Category Archives: Education

The Lesson Of Berkeley’s “Free Speech Week” Fiasco: Jerks Make Terrible Champions And Martyrs

Conservative agitator/ campus troll Milo Yiannopoulos’s Free Speech Week in Berkeley, California was advertised as a major event, bringing some of the most Left-reviled  conservative speakers and rabble-rousers together for four straight days of speeches and events on a campus that has repeatedly disgraced itself by being hostile to speech its primarily progressive denizens consider “hate speech.”

The University of California was taking elaborate measures to avoid the violence that protesters there and at other campuses have brought to appearances by many of the featured speakers. It was rumored that as much as $600,000 would be spent on security. The prospect of the rhetoric of such professional provocateurs as Yiannopoulosas, Steve Bannon and Ann Coulter, to name the best known, echoing around the school where it was least welcome promised an instant cultural touch-point, like a right-wing Woodstock, while challenging leftists and ideological censors to reveal their ugly, totalitarian sides.

But by the end of the week, many were predicting that the event was a mirage. Speakers whose names had been promoted on preliminary schedules either pulled out, denied they had been contacted  or said they were never planning to go. The campus publication sponsoring Yiannopoulos’s circus, The Berkeley Patriot, never reserved indoor school venues. Yiannopoulos kept up the pretense, announcing on Instagram a planned march through campus tomorrow in protest of Berkeley’s hostility to free speech. “It’s time to reclaim free speech at UC Berkeley and send shockwaves through the American education system to every other college under liberal tyranny,” Yiannopoulos wrote.

Today, the day before the “Week” was to begin, UC Berkeley announced  that ‘Free Speech Week’ was officially cancelled, saying,

“Representatives of the Berkeley Patriot student organization have informed UC Berkeley’s administration that all of the events scheduled for the coming week have been canceled. It is extremely unfortunate that this announcement was made at the last minute, even as the university was in the process of spending significant sums of money and preparing for substantial disruption of campus life in order to provide the needed security for these events.”

Now there is mass confusion, with strong indications that the event was a sham from the start. Lucian Wintrich, one of the planned speakers, e-mailed Cal spokesman Dan Mogulof this morning,  to say that the event had been a set-up from the start. “It was known that they didn’t intend to actually go through with it last week, and completely decided on Wednesday,” Wintrich wrote.

“Wait, whoah, hold on a second,” replied Mogulof. “What, exactly, are you saying? What were you told by MILO Inc? Was it a set-up from the get-go?”

 

Wintrich replied, “Yes.”

An account of the chaos and miscommunications surrounding the event published by The Atlantic yesterday certainly made this development seem probable. Milo, as late as this afternoon, insisted that the intention was always to hold a real week of speeches. He has as much credibility as someone who makes his living creating controversies and infuriating his ideological foes deserves to have: none.

What’s going on here? Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Rights

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/23/2017: Special “Love Him, Hate Him Or Tolerate Him, Ya Gotta Admit President Trump Isn’t Boring” Edition

I don’t know about you, but I was getting mighty sick of those “morning” shots…

GOOD MORNING!

1 Peggy Noonan, the former Reagan speechwriter who writes powerfully and is not afraid to take unpopular positions, has been as critical of Trump as any rational pundit. She writes in her latest column, that the news media has misrepresented Trump’s U.N. speech, which, she says further,  was what the U.N. “needed to hear clearly and unequivocally.” She adds,

A great line—because it spoke a great truth—was this: “The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.” Mr. Trump then paused and looked at the audience. It struck some as a “please clap” moment. It struck me as a stare-down: I’m saying something a lot of you need to hear. You’re not going to like it, and I’m going to watch you not like it.

… Mr. Trump is on a roll, a sustained one the past few weeks, and this is new. All levels of government performed well in the hurricanes. Mr. Trump showed competence, focus and warmth. His bipartisan outreach, however it ends, went over well with core supporters and others. He had a strong speech at the U.N., in fact a successful U.N. week, beginning to end. His poll numbers are inching toward 40%.

Noonan meets the ethical standard that the mainstream news media, critical pundits and “the resistance” have relentlessly breached: give the President credit when it’s due, and subdue bias to engage in objective analysis for the public;s enlightenment.

2. Ann Althouse, also noting that the President’s poll numbers have been creeping up (a. Not that much b. Who trusts polls? c. So what?), polled her readers regarding why they thought this was happening. Her options were mostly the right ones, though Peggy’s “bi-partisan outreach” was conspicuously missing…

“Hurricanes”—these sorts of natural disasters are usually opportunities for Presidents to play President, and that seldom is anything but enhancing to a POTUS’s image. Ronald Reagan’s speech after the Challenger disaster was a perfect example. Trump gets less credit than he deserves because the news media works hard to represent anything he does in a negative light.

“Kim Jong Un”—Since so many progressives believe that we should keep allowing North Korea to extort the West by endlessly appeasing it, it is hard to see Trump’s hard-line stance moving the needle.

“U.N. Speech”—unless American read it, which few have, I assume the (false) mainstream narrative that it was a disaster prevails.

“Normalization happened”—THAT’s certainly wrong. If it means that General Kelly has made a big and positive difference, then OK. The Wite House is certainly more normal than it was, but far from normal.

“Russia collusion story fading”: “The resistance” is still certain that Trump bartered to win the election and will be impeached for it. Facts, evidence and reality are irrelevant to them.

“Successful policies have been implemented”—In fact this is true, but again, the only ones who know it are pro-Trump partisans,  the small number of citizens who dig through the static and fog of mainstream media Trump Hate, and those who don’t think any retreat from the inexorable progression to open borders, socialism and Big Brother is a tragedy.

“Nothing’s gone horribly wrong (yet)”: The Trump Deranged think that everything has already gone horribly wrong, and that we’re all going to die. Here is a typical Facebook post from a good friend this week:

Trump IS deranged. And we’re all going to pay for it. Am I surpised that a hermetic totalitarian proto-monarchy has created a Kim Jong Un? No, it’s completely predictable and logical. That the US of A has elected someone who is NO better whatsoever than Kim, and in some ways quite worse, is the unforgivable aspect of this whole equation.

“Bad things like The Wall and repealing Obamacare seem to have been merely campaign bluster”Nah. Lots of other things were bluster; these were just impossible.

But I voted for this one, also supported by my friend’s crazy post: “Trump haters are tiresome.” “Tiresome” is professorial nice-speak for “So vile, un-American and unhinged that if they want one thing, sane and fair and rational citizens will increasingly prefer the opposite.”  The category includes “tiresome” public figures like the Late night “comedy” show hosts, Bill Maher, Samantha Bee, Hollywood, MSNBC, Maxine Waters, the New York Times, CNN, Black Lives Matter, Tom Perez, Elizabeth Warren, and, of course, Hillary Clinton. It’s pure cognitive dissonance.

Naturally that choice is also leading in votes, followed by hurricanes, North Korea, and the UN speech.

3. As always, when the President is feeling cocky, he lets loose with dumb tweets and inflammatory comments just to remind us that he’s not going to change. This morning he reacted to San Francisco Warriors super-star Steph Curry saying that he “didn’t want to go” to the White House when the President hosts the traditional visit from championship sports teams, tweeting,

“Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!”

Stipulated: this is petty, and beneath the President’s office, like 99% of his tweets. It shows thin skin and vindictiveness, and is punching down in the sense that any attack on a citizen from the White House is punching down.

And yet, and yet…I have to say I smiled when I read it. It is damaging for athletes and cultural role models to be disrespectful to the President, the Office, and the country. Curry was gratuitously rude, and deserves a rebuke…just not from the President of the United States.

(I still hope Trump retracts the invitation to the whole team.)

The other outburst, also involving sports, is indefensible.

At a Huntsville, Alabama rally for Republican Senator Luther Strange, who is running in a special GOP primary election to remain in the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Trump went off script and said,

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” Trump said. “You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it [but] they’ll be the most popular person in this country…But do you know what’s hurting the game more than that? When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem. The only thing you could do better is if you see it, even if it’s one player, leave the stadium. I guarantee things will stop. Things will stop. Just pick up and leave. Pick up and leave. Not the same game anymore, anyway.”

Ugh. Owners have a right to discipline players for bringing politics onto the field. When a President tells them to, that  edges too close to government action, chilling speech, and a First Amendment violation.

On the other hand, one does not have to be a conspiracy theorist to detect an uncoordinated but pervasive effort in the news media, academia, the tech sector, show business and Hollywood, and now sports, to flood the culture with so much progressive propaganda and anti-Trump bile that government becomes impossible. The effort has to be countered, but the President is not the proper one to counter it. Still, the integrity and functioning of our democracy is at stake.

4. In Ann’s “Successful policies have been implemented” category, except I would call it “essential polices,” was the expected withdrawal of the Obama Education Department’s infamous “Dear Colleague” letter that prompted universities to dispense with due process and fair standards when finding male students guilty of sexual assault and rape. Blogger Amy Alkon, another rational Trump critic, nonetheless enthusiastically and definitively slapped down an awful, ethics-devoid Times op-ed that, as the Left is wont to do these days, argued that the innocent until proven guilty standards and equal justice should be re-calibrated for the greater good, which is to say, for the benefit of favored groups. Alkon writes of the feminist authors,

[T]hey clearly aren’t looking for justice for all, but just justice for some: typically, the woman. They continue:

The preponderance of evidence standard is also survivor-centered. When judging whether someone has been raped, it’s almost impossible to assert that a sex act constituted violence “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Our justice system in this country involves erring on the side of freeing a possibly guilty person in hopes of seeing that innocent people are not imprisoned. The fact that it is sometimes hard to judge a “he said”/”she said” case does not change that.

On the other side, and in Althouse’s  “Trump haters are tiresome” ( “tiresome”= frequently biased, ignorant, dishonest, undemocratic, unfair, vicious and hypocritical, as well as dumb as bricks) category, we have this tweet from snarky female comic Chelsea Handler:

“Thank you @betsydevos for making it easier for rapists going to college to get away with raping innocent women. What a role model…”

Anyone who thinks that is clever or true needs to—quickly— read the Constitution, perhaps with a literate translator, maybe a U.S. history book or two, and get at least a rudimentary understanding of the principles underlying the United States and its values.

_____________________________

Graphic: heartist

 

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Citizenship, Education, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, Social Media, Sports, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President

Given The Opportunity And The Power, Blacks Will Discriminate Against Whites, Women Will Discriminate Against Men, Gays Will Discriminate Against Straights, And Liberals Will Discriminate Against Conservatives, Because That’s What Human Beings Tend To Do. Now What? I Recommend “In The Heat OF The Night”….

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a long time, at least since February, when professional women’s basketball star Candace Wiggins, who retired from the WNBA last year after eight seasons in the league, told  reporters that she was bullied and harassed during her career because she was not gay.

“Me being heterosexual and straight and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge,” Wiggins said. “I would say 98 percent of the women in the WNBA are gay women. It was a conformist type of place. There was a whole different set of rules they [the other players] could apply.” She says it drove her out of the league and the game. The WNBA denied her allegations, and the story wasn’t around very long.  Gays don’t bully, they ARE bullied! Then, this week, ThinkProgress reported that a former University of Southern California point guard, Camille LeNoir, alleged she was denied an assistant coaching job in the New Mexico State University athletic department because she had the “wrong” sexual orientation.  She claims that she had a firm job offer when the school thought she was a lesbian, but when she announced that she no longer regarded herself as gay, the offer was rescinded. This week, a federal judge in California decided to allow her discrimination case to advance.

I don’t know whether the perceptions of either Wiggins or LeNoir are accurate, but I don’t doubt that the kind of bullying and prejudice they describe goes on. There have been similar accounts in other women’s sports, like tennis and golf. Yes, it appears that unlike the male side (with the exception of men’s figure skating), gay women dominate many if not all women’s sports. I will eschew writing something arch like, “Who would have suspected?” in favor of the more direct, “This should come as no surprise, but saying so will offend feminists, female athletes and lesbians anyway.”

One would think that when a historically oppressed and discriminated-against group gains power or perceives that it has power, it would behave toward others as it wishes it had been treated during all those years of being marginalized. Alas, the opposite is usually the case, and most of the time. In one of my worlds, professional theater, gay men dominate, and there are theaters that have the reputation of actively discriminating against straight actors. Hollywood, of course has become a workplace where being revealed as a conservative is to face virtual blacklisting. Give a minority power, and as often as not, what emerges are bullies and bigots. Continue reading

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Ethics Observations On The Trump-Deranged Prof’s 2016 Post-Election Freak-Out

Bridgewater State University professor Garrett Avila-Nichols wrote the Facebook screed above shortly after the November 8 defeat of Hillary Clinton by President Anti-Christ. Somehow the post didn’t become known to students—at least the ones he hate—and apparently even the university’s administration until this week.

Observations:

1 We are seeing one example after another of college professors making tweets and other social media posts denigrating conservatives, Republicans, whites, men and Trump voters in emotional, vicious and frequently obscene rhetoric. Can anyone recall any similar conduct from professors directed against liberals, conservatives, minorities, women, or Obama, Clinton or Carter voters? I know that there was no social media to abuse for much of those periods, but still: when did professors get the idea that attacking large segments of the population and the student body was tolerable? Why do they think it is acceptable conduct now?

2. Is it because they see, hear and read so much similar hate and fury in the mainstream media, social media, and mouth-foaming  anti-Trump fanatics like Maxine Waters, Keith Olberman, and Stephen Colbert, and see them get away with it relatively unscathed?

3. Professor Turley is almost an absolutist on the matter of professors being able to exercise their First Amendment rights on social media. Would he defend this? Really? How can someone teach students when he has declared in print and online that some of them aren’t welcome? How could such students trust such a professor to grade them objectively and fairly? Teachers are supposed to be mentors and allies: how can someone who hates you perform those roles? How can a school trust a professor who writes something like that?

4.  Does it matter that this is an old post? I don’t think so. Emotions that intense and judgement that terrible are signature significance. Rational, reasonable, trustworthy professionals don’t make public outbursts like that. Ever. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/17/17: My Ethics Gig For The Boy Scouts, Dallas Heads Down The Slippery Slope (I Told You So!), More Sign Language Follies And Misbehaving Marshalls

GOOD Morning!

1 In an earlier Warm-Up, I criticized the needlessly distracting signers for the deaf who stood by gesticulating and mugging as various officials communicated safety measures for the public as hurricanes approached. Belatedly I ran across a YouTube entry from 2012, in which the poster happily commented that “Interpreter Lydia Callis steals the show during Hurricane Sandy press conference.” Interpreters are not there to “steal the show,” and the fact that so many of them think they should compete with the main speakers for audience attention proves my point.

They should stand off-camera, and in the venue, away from the podium.

Then there’s this guy:

From the Times:

As Hurricane Irma charged toward Florida, officials in a county on the state’s west coast held a news conference to inform residents of mandatory evacuation orders for those most at risk. “We just need you to be safe,” Robin DiSabatino of the Board of County Commissioners in Manatee County said at the Sept. 8 briefing. She urged those in low-lying areas and flood zones to seek higher ground and consider staying at shelters.

But for residents who were deaf or hard of hearing, the message was quite different: “Pizza,” the interpreter appeared to sign. Then, “Bear monster.”…

“It was atrocious,” said Howard A. Rosenblum, the chief executive of the National Association of the Deaf. Mr. Rosenblum, who is deaf, said through an interpreter in a phone interview that the association considered what happened a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. “We believe that Manatee County failed to provide information to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community to the same extent that it provided to all others,” he said….

The interpreter, identified by the county as Marshall Greene, could not be reached for comment.

Nicholas Azzara, a spokesman for the county, said in an email that Mr. Greene, who is a lifeguard for a county-run beach, has a brother who is deaf. Mr. Greene was asked to sign because there was little time to find an interpreter before the news conference.

It’s not unusual for family members of the deaf to have only a rudimentary understanding of American Sign Language, said Beth Barnes, a certified sign language interpreter who has several deaf family members, including her parents.

No, but it is unusual for a signer who agrees to translate crucial information for deaf viewers to not know what the hell he is doing. Greene defenders, quoted this morning on HLN, said that he was just trying to help out, and host Robin Meade, not having one of her smart days, muttered that the “poor guy” wasn’t doing a bad job “intentionally.”

Oh! That’s all right, then!

The ethical values being breached are trustworthiness, responsibility and competence. Greene is the passenger who volunteers to fly the airliner with a stricken crew and flies the plane into the ground nose first. Good intentions don’t matter. He volunteered for a job he was incapable of performing competently.

2. I don’t spend a lot of time saying I told you so, but it would be gratifying to receive some “I shouldn’t have doubted you” notes from all those readers who mocked me for suggesting last year that the slippery slope created and smoothed by the historical cultural airbrushing mobs on the Left would eventually lead to Founders like Washington, Jefferson and Madison.

Here is a Facebook post  from Dallas School District member Dustin Marshall, no relation to Marshall Greene (I will be applying to change my last name accordingly, probably to “Lee”…) Continue reading

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That Settles It: Time To Clean House At UC Berkeley

An unacceptable percentage of the University of California at Berkeley are more committed to ideological indoctrination and political conformity that they are to American values and education. They need to be cleared out, as do their compatriots in other universities. They pose an existential threat to our democracy, and cannot be entrusted with the education of young minds, which should involve opening, not closing them.

The letter posted by 200 Berkeley faculty members calls for a boycott of all classes and a shutdown of the campus because on “Free speech day,” three conservative speakers will dare to express their blasphemy in a progressive stronghold. The Horror.

In addition to being a per se violation of the principles of a liberal arts education, the duty to give students exposure to as many ideas and views as possible, academic freedom and freedom of expression, the letter is intellectually dishonest. There is no organization known as “alt-right”; it is a description used to marginalize and discredit all conservatives by lumping them in with extremists, racists, white supremacists and neo-fascists. It’s a popular and effective tactic these days on the Left, similar to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s unethical tactic of designating churches that oppose same-sex marriage “hate groups” alongside the KKK. Ann Coulter, one of the conservative speakers who apparently maims with her words, is just a conservative, albeit an especially obnoxious and cynical one. Yet this execrable letter cites as proof that she and her fellow speakers are dangerous a cherry-picked list of isolated and unrelated incidents, none of which are connected to a single group. The exact same technique could be used, and has been used, to argue that all Muslims are dangerous. Moreover, the faculty is implying that those who would listen to Ann Coulter, Steve Bannon, and the professional conservative troll Milo Yiannppoulis, including students,  are too dangerous to co-exist with “good students.” Why? It’s not because one crazy ran his car into a crowd in Charlottesville. It’s because the faculty members believe extreme conservative ideas are too “dangerous” to allow to be expressed.

I wouldn’t move from my dining room to my living room to hear any of those speakers. Calling them dangerous, however, is an excuse to silence them and intimidate others. Continue reading

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The Lesson Of The Harvard-Chelsea Manning Fiasco

I often point out to my ethics classes that when the ethics alarms don’t sound, one can make decisions that result in ethics zugswang, which is the hopeless bind where there are no ethical solutions, only unethical ones. Then the only practical objective left is damage control: determine which course  is the least unethical. An ethical result is no longer possible. It was precluded forever by the original ethics failure.

I can’t think of a better example of this process than the Kennedy School’s botched appointment of Chelsea Manning as a ” visiting fellow.” It was an incompetent, foolish, reckless decision that a half-wit should have known would cause an ugly and unnecessary controversy. What was the school thinking?

I can only speculate. Either the school was looking for “buzz’—it got that all right— , or was trying particularly odious progressive virtue-signaling to the anti-war crowd that still hangs out around Harvard Square clutching their love beads, or most indefensible of all, was giving a gratuitous nod to the current transgender fad. Whichever it was of these, it should have been obvious that the choice was a terrible idea, and it says a lot about the school’s leadership and procedures that nobody in a position of influence shouted, “Wait, are you kidding? Chelsea Manning?  She’s a convict and a felon who leaked secret information to enemies of the United States!” Manning, as I noted in the Morning Warm-Up covering the story, isn’t a scholar, a deep thinker, or a stable or a trustworthy individual. Selecting her was bound to upset other more qualified teachers at the school as well as any American not partial to traitors, and it did. It also devalued every previous fellow at the Kennedy School, by demonstrating that being a Kennedy School fellow wasn’t a credential signifying special talent or admirable qualities. Not if Chelsea Manning qualified, it wasn’t.

The fury over the appointment erupted so vigorously in public, and, I suspect, even more vigorously behind the ivy-covered doors in Cambridge (my mother spent most of her working life at the University, and ended it as Asst. Dean of Housing: the Marshalls know how Harvard works), that the reversal wasn’t as big a surprise to me as it seems to be to some. Nonetheless, the criticism levied by many has justification. Wrote Jonathan Turley, for example,

“The only thing worse than Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government appointing Chelsea Manning as fellow was the school’s withdraw of the fellowship…My concerns are not really focused on Manning but the danger of universities tailoring its academic programs to public opinion. I have written extensively about the hostile environment for conservative speakers on campus. Invitations have been withdrawn due to opposition groups and protests. This case is even more concerning because it was a formal invitation to join the program as a fellow. The invitation and then the withdrawal leave total confusion as to the purpose and academic content of these fellowship positions. Harvard appears to have carefully avoided any principled ground in both the appointment and the withdrawal.”

Continue reading

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