Sunday Ethics Rundown, 11/25/ 18: Liberty Games

Good Morning!

1. Baraboo hangover. Apparently the Wisconsin male high school students who gave a Nazi salute in an off-campus photo will not be punished. The superintendent overseeing Baraboo High, Lori Mueller of the Baraboo School District, said in the letter that the district was “not in a position to punish the students for their actions” because of their First Amendment rights. That’s right from a Constitutional viewpoint, and something good will come of the incident if it means that schools will stop punishing students for what they post on social on their own time. Here is the photo, in case you have forgotten…

The Times article sure is full of dissembling and nonsense, however. Peter Gust, the jerk who took and posted the photo, claims that it had been modified by “malevolent behavior on the part of some in society.” Sure. Jordan Blue, the boy in the upper right hand corner in the red tie, has embraced the role of ethics hero in the media, and is grandstanding and virtue signaling like mad, saying that he didn’t have time to leave the photo but that he didn’t raise his arm because “I knew what my morals were and it was not to salute something I didn’t firmly believe in.” Uh, that should be “firmly didn’t believe in,” Jordan. Then there is Brock Turkington, also  in the photograph, whose story is that  “As we were about to take that photo, the photographer instructed the boys to give a ‘high-sign.” The photographer instructed us to extend our arms out, no one knew what a ‘high-sign’ was. I asked another student next to me ‘What are we doing?’ He responded, ‘Stick your arm out.’” But that’s not a “high-sign.” That’s a Heil-sign.

2. I won a bet with myself! Cracked, the list and pop culture commentary website that evolved out of a cheap Mad Magazine rip-off from the Sixties, has a feature called “5 Laws From Other Countries (The USA Should Totally Steal).” Cracked is dominated by smug, if clever, social justice warriors, so I made a bet with myself that the list would contain  several concepts that were unconstitutional or that would advance the Left’s dream of perpetual power. (By the way, you can’t “steal” a law.) Sure enough, the tally was three out of five. I win!!!

Cracked wants voting to be mandatory. That’s a sneaky way of allowing low-information, disinterested and lazy voters easily swayed by slanted news media coverage to dominate elections, leading to government by the stupid, naive and easily deceived. Cracked also likes the laws in some Asian countries that punish celebrities for “endorsing shitty products.” In other words, they punish speech. Here’s Cracked’s idea of good public policy:

“If you want to up the ante, look no further than China. If a celeb there is found hawking shoddy wares, they can be banned from advertising anything else for up to three years (along with a host of other restrictions). And it’s hard to convince Nike to give you that big international ad campaign if you’re not allowed to show your face to 20 percent of the entire human population.”

Asking your Facebook friends if they like this idea is a neat way of identifying which ones will be happy to send you to a re-education camp once President Ocasio-Cortez is in the White House.

Then there is another Chinese government policy Cracked endorses (liking Chinese policies is signature significance), which is to prevent the public from knowing who wins state lotteries. A citizen wins tens of millions of dollars, but that’s not news, because the public knowing about something it has an interest in knowing might cause some problems for the newsmaker. Nah, that’s not a free press slippery slope!

Cracked should stick to features like 5 Hollywood Happy Endings That Weren’t So Happy In Real Life …you know, articles that don’t require a basic respect for civil rights and democracy.

3. AhA! It was HER fault! Ramona Ripston died at the age of 91, and from her obituary we can glean how the ACLU gradually stopped doing its job and became just another liberal agenda advocacy group, albeit one the pretends to be non-partisan. She was the first woman to head the Southern California chapter of the ACLU, and stayed for four decades. “She served in that post until 2011, except for a period of 18 months beginning in 1986, when she was in charge of the western region for People for the American Way, the liberal advocacy group,” we learn. Well, People For The American Way was and is a hard left, partisan, doctrinaire lobby, and no head of what presents itself as a neutral protector of the rights of all Americans should be affiliated in any way with such an extreme group on either side of the political spectrum. Ripston was an activist, not a lawyer, and protecting our rights is a matter of law, not passion. Once Ripston and others like her began prioritizing which rights were worth protecting for which groups, the ACLU’s mission was effectively poisoned.

4. I’ve decided that most of the commentators and activists In the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck, aka. #MeToo, don’t have the ethics literacy or the critical thinking skills necessary to clarify the real issues. For example, Blanche Gardin is described in a New York Times piece today as, “The Woman Who Still Finds Louis C.K. Lovable/The French comedian Blanche Gardin is taking on all of feminism’s orthodoxies:”

Ms. Gardin defended Louis C.K…. “[T]he fact that we put a producer who rapes actresses in the same bag as a guy whose fetish is to masturbate in front of women, after asking if he can do it, means our modern society has a big problem with nuance.” She argued that it’s hypocritical to shun Louis C.K. His humor, she noted, “explored his dark side, his perversions, and deciphered the darkness of the human soul. People loved him for that… because it made them feel better about their own dark sides.”…

He IS in the same bag, and belongs there: powerful men who abuse their power to mistreat women for their own purposes and enjoyment.  Gardin’s argument is essentially Rationalization #22, The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”

Sure, making women in your field watch you masturbate because you’re a star and they are afraid of crossing you isn’t as bad as making them have sex with you to keep their film career alive. The latter is a crime; the former is just a horrible, exploitative, disrespectful abuse of power and position.  Nonetheless, they are both grounds for shunning, distrust and serious negative social consequences. This woman is arguing, “Oh, come on, at least he didn’t rape them!” That’s not “nuance.”

5. And coming full circle: Rutgers University history professor James Livingston, who stated in a Facebook post that he hated all white people and wanted them out of his neighborhood, was cleared in an investigation by the school and will receive no sanctions or penalties after a ruling had initially come down against him. He had written that the white people he saw in a burger joint as “little Caucasian assholes who know their parents will approve of anything they do. I hereby resign from my race. Fuck these people…OK, officially, I now hate white people. I am a white people, for God’s sake, but can we just keep them—us—us out of my neighborhood?” Livingston was initially found to have violated the university’s Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment by Rutgers’s Office of Employment Equity. In this, the problem was a bit like the Trump Administration banning Jim Acosta: Rutgers didn’t have a policy in black and white that fit the offense. [My policy: “Employees who engage in public conduct or speech that reasonably would lead any students to believe that they would not be treated equitably, fairly and with respect in the course of their studies or activities on campus will be subject to discipline, including suspension or termination. University employees are expected to behave in a manner that is a credit to the institution at all times, on or off campus.”] Jonathan Turley writes,

“The decision is the correct one. These were statements made outside of school and expressed Livingston’s political and social views with what he claimed was an element of sarcasm. Yet, what if this were a professor speaking of his hate for black people or other minorities and wanting them out of his neighborhood? Would the result be the same? We do not know because Rutgers is not clear on where that sanctionable line is drawn.”

Sure we do. The line is drawn when a white professor like Livingston describes persons of color as “little black assholes who know their parents will approve of anything they do. Fuck these people…OK, officially, I now hate black people. Can we just keep them—us—us out of my neighborhood?”

Turley isn’t being honest, or he’s incredibly naive.

 

25 thoughts on “Sunday Ethics Rundown, 11/25/ 18: Liberty Games

  1. //I am a white people, for God’s sake, but can we just keep them—us—us out of my neighborhood?// So basically he wants to be homeless and isolated?

  2. Sure we do. The line is drawn when a white professor like Livingston describes persons of color as “little black assholes who know their parents will approve of anything they do. Fuck these people…OK, officially, I now hate black people. Can we just keep them—us—us out of my neighborhood?”

    Turley isn’t being honest, or he’s incredibly naive.

    It is as if hate speech rules are not enforced in an even-handed manner.

    Many of the replies to this tweet disturb me.

      • They claimed that it would not be a violation of the first amendment to expel the students because the first amendment only keeps the government from putting people in prison for speech.

        None of them ever asked if that meant public schools could expel students for attending Catholic Mass.

  3. On point 5 I would like to take a contrarian view.

    It is hard for me as a free speech advocate to promote any policy that inhibits anyone’s speech. I would prefer to know the positions of others rather than have them suppressed out of fear of immediate sanction.

    Now this does not mean that one cannot be ridiculed or ostracized for expressing his or her ideas that are antithetical to your own but immediate sanction eliminates the opportunity for debate on the issue. In addition, immediate sanction will tend to cause an abberant idea to become further entrenced.

    I suggest that people need to have ideas challenged in a public forum. Create conditions that compel them to defend their positions one finds objectionable. One also needs to be prepared to defend why they find something objectionable. Group objection to an idea that simply silences dissent without a hearing is more dangerous than someone with an outrageous idea. Let the Nazis, Panthers, and all fringe groups air their ideas. If they are sound, defensible and unrebutted they will attract proponents. If not, they lose in the court of public opinion.

    If I were a student I would prefer to know where my prof stands before enrolling rather than find out that he or she harbored some animus torward me or would not give my ideas a fair evaluatiom. We have far too many mouthing the established dogma now simply to protect themselves from retaliation. That is how groupthink takes hold.

    • But why in the world would a university want to acquire the reputation of an institution that entrusts young minds to a racist? It’s not a content issue, it’s character. Could a school justifiably refuse to hire a prof who said, “By the way, I hate blacks, and often say so”?

      • Jack, the university does not need to hire such a faculty member. There is no protective class for ideas.

        I come at this from a different angle. Suppose you interview a candidate that harbors deep seated racial animus, do you think those ideas will become manifest during the interview? Obviously no because queries regarding race, ethnicity, gender are verboten. One can hide their social media tirades in advance so the more places that are public in which such views are expressed helps ferret out such ideologies.

        If prospective students have an ability to learn about various profs ideologies before enrolling then a market based solution will determine the outcome and not the power structure.

        In the real world sanctions are determined by the few in charge and not the body politic. This causes the body politic to alter their behavior rather than the few adjusting to the desires of the body politic. When the public alters their thinking to avoid punishment by the governing authority we have no free speech. We have China.

        • ”One can hide their social media tirades in advance”

          Really? I thought the difference between love and social media tirades was the latter is forever.

          My sure-fire method to hide my social media tirades?

          I don’t participate in social media…period.

          Here? A looming luckyesteeyoreman waits in the wings, stands at the ready, his powder (and wit) dry, bearing the promise of swift and hilariously irreverent reprisal.

          I sense him near now…

          • Hiding does not mean causing them to disappear entirely.

            In most cases employers are not going to go to great lengths to find deleted posts or accounts.

            • I’m eternally thankful I’m NOT a terminally-worried-to-step-in-shit prospective employer

              Nearly 30 years ago I was interviewing someone for a sales position and the interviewee told me she moved to the area because of her kids.

              Out-of-curiosity/innocently-making-conversation (read: absence of malice) “oh, how many children do you have?” After the interview was completed, I said we’d be touch about my decision and we parted amicably.

              I later hear from my Branch Manager that she’d called back saying that was a question I couldn’t ask and she was going to file a complaint with DILHR.

              She didn’t and nothing more came from it, but he said that that’s the kind of thing DILHR people pray for in order to justify their existence, and maybe I shouldn’t be doing any more interviewing.

              Because I was taking time out of my self-employed day to help him out, and I was never too keen on interviewing people to begin with, it turned out for the best.

              Kinda like the time I put my lovely and long-suffering wife’s cashmere sweater in the dryer; I don’t do her laundry any more…

              Anywho, it’s my understanding that nothing ever disappears, unless you use ​BleachBit©™® or wipe it clean, like with a cloth.

              Were I still an interviewer/employer, I’d look for an applicant’s deleted posts.

              Gotta be an app for that, am I right?

              • Her threat to file a complaint speaks far more about her than what she might post online. With that said it is ironic that outing her would be a violation of EEO law.

                Maybe, I am out of touch with today’s media culture. I never thought about doing a deep dive into a person’s FB or MySpace pages. Twitter did not exist then.

                I still dont know how many small business people have the technical skill to do much more than a google search of the applicant. Finalists might get a more detailed paid background check. But even these reports cannot decipher ideologies.

              • Anywho, it’s my understanding that nothing ever disappears, unless you use ​BleachBit©™® or wipe it clean, like with a cloth.

                Actually, killing THAT server does not kill the messages on all the recipient/originator servers. Those could have been searched had anyone really wanted to find the emails. No one did. (Every somewhat savvy techie in the world was yelling this at their TVs during 2016)

                There are also the ‘transient’ servers who might keep records on what email went where. Funny how the FBI has done this in the past, but chose not to with Hillary.

                Other way of recovering the emails exist, to this day (sans a truly… exceptional… effort to clear systems with little or no commonality of ownership. Just the thought of the effort required makes my head swim, and visions of tin foil hats appear)

    • Let the Nazis, Panthers, and all fringe groups air their ideas. If they are sound, defensible and un-rebutted they will attract proponents. If not, they lose in the court of public opinion.

      You’d have to start with a general casting call, but you would have to specify that those fringies would be enabled to write, as it were, their own ‘epitaph’. But instead of an elegy for a dead person, it would be for one returning to life, if you catch my drift. You would have to give them, right at the beginning, the right and the power to self-define who they are and what they are doing.

      You would also have to create the circumstance, somehow I know not how, of giving them equal access to the Media System. Or in any case you’d have to resolve not to ban them, to de-platform them, and to protect their PayPal and other types of accounts. Their livelihood and their abaility to exist economically and to prosper. (I assume that you know that this is going on). Job protection and such despite political opinion. Right now, hundreds and thousands are afraid to express themselves for fear of repercussions.

      Our position (if you will allow me to include myself in this *we*) is to gain enough political strength in the coming years so that we can come out of the *fringe* and the shadows so to be very sure that our rights to think, talk, organize and monetize, are not infringed and are expressly protected. We do not have such protections now.

      Our discourse is, in fact, entirely reasonable, well-structured, and makes a great deal of sense. The *System* is terrified [again, if you’ll permit such a turn of phrase] of our capacity to influence and thus they insert themselves between us and our audience and create all sorts of prejudicing rhetoric.

      • Aliza,
        I submit that no one is entitled to a platform but if a platform exists it should not be denied simply by virtue or lack thereof of the idea expressed.

        You have made some – what I consider – insightful comments. You have made some that I vehemently disagree with. Thats OK.

        The more we repress ideas the more likely the extremes of those ideas will become the rallying cry of proponents. No one reacts passionately to centrist ideals nor will extremists be willing to compromise or concede any ground if it is believed that such concessions will be an existential threat to their ideas or way of life.

  4. Mandatory voting is popular in single-party states. If there is one candidate, and 90%+ of the population votes for him, then the candidate looks really good!

    Voluntary voting is the bane of authoritative-minded leaders everywhere. Vladimir Putin would love it if a majority of the electorate voted. Boycotting the polls is one of the few ways Russians can express any sort disapproval. Disengagement looks bad for a strongman leader in a nation that is technically democracy. With compulsory voting, helpful registrars can fill the bubble left blank by disengaged voters. With voluntary voting, it becomes a little bit more noticeable when the number of votes cast exceeds the number of persons who showed up.

    The right to refuse to vote is almost as important, if not more so, than the right to vote.

  5. But why in the world would a university want to acquire the reputation of an institution that entrusts young minds to a racist? It’s not a content issue, it’s character. Could a school justifiably refuse to hire a prof who said, “By the way, I hate blacks, and often say so”?

    It is hard to unpack but I will try. First, the professor’s statement was not really racist. It was self-contemptuous perhaps. Borne of self-hatred and self-contempt and a strange, but false, kind of *solidarity* with the Harlem community becoming gentrified. But I do not think it quite right to call it racism.

    Now, clearly (as everyone knows) the American universities are filled up with Liberals like Livingston. To be fair to them one would say that they are attempting to rectify America’s unfortunate history vis-a-vis African Americans. Some say that white liberalism generally has done more harm than good, I am uncertain.

    But the other part of this is the function of ‘white self-hatred’, and that is a difficult topic from any angle.

    It is definitely true that American universities hire people like Livingston all the time, and that such people make up an intellectual cadre.

    A more poignant question is could an American university hire a White professor who has opinions similar to or the same as, say, Jared Taylor?

    Is Jared Taylor a ‘hater’? Filled with hatred of Blacks or anyone else? I would answer ‘no’, but then I have actually read his work. But his views — academic, intellectual, cogent and well-founded — cannot be expressed anywhere in the land.

    True, if one succeeds in attaching to him the label of *racist* one need no further debate the question, it is settled by the term. But if he is not in reality a *racist* then one is forced to see him and classify him in a more complete and also a more fair way. A conversation opens, difficult as it is.

    • You made my point. Who determines what is racial animus, gender bias, or ethnic phobia etc. It is obvious to anyone with a brain that once the racist/misogynst/hater label is tattooed on the accused the accused has no right to be heard and if he or she is heard the message has been precolored by the label.

  6. Cracked wants voting to be mandatory. That’s a sneaky way of allowing low-information, disinterested and lazy voters easily swayed by slanted news media coverage to dominate elections, leading to government by the stupid, naive and easily deceived…

    No, that’s not what goes wrong under that, something else is. For instance, here in Australia we have compulsory voting, and the overall effect has not been domination by that sort but rather to distance the parties from the people by lowering the signal-to-noise ratio in voting (in my own view, after a generational lag that in turn has also led to all parties getting dominated by apparatchiks as they no longer need the grass roots to get the vote out). The waters are further muddied by the use of some very non-transparent “proportional” voting systems, where what you get is a long way from what you might have intended; this also makes it hard to allocate cause and effect in any analysis.

    Let me make it concrete. One effect is that in suburbs with many Jews (and we have many such suburbs), typically both main parties and often others choose Jewish candidates with non-Jewish sounding names (Southwick, Danby, Phelps, et al), so Jews will vote for them on purpose and they will pick up the random “donkey vote” too, even from anti-semites. Something similar helps other special interest candidates, too (hint: the LGBTQ know their own, but nobody else is ever told).

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