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The Lesson Of Berkeley’s “Free Speech Week” Fiasco: Jerks Make Terrible Champions And Martyrs

Conservative agitator/ campus troll Milo Yiannopoulos’s Free Speech Week in Berkeley, California was advertised as a major event, bringing some of the most Left-reviled  conservative speakers and rabble-rousers together for four straight days of speeches and events on a campus that has repeatedly disgraced itself by being hostile to speech its primarily progressive denizens consider “hate speech.”

The University of California was taking elaborate measures to avoid the violence that protesters there and at other campuses have brought to appearances by many of the featured speakers. It was rumored that as much as $600,000 would be spent on security. The prospect of the rhetoric of such professional provocateurs as Yiannopoulosas, Steve Bannon and Ann Coulter, to name the best known, echoing around the school where it was least welcome promised an instant cultural touch-point, like a right-wing Woodstock, while challenging leftists and ideological censors to reveal their ugly, totalitarian sides.

But by the end of the week, many were predicting that the event was a mirage. Speakers whose names had been promoted on preliminary schedules either pulled out, denied they had been contacted  or said they were never planning to go. The campus publication sponsoring Yiannopoulos’s circus, The Berkeley Patriot, never reserved indoor school venues. Yiannopoulos kept up the pretense, announcing on Instagram a planned march through campus tomorrow in protest of Berkeley’s hostility to free speech. “It’s time to reclaim free speech at UC Berkeley and send shockwaves through the American education system to every other college under liberal tyranny,” Yiannopoulos wrote.

Today, the day before the “Week” was to begin, UC Berkeley announced  that ‘Free Speech Week’ was officially cancelled, saying,

“Representatives of the Berkeley Patriot student organization have informed UC Berkeley’s administration that all of the events scheduled for the coming week have been canceled. It is extremely unfortunate that this announcement was made at the last minute, even as the university was in the process of spending significant sums of money and preparing for substantial disruption of campus life in order to provide the needed security for these events.”

Now there is mass confusion, with strong indications that the event was a sham from the start. Lucian Wintrich, one of the planned speakers, e-mailed Cal spokesman Dan Mogulof this morning,  to say that the event had been a set-up from the start. “It was known that they didn’t intend to actually go through with it last week, and completely decided on Wednesday,” Wintrich wrote.

“Wait, whoah, hold on a second,” replied Mogulof. “What, exactly, are you saying? What were you told by MILO Inc? Was it a set-up from the get-go?”

 

Wintrich replied, “Yes.”

An account of the chaos and miscommunications surrounding the event published by The Atlantic yesterday certainly made this development seem probable. Milo, as late as this afternoon, insisted that the intention was always to hold a real week of speeches. He has as much credibility as someone who makes his living creating controversies and infuriating his ideological foes deserves to have: none.

What’s going on here? Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Rights

Ethics Dunce: University Of California at Berkeley

“Free speech” at Berkeley…

Ethics Dunce, Unethical Quote of the Month, Incompetent and Indoctrinating College Administrators of the Day (there are so many during the week)…all of these would have been fair, in light of Berkeley’s sad offer to counsel students whose delicate psyches feel bruised because a young conservative loudmouth is speaking somewhere on campus. This is presented on a web page offering solace in response to a visit by Ben Shapiro, a pretty much standard issue hard-right polemicist, less right than Bernie Sanders is left, and about as dangerous to any student’s “safety” as Peewee Herman in his prime. (Actually, I think Peewee could take him.) Yet this:

Support and counseling services for students, staff and faculty

We are deeply concerned about the impact some speakers may have on individuals’ sense of safety and belonging. No one should be made to feel threatened or harassed simply because of who they are or for what they believe. For that reason, the following support services are being offered and encouraged:

In his response to this embarrassing example of universities attempting to stifle diversity of thought, Professor Turley is being a weenie again:

Notably, the counseling is not for the violence at such speeches or disturbing messages on both sides. Rather it is the presence of speakers like Shapiro that might threaten a student’s fear for their “sense of safety and belonging.” The school insists that “No one should be made to feel threatened or harassed simply because of who they are or for what they believe.” No mention of the past protesters with signs like “F**k Free Speech” or beating those who do not share their views.

It is the sole inclusion of the speaker and not the counter-protesters or campus disruptions that concern me. It appears to reinforce the view that conservative speakers are a foreseeable threat to the sense of safety and belonging of students.

It appears to reinforce that view, professor? It does reinforce that view, and is intended to reinforce that view. As such, it is an attack on freedom of thought, speech and expression, as well as an attempt to demonize any student who would choose to hear what Shapiro has to say. The statement embodies the current anti-speech, anti-First Amendment, anti-American position spreading through academia that hate speech isn’t protected speech, and any speech that opposes progressive cant is by definition hate speech.

What Berkeley should be offering is counseling for students who justly fear that the Berkeley administration’s alliance with the repressive Left threatens the safety of democracy itself. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/25/17

Good Morning, everyone!

[I thought I had posted this two hours ago! I’m sorry!]

1. Re President Trump’s latest anti-news media rant: American journalism’s abandonment of partisan neutrality, competence and professionalism has become the single greatest threat to the nation’s functioning democracy, along with the erosion of public trust that this has caused. I have previously endorsed President Trump’s earlier statement that the news media has become an enemy of the people it is supposed to serve. However, saying, as he did this week, that journalists don’t “love America” is incompetent and irresponsible.

But what else is new. Journalists just over-overwhelmingly hate him, and cannot muster the professionalism to do their duties fairly as a result. (Norah O’ Donnell actually interrupted Trump’s anti-journalism rant to call him a liar—nice.  A network news operation with professional standards would suspend her for that. ) To be fair to the President, his use of language and comprehension of it is devoid of nuance. I presume that to him, saying that the news media hates America, hates him, and is the enemy of the people all mean the same thing.

2. Let’s keep track of which journalists and politicians relate Hurricane Harvey to climate change, or cite the dangerous storm as more evidence that the “consensus” is correct. This is the first major hurricane in 12 years, in defiance of virtually all predictions and climate change models, which told us that the warming earth would lead to more frequent violent storms, not fewer. Of course, the sudden and unexpected dearth of hurricanes during the entire Obama administration (no, Super Storm Sandy was not a hurricane) also doesn’t prove that climate change is a crock. But every single individual, activist, meteorologist, reporter, talking head, Democrat and Al Gore Fan Club member that points to Harney and says, “See???” is proving that he or she isn’t interested in the truth, just in furthering an agenda.

3. We shouldn’t allow California to secede, but it will be tempting, if it ever comes to that. Continue reading

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Ethics Dunce: Ann Althouse

I like Ann and admire her, as readers here know. She’s quirky and smart; she’s either political moderate or apolitical; she tries very hard to stay objective; she’s an iconoclast and a contrarian, and best of all, she agrees with me about 75% of the time. Thus it pains me no end to designate her an Ethics Dunce, but I have no choice. She posted this:

“New Clinton Memoir: ‘We All Made Mistakes But You Made Most Of Them.'”

“‘I’m not suggesting it’s entirely your fault, but, let’s be frank, 99 percent of it is,’ read one passage from the chapter entitled ‘Seriously, What Were You Thinking?’ in which the former candidate conceded missteps she had made over the course of her campaign while also clarifying that none of them should have produced the final election outcome, which she characterized as ‘squarely on you fucking people.'”
It’s fake news. It’s from “The Onion,” and while that may seem obvious to some, the fact that Ann Althouse’s blog is not a satire, or fake news site means that this unmarked  gag post once removed is a lie.I have been seeing this with more frequency of late—among other, Glenn Reynolds has posted fake stories on Instapundit, assuming that readers will immediately get the joke with him having to flag it. Or maybe he was fooled: the point is that there is no way to be sure. The Althouse post above, coming on the heels of the Clinton excerpt from the book of yesterday, seemed just a step or two farther along on The Road to Lunacy. I believed it might be true, which is the only reason I clicked on the link. As I learn from commenters here every day, most people do not click on links.  Many people will repeat as fact to a third party what they read in a headline without reading the rest.

This  headline is New Clinton Memoir: “We All Made Mistakes But You Made Most Of Them.” Is that really so inherently hilarious and nonsensical that Althouse can be certain no readers with a functioning brain will believe it? Is it harder to believe she would write this in her book than say, during last year’s campaign, “I was surprised that he used personal email account if he is at State.”? Or remember when Hillary was asked about the stunned responses of viewers when she said, in her first debate with Bernie Sanders, that the reason she was getting getting millions in widespread Wall Street firm support, that “So, I represented New York, and I represented New York on 9/11 when we were attacked. Where were we attacked? We were attacked in downtown Manhattan where Wall Street is. I did spend a whole lot of time and effort helping them rebuild. That was good for New York. It was good for the economy and it was a way to rebuke the terrorists who had attacked our country.” ?

During that same  debate,  CBS passed a tweet along from a fellow head-explodee.. “And Secretary Clinton, one of the tweets we saw said this,” said CBS’s tweet-mistress Nancy Cordes. “I’ve never seen a candidate invoke 9/11 to justify millions of Wall Street donations until now.” The idea being, yes, you were a champion of the community after 9/11, but what does that have to do with taking big donations?”

Hillary answered—“Well, I’m sorry that whoever tweeted that had that impression.” HAD THAT IMPRESSION??? That’s what she had literally just said! How hard is to believe that a woman who would claim, on live, coast-to-caost TV,  that a voter is mistaken to interpret as what she just said as what she just said, wouldn’t also write in her post-election  botch memoir that We all made mistakes but you made most of them”? Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/25/17

Good Morning!

1. The National Review began its story on this topic thusly:

“California and New York will become the first states to allow illegal immigrants to practice law and be sworn in as lawyers. In so doing, they will grant the privilege of upholding the law and defending the U.S. Constitution to people who have intentionally violated the rules, and who have no right whatsoever to be here.”

This is a fair and objective description. I detest conservative radio talk show host Micheal Savage, who wrote a right wing attack tome called “Liberalism is a Mental Disorder” just as I detest that title, and the approach to civil discourse and political disagreements that goes with it. (Ann Coulter preaches the same message, but is funnier when she does it.) However, when I read about things like this, I feel a magnetic pull to the position. In 2013, Governor Brown  signed into law a provision allowing illegal immigrants to be awarded licenses to practice law in the state California. At the same time as he vetoed nother bill passed by his reliably wacko legislature that would have allowed those who would not obey the nation’s immigration laws to be eligible to serve on juries, and thus pass judgment on the alleged crimes of U.S. citizens. Ponder that contrast for a minute, and see if your head explodes. Brown had a convoluted explanation for the seeming contradiction, but what he was doing was obvious: he was pandering to illegals and their supporters. Serving on juries is an obligation of citizenship that citizens find onerous: telling illegals that they didn’t have to meet this obligation while still harvesting citizenship benefits was a welcome decision.

At the time I wrote,

“I am not surprised by this turn of events, just made nauseous by it. I almost closed comments for this post. If I really have to explain to someone why those who have never taken affirmative steps to become citizens in this country should not be allowed to practice its laws after years of being in defiance of its laws, I’m not sure its worth the effort.”

Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/7/17

1. I am afraid that today’s posts may be heavily tilted to the ongoing mainstream media implosion, depending on what other issues surface and what the Ethics Alarms ethics scouts sleuth out. Afraid, because I know that many readers here, like the news media itself (not surprisingly, but tellingly, the legacy news media isn’t reporting this story, but it is being thoroughly reported in the “new”–as in online–news media) want to pretend that it isn’t a story at all. The repeated deflection—they are deflecting, whether the mainstream media defenders can admit it to themselves or not, because the news media is destroying itself with unrestrained anti-Trump bias, and its defenders like anti-Trump bias, as they are suffering from it themselves—is “Isn’t an untrustworthy President worse than an untrustworthy news media?” The answer is absolutely not. A President’s job isn’t to be trustworthy, though being trustworthy is crucial to doing the job and maintaining the vitality of his Office. A President’s job is lead the government and use his power to keep the nation safe, free and prosperous while upholding the Constitution. A trustworthy President is more likely to accomplish those goals, and I insist that a trustworthy (that is, ethical) individual should always be preferred over an untrustworthy one who claims to have more popular policies in mind. Nevertheless, untrustworthy Presidents can have successful administrations, and have before in our history. Moreover, a President who is untrustworthy can be replaced in four years.

We don’t elect journalists. What is happening to our pampered, privileged, arrogant  journalistic establishment cannot be remedied at the ballot box, and indeed impedes effective elections. A news media that increasingly sees its function as manipulating public opinion to serve its own ideological and partisan ends threatens democracy itself. That makes the rogue news media of today a far greater threat than one incompetent President, and the more urgent ethics concern.

How will this professional ethics abdication be addressed and repaired? It must be, and the starting point has to be the journalism field’s  own recognition that there is a crisis.

2. There was a flicker of hope on the self-recognition front yesterday, when former CNN chairman and CEO Walter Isaacson, being interviewed on Bloomberg’s “What’d You Miss, lamented the current state of the media, saying that news coverage and bias was the at least partially at fault for the “enormous political divide” in the U.S.  Now leading the Aspen Institute’s education and policy studies, Isaacson said that the polarization and partisan hostility “have been exacerbated by all forms of media. People are getting more and more partisan.” He also pointedly refused to accept the standard “It’s all Fox News’ fault” rationalization, saying, “I put everybody [in the media] in the category, including all of us, that we can step back from knee-jerk partisan elections…that would be good.”

Isaacson’s statements are too mild and meek, and not exactly a ringing rebuke, but it’s a step in the right direction. I’ll take what I can get. Continue reading

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Case Study In How When Ethics Fail And The Law Steps In, The Law Will Screw Things Up Beyond Repair

Like Title IX, like Obamacare, like so many well-intentioned laws and regulations designed to assist and protect vulnerable citizens or traditionally oppressed groups, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) opened the door for abuse, absurd taxpayer costs, and unanticipated consequences. The ADA was rammed into law by activists compassion bullies who proclaimed that any attention to proportion and cost-benefit analysis was mean and heartless. Here is an example of what else came in that open door:

From the LA Times::

ADA lawsuits are now as common as sex-discrimination lawsuits, with more than 26,000 new claims filed against employers each year. The latest litigants have their sights on the most innovative segment of our domestic economy: e-commerce.In this trend, people sue businesses because their websites aren’t sufficiently accessible to the disabled — because the websites lack assistive technologies for the blind or hearing-impaired, say. It began in 2000, when Bank of America became the first entity to settle a web-accessibility lawsuit. Safeway and Charles Schwab soon followed suit. In 2008, Target paid $6 million to settle a class-action suit brought by the National Federation of the Blind, and nearly $4 million more to cover the plaintiffs’ attorney fees and other costs. More than 240 businesses across the country have been sued in federal court over website accessibility since the beginning of 2015. Similar litigation has been brought against universities on the grounds that the free online courses they offer aren’t captioned for deaf users, and against ride-sharing services because their smartphone apps lack text-to-speech capability for blind users.

…According to the demands of disabled users, in order for a website to be accessible, it must use fewer pictures, present text in a format that is compatible with text-reading software and employ design that allows for easy navigation. But the features that make a website more accessible for one disabled group are bound to be objectionable to another.

They may also conflict with other needs. Consider bank websites, which often employ timers that will shut down an online session for security reasons after a particular time period is exceeded. Such “timeouts” could present problems for some disabled users, but eliminating them in the interest of accessibility could impair security for all.

In the process of making a website accessible, questions invariably proliferate. Do certain color combinations violate the ADA because they confound the colorblind? Are certain layouts inaccessible if they’re confusing to users with a limited field of vision? Do the accessibility requirements apply only to the websites themselves, or do they also apply to Web content, such as advertising on a third party’s website? Will website hosts be responsible for the compliance of third-party sites? Must archived Web content be revised to comply? What about mobile apps? Do temporary technical bugs in an otherwise compliant website constitute a violation? What physical and mental conditions will require accommodation? So far, Web accessibility lawsuits have concerned the vision- and hearing-impaired, but future cases could be brought on behalf of plaintiffs diagnosed with dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, narcolepsy, cognitive impairments, paralysis and many other conditions.

The game is to sue deep pockets website owners and extort settlement pay-offs. That’s fine for the Bank of America, but not for, say, Ethics Alarms. This blog could be put out of business by such a lawsuit, and so could hundreds of thousands of others. Continue reading

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