Scholastic Was Right To Ask A Children’s Book Author To Edit Her Anti-American Introduction, But Nobody Will Admit It

Maggie Tokuda-Hall was indignant when Scholastic, a publishing giant that distributes books and resources to 90% of the nation’s schools, offered, to license her book, “Love in the Library,” but only on the condition that she edit her author’s note as indicated above. She went public with her accusations that this was an example of unconscionable capitulation to right-wing efforts to “censor” books in school libraries, and now Scholastic is groveling for forgiveness after ” an outcry among children’s book authors,” while several authors and educators consulted by Scholastic condemned the company’s actions, and demanded an overhaul of the editorial process.

Of course, this is an issue being engaged with by only one side of the political divide, whose analysis is wildly skewed by fealty to political correctness and the anti-American movement in public education, fueled in part by children’s book authors (see above) and industry consultants (see above). The New York Times’ “news report” on the matter is, predictably, completely biased, framing what should be an issue stuffed with legitimate arguments on both sides to one where the rights and wrongs of the episode have already been settled by the demands of Leftist orthodoxy. The headline, as is often the case in the Times, frames the story dishonestly: “Asked to Delete References to Racism From Her Book, an Author Refused.”

The author, a Japanese-America, quickly plays her own race-card, telling the Times, “We all see what’s happening with this rising culture of book bans. If we all know that the largest children’s publisher in the country, the one with the most access to schools, is capitulating behind closed doors and asking authors to change their works to accommodate those kinds of demands, there’s no way you as a marginalized author can find an audience.”

Sure there is. Write children’s books that don’t seek to indoctrinate kids and that don’t try to reduce complex historical events to simplistic and misleading narratives.

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Comment Of The Day: “I THOUGHT This Issue Would Eventually End Up At The Supreme Court, And Here It Is!”

Now that the question of whether Donald Trump was violating the First Amendment when he blocked nasty commenters on his tweets (like every other Twitter-user could do) has some distance from the reflex “That asshole! Serves him right that the courts stopped him” response from the Trump Deranged, the issue has sparked some varied and interesting commentary. Yesterday’s EA post sure did; I even managed to trigger a violent argument between two long-time esteemed commenters here.

I remain very ambivalent on the issue. Here is Rich in CT’s Comment of the Day raising a parallel that is one of the reasons.


I serve on a local board, and in Connecticut at least, there is no inherit right for the public to speak in any particular forum (during the conduct of official business). If comments are allowed, it is up to the discretion of the board (pursuant to applicable bylaws), and they can be limited to a specific topic to help the board make a lawful and effective public policy decision. Disruptive comments can be barred. My board has never had to remove a disruptive individual, but we have that right if needed as they speak as our guests.

We’ve had heated exchanges, and have had to frequently warn the public that comments must remain on topic and civil. Allowing uncivil comments, in fact, can create a “hostile forum” that can potentially bias the commission again a particular applicant. Courts can vacate decisions made during such conditions, and made adjudicate the application itself, taking the decision completely out of the commission’s control.

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Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz: The Weather Lady’s Collapse”

Curmie’s typically erudite and perceptive Comment of the Day below made me happy and sad at the same time. Happy, because it is the kind of superb commentary Ethics Alarms readers excel at producing, making the site unique in the blogosphere whether a significant numbers of people take advantage of the resource. Sad, because I should have authored its equivalent in the first place, and might have come closer if I were not forced daily into squeezing posts into randomly distributed periods during the day that I don’t have to devote to earning enough money to keep the Marshalls from a future living in a cardboard box in the woods.

Curmie’s analysis also alerted me to something I had missed in the video, the mysterious statement “Not again!” from one of the anchors. This reminded me of the just-created whale in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” hurtling to Earth through space (along with a pot of petunias) that similarly thinks, also inexplicably, “Oh no, not again!”

Here is Curmie’s Comment of the Day, a deft examination of humor, ethics and human nature, regarding the post, “Ethics Quiz: The Weather Lady’s Collapse”:


I find this one fascinating for a variety of reasons. One of those is that I no doubt had a different reaction to seeing the event under the headline “BREAKING: CBS LA Weather Forecaster collapses live on air.” So I can’t say how I would have responded had I simply been watching that news show.

Part of my response is also based on the initial movement, the slow bend forward toward the desk. That seemed almost choreographed, as if she was going to pound her head on the desk as some sort of statement on the imminent forecast, described by the co-anchor as “the calm before the storm.” It’s the slide out of the chair that changes the dynamic. That’s definitely unstaged.

More importantly, I’d read your statement that she’s recovering at home before I viewed the video. This takes us very close to the notion of aesthetic distance, that unspoken understanding that what we are watching isn’t actually happening. Hence, we don’t run for cover when the bad guy in a play or a movie appears with a gun and looks threatening, and we’re not confused when the actor who played Hamlet is miraculously alive to take a curtain call even though the character is dead. Or, in this case, that she suffered an episode, but is on her way to recovery.

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When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring: Oklahoma Republicans Vote Against Banning Corporal Punishment Of Disabled Students

As an ethicist, I see news stories like this and want to hurl myself through the nearest wood-chipper. On the Left, we have racial-grievance fanatics claiming that eliminating discipline for disrupting class is necessary to avoid perpetuating “systemic racism.” On the Right, we have virtual Neanderthals with ethical standards stuck in the 19th century advocating teachers hitting cognitively challenged kids because…the Bible says so.

No wonder it’s so easy for Leftist fascism to get a foothold in our culture, when conservatives undermine their credibility with positions like that.

Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plains and apparently through one ear and out the other of a lot of elected officials, is one of the 19 laggards that permit child abuse in the public schools. (Watch the Indian School corporal punishment inflicted on students in the “1923” miniseries now streaming on Paramount+, if you dare.) Democrats in the state legislature introduced House Bill 1028, a modest proposal—I would think—to outlaw school district personnel from “using corporal punishment on any student identified with a disability in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.” It didn’t even outlaw teachers beating kids in general, just students with disabilities. But the GOP has a super-majority, and not enough alleged conservatives (why is beating students “conservative” voted against the bill to narrowly kill it, 45-43.

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Ethics Quote Of The Week: Blogger-Law Prof. Glenn Reynolds, The “Instapundit”


—Conservative blogger and pundit Professor Glenn Reynolds, reacting to the “Ars Technica” post, “Are we ethically ready to set up shop in space?”

I agree with Reynolds completely, and the article that prompted his dismissal of my field (except in rare cases, hence “generally”) deserved it.

It begins (the author is Diana Gittig, who “received her B.A. in Biochemistry from the University of Pennsylvania, and then a Ph.D. in Cell Biology and Genetics from Cornell,”and “is a freelance science writer and editor in New York’):

Off-Earth will amaze you: On nearly every page, it will have your jaw dropping in response to mind-blowing revelations and your head nodding vigorously in sudden recognition of some of your own half-realized thoughts (assuming you think about things like settling space). It will also have your head shaking sadly in resignation at the many immense challenges author Erika Nesvold describes. But the amazement will win out. Off-Earth: Ethical Questions and Quandaries for Living in Outer Space is really, really good…

The chapter headings, all of them questions, give a great indication of the issues she highlights in the book. Should we even settle space? Why? Who gets to go? How will property rights be distributed and finite resources be allocated? Do we need to protect the environment in space? How will we do that? What happens when someone breaks the rules or needs medical care? What if that person is the only one who can fix the water purifier? Underlying all of these questions, as yet unaddressed by any public or private institution currently shooting rockets into the air: who gets to decide?

Many of these issues have been dealt with, extensively, in fiction. But Nesvolt doesn’t really mention these works except to caution against the risk of taking them as prophecy.

Had it not triggered my bullshit alarm so thoroughly, I might have stopped reading there. Wait: this brilliant author supposedly explores the ethical hypotheticals that have been exhaustively examined by over a century of science fiction writers in literature, movies and TV without mentioning them? That’s unethical! It’s incompetent, irresponsible, unfair and disrespectful: the book is discredited as a trustworthy source of ethics analysis at the outset.

It is the final paragraph of the brilliant reviewer of the allegedly brilliant astrophyicist-ethicist’s revelations, however, that conclusively proves Reynold’s assessment is spot on. Ready?

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Unethical Quote Of The Week: Jill Biden

“Ridiculous…“We would never even discuss something like that. How many 30-year-olds could travel to Poland, get on the train? Go nine more hours, go to Ukraine, meet with President  Zelensky? So, look at the man. Look what he’s doing. Look what he continues to do each and every day.”

First Lady Jill Bidenafter being asked during a CNN interview about Nikki Haley’s proposal that politicians over the age of 75 undergo mental competency testing.

In related news, Lance Armstrong declared that testing competitive cyclists for doping is “ridiculous,” and O.J. Simpson opined that DNA technology was “ridiculous.”

Fortunately, all we need to do to determine the competency of First Ladies is to analyze a cretinous answer like that one to a flamingly easy question. We are looking, Jill. And it’s not pretty. The words the First Lady was searching for were not “ridiculous,” but responsible, necessary, and “a matter of common sens

The United States has already courted disaster with Presidents continuing in office after their mental faculties have been damaged or declined. President Pierce was impaired by grief, crippling depression and alcoholism during his single term in office, which occurred at a crucial point in the deadly run-up to the Civil War. Woodrow Wilson infamously remained President after being crippled by a major stroke. There is evidence that President Reagan’s cognitive stability was declining during his presidency.

As for Jill’s human meal-ticket, no modern President has shown so many signs of mental decline and confusion, and this frightening development has come after a career in public office unmarked by intellectual acuity at its zenith. Every responsible Presidential candidate should be required to pledge to take such competency tests on a regular basis and agree to resign from office once a thorough, non-partisan diagnosis confirmed by multiple physicians concludes that there is significant cognitive decline.

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On Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s Procrustean Attempt To Make Abortion A Constitutional Right

That’s Procrustes portrayed above, in both of his favored acts of mayhem. I checked: I’ve used the term “Procrustean” several times here, but never was kind enough to explain the term’s origins, which is what makes it cool.

Procrustes was the nastiest of the bad guys the mythological Greek hero Theseus encountered on his way to killing the Minotaur in Crete. Procrustes would invite a weary traveler to take refuge for the night, offering him sustenance and a bed—but the bed was a deadly trap. Procrustes guaranteed every guest would fit the bed neatly, but that was because it converted into a rack, stretching anyone who was too short. If a guest was too tall, Procrustes just hacked off enough inches from the feet up to ensure that the bed would fit him, too. Theseus killed the psycho, but the word procrustean eventually entered legal lexicon to describe an argument that illogically squeezed facts or omitted them to make a theory fit the law.

I thought of old Procrustes immediately when I read that Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in the District Court for the District of Columbia suggested after a hearing that the Thirteenth Amendment might have created a right to abortions. Wait, you well might ask, “How could an amendment created specifically to make slavery illegal, passed right after the Civil War, be construed to enshrine abortion as a right?” The short answer is, “It can’t and doesn’t.” The stupid, intellectually dishonest answer, however, is the one that the previously responsible female judge has decided to promote.

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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

NOOOOOO! “The Ethicist” Just Endorsed The Golden Rationalization As Justification For Deception.

It isn’t quite head-exploding, because the New York Times “The Ethicist” column has seen its columnist—there have been five of them, I think—promote unethical conduct all too frequently over the years. But the current ethics advice maven, Kwame Anthony Appiah, is a real ethicist, unlike the others, and I expect better of him. Because of his credentials and assumed authority, his unethical advice this week is particularly damaging. And to clarify my statement I quote one of many memorable exchanges during the testimony of Miss Mona Lisa Vitto (Marissa Tomei) in the climax of “My Cousin Vinny”:

D.A. Jim Trotter (Lane Smith): Objection, Your Honor! Can we clarify to the court whether the witness is stating opinion or fact?

Judge Chamberlain Haller (Fred Gwynne) : [to Lisa] This is your opinion?

Mona Lisa Vito: It’s a fact.

The inquirer asked whether it was unethical for him to list a fake publisher on the title page of his self-published book that he created on Amazon, apparently a common practice that Amazon permits. He also asked whether it would be unethical to tell a bookstore owner who agreed to sell the book on consignment that the book was published by his made-up book company.

“The Ethicst” answers the first query this way:

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A Christmas Music Ethics Spectacular! [Third Stanza: The Good, The Bad, And The Creepy]

The New York Times has an article about the competition to create a new Christmas music standard, or at least a hit song for streaming.  The piece’s “Rules of the Game:

No. 1: The public prefers the old classics, and isn’t too interested in new songs.

No. 2: Singers shouldn’t wander too far from the melody.

No. 3: “You can’t be too corny at Christmas. You totally get a free pass.”

Corny is fine, but what about creepy?

D. Dark Christmas Songs

1. Traditional Carols

The problem with “The Carol of the Bells” isn’t the lyrics, it’s the music. The thing is affirmatively creepy; my mother hated it, and compared the tune to “The Hall of the Mountain King.” No other Christmas music has been so frequently used darkly. It came, then, as no surprise when the TV horror mini-series “Nos4A2,” based on a novel by Stephen King’s son, used the carol as its theme music. The show is the tale of a damned man who kidnaps children and takes them to “Christmasland” where they are kids forever, and also become little vampires. The music, which is by a Ukrainian composer, is unquestionably ominous. Why it has remained in the Christmas canon is a mystery to me.

Another carol in a minor key is “We Three Kings,” which contains this cheerful lyric in Verse 4, sung by Balthazar:

Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;—
Sorrowing, sighing,
Bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb

Merry Christmas!

And why would you give that stuff to a baby?

I’m going to call I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” a traditional carol since its lyrics are more than a century old. It’s not creepy, but it is a sad song, and sadder still when one knows its origins. 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem titled “Christmas Bells” on Christmas Day, December 25, 1863. He was in despair: his son had been wounded fighting for the Union the month before, and the poet feared he would die. The author of “Paul Revere’s Ride,” “Evangeline” and other famous poems also was still mourning his second wife, who had died horribly in a fire two years earlier. He was not in a good state of mind when he wrote,

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