(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.
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.
14 thoughts on “Windy Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/2/18: More Supreme Court Fun, Transparency Games, Ethical and Unethical Quotes Of The Day…”
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.
Oops. Just noticed. I meant “2.” not “1.” What a Fry-day!*
*Lest anyone mistakenly think I ever confuse my number ones with my number twos…
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.
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.
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.
Yes, that will go well…
Here was my comment.
Why not make these people wear a distinctive badge when out in public?
I can’t find your comment there – only mention of your name beneath many others’ comments (“Answer requested by Michael Ejercito”). Your name is linked to a collection of your comments, but I don’t see a comment in that collection that seems to relate to badges on “pre-criminals.”
Here is the link to my comment on Reason.com, which contained the link to the Quora question.
The answers to that question apply with equal force to “no fly, no buy”
Okay, thanks. It wasn’t clear to me earlier, that you had included what you had said in a comment elsewhere within one of your comments here.
Judge Gerard E. Lynch is a candidate for an Ethics hero.
Click to access zarda_-_lynch_dissenting_opinion.pdf
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”.