One More Time: Conservative Personal Liberty Faces Off Against Enforced Progressive Cant

Shawnee

This time, personal liberty won.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Shawnee State professor Nicholas Meriwether, who had been reprimanded and disciplined because he “refused to refer to students by their ‘preferred pronouns. ‘” The small Ohio state school had issued a 2016 order that that any professor who “refused to use a pronoun that reflects a student’s self-asserted gender identity” would face discipline. When Meriwether asked if his own beliefs affected what he could call students, the official response was that he must call students what they demanded “regardless of” his own “convictions or views on the subject.” The student in question was male in appearance but identified as female. Meriwether maintained that his Christian faith forbade him from referring to a male in female terms; the student, according to Meriwether, threatened him if he refused to comply with the pronoun edict.  The court over-ruled a lower federal district court and held that university officials had violated the professor’s First Amendment rights to free speech and to the free exercise of his religion, thus attempting to“wield alarming power to compel ideological conformity.”

Normally, as in the Christian baker scenarios, I would take the position that, law aside—ethics, you know!—, this is an “asshole meets asshole” situation. How hard is it for either party to just yield a bit, respect the other’s sensitivities, extreme or not, and be accommodating? It is a Golden Rule opportunity. This time, however, it seems clear that the professor was willing to be reasonable, and the woke, non-binery, transitioning or whatever he or she was student was determined to go to extreme lengths to bend the professor to “her” will.

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Ethics Exclamation Points, 3/16/21: Duh! Whoa! Yay! Gag! Asshole!

1 Duh! The competition for most incompetent host on CNN continues to be neck and neck, with Chris Cuomo, Brian Stelter and Don Lemon threatening a photo finish. Lemon rounded the turn and made up some ground by visiting “The View” (Lemon coming to the idiot-infested ABC uninformed opinion fest is the very definition of “carrying coals to Newcastle”) and, when asked to respond to the Vatican’s announcement that Roman Catholic priests cannot extend a sacramental blessing to same-sex unions, set a new high for egomania and presumptuousness. Lemon answered in part,

“I think that the Catholic Church and many other churches really need to reexamine themselves and their teachings because that is not what God is about. God is not about hindering people or even judging people… do what the Bible and what Jesus actually said, if you believe in Jesus, and that is to love your fellow man and judge not lest ye be not judged.”

Gee, thanks Don for answering the question that theologians have been debating for centuries: “What is God about?” And nice mangling of that quote, though even if you got it right, it still doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t make judgments about people. The New Testament passage carrying that message (Matthew 7:1) holds the we should be prepared to be judged by the same standards we use to judge others. In several other places the Bible specifically instructs us to “judge,” and God repeatedly reserves the right to judge human beings, so to say He “isn’t about judging” is an eccentric interpretation at best. Meanwhile, the Ten Commandments, like all laws, are about “hindering people.” Lemon isn’t competent to discuss politics; who cares what he thinks about theology?

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Ethics Hero: Ada First United Methodist Church

ADA church

This is the sort of thing we should expect from tax-exempt religious organizations.

In Ada, Oklahoma, First United Methodist Church partnered with RIP Medical Debt to purchase and forgive $3.8 million in medical debt owed by Oklahoma residents. The debt was owed by 1,327 residents in Coal, Garvin, Hughes, Pontotoc, and Seminole counties. Organizers targeted households that were at least 200% below the federal poverty level, insolvent, or going through serious financial hardship.

Krystina Phillips, who coordinated the mission for Ada FUMC, said,

“Medical debt doesn’t discriminate—anyone can get sick or be involved in a serious accident. I hope our church and others in the community can revisit this mission in the future, particularly when it provides such tangible benefits to our neighbors.”

Gertrude Stein Weeps: SUNY Student Owen Stevens Suspended For Writing “A Man Is A Man, A Woman Is A Woman” (And Other Controversial Views)

gertrude-stein-rose

This is quite a story. It shows that The Great Stupid is still capable of getting more stupid. It shows that colleges and universities are determined to crush, not just dissent, but those who merely point out the inherent absurdity of progressive cant. It also shows that too many university administrators don’t read court opinions and don’t understand the First Amendment.

To take the last first, Owen Stevens, a contrary student at the State University of New York-Geneseo (SUNY-Geneseo), simply cannot be punished by the school for an Instagram posted video and his blog, no matter what they say, short of defaming or threatening a student or faculty member. What he did say in an Instagram post, “A man is a man, a woman is a woman. A man is not a woman and a woman is not a man,” is at worst a viewpoint, and really a fact. A state school can’t possibly get away with suspending a student 1) for non campus conduct, 2) for protected speech, or 3) for social media comments unrelated to the institution. It’s unethical, and it’s illegal. And, of course, it is stupid.

The email Owen received from the school (and quickly posted) is smoking gun evidence of an anti-speech, anti-expression, anti-dissent, indoctrination mindset infecting the school and corrupting its culture. Some students who did not agree with his positions reported the posts to the university’s administration like the good little totalitarians and fascists they have been raised and educated to be. The university’s administration then suspended Stevens from all field teaching programs, which are mandatory for education students. The school argued that his claims “call into question” a teacher’s requirement to “maintain a classroom environment protecting the mental and emotional well-being of all students.”

The school is wrong, disgusting, un-American, and dangerous.

“After review of all available materials, I find that, based on your continued public stance and social media presence, you do not consistently demonstrate behaviors required by the Conceptual Framework of the School of Education,” the Dean of the school of education wrote in an email to Stevens informing him of the suspension.

To get the suspension lifted, Stevens must complete a “remediation plan,” which involves deleting the posts on his Instagram account, reducing his social media presence, and attending a training he dubbed “re-education.” It implies that future teachers like Stevens must support “all forms” of gender identity. The email said that statement conflicts with the Dignity for All Students Act in the state of New York and SUNY’s inclusivity doctrine, which states that teachers should promote “a diverse campus community marked by mutual respect for the unique talents and contributions of each individual.”

The doctrine does not support viewpoint inclusivity, obviously.

The quote highlighted in the headline is not the only statement by Stevens that the Dean felt warranted punishment, though that’s the impression you will get from reading conservative media headlines. No, Stevens was busy on Instagram and his blog hitting progressive hot buttons. His website JustOwen.com features the American flag with the description “An American, Loving America”. There is a “Just Owen’ podcast too, which Stevens describes thusly: “I firmly believe that America is the greatest country ever. My podcast covers culture, politics, and life through the lens of a conservative and Christian man. Liberty, American values, and individuality are the greatest gifts that this country has to offer. Please subscribe to the show! I’d love to have you.” On Instagram, he has stated that abortion is murder, that Islam is violent, that Columbus should be honored, that “All Lives Matter” and that he disapproves of gay marriage.

The Horror.

He has a right to those views, the right to express them, and the right to do so without being persecuted by anyone, but especially a state institution.

Stephens is fighting all of this, and deserves the support of every American regardless of partisan leanings and ideology—except the fascists, of course.

Incidentally, there has been virtually no coverage of this dead canary by the mainstream media.

__________________

Sources: Daily Wire, MEAWW

A Powerful Anti-Abortion Message From A Disgraced And Cancelled Messenger

Back before it was all discarded to elect a serial harasser and accused rapist President, #MeToo saw to it that comic Louis C.K. was condemned to wander in the metaphorical wilderness for a particularly disgusting variety of harassment. He is indeed what is clinically defined as a “sick fuck,” but C.K. is intelligent and perceptive too. If anyone is listening, he is capable of conveying wisdom beyond “don’t masturbate in front of female colleagues who you have invited up to your hotel room.”

The clip above is from 2018, I think, when a post-cancellation Louis extolled in grand (if vulgar) terms the wonder of life, and how even the worst lives were a marvel. (The Thornton Wilder classic “Our Town” carries the same message, and I’m sure it is on the verge of being cancelled too, since it is about, yechh, white people. Actually it is about all people, but never mind, that won’t save it.)

And I found myself thinking, as I listened to C.K.’s routine on the radio yesterday by purest happenstance, how can anyone ethically deny life, this gift, this wonder, to another human being who would have it without outside interference, for any reason other than literal survival. Those invalid reasons include, “I have a legal right to do it,” as well as “that future life will interfere with my career,” and “it’s just not convenient right now.”

Self-Checkout Ethics

Self-Checkout-Loss

I am embarrassed to admit that this issue never occurred to me begore a friend sent me an article about it. Or maybe I should be proud.

Voucher Codes Pro is a company that offers coupons to internet shoppers. It surveyed 2,634 people, and almost 20% said they had cheated while using a grocery store self-checkout. Over half of the cheaters said they took advantage of the system because they realized being apprehended was unlikely. A 2015 study of self-checkouts with handheld scanners conducted at the University of Leicester audited a million self-checkout transactions over a year’s time.Out of $21 million in sales, goods worth nearly $850,000 left stores without being scanned and paid for.

How does this happen? There are several techniques:

  • Ringing up a T-bone ($13.99/lb) with a code for a cheap ($0.49/lb) variety of produce is known as “the banana trick.”
  • When a pricey item leaves the conveyor belt without being scanned, it’s “the pass around.”
  • Then there is “the switcheroo,” where you peel the sticker off something inexpensive and place it over the bar code of something pricey. You do have to make certain that the two items are about the same weight to avoid triggering the “unexpected item” alert on some machines.

“Anyone who pays for more than half of their stuff in self checkout is a total moron,” reads a comment in a Reddit discussion on the subject. Another one says, “There is NO MORAL ISSUE with stealing from a store that forces you to use self checkout, period. THEY ARE CHARGING YOU TO WORK AT THEIR STORE.”

I guess this would apply to gas stations too.

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Comments Of The Day: “The Friday Ethics Alarms Open Forum” ( Forced Cultural Shifts Thread) [Corrected!]

Inquisition

This is really an Ethics Question and Answer of the Day.

Steve Witherspoon [ Notice of Correction: I erroneously attributed this to the wrong Steve, not that Steve-O-in NJ doesn’t also ask provocative questions. I apologize to Steve W, and thank Other Bill for the correction…] asked a provocative question in our last Open Forum, which is what the Ethics Alarms open forums are for:

When a large segment of a society wants to shift their culture in a very major way and in a way that has historically been widely opposed, is using propaganda and intimidation to “force” the desired cultural shift on a population ethical, in other words, when trying to shift culture does the ends justify the means?

Before answering, think about major cultural shifts in the USA’s history. A few examples of major cultural shift are when the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and the Constitution were written or when slavery was abolished or when electricity and phone lines were wired across the USA or when automobiles began to gradually take over the streets across the USA or when airplanes became common place or when the population began to shift from print media and word of mouth as their only sources of information to radios and then to televisions or the civil rights marches in the 1960’s. There are a multitude of examples of major cultural shifts in the United States.

So…

When trying to shift culture, does the ends justify the means?

Commenter Ryan Harkins provided an excellent and thought-provoking answer:

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Remembering, Again, The 1914 Christmas Truce

Truce

I’ve posted on this a couple of times, and as it is one of the more unusual ethics events in history to occur on Christmas, here it is again. Of course, as an America, I am joyful about another, more consequential military event that happened on Christmas. Washington crossed the Delaware river on this date. His resulting victory over the Hessians at Trenton was, in the end, less than consequential militarily, but it was important nonetheless . It bolstered the rebelling colonies’ morale, at a point where there were serious doubts that the nascent democracy had any chance to prevail.

One of the weirdest events in world history took place on Christmas 1914, at the very beginning of the five year, pointless and stunningly destructive carnage of The Great War, what President Woodrow Wilson, right as usual, called “The War to End All Wars.”

World War I, as it was later called after the world war it caused succeeded it,  led to the deaths of more than 25 million people, and if anything was accomplished by them, I have yet to read about it.

The much sentimentalized event was a spontaneous Christmas truce, as soldiers on opposing sides on the Western Front, defying orders from superiors, pretended the war didn’t exist and left their trenches, put their weapons and animus aside, sang carols,  shared food, buried their dead, and perhaps, depending on which source you choose to believe, even played soccer against each other.

The brass on both sides—this was a British and German phenomenon only—took steps to ensure that  this would never happen again, and it never did.

It all began on Christmas Eve, when at 8:30 p.m. an officer of the Royal Irish Rifles reported to headquarters that “The Germans have illuminated their trenches, are singing songs and wishing us a Happy Xmas. Compliments are being exchanged but am nevertheless taking all military precautions.” The two sides progressed to serenading each other with Christmas carols, with the German combatants crooning  “Silent Night,” and the British adversaries responding with “The First Noel.“ The war diary of the Scots Guards reported that a private  “met a German Patrol and was given a glass of whisky and some cigars, and a message was sent back saying that if we didn’t fire at them, they would not fire at us.”

The same deal was struck spontaneously at other locales across the battlefield. Another British soldier reported that as Christmas Eve wound down into Christmas morning,  “all down our line of trenches there came to our ears a greeting unique in war: ‘English soldier, English soldier, a merry Christmas, a merry Christmas!’” He wrote in a letter home that he heard,

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Comment Of The Day: Ethics Quiz: The French And Indian War Remains

This Comment of the Day by reliably thoughtful commenter JP is exactly what I hoped this particular Ethics Quiz would inspire. Unlike some ethics quizzes, and reminding everyone that an issue isn’t presented as an ethics quiz unless I have doubts about the ethically correct answer, this one has me torn right down the center. The usual ethical systems for approaching a problem are at odds here, making it a true ethics conflict.

Here is JP’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethics Quiz: The French And Indian War Remains”:

I think the simple answer is that depends.

There any a lot of laws in the context of digging up graves that often vary between state and context. The United States pretty much has a statue of limitation on 100 years for excavation (not to be confused with common graverobbing). I imagine this is because it is far outside any claim a family member might have. Jack alaudid to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act which protects remains on federal or tribal lands. These rules were essentially created to protect the living. The purpose of their creation is what I believe is at the heart of understanding if the act is ethical or not. The first question I would ask: who does it hurt?

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