Ethics Hero: Prof. Jonathan Turley (And The Indefensible Whitewash Of The Shooting Of Ashli Babbitt)

michael-byrd-ashli-babbitt

Ethics Alarms already noted Jonathan Turley’s accurate and searing condemnation of the outrageous and sinister double standard applied to Lt. Michael Byrd, the Capitol Police officer who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt on January 6. Incredibly, the blatantly partisan wound on the illusion of our justice system’s integrity got worse after Turley’s first post on the topic. The investigation of the mind-meltingly stupid riot concluded that it was not coordinated, was not incited by Donald Trump, and was not an “insurrection,” just as any objective and reasonably informed citizen could have figured out by themselves. Then Byrd, whose identity had been shielded from the public (and oddly unrevealed by the mainstream media, who could have discovered and published it if they were still practicing journalism), gave a nauseating NBC interview in which he pronounced himself a hero, made the absurd claim that he had saved untold lives by shooting an unarmed woman, and, most significantly, revealed that he had no legal basis to use deadly force. (He also revealed himself to be unfit to be trusted with a weapon.)

This prompted Turley to write his second attack on the politicized cover-up. Turley, despite the names he is called by the aspiring totalitarians of the Far Left and the Trump-Deranged, is a Democrat and a lifetime liberal. Because of what can only be an abundance of character, he has not had his values warped by being marinated in the campus culture of his typically uber-woke institution, George Washington University. Not had he shied away from disparaging the illiberal and anit-Democratic antics of the Axis of Unethical Conduct (“the resistance,” Democrats and the mainstream media) during their four-plus year effort to destroy Donald Trump. He has been remarkably consistent, legally accurate, fair, and right in this, and has paid the price.

In the Virtues, Values and Duties page here (Have you ever visited? You should you know…) I list what I call “The Seven Enabling Virtues.” These are character traits that often are necessary to allow us to be ethical:

  1. COURAGE
  2. FORTITUDE
  3. VALOR
  4. SACRIFICE
  5. HONOR
  6. HUMILITY
  7. FORGIVENESS

Turley annoys me sometimes with his professorial reserve (developments that should send American screaming into the streets are just “troubling” or “problematical” in his typical lexicon), but he is well-girded in all of the seven. Every time he goes against the prevailing progressive narrative, he is called a Trumpist, a phony, a Nazi, and worse. His integrity and dedication to truth-telling has undoubtedly cost him speaking gigs, book sales and TV interviews on any network but Fox. Yet Turley has not backed down.

Turley’s recent article in The Hill regarding the Babbitt shooting is superb.

Highlights:

Continue reading

Ethics Hero: UConn Student Isadore Johnson

Isadore Johnson

There is hope.

The University of Connecticut has had a free speech-hostile policy since 2017. It reads in part,

“The University of Connecticut is permitted to, and will, limit expression in order to protect public safety and the rights of others.This includes expression that is defamatory, threatening, or invades individual privacy. Protected speech may also be reasonably regulated as to the time, place, and manner of the expression.”

It needs to go, and senior Isadore Johnson, a founder of UConn’s Students for Liberty (SFL) chapter wants to help get rid of it. Speaking with the libertarian magazine “Reason,” he told writer Ella Lubell.

“I think many universities, including UConn, take it for granted that students appreciate the protections and values of open discourse and discussion. Many students do not, and it is incumbent on the university to clarify and explain such values so students know what rights are protected. The right to argue vigorously and sometimes offensively is part of our civic culture, and students ought not be protected against that.”

Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Verda Tetteh

Here I am, always desperately searching for positive ethics stories, and there was a great one sitting for two months in my “Read This” file…

Verda Tetteh, a 17-year-old Fitchburg, Massachusetts high school senior, was already accepted into Harvard (poor kid!) which is going to pay her tuition, room and board. She also had qualified her other scholarships that would cover her college expenses. Her guidance counselor still urged her to go for another one, the $40,000 local award called “The General Excellence Prize.” Every year the prize goes to one male and one female student selected by a committee of teachers, administrators and guidance counselors

Verda applied to shut him up, essentially, assuming she would never win. But she did. She found out at her graduation ceremony on June 4, when the assistant principal of Fitchburg High School announced to the audience that she was the winner. Surprised, she accepted the award, thought hard as she walked away, then turned and walked back to the podium.

“I am so very grateful for this, but I also know that I am not the one who needs this the most,” Verda said, her voice shaky. “I would be so very grateful if administration would consider giving the General Excellence scholarship to someone who is going into community college.”

Her fellow classmates and the crowd rose to give her a standing ovation.

Ethics Hero.

Wow.

Teacher Laura Morris’s “I Quit” Address

Laura Morris, a fourth and fifth grade teacher in the Loudoun County (Virginia) Public Schools resigned dramatically in front of the county school board yesterday as the climax of an emotional speech condemning its “highly politicized agendas.” “[I]n one of my so-called equity trainings, [I was told] that White, Christian, able-bodied females currently have the power in our schools and ‘this has to change,’”she said in part during the public comment period of the board meeting. “Clearly, you’ve made your point. You no longer value me or many other teachers you’ve employed in this county. So since my contract outlines the power that you have over my employment in Loudoun County Public Schools, I thought it necessary to resign in front of you.”

“I quit,” she said, her voice breaking. “I quit your policies, I quit your training, and I quit being a cog in a machine that tells me to push highly politicized agendas to our most vulnerable constituents – children.”

She also also alleged that the county ordered her not to express dissenting views. Several teachers in the system, anonymously (of course), have told news outlets that they were intimidated in the school’s mandatory equity trainings. Teacher Monica Gill, who also spoke at the meeting, told Fox News that the County’s embrace of Critical Race Theory, had damaged and divided the community. By her account, teachers like her and Morris were told their mission was to “disrupt and dismantle this systemic racism.” She continued, “And I can tell you, one thing that’s for sure, it has been disruptive because there are parents who disagree with this ideology, there are teachers who disagree with it, there are students who disagree with it — and it is harmful.”

Loudoun County is ground zero for CRT infestation in the public school battle in Northern, Virginia

Morris’ speech is less than two minutes long, and worth watching. It has gone viral, and should help spark public debate until YouTube takes it down. Vegas odds are running about 50-50 on whether it lasts the week. (I’m kidding. Those are my odds.)

Observations:

1. Quitting like that is grandstanding to be sure, and legitimately a cause for skepticism. If we find out later that Morris is getting married and was planning on quitting anyway, or had inherited a fortune, got a bonus from Christopher Rufu, or has a secret lobbying contract, such developments will put her performance in a very different perspective. It is one of the many tragedies of the digital age that we just can’t trust what we see, hear, and are told.

2. If, however, the speech is what it purports to be, Morris has to be deemed an ethics hero. She has made herself a target, quit her job, and said in a public forum what she had been unethically told she could not say. You never know when such moments become catalysts for important shifts in opinion and tipping points in policy debates. Usually, they are quickly forgotten. Sometimes, they are not.

3. It is unfortunate that Morris couldn’t avoid bringing her religion and her own beliefs into the discussion. This helps the censors, the indoctrinators and the demonizers of the religious, conservatives, and dissenters immensely. She is now subject to being classified as one more religious bigot who wants to discriminate against LGBTQ citizens. This is a trap too many conservatives fall into. The issue is schools, and local governments, that are dominated by political activists and ideologues forcing their beliefs and agendas on any student, any teacher, and anybody.

Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Steven Koonin, Former Obama US Department of Energy Undersecretary for Science

believe-it-or-not

Believe it or not, a former Obama official has authored a book, “Unsettled,” that raises many of the weaknesses, fudges and media-silenced discrepancies in the official climate change narrative. His name is Steven Koonin, and of course he is being savaged by reviewers and scientist alike. You won’t see him interviewed on CNN or on any climate change panels on the major networks. Fox News might put him on, but that will just prove that he’s one of the bad guys. That’s how it works.

Yet Koonin’s book appears to be more than reasonable.

The book is an expansion of a controversial opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal he wrote a few years ago headlined “Climate science is not settled”. I missed it, and of course the mainstream media didn’t want to talk about it. Despite what progressives, Democratic policy-makers and your Facebook friends will tell you (and what most of the public believes thanks to careful disinformation or reporting by journalists who got Cs in high school Science class, climate science is not settled. Koonin is bothered by the same feature that Ethics Alarms has commented on many times: scientists can’t accurately predict what the future climate shifts will be.

The book’s argument is in three parts:

Continue reading

More On The “Fuck Biden” Ethics Train Wreck: Is Andrea Dick An Ethics Hero?

Dick

I’ll be uncharacteristically brief: I think she is.

As I stated in the previous post, her conduct was unethical. She was uncivil and disrespectful to her neighbors. Posting “Fuck Biden” signs is protected speech, but it is still unethical speech. She isn’t doing any good by posting such rhetoric. She setting out to annoy and irritate people, while being verbally assault to her nation’s leader. She has no defense, other than the claim that she has a right to be an asshole. And indeed she has.

However, now that the government is attempting to abridge her rights of free expression and speech, and using an inapplicable obscenity ordinance to do it, she has a patriotic, legal and ethical duty to oppose the efforts to silence her even though she should have shut up in the first place.

Ironically, although her signs and banners represent unethical behavior, she has created an obligation for herself to stand behind them. This will take courage and resources, but it appears that she will not be intimidated. Good. Her abuses of free speech must be protected lest free speech itself be diminished.

Andrea may be an asshole, but she is not a weenie, like so, so many Americans of far greater power and influence than she who have been intimidated into apologizing and retracting their political or social views. We have little to fear from assholes. America was built by assholes—stubborn, ornery iconoclasts who marched to their own drummers and didn’t care who liked it. Weenies, however, are an existential threat. Weenies strip away our rights by being too timid to fight for their own.

Andrea Dick is now an Ethics Hero. After she wins, she can prove she’s not an asshole by taking down her “Fuck Biden” signs because she decides to, and not because the government demands it.

Ethics Hero Emeritus: Rose Valland (1898-1980)

Rose-Valland

The remarkable 2008 documentary “The Rape of Europa” tells the story of the Nazi plundering of fine art across Europe. It is full of many accounts of heroism, none more impressive than that of Rose Villand, a meek-looking librarian out of central casting, who is as perfect and example of how ordinary people can rise to extraordinary levels of courage and innovation in times of crisis.

Rose Valland was born in Saint-Étienne-de-Saint-Geoirs, France on November 1, 1898. She earned two degrees in the arts from the École des Beaux-Arts in Lyon and also studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, then added degrees in art history from both the École du Louvre and the Sorbonne. Her academic credentials, however, did not immediately advance her career, as Valland began work at the Jeu de Paume Museum in Paris as an unpaid volunteer.

In October 1940, during the Occupation of Paris, the Nazis commandeered the Jeu de Paume Museum and converted it into the headquarters of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, or ERR, the Nazi art looting organization created by frustrated artist Adolf Hitler. There The Nazis stored paintings and other works of art stolen from private French collectors and dealers, including thousands of works taken from Jewish-owned galleries. The museum’s collaborating curator, Andre Dézarrois, fell ill in the summer of 1941, and in a stroke of fate for civilization, Valland became the de facto director of the museum. Jacques Jaujard, Director of the French National Museums including the Louvre, gave Valland a daunting assignment: she was to use her post in the museum to spy on the Nazi art theft operation.

The Germans, as explained in “The Rape of Europa,” took scant notice of the “little mouse” of a woman who kept her head down, seldom spoke, and appeared to follow orders. They didn’t even realize that she spoke German, but under their noses she was acquiring crucial information from the conversations of drivers, guards, and packers relating to the looted art treasures…60,000 of them. Villand witnessed the frequent shopping trips of Nazi Reichsmarshal Hermann Goering as he made more than twenty separate visits to the Jeu de Paume to select works of art for Hitler’s planned Führermuseum in Linz, Austria, and his own personal collection. Possessing a remarkable memory for details, she recorded her discoveries regarding the movements, names of the victims, number of pieces and where they were going, names of the agents responsible for transfers, names of the carriers, brands of the boxes, numbers and dates of convoys,as well as the names of the artists and the dimensions of the pieces that passed before her. She relayed the information to Jaujard and the French Resistance while keeping her own meticulous records. She warned the Resistance of convoys containing important artworks so that they would be spared, all while knowing that she would be executed as a spy if her activities were discovered by the Nazis—and at least twice, they nearly caught her.

Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Shots, 7/11/2021: A Rescue, Larry Vaughn In Tokyo, Joe Trippi Trips, And “La Bamba” Meets Calvinball

Alexander Hamilton died on this date in 1804, in a bizarre episode in U.S. history with profound ethical and political implications. There Aaron Burr fatally shot dead the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury and essential political thinker in an illegal duel at Weehawken, New Jersey. It was, of course, unethical to break the law, especially for these two men, who qualified as national leaders. Hamilton’s son had died defending his father’s honor in 1801 at the exact same spot (What was Alexander thinking?)

According to Hamilton’s “second,” Hamilton deliberately fired his weapon into the air rather than at Burr, a gentlemanly gesture and also a profoundly stupid one, if Hamilton believed half the things he had said and written about Burr’s character for years. This was why they were dueling, after all. Burr’s second claimed that Hamilton fired at Burr and missed, and the more I’ve thought abut this, the more I’ve come to believe that this is the more likely scenario. Hamilton was anything but naive, reckless or stupid. Yes, he was a crack shot, but anyone can miss. Even if the gesture of “throwing away his shot” as “Hamilton” puts it, would have impressed some adversaries and been seen as a display of mercy and an offer of reconciliation, it made no sense at all with this adversary. Moreover, Hamilton considered Burr a threat to the nation—he was right about that—why wouldn’t he shoot him? Whatever really happened, Burr, who had the second shot, killed Hamilton with a ball that went through his stomach into his spine. Hamilton died the next day.

This ended Burr’s political career: Would killing Burr have ended Hamilton’s? Probably, but Burr was the one who had issued the challenge. Maybe Hamilton would have been excused by the public. Maybe he would have ultimately become President; all the Founders of his magnitude except Ben Franklin did. For good or ill, Alexander Hamilton would have been a strong and probably transformative leader. But if he hadn’t died at Weehawken, it’s unlikely that we would have “Hamilton” the musical….

1. Baseball, hotdogs, and a bystander hero. Dr. Willie Ross, the father of Washington Nationals pitcher Joe Ross, saved the life of a choking fan midway through yesterday 10-4 Giants win over Washington at Oracle Park in San Francisco. Ross saw that a female spectator was choking, and when Ross came over to her seat to check on her, she couldn’t talk. Ross helped dislodge two pieces of a hot dog by using the Heimlich maneuver, then reached into her throat to take out the third and final piece. The woman, who is a nurse, could breath and speak at last. Ross received a standing ovation from nearby fans.

Continue reading

Ethics Heroes: The New York Yankees

bat girl

Now you know, if you know anything about me, that the headline above was not easy for me to write. Fair, however is fair.

Gwen Goldman was 10-years-old in 1961 when she wrote to her favorite baseball team and said that she wanted to be the Yankees’ batgirl. She got a response, too, from the Yankees GM Roy Hamey. His answer, on a letter with the Yankee logo that Gwen framed and hangs in her home today, was that baseball wasn’t for girls. “In a game dominated by men a young lady such as yourself would feel out of place in a dugout,” he wrote in part. “I am sure you can understand.”

This year, her adult daughter Abby emailed a photo of the letter to the team, and current Yankees GM Brian Cashman saw it. Last week, on the 60th anniversary of Hamey’s original letter, Cashman contacted Gwen Goldman to tell her that she would finally be able to achieve her dream of being a batgirl for her beloved Yankees. And so it was that yesterday night she was the honorary batgirl for the Yankees in their game against the Los Angeles Angels. It was part of the team’s HOPE Week, a tradition the Yankees started in 2009 to promote acts of goodwill that could provide hope and encouragement to others.

“This dream of 60 years that didn’t happen is happening,” Goldman said before her big night. “It’s thanks to Abby, starting it going, and to the Yankees organization for being at the forefront of believing about breaking down those gender barriers. The letter Brian Cashman wrote to me [that’s the one in her left hand, above] , it’s just beautiful and speaks a lot to who they are as an organization, trying to do what’s right. … I picked the right team to be a fan of, didn’t I?”

Well, no, Gwen, it’s the wrong team, but this time they did the right thing.

Continue reading

Ethics Hero And Ethics Quote Of The Week: Jason Whitlock

Floyd statue

The George Floyd statue outside the Newark, NJ. City Hall.

I was introduced to sportswriter Jason Whitlock 20 years ago, when he was the featured speaker at a Kansas City legal convention I was attending. He was a forceful and entertaining speaker, and quick and witty in his question and answer session after his remarks. Since then, I have followed his career with interest, especially his recent emergence as a black conservative with the courage to be direct unequivocal, and not only regarding sports.

Commenting on the epic rant by a black parent and radio pundit about Critical Race Theory I featured over the weekend, esteemed Ethics Alarms commenter Humble Talent opined,

“One of the worst trends to come out of conservative politics in the last couple of years is to put up on a pillar any minority person that will say things that conservatives agree with. I think it’s a reactionary measure; Progressives say we’re racist, sexist, or homophobic, so we go out of our way to find female/minority/gay people to platform in order to prove we aren’t…Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think they’re bad people, I just don’t think they’re smart, funny, or talented enough to get space in conservative media absent these identity markers that conservatives seem especially hungry for….”

That point is legitimate, but it can’t be fairly applied to Jason Whitlock. Yes, I believe he has received special attention because he is a black man standing up to The Great Stupid, but he also deserves special attention because he is unusually astute, persuasive and eloquent. A white analyst, like, say, me, can be automatically squelched as biased when noting, for example, that George Floyd is an absurd and intellectually indefensible martyr for the Black Lives Matter movement since there was no evidence that his death was a product of racism, systemic or otherwise. When an astute, persuasive and eloquent black critic makes a similar argument, it demonstrates that my conclusion was not necessarily motivated by racial bias.

I know: people will say it anyway.

Whitlock has made a different argument regarding Floyd in his latest essay, but it is an excellent one. Indeed, if there were any integrity at the major newspapers, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, New York Magazine and the Usual Suspects that have destructively carried the banners of those who have, quite successfully, exploited that neatly symbolic manner of Floyd’s demise, he would not have had to seek publication in the relatively marginal Glenn Beck website, The Blaze, where he hosts a podcast called “Fearless.” The essay is titled, “The Veneration of George Floyd is racist and must be stopped.”

Continue reading