“Systemic,” A Four Part Ethics Alarms Depression, Part III: Higher Education’s Systemic Rot

Not excused.

I promised not to pile on to ridicule the CNN legal analyst who for some reason only known by him and Priapus decided to—you know—while in the middle of a well-attended Zoom meeting, on camera. This presumably rendered the lawyer a permanent laughingstock whose career as a respected—well, not by me, but by progressive ideologues—commentator on law-related current events is probably kaput. It certainly should be kaput, but many have marveled that he has not been fired, just suspended, and some even are betting that after a “cooling off period,” he may be welcomed on CNN again.

I’ll take that bet.

Progressives and pundits are working so hard to spin his outrageous conduct that you would think he’s Bill Clinton or Joe Biden, worthy of the King’s Pass because of some unique value to the public, or at least to left-biased news coverage. He’s not; if there is one kind of expert that is as fungible as jellybeans, it’s legal pundits like…the guy whose name I promised not to mention again. But never mind that: any high placed employee of a company requiring public trust would be fired after an incident like this….including, I presume, a university professor.

Yet here comes University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education professor Jonathan Zimmerman to argue that masturbating on camera in a Zoom meeting is a “pseudo-scandal” rooted in Americans’ “collective unease with masturbation.”

“You might say that he shouldn’t have been pleasuring himself during a work call, but that’s his business rather than yours,” Zimmerman said.

You “might say”? Wow. No, you idiot, when one is in a business meeting, one’s conduct is the business of the participants and the company hosting the meeting. When you are a prominent figure in a company that must maintain its reputation, your conduct is the company’s business, literally.

And when your business is helping society define rules and habit of behavior that are responsible, competent, respectful and civilized, calling what was done in the New Yorker’s Zoom meeting what it is absolutely your business, which is to say, my business, as a professional ethicist.

Zimmerman’s logic is almost as embarrassing as the incident. “News flash: [the analyst] masturbates. But I’m guessing that you do the same, dear reader. Maybe you should stop feeling weird and guilty about that. Then we can all stop making fun ….”

Wait! Calling Peter Sellers again!

We all go to the bathroom too, but if we pull down our pants and take a giant dump in our office while on camera, that is inappropriate behavior for the workplace. We have sex with others, but having sex during a business meeting is not respectful to the meeting or its participants, and strongly suggests a lack of maturity, good judgment, self-control, and common sense.

And call me cynical, but somehow I don’t think Prof. Zimmerman would be making this ridiculous defense of, say, Sean Hannity, Mitch McConnell or Mike Pence if they “whipped it out” on camera in the pursuit of happiness.

Our colleges and universities exist to teach young citizens how to think clearly and critically, as well as to understand the values that support a functioning and civilized society. As we have seen repeatedly, and ae now witnessing the consequences, our education system doesn’t do that adequately, and one reason is that it allows silly ideologues like Jonathan Zimmerman to mislead and warp students.

15 thoughts on ““Systemic,” A Four Part Ethics Alarms Depression, Part III: Higher Education’s Systemic Rot

  1. Masturbating in front of your colleagues is sexual harassment.

    It does not matter if you do it in person or on a video conference. It’s sexual harassment.

    No one should seek to become so tolerant or accepting that they cannot acknowledge that such behavior is unacceptable.

  2. “There are some ideas so stupid that only an intellectual could believe them.” – George Orwell
    Boy, does this guy have 2020 pegged or what?

  3. I’d take the bet too. It’s most probable that CNN put suspension on the table to give him a chance to resign and thus “not make a federal case of it.’

  4. “It certainly should be kaput, but many have marveled that he has not been fired, just suspended, and some even are betting that after a “cooling off period,” he may be welcomed on CNN again.”

    That’s my bet. We haven’t heard much about him the last couple of days, so I think CNN is going to wait until we are distracted by something else and quietly begin using him again.

  5. I remember hearing the current condition of politics compared to its prior condition described as follows: “The local pharmacist and drugstore owner used to get elected and go off to Washington, D.C. to represent the locale in Congress while the town wise guy sits at the drugstore’s counter and complains and makes wise about politics. Now, the drugstore owner stays home, runs the drugstore, and the town wise guy goes off to Washington and acts like a wise guy and complains.”

    I think over the last forty years, the same thing has happened in the American academy: The not really smart and not at all serious wise guy sitting at the back of the class room making preposterous statements and throwing spitballs is now the professor.

  6. I’m not sure who’s betting on which possible outcome, but I’m betting Toobin will be back on the air ASAP. Funny how certain lefty talking heads are just favored people and function on a different plane than mere mortals. For some reason, Toobin seems to be indispensable to the left. I bet he’ll be back in the saddle before election night. Weird.

    • I an 100% convinced you are wrong. Bill O’Reilly wasn’t asked back; Matt Lauer is gone. Louis CK is still persona non-grata on TV. What He Who I Will Not Further Humiliate by name did is far more embarrassing, and if he is brought back, the mockery will drwon out anything he says as well as its ability to influence anyone.

      I wrote an article for a baseball blog about how no team would hire Barry Bonds as a DH, and was flamed for it by “experts.” I was right. When a PR flack said on TV that OJ would be back peddling products after things “cooled down,” I wrote the station suggesting that he was insane.

      Even MSNBC won’t be foolish enough to use Toobin.

      • I hope you’re right. Logically, you should be. But these are not ordinary times. The left seems to be intent on normalizing all sorts of behavior these days. As per the professor, jacking off in private is clearly heteronormative and therefore invalid.

      • There seem to be quite a few journalists in NYC starting that this is normal behavior and all their friends do it. I was surprised that no one filed a sexual harassment complaint about this. If this isn’t hostile work environment, I don’t know what is, but no one seems to have done so. Maybe NYC culture is approaching Idiocracy levels faster than expected. They did elect deBlasio.

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