Lazy Sunday Afternoon Ethics Picnic, 5/1/2022: A Very Merry Un-Birthday Edition

There’s vintage Disney—back before it decided it had a stake in having young children instructed in sexual matters by teachers, and when innocence was considered worth protecting. Yes, I recognize the irony in saying that about an “Alice in Wonderland” clip, given that Lewis Carroll was unhealthily obsessed with little girls, often asking their parents for permission to photograph them nude…and got it! (Alice was his favorite model.)

That’s the very strange and great Jerry Colonna voicing the March Hare, and Ed Wynn, of course, as the Mad Hatter.

Today is my “un-birthday.” My 94-year-old aunt, the last surviving member of her generation in my extended family called me up this morning to wish me a happy birthday. Since my real birthday is December 1, I was faced with an instant ethical conflict: was the right course to tell the truth, risking embarrassing her, or to play Birthday Boy, lying but being kind in the process? I opted for honesty, both using the Golden Rule—I wouldn’t want to be patronized—and deciding that my aunt, still sharp and always with a sense of humor, could, like Tom Cruise, handle the truth. She could; she laughed, wondered how she has the wrong date on her calendar, and we talked for an hour. SHE mentioned “un-birthdays,” causing me to recall the song.

1. Ethics lesson: Integrity should trump Loyalty. Elon Musk, responding to to the absurd ad hominem attacks from progressives calling him a fascist, a white supremacist and, worst of all, a conservative, provided this handy dandy sketch via, of course, Twitter, explaining that his beliefs have remained relatively stable, while his critics’ perspective has shifted:

2. And we trust these people with educating or rising generations…The University of Southern California former dean of the University of Southern California asked the law firm Jones Day to investigate allegations that its education school directed administrators to omit information from its U.S. News & World Report rankings submission to boost the school’s placement.  at least as far back as 2013, According to the just-release investigation results,   former dean Karen Symms Gallagher made sure that the Rossier School of Education only included information on its Ph.D. program, which has a lower acceptance rate than its Ed.D. programs,  despite explicit instructions in the questionnaire to include both Ph.D. and Ed.D. programs. Gallagher stepped down in 2020 after 20 years as dean. She’s now a professor at Rossier.

The probe turned up what Jones Day referred to as “irregularities” in how the education school calculated and reported research expenditures, and it identified other possible misreporting of faculty metrics, online program enrollment, graduates’ job-placement rates and more.  USC had pulled the  school from consideration in the U.S. News & World Report graduate-school rankings prior to the report.

Will she be sacked as a professor? What’s your guess? Continue reading

Unethical Tweet Of The Month: The ACLU

I think it is fair to conclude at this point (if it was not already obvious) that the American Civil Liberties Union has abandoned its original mission of being a neutral and non-partisan guardian of individual rights to being one more activist political tool of the Left. Its hostility toward transparency for school curricula marks a 180 decree turnaround for the ACLU, which has traditionally  argued for government transparency in all its activities, including public school education.

One more time, the corrupting influence here is race and “social justice,” which increasingly are regarded as taking priority over all else. Enacting the racial agenda of Black Lives Matters and its allies (like the Democratic Party) now justifies tactics and activities that the ACLU once opposed consistently. Government indoctrination is no longer an offense to freedom of speech and thought, apparently. The ends justify the means.

Once upon a time, Nevada’s ACLU fought fought for transparency when The Silver State’s schools were establishing their sex education lesson plans. Staci Pratt, Legal Director of the ACLU of Nevada, said at the time, “The days of back door decision making are over. Compliance with the open meetings law is meant to secure the opportunity of parents, students, and community members to have a meaningful impact on the development of policy. We are all well served when decisions on the appointment of sex education advisory committee members is subject to public scrutiny, rather than the result of the presentation of a narrow range of interests.”  The ACLU of Kentucky used records requests to uncover curriculum plans in all of Kentucky’s 173 school districts, seeking to find evidence of religious instruction:

The ACLU-KY sent requests to all of Kentucky’s 173 school districts seeking policies and curriculum for “Bible Literacy” courses.  While most districts are not offering these courses, the ACLU-KY found many of the courses that are being offered do not fall within constitutional strictures, which require any use of religious text in the classroom to be secular, objective, nondevotional, and must not promote any specific religious view.

The investigation uncovered public school teachers using the Bible to impart religious life lessons (Barren, McCracken, and Letcher Counties), use of online Sunday School lessons and worksheets for course source material and assignments (Letcher and Wayne Counties), and rote memorization of Biblical text (McCracken County) — practices which fall far short of academic and objective study of the Bible and its historical context or literary value.

But that was baaad indoctrination, you see. Teaching Critical Race Theory-ish interpretations of American history that tar whites as intrinsically racist, blacks as handicapped by intransigent systemic racism, and, as a special bonus, that a person is whatever gender they decide to be are all good indoctrination, and if overly conservative, contrarian or controlling parents are inclined to interfere, well, the ACLU holds that schools are justified in making sure the Neanderthals don’t find out what’s being taught. Continue reading

A Rittenhouse Verdict Inventory Of Ethics Heroes, Dunces, Villains And Fools, Part II: Rogues Gallery [Updated!]

Rogues

Having reviewed the depressing small population of Ethics Heroes in this Ethics Wreck in Part I, I’ll largely leave the determination of which of the following ethics miscreants should be designated as dunces, villains or fools (or all three) to you. In this, I take my lead from the Saturday Night Live game show, “Geek, Dweeb or Spazz?”

However, there are some easily identified Ethics Villains, beginning with

1. The President of the United States, who signed this official statement:

While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken. I ran on a promise to bring Americans together, because I believe that what unites us is far greater than what divides us. I know that we’re not going to heal our country’s wounds overnight, but I remain steadfast in my commitment to do everything in my power to ensure that every American is treated equally, with fairness and dignity, under the law.

I urge everyone to express their views peacefully, consistent with the rule of law. Violence and destruction of property have no place in our democracy. The White House and Federal authorities have been in contact with Governor Evers’s office to prepare for any outcome in this case, and I have spoken with the Governor this afternoon and offered support and any assistance needed to ensure public safety.

Ethics verdict: Despicable and inexcusable.

  • What’s Biden “angry” about? Nobody should be “angry” that a jury did its job, and nobody who paid attention to the trial can be “angry” that a jury couldn’t find Rittenhouse  guilty after the prosecution’s botched case. Anger implies wrongdoing. The President of the United States should never, in any case, express an opinion about a jury’s decision.
  • Does anyone think Biden followed the case carefully, or watched it unfold? His comment is a deliberate pander to the worst of the Democratic base, and does as much to encourage violence as anything Trump said after the election.
  • Moreover, Biden is personally responsible for much of the confusion and anger over the case, having twice called Rittenhouse, falsely, a “white supremacist.”
  • Then he has the gall to say that he promised to “bring Americans together” after he deliberately enabled the race-baiters in Kenosha, and that he believes that every American is treated equally, with fairness and dignity, after he poisoned public opinion against Rittenhouse.

Biden’s not just a weak and addled President. He’s a two-faced, mean-spirited creep.

The rest of the Rittenhouse Rogues Gallery members who can be comfortably designated as Ethics Villains:

Continue reading

The ACLU Believes Certain Sports Are Racist Now…

The logic and legal reasoning underlying the American Civil Liberty Union’s current bit of woke grandstanding is profoundly depressing. These people are lawyers. This is the caliber of legal minds we are supposed to trust to protect the Bill of Rights?

Central Michigan University eliminated its men’s track and field team. It shouldn’t matter why, but in its announcement of the move in May of 2020, the school cited budget concerns in the midst of the pandemic lockdown. This seems reasonable; when funds are tight, colleges should be spending money on education rather than sports. The controversy was launched when CMU decided this year to add a men’s golf program.

The decision, the ACLU of Michigan decided, was racist in light of the fate of track and field. In one letter, the organization protested that track and field was crucial to the Black community because it has “offered many a way out of oppressive poverty.”

I’d like to see the data on that.

Then the ACLU wrote the university president on September 16 that golf, in contrast, was a “white sport.” “Country clubs that have been the training grounds for elite golfers have historically been racially exclusive,” the letter states. “Add to that the expense of the sport and the socio-economic circumstances of many African Americans, and the reasons for the whiteness of golf are quite evident.”

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Unethical Tweet Of The Month And Ethics Dunce: ACLU National Legal Director And Georgetown Law Prof. David Cole

foot-in-mouth-header

David Cole, ACLU National Legal Director and Professor at Georgetown University Law Center, tweeted in response to the SCOTUS ruling striking down California’s law making it mandatory for non-profits to disclose the names of their biggest donors,

Cole tweet

Gee, that’s funny! The ACLU filed an amicus brief supporting the majority’s decision in AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY FOUNDATION v. BONTA, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CALIFORNIA.

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How Newt Gingrich Taught Me Why We Don’t Have An ACLU Any More

NewtGingrich

Many years ago, when I was just a little tiny ethicist and ran a research foundation for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, I was invited to a Chamber executive retreat. By far the most interesting feature was a working lunch with young Congressman Newt Gingrich as the speaker. This was long before most American knew about Newt, who was considered something of a wonk and proved it that afternoon.

Rep. Gingrich gave the clearest presentation of organizational structure and function I had ever heard or have read about since as part of his seminar on long-range planning. He handed out a chart showing a pyramid with “MISSION” at the point, “GOALS” beneath, “OBJECTIVES” beneath that, “STRATEGY” next going down, then “TACTICS,” and finally OPERATIONS as the long base. He went through many examples of failed and successful organizations, making many fascinating points, including (I still have my notes somewhere):

  • You can’t have a strong organization without a strong and clear mission.
  • An organization in which the goals start to become inconsistent with the mission will lose its integrity and direction.
  • If the organization’s strategies are polluted by parochial and personal goals of staff and leadership, the goals will become eccentric and scattershot, and mission will become meaningless.
  • Even the best mission cannot survive inadequate operations, which is why idealists and ideologues so often make poor leaders.
  • The best operations imaginable won’t save flawed mission (Newt’s example: Nazi Germany), and
  • “If you don’t know where you’re going, it’s easy to get there, but it won’t be worth the trip.”

I hadn’t thought about Newt’s private seminar for a long time, but it popped back into what passes for my head when I read this piece, “Once a Bastion of Free Speech, the A.C.L.U. Faces an Identity Crisis.”

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Victim, Weenie And Enabler: The Persecution of Prof. Jason Kilborn

weenie

News: Now even “N-Word” will get you in trouble with the thought-police.

Related issue: Is it that conservatives are weenies, college administrators professors are weenies, Americans are weenies or all four?

University of Illinois law professor Jason Kilborn used a hypothetical about a employment discrimination case for his final exam. The exam referred to the use of racist and sexist rhetoric such as “n——” and “b—-“. The same question has been on the exam for ten years, but with compelled speech and the the enforced conformity with progressive cant on the ascendant, more than 400 people signed a petition condemning Kilborn, saying in part,

“The slur shocked students created a momentous distraction and caused unnecessary distress and anxiety for those taking the exam,” said the petition. “Considering the subject matter, and the call of the question, the use of the ‘n____’ and ‘b____’ was certainly unwarranted as it did not serve any educational purpose. The question was culturally insensitive and tone-deaf.”

[Clarification: Apparently some readers were confused regarding whether the actual words were used or the version with dashes instead of letters so as not to offend. I thought the opening sentence of the post would make the facts clear: the words themselves were not used. I state once again that the Ethics Alarms policy is to use words themselves if the words themselves are the issue. The coded versions were used in this post because they were what was used in the exam.]

The petition also demanded that Kilborn be removed from all faculty committees, and that the school implement “mandatory cultural sensitivity training” for faculty and staff.

If the school did not have damaged ethics alarms and a lack of respect for academic freedom and fairness, it would have responded to the petition by explaining that the signatories were censorious and ignorant, that their petition was irresponsible, unfair and wrong, and if they could not accept this, their tuition would be refunded as they sough education elsewhere. Instead, the institution announced an investigation The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) in turn sent a letter to the University of Illinois-Chicago demanding that it protect the rights of faculty members. It said in part,

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True in 2018, Truer Now: “Admit It, Liberals, Progressives, Democrats, “The Resistance,” The Left, Or Whatever You Call Yourselves: You’re The Bad Guys”

The title in quotes above was attached to this post, nearly two years ago. It began,

In “Falling Down.” a movie I like better every time I see it (or think about it), Michael Douglas plays a man who snaps, Sweeney Todd-like, and begins shooting people after the collective injustice, meanness, cruelty, stress and stupidity of daily life becomes unbearable. Finally cornered, he hears a law enforcement officer demand his surrender. “I’m the bad guy?” he says, in a stunning moment of self-awareness. “How did that happen?”

We’re still waiting for that moment of self-awareness from the Left. How it happened in their case is a matter of historical record: accumulated arrogance, cynicism and the rejection of their own ideology’s core principles–you know, liberalism?—did the trick. What was left was pure power-seeking, anger, hate, and “the ends justifies the means,” the “ethic” of fascism and totalitarianism.

That post was triggered by the disgusting assault on the character of Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing. I thought that was as low as they could go. I was wrong.

Today I learned from Prof. Turley about an example of the Left’s shameless corruption that I would not have dreamed of even when I wrote those words (Before I go further, let me also repeat a footnote from that post, which read,” I am not playing the game I have had commenters play, protesting that there is no monolithic “Left” and that progressives are not necessarily Democrats, who are not socialists, and that “the resistance” and antifa are distinct, while the news media isn’t political.  Baloney. When these groups and their leadership show any independence and stop supporting the monolithic unethical conduct all of these components of the left have engaged in since November, 2016, I’ll begin taking that complaint more seriously.)

The GW law professor saw this Facebook exchange:

Crankshaw is a staffer with the ACLU. Tompkins is an Assistant Professor and Diversity Scholar at Transylvania University, where Sandmann will be attending. Turley wrote in part… Continue reading

Monday Ethics Cool-Down, 7/27/2020: Lots of Stuff Hanging Around The Runway

I have a long night of work ahead of me, so I don’t know what time it is.

Or care.

1. Res ipsa loquitur.  Oopsie! “Health company apologizes for falsely telling 600,000 US military members they were infected with coronavirus”

Tricare apologized for a poorly worded email that implied the recipient had  been infected with the Wuhan virus.

I guess the writer was a Rutgers English major.

On the bright side, it is better to get a false positive than a false negative.

2. Schadenfreude Alert! Seattle radio host  Paul Gallant  mocked President Donald Trump last month for suggesting Seattle’s riots were violent. Then, last night, the “mostly peaceful” demonstrations got his Starbucks. HIS STARBUCKS!!!

“I feel like I need to buy a firearm, because clearly this is going to keep happening. Enough is enough,” Gallant he added.

It was enough a long time ago, you pathetic jerk.

3.  Boy, when you can’t even trust the sports reporters…ESPN tweeted a video over the weekend of players from the WNBA’s New York Liberty and the Seattle Storm leaving the court, and wrote, “As the national anthem was played, the @nyliberty and @seattlestorm walked off the floor as part of the social justice initiative.” For this display, the women were roundly criticized.

Then ESPN tweeted  “Correction: Players left the court before the national anthem was played, not during.” That’s what I call a material mistake.

Nevertheless, at last checking,  the original misleading tweet is still up.

4. This is presumably justifiable because all cops in New Jersey are racists, as proven by the fact that a non-racist cop in Minneapolis killed a black man.  Kevin Trejo, 21, of Westwood, New Jersey has been arrested for  spitting into the coffee of a police officer at Starbucks.  Police have evidence  that Trejo had done this repeatedly with officers.  Trejo claims to have only done it just once. Oh! Well that’s OK, then!

Question 1: Is this a violent offense?

Question 2: Why would any police officer chance ordering a beverage at Starbucks? Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: The North West Hendricks School Corporation

How can organizations, especially schools,  think this kind of thing is acceptable, much less ethical? Who are the lawyers advising these people? Where do they think they’re living?

In Indiana, the North West Hendricks School Corporation’s “ Parent Code of Conduct ” says that parents should not use social media to make “rude or offensive comments” regarding school staff members or the school itself. Parents also cannot use social media to “campaign against or fuel outrage against individual staff members, the school or policies implemented by the school or district.” Violating the policy means that a parent can be removed from the school premises and banned from entering school grounds forevermore.

This is one of those unenforceable provisions that exist to intimidate and deceive those ignorant parents who were so badly educated (perhaps in the North West Hendricks School Corporation ) that they can’t spot an unconstitutional rule when they see one. No public school can tell parents what they can or can’t say on social media. This is a pure First Amendment violation, so blatant that it even roused the local ACLU from its accustomed slumber.

The ACLU of Indiana was asked about its assessment of the restriction on parents’ speech, and  legal director Ken Falk replied,

“I think this is flagrantly unconstitutional. The overarching problem is you have the government saying if we don’t like what you’re saying, we can punish you — but the government is not allowed to do that. That’s why we have the First Amendment.”

The rule has been in the Parent Code since 2016, but nobody reads these things. It is coming to the fore now because the district is currently keeping a teacher on its payroll despite allegations of sexual misconduct toward a student. Some parents have been discussing the situation on Facebook, and wonder about the school’s response. The district made a point of  handing out copies of the Parent Code of Conduct at a December school board meeting, and it was taken by many as a warning. Continue reading