Power abusers only put evidence of their nature on public display when they are absolutely certain that no one can or will hold them accountable. That certainly is the case with New York State Attorney General Letitia James, but then this has been the pattern with all of the (inevitably) Democrats in her office since the days of Eliot Spitzer and before. Her latest example of unethical use of her office, however, is especially ominous.
The pro-Trump Reawaken America Tour has been criss-crossing the U.S. for more than a year, and because speakers currently include former General Michael Flynn, a Trump ally, the Left has been trying to interfere with the event whenever possible. An online petition intimidated the owner of the Rochester’s Main Street Armory cancel its hosting of the event, so the Cornerstone Church in the tiny town of Batavia, NY. took over hosting duties. Borrowing heavily from the anti-speech petition (for talking about some topics are the equivalent of violence, you know), James sent a threatening letter to tour organizer Clay Clark and Flynn, along with the church itself.
Its objective: chill a legal gathering’s free speech rights by intimidation.
The assault on free expression as well as the speech-chilling practice of seeking to publicly crush those who do not observe the social justice dictates of progressives in power advanced ominously yesterday. Unsurprisingly, the episode at issue occurred at an Ivy League University, as our educational sectors have been among the trailblazers in speech and idea suppression. Unsurprising to me at least was that it involved Twitter. Just like in the Illya Shapiro controversy at Georgetown Law Center, a scholar didn’t use quite the words he should have (to be safe, and safety is everything these days) according to the Democrats’ Little Red Book. This time, however, the hammer fell harder. Continue reading →
The name of the school was so familiar, I thought I had already written on this issue. But no: the past Ethics Alarms pieces were related—dimly–to the fate of student Kaylyn Willis, but this ethics outrage in involving her is new. In 2015 there was a mass shooting at the school, prompting the usual eruption of finger-pointing and dishonest claims by the anti-gun hysterics. I wrote about the latter here and elsewhere. Obviously, the tragedy is a raw wound, but that’s no excuse for what the school has done to Willis.
In the winter 2021 term, Willis enrolled in “Chronic I,” a class taught by Patrick Harris. Harris assigned students to use “critical imagining” to create stories from the perspective of a person suffering from a chronic disease. For a May, 2021 assignment, Harris asked his students to reflect on the support systems of chronically ill individuals and how a person with a chronic illness might respond to the sudden and unexpected loss of such support. Willis imagined a scenario in which a woman suffering from ALS shoots her husband, who is also her primary caretaker. Her fiction was based on a real case where a jury found a man “not guilty” of murdering his wife and sister-in-law because he suffered from ALS-related mental health issues. She posted her assignment on-line, as she had been directed to do.
Harris, it is fair to say, flipped out. He gave Willis an F, saying, “Do you honestly think that your post on a nursing school assignment was appropriate? Joking about killing your husband? I’m really questioning your critical thinking if you think this was an appropriate discussion post.” Harris indicated that he viewed her story as particularly offensive after the 2015 shooting on UCC’s campus.
School officials informed Willis that she was expelled from the program because her post violated its handbook prohibiting “[a]cts which are dishonest, disrespectful, or disruptive.” The Grievance Panel’s writtendecision stated that Willis’ post was “insensitive” and “failed to take into consideration the events of UCC’s past and the impact her post could have.” Her appeal was denied and she is now unable to seek admission to any other Oregon Consortium Nursing Education programs.
Harvard, beginning approximately during the regime of the previous president, Drew Faust, has been infested with serious ethics rot, and it continues to progress. I have documented some, but far from all, of the most disturbing aspects of this process, like the University’s practice of discriminating against Asian-American applicants (as well as whites, of course), which they are now defending in court. What is supposed to be the role model for the entire higher education system in the United States continues to give credence and respectability to unethical practices and values, spreading its own affliction to other institutions far and wide. Worst of all, it is indoctrinating its students to be anti-American, anti-individual rights, anti-Western civilization and culture allies of the radical Left, while attempting to demonize opposing views on campus and off.
What’s going on here? The graphic above should make it clear, but if it doesn’t, this should:
Georgetown has apparently programmed its victims of a liberal education to not only believe in the suppression of free speech and dissent from the majority, but to engage in it. Nice.
By the way, Georgetown, the backs of Harvard’s diplomas are much more attractive than the backs of yours.
Georgetown University junior Billy Torgerson received a formal condemnation from the Georgetown University Student Association as well as a call for the college to investigate him for “bias” based on a column, “A Nation Of Virtuous Individuals,” that he authored and posted on his own website.
Torgerson’s primary “crime” seems to be that he opposes another recent SCOTUS ruling, Bostock v. Clayton County, which extended protections under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to transgender individuals. I think he’s wrong, but Torgerson’s position is similar to that of the three dissenting judges and many conservative analysts. And it doesn’t matter if he’s wrong. He has every right to state his opinion without being punished. Continue reading →
Let’s try to get this month off to an ethical start….
1. Well, this sure won’t do it…Today’s Spineless Administrator Award goes to… Along with other university leaders, he pressured Stephen Hsu to resign from his position as vice president of research and innovation after the school’s Graduate Employees Union , which represents teaching and research assistants, examined Hsu’s blog posts and interviews in search of damaging statements that could justify his “cancelling.” Hsu had, after all, cited with favor a study that found police are no more likely to shoot African-Americans than anyone else. “We found that the race of the officer doesn’t matter when it comes to predicting whether black or white citizens are shot,” concluded the Michigan State-based research.
It is not the only study that reached this conclusion, but as you have no doubt noticed, for now at least, Facts Don’t Matter.
The graduate union maintains that administrators should not share research that runs counter to public statements by the university, “It is the union’s position that an administrator sharing such views is in opposition to MSU’s statements released supporting the protests and their root cause and aim.”
Hsu stepped down from his vice president role, but will stay on as a physics professor. The union had circulated a petition against Hsu and an open letter signed by more than 500 faculty and staff at Michigan State argued that Hsu supports the idea that intelligence is linked to genetics. A counter-petition in support of Hsu has had more than 1,000 signers, including many fellow professors from across the country, stating in part,
“To remove Hsu for holding controversial views, or for inquiring about controversial topics, or for simply talking to controversial personalities … would also set a dangerous precedent, inconsistent with the fundamental principles of modern enlightened higher education.”
On his personal website, Hsu rejected the claim of “scientific racism,” stating that he believes “that basic human rights and human dignity derive from our shared humanity, not from uniformity in ability or genetic makeup.”
President Stanley defended his decision to pressure Hsu to resign in a statement on June 19:
“I believe this is what is best for our university to continue our progress forward. The exchange of ideas is essential to higher education, and I fully support our faculty and their academic freedom to address the most difficult and controversial issues.”But when senior administrators at MSU choose to speak out on any issue, they are viewed as speaking for the university as a whole. Their statements should not leave any room for doubt about their, or our, commitment to the success of faculty, staff and students.
The “mission” appears to be to enforce conformity of thought.
In my native state of Massachusetts, in the coastal town of Swampscott, home of Boston Red Sox tragic hero, the late Tony Conigliaro, comes a story where every element represents an ethics breach. The victim is being made the villain, the villain the hero. As I tell the tale, the faint refrain of “The World Turned Upside-Down,” the song the band played when General Cornwallis surrendered to General Washington, should echo in the background.
What is it about restaurants that generate so many ethics messes? This one occurred at Mission on the Bay, an upscale waterside eatery that serves food with a Brazilian and Asian influence. Selectman Donald Hause was dining with a friend in the outdoor dining area, and bartender Erik Heilman was eavesdropping, what people are doing when they say later, “I couldn’t help but overhear.” Heilman heard Hause criticize Black Lives Matter, allegedly saying that the group was “liberal bullshit,” and making the case that white privilege was a myth.
What the Selectman said, short of planning a crime, was none of Heilman’s business; nonetheless, the bartender says he was “distraught” at the comments, and so he posted what he heard or thought he heard to a local website, because he wanted to “inform” the community about the thoughts of an elected official. Hause disputes his account, but it doesn’t matter, and I don’t care what he said. Heilman’s conduct was unethical no matter what was said, or whether his post was accurate or not. Customers at a restaurant should, indeed must, be able to depend on the discretion and confidentiality of the staff. The bartender’s actions were a betrayal of his duties to the restaurant and its patrons.
We know Heilman’s rationalization for doing what he did springs from the totalitarian strain in what Commentary Magazine has called “the great unraveling.” Dissent from the Black Lives Matter and its supporters’ anti-American narrative will not be tolerated, and those resisting the mob, the movement’s mission dictates, must be exposed and destroyed. Continue reading →
Traffic here inexplicably dead yesterday and today. Is there a secret ethics convention nobody told me about? There is, isn’t there? I’m hurt…
1. It’s too bad so many readers don’t pay attention to the baseball posts, because a lot of fascinating ethics issues with general applications arise…like right now. Yesterday, as already mentioned in an update to yesterday’s post and a couple of comments, the Boston Red Sox “parted ways with Manager Alex Cora by mutual agreement.” (He was fired.) In a press conference I just watched, the Red Sox brass said that Cora, who was both successful and popular in Boston, was let go solely because of the MLB investigation report regarding his involvement in cheating while serving as a coach for the Houston Astros in 2017, and the allegations of cheating while managing the Sox in 2018, still under investigation, played no part in the decision. What they meant is that the Astros cheating was going to result in a long suspension for Cora anyway, so the team didn’t need to wait for the bad news regarding his cheating in Boston.
The weirdest thing about the press conference is that none of the four Sox officials would do anything but praise Cora, his character, his judgment, his dedication to the team, his devotion to baseball. Gee, why did they fire this saint, then? Alex Cora’s character is obviously flawed, or he wouldn’t have masterminded major cheating schemes that cost the Astros 5 million dollars and four key draft choices while losing the jobs of two men who advanced his career. Cora’s judgement also stinks, because his actions have now cast a shadow over two teams, their championships, and the records of the players his schemes benefited.
If he was so dedicated to the team, why is it now facing a public relations and competitive disaster because of his actions? If he was devoted to baseball, how did he end up at the center of a scandal that undermines the perceived integrity of the game? Continue reading →
Judges have been taking an ethics bashing here recently, so I feel it’s only fair to report that the three-member U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in a 2-to-1 decision, determined that the University of Michigan’ speech police, known there as its Bias Response Team, chilled free speech on campus and thus violates the First Amendment. The Team’s function is to investigate incidents reported by students that are deemed racist, sexist, hostile to LGBTQ students or otherwise “offensive” to the right groups of people. For example, if I were a student there, the creation of such an entity would be profoundly offensive to me. That presumably wouldn’t matter.
Speech First, a Washington, D.C.-based civil liberties watchdog, sued Michigan last year, seeking an injunction to halt the activities of the BRT. The lawsuit argued that the Bias Response Team is illegal because it could potentially deter students from making statements or engaging in conduct that some on campus might find offensive but are still protected under the First Amendment. The university’s definitions of “harassment” and “bullying” were ominously broad, though Michigan did refine them after the suit was filed. The looming presence of a speech and conduct response team that could be focused on a non-conforming student by a single complaint could reasonably be expected to make students hesitate to express themselves.
Ya think? Nonetheless, a U.S. District Court judge initially denied the injunction last year. [Note:Here I have deleted a series of comments about the agenda and political affiliation of this judge and those who reason like him. I am trying to practice more self-restraint, today anyway.] Continue reading →
1. To get this out of the way..I watched every second of every inning on last night’s longest post-season baseball game in history, as any loyal, ethical baseball fan is obligated to do. It was worth it, too, even though my team lost. The game was the sports equivalent of The Odyssey, “War and Peace,” “King Lear,” “The Ring Cycle,” “The Ring Trilogy,” “Nicholas Nickleby” or “The Seven Samurai,” a complex morality and adventure tale that had suspense, disappointment, wonder, exhilaration , humor and tragedy, heroes and villains. Such games reward all of the time and suffering a fan puts into following baseball seriously. It is worth the investment.
It is a wonderful example of the incompetent variety of criticism I call “Wanting to change what you haven’t taken the time to understand.” I get it: the authors don’t like baseball, and barely pay attention to it., or, in the alternative, they are just seeking clicks. In any event, you can’t argue with people who say that the problem with opera is that it’s too often in a foreign language, or that the problem with hip hop is that it isn’t music, and shouldn’t, or that the problem with our democracy is that people can say things that upset other people. And you shouldn’t argue with them. They don’t respect the topic enough to be educated about it.
2. Of course, baseball games ARE too long, and the overwhelming reason is TV ads, which add about a half hour to every game, and more to post-season games. The disgusting response of Fox is to stick 10 second commercials into a split screen during the game, like between batters. Here’s a slugger walking to the plate in a tense situation, and half the screen is devoted to a quickie plug for “Ralph Breaks The Internet.” I hope fans are burning up social media attacking this greedy new form of broadcast pollution.
3. How is this possible? In a #MeToo Mad era when simply being accused of sexual assault without proof is deemed by even lawyers who should know better as sufficient justification to inflict serious and permanent consequences on the accused, Mike Tyson is the star of an animated TV show, is cast in movies, and is now shopping a TV show, based on the ex-boxer’s life as a marijuana grower and marketer, starring him and called “Rolling With the Punches.” Continue reading →