Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/6/22: The “Well, Waddya Know!” Edition

Before we get to today’s ethics, we mustn’t let remembering the Alamo cause us to forget other ethically significant events in U.S. history. Yesterday marked the date in 1770 when a mob of American colonists gathered at the Customs House in Boston and began taunting and throwing objects at were protesting the occupation of their city by British troops, who had arrived in Boston two years before to enforce unpopular taxes passed by a British parliament. Young British private Hugh Montgomery was hit by a rock or an icy snowball, and he discharged his musket at the crowd. Other soldiers began firing, and the result was five “Patriots” were dead or fatally wounded. In a landmark moment for the American legal profession, John Adams and Josiah Quincy defended the hated soldiers and got all of them off except two who were found guilty of manslaughter. Their thumbs were branded with an “M” as their punishment.

Protesters and rioters have always prospered by provoking authorities into excessive force (or what the protesters were able to convince the public was excessive) ; the cause doesn’t matter. Incidentally, none of the Boston mob were prosecuted for “insurrection,” nor was the primary protest instigator, Samuel Adams.

1. Well waddya know! Hollywood celebrities who broadcast their political views are often incompetent and ignorant! Consider this tweet by actress Patricia Arquette:

Lessons: 

  • If Twitter doesn’t make you stupid, it will show everyone how stupid you are.
  • This tweet got 1,156 “likes.” Twitter also makes tweet readers stupid. 
  • Celebrities like Arquette really think their opinions on issues not connected to the reason for their fame should be taken more seriously than anyone else with two-digit IQs and a 7th grade-levl education.
  • These irresponsible celebrities include  the “internet influencers.” They drive the opinions of those who don’t have the attention spans to read more than a dozen words or so at a time. This is a substantial, even decisive portion of the American public.
  • Arquette has had minimal education, so it was the news media’s duty to make sure she and people like her were informed about what this “NATO” thingy was that everyone was always talking about.

It didn’t.

2. Well waddya know! Sports celebrities are narcissists who making me defend the New York Times! The Times erroneously used a photo of Venus Williams instead of Serena Williams when it printed its business story about the more than $100 million the 23-time Grand Slam winner raised for her new venture capital fund. Serena was furious that she didn’t get her image in the news for the 28 millionth time! And, naturally, the tennis star had to slam down the race card and tie an unremarkable editing error to “systemic racism.” “No matter how far we come, we get reminded that it’s not enough,” the tennis legend whined on Twitter.”This is why I raised $111M for @serenaventures. To support the founders who are overlooked by engrained systems woefully unaware of their biases. Because even I am overlooked.”

Right. Serena Williams is “overlooked.” Overlooked people always are able to raise 111 million bucks on their name alone.  I saw Serena in two TV commercials just yesterday. Of course, the Times is grovelling pitifully, when it should tell Serena, “Oh, get over yourself. There was nothing racial about a simple mistake.”

3. Well waddya know! Ethics Alarms predicted what professional journalists couldn’t be bothered to point out. No news outlet (that I read or saw) explained what should have been made clear to all Americans last week: the heavy economic sanctions the U.S. is placing on Russia (though not heavy enough) are not immune from being treated as acts of war, as Ethics Alarms pointed out in item #4, in this recent post

From Reuters: “President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that Western sanctions on Russia were akin to a declaration of war…”

4. Well waddya know!  Democrats are grasping at unethical straws to avoid accountability!…As the likely carnage of the 2022 mid-terms approach, we can expect more offal like this. Democratic Party lawyers in North Carolina filed a motion with the state’s Board of Elections trying to have GOP first term Congressman Madison Cawthorn declared ineligible for re-election under the dead letter provision of the 14th Amendment that disqualified former members of the Confederacy from office for being “insurrectionists.”

You see? All the news media’s dishonest use of “insurrection” to describe the Capitol riot had a purpose after all. But U.S. District Judge Richard E. Myers II slapped down the basis for the stunt, noting that Section Three states,  “Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.” The Amnesty Act of 1872 did that, declaring “all political disabilities imposed by the third section” of the 14th amendment  to be “hereby removed from all persons whomsoever.”  Democrats tried this pretzel-like argument: the 1872 law applied only to Civil War confederates, not future “insurrectionists,” and a law could not overturn a constitutional amendment. The problem with this intellectually dishonest theory is that the Fourteenth Amendment provision also only applied to the Civil War (and not shameless anti-Donald Trump vendettas), and specifically stated that a law passed by 2/3 of Congress could overturn that amendment, because the text of the amendment said so.  Moreover, “all persons whomsoever” is rather all-encompassing. The required phrase “except Congress members who supported public protests of the deliberately insecure voting measures allowed in the 2020 election” is conspicuously missing from the Amnesty Act.

Virtually all legal experts agree with the judge’s interpretation, but we can expect the House’s Jan. 6 riot Star Chamber to return to this Hail Mary pass attempt when it finally releases its “findings.”

5. Well waddya know! Hastings law school professors don’t believe in allowing opinions they don’t agree with! Following the despicable heckler’s veto of Georgetown professor Illya Shapiro at UC Hastings by the school’s law students, discussed here and here, a group professors signed this letter to students:

Dear Concerned Students,

We write in our individual capacity and not on behalf of the institution to explain where the Administration’s community email, The College is Committed to Academic Freedom and Free Speech, does not represent our priorities or articulate our commitments to providing you an equitable learning environment.

First and foremost, we condemn the recent comments from Ilya Shapiro regarding President Biden’s commitment to nominate an African American woman to the Supreme Court. We find Shapiro’s tweet unequivocally racist and misogynistic. We refuse to remain silent in the face of white supremacy. We wish you did not have to live in a society where vile, hateful, and ignorant speech directed towards communities of color is a regular occurrence.

While the Administration’s statement mentions in passing the pain experienced by communities of color the past two years, it does not discuss the law school’s role in perpetuating the marginalization of our current students. We are aware from conversations with our students of color over the years, and particularly our African American students, that they do not experience UC Hastings as a welcoming learning environment. As professors, we are committed to combating the implicit and explicit messaging UC Hastings students of color too often receive that they are being tolerated instead of embraced and valued. We recognize that these unwelcoming messages are expressed in the doctrines we teach, the context we may fail to provide when teaching them, in the comments made by some community members, and in an environment where so few of UC Hastings faculty and administrators share the life experiences of so many of our students or meaningfully engage in understanding them.

We write to affirm your right to an educational environment where you are nurtured as students and where you can thrive as future lawyers. We strongly believe in the essential value of free speech in an academic setting. We also recognize that context matters because speech does not exist in a vacuum; it happens within the context of unequal power and structural inequalities. Moreover, we understand that statements of commitment to diversity and inclusion ring hollow when salient issues of racial equity are ignored or discounted in the service of prioritizing the ideal of free speech.

UC Hastings has much work to do before a speaker such as Ilya Shapiro could represent just an abhorrent point of view, instead of appearing to be yet another painful reminder to students of color that the institution—through its actions and inactions—fails to convey that students of color belong here as full-fledged members of our community. We sincerely hope that the Administration will continue to work to gather a deeper understanding of the experiences of students of color and provide student leaders with the appropriate guidance and resources for engaging in productive dialogue meant to edify the diverse community that we are so lucky to have at this university.

Professor Ascanio Piomelli, the Associate Dean for Experiential Learning, created the letter. The dean, therefore, and the signatories have announced that they do not support the school’s code of conduct, which, Hastings had pointed out to the students, prohibits disrupting an event to prevent a speaker from being heard (in Section 107, “Harmful Acts and Disturbances.”)  Hastings “will—indeed, must—enforce” enforce its standards, the administration stated in an email.

If true, then the professors who signed a letter saying otherwise need to be sanctioned…except that Hastings has shown no sign that any students will be disciplined either.

 

 

13 thoughts on “Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/6/22: The “Well, Waddya Know!” Edition

  1. Gee, imagine someone getting Serena Williams mixed up with her sister. How racist! (Yes, I did find a photo of them next to each other. They look very similar, by normal human standards.)

    I don’t have prosopagnosia, but if two humans occupy similar roles in my head, I may get them mixed up until I see them next to each other. When I first saw a commercial for Iron Man, I thought Robert Downey, Jr. was Hugh Jackman. I got two high school friends mixed up at first even though they don’t look all that similar to each other. I thought two people who occasionally attended the Friday game night I attend were the same person for a long time because a) they were both named Brian, and b) they never attended at the same time. This is despite one having a ponytail and the other having a shaved head.

    All those people I described mixing up are white or at least pass as white. I don’t think I’ve gotten people from two significantly different ethnic phenotypes mixed up with each other before, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of it happening in the future.

    My point is that getting two humans mixed up doesn’t have to be a race thing, and I don’t think it’s ethical to assume someone is racist for making that mistake.

  2. 1) One of her (Patricia Arquette) excuses was even worse or at least just as bad.
    Arquette herself addressed the trolling and replied: “I really couldn’t give 2 s***s. I’m dyslexic I meant UN. They can covfefe themselves.”

    I don’t know a lot about dyslexia but it doesn’t seem like it fits with mistaking UN as NATO.

  3. Re: No.5, Hastings’ Law Professors are so Professorial.

    I am amazed that these law professors prioritize racial justice and equity over freedom of speech.* They don’t seem to understand that, without speech as a priority (you know, like academic freedom to say stuff on class), they’d be out of their jobs.

    jvb

    *Ed. Note: Not really. The letter is beautiful word salad amounting to the highest form virtue there is.

  4. “The United States has become a place where entertainers and professional athletes are mistaken for people of importance.” —Robert A. Heinlein

  5. 4. A lot of the “sanctions” being imposed on Russia are not even sanctions. They are just fascism. Visa and MasterCard and PayPal are cutting off Russia voluntarily because of course they are. Debanking people is one of the new weapons in the global governance arsenal. The governments get to keep their hands clean and claim they had nothing to do with it, those big companies just felt like it was in their best interests. Yeah, right.

    Meanwhile, the propaganda pouring out of the media is military grade psyop levels of propaganda rivaling the covid propaganda we recently saw. This leads me to believe the government is up to something, but I don’t know what it is yet. The one meaningful action the government could ethically take, ceasing purchase of Russian oil, hasn’t been taken “because of climate change”. Whatever they are up to, therefore, does not seem to be what they are saying they are up to.

    I don’t know what the government is up to, but anything that involves military grade psyop campaigns, funding of foreign wars through oil purchases, and fascism is probably not ethical.

      • It doesn’t. The line of reasoning being used is that we need to stop domestic drilling and fracking domestically at all costs to save the planet. They never explain why purchasing foreign oil is somehow better. Climate change narratives never make sense because they don’t have to. People will blindly agree with any sentence that contains the words climate change regardless of the logic used.

    • Cutting off Russian oil will further drive up the price of fuel, which, of course, also drives up prices for all things that must be transported. It might not be entirely fair, but the blame for that would surely stomp SloJo’s and the democrats’ numbers even lower as November comes around (so there IS an upside). That’s the reason it’s not being done by the man (pronouns, he/dim) who killed America’s energy independence.

      • Biden killed energy independence the day he got into office. Rising gas prices are entirely his fault, so he absolutely deserves the blame. There was no reason to kill energy independence. He did it because he wanted to. Presidents should be held accountable for the consequences of their agendas and their actions.

  6. Democrats tried this pretzel-like argument: the 1872 law applied only to Civil War confederates, not future “insurrectionists,” and a law could not overturn a constitutional amendment. The problem with this intellectually dishonest theory is that the Fourteenth Amendment provision also only applied to the Civil War (and not shameless anti-Donald Trump vendettas), and specifically stated that a law passed by 2/3 of Congress could overturn that amendment, because the text of the amendment said so. Moreover, “all persons whomsoever” is rather all-encompassing. The required phrase “except Congress members who supported public protests of the deliberately insecure voting measures allowed in the 2020 election” is conspicuously missing from the Amnesty Act.

    There was no shortage of legal arguments against this idea.

    – Madison Cawthorn had not been convicted of insurrection or rebellion.
    – What the petitioner s allege does not constitute insurrection.

    Moreover, we understand that statements of commitment to diversity and inclusion ring hollow when salient issues of racial equity are ignored or discounted in the service of prioritizing the ideal of free speech.

    How does free speech contradict racial equity?

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