Windy Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/2/18: More Supreme Court Fun, Transparency Games, Ethical and Unethical Quotes Of The Day…

GOOD MORNING!

(Wind storms all over Virginia, knocking out power and my e-mail, and blowing over a tree that narrowly missed my son’s car!)

1 Lack of Transparency? What lack of transparency? During a lecture and moderated discussion at U.C.L.A. this week in which he was a a participant and invited guest, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was heckled with hisses, jeers, shouted insults and profanity from students and protesters, some of whom were ushered and even carried out by police officers. A programmed sixth grader in the audience even questioned him about the fairness of passing permanent tax cuts for companies and expiring cuts for individuals, because as we all know, 10-year-olds are well-versed in tax policy theory.

Afterwards, Mnuchin  revoked his consent for the official video of the event to be released, perhaps because he was flustered by the harassment and it showed. In response to criticism of this virtual censorship,

The Treasury Department, through a spokesperson, said that what the Secretary did wasn’t what he obviously did—a Jumbo, aka “Elephant? What elephant?”—saying,

“The event was open to the media and a transcript was published. He believes healthy debate is critical to ensuring the right policies that do the most good are advanced.”

He just doesn’t want anyone to see or hear the debate.

A related point: The protests were organized by Lara Stemple, a U.C.L.A. law professor, and students and faculty members participated. Protests are fine; disrupting the event is not. Faculty members who assisted in the heckling should be disciplined, and students who participated should be disciplines as well.  It’s an educational institution, and all views sgould be openly explored and heard without interference. No guest of the university should be treated this way. Ever. No matter who it is or what their position. The treatment on Mnuchin was unethical.

2. More Supreme Court fun with ethics! Minnesota’s law banning “political” clothing and buttons from polling places is being challenged as an affront to free speech. The law prohibits people from wearing a “political badge, political button or other political insignia” at a polling place on an election day, and a member of the tea party movement sued after his “Tea Party” message got him in trouble when he came to vote.

Here is Justice Samuel A. Alito’s exchange with Daniel Rogan of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, who was defending Minnesota’s law:

“How about a shirt with a rainbow flag?” asked Alito. “Would that be permitted?”

“A shirt with a rainbow flag?” Rogan repeated. “No, it would — yes, it would be — it would be permitted unless there was — unless there was an issue on the ballot that — that related somehow to — to gay rights.”

Justice Alito: Okay. How about an NRA shirt?

Mr. Rogan: An NRA shirt? Today, in Minnesota, no, it would not, Your Honor. I think that that’s a clear indication—and I think what you’re getting at, Your Honor—

A T-shirt bearing the words of the Second Amendment? Alito asked.

Probably banned because of the gun-control issue, Rogan said.

The First Amendment? Alito asked. Probably not, Rogan answered.

Got it. The First  Amendment isn’t a political statement, but the Second Amendment is. That led Justice Neil M. Gorsuch to observe: “Under your interpretation of ‘political,’ it would forbid people from wearing certain portions of the Bill of Rights into a polling place but not other portions of the Bill of Rights. And I guess I’m just wondering what compelling interest Minnesota has identified that requires a statute that goes so much further than the vast majority of states?”

In contrast, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy asked J. David Breemer, a lawyer for the Pacific Legal Foundation, representing the challengers, “Why should there be speech inside the election booth at all, or inside the what you call the election room? You’re there to vote.”

This is a problem requiring an “all or nothing” solution. Either all forms of political speech must be allowed, or no speech at all. In a sick time where citizens honestly argue that a MAGA cap or a picture of a gun makes them feel threatened and “unsafe,” the ethical option would seem to be Justice Kennedy’s. No speech, messages, no logos, no photos, no American flags. Last fall I voted wearing my Red Sox jacket.

Uh-uh.

3. Not actors…tools and useful idiots. But not actors! The news media propped up the obvious falsehood that the Parkland shooting survivors who were suddenly being featured on every newscast and talking heads show were just amazingly motivated and self-activated young citizens. The Miami Herald attributed their success to the school’s debate program. The Wall Street Journal posited that this generation of students was web-savvy from toddlerhood, and organizing online came naturally to them. Baloney. The truth was that they were cynically exploited mouthpieces of the anti-gun movement.

 

 On February 28, BuzzFeed revealed that Rep. Debbie Wassermann Schultz assisted the students in organizing their lobbying push in Tallahassee. A teacher’s union procured the buses that got the kids there.  Michael Bloomberg’s various anti-gun groups and the Women’s March are behind the upcoming March For Our Lives. Move-On.org is doing social media promotion for the students and is involved in march logistics.Planned Parenthood has been using some of its federal funds to train the  student activists. The president of the American Federation of Teachers also revealed that it is the teachers, not the students, who were behind the national school walkout, though  journalists had informed the public that the stunt was organized by a teenager.Because some sloppy-thinking and writing conservative critics accused students like David Hogg of being “crisis actors,” the young tools seized on that straw man, sneering that it was ridiculous to call them paid actors. No, they aren’t actors, and they aren’t being paid, at least directly. They are traumatized children being cynically manipulated into attractive and sympathetic puppets and mouthpieces, no less than children being told to hold protest signs they barely can read or understand, or the little girls directed to use vulgar language in an infamous feminist Youtube video.

The public had and has a right to know that the Parkland students are not free agents, and who is funding and exploiting them.

4. Unethical quote of the day: Sen. Chuck Shumer.

“The nomination of Marvin Quattlebaum speaks to the overall lack of diversity in President Trump’s selections for the federal judiciary. President Trump replaces not one, but two scuttled Obama nominees who were African-American … It’s long past time that the judiciary starts looking at lot more like the America it represents.”

And thus the leader of Senate Democrats recommended voting against a undeniably qualified judicial nominee because of his skin color.

In related news, and it is related, students at the University of Texas are launching a magazine called “No Whites Allowed.”

5. Ethics quote of the day: blogger Ann Althouse. Reacting to calls from the news media for recently resigned Hope Hick to cash in and write a behind-the-scenes tell-all about her inner-circle experiences in the Trump White House, Althouse writes in part,

Maybe Hope Hicks — who is 29 years old — is so tired of it all that she’s ready to retire into a life of idle rich person, so she’s tempted to throw away her ongoing reputation by selling what would count as the “the true, untold, inside story about life in Donald Trump’s White House and inner circle.” But even the Obama’s $60 million number is not enough….I’d say even $100 million is not enough to flip Hope Hicks to betray her relationship with Donald Trump. Now, if she’s seen “chaos” inside the White House and genuinely thinks there’s something horrible going on and needs to warn us about it, then — if it’s bad enough — she should should betray the relationship, and she should do it without taking any money at all. It can’t be, first, let me have that big publisher’s auction, nail down the money that will set me up for life, and then I’ll tell you a set of Michael Wolffish tales.

I say: Hope, you are 29. Don’t sell out. At any price.

Exactly!

 

14 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Childhood and children, Citizenship, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Jumbo, Law & Law Enforcement

14 responses to “Windy Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/2/18: More Supreme Court Fun, Transparency Games, Ethical and Unethical Quotes Of The Day…

  1. luckyesteeyoreman

    1. I have a set of clothes that I rarely wear anytime except on days when I go to the polling place. I especially love my blue clothes, because they lie to anyone who believes that I am going to vote Democrat.

  2. 77Zoomie

    That’s a poor performance by the Hennepin County lawyer. These are not particularly insightful questions coming from the bench. I find it hard to believe that no one participating in Mr. Rogan’s preparation for oral argument thought to raise comparable questions for him to consider in advance. And he’s not much of a lawyer if he couldn’t think of them himself; a first-year constitutional law student would be expected to pick up on that distinction issue.

    • I tend to agree. If a lawyer could see that calling the text of one Bill of Rights amendment apolitical and the other political was a flaming red flag called “vague and arbitrary standard”, then he should be in front of SCOTUS.

  3. Linda

    I wonder if these trouble making protesters would even show up if they were aware the “debates” would not be televised or seen on social media? Somehow I believe the turnout on their side would be much smaller. Until all involved learned what a debaters and how to conduct there would be none. Sadly those who want to hear both sides arguments would be deprived of that honor. But what the heck, we already are being denied that! All they accomplish is verifying that the left is unreasonable, hateful, biased, and hateful.

  4. Linda

    I wonder if these trouble making protesters would even show up if they were aware the “debates” would not be televised or seen on social media? Somehow I believe the turnout on their side would be much smaller. Until all involved learned what a debate is and how to conduct it there would be none. Sadly those who want to hear both sides arguments would be deprived of that honor. But what the heck, we already are being denied that! All they accomplish is verifying that the left is unreasonable, hateful, biased, and hateful.

  5. 2) Even with an “all or none” dichotomy, within the “none” standard, I don’t see how lines pulled from the Constitution can be considered “political speech”.

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