Hello, Readers, and Goodby, Columbus (see #5)!
In case you care: yesterday was about the third time in ten years that I have failed to get at least one post up. I was in New Brunswick, NY, after the three and a half-hour trip from Virginia took over five hours instead of three. I had scheduled a 6:15 am wake-up call, and a room service breakfast at 6:30 in order to prepare for my 3 hour seminar and get a post or two up before I had to check out at 8 am. No wake up call. No breakfast. I was awakened at 8:05 am by Clarence Darrow, aka actor Bruce Rauscher. Somehow we made it to the seminar on time, Bruce was great, the lawyers were happy, but by the time the return journey got me home that night any Ethics Alarms post I attempted would have been in Esperanto.
1. Revelation! Hearing Darrow’s courtroom arguments in a different interpretation and pace made me realize that part of his methodology was to gradually convince juries that he was smarter than they were, and that they should just do what he said because he proved he had thought the issues through more thoroughly than they had or could. His genius was that he could do this without appearing to be arrogant or conceited. This is how effective leaders lead, and also how they corrupt, persuading normal people to just surrender their judgment.
I am an advocate of capital punishment, but when Darrow made this argument pleading for the lives of thrill-killers Leopold and Loeb….
What is the public’s idea of justice? “Give them the same mercy that they gave to Bobby Franks.”
Is that the law? Is that justice? Is this what a court should do? Is this what a state’s attorney should do? If the state in which I live is not kinder, more humane, more considerate, more intelligent than the mad act of these two boys, I am sorry that I have lived so long.
…I had to pause and wonder if he had found the fatal weakness in the logic of the death penalty. I have a rebuttal, but I have thought about the issue a long time, and Darrow wasn’t THAT much smarter than me. But if I were a typical juror (or even a judge, as was his audience in this case), I might be tempted to see the case Darrow’s way.
2. Once again, the totalitarian instincts of progressives and attempted thought-control on campuses...I believe that this escalating phenomenon will eventually lead to an epic cultural conflagration.
Orange Coast College barred its chapter of the Young Americans for Freedom displaying this banner….
…..at a campus student recruitment fair. The College objected to the banner’s depicting images of two rifles which college officials said were forbidden by a college policy that bars not just firearms but “any facsimile of a firearm, knife, or explosive.”
Obviously, however, such a decision violates the First Amendment. Explains Constitutional law expert Eugene Volokh, “once a university opens up a space where students may display banners, it then may not restrict such displays unless the restriction is viewpoint-neutral and reasonable. It’s hard to see a viewpoint-neutral rationale for banning even sillhouette displays of guns, which no-one would confuse for real guns….even if the rationale is viewpoint-neutral, it’s not reasonable: To be reasonable, a restriction on speech within a government-created forum must be “consistent with the [government’s] legitimate interest in ‘preserv[ing] the property … for the use to which it is lawfully dedicated.'” Nothing about the display of rifle sillhouettes interferes with the government’s legitimate interest in preserving campus property for its normal uses, except insofar as such a display conveys a pro-gun viewpoint to which some people object.”
Of course, the real purpose of the restriction is political indoctrination of students and agenda-driven limitations on advocacy. College administrators who don’t comprehend the Bill of Rights better than this may be qualified to educate trained ferrets, but not human beings less human beings.
The professor also points out that the school’s sports team logo…
…violates the school policy exactly in the manner the banner does, for it includes an illustration of a knife.
Fools and hypocrites—and nascent totalitarians.
3. Facebook censorship update: Well, there’s comfort in knowing that it isn’t just me and Ethics Alarms. Over the weekend, Facebook blocked users from sharing two articles on the on the hate crime hoax by gay black star Jussie Smollett, which Democratic Presidential candidates exploited to attack the President and which the mainstream media largely publicized as fact. Both pundit Rod Dreher and Daily Caller reporter Jen Kerns saw their articles censored on Facebook, with messages that the pieces—which are, we now know, factual and true, violate Facebook “community standards.”
I don’t know what can be done about this. Dreher says he has quit Facebook after the social media monster rejected his article at The American Conservative., but Facebook won’t care until the users who have created an oppressive “community standards” hostile to any facts or opinions challenging the “resistance” hive mind start caring about facts, freedom of expression and fair debate. Heaven knows most of my Facebook friends don’t care.
4. The solution to discrimination is more discrimination? Yes, that appears to be the theory. The George Washington University Parliamentary Debate Society will allow only women and transgender individuals to compete in an April debate tournament hosted by the American Parliamentary Debate Association (APDA). The league, composed entirely of college students, voted on the discriminatory proposal, and the required two-thirds of member schools voted in favor of it.
An op-ed for the student paper criticizing the move managed to miss the ethical problem with it. “While the new debate tournaments have been framed as a way to prioritize women and gender minority debaters, this sort of arrangement does little to actually bridge disparities in the way genders are treated differently when it comes to debate,” GW student argued! Ah! The discrimination won’t work! That’s the problem!
No, you maleducated, biased idiot, that’s not the problem. The problem is that this is gender discrimination.
The former president and vice president of the George Washington Parliamentary Debate Society defended the gender apartheid by writing, fatuously,
“It is essential to create spaces where gender minorities can find support, meet mentors and peers and feel empowered by seeing successful women. The people who compete at the gender minority tournament are still going to be competing against men at dozens of other competitions throughout the year.”
Oh, I see. So discrimination is benign and acceptable as long as it doesn’t continue forever! This a debating organization, and they make arguments like THAT?
Women and anyone who does not identify as cis male will be welcome to compete, organizers say, and gender identification will not be challenged. Perfect! Let’s see how many men sign up, claiming that they feel like female debaters trapped in male debater’s bodies. About a hundred or so should sabotage this nonsense.
5. Jeer, jeer at Old Notre Dame...The University of Notre Dame is responding to the usual political correctness complaints by a vocal minority of campus activists by covering up its 12 134-year-old murals depicting Christopher Columbus discovering the New World. Notre Dame’s president, the Rev. John Jenkins, put himself in the running for “Orwellian Weasel of the Year by explaining that the decision to cover the murals was intended to tell ‘the full story’ of Columbus’s expedition.
This episode inspired a trenchant speech by Roger Kimball, which you can read here. An excerpt:
In the background is the conviction that we, blessed members of the most enlightened cohort ever to grace the earth with its presence, occupy a moral plane superior to all who came before us. Consequently, the defacement of murals of Christopher Columbus — and statues of later historical figures like Teddy Roosevelt — is perfectly virtuous and above criticism since human beings in the past were by definition so much less enlightened than we.
The English department at the University of Pennsylvania contributed to the monument controversy when it cheered on students who were upset that a portrait of a dead white male named William Shakespeare was hanging in the department’s hallway. The department removed the picture and replaced it with a photograph of Audre Lorde, a black feminist writer. ‘Students removed the Shakespeare portrait,’ crowed department chairman Jed Esty, ‘and delivered it to my office as a way of affirming their commitment to a more inclusive mission for the English department.’ Right.
High schools across the country contribute to the monument controversy when they remove masterpieces like Huckleberry Finn from their libraries because they contain ideas or even just words of which they disapprove.
The psychopathology behind these occurrences is a subject unto itself. What has happened in our culture and educational institutions that so many students jump from their feelings of being offended — and how delicate they are, how quick to take offense! — to self-righteous demands to repudiate the thing that offends them? The more expensive education becomes the more it seems to lead, not to broader understanding, but to narrower horizons.