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Professor Volokh’s Ethics Dissent On The Vicious, Pazuzu-Blaming Professor’s Firing

‘Yes, I know he’s an idiot, but we should support idiots as highly paid teachers of our children, for the protection of the non-idiots…

Eugene Volokh is one of the best and most objective legal minds in the country. If he finds himself on the Supreme Court when Kennedy retires or Ginsberg shuffles off this mortal coil, we will not have suffered through the ugliness of the Trump years in vain. When he opines, I listen, as we all should, and he has now opined regarding the now fired idiot that I wrote about this morning, ex-University of Tampa visiting sociology professor Ken Storey.

Storey used Twitter, in the middle of the still-unfolding human disaster in Houston and soon New Orleans, to announce that flooding victims who were Trump supporters or Republicans deserved to die. He did this twice, so his later claim that his words did not intentionally convey what his words were obviously intended to convey was a desperate and obvious lie.

I wrote:

The university or college that fires an employee like Storey is protecting its reputation as a responsible institution, by stating in clear terms that people with terrible judgment and cruel and unethical instincts who are motivated by hate and intolerance are not qualified to teach….because they aren’t. That professors increasingly have no ethics alarms beeping when the prepare to publish sentiments like Storey’s (or worse) shows how thoroughly the leftist echo chambers of most campus faculties turn academics into Pat Robertson, which is to say, rigid, mean, and dumb. Once upon a time, liberals giggled themselves silly over the evangelical huckster’s periodic pronouncement about how a disaster was God’s way of punishing the U.S. for not abusing gays sufficiently, or similar bile, Now they do the same thing, and expect their colleagues and students to applaud.

Today, in the Washington Post, Professor Volokh advocates a different position:

Storey’s comments were nasty and mean-spirited; and I should note that the University of Tampa is a private university, in a state that doesn’t limit private employers’ ability to fire employees for their speech. The university’s actions thus seem legal (assuming they didn’t breach any contract). And Storey’s comments also weren’t academic or likely to be part of a serious political debate.

But the university’s action strikes me as further undermining the freedom of expression and debate at American universities, including the freedom to say things that are much more thoughtful. If you were an untenured faculty member at the University of Tampa, would you feel free to express your views on controversial subjects, when you saw how the university reacted to this tweet? Even if your views were very different politically, what do you think the University would do if people started pressuring for your dismissal, pointing to the Storey incident as precedent?

I’ve talked before about “censorship envy,” one mechanism through which these sorts of speech restrictions can grow: “If my neighbor — and especially my political adversary — gets to ban speech he reviles,” the thinking goes, “why shouldn’t I get to do the same?”

If a university has a strong policy of protecting speech, including offensive speech, administrators can point to that policy as a means of resisting calls for firing a controversial faculty member, and they can appeal to people’s desire to see speakers on their own side protected, and use that desire to help protect speakers on all sides. But once the university starts firing some people for speech “that do[es] not reflect [the university’s] community views or values,” that makes it much harder to resist calls for more suppression. Indeed, at that point tolerating speech starts implicitly conveying the message that the speech does reflect the university’s community views or values — and to avoid that implication, the university would have to fire any speaker who offended some sufficiently influential constituency.

I am very confident that in this rare case, Prof. Volokh is dead wrong. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/30/17: A Vicious Professor, Pazuzu, And Kathy Griffin Revokes Her Apology

[ Just to remind you how good Debbie, Gene and Donald were. Note that these dancers skipped the staircase..]

GOOD Morning…

I’m changing the Warm-Up headlines to reflect the topics covered. I may even go back and revise the old headlines. It took a while, but I realized that having dozens of essentially identical post titles with only a date as the distinction made archive research harder than it had to be.

1.I would have headlined the story of now fired visiting University of Tampa professor Ken Storey “Vicious, bigoted and possessed by the Demon Pazuzu is no way to go through academia, son,” but so many professors have used social media to make outrageous and offensive statements that the ethics issue is getting repetitious. (I think Jonathan Turley has done a post on each one of them, and will continue to on his blog.)

The question is whether a college or university is breaching its commitment to free expression and academic freedom when it fires a professor who says that all men are rapists, or that whites should be exterminated, or, in Storey’s case,

When asked later if this theory also applied to Florida,  and Trump supporters there deserved a similar fate.the Florida college professor replied,

“Yep, those who voted for him here deserve it as well.”

The answer is no. The university or college that fires an employee like Storey is protecting its reputation as a responsible institution, by stating in clear terms that people with terrible judgment and cruel and unethical instincts who are motivated by hate and intolerance are not qualified to teach….because they aren’t. That professors increasingly have no ethics alarms beeping when the prepare to publish sentiments like Storey’s (or worse) shows how thoroughly the leftist echo chambers of most campus faculties turn academics into Pat Robertson, which is to say, rigid, mean, and dumb. Once upon a time, liberals giggled themselves silly over the evangelical huckster’s periodic pronouncement about how a disaster was God’s way of punishing the U.S. for not abusing gays sufficiently, or similar bile, Now they do the same thing, and expect their colleagues and students to applaud.

Ken compounded his ethical offense by the standards of Ethics Alarms by issuing a terrible apology that evoked the Pazuzu excuse. Realizing that he had gone too far, he tweeted,

“I deeply regret a statement I posted yesterday. I never meant to wish ill will upon any group. I hope all affected by Harvey recover quickly.”

Translation: “Oops. My hateful expression of glee over the tragedy afflicting Texans seems to have put my job in jeopardy. I regret that, so I have pulled down my tweet and am pretending to be sorry. I never meant to wish ill will upon any group, even though somehow my tweet wished ill on a group in the clearest terms, and I doubled down on it. Someone or something else must have been responsible. I hope all affected by Harvey recover quickly. (Saying that will let me keep my job, right?)”

This is a #10 apology on the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale, the worst there is:

An insincere and dishonest apology designed to allow the wrongdoer to escape accountability cheaply, and to deceive his or her victims into forgiveness and trust, so they are vulnerable to future wrongdoing.

Storey was fired.

Good.

2. Speaking of phony apologies, Kathy Griffin, she of the Bloody Head, went all the way to Australia to reveal that she really isn’t sorry about representing that the beheading of a U.S. President is hilarious: Continue reading

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From The “Stop Making Me Defend President Trump!” Files, The Unethical Tweet Of The Month By Chelsea Handler

Nice. The cult snarky feminist comic bluntly advocates a military coup. If there is a joke in there, someone show it to me.

These are your stars, progressives; your compatriots, your allies, your spokespersons and “truth-tellers.” They are willing to give up the democracy and the Constitution because they hitched their leftist hopes and fantasies to a corrupt, dishonest, venal woman and the anti-speech, anti-personal liberty, anti-sovereignty, anti-equal protection, anti-due process, anti-democracy party that rigged its process to inflict her on the American public.

You must be so proud.

What the hell’s the matter with you?

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Oh, Fine. Now I have To Defend Kathy Griffin…

Hahaha! Boy, this just fractures me every time…

From LawNewz:

Comedian and actress Kathy Griffin has reportedly been interviewed by the U.S. Secret Service for more than an hour. The investigation is connected to a recent photograph which showed her holding the bloody head of Donald Trump.

Griffin’s attorney contends that the actress was just exercising her constitutional rights.

“She basically exercised her First Amendment rights to tell a joke,” Dmitry Gorin, a criminal defense attorney representing Griffin said. “When you look at everything in the media, all the times entertainers make videos or express themselves in other ways, you’ve never seen an entertainer, let alone a comedian, be subject to a criminal investigation.”

Ugh.

Griffin’s attorney doesn’t have to “contend” that she was “exercising her constitutional right” of free speech, she was exercising that right—-irresponsibly, recklessly, unethically, stupidly, hatefully, but she was still exercising it. There is no question that her disgusting photo was inappropriate and pure hate posing as humor, but never mind: people choosing to be hateful and irresponsible in their public speech should expect consequences, but not from the feds. Of course it chills freedom of expression for Griffin to be subjected to this kind of secret police-style grilling. It is a matter of public record that she is a comedian. It is a matter of public record that she is a professional jerk. Thus it is a matter of public record that she is a no threat to the President….just to a civil culture and good taste. Continue reading

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I Suppose Ethics Alarms Has To Officially Designate “Bloody Headgate” As An Ethics Train Wreck, Since Now The VFW Has Boarded

The Veterans of Foreign Wars declared that Kathy Griffin’s photo of Trump’s severed head is unprotected under the First Amendment.

They are ignorant and have embarrassed themselves. The organization doesn’t even understand what its members have been allegedly fighting to protect and preserve.

VFW National Commander Brian Duffy issued a statement that “The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. strongly condemns comedian Kathy Griffin’s incredibly revolting attack on the President of the United States . . . . What she did was not humorous nor should it be protected speech or expression. Playing to an audience with a severed head is what our enemies do. The USO should end its relationship with her.”

Actually, playing to an audience with a severed head is what Shakespearean companies performing “MacBeth” have done on stages, professional, college and amateur, in the U.S. and elsewhere for hundreds of years, you ignoramus.

This is another reason why the Left’s claims that “hate speech” shouldn’t be protected are so dangerous to our society: too many citizens of all political persuasions don’t understand what free speech is, and are too ignorant to know how to counter this threat to democracy

Let’s see: Griffin, her lawyer, the President and his punching-down tweet; Rosie O’Donnell, who announced that she had no sympathy for 11-year-old Barron Trump seeing photos of someone apparently holding up his father’s head, the mainstream media hypocrites who told audiences that Griffin’s “eliminationist rhetoric” wasn’t news or worth discussing, though a far less threatening image dominated their conversations for weeks when they tried to tie Sarah Palin’s metaphorical cross-hairs on a political race map to the madman who shot Rep. Giffords…I was wondering which organization would be the first on the Right to claim that what Griffin did warranted criminal punishment. The VFW would have been a good bet.

But wait! There’s more!... and I should have seen this one coming too. Progressive favorite Alec Baldwin, a habitual boor and Ethics Dunce, weighed- in in support of Griffin and her severed Trump head as only he can, tweeting,

“Dear Kathy Griffin, Kathy….baby…I’ve been there. The whole Henry Hyde thing [with] Conan, where we bring out an oxygen mask at the end? a joke. That’s what I thought. That’s what we intended. No one walked out of the studio and said, “No! We’re serious!” No one. But all your gutless, weasels in the GOP insisted that I actually threatened Hyde. They played the victim beautifully. Kathy…fuck them. Fuck them all. No 1 believes u meant 2 threaten Trump.Trump is such a senile idiot, all he has is Twitter fights. ignore him. Like the leaders of all the other countries in the world. Ignore him.”

Honestly, I do not understand how anyone can laugh at Baldwin knowing the anger, bitterness and nastiness that ooze out of every pore; it’s like finding Bill Cosby or Woody Allen funny. Yet that this guy passes for a wit, political pundit and truthteller by Hollywood progressive standards.

Dear Alec…
Continue reading

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On Misandry, Keith Olbermann, “Mansplaining,” And The Bloody Head

Heads, we lose…

What a day. First I have to defend Bill Maher, and now I have to defend Keith Olbermann.

Ethics is hell.

Yesterday, the former winner of the Ethics Alarms “Asshole of the Year” tweeted to Kathy Griffin and her lawyer…

To @kathygriffin and @lisabloom: you could not be doing more to help Donald Trump if you were Putin. Please stop this selfish nonsense.

I love this tweet! For one thing, it confirms what I have been saying regarding the “resistance’s” supposedly principled objection to Griffin holding up a fake bloody head of the President of the United States. It isn’t because she “crossed the line,” or because, in their insatiable hate for the President, they didn’t enjoy the implications of the gruesome image. Democrats, progressives, “never Trump” conservatives and “the resistance” recognized that the backlash harms their mission, by making its supporters look exactly as vicious and ugly as so many of them are. Olbermann is a prime example, in fact, as this typical Trump-related tweet from the MSNBC jerk-in exile illustrates…

Classy guy, that Keith! Continue reading

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Bloody Head Update: The Kathy Griffin Press Conference

 

I just watched the Kathy Griffin press conference. The justification for the mdia event that Griffin is “fighting back” against “bullying” from President Trump and his family over her bloody head bit.

Ethics Observations:

1. Presidents shouldn’t “punch down” against civilians, even celebrities, even ridiculous celebrities like Griffin. It is  indeed a form of bullying. I have written about this before. It is an abuse of power and position no matter what the provocation. The public would have been more sympathetic to him and his family if he had just kept quiet. He can’t help himself, and he will not learn.

2. Anyone who doesn’t think Griffin was counting on, praying for, a twitter war to break out between her and POTUS over her visual attack on him (and the office, and the country) by holding up an effigy of his severed head really is too innocent and naiive to talk about this issue. Thus her protests—tearful protests!—over her stunt backfiring have to be seen for the sham that they are. She didn’t just ask for this, she was counting on it. What she didn’t foresee was having no defenders except Jim Carey and a few others.

Did you have any doubt that the photo would prompt a tweet from Trump? Did anyone? Continue reading

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