Rainy Day End-Of-Week Ethics Dry-Off, 4/28/23: Minutemen Bad, Alito Coy, Kamala Incoherent, And More

Great: I appeal to readers to offer me a glimmer of hope in today’s Open Forum, and the result is the fewest entries in months. So that’s the way it’s going to be, is it?

1. Well, THIS isn’t going to make me feel any better, or you either, I hope…In Contra Costa County, California, administrators at the Mount Diablo Unified School District believe that Concord High School’s Minutemen mascot is controversial and should be replaced. You know, the Minutemen, as in the patriots who fought and died at Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill. They are controversial now…because, why exactly? Apparently because the entire existence of the United States of America and what it stands for is offensive to those who dwell in Woke World. Concord High School, founded in the late 1960s, adopted the image and name in solidarity with its namesake in Concord, Massachusetts, where in 1775 the Minutemen had one of their finest moments about a half an hour from where I grew up in Arlington, then Menotomy, Mass. The school’s principal, Julene MacKinnon, now wants to “make sure that we have a mascot that represents everyone,” reported KNTV-TV. By what logic does a Minuteman not represent all Americans? Well, you know, he’s a man

…and that is inherently touchy. He is also white, since most Minutemen were, but that skin shade is inherently offensive on the West Coast. Plus the Minuteman is carrying a gun, and guns are evil. Can’t Julene just pretend he’s gay or bi- or trans? Can’t they just darken the logo and make him a black Minuteman?

Some parents, alumni and students have raised objections, but it is to no avail. This is how American history, values and traditions die the death of a thousand cuts.

2. Someone tell Justice Alito that this doesn’t help. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Justice Samuel Alito said he is pretty sure who is responsible for leaking his draft of the Supreme Court majority decision in Dobbs, the case the overturned Roe v. Wade. Alito went on to say that his personal belief is “different from the level of proof that is needed to name somebody.”

Then shut up about it. “I know, but I’m not telling” is infuriating and creates more distrust surrounding the court rather than less. Alito tells WSJ that the motive of the individual he is convinced leaked the draft was to prevent the draft from becoming the final decision. “That’s how it was used for those six weeks by people on the outside—as part of the campaign to try to intimidate the court,” he says. Oh yeah? Prove it: tell us who the leaker was. If you don’t know with sufficient certainly to let everyone else know, then you don’t know the motive either.

3. Speaking of SCOTUS, a weird decision by the Copyright Office might be headed there soon. That decision denied copyright protection to images generated using artificial intelligence in a case centering on Midjourney, an AI text-to-image generator. Kristina Kashtanova’s graphic novel was denied a registered copyright on the theory that the images did not satisfy the requirement of “human authorship” and were ineligible for protection — because they were supposedly created without sufficient human control. Then the office issued new guidlines requiring all registrants a duty to disclose any AI-generated material in their works and to exclude the AI-generated content from copyright. In a well-reasoned essay, Edward Lee, a professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chicago-Kent College of Law explains why the opinion undermines creativity and innovation.

4. Authentic Frontier Gibberish Watch! Why is so much attention being focused on President Biden’s cognitive difficulties when his VP keeps saying things like this:

“I think it’s very important […] for us at every moment in time and certainly this one, to see the moment in time in which we exist and are present and to be able to contextualize it — to understand where we exist in the history and in the moment — as it relates not only to the past but the future.”

What’s going on here? Harris didn’t talk like this when she was a Senator, or at least such babble wasn’t reported. Surely nobody writes crap like this for her. Why does she keep doing this?

5. I’m beginning to think that DiSantis may have tripped over the First Amendment in his feud with Disney. Disney had betrayed its self-assumed duty as a unifying and beneficent force in American culture, but the government may not be able to do anything about it. Disney is now suing Florida’s governor, accusing him of violating the company’s free speech rights by attacking its special tax status. Here is a good summary of the issues.

6. Robert Reich is an extreme-left crackpot these days, but the former Clinton Secretary of Labor also provides a useful window into the mind of the totalitarian side of the Democratic Party. In his most deranged and anti-democracy outburst yet, Reich writes in the Guardian that “Trump committed treason and will try again. He must be barred from running.” Yes, it’s January 6 hysteria again. Not only does Reich misrepresent the elements of treason and “insurrection” as well, he appeals to an archaic and dead-letter provision in the 14th amendment to the US Constitution that he says “clearly” disqualifies the former President from returning to office. In fact, it “clearly” doesn’t. I read this yesterday and had images of men in white coats chasing the diminutive Reich with butterfly nets, then this morning was thrilled to see that Prof. Turley’s had devoted an erudite post on his blog explaining that Reich was displaying his legal incompetence. Turley concludes his defenestration of Reich (this is right in the professor’s wheelhouse) with this:

While consistent with someone who [has] warned that free speech is tyranny, this is not the defense but the denial of democracy. Under Reich’s approach, Republicans could bar Hillary Clinton or others from the ballot for what they viewed as treasonous acts. No criminal charge or conviction is needed. It is just based on “what we saw” in prior years.

Justice Louis Brandeis once warned that “The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.” From his call to limit free speech to his effort to bar opposing candidates from ballots, Robert Reich is rapidly becoming one of those dangerous men of zeal.

One correction: Reich has been one of those “dangerous men” for years. It is also disturbing that someone who could write something as careless, ignorant and foolish as the Guardian article is allowed to rot young brains at a major institution of higher learning (in this case, Berkeley).

24 thoughts on “Rainy Day End-Of-Week Ethics Dry-Off, 4/28/23: Minutemen Bad, Alito Coy, Kamala Incoherent, And More

  1. 1.) They’ll end up with some animal mascot. A nearby school switched from the (Indian) Warriors to Wolves recently. Both my High School and University have insect mascots (Yellow Jacket/Hornet). The strangest mascot I’m aware is the U.C. Santa Cruz Banana Slug, which, I’ve read, was a response to the overly competitive nature of college sports.

    Concord is (or was when I lived nearby) a relatively conservative city. It’s where people went to escape the crazy happenings in SF/Berkeley. It looks like the crazy is spreading.

  2. Regarding #5, I simply don’t see the merits in Disney’s case. Technically speaking DeSantis did not punish or single out Disney; he simply took away its special privileges, thus making it the same as other corporations in Fla. That’s a huge distinction.

    Relatedly, I find it laughable (and disgusting) that the same people who denied corporations have 1st amendment rights, and who supported and celebrated when Dem states/cities targeted corporations who did not toe the line (enough), like when various cities tried to keep Chick-fil-A out, are suddenly passionate about corporations freedom of speech.

  3. 4. That AFG makes her tweet about children and guns read like Chaucer.

    “In Living Color” when Damon Wayans played the character in prison that used big words but didn’t make any sense? Me too, and VP Harris makes less sense than that. Quite an accomplishment for our #2…

  4. Kamala Harris’s speeches are the “say something” version of “do something.” Pile formulaic phrases on top of one another and pretend the result has meaning and significance.

  5. Somewhat in line with the wokeness of #1, per the Wall Street Journal, April 28, the principal of the public Founders Memorial School in Essex Junction, Vermont, informed parents that for an upcoming lesson on puberty and the reproductive system, the school will be using “person-first” language with students, as a ‘best practice’. These are the terms that will be used:
    • Person who produces sperm in place of boy, male, and assigned male at birth.
    • Person who produces eggs in place of girl, female and assigned female at birth.
    Since this struck me as being a bit funny, I took a look at the library offerings for the school. There are about 2,000 book titles which use the word “boy” or “girl” in the title. So, let’s get going on renaming books. I’ll start with a couple, and those who have a similar middle school mentality can join in with their favorites.
    “The Persons Who Produce Sperm in the Boat”, by Daniel James Brown.
    “The Person Who Produces Eggs Who Gave Birth to Rabbits”, by Clifford A. Pickover.

  6. Re Minutemen: Well, we survived the novel’s 1984, but it’s here now nevertheless. General erasure of US history is under way.

  7. Re Alito: Being coy is uprofessional. Being coy in this circumstance is tantamounr to lying. Being coy is the realm of the coward. Well done, Justice Alito. You are found out, but you have THE REST OF YOUR LIFE (!) — and mine — to turn this around.

  8. In defense of Alito’s choice to stay mum, naming names at is essentially the beginning of an Absence of Malice storyline.

    It may also simply be a way to dodge the question and possible follow ups without presenting like he’s been completely blindsided.

  9. Re Kamala Harris: Hahahahahahahahahah !! Well it is funny until we are reminded (a nanosecond later) that Harris is a “heartbeat away from the Presidency.” Just what we need, now and in the future: an octogenarian dementia patient and an imbecile.

  10. Here is Dennis McIntyre’s comment.


    Jonathan: So Robert Reich is “becoming one of those dangerous men of zeal” for arguing that Donald Trump should be barred from running for president next year under the plain language of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. Reich is not a “dangerous” man but pointing out the obvious. However, there are other factors at play that won’t involve the 14th Amendment.

    You falsely claim Jan. 6 was not an “insurrection” but a “protest that became a riot”. This flies in the face of all the evidence. The Jan. 6 House Committee showed in detail how Trump and his allies inside the Congress and outside were involved in a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election. The storming of the Capitol was the logical consequence of that conspiracy. If Jan. 6 was just a “riot” how do you explain that Stewart Rhodes and other members of the Oath Keepers were convicted of seditious conspiracy and other felonies? Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys has been similarly charged and is awaiting a verdict after his trial.

    18 USC Section 1384 defines “seditious conspiracy” as 2 or more people plotting “to overthrow, put down, or destroy by force the Government of the United States…or by force to prevent, hinder or delay the execution of any law of the United States”. Isn’t that what the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys were attempting on Jan. 6? At least that’s what the jury found when they convicted Rhodes. The logic of your argument falls apart in the face of those convictions.

    The Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys were the foot soldiers. They were simply carrying out the plans of their “capo”–Donald Trump. Do you think Special Counsel Jack Smith is not looking to charge Trump, the leader of the insurrection, with seditious conspiracy as well? It’s fanciful to think Smith would not charge the guy who planned the insurrection–especially after the successful prosecution of Rhodes and others.

    And it’s laughable to think DOJ charging decisions should be based on polls. Besides, I doubt the average citizen could legally distinguish between a “riot” and an “insurrection”. No, no prosecutor is first going to look at the polls when deciding to file criminal charges. Charging decisions are based on the facts and the law. That how the criminal justice system works–something you missed when you took criminal law classes!

    While I agree with Reich, that is not how things are going to play out. AG Fanni Willis in Fulton County is preparing to charge about 20 people with voter fraud–probably including a RICO conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia–sometime in July or August. Does anyone think Trump will not be charged? That alone might seal Trump’s fate as a viable candidate for president–at least with the majority of voters. With all the criminal charges around the country against the Trumpster do you think he will have time to campaign? Do you think the GOP wants a “criminal defendant” as its candidate? If it does the GOP is on a death spiral!

  11. Re Kamala Harris: Hahahahahahaha !! Well it is funny until we are reminded that she is “a heartbeat away from the Presidency.” That’s all we need, now and in the future: a dementia patient and an imbecile.

  12. 3) Actually, I think the Copyright Office is on to something here, getting out in front of a potential problem with the use of technology before it actually becomes a problem.

    First off, I agree with the (new, I guess) policy that AI-generated is not the same as human-generated and shouldn’t be treated the same.

    Computer-generated content of any kind is, at some level, going to be deterministic (meaning: with the exact same input you always get the exact same output). There will eventually come a time when someone uses the same input to generate content that some other person previously did, but the previous user was able to copyright it first.

    In essence, this means that the first person to use the AI will have a de facto copyright on the INPUT as well as the output, because without using different input you won’t get different output and you’ll run afoul of the copyright on the output.

    Do you really want people to be able to hold copyrights on things as simple as “Write a song in the style of Whitney Houston”? That nine-word sentence is not an act of creativity.

    In the specific case of the graphic novel, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to allow a copyright on the text within the book, but not on the AI-generated drawings. The essential part of the book (the story) that the author wrote is still protected.

    But the graphics: well, as President Obama would say, “You didn’t make that.”


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