The Court Ruling I’ve Been Waiting For Since 2011

In a June 30 decision, B.L v. Mahanoy Area School District, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals  ruled that a Pennsylvania  high school violated a cheerleader’s First Amendment rights when it kicked the young woman off the squad for a message she had posted on SnapChat. A distruct court judge had ruled last year for the ex-cheerleader, whose  post pictured the teen and her friend holding up their middle fingers accompanied by the eloquent sentiment , “fuck school fuck softball fuck cheer fuck everything.” She was  upset because she had only made the junior varsity cheerleading squad, rather than the varsity team.

The ACLU of Pennsylvania argued the case for the girl, so at least sometimes the organization  still puts its partisan politics aside to do its traditional job of looking out for the First Amendment. The group called the ruling a “landmark decision,” finally barring schools from policing students’ off-campus speech using the claim that it might disrupt school activities.

The Supreme Court decision on campus speech, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, did not apply to off-campus speech. Tinker held that student speech could be regulated by schools only if it would substantially disrupt school operations or interfere with the rights of others. That case involved a school disciplining students when they wore black armbands to class as a protest against the Vietnam War.

The 3rd Circuit majority ruled .“We hold today that Tinker does not apply to off-campus speech—that is, speech that is outside school-owned, -operated or -supervised channels and that is not reasonably interpreted as bearing the school’s imprimatur,”

Because the teen’s speech was outside the school context, Tinker did not apply. The cheerleader’s speech “lies beyond the school’s regulatory authority,” the court said.

The ACLU’s  press release stated that the decision was important “because it recognizes that students who are outside of school enjoy full free speech rights, not the diluted rights they have inside the schoolhouse.”

Bingo.

Finally. Continue reading

End Of Week Ethics Clean-Up!

I blame Woodrow Wilson.

I like to start the week with a clean slate, especially now, when the George Floyd Freakout finds new ways to shatter previous standards of public decorum, civic decency, and respect for nation and community. However, despite over 3,000 words in three posts today, I still had to leave several stories on the bench that I wanted to explore.

Here they are:

ITEM: “18 shot in 24 hours as spike in gun violence in NYC continues”

What a coinky-dink! As soon as  Bill De Blasio, one of those Democratic mayors that Philip Bump says did nothing to make his city more violent, disbanded the NYPD’s  anti-crime unit, the city  had an explosion of shootings. Police said a total of 70 people were shot this week, compared to 26 the same week last year.

This is what more communities have to look forward to as a result of city officials across the country putting their virtue-signaling embrace of white guilt and Black Lives Matter ahead of the welfare of citizens.

ITEM: “New Jersey politicians charged in massive mail-in ballot voter fraud scheme, face years in prison”

Of course,  corruption in New Jersey politics is hardly news, but this story is ironic as Democrats are claiming that Republican opposition to mail-in voting is motivated by a desire to suppress election participation rather than a legitimate concern about the ease of voter fraud.

“New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal charged Paterson City Councilman Michael Jackson, Councilman-elect Alex Mendez, and two other men after the U.S. Postal Inspection Service alerted the state attorney general’s office that it had found hundreds of ballots from a special election last month stuffed in a single Paterson City mailbox,” InsiderNJ reported. According to WNBC-TV, more than 3,000 ballots were set aside over voting fraud concerns in the Paterson City Council election — 16,747 were received, but only 13,557 were accepted — meaning a whopping 19%, or nearly 1-in-5, were rejected. More than 800 of the rejected ballots were invalidated because they were found tethered together in mailboxes. This was especially significant because the margins in two of the contests were razor thin.

I had a devil of time finding out the party affiliation of the politicians charged in multiple news sources. That usually means that it’s a Democratic scandal. It was.

ITEM:Denver “proactively” removes Kit Carson statue from downtown monument ahead of protests” Continue reading

Mid-Day Ethics Reflections, 6/24/2020: Bombshells Bursting In Air!

Always appropriate, any day, any time…and besides, they tore down the author’s statue. This is his memorial…

1. As for monuments…the Governor of South Dakota,  Kristi Noem, responding to suggestions that Mount Rushmore would soon be on the George Floyd mob’s hit list, said curtly, “Not on my watch.”

It is not so fanciful a notion, since three of the four Presidents on the mountain have had statues toppled, and the fourth, Lincoln, now has his own statue under fire.  The Freedmen’s Memorial Monument to Abraham Lincoln in Boston’s Lincoln Park is targeted by an online petition as is its original, the statue that stands in Washington D.C.’s Lincoln Park. The fact that the statue was commissioned and paid for by freed African-Americans appears to have no importance to the statue-topplers whatsoever.

After all, Facts Don’t Matter.

2. If there is a shark. she will jump it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asserted in an interview Tuesday that Republicans are “trying to get away with murder, actually — the murder of George Floyd.” We must remember this when it is determined that the police involved in Floyd’s death can’t get a fair trial because the second highest ranking elected official in the country declared Floyd to be a murder victim before a trial.

A Democratic-run city (for over a half-a century) with a Democratic mayor and and overwhelmingly Democratic City Council (without a single Republican), in a state with a Democratic Governor, oversaw a police department that has been criticized for its conduct long before Floyd’s death, did nothing to remedy the problem, and now faces the consequences.

By what possible distortion of facts and logic can it be argued that Republicans are “trying to get away with murder”?

Once again, another question must be raised: how could CBS News Radio correspondent Steve Futterman, hearing Pelosi’s accusation, not point this out and still presume to be called a journalist? Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 5/16/2020: The Experts Edition

Hey!

Why aren’t you at the beach?

1. One reason: it’s stupid at the beach. Here’s a sign on a beach at Ocean City New Jersey:

Explain that, please. Are you OK as long as you stay on the surfboard, but not permitted to swim if you fall off? Why is a solo sunbather breaching the rules? Sitting in chairs is dangerous, but standing around is not? These kinds of arbitrary restrictions can’t be justified, and will inevitably lead to public distrust and defiance…and ought to.

Here is the obligatory clip from “Bananas” (with Greek subtitles, for some reason):

2. Here’s the “expert” who is imposing dubious restrictions in LA County: Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Dr. Barbara Ferrer, who first told the county’s board of Supervisors that the county’s “Safer at Home” order would  be extended for three more months when it expired yesterday, then extended it with no end date. The reason her opinion should be worshiped without question is…well, I don’t know what.  As I keep trying to explain to my Deranged Facebook friends, you only allow doctors to dictate policy if the only thing the public has to worry about is health, since that’s all doctors care about: if we are reduced to living on roots and berries and living in caves, well, if everyone is healthy, that’s a win from from a doctor’s perspective.

Dr. Ferrer, however, isn’t even a medical doctor. She’s not an expert in virology or epidemiology. She has a Ph.D in  social welfare, making her a Doctor of Wokeness, and also has the degrees Master of Arts in Public Health,  Master of Arts in Education, and Bachelor of Arts in Community Studies.  Based on these credentials, she is paid a half-million dollars a year to tell citizens how they will be allowed to live their lives “for the greater good.” Continue reading

Wuhan Virus Ethics Updates, Part 1

1. Why keep calling it the Wuhan virus? Because the largely successful news media and political correctness assault on the completely legitimate (and non-racist) label continues to bolster Chinese Communist propaganda and blame-shifting, and because the effort emerged as yet another use of Big Lie #4: “Trump Is A Racist/White Supremacist.”

As for me personally, I will keep using the term because I resent being told that what cannot possibly be racist is racist, especially when my capitulation enables similar political correctness bullying. See the Third Niggardly Principle.

2. Because it’s so darn difficult to maintain social distancing while playing tennis... About  200 yards from my home in Alexandria, Virginia, the public tennis courts have their nets removed by another proto-fascist. Yesterday, I saw two people playing on one of the courts using a self-rigged net.  Good for them.

3. The problem is, you can’t force bank employees to come to work. Our bank, a large national chain, has all of its offices closed in this area, Banking is certainly an essential  service, but the fact is that you can’t do banking completely remotely, though the bank is pretending you can. Its website asks for a social security number at the same time as scammers are sending out fake emails that lead you to an authentic-looking clone of the bank’s site so they can steal your personal data. Try to call to clarify or address any problem, and you get a message about how wait times are longer than usual. I’ll say they are: to try to get a fraudulent $4000 charge to our account cancelled, I had to wait for an hour and 40 minutes, then be transferred to wait another 35 minutes, then be cut off when a transfer failed.

Meanwhile, the bank’s on-hold music is played at an unbearable volume, and is an endless loop of some hellish arrangement of a melody that would have been rejected for a theme park ride. I am certain that the recording is designed to make you hang up, or, in the alternative, go crazy and run into the street naked.  It is exactly like the deliberately uncomfortable seats and garish color schemes fast food outlets use to ensure you vacate the premises the second you finish eating. I swear that there cannot be a single person on the globe who would find this music anything but torture. The genre is “loud, abrasive, repetitious semi-music,” and there is no market for that. It makes hip-hop seem like Chopin.

Banks are essential, and rather than stopping stores from selling “non-essential” items, the government ought to require really essential services to have open outlets to serve depositors and bank customers experiencing their own emergencies. If a 7-11 clerk can come to work, so can a bank employee. Banks have my property within their control, and in exchange for the privilege, they are obligated to respond when I need service related to that money. Continue reading

When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring Because You Never Were Taught About Nazi Germany

In Montana, the Valley County Health Department sent out a flier to businesses decreeing that all essential workers from outside the county must wear pink armbands or bracelets signifying their quarantine status in order to shop in the county. Anyone not wearing a pink armband, the flyer said, would be reported to police.

If that graphic is too blurry for you, it reads in part,

Anyone who is from out of town or out of Valley County who has a PINK wristband has been here 14 days or more and no longer needs to do the strict self-quarantine. They may enter your business. Anyone who is from out of town or out of Valley County, staying here/working here, and has not completed the 14 day quarantine is REQUIRED BY THE VALLEY COUNTY HEALTH OFFICER ORDER to use curbside delivery only. They are not to enter your business to shop.

Boy, that reminds me of something. What is it? It’s right on the tip of my tongue…something to do with..is it the Holocaust? Could that be it? No, it can’t be. No health department would be that stupid, would it? Especially when mayors and governors around the country are being accused of having a “Who’s the best dictator?” competition? Would it? Really?

Here’s the Nazi badge code, in case you can’t read German: Continue reading

No, The President Isn’t A Dictator, But Given The Opportunity, These Elected Officials Might Be

There are many ironies and contradictions in the various government reactions to the Wuhan virus, some quite yummy, like the municipalities that had banned plastic bags that are now forced to ban the re-usable kind, and demand the use of the plastic once again. Some day, when this is all over, we can sit around and laugh about it all.

This development, however, is not funny: a frightening number of governors, mayors and police officers have demonstrated how much of our democracy is currently entrusted to nascent totalitarians. I know, I know: to protect the public in a unique crisis, extraordinary measures must be taken, and because so many in our democracy don’t really possess the intelligence and sense of social responsibility that the Founders, in their idealistic fervor, decided to pretend they had (much less the common sense of the average meerkat), sometimes those measures must be accompanied by the force of law. However, because it is a democracy and one that begins with wariness of governments infringing on personal liberties, and will end with our governments being supported when they decided those liberties can be ignored on a whim and a hunch, the recent gusto with which elected officials and their police forces have felt justified in crushing those liberties are warnings that responsible citizens must not let go unpunished. I wrote about one example here, regarding Vermont’s governor’s move to stop the big box stores from selling items Maple Syrup big Brother considers “non-essential.” There are more.

Ethics Alarms already covered the father taken away in handcuffs for playing T-ball on on otherwise empty field with his wife and 6-year-old child, but the Philadephia police pulling  people off  buses for not wearing masks, or the aspiring fascist officer  who tried to  chase down single jogger on an empty beach initially escaped my attention. There are so many examples, you see. Continue reading

Distance Learning Ethics: A Student Shows A Gun From His Home, And The School Freaks Out

“Look, Mom! Billy has a cool crossbow!”

In the first weeks of compelled distance learning in many school districts, schools encountered many issued that should have been anticipated but were not.

One student at Montgomery County, Maryland’s Albert Einstein High School horrified officials—I haven’t been able to determine what the students thought–by showing a gun. The gun was legally purchased’ the gun wasn’t loaded. No threats were made. Nonetheless , the school seemed to think that it had authority and leave to take action.

Montgomery County Public Schools Spokesperson Gboyinde Onijala told local news media that the school system is not going to tolerate anything online they wouldn’t allow in the classroom.

“For any student of ours who thinks, ‘Oh because it’s online learning, there aren’t disciplinary actions they can take,’ and they actually have that wrong. And as we spelled out very clearly to our message to the community this morning,” said Onijala. Indeed, now the school system says it will be taking disciplinary action, though Montgomery County Police announced that they did not charge the 17-year-old  who displayed the weapon.

Gee, that’s comforting. Thanks, Big Brother! Exactly what would the police charge the student with? I don’t think the school has any basis to discipline the student either, and if I was the student’s parent, I would not accept any punishment at all from that source, or the police, of course. The option of punishments would be mine, because the offense occurred on my turf, the offense being  handling my gun. Continue reading

Sunday Morning Alarms, 4/5/2020: After The First Two Items, You Won’t Want To Read Any More And Will Just Go Back To Bed…

….like I did…

1. KABOOM! Pennsylvanian Anita Shaffer, 19, decided to flee her York County home  a week ago for a mental health drive.  On her way back home, two Pennsylvania State Police officers stopped her about her car’s faulty tail-light. While talking with the officers,  Shaffer told them that she was just “going for a drive.” In response, they wrote her a ticket for more than $202.25 for violating the Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home order.

That’s the citation above. It says Shaffer “failed to abide by the order of the governor and secretary of health issued to control the spread of a communicable disease, requiring the closure of all non-life-sustaining businesses as of 20:00 hours on March 19, 2020. To wit, defendant states that she was ‘going for a drive’ after this violation was in effect,”

State police spokesman Ryan Tarkowski explained the ticket, saying, “Troopers have been encouraged to use contacts with the public as opportunities to reinforce the necessity to abide by stay-at-home orders.”

And how, exactly, does ticketing an individual who is engaged in conduct that cannot possibly infect anyone  accomplish  that?

Well, Tarkowski blathered,  being a soulless bureaucrat incapable of admitting that THE STATE is full of it in this case, “Troopers maintain discretion to warn or issue citations and the decision is specific to the facts and circumstances of a particular encounter.”

Fine. These facts do not justify a ticket by any stretch of the imagination. The officers’ discretion shows they are not qualified to wield the power they have. Indeed, the citation magnifies the extreme arbitrariness of such orders, and their danger when those charged with enforcing them have the judgment of Gestapo officers.

I’m surprised the cops didn’t slap her around a little, shoot her in the kneecap or even rape her, you know, to show the defiant prole who’s boss and not to ever, ever defy Big Brother.

Tarkowski also said Shaffer’s citation is the only one issued for violating the stay-at-home order. It’s good that the police picked a representative one to symbolize the Pennsyvania message to it’s citizens, which is apparently, “You will do as you are told, underlings.”

Well, not to be crude, but screw that.

Shaffer told reporters  she was within her rights to operate her car, and plans on challenging the citation.  Good. And again I ask, where is our vaunted American Civil Liberty Union on this issue? For three years, we have been hearing false cries of outrage about how the President is an autocrat just waiting to crush our civil rights, and now, when the civil rights of citizens are being ignored by tin pot governors all over the country, the ACLU just shrugs and sighs in its bunker, “It’s for the greater good.”

Oh..there was nothing wrong with her tail light. Continue reading

Vermont Crosses The Line: When Government Is Cavalier About Restricting Our Liberty, It’s Time To Push Back

Right wing pundit Sarah Hoyt has been at the forefront of those arguing that it would be better and safer to accept the risk  of more deaths from the Wuhan virus than to allow state governments to behave like police states. So far, I have thought she was wrong and unduly paranoid, but Vermont’s latest action has me agreeing with her response, which was, “I’M SORRY. ARE THE PEOPLE OF VERMONT ALL OUT OF MIDDLE FINGERS?”

From the Burlington Free-Press (Bernie Sanders was once mayor of Burlington. That’s just something to keep in the back of your mind, as this episode suggests the slow but deadly spread of the Totalitarian Left Virus, which may eventually need to be called “the Burlington Virus”):

Large Vermont retailers such as Target, Walmart and Costco are now required to limit the sales of non-essential items in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The directive was announced by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development on Tuesday. The agency hopes it will reduce the overall number of people going into stores to purchase items such as clothing, electronics and toys during the state’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order.

“Large ‘big box’ retailers generate significant shopping traffic by virtue of their size and the variety of goods offered in a single location,” said Lindsay Kurrle, secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development in a news release.  “This volume of shopping traffic significantly increases the risk of further spread of this dangerous virus to Vermonters and the viability of Vermont’s health care system.”

Retailers are being asked to promote online ordering, delivery and curbside pickup to customers….

The order is here. Continue reading