Bad, BAD week last week, and not just for me. It was a bad week in ethics, and because of my own shortcomings, I wasn’t able to properly provide a path through it. This week will be better, starting today. At least if I have anything to say about it…
1. From “the rest of the story” files: Remember when Jonathan Papelbon attacked Bryce Harper in the Washington Nationals dugout? It was 2015, and pretty much marked the end of relief ace Paplebon’s career. Harper went on to become a mega-million dollar free agent after the 2018 season, when he signed with the Phillies for a ridiculous 30 million dollars a year long-term contract. Papelbon finally resurfaced in Boston this season as an amusingly unrestrained analyst for NESN, which broadcasts the the Red Sox games. And I recently discovered how almost right he was to accost Harper, if admittedly a bit too enthusiastically. The prompt for Pap to go grab Harper by the neck was the latter loafing down the line as he barely ran out a ground ball. Harper’s periodic lack of hustle had been a source of annoyance for years (to be fair, he was “only” being paid 2.5 million bucks to play hard in 2015), but I just saw the stats for his last year in Washington. Having been a plus-defensive player in previous years, Harper stopped hustling entirely in 2018, both in the field and on the bases. Though he had once saved over 20 runs in a season in the field alone, in his free agent year Harper cost his team over 20 runs that year, making sure he stayed healthy for the big payday to come (to be fair, he was “only” being paid 21.6 million bucks to play hard in 2018). As soon as he had a guaranteed contract with Philadelphia, Harper started playing hard again, dashing around the bases and diving in the outfield.
Both Papelbon and Harper were jerks during their careers, but nobody could accuse “Pap” of not doing his best to win for the fans, his team, its city and his team mates every single time he stepped onto a baseball field.
2. Not Harvard this time: it’s back to Georgetown! Both of my schools’ diplomas are turned to the wall of my office in a symbolic protest against their continuing unethical policies and conduct—-I’m not sure what more I can do to signal my contempt and embarrassment. Now it’s Georgetown’s turn again—I worked for the University for five years after I graduated from the Law Center—to make me wish I had graduated from a school with some integrity. Though it has been notably un-covered by the mainstream news media, Georgetown Professor Michele Swers read the words of a Ku Klux Klan leader in her “U.S. Political Systems” class for the college, but because she “did not censor” the word “nigger,” a large contingent of her students sent a smoking gun letter letter to Swers and the college’s diversity office, demanding that she apologize profusely, review all future presentation and lecture material for potential bias; and demonstrate her “understanding of the history of the N-word and why it is inappropriate for a non-Black person to say it in any context, including an educational context.” [Pointer: Steve Witherspoon]
Ironically, the was a class discussion on free speech and racism. Swers was quoting Clarence Brandenburg from Brandenburg v. Ohio (a 1969 case that we can discussed much in terms of “violent speech”), the Court struck down an Ohio law prohibiting public speech that was deemed as promoting illegal conduct. It supported the right of the KKK to speak even though it is a hateful organization.
The letter insists that white professors cannot read such passages…I do not agree that the use of offensive terms like this are barred in “any context” and regardless of the intent behind such references. Finally, the effort to bar professors from reading from such a document based on their own race is deeply disturbing and raises its own concerns over the use of racial classifications.
Why do I call the letter a “smoking gun”? Easy: students who have been competently educated in basic American rights and values and the reasons for them would never compose such a letter. It is signature significance, and tells us much about the college and the education these students received before attending it.
3. This is MSNBC…I have friends who swear by MSNBC, and see nothing biased, unprofessional, or unethical about it. Here is Tiffany Cross, host of the Saturday morning MSNBC show The Cross Connection, commenting on Senator Tim Scott’s televised response to President Biden’s speech:
“Tim Scott does not represent any constituency other than the small number of sleepy, slow-witted sufferers of Stockholm Syndrome who get elevated to prominence for repeating a false narrative about this country that makes conservative white people feel comfortable. Because when you speak an uncomfortable truth, like Nikole Hannah-Jones, the party that Scott claims is not racist gets big mad and tries to silence you. Just this week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell asked Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to scrap teaching the 1619 Project in schools because it would re-orient the view of American history. Lucky for McConnell, he has his own tap dancer to try and re-orient the view of America for him. There were so many contradictions in the senator’s speech that it was clear not even Scott believed the words he was speaking. I could go into great detail refuting each of his asinine points, but he did that for me, and moreover, a lesson I’ve learned, don’t argue with people Harriet Tubman would have left behind. And sure, Tim Scott has spoken out about his encounters with law enforcement and he co-sponsored the anti-lynching bill in the Senate, but there are two sides to every token. So thirsty for white approval, this dude actually stood on the national stage to defend the voter suppression law in Georgia. Even though, as of last month, 361 bills were being introduced in 47 states to keep people who look like him out of the ballot box. The ability to shame the ancestors and appease the oppressors all in one speech, that’s extreme, though not quite like the domestic violent extremism that the Department of Homeland Security is investigating within its own ranks, mind you. But please, senator, say more about how un-racist the country is while you trot out that tired line about going from cotton to Congress to clown. Perhaps this was merely Sen. Scott’s audition to be Sam Jackson’s understudy in the film ‘Django.’”
As George Will used to write (maybe he still does, but when he chucked his conservative principles because he regards Donald Trump as an unmannerly boor, I stopped paying attention to Will as the classist, petulant snob he revealed himself to be), “Well.”:
- No, Senator Scott is a U.S. Senator, and the constituency he represents is known as “South Carolina.”
- Nikole Hannah-Jones’ “truth,” the “1619 Project,” is a proven lie, and anti-American propaganda. Republicans don’t want it taught because it is fake history contrived by an activist rather than a scholar. No one is silencing Hannah-Jones: she can make whatever asinine claims she wants. She does not have the right to poison children’s minds with them using taxpayer money, however.
- Calling a black Senator a “tap-dancer!” This is right in line with the Georgetown students’ belief that only blacks can use the term “nigger.” (Did I mention that Cross is black? Did I have to?)
- Calling the unremarkable Georgia law “voter suppression’ isn’t journalism and it isn’t respectable commentary or analysis. It is using a TV show to pimp for a partisan talking point. Any bets on whether Tiffany has actually read the law?
- “I could go into great detail refuting each of his asinine points, but he did that for me, and moreover, a lesson I’ve learned, don’t argue with people Harriet Tubman would have left behind.” Translation: “I have no factual rebuttal, just insults and partisan talking points.”
4. Cue the “Naked Gun” clip:
WJLA-TV in Washington reports that the Pentagon announced Friday that it will refuse to allow AMVETS — the veterans group that stages the event now called “Rolling to Remember” — to use its parking lot as a staging point. The Pentagon cited the Wuhan virus as the reason. Or its excuse? For 34 years, motorcycle-riding veterans and the supporters have gathered in Washington, D.C. on Memorial Day weekend to remember American prisoners of war and those missing in action, using the Pentagon’s parking lot in all but two of those years. There should be little doubt any longer that the governments, national and the states, are exploiting the virus for a political agenda, and stifling a boisterous conservative group, originally Operation Rolling Thunder, now AMVETS, is just the most recent example. The rally approached as much of Washington is opening up, with the Smithsonian opening several of its facilities in May. If the pandemic is really the reason behind denying an outdoor rally a permit, why would D.C. be loosening restrictions on indoor museums during tourist season?
Of course, Hanlon’s Razor may apply….
5. And speaking of Hanlon’s Razor…Despite his CDC saying that vaccinated people don’t need masks outdoors (or indoors with others who have been vaccinated), President Joe Biden, fully vaccinated, told NBC News a week ago that everyone should mask anyway, saying “It’s a small precaution to take that has a profound impact. It’s a patriotic responsibility for God’s sake.”
Nonsense, for God’s sake. If the theory is that I have to pretend that I think the vaccine doesn’t work so other people who don’t trust the vaccine will get vaccinated, that’s too complicated for me. The Virginia Health officials told me as I received my second shot that in two weeks I would not be a danger to infect anyone and would not be in danger of infection. Masks, at best, provide—maybe—a tiny guard against a wearer infecting others. How is it patriotic to 1) pretend I’m infectious when I’m not and 2) continue the social malady of preventing normal interactions, muffling speech, distorting facial cues and more when the real patriotic responsibility is to get the nation back to normal as soon as possible?
There is nothing patriotic about wearing a mask after being immunized. I’m sure Joe means well, but he is, and has always been, an idiot.