My Home Town Finally Makes Good!

We always knew Arlington, Massachusetts would do something special eventually.
 
All the years that my family lived there, poor Arlington, nestled anonymously between Lexington and Cambridge, a hop and a skip from Concord, searched in vain for some way to be famous like the cities and towns around it. Sure, it was (and is) the largest municipality to have a town government, but really, so what? Paul Revere didn’t even ride through Arlington (that was William Dawes) which was then called Menotomy.
 
In the run-up Revolutionary War, our little town—-heck, we couldn’t even say that, because it was a BIG town, though irrelevant…was the site of a shooting skirmish while the British marched through to Lexington and Concord. Arlington’s big event was the massacre of some Minute Men while they hid in the closet in the Jason Russell House, the town’s one historical spot of note. You could see the bullet holes! Cool! Our classes visited the place every damn year.

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Unethical Quote Of The Month: Golden State Warriors Owner Chamath Palihapitiya

“Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs, okay. You bring it up because you care and I think it’s nice that you care. The rest of us don’t care. I’m just telling you a very hard, ugly truth. Of all the things that I care about, yes, it is below my line.”

—–Golden State Warriors owner Chamath Palihapitiya, in an interview.

This statement, classic signature significance, neatly explains why the National Basketball Association remains metaphorically in bed with the brutal regime in China, why the Biden Administration refuses to hold the country responsible for its role as an international outlaw (and inflicting its virus on our population,economy and the world), and if you change just one word, why the United States allowed Hitler’s Final Solution to proceed as far as it did.

Give credit where it is due: at least Palihapitiya is being honest. As for his fellow owners, we can see that they feel exactly the same way through their conduct, but prefer not to say so out loud. It might cut down on the profits from souvenir NBA jerseys. Continue reading

I Ask Again: “Is There Any Justification For A State Censoring Vanity Plates?” And The Answer Is The Same…

In 2018, Ethics Alarms questioned the wisdom and ethics of a state denying permission for drivers to have whatever vanity plates their little vain and often juvenile hearts desire. I happen to live in the state with the most vanity plates of all, Virginia, which not only seldom exercises government power over license plate speech, but also makes vanity plates extremely cheap…and, of course, being so close to Washington. D.C., the state has more than its fair share of narcissists.

What I wrote in 2018 still holds, unedited:

Utah, for examples, bans vanity plates with profanity, “derogatory language,”  drug references,  sex talk, references to bodily functions, “hate speech,” targeting a particular group, or advocating violence advocates, as well as alcohol references and the number combo “69.” Ethics verdict: None of their business. These are words and numbers, and the state is declaring content and intent impermissible. When I see a car with an obnoxious vanity plate, I’m grateful. This is useful information. Racist or vulgar plates translate into “I am an asshole, and want you to know it!”

Thank you, sir! I appreciate the heads up.

Last time, the post concentrated on the plate censorship by New Hampshire and Utah. Now we have access to the banned words and numbers in Illinois, which include, for some weird reason, “BIDEN.” It takes a lot of gall for the state that plasters “Land of Lincoln” everywhere to tell drivers they can’t have the name of Abe’s current successor on their cars. Also banned:

Ooooh...I’m so scared! And this one…

AAAAIIIIII! Now I’m REALLY scared! Take it away! TAKE IT AWAY!

The Illinois Secretary of State is empowered by law to refuse misleading plates or those which create “a connotation that is offensive to good taste and decency.” The state currently has a “Inhibit List,” a compilation of more than 7,000 phrases that won’t be put on a vanity plate. Here are just the As and Bs. And what’s the matter with…

…I wonder? Mentioning beer is in bad taste? Does Illinois still have a Prohibition hangover?

And how did “Brandon” manage to avoid the list? The whole, silly, slippery slope thing is here. Continue reading

AARGH! The University of Michigan Firing Its President Made Me Think About Bill Clinton Again!

Mark S. Schlissel, the president of the University of Michigan, was fired  yesterday after an emergency meeting of the Board of Regents His relationship with a subordinate at the university had been revealed by an anonymous whistleblower who was, ironically, named Linda Tripp. Nononono! I’m sorry: damn flashback again.

The Board easily concluded that Schlissel had violated university policy and behaved “in a manner inconsistent with the dignity and reputation of the university.” His employment was terminated effective immediately, canceling a contract that would have continued paying him his base salary of $927,000 for four more years. The letter to Dr. Schlissel informing him that he was being fired said the complaint had arrived on December 8. “There can be no question that you were acutely aware that any inappropriate conduct or communication between you and a subordinate would cause substantial harm to the dignity and reputation of the University of Michigan,” the letter said.

The month long investigation triggered by the anonymous tip revealed dozens of email exchanges using “inappropriate tone and inappropriate language,” and showed that Dr. Schlissel used official business to carry out the relationship. His conduct was “particularly egregious,” the letter said, because he had taken a public position against sexual harassment, handing out pens to feminists like Bella Abzug after signing into law an anti-sexual harassment…no, I’m sorry, that was Bill Clinton.  Schlissel had only used the occasion of a university provost, Martin Philbert, being accused of sexual misconduct in August 2020 to send a letter to the university intoning that “the highest priority” was to make the university “safe for all.”

Dr. Schlissel, who is married and has four grown children. His wife, in response to the firing, immediately declared his demise to be the result of a vast right wing conspiracy. DANG! There go those flashbacks again!

I vowed a while back not to write any more about Bill Clinton. It was, as a few of you remember, the revolting ethical blindness revealed by Clinton’s defenders during Monica Madness and the even more revolting hypocrisy by passionate feminists who refused to condemn the POTUS’s text-book sexual harassment of a lowly intern (Bill supported abortion, you see, so that gave him immunity) that got me into the ethics blogging trap in the first place.

As an ethicist, I found the rationalizations being thrown out to get Clinton off the hook copious and nauseating, beginning with “Everybody Does It,” Number One, and including the worst of all. #22, “It’s not the worst thing!” Even though Clinton used Monica Lewinsky as his personal inflatable sex doll in his workplace, during work hours, with the knowledge of other subordinates, Democrats and pundits insisted on dismissing this as “private, personal conduct.”

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The YouTube Ethics Dilemma: I Need The Platform, But It’s A Censorious, Partisan Propaganda Machine

I don’t miss Twitter much. I quit the social media platform last year, disgusted with its blatant partisan censorship, its censoring of Donald Trump, and the odd way it flagrantly maintained a double standard in which misleading or questionable progressive tweets were opinions, but misleading or questionable conservative tweets were lies, mandating the tweet-monger’s banishment.

I also had been warning lawyers in my ethics seminars to eschew Twitter at all costs, since, I said with my tongue only slightly piercing my cheek, using it lowered the average lawyer’s IQ by between 15 to 25 points. (I estimated this on the evidence of poor former Harvard Law icon Larry Tribe, whose conspiracy theory tweets and ethics rules beaches on the platform raise the rebuttable presumption that he has entered the Biden Zone…not that this obvious decline has stopped the Washington Post and New York Times from publishing his increasingly over-heated and badly-reasoned op-eds.)

I decided that I should take my own advice and leave Twitter. Besides, my involvement with Twitter in the end consisted solely of issuing links to Ethics Alarms posts, which elicited virtually no traffic or retweets at all. (Except for you, Opal!)

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And Now For Something Completely Stupid: The Unethical Satire Of Joe Matthews

Joe Mathews is co-president of the Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy. He has written an op-ed piece arguing that California should “abolish parenthood.” The usually astute people at Legal Insurrection (if someone can explain why  all of those annoying breaks are in the title, please do) apparently think he’s serious; I don’t, but it doesn’t matter. If your satire is so inept that nobody can tell it’s a joke, then it is more hoax than satire, a deliberate lie to make people feel dumb who believe it so you can mock them afterward for being gullible.

This thing by “California Joe,” as he calls himself on-line, is worse than that: in this environment of near-complete progressive derangement, his absurdist piece is like a flaming match tossed into a dry forest. That’s wildly irresponsible.

Joe will doubtlessly defend his satire as “Swiftian,” but there was never any danger that the English would start eating children to solve poverty, over-population and hunger. That’s because Jonathan Swift’s satire was funny, as competent satire is supposed to be, and because the British of his era were not insane. “California should abolish parenthood, in the name of equity” is not funny, and it is not far enough removed from other truly terrible, totalitarian ideas being advanced by Woke World that the author can be confident that his gag won’t find its way into a movement. Remember too, that the state taking children from parents has been a totalitarian strategy in the Third Reich, Soviet Russia, and Red China. Continue reading

Yikes! I Better Finish “Will The Audacious ‘It Isn’t What it is’ Propaganda Assault By The American Left Succeed?” Quick Before The Answer Is Too Obvious To Bother With: The Democrats’ Amazing Filibuster Hypocrisy

Wowie Zowie, Democratic “It isn’t what it is” grandstanding is reaching record heights faster than I can comment on them!

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), cementing her Ethics Hero credentials that (I admit) I doubted would stand up in June) delivered a speech yesterday in which she reiterated her  support for the filibuster, pretty much killing Democrat Party efforts to unilaterally change the rules to enable the party to ram through legislation that would federalize elections and permanently weaken their integrity. The filibuster is a long-standing procedural device that requires three-fifths of Senators to agree in order to advance toward a vote. It is very much a pro-democracy measure, instituted to prevent a bare Senate majority from passing important and controversial legislation without bi-partisan support. You can’t have a smaller Senate majority than Democrats do now, with a 50-50 split only enhanced by the Vice-President’s tie-breaking vote.

Sinema said that she personally supports both the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, but does not believe it is wise to kill the filibuster. “And while I continue to support these bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country,” Sinema said. “There’s no need for me to restate my longstanding support for the 60-vote threshold to pass legislation.” 

She did this despite President Biden’s disgraceful speech this week claiming that anyone who continues to support a filibuster to stop his party’s voting rights legislation is choosing to “stand on the side of George Wallace over Dr. King, Bull Connor over John Lewis, and Jefferson Davis over Abraham Lincoln.” It had to be one of the worst examples of race-baiting as an illicit political tool of recent memory, particularly since the claims that the legislation has any connection to race is fictional. It is not discriminatory to require voters to prove who they are at the polls. It is not “racist” to limit early voting. I would eliminate it entirely: the procedure encourages blind, knee-jerk, fact-free partisan voting over voter consideration of all relevant information during the campaign. It supports incompetent democracy. It is not racist to place limits on mail-in voting, vote-harvesting, or drop-boxes. It is responsible. Moreover, allowing such easily manipulated weaknesses in election controls encourages distrust in the final results.

It is profoundly disturbing that all but two Democratic Senators have the courage and respect for democracy to oppose the filibuster rule change, and apparently none will stand up for the integrity of elections. Meanwhile, Sinema is being called a racist and a foe of democracy for doing the right thing. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On “The After-School Satan Club”

It’s difficult to know how to begin…

Let’s start with the unfortunate fact that this is not a hoax, a joke, or a parody. The Jane Addams elementary school in the Moline-Coal Valley School District—that’s Illinois—has approved an after-school club called “The Satan Club.” Here is the flyer requesting parental permission:

Note that it is sponsored by The Satanic Temple, which released this reassuring statement:

After School Satan Club does not attempt to convert children to any religious ideology. Instead, The Satanic Temple supports children to think for themselves. All After School Satan Clubs are based upon a uniform syllabus that emphasizes a scientific, rationalist, non-superstitious worldview.

There, that should put everyone’s mind at ease!

Now here is the school district’s statement:

The Moline-Coal Valley School District understands that there is concern and confusion over an upcoming after-school club at Jane Addams elementary.

The District would like to provide information on the situation. The Moline-Coal Valley School District and Board of Education have policies and administrative procedures in place which allow for community use of its publicly funded facilities outside the school day.

The district does not discriminate against any groups who wish to rent our facilities, including religious-affiliated groups. Religiously affiliated groups are among those allowed to rent our facilities for a fee.

The district has, in the past, approved these types of groups, one example being the Good News Club, which is an after-school child evangelism fellowship group. Flyers and promotional materials for these types of groups are approved for lobby posting or display only, and not for mass distribution.

Students or parents are then able to pick up the flyer from the lobby, if they so choose, which is aligned to District policy. Please note that the district must provide equal access to all groups and that students need parental permission to attend any after-school event. Our focus remains on student safety and student achievement.

Observations: Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Former Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

I haven’t had time to finish the second part of this post, but Gabbard’s tweet regarding Biden’s stunningly unpresidential demagoguery in his public, hyper-partisan  tantrum this week keeps the topic properly warm. The President of the United States publicly labelled the opposing party as the equivalents of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy—in other words, racists and traitors. This is how the leader of the Democratic Party wants to “save democracy.”

From Great Britain, A “Laws Are For The Little People” Scandal, And From The Prime Minister, A Terrible Apology

Boris Johnson, Great Britain’s eerily Trump-like Prime Minister, was caught behaving like Nancy Pelosi, California Governor Gavin Newsom, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Dr. Deborah Birx, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, John Kerry, former Governor Andrew Cuomo, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, just-exited NYC mayor Bill de Blasio,  and others in the U.S. who have violated the restrictions they placed on the public’s liberty and right to the pursuit of happiness in their embrace, at least officially, of Wuhan virus panic.

Three days ago, an email “emerged,” as they like to say now, showing the PM’s  private secretary inviting people to a lawn party at 10 Downing Street while the rest of the country was under a strict pandemic lockdown. The cheery missive concluded, “bring your own booze!” Continue reading