Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/15/2020: Cancellations!

Good Morning…

1. Facts don’t matter...On HLN today,  CNN’s police expert James Gagliano explained to smiley-face host Robin Meade why his experience tells him that the police shooting at the Atlanta Wendy’s was justified. (His reasoning turns up in printed form here.) Her response? “This is going to be an unpopular opinion!”

Uh-oh. Can’t have that!

2. Cancelled! From The Future of Capitalism website, here is an updated list of the people who have been fired or otherwise “cancelled” in the wake of the George Floyd Freakout:

  • As we have discussed,the editor of the editorial page of the New York Times, James Bennet.
  • The founder and CEO of CrossFit, Greg Glassman, for referring to the Freakout as the Floyd19 virus.
  • The president of the Poetry Foundation, Henry Bienen, and its board chairman, Willard Bunn III, for issuing a public statement that was deemed  “vague and lacking any commitment to concrete action.”
  • The editor-in-chief of the food magazine Bon Appetit, Adam Rapoport, after photo surfaced of him in 2004 “dressed in a racially insensitive costume.” You know, like the woke Governor of Virginia and the Prime Minister of Canada.
  • The head of video at Conde Nast, Matt Duckor, who critics said presided over a racially biased compensation system.
  • The top editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Stan Wischnowski, because he approved of a headline that read “Buildings Matter, Too.” (They do, but never mind…)
  • The editor of the website Refinery29, Christene Barberich, after black employees complained about the work environment.
  • David Shor, a political data analyst, was fired for having tweeted out a summary of a paper by a Princeton sociology professor.
  • Audrey Gelman, CEO and co-founder of the Wing, a co-working community for women, for requiring diversity and antibias trainings that were deemed inadequate.
  • University of Chicago professor of economics Harold Uhlig was placed on leave from his role as editor of the Journal of Political Economy following “accusations of discriminatory conduct in a classroom setting.” Uhlig also had his contract with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago canceled after a Fed spokeswoman said the bank determined “that his views are not compatible with the Chicago Fed’s values and our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.”
  • St. John’s University assistant fencing coach Boris Vaksman was fired “after making derogatory remarks about black people in a private lesson” according to “what appears to be an edited video,” the New York Times reported.
  • Stephen A. Huffman was dismissed by TeamHealth from his job as an emergency room doctor in Ohio after publicly speculating about why blacks have been hit particularly hard by Covid-19.
  • The CEO of Crisis Text Line, Nancy Lublin, was “ousted by the nonprofit’s board of directors on Friday, in response to allegations of racism and mistreating staff,” Axios reported.  The board also said that “at least two members of the board will be replaced with black, indigenous, or persons of color candidates” and “Anti-racist trainings for board members will begin in July.”
  • Canadian television personality, Jessica Mulroney’s  show, “I Do, Redo,” was canceled by its Canadian network after a blogger accused her of exhibiting “white privilege,” the New York Post reported.
  • Barbara Fedida, an ABC News executive, was placed on “administrative leave” after what a HuffPost article based on unnamed sources described as “a long pattern of insensitive statements, including racist comments.”

I’m glad I run my own company.

3.  And cancelled on the Right...apparently for a really stupid reason…Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman lost the GOP nomination for his central Virginia seat to challenger Bob Good, a born-again evangelical Christian who had called Riggleman “out of step with the base of the party. It appears that Riggleman, whose voting record is about as conservative as one can be, angered “the base” by officiating at a same-sex wedding  of former campaign volunteers last year.

Yeah, I think it’s really important to treat human beings as unworthy of kindness and support because of whom they choose to marry.  Riggleman presided over a legal process that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled is a human and legal right. The Horror.

The reason Virginia is “turning blue” is that as ridiculous and hypocritical as Ralph Northam’s Democratic Party is, Virginia’s Republican Party, beginning with George Allen’s repulsive campaign to be re-elected to the Senate in 2008, has been positively Cro-Magnon. [Pointer: valkygrrl]

4. Now the dead cancellation candidates. In England, they want to tear down a statue of…Gandhi? In California, BLM vandals attacked a statue of poet John Greenleaf Whittier, a prominent abolitionist, I guess because he was white, or something. In Boston, a statue of Abraham Lincoln in Boston’s Park Square was vandalized, because  the Great Empancipator is depicted with a slave kneeling.  (Funny, I though kneeling was now a good thing.)

My favorite, though, is the movement to make the University of New Hampshire change the name of its Franklin Pierce School of Law because, though he was anti-slavery, the 14th President was also anti-abolition, based on some wacky theory that only God could end slavery. Why a law school is named after Pierce is a head-scratcher. True, he was a lawyer in New Hampshire, and the state’s only President, but he was a terrible one, perhaps the worst. Crushed by the bloody death of his young son and his wife’s subsequent emotional collapse, poor Pierce spent his four years in the White House drunk and depressed while the country was falling apart around him.

Nonetheless, the fact that the university is apparently prepared to cave to student demands because that’s what universities do these days is depressing.  There’s a good argument for changing the name of New Hampshire’s only law school, but not Pierce’s political position at the peak of the national debate over slavery before the Civil War. The reason to change the name is that naming a school of any kind after a failure like Pierce is like naming one after Custer, Joe McCarthy, Spiro Agnew, Harold Stassen, Charles Van Doren or Shoeless Joe Jackson.

36 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/15/2020: Cancellations!

  1. Check page 11 of BOSTOCK v. CLAYTON COUNTY, GEORGIA , you can’t fire people for being gay but you can fire them for being Yankees fans. So.. well… Fair enough.

  2. Yeah, I think it’s really important to treat human beings as unworthy of kindness and support because of whom they choose to marry.

    Portraying the enemy as holding nefarious motives other than his actual motives. Now, that’s rhetoric worthy of any mainstream news BLM mouthpiece.

    Alternatively, perhaps we’re reaping the storm from sewing that whirlwind of giving in to every imaginative “give peace a chance” absurdity such as the idea that anything which exists between a man and a man or a woman and a woman can be called a marriage. Even that was the fallout of redefining marriage as a mere contract which can be legally nullified.

    No, it’s clear we won’t escape the free-fall of society into barbarism if we can’t even identify which way is up. Just keep on keeping on. Once we’ve hit the stony earth, if any of us survives, he can know, from there which way he has to go.

    • Portraying the enemy as holding nefarious motives other than his actual motives. Now, that’s rhetoric worthy of any mainstream news BLM mouthpiece.

      Wait…you have another explanation for punishing a Republican for the kind act of thanking his volunteers by presiding over their wedding? It’s bigotry, by definition.

      • I think the vilification of standard 1998 morality may be the real bigotry. A trend of deconstructing meaning won’t be stopped by harboring a taste for meaning deconstructed only so far.

        The construction “kind act of thanking his volunteers by presiding over their wedding” side steps the issue in the same way defenders of trans-rights in women’s sports side step the matter.

        I know we disagree on the substance of that matter, and I don’t mean to disrespect you. I think you treated the position as being “out there” though, and I simply wanted to put a word in to the opposite effect.

      • It seemed a pretty weak example of “cancellation” to me as well…more of an assumption than a specifically stated or undisputed direct result of one action, despite that (unsurprising) implication in the headline of the NPR article. Voters choosing one conservative candidate over another (one term) one could obviously hinge on many factors.

        From the body of the piece:
        Riggleman…also consistently voted against efforts to expand LGBTQ rights, despite officiating his two former campaign volunteers’ same-sex wedding in July 2019.

        Good, campaigned on issues including making English the official language of the U.S. and ending birthright citizenship.

  3. (1) Fact’s don’t matter anymore, only ‘truth’ matters. Thank you postmodernism and cultural Marxism.

    Now, what if Derek Chauvin is acquitted due to overcharging? It is hard to make sense of what is happening, but apparently, Keith Ellison has upped the charges to 2nd degree murder under the idea that officers applying force to a resisting suspect is a felony. I can’t tell if he is still being charged with 3rd degree murder (thank you lousy reporting). What if the jury doesn’t buy Ellison’s argument, or decides that making it a felony for officers to physically resist a suspect is a bad precedent? What if the prosecution can’t make a convincing case that Chauvin put his knee on Floyd specifically to kill him? Is anyone going to listen to the ‘facts’ that Chauvin was acquitted only because of unreasonable charges? Even if the 3rd degree murder charge is still there and he is convicted of that, what will happen if he is acquitted of the 2nd degree murder? Remember, no one is going to listen to a reasoned argument and facts don’t matter.

    • Part of me thinks that the upgraded charge of second degree murder was laid specifically so Keith Ellison can get a murder conviction (third degree) and still be able to play the “the system is broken” card. I’m sure Ellison has bigger ambitions than state Attorney General.

    • My guess is that 3rd degree is still being charged.

      Mohamed Noor was convicted of 3rd Degree and acquitted of 2nd Degree in the death of Justine Damond.


    • The real problem with the second degree murder charge is that the state has to prove Chauvin intended to violate the law at the time of detention. That is going to be hard to prove. The felony-murder charges as to the 3 other police officers will be based on that underlying issue, as well. If a jury determines that Chauvin’s detention was lawful, then they might conclude that Floyd’s death does not fit within the charged offense; therefore, the jury could conclude that the elements of second degree murder have not been met, and the officers are not guilty of Floyd’s death. Prepare your fire extinguishers.


      • I agree that second degree is harder.
        I think Noor got off on the second degree charge because he was reacting to a situation in moments.

        I think he made poor decisions but intent would be hard to show.

        Here, we are talking about 8-10 minutes. Chauvin was not reacting to a situation the way Noor was.

        Also, if there has been training involving restraints (which I hear there was, but I don’t know), then, if he was performing a restraint that he knew or should have known was dangerous (especially if he knew it could be lethal), intent is easier to argue.

        It is by no means a simple case, but it probably has a better chance of succeeding than it did in Noor’s case.


        • Early on, it was reported that the “side-of-the-neck kneel” was an approved procedure, because it supposedly did not restrict breathing, like other types of neck holds.

  4. Wait…you have another explanation for punishing a Republican for the kind act of thanking his volunteers by presiding over their wedding? It’s bigotry, by definition.

    The origin of the notion of marriage in Occidental culture arose out of very specific metaphysical notions. The essence of a Christian marriage is ‘shot through’ (to use a bad metaphor) with effervescent metaphysical notions. The blessing of a union that is, by nature, to produce children which enter the Christian fold. Marriage is a sacrament in Catholicism and the same essential idea (with a theological base) applies within Protestantism. Except of course in more radical forms of Protestantism which — and I have studied this to some degree — veer off into really amazing territory.

    So, let’s get right down to the core here: if you did not ever actually believe any of this: incarnation of God into a human body; a moment in specific time when salvation was offered; the entire structure of theological metaphysics with which Christianity is intertwined . . .

    . . . then ‘marriage’ is just an agreement between two people — a contract — supported by civil authority who has no other interest in that union except as law and convention determines. Could be for taxation. For estate planning. Any number of different reasons. But this has nothing at all to do with any sort of sacramental status.

    If any Christian who has any solid and theologically-grounded understanding of the culture of Christianity that has informed the Occident for a very long time, through ignorance, through neglect, or simply through dullness of understanding — or by not caring — officiates at a sacramental wedding, it is there that the mistake has been made. It is — according to a more strict form of Christian doctrine and view — a sin. It should not be done for all that one might wish to do it. Feeling does not enter in though. Only the strictest of rigorous rules enters in. It should not be done.

    There you have the conceptual base. How a person chooses to organize their own ‘belief’ is their own affair. But it cannot be done and made to accord with the strict theological definitions. However, you can *rewrite theology* and that is being done!

    So, what is the meaning and purpose of punishing the man for what he did (as seems to have been the case). Well, that is a question for the Culture Wars. All radical progressivism inches forward by incremental degree. It infringes in one area, even a small area, and then when it is given space sets out to claim more. But (true) conservatism has firm limits defined by what I call *strong idea* and defines itself through strict principles. The principles are either understood, and accepted, understood and resented (but obeyed), understood, resented and disobeyed, or simply not understood at all! And then it doesn’t matter! You do what you want according to your own lights.

    It is crucial, and will become increasingly crucial if ever ‘genuine conservatism’ is reclaimed, to define the bedrock of principle.

    Now, what is the connection with this small issue to the larger issues surrounding us and threatening to submerge us, like in a flood? That every aspect of decay, disorder, breakdown, rebellion, rejection of *rule* has come about incrementally. And now we witness the fruition of the boutons du mal into fully fledged fleurs du mal.

    In fact everything connects together. Progressive radicalism is a sort of disease. But the origin of its success is in having defeated the metaphysical principle. That is, to have begun to see it is *untrue* or as *unreal*.

    From this base we could then begin to examine the term ‘bigot’ and ‘bigotry’. These have been ‘progressive armaments’ of course. They can be challenged. 🙂

      • Wait…you have another explanation for punishing a Republican for the kind act of thanking his volunteers by presiding over their [abortion]? It’s bigotry, by definition.

        I have historically thought little of legal positivism.

  5. Great irony — this morning, on a car owned by a definitely left-wing person, I saw a decal that said, “I won’t be silenced.” I’m not sure if that was a thing before #metoo, and I know HRC used the phrase in some speeches, but I just don’t see silencing coming from the right as it surely is from the left. The right is routinely accused of authoritarianism, but, silencing, and it’s partner, cancel culture, have to be two of the surest markers of an authoritarian mind-set.

    • That’s because the rule seems to become almost always true- If the Left/Democrats/Progressives etc accuse the Right of doing something, it is because the Left is already doing it or plans on doing it.

  6. #2
    ” I am glad I run my own company”

    Is that a non ethical consideration? Yesterday a Berkely professor was labeled an ethics dunce for an anonymous email. It was said that because the writer failed to identify him/ herself the sentiments lacked the requisite value they deserved. At least that was my take.

    Now we have a list of those whose ideas have been deemed heresy and those people are to be punished economically. The punishers will argue that free speech is not free of consequences. They will argue their speech is protected by virtue of its moral clarity but yours is not. But when does the groupthink transition to economic terrorism. Terrorism by definition is to use fear to achieve a political end. Therefore, the cancel culture is engaging in economic terrorism.

    I think when establishing dunce status – a pejorative – we need to ask ourselves are we willing to risk everything you have worked for when you believe your colleagues will leave you high and dry to protect themselves.
    Perhaps Janice was correct when she sang Me and Bobby McGee
    ” Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose”

    We cannot count on the corporate or government employee to do the heavy lifting. The leadership must come from those who are insulated from economic reprisals.

    • No. I’m not insulated from damage from the positions I stake out here under my name; in fact, I know for certain that I have lost jobs and clients. (And how can being “glad” be an unethical consideration?)

    • “We cannot count on the corporate or government employee to do the heavy lifting. The leadership must come from those who are insulated from economic reprisals.” Who would THAT be? Money corrupts, but it still isn’t everything. All of the Founders were risking their fortunes, and indeed their lives.

      • I agree the founders were risking their lives and fortunes but so did many others. None of these exemplars of leadership had to deal with instantaneous and widespread communications. They all had the ability to grow their messaging. Not having every fumble, misunderstood context, or distortion replayed over and over again benefitted them immensely. FDR was the first to communicate instantly communicate to a broad audience and he had the luxury of not having to apologize for the supposed original sin of the founding.

        My entire point is that if we wait for or demand that others take a leadership position when we ourselves will not we will surrender to the anarchists. I will not impose a label on anyone that chooses to protect themselves and families from economic destruction.

      • Jack, The leadership to push back on much of this needs to come from those who are not beholden to the mass market.

        Small business owners need to speak up, retirees need to speak up, licensed professionals need to speak up. None of these are immune from market forces but because there are so many of them they will not be able to be effectively boycotted or targeted.

        No one that I know could name any major player or leader in this anarchistic movement that swelled in volume when reasonable people marched against what was believed to be rampant police abuse. That is their strength: relative anonymity. They use weak politicians to put a face on the cause. Mayor Durkan and others are merely puppets reacting to their masters commands.

        The volume of people suggests widespread dissatisfaction when we all sit silently by watching the cities burn. Sure, we condemn these acts but we live in a visual world. Had 1000 people in every city peacefully taken to the streets to push back against these neo fascist anarchists the violence and looting might have been a short lived event. Unfortunately, we wait for the other guy to pick up what we should be doing ourselves.

    • Joplin…”Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose”
      Just for fun…

      Song was written (c. 1969) by Kris Kristofferson, and performed by a few successful artists before Janice got it from Kris.

      In 1960’s pop/folk/movement music, Dylan beat them to it in Like a Rolling Stone with: “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose”

      I’m sure it was probably already a fairly ancient concept, anyway. Maybe Alizia will let us know on that 😉 (…and I say that with only a very small degree of fond joshing, Ali.)

            • I agree with the actual thrust of your series of comments. I won’t fault someone, like that professor, for not being bold enough to martyr himself. Only the individual can know what he risks and what hill he feels obliged to die on. This doesn’t diminish what contribution he dares make, unless he has set himself up as a “leader”, who might be assumed to have accepted the duty to speak out (a political office holder could be one such). As you say, the more insulated you are from complete personal destruction by the mob, either by actually having nothing to lose, or having so much that no one can effectively take it away (e.g., J.K.Rowling), the more free you are to speak without consequences (and, in the latter class, the more likely to be heard). Everyone else is stuck in the middle, and has to cautiously make their own assessments.

              Ironically, we see that some on Jack’s list of the cancelled appear to be of the left, but their wokeness was deemed “inadequate”.

  7. Jack
    I did not say being glad was unethical I asked if being the sole decision maker was a non ethical consideration when deciding whether to use your name.

    My understanding of non ethical considerations includes personal safety be it physical or economic. The sole decision maker of a business has far more latitude and economic safety than any employee.

    If an employee were to have a differing political opinion than the owner he or she should stay quiet or find other employ. We have been over this too many times that employees have a duty not to bring harm or disrepute to the firm. The question of what is disrepute is determined by the management or owners .

    Starbucks will be issuing BLM messaging uniforms but what if an employee came in with a Make America Great Again pin, would management allow it. If not, should the employee make it a cause celebre’? If the employee does demand to wear that political message is firing the employee justifiable.. The answer is yes but the firing undermines the stated goal of inclusion and diversity.

    I understand that every business has clients that will decide not to buy based on some stand the business takes.
    However, the loss of one client or even several does not rise to the level of losing your entire revenue stream. The academic world is quite insular. Ostracism is prevalent. Team and consensus building means everyone agrees or you are quietly and quickly relegated to counting paperclips. This prevents any advancement. Further, because your CV shows you have done little and had no advancement at your institution no other institutions at that level will want you. Being fired is the professional equivalent of disbarment. You might find a job at the community college but your teaching career at a prestigious institution is forever dead.

    I cut this professor some slack because few of our founders posted on message boards meeting times, dates and who is coming to discuss the upcoming revolution. Much of their earliest work was done anonymously. I will admit pamphleteers took the earliest risks but many used pseudonyms.

    You have to start somewhere anonymously until you build your army of followers. This college professor was no different than Samuel Adams et al.

  8. 4) Jack, you’re going to let one little error in judgement classify Custer as a failure?

    Well, ok, maybe, but shouldn’t we also take into consideration the fact that he arguably saved the Union at the Battle of Gettysburg? If he doesn’t rally I think it was a Michigan cavalry unit to repel General Stuart who can say whether Picket’s charge might have succeeded?

  9. The president of the Poetry Foundation, Henry Bienen, and its board chairman, Willard Bunn III, for issuing a public statement that was deemed “vague and lacking any commitment to concrete action.”

    Am I the only one who finds “concrete action” to be a strange expectation to have of a poet’s organization?

    • Bienen obviously had made no move to establish a committee to review all member output to ensure that it was purged of any wrongthink and bourgeois sentiments, and was fully in accord with the teachings of Chairman Mao.Black Lives Matter.

  10. The reason Virginia is “turning blue” is that as ridiculous and hypocritical as Ralph Northam’s Democratic Party is, Virginia’s Republican Party, beginning with George Allen’s repulsive campaign to be re-elected to the Senate in 2008, has been positively Cro-Magnon.

    Do you think that, in Virginia, opposing same-sex marriage is considered worse than wearing blackface?

    On a related note, it seems that the Black Lives Matter campaign is a racket.

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