Tag Archives: censorship

From The Ethics Alarms Lost Files: The Firing And Un-Firing Of Sam Seder

Somehow I lost this one for a week, then found it today, reminding me how much it ticked me off.

Sam Seder, an MSNBC political commentator and host of the “Majority Report” podcast, had sent a tweet  in 2oo9—that’s 8 years ago, folks—obviously mocking the Hollywood supporters of fugitive film director and child rapist Roman Polanski.

The tweet said,

“Don’t care re Polanski, but I hope if my daughter is ever raped it is by an older truly talented man w/ a great sense of mise en scene.”

That is called artful satire, and if you can’t tell that, you really should restrict yourself to Nickelodeon and “Good Night Moon.”

Then Mike Cernovich, the far-right activist and conspiracy theorist, who is not an idiot, though he is many other unpleasant things, tracked down the tweet and began to complain to  MSNBC’s media relations department and other journalists about Seder using the same kind of political correctness crack-brained mania that the Left typically inflicts on the Right. Cernvich was trolling MSNBC, I assume, and maybe he was trying to accomplish what he eventually did accomplish: he got the left-wing cable channel management to fire Seder for “inappropriate and insensitive remarks.” Or maybe he was just trolling, though before the axe fell, Seder accused Cernovich of attempting to silence his criticism of President Trump and Roy Moore….you know, like the way the Seder-sympatico Media Matters has tried to silence Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

Now one would think that MSNBC execs would be able to tell Seder’s tweet was witty, and also have enough faith in the brain pans of its viewers to assume they, unlike most conservatives, who for some reason don’t have much if a sense of humor, would understand that there was nothing offensive about the Polanski tweet, except to Polanski and child rape fans in France and Hollywood. But no: out he went, as Cernovich lifted a glass of Korbel somewhere with Ann Coulter and Bill O’Reilly.

Then thousands of people signed a petition demanding that Seder be rehired, and he was. MSNBC’s head Phil Griffin wrote: Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: “Yes, Catherine Gregory Should Be Fired”

Well, this is depressing. Is it too pessimistic? I think so. I hope so.

I wish I knew so.

Here is Michael R.’s Comment of the Day, a trenchant and timely analysis of the underlying factors that culminated in the post, Yes, Catherine Gregory Should Be Fired:

The current Democratic college faculty, journalists, and politicians have shown how dangerous the political correctness of the 80’s and 90’s was. They are the product of that philosophy embraced by the Left and the Democratic Party. People disputed how bad it was at the time, but now we see the true effects of excusing it, ignoring it, and Democrats still voting for the Left. Let’s not pretend they all just became unhinged recently because of Trump’s election. They have been this way for a long time, it is just that people excused it or denied it. Even today, every single person I know who is a Democrat STILL denies the mainstream media has a liberal bias. Why wouldn’t they, it is the same media we had 10 years ago. All the news coverage of George W. Bush was just as unreliable as the current coverage of Trump, they just weren’t as blatant as they are now (remember Dan Rather, remember the NYT and CBS fake news story on election day about weapons of mass destruction?).

In 10 years, hate speech will be illegal and hate speech will be anything the Left doesn’t like. Roughly 60% of college students, in survey after survey, already think it is illegal to express opinions they don’t like. Since about half of college students are Democrats, it suggests that ~100% of the future Democratic voters, representatives, governors, Presidents, and judges, will view it as illegal. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society

Yes, Catherine Gregory Should Be Fired

Jonathan Turley is fascinated with the issue of whether  faculty members and employees generally should lose their jobs over controversial conduct outside of the workplace, particularly when it involves political speech. “There remains an uncertain line in what language is protected for teachers in their private lives,” the George Washington law professor writes. As I’ve discussed here before, I don’t think it’s nearly as uncertain as Turley does. When a faculty member’s conduct or statements on social media make an objective observer think, “No competent, professional institution would hire someone like this,” it’s bye-bye and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Even Turley seems to waver in this ridiculous case.

Conservative commentator Lucian Wintrich was about to speak on the topic “It’s OK to Be White”—I LOVE that topic!— at the University of Connecticut when a protestor grabbed his notes. He in turn tussled with her, causing a near riot, and campus police arrested him.  The protestor was Catherine Gregory, associate director of career services  at Quinebaug Valley Community College.

Today the University came to its senses (or realized public opinion wasn’t going to allow it to get away with its attempt at liberal fascism) and dropped the charges against Wintrich  while charging Gregory.

What should happen to Gregory?

Gregory’s lawyer, Jon Schoenhorn argues that his client was justified in her actions because Wintrich’s views constitute “hate speech” and his actions “are beyond the First Amendment” in their insults to minorities. This is obviously nonsense, and I would argue it even qualifies as a frivolous and dishonest defense, an ethical violation. Unless the man is complete nitwit, he must know that there is no excluded variety of speech called “hate speech” that the First Amendment doesn’t protect. He’s lying, or he’s too incompetent to be a lawyer. Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Race, Workplace

Dear Regan Chastain And Her 9,670 Anti-Fat Shaming Hysterics: 1) It’s Satire and 2) Stop Trying To Censor Expression You Don’t Like

Nice, Regan. You can dance. Now get a sense of humor…

There was  an unanticipated side benefit of visiting Alas! A Blog, cartoonist Barry Deutsch’s home for the furious left-addled, as I researched the previous post. I also caught Barry giving space to fat-activist (not fat activist, for that would be rude) Regan Chastain as she fulminates against an Esquire U.K. feature by writer Giles Coren called ““I Don’t Care What My Son Becomes… As Long As He Isn’t Overweight.” Chastain is furious, and apparently Barry agrees. I presume he’s signed her Change.Org petition that demands that Esquire pull the post as “hate speech” (sigh!) and fire Coren.

For in her petition Chastain says that Coren…

Calls his 4-year-old son a “fat little bastard” and a “chubby fucker”

Says that “to bring forth upon the world a fat son is indeed a shame before God”

Says that he would rather his son be a “crackhead” than be fat.

Says about fat people: “I’d kill them all and render them down for candles.”

He ends the piece by saying that he “tries to look at the positive” but “other times I think, “I’d best get the chubby fucker’s jaw wired before he’s old enough to stop me.”

Read the article. Is there anyone out there who can’t tell that the article is satire, and intended to chide parents who obsess over their kids’ weight? How about the photo he posted with the article, showing his “fat” son? This…

Does that not constitute a sufficient clue? Continue reading

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KABOOM! Brandeis Cancels A Play About Political Correctness Because Students And Faculty Protested That It Wasn’t Politically Correct

I do want to thank Curmie, our esteemed drop-in commenter who is a drama teacher and chronicler of ethics outrages from the world of education, for ambushing me with this head-exploding story from Brandeis University. And my head had been doing so well.

Playwright Michael Weller had received a Creative Arts Award from Brandeis, and when he wrote a  a play, “Buyer Beware,” that satirized the political climate on U.S. campuses the University scheduled it to make its premiere there. The satire concerns a student who discovers the works of  iconic 50s era comedian Lenny Bruce, and attempts to stage a  production in the spirit of the taboo-challenging comic. The production offends  students affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the Brandeis-like university, which worries that the controversy will offend a crucial donor. The script, channeling Bruce (think George Carlin but more abrasive, and not as funny) called for a white character to use “nigger” in several instances. The play quotes Bruce’s famous manifesto against strictures against mere words: “Imagine if we just kept saying these words over and over again, sooner or later they’d become meaningless noise.”

Without reading the script, it appears, so many students protested that Brandeis administrators, proving that their spines and principles were noodle-flexible, capitulated and cancelled the production, when the statements of the protesters should have made it obvious that such a play was desperately needed. For example, Andrew Childs is an Undergraduate Department Representative for the Theater Arts Department and a member of the season’s play selection committee, told the student newspaper,

“The issue we all have with it is that [Weller] is an older, straight…, able-bodied and white man. [ Wait! Isn’t it okay to be white?] It isn’t his place to be stirring the pot.”

What are they teaching at Brandeis? Only certain genders and races can “stir the pot”? Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/21/17: Fake Bravery, Mysterious Hate Speech, Vindictive Ex-Presidents, And The Trans Fold-Out

I confess: I miss New England…

Good Morning.

Thank God it’s Saturday.

1 The definition of “courage” being used to describe some of the late-to-the-party revelations of Harvey Weinstein’s victims is more than a bit off.  For example, Academy Award  winner Lupita Nyong’o’s op-ed, in which she talked about her own harassment by Weinstein, was hailed by Kerry Washington, Ellen DeGeneris and others, including singer Janelle Monae, who wrote, “My hero. Thank you for your bravery. Thank you for using your voice.”

Bravery? Nyong’o’s piece could be fairly described as kicking a dead horse when he’s down. There is no danger to Nyong’o now in joining the throng accusing and exposing Weinstein, whose head is on a metaphorical pike in Hollywood. Indeed, claiming victimhood now acquires sympathy and declares that one is joining one’s peers in a virtuous quest. There is nothing wrong with her op-ed or the fact that she wrote it, but it isn’t brave. It would have been brave if she had written it while Weinstein had power…and was still using that power to intimidate and exploit actresses

2.  A recent quiz in the New York Times threw some light, or maybe ice water, on the concept of “hate speech.” The quiz asked Times readers to judge whether a statement was hate speech, and contrasted the results with Facebook’s hate speech policy, and the kind of statement would be removed from the social media platform as violating its standards. Facebook defines hate speech as:

  1. An attack, such as a degrading generalization or slur.
  2. Targeting a “protected category” of people, including one based on sex, race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, and serious disability or disease.

Here were the samples; Times readers were asked to vote yes or no to the question, “Would this statement meet Facebook’s criteria for hate speech?”

A. “Why do Indians always smell like curry?! They stink!”

B. “Poor black people should still sit at the back of the bus.”

C. “White men are assholes.”

D. “Keep ‘trans’ men out of girls bathrooms!”

E. “Female sports reporters need to be hit in the head with hockey pucks.”

F. I’ll never trust a Muslim immigrant… they’re all thieves and robbers.”

The Answers:

A. Facebook: Hate speech. Times readers: 75% yes, 25% no.

B. Facebook: Not hate speech. Times readers: 92% yes, 8% no.

C. Facebook: Hate speech. Times readers: 48% yes, 52% no.

D. Facebook: It depends on the context. Times readers: 57% yes, 43% no.

E. Facebook: Not hate speech. Times readers: 80% yes, 20% no.

F. Facebook: Not hate speech. Times readers: 91% yes, 9% no.

Ethics Alarms: the concept of hate speech is a dangerous, intentionally vague, manufactured category of speech pointing to restrictions of free expression. There is hateful speech, insulting speech, bigoted speech, biased speech, cruel speech, uncivil speech and rude speech, but all of it is still protected speech.

The tell is C. Times readers only voted that one statement wasn’t hate speech, the one that denigrated all white men. Of course they did. By Facebook standards, that vote is hate speech. I think.

Facebook can ban whatever speech it chooses, of course. The fact that it engages in this kind of vague, inconsistent, bias-laden censorship, however, tells us how much we should trust it: Not at all.

3. Speaking of bias, the Trump-haters in the news media—which is to say, the news media—were thrilled that both Barack Obama and George W. Bush delivered, on the same day, statements that were taken as rebukes to President Trump without mentioning him by name. Both Presidents were treading in serious hypocrisy mine fields, and neither were called on it sufficiently. Bush spoke of “fading confidence” in free markets: Gee, who was President when insufficiently regulated capitalists crashed the world economy? Obama, even more cynically, pointed to social, racial and economic schisms after his eight years of aggravating and exploiting them. Both Bush and Obama—and for them, this is a despicable ethics foul—conflated illegal immigration with immigration, to the seal-flipper applause of the open-border crowd.

The significance of these dual attacks is less than it appears. Bothex-POTUSes are motivated by personal animus and as well as personal bias. President Trump is doing an excellent job, as promised, of erasing Obama’s few substantive achievements and policy initiatives from the record, and he has only been at it for less than a year. Are you a a successful President if the primary lasting effect of your administration is reversal of progress in racial reconciliation? Obama’s enmity is predictable, but hardly based on objective consideration. Bush’s attack is even less so.  Candidate Trump’s attacks on President Bush’s brother were nasty and personal; the entire family has made no secret of the fact that it won’t forget, and hates the President’s guts/

The real ethics lesson, as well as a practical policy lesson is that being gratuitously mean to people isn’t just unethical, it is incompetent for a leader. This is one more area where the President shows a self-destructive lack of control and prudence as well as a flat learning curve. At a recent event, Paul Ryan, another target of Trump’s personal insults, mocked the President. John McCain has clearly decided that he will do whatever he can to undermine him until his last breath. Not only do the various public figures Trump needlessly insults and attacks occasionally have the opportunity to strike back in substantive ways, they also have supporters who will side with them even when those strikes are unfair or petty.

Deliberately making enemies is an example of life incompetence. It is so for a librarian or a short-order cook; it is even more so for a leader. It just makes it harder for you to do your job.

Why would you do that?

4. And now that Hugh Heffner is dead, Playboy is trying to make him roll over in his grave by announcing that it will have its first transgender Playmate.

Is this Ick, or ethics? Presumably, if the magazine has any integrity at all, Playboy chooses its Playmates according to their aesthetic qualities, not their medical history. These are women. Stipulated: French model Ines Rau is a woman, now.  Why is her selection focusing on how she got to be one?

Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? Rau wasn’t chosen because she is a beautiful woman, though I am not saying that she isn’t. She was chosen because she is transgender, and beautiful enough. This was affirmative action. Reports say she is honored. Why isn’t she insulted? If President Obama told Sonia Sotomayor that she was being nominated as a Supreme Court Justice not because she is especially qualified, but because she is Hispanic, would Sotomayor have been pleased?

Rau is being exploited, as Playboy treats the transgender social issue as a fad, to sell magazines and get publicity. Predictably, many of Playboy’s readers are objecting for the wrong reasons: they are bigots. Playboy’s social media response is telling: “Standing on the right side of history.” This is, as Ethics Alarms has pointed out before, a facile dodge and a rationalization. “We’re on the right side of history” is weak variation of the Number 1 rationalization on the list, “Everybody does it.” It means “Everybody’s going to do it, just you wait and see.”

Color me dubious. Heterosexual men who buy girlie magazines are going to find transgender women more beautiful and sexually arousing because they once were biologically male?

Sure, Playboy. Whatever you say.

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Unethical …And Really, Really Dumb…Tweet Of The Month: Actor Seth Rogen

Maurice Switzer said (no, not Mark Twain or Abe Lincoln), “Better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.” This goes double, triple even, for celebrities in Twitter. The platform is a sinister cultural trap to expose the ignorance, stupidity, nastiness and bad judgment of famous people who have no idea just how foolish they are.

Hence the above jaw-dropping tweet by Seth Rogen, an occasionally amusing comic actor with dubious self-awareness. (He allowed himself to be cast as the Green Hornet, for example.)

Just how bad is the tweet? Let us count the ways: Continue reading

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