In Winchester, Massachusetts (right next to my old home town of Arlington!) flyers reading “Islam is RIGHT About Women” suddenly appeared around the town, fastened to trees, utility polls and street signs in the familiar manner of those “lost cat” notices.
An “alarmed” woman brought two flyers to the Winchester Police Department, and officers subsequently found eight more, including one that was posted outside of an elementary school. The flyer presented multiple dilemmas. Police said the signs were not threatening and considered free speech. But because they were placed on town property, the flyers technically violated town ordinances. Yet those lost cat flyers were always allowed to remain.
Some residents were adamant that the signs should come down: one who spoke to a local TV station, Jim Leary, said, “Putting signs up that make people feel uncomfortable is unfortunate, particularly in this time and age.”
Really? Sounds like you’re not too fond of free speech, Jim!
The police took the flyers down. Constitutional law professor Eugene Volokh wrote, citing Members of the City Council v. Taxpayers for Vincent (1984), that the content of the flyers’ message is constitutionally protected, but that the city could take down the ones that violated town law so long as it wasn’t discriminating based on the viewpoint of the signs. But of course it was, since the lost cat flyers were never taken down.
What’s going on here? The Professor played dumb, writing, Continue reading
1. Open Forum today! As soon as this post is up, I’ll open a forum for readers here to raise their own suggestions for ethics topics and to offer their commentary without me getting in the way. The last one was a spectacular success, attracting over a hundred comments, generating many fascinating threads, and producing three Comments of the Day so far. Just keep the topics on ethics, don’t get distracted by tangents and bickering, and keep it civil.
The immediate motivation for today’s forum is that I have to prepare for and deliver an annual end of year ethics CLE seminar at the D.C. bar. If you’re in the vicinity and need the credits, or just want a lively ethics workout, come on by and say hello. Here are the details:
Date: December 19, 2018
Event start time :1:30 PMEvent end time:4:45 PM
Venue:D.C. Bar: 901 4th ST NW, Washington, DC 20001-2776
Credit: 3.0 Ethics Credit Hours, including 3 hours of professionalism for those states with such requirement.
Description: Widespread discord in our current culture places unusual stress on professional ethics, and unfortunately, the legal profession is not immune. The past year saw many legal professionals, including famous names in the law, make questionable decisions and breach legal ethics standards, providing both cautionary tales and fodder for analysis. This challenging and interactive class will explore important developments and looming perils that every lawyer should be ready to face.
• Direct adversity vs. “general adversity,” and whether it matters
• Sexual harassment as a legal ethics problem, and the profession’s vulnerability to “The King’s Pass”
• Defying a client for the client’s own good
• Fees, referrals and gaming the rules for fun and profit
• Professional responsibility vs. legal ethics
• The increasing threat to law firm independence and integrity
• The technology ethics earthquake
Faculty: Jack Marshall, Pro Ethics Ltd.
Fee: $89 D.C. Bar Communities Members; $99 D.C. Bar Members; $109 Government Attorneys; $129 Others
2. Meanwhile, here are Facebook’s “standards”… As Ethics Alarms posts continue to be blocked on Facebook in various ways, including by “community standards” that for some reason reject the ethics of “Miracle on 34th Street,” the social media behemoth’s own standards are coming into focus: From CNBC: Continue reading
The journalism ethics site Poynter begins a story today , “Over the past couple of years, Twitter has done the bare minimum to fight fake news, avoiding the kind of negative press that has plagued Facebook in the process.”
Talk about a bad start. No social media platform is qualified to “fight fake news” except to allow participants to make their own cases regarding what is fake news and what isn’t. They can and do indulge in incompetent, biased and often partisan censorship, covering their tracks by employing “factcheckers” that themselves can’t be trusted not to indulge their biases and political agendas, of course. That’s what Facebook has been doing, and, proving that there is justice in the universe, suffering for it.
Twitter hasn’t been censoring what it calls fake news; it’s just been using double standards to ban conservatives for “hate speech” when parallel leftist rhetoric gets past the gate-keepers. Federalist writer Elizabeth Kantor, for example, was kicked off twitter for this tweet in tongue-in-cheek support for the new racist New York Times editor:
“@sarahjeong This whitey is cheering you on as you fight off the Twitter mob. Down with deplatforming! Plus, it’s clarifying abt. what kind of paper the NYT wants to be . . .”
Twitter told her had engaged in “hateful conduct” that violates Twitter’s terms of service: “Violating our rules against hateful conduct.You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin…”
Jeong, however, who had started the hashtag “#CancelWhitePeople” as well as many other anti-white, anti-male Twitter content, remains a valued Twitter user.
Twitter not only is partisan and biased, it also has no integrity. What upset Poynter is that Twitter didn’t join Apple, Facebook and others in their Sunday Night Purge of right-wing wacko Alex Jones. The fact that it banned Kantor for one innocuous political tweet and not her target for dozens of racist ones doesn’t seem to bother Poynter’s unethical ethicists, just that it hasn’t joined the effort to silence Jones online. Twitter, its says, is failing its duty to combat “misinformation.”
Here was the message from the Twitter CEO, communicated, naturally, in a series of tweets:
We didn’t suspend Alex Jones or Infowars yesterday. We know that’s hard for many but the reason is simple: he hasn’t violated our rules. We’ll enforce if he does. And we’ll continue to promote a healthy conversational environment by ensuring tweets aren’t artificially amplified. Truth is we’ve been terrible at explaining our decisions in the past. We’re fixing that. We’re going to hold Jones to the same standard we hold to every account, not taking one-off actions to make us feel good in the short term, and adding fuel to new conspiracy theories. If we succumb and simply react to outside pressure, rather than straightforward principles we enforce (and evolve) impartially regardless of political viewpoints, we become a service that’s constructed by our personal views that can swing in any direction. That’s not us.Accounts like Jones’ can often sensationalize issues and spread unsubstantiated rumors, so it’s critical journalists document, validate, and refute such information directly so people can form their own opinions. This is what serves the public conversation best.
In an earlier tweet from another Twitter account, Twitter stated,
“As we have stated publicly, we strongly believe Twitter should not be the arbiter of truth nor do we have scalable solutions to determine and action what’s true or false.”
Bingo. Continue reading
Following up on the previous post…
Prof. Glenn Reynold opined this morning that President Trump should read Sarah Jeong’s racist, anti-male, anti-police tweets at rallies (See Item #4 at the link.)
It certainly would be a powerful and nearly unrebbutable response to the current journalistic assault on the Trump Administration for impugning the news media. What do you call a journalistic establishment that willingly gives power and influence to a young Asian-American who tweets #CancelWhitePeople? Would #CancelJews? be similarly benign? Hiring and defending someone like Jeong certainly creates the rebuttable presumption that the news media is the enemy of at least some of the people, no?
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…
Is Reynolds right? Should Trump read Sarah Jeong’s Tweets at rallies?
Unlike most Ethics Alarms quizzes, where I ask a question because I am genuinely torn regarding the answer, in this case I made up my mind the second I read Reynold’s comment.
The professor is wrong. There is no way the President can read Jeong’s anti-white, anti-male tweets publicly (or refer to them on Twitter) and not appear to be deliberately stirring up racial hate and division. Indeed, doing so would increase racial hate and division. Even though this is the dangerous path Democrats are deliberately following, his job and ethical duty as President is to avoid just the kind of groups hate and distrust the Left is seeding as its repugnant strategy to regain power. I have no doubt that using Jeong to demonstrate how depraved his opponents are becoming would be politically advantageous, but the risks are too great.
If he wants to note here and there that the Times has hired an editor who is a racist, that is defensible….if he can leave it at that.
Are you already sick of the controversy over the New York Times hiring Sarah Jeong? Don’t be. The mainstream media and the now officially-derailed progressive establishment want you to move on, as in Move-On.Org’s definition, meaning …
… but there is a lot to see, and it is important to see it clearly.
…racist tweets? Of course they are. Denying that they are is Orwellian, but progressives have been tending to 1984 for quite a while now, and denying it all the while. Would any journalist tweeting the equivalent sentiments about any other race have a career left in anything but wreckage? No. Rosanne Barr, a comic, not a journalist, was fired, branded a pariah and non-person, and had her hit ABC show cancelled for a single racist tweet about one woman. These are but a sample of many tweets from Jeong about an entire race (and often an entire gender). Not only is her career not in tatters, it is advancing.
What this means is that the Left, including the mainstream news media that is represented by the New York Times, the traditional exemplar, the role model, the standard-setter, now unapologetically and openly endorses an unethical, dangerous and divisive double standard. Non-whites can engage in hateful, racist speech against whites, and women can use sexist, misandrous rhetoric against men, and that’s not only acceptable, but deserved. Continue reading