalent about, or actively supporting slavery, for similar reasons. So, in a very literal sense, in either case of passive acceptance or active endorsement, the church has significantly contributed to the practice of slavery throughout history.

  3. I’d take a step back and say that the family has not been teaching morals, ethics, and living up to those standards for the last forty years or so. In the last twenty, the need for the schools to try to fill in on civil behavior, writing a check, and walking in another’s moccasins is piled on top of wider and faster changing education standard AND a system too caught up in fads and bad groupthink. It’s falling apart in too many places under all those weights.

    Now I am not about the say that any particular family configuration is unable to teach these but we’ve now reached enough years that the current crop of parents probably can’t teach what they never learned under those lax standards. And getting politicians and educators and public to agree on what to teach as moral is another fight. It will take far too long to make and start a standard for how to behave with integrity and ethics in school, careers, and life for individuals. We need something like a simple set of rules not tied to any faith that generalizes easily. Laws say don’t do X, but we need an easy code for what is better to do.

    • And there I’d like to point out that the family IS under attack. Not only are today’s parents woefully ill-preapred to teach values and obligations (which they are!) but children are being encouraged and taught to disregard them when they do. The promotion of out-of wedlock childbearing, teenage pregnancy, the total destruction and devaluation of the role of ‘father’ the reliance upon the state, the simplification of divorce, and yes, in my opion, the attempt to broaden the definition of what marriage’ is… They’re not all parts of a sinister conspiracy (at leastt least not an earthly one)against the family, but they do all have the effect of weakening the family.

      Combine that with the minimization of the church, the utilization of the indoctrination centers… I mean, schools, and the overall coaresening of the culture – and the encouragement of sloth, greed, and pride… Again, notworking in conjunction, but all building upon each other.

  4. I wonder if the officer or the lady in the office had any pangs of conscience during the encounter. In the increasing number of recorded citizen run-ins with police and security officers the officers seem to be more hard nosed and less patient than they should be. It makes me wonder how they act when they don’t know they’re being recorded.
    College Campuses must be the least free places in the United States.

    • It makes me wonder how they act when they don’t know they’re being recorded.

      You really shouldn’t wonder.

      You are not their equal – they are above you, and they know it. You will defer to them and do as you are told, citizen, or you will be arrested for contempt of cop.

      Don’t worry that there isn’t a real charge called that – they’ll think of something to justify your loss of liberty.

  5. I don’t know if this is an ethics question or a stupidity question. I imagine that this college has a uniform policy about where this activity can occur — and it blindly follows it. That’s my main problem with society today. Corporations, businesses, schools, any organized entity are turning us into sheep. Sorry sir — we have a policy, and it MUST be followed. Well, what is the purpose BEHIND the rule? Was this kid disturbing classes? Was permission needed so security could be lined up in case of a mass protest? No? Then move on. Use that organ that sits on top of your shoulders and decide whether or not what this kid was doing warranted action.

    • Uh, a substantial amount of blame for the religion of policy-following sits solidly in the maliciously litigious culture that grew out of the 90’s. Corporations and entities are only covering their own asses from bad faith lawsuits when they publish leviathan tomes of policies and regulations and then apply them in a pharisaic manner. God knows some left wing organization would raise hell about this guy being given unfair advantage for pushing his political ideas while everyone else “has to follow the rules”.

    • 1. There is a point, and this is it, where stupidity and ethical cluelessness meet.
      2. If nobody at a school isn’t struck by the irony of a) prohibiting the distribution of the Constitution as impermissible speech and b) doing so on “Constitution Day,” I don’t care to trust them on either score—knowing enough to put on their pants before their shoes, Or knowing not to cook babies because they look pink, pudgy and tasty.
      3. Finally, there is the fact that this jaw-dropping stupidity is being manifested at a place of higher learning. They might as well start giving tenure to shellfish.

      • It isn’t stupidity. It is ideology. You can’t allow the constitution to be distributed without the right person to interpret it. That is why there is a “Free Speech Zone” on colleges now. Everywhere else you are under the speech code. Then, they can easily restrict the people who can speak in the free speech zone to the people they agree with through paperwork. Try to get a handgun permit in Washington D.C. The same people have done the same thing has been done with speech on our campuses.

    • It’s worse than that, Crella. Colleges are supposed to be places not only of education, but where students learn critical thinking in the process. The maintenance of a free society depends on these facets in future leaders and among as broad a spectrum of the populace as possible. Today, the bulk of our colleges are not only in denial of this, they seek to alter or repress those facets into their antithesis. Thus, they’ve become a vanguard for tyranny, not a pillar of freedom. To deny a student the opportunity to pass out copies of the U.S. Constitution- on Constitution Day or ANY day- is an act of hostility against the very purpose of the college itself.

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