I’m always a bit depressed in the period between Christmas and New Years, and scenes like the one above, which have proliferated in Alexandria, don’t help. It looks like a massacre has occurred, not that I haven’t been tempted to rub out some of the more horrible inflatable lawn displays, like the 25 foot penguin, the Christmas Imperial Walkers (I do NOT understand), and especially the giant Mickey Mouse in a Santa suit that looms across the street and has embarrassed the entire neighborhood. There is clearly no generally accepted ethical standard requiring neighbors to make certain their Christmas displays are, if not artistic, aesthetically pleasing, dignified or restrained, at least not eyesores.
1. I’m beginning to wonder…if the guilty verdict rendered against Kim Potter might not be reversed after all, as it should be. If the current feeling is that Minnesota judges don’t have the guts to buck the mob by addressing the injustice in this case, the mob’s consensus seems to be weakening. The fact that the black officer who deliberately shot and killed an unarmed January 6 rioter has faced no punishment, never mind imprisonment, has been noted extensively, and I was shocked this morning to see two letters published in the New York Times declaring Potter’s conviction to be unjust. One made the point, which has come up in Ethics Alarms comment threads, about the contrast between how Potter’s fatal mistake was treated and how deadly errors by doctors and nurses are virtually never the object of criminal prosecution.
2. Dispatch from the Great Stupid, George Floyd Freakout Chapter. To quote Samuel L. Jackson in “Jurassic Park”…
Yes, my friends, that’s really a painting portraying George Floyd as Jesus Christ, and previously sane Catholic University in Washington, D.C. installed the creation of artist Kelly Latimore, apparently rendered right after Floyd’s death when he was in the throes of hysteria, in its law school earlier this year. In November, the painting was stolen. The university, apparently never having heard the saying, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” replaced it with a smaller copy, using the justification that its policy was “not to cancel speakers or prevent speech by members of the community. Now the copy has also been stolen. I think the students are trying to tell the school something. The student government also passed a resolution calling the painting blasphemous, and demanding that it no copies of it be displayed.
Never mind blasphemous, the painting is mind-numbingly stupid. Catholic president John H. Garvey, is obviously useless: he accepted the awful thing because he didn’t have the guts to face accusations of racism, and now he’s groveling and backtracking, saying in a statement yesterday that he apologizes for the “confusion” the painting had created and will to “think carefully” about how to replace it. “Many saw the figure in the arms of Our Lady as a divinized George Floyd,” his statement said in part. “This interpretation led to accusations that the work was blasphemous, something that is contrary to the respect due God and his holy name. Regardless of your interpretation, it created needless controversy and confusion, for which I am sorry.”
What a weenie. Meanwhile, the law school is demonstrating why people hate lawyers, arguing that the painting depicts Jesus, not George Floyd. But Jesus didn’t overdose on Fentanyl, and the artist says that he painted Floyd. [Source: NYT)
3. Now here’s an ethically clueless quote, from 2003, which appeared in the obituary of Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who won Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court:
I thought, over a period of time, that the right of a woman to make a decision about what she would do in a particular pregnancy would be accepted, that by this time, the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the controversy over abortion would have gradually faded away like the closing scenes of a movie and we could go on to other issues.
I was wrong.
How amazing! All those people who believe, with considerable justification, that every abortion involves the killing of a unique human being, didn’t just gradually give up their convictions and values, shrug, and go on to other things!
What does it say about Weddington, and the abortion enthusiasts she represents, that she not only believed that, but was willing to say it for publication?
4. The depressing and frightening saga of Prof. Jason Kilborn, continued. In February, Ethics Alarms covered the ridiculous story of Illinois-Chicago John Marshall School of Law professor Jason Kilborn, who used a hypothetical about a employment discrimination case for his final exam that referred to the use of racist and sexist rhetoric as “n—–” and “b—-“. He was attacked as a racist by students, and the school, which is a disgrace, capitulated to their contrived outrage and a petition by announcing an investigation. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) in turn sent a letter to the university demanding that it protect the rights of faculty members. Still, Kilborn’s classes were cancelled for the entire semester. He had to endure weeks of administrative leave as he was barred from campus and prevented from participating in normal faculty communications and activities, including his position on the university promotion and tenure committee. Worst of all, the professor was compelled to submit to three hours of mental examinations and a drug test by university doctors and a social worker, broken into two segments spanning the course of a week.
This is Soviet stuff.
But Kilborn is also a weenie. He even authored an apology to the offended students. FIRE did get him a lawyer who helped negotiate what the professor–who says that he doesn’t like to fight— thought was a resolution that would put the incident behind him. But black students at the school are still demanding that Kilborn be fired, and now, Legal Insurrection reports, another assault on the professor is being mounted:
Last Friday, the university informed Professor Kilborn’s lawyer that Professor Kilborn would be suspended from teaching this Spring at UIC’s John Marshall Law School (although still paid, and still required to perform administrative duties) so that he can participate in rather time-intensive “re-education” programs…
Professor Kilborn will be subjected to an 8-week indoctrination course–20 hours of coursework, required “self-reflection” (self-criticism?) papers for each of 5 modules, plus weekly 90-minute sessions with a trainer followed by three more weeks of vaguely described supplemental meetings with this trainer. Since the trainer will provide “feedback regarding Professor Kilborn’s engagement and commitment to the goals of the program,” disagreement or skepticism about the content of the program is presumably not welcome.
Here is some of the text of the letter delivered December 16 to Kilborn’s lawyer Wayne Giampietro from John B. Alsterda, UIC Legal Counsel (emphasis added)
…. I would like to take this opportunity to set forth in writing the individualized training and coaching for Professor Kilborn to facilitate his return to the classroom, as well as additional important developments for the Law School community. I am providing this information to you outside of the Rule 408 communications we have had to date.
• Professor Kilborn will be enrolled in Cornell University Center for Teaching Innovation, “Teaching and Learning in the Diverse Classroom Online Course.” Information about the course can be found here: https://teaching.cornell.edu/programs/faculty-instructors/workshops-and-other-opportunities/teaching-learning-diverse-classroom. The course consists of 5 modules spanning 5 weeks. Each module requires an approximate time commitment of 2-4 hours.
• The modules will also be supplemented by readings, podcasts, and/or videos.
• After completion of each module, Professor Kilborn will be asked to prepare a written self-reflection paper in response to specific prompts.
• In conjunction with his Cornell coursework, the Law School is retaining an instructional advisor to work with Professor Kilborn one-on-one. The advisor is a practicing attorney with significant experience in employment law and diversity and inclusion consulting and has a sub-specialty in higher education matters. In furtherance of her work in this area , the advisor has taken a similar Cornell course in diversity and inclusion and has earned a certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell similar to the one Professor Kilborn will earn. The instructional advisor will connect with Professor Kilborn weekly, preferably via zoom, although they may decide in-person meetings are more effective (taking COVID-safety protocols into account). These meetings will consist of 60 to 90-minute sessions to discuss the Cornell modules and supplementary assignments, to provide feedback on reflection papers, and to discuss the assignments, answer his questions and offer insights. In addition, the advisor will assess whether Professor Kilborn is gaining insight, learning, and competencies in the subject matter presented, with a particular focus on applying the course content to his work responsibilities as a faculty member.
• Following the 5-week Cornell course, Professor Kilborn will be provided with additional supplementary material and will meet with the instructional advisor weekly to discuss the material. During the course of the program, the instructional advisor will also provide feedback regarding Professor Kilborn’s engagement and commitment to the goals of the program. The common goal is to return Professor Kilborn to the classroom. The Law School is committed to ensuring that the entire Law School community benefits from a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment.
The letter then says this is not “punitive” but that Prof. Kilborn would not be allowed to teach his classes while he underwent the training:
Nah, it’s not punitive, but if he refuses, they’ll make him wear a special mask with a starving rat in it..
There is much more here, if you can take it. [Pointer: Willem Reese]
Clearly, it’s time for Gina: