How Far Have Our Universities Traveled Into Thought Control Territory? This Far: Stanford Wants To Punish A Student For Reading A Politically Incorrect Historical Document

A while back, one of this blog’s self-exiled commenters told me that he left because I had become more hostile to the Left in recent years, in contrast to my position when Ethics Alarms started in 2010. He’s right, of course. In 2010, this story would have been unimaginable. My standards haven’t changed. But one whole side of the political spectrum has been abandoning ethics and core American principles with increasing arrogance, aggressiveness and ruthlessness.

I am in shock over this latest episode.

After a photo of a Stanford student reading Adolf Hitler’s autobiography “Mein Kampf” circulated on campus, The Stanford Daily revealed that administrators were working with the students involved to “address” the incident. Two campus rabbis emailed Jewish students saying administrators “are in ongoing conversation with the individuals involved, who are committed to and actively engaged in a process of reckoning and sincere repair.”

Reckoning—for reading something? “Repair”? Is that the strong stench of re-education I feel in my nostrils? Continue reading

Why Our Culture Needs Old Movies

Typical of the free-association manner in which my brain works, a fatuous essay by a New York Times pundit about a subject he doesn’t understand (but I do)–performing—excavated an ethics memory from my childhood that hadn’t sparked a neuron in decades.

Frank Bruni, for some reason, felt it was necessary to re-hash the ancient debate over whether a movie star is really a skilled “actor,” and can be deserving of an Oscar over “real” actors. Naturally, his target was Tom Cruise and his performance in “Top Gun: Maverick,” the most popular and successful movie of the year. I don’t feel like arguing with Bruni over this; I’ve had the debate too many times. (No, Cruise isn’t going to get an Oscar for this sequel, but he has given Oscar-worthy performances before, because nobody can play Tom Cruise as well as he can). I’ll just give the short version: if an actor plays a part better than any other actor could, it is irrelevant that he can’t play any other part. As a director, I’ll cast a charismatic one-trick pony who is perfect for a particular role over a brilliant, versatile artist who could play Hamlet to cheers every time.

But that is neither here nor there. Here is there: Bruni’s discourse made me think of Spencer Tracy, a movie star and superb actor who had a wonderfully dismissive view of his own field, and then “Edison the Man,” the 1940 biopic, starring Tracy, about Thomas Edison. It was a black and white film that my father made a point of having me see. That film sparked my early interest in Edison, American inventors, technology and extraordinary people through history.

One scene in the movie, however, made a special impression. Edison and his research lab have been laboring on the creation of a practical incandescent light bulb day and night for months. Finally they think they have the right design, and the tungsten filament bulb to be tested is carefully assembled. The new bulb is handed to Jimmy, a teen who does odd jobs at the laboratory, and he dashes across the facility to give it to Edison. In his excitement, Jimmy trips and falls, smashing the precious bulb. Edison’s crew is furious; Edison reproaches the lad. Jimmy is devastated and inconsolable. When Edison’s men finally craft a replacement bulb, Edison calls for Jimmy and give him custody of the bulb, and asks him again to carry it to its destination on the other side of the building. Jimmy, striding carefully and slowly this time, completes his historic task.

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Ethics Hero And 2022 Ethics Alarms Award For Most Ethical Website Of The Year: Legal Insurrection

The instances of schools and other institutions violating core American principles in pursuit of the correct radical woke agenda—which I would summarize as obliterating the unique ethical culture of the United States of America while an apathetic public shrugs with its metaphorical finger up its nose and the biased mainstream media provides cover—are proliferating with frightening speed. The only remedy is rapid action, exposure, and sufficient condemnation to make these dreadful revolutionaries back down and either give up or regroup, to be slapped down again another day. That was what Prof. William Jacobsen’s courageous blog Legal Insurrection did when the Providence, Rhode Island, Public School District attempted two measures that were discriminatory—you know, the “good” kind of discrimination.

The District tried to inflict an “Educators of Color Meet Up” program in which white educators were excluded from attending by the explicit terms of the announcement and a sign up form that listed only non-white races and ethnicities. The Legal Insurrection Foundations sent a letter to the planned venue for the event, putting the owners on notice of the non-discrimination provisions of the Rhode Island Public Accommodations law. The school district moved its location and changed its sign up form and event description after being exposed,

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End Of Week Ethics Exegesis, 1/20/2023, SCOTUS Ineptitude, The Child Shooter’s Parents, A Coinkydink, And More…[Corrected]

[NOTE: This was another one of those posts that I had to squeeze in and get up before I had a chance to do a careful proofing. Coming back to it hours later, it is so embarrassing to find all the irritating little typos: missing letters, transposed letters, words I thought I typed in but didn’t. Ugh. I’m sorry.]


The mainstream media (and Democrats, but I repeat myself) is doing everything it can to try to make Lyin’ George Santos the big story rather than Joe’s Biden’s document scandal, which has nicely exposed Biden’s hypocrisy along with that of law enforcement and the Trump-Deranged. The Republicans have made it easier for them than it should be: Kevin McCarthy should have created a committee called “Shameless Lying Committee and placed only Santos on it, and made him chairman. Oh, maybe have Adam Schlitt on it to keep George company. McCarthy’s canned line about how Santos was elected to represent his district by voters and they deserve representation is worse than if he said nothing at all. Santos gets to vote on bills, and that’s all an incompetent, lazy, gullible district like his deserves. (If Santos says one more time that he’s done nothing wrong, I may jump out my office window.)

Back to the news media: This morning I watched CNN, Fox, News, and BBC all at once on the DirecTV “News Mix” channel. The experience would be depressing to anyone under the delusion that broadcast news is anything but a confederacy of dunces. As the abrasive and smug “Fox and Friends” kept repeating the same outrage about Joe’s stash of classified materials, CNN interviewed high school students in Santos’ district in an obviously carefully staged segment purporting to show that teens are more ethical and instinctively wise than their elected elders. (Hey, look at these kids! Let’s let 16-year-olds vote!) When one student said that Congress should vote to expel Santos, his grandstanding teacher didn’t point out that Congress can’t, probably because the teacher doesn’t know.

Neither CNN nor the teacher brought up Joe Biden’s career of making up credentials and experiences, which would have been an interesting counterpoint for the aspiring Democrats in the student group (there was one self-proclaimed future Republican, which doesn’t mean there weren’t others afarisd of getting wedgies) to ponder: the thrust of the segment was that Santos and the GOP acceptance of him pushed the students into the Blue.

MSNBC, as usual, was even more flagrant in its bias, and also funnier. It had—get this—Al Sharpton and former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele discussing how corrupt and incompetent Republican House members were. Michael Steele calling anyone incompetent is like, well, Sharpton calling anyone corrupt. Steele is now a Never-Trump talking head for MSNBC in the Ana Navarro mold, because his flip-flop was the only way anyone would hire him to give his opinion on anything. He was a disaster as RNC head, embarrassing the party by such stunts as okaying a fundraising mailing that intentionally masqueraded as a census document—while the census was underway. Congress passed a bi-partisan law making such chicanery illegal.

Mostly Steele is just an idiot. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it should be flashed up on the screen any time this dolt tries to be a pundit. When he was running to be re-elected RNC head (he lost), Steele was asked during the one debate among the contenders to name his favorite book. The other hacks (like Reince Priebus, the eventual winner) said that a Ronald Reagan’s biography was their favorite book, but Steele, trying to seem erudite, said “War and Peace.” “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” he quoted (from “A Tale of Two Cities”), causing questioner Tucker Carlson to facepalm.

1. The SCOTUS Dobbs leak can’t be found. That’s bad enough. Equally bad were the stunning revelations of sloppy procedures at the Court, probably long the status quo, that nonetheless made this scandal inevitable. From the 20-page report

1. Too many personnel have access to certain Court-sensitive documents. The current distribution mechanisms result in too many people having access to highly sensitive information and the inability to actively track who is handling and accessing these documents. Distribution should be more tailored and the use of hard copies for sensitive documents should be minimized and tightly controlled.

2. Aside from the Court’s clear confidentiality policies and the federal statutes outlined above, there is no universal written policy or guidance on the mechanics of handling and safeguarding draft opinions and Court-sensitive documents, and practices vary widely throughout the Court. A universal policy should be established and all personnel should receive training on the requirements.

3. The Court’s current method of destroying Court-sensitive documents has vulnerabilities that should be addressed.

4. The Court’s information security policies are outdated and need to be clarified and updated. The existing platform for case-related documents appears to be out of date and in need of an overhaul.

5. There are inadequate safeguards in place to track the printing and copying of sensitive documents. The Court should institute tracking mechanisms using technology that is currently available for this purpose.

6. Many personnel appear not to have properly understood the Court’s policies on confidentiality. There should be more emphasis on training so that all personnel fully understand the policies.

7. Bills were introduced in the last Congress which would expressly prohibit the disclosure of the Supreme Court’s non-public case-related information to anyone outside the Court. Consideration should be given to supporting such legislation.

Summary: The Court’;s security has been incompetent and inexcusable.

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KABOOM! I Just Read AGAIN The National Museum of African American History and Culture’s Website Section On “Whiteness”….How Can That Racist Offal Still Be Up? [Revised]

The official position of the Smithsonian Institution is apparently that white people are a blight on humanity. My head exploded after the first time I became aware of this, in a post that generated a lot of excellent comments in 2020. Like a fool, I assumed the outrageous text (and the chart that earlier post focused on) had been removed. I was wrong.

It’s time to revisit the issue, especially since my head just exploded again.

Here’s a sample of the woke, Black Lives Matter, Critical Race Theory, “1619”-style racist drivel (and libel) that appears on the website of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, the “Nation’s Attic’s” most recent major addition. I know most attics have creepy , smelly stuff in them, but this should not be tolerated.The page headlined, “Whiteness” reads in part,

Whiteness is also at the core of understanding race in America. Whiteness and the normalization of white racial identity throughout America’s history have created a culture where nonwhite persons are seen as inferior or abnormal.

This white-dominant culture also operates as a social mechanism that grants advantages to white people, since they can navigate society both by feeling normal and being viewed as normal. Persons who identify as white rarely have to think about their racial identity because they live within a culture where whiteness has been normalized

Thinking about race is very different for nonwhite persons living in America. People of color must always consider their racial identity, whatever the situation, due to the systemic and interpersonal racism that still exists.  

Whiteness (and its accepted normality) also exist as everyday microaggressions toward people of color. Acts of microaggressions include verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs or insults toward nonwhites. Whether intentional or not, these attitudes communicate hostile, derogatory, or harmful messages.

Since white people in America hold most of the political, institutional, and economic power, they receive advantages that nonwhite groups do not. These benefits and advantages, of varying degrees, are known as white privilege. For many white people, this can be hard to hear, understand, or accept – but it is true. If you are white in America, you have benefited from the color of your skin….

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Cultural Illiteracy Meets Judicial Ethics!

This was resolved in September 2022, but I missed it, and attention should be paid.

An Illinois lawyer was representing a client in an age discrimination lawsuit that arose out of an attempt to purchase property and, chagrined at the judge’s ruling at one point, uttered the Elizabethan era word, “gadzooks!” under his breath. The judge admonished the lawyer not to make comments “under your breath,” and the attorney replied, “I said, ‘gadzooks!'”  The judge shot back, “If you make one more comment that’s offensive to this court, I will hold you in contempt of court.”  The lawyer, apparently astonished, said: “Gadzooks is offensive to the court?”

The judge stated: “You are now in contempt of court. I’m fining you $1,000.” When the the lawyer replied, “May I ask the court.”  The judge stated: “You are now (at) $2,000!”

During the eventual disciplinary hearing—the episode tied up the lawyer for years—the judge testified that she did not know what “gadzooks” meant but found it offensive, and that she regarded the exclamation an attempt to impugn her ruling.  The lawyer testified that he did not consider “gadzooks” to be offensive, and also  testified that he did not yell or shout “gadzooks” as the judge claimed. When he did raise his voice during the trial, it was so his 83-year-old client could hear him, he said. Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: Hamline University Administrators

This is how my mind works: a cowardly, foolish and irresponsible university does a double-backflip policy reversal after pandering to Muslim bullies on campus, and my mind immediately goes to Emily Litella’s SNL catchphrase, the U.S. News controversy over school rankings (which was supposed to be this morning’s  opening piece) and…Cracker Barrel. In fact, now that I think about it, it’s quite conceivable that the same   weenies who were running Cracker Barrel a while back are now in charge of Hamline, a small and evidently crummy Minnesota university.

Regarding Emily: after its obviously outrageous mistreatment of an adjunct art professor in response to an in-class controversy (described at Ethics Alarms earlier this month) properly attracted harsh criticism from all sides, the unjustly maligned and sacked teacher sued. Then Hamline folded like a tyro facing Amarillo Slim in Texas Hold’em. Hamline’s president, Fayneese S. Miller, had puffed herself up like a woke bullfrog to virtue-signal about how respect for the Muslim students “should have superseded academic freedom.” In this case, “respect” meant ignoring the fact that some Muslim students were throwing a fit over an art teacher teaching art that some extreme sects of their religion think should be taboo (Some Muslims don’t like freedom of expression, and might kill you to prove it) even though the course instructor had given them ample warning and opportunity to avoid the Satanic spectacle of viewing this famous painting….

.After all, letting the inmates run the asylum is what a lot of wokey schools do these days. But once the notice of the lawsuit was received, and Hamline’s lawyers informed the school’s leadership that they were going to lose and lose big, Fayneese, together with the chair of the university’s board of trustees who was  probably holding a shiv to Miller’s kidney, litella-ed this pathetic retraction: Continue reading

What’s Going On Here? You Tell Me…[Corrected]

This isn’t an ethics quiz. It’s not ethics commentary. This is clearly an ethics episode, but, frankly, I’m exhausted. I’m fighting some kind of flu (no, not Wu-Flu); I have a pile of half-begun and half-thought out ethics stories on a cyber-pile, and I just feel overwhelmed and depressed. So I’m just going to present this weird event from the public [NOT ‘pubic,’ as I typoed once again] school chaos, and I invite readers to explain what ethics issues they see here.


For  the latest edition of  the NPR’s podcast “Planet Money”,  Shale Meadows Elementary School third grade teacher Mandy Robek was scheduled to read books reading “The Sneetches” to her class as part of about the theme of economics education from in children’s books. Amanda Beeman, the assistant director of communications for the Olentangy Local School District (in Ohio) prepared for the segment by choosing books from the school’s library. The district had stipulated that politics were off limits for discussion. “Pancakes, Pancakes!” by Eric Carle; “Put Me In The Zoo” by Robert Lopshire; a poem from “Where The Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein, and “The Sneetches” by Dr. Seuss were ultimately read to the class. Well…almost.

You know “The Sneetches,” right? Published in 1961, the story is about a community of long-necked birds that all look identical except that  some have stars on their bellies and some don’t. The Plain-Belly Sneetches are traeted by the rest as inferiors, so entrepreneur Sylvester McMonkey McBean sells them stars so they can aspire to be Star-Belly Sneetches.The Star-Bellied Sneetches, resenting the intrusion on their select domain, then succumb to a scheme to have them pay to remove their natural stars. Now the once- Star-Bellied Sneetches will be Plain-Belly Sneetches, and can look down on the former Plain-Belly Sneetches all over again. Meanwhile, supply and demand makes the local capitalist rich. 

“I don’t know if I feel comfortable with the book being one of the ones featured,” Beeman was heard saying on the podcast during the middle of “The Sneetches” reading by the teacher. “I just feel like this isn’t teaching anything about economics, and this is a little bit more about differences with race and everything like that.” As if on cue, a third-grade student soon piped up, “It’s almost like what happened back then, how people were treated … Like, disrespected … Like, white people disrespected Black people!” Continue reading

“The Great Stupid” Lurches Toward PEAK Stupid!

What happens when The Great Stupid reaches “Peak Stupid”?

Oh, it will be spectacular. People will over the U.S. of all ages and political affiliations will suddenly realize what they have been accepting and tolerating. They will realize that they have been doing to society, the culture and the nation the equivalent of shooting a nail bun directly into one’s skull because it seemed like a good idea at the time. They will be simultaneously humiliated, embarrassed, remorseful and angry.

And it’s coming my friends. It is coming because the purveyors of the Great Stupid will keep trying out more and more ridiculous tactics and stratagems to attain their desired Orwellian utopia until they reach the inevitable tipping point. Based on today’s developments, it is coming soon.

Guess what word Woke World has decided to ban as racist.

Come on, guess.

It’s field. As is “Field of Dreams,” “Lilies of the Field,” and “Flanders Field.” As in “take the field.” As in “What field are you in?” and “Let’s do some field research.”

Here is the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work proving that it is run by lunatics and can no longer be regarded as a place of serious instruction or rational thought:

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