Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/29/2020: Well, It’s Happened. People Are Going Nuts.

Good Morning!

I’m still sane!

For now….

1. Cultural literacy note. Ann Althouse, holed up and desperate for non-virus topics (as are we all), has been reduced to reading Woody Allen’s newly published memoirs and commenting on them. Today, reviewing a section where Allen said that his “literary heroes” growing up did not include Julian Sorrel, but did include comic book super-heroes like Hawkman and Submariner, among others. Ann, who’s a bit younger than me, openly admits that while she knows Julian Sorrel (“The Red and the Black”–yechhh). but never heard of Hawkman or Submariner.

Is that a girl thing? Admittedly, those are two relatively minor heroes in the D.C. and Marvel comic book universes, but Ann has had a long time to catch up. It reminds me that one’s perspective on so many matters—everything?—is affected by the shape of the culture one perceives, and holes, even little ones, make a difference. Althouse frequently reveals that she is weak on some popular culture (especially movies and TV). She’s a commentator on the American scene, and people are influenced by her opinions.  Nobody can know everything, but the fewer holes, the better.

2. Krazy Kollege Ethics...

At Slate, legal commentator John Culhane thinks Falwell is asking for lawsuits: Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “The Ethics Mess That Is US Race Relations, Chapter III: The Martin Luther King Day Essay”

In today’s Comment of the Day, Michael R explores the effects of college costs, student loans and ideological indoctrination on schools’ ability to provide an the valuable education students think they are paying for. Some of the factors he mentions I didn’t know about; I’m not sure  I’ve ever read about them anywhere else.

Here is the veteran Ethics Alarms contributor’s  Comment of the Day on the post, “The Ethics Mess That Is US Race Relations, Chapter III: The Martin Luther King Day Essay.”

I don’t think all universities have become worthless. There are a lot of problems with the universities and much of it has to do with student loans and leftist indoctrination.

Student loans make people forget about how much college actually costs. Students go to colleges with nicer dorms, bigger ‘Wellness Centers’, and more activities because they can ‘afford’ it with loans. This resulted in an ‘arms race’ to ditch traditional dorms for suites, and now full apartments for students. It resulted in big ‘Wellness Centers’ instead of gyms. It resulted in vast Student Activities staff and budgets. It resulted in more and more sports. I would estimate that only about 1/3 of college costs these days go to academics and academic support (academic buildings, utilities, janitorial, etc). The rest is sports, activities, and administration. If you had a lean college with good academics, but old-style dorms, no student life, and no sports, it would go bankrupt quickly. College is expensive these days because the students and the parents DEMAND it be that way. Continue reading

FIRE Names The Ten Colleges That Most Abuse Freedom Of Speech. Yes, Harvard Is On It. Of Course It Is.

And yes, for the exact reason that caused me to turn my diploma to the wall.

Here are the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s 2020 selections as the 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech:

Babson College (Wellesley, Mass.)

Babson College fired adjunct professor Asheen Phansey for a Facebook post parodying  President Donald Trump’s (dumb) tweet threatening to bomb 52 cultural sites in Iran. The professor’s satire wasn’t exactly Dave Barry, but it was obviously a joke:

“In retaliation, Ayatollah Khomeni should tweet a list of 52 sites of beloved American cultural heritage that he would bomb. Um… Mall of America? …Kardashian residence?”

The post was shared by a local gossip blog, and Babson administrators suspended Phansey pending an “investigation,” intoning that the college “condemns any type of threatening words and/or actions condoning violence” and that it was “cooperating with local, state and federal authorities.” That was some investigation: less than a day later, Babson  fired him.

FIRE  protested to Babson  earlier this month, pointing out that Phansey’s post was  obviously a criticism, not an endorsement, of threats of violence, mixed with sarcasm about American culture.

Ethics Alarms covered the incident here.

Jones College (Ellisville, Miss.)

Last spring, administrators and campus police at Jones College twice stopped student Mike Brown  when he tried to recruit students for a campus chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, telling him he needed the school’s explicit permission to speak on campus. When  Brown and two others displayed a sign inviting students to give their opinions about legalizing marijuana, a staff member called campus police. Brown was taken to the police chief’s office and, according to Brown, was told  he was “smarter than” to engage in such conduct on campus without permission. Two months earlier, a Jones administrator called campus police when Brown and a friend produced  an oversized beach ball they dubbed a “free speech ball” for students to write messages while Brown  talked to them about free speech and Young Americans for Liberty.  The Horror. Yes, the police told them they were not allowed to have a provocative beach ball on campus without permission from the school.

Brown has filed a First Amendment lawsuit with FIRE’s help. The Department of Justice has piled on, telling the school that its policies are unconstitutional.

Harvard University (Cambridge, Mass.)

Continue reading

Day Before The Night Before Christmas Ethics Package, 12/23/2019, Now UPDATED With The Meme I Stupidly Didn’t Post Despite Polling On It (Sorry!)

Merry Christmas!

TWICE yesterday store employees returned my “Merry Christmas!” with  a “Happy Holidays!” that was delivered in a tone that to my ear was intended to convey, “No, THIS is what you should say.” Both times, I was tempted to call them on it, but did not. Maybe I was being hypersensitive, maybe that wasn’t their intent…but of course it was. The next clerk or cashier who does that to me might get a “No, Merry Christmas. Do you have a problem with that?” back.  I’m that close…

1. ARGHH! “Baseball” censorship! Here’s another nauseating example of the capitulation to the word-banners. The MLB TV channel, which, like its satellite radio counterpart, is challenged to come up with programming this time of year. (The radio version held a quiz last week in which we were challenged to identify expressions of despair and horror as either coming from Cleveland Indians fan tweets about the trading of ace pitcher Corey Kluber, or from reviews of “Cats.”) Yesterday the channel was showing Ken Burns’ terrific documentary “Baseball.” In the segment on Ty Cobb, we were told about in infamous incident in which Cobb jumped into the stands to beat up an abusive fan, who, it turned out, had no hands. When the crowd shouted this fact at the infuriated player, he reportedly replied that he’d throttle anyone who called him “that” even if he had no legs. What was “that”? Why, it was that Cobb was a “half-BEEEEEEEEP!” Yes, a loud, high-pitched beep was injected into the narration instead of the word itself, which was in Burns’ original work (I own a copy.) Morons. If the word is  discernible from the context, then the beep equals the word, so just use the word. If it isn’t clearly indicated—and while I was pretty sure, knowing the story, but uncertain enough that I had to check—then it is incompetent to leave viewers wondering. Half-crazy? Half-wit? Half-lizard? Half-breed? No, Cobb was called “half nigger,” and the exact word is essential to understand the incident but also a key component of Cobb’s character. Did Burns approve the marring of his soundtrack? I doubt it.

This has got to stop.

2. Great: colleges are now free to bribe students to renege on their promises. In a proposed agreement announced this month in response to Justice Department antitrust accusations, the National Association for College Admission Counseling said it would allow its member college and university counselors to recruit students even after they have committed to another school and would permit members to encourage students to transfer after they have already enrolled. From the Times:

Now, colleges will be free to offer perks, like special scholarships or priority in course selection, to early-decision applicants, students who are less likely to need tuition assistance and use the process to secure a spot at their first-choice schools. …Institutions will also be able to continue recruiting students beyond a widely applied May 1 deadline that is typically imposed for students who have applied through a regular decision process and are considering offers based, at least in part, on financial aid packages.

The promises to commit to a school that gave you an early admission were never legally binding, just ethically binding. And they still are. Any college whose applicant reneges on such an agreement after being seduced by another college should send a letter telling him or her, “Thank you for voluntarily withdrawing your acceptance. Our school wants only students of good character, who are trustworthy, honest, and value integrity. Now that we know that you do not honor commitments, we realize that we erred in accepting you. We’re sure you will fit right in at the school you chose, however, and wish you the best in your years there.” Continue reading

Two Ethics Dunce University Presidents Who Should Be Fired

Hateful!!!!

They are…

Western Connecticut State University  President John Clark, who asked for the community’s help identifying students—if they were students— who distributed what he called “hate filled flyers and inscriptions on our university property.” These were more of the 4Chan-inspired “It’s OK to be white” and “Islam is right about women” trolling devices.

“I wanted to assure you that a full scale police investigation is underway,” Clark wrote, stating that the FBI, state police and municipal police were reviewing surveillance footage iand grilling those  “who may have witnessed any of this despicable and utterly unacceptable behavior.” In full grandstanding and virtue-signalling mode, Clark declared that any WCSU community members identified as responsible for  the flyers  “will be subject to the severest disciplinary actions, including dismissal as well as possible civil and criminal actions.”  He described the flyers’ message as “disgusting,” “hateful,” “virulent,” “sick and outrageous.”

“It’s OK to be white.”

The Horror. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Unethical Quote Of The Month: Wheaton College”

Chris Marschner, as is his wont, immediately gleaned some greater wisdom and broader lessons  from the last post. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “Unethical Quote Of The Month: Wheaton College”:

This is a clear example of ” if some is good, more is better” fallacy, or in economics terms the inability to assess when diminishing returns set in and eventually go negative. Inclusion is great if it builds knowledge but ultimately, total inclusion tends to faction formation and idea stagnation if the only premise for inclusion is to obtain political power through numbers. As the total number of groups represented grows, the resources to advance individual factions power wants diminish then decrease. Then infighting grows.

The success of the United States was built on individual achievement but the nucleus that holds divergent interests from devolving into chaos is a common ideal of we are one people free of tyranny, and not subject to the tyranny of the many. Out of many, one.

The college advisors have let these student leaders down if they did not counsel them that the extension of their reasoning would eventually lead not to greater inclusion but to ideological exclusion. It is painfully obvious that the SGA wants to exclude someone. You cannot promote inclusivity if it means to exclude those not like you. Being not like you is not genetically or ethnically based. Not like you really means differences in cultural values and experiences. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Wheaton College

What prompted this anti-educational, anti-discourse “message to the Wheaton community”?

Ryan Bomberger of the Radiance Foundation gave a presentation entitled “Black Lives Matter In and Out of the Womb” at the evangelical Wheaton College (in Wheaton, Ill.) on November 14. He was the guest of the Wheaton College Republicans. Bomberger’s talk criticized  BLM leadership for announcing its solidarity with Planned Parenthood, the “leading killer of black lives.” Bomberger  is a biracial African American conceived in rape, adopted, and then raised in a mixed-race family. He responded  to the allegations in the letter by saying that Rowley, Waaler, and Shields had demonized him, and said he had been told that only Shields among the three signatories had attended his talk.

“I would think it would be against the college’s mission to intentionally mislead students,” Bomberger wrote in response to the student leaders’ backlash against him.

“I am a person of color, a clarifying fact which you conveniently left out of your letter of denouncement. I was primarily presenting a perspective of those who are never heard, always underrepresented, and are actually unsafe — the unborn,” he said. Continue reading