Many readers were able to guess the impetus for this post; indeed, several readers brought it to my attention yesterday.
Monday, as part of the embarrassing faux speculation by the Trump-Haters in the news media about whether networks were obligated to treat this President’s Oval Office address differently than similar addresses by all other Presidents, CNN host Don Lemon opined that perhaps President Trump’s immigration speech should be withheld, censored and edited before the stupid, gullible, vulnerable American people have their minds poisoned by its lies:
“Do you think it should be, I don’t know, a delay of some sort and then you can — because people will believe it,” the Orwellian CNN host said. “People — the president will say what he has to say. People will believe it whether the facts are true or not… I guess that’s a chance you take with any President. But this one is different, and then, by the time the rebuttals come on, we’ve already promoted propaganda — possibly — unless he gets up there and tells the truth.”
Observations: Continue reading
Before I discuss why CNN host Don Lemon has to be fired, and he does, I decided to check to see how many times Ethics Alarms had endorsed, recommended or demanded that a particularly unethical employee be fired. There are more than I thought. It’s a fascinating group, though:
- 18 journalists, almost half
- 9 political appointees
- 7 educators: teachers, professors, and administrators
- 3 performers/ celebrities
- 2 prosecutors
- and a mix of others.
Reviewing them, I don’t think any deserved to be fired any more than Don Lemon does after his statements this week.
Here’s the list: Continue reading
Keep smiling, Jeremy: you’re probably ruined, and may have done nothing wrong, but it’s all for the greater good…
Go to this link, and listen (the video won’t embed).
While reporting on the air Friday about an ice rink at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, WHEC (in Rochester, New York) meteorologist Jeremy Kappell fumbled King’s name and uttered something that sounds like “coon” in the course of trying to get it out. Viewers, convinced that he had uttered a racial slur on the air, demanded that Kappell be fired, and, astoundingly, the mayor of Rochester issued a demand of her own.
Mayor Lovely Warren, blatantly abusing her power and position, issued press release saying…
“It is wrong, hurtful and infuriating that WHEC Channel 10 broadcast a racial slur in reference to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during its Friday News broadcast. It is beyond unacceptable that this occurred. There must be real consequences for the news personality involved and also for the management team that failed to immediately apologize and address the slur.”
Piling on, the Rochester Association of Black Journalists issued a statement condemning the “clearly racist language” and asking for a “complete explanation” from WHEC.
Although Kappell tweeted Monday that he has “never uttered those words,” he was indeed fired.
Is that fair? Continue reading
Yes, she actually has both arms. She’s also photogenic: the Democrats should nominate her for Congress.
I christened the Hader Gotcha last year after several athletes were forced to apologize for youthful social media comments that suggested a bigoted or insensitive state of mind. The ethics Alarms position on people looking through old social media posts to embarrass public figures and force them to grovel apologies to which ever group their comments offended was summarized in this post in the moderate, calm manner for which I am justly praised:
As I have written here before, searching for lingering social media idiocy that an athlete authored before he could drink or vote is despicable conduct, as is anyone making an issue of what the deep Twitter dives expose. First, what a baseball player said or thought—they are often not the same thing—in the past has nothing to do with his job, which is playing baseball and not making social policy, and second, nothing anybody says or even does before their brain has matured should be held against them in adulthood, unless it is criminal, and even then the law urges us to be forgiving. I know that a lot of social justice warriors think that any racist, sexist or homophobic comments made post birth should be treated a crimes, but they are anti-democratic nuts, and hostile to free thought and speech, so to hell with them.
That post was largely ignored, because too many readers here still fail to grasp that ethics issues arising in baseball often, indeed usually, have broader wisdom to convey. Since I wrote it, the employment of the Hader Gotcha has been expanded outside the realm of sports, most notably the recent example of Kevin Hart, the popular comic who was attacked the very day he was designated as the host of the upcoming Oscars. Hart was forced to withdraw because a Hader Gotcah exposed old anti-gay tweets. This time, however, I agreed that the tweets mandated his withdrawal, writing, Continue reading
(Why am I up writing at this hour? All I will say is that its is unwise to frustrate a Jack Russell Terrier. That’s all.)
Peter Vlaming, a high school teacher in West Point Virginia, refused to use the pronouns demanded by 9th grade student who had announced that she was a female transitioning to male, was fired this week. The West Point School Board fired him after a four-hour hearing, and its position was that Vlaming was fired for insubordination.
Some news reports on the matter fail to note that there was no allegation that the West Point High School French teacher insisted on referring to the student using female pronouns in class. Apparently he used her name only. No, he apparently slipped when when the student was about to run into a wall, and Vlaming told others to stop “her.” When discussing the incident with administrators, Vlaming said he would not use male pronouns, because his Christian faith prevented him from doing so.
Principal Jonathan Hochman testified that he ordered Vlaming to use male pronouns in accordance with the student’s wishes. Vlaming’s attorney, Shawn Voyles, says his client offered to use the student’s name and to avoid feminine pronouns, but Voyles says the school was unwilling to accept the compromise.
“That discrimination then leads to creating a hostile learning environment. And the student had expressed that. The parent had expressed that,” said West Point schools Superintendent Laura Abel. “They felt disrespected.” Although the school’s policies were updated a year ago to include guidance regarding gender identity, gender pronoun use was not included. Vlaming’s attorney argues that the school cannot require his clients to speak words that violate his conscience. This is undeniably true. Vlaming says he is being fired for for having views held by “most of the world for most of human history. That is not tolerance,” Vlaming said. “That is coercion.”
He has not decided on his next steps.
Yikes. I do not see how speaking words that are not blasphemy can qualify as a breach of faith. I do not see how calling a student by name rather than pronoun can be called discrimination or create a “hostile environment.” I do see how a teacher calling an apparently female student by male pronouns could confuse other students, suggest that gender is more flexible than it is healthy to believe, and be something parents could legitimately object to. I think that the First Amendment pretty clearly prevents a government institution like a school from demanding that a teacher use specific pronouns simply because a student wants him to do so, when using the opposite pronouns are still arguably accurate and the teacher is willing to use the student’s name only.
I think that’s sufficient background to ask this perplexing Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz question of the day:
Was it ethical for the teacher to refuse to use the student’s preferred pronouns in referring to that student?
I usually hesitate to call for anyone to be fired, though there have been exceptions. In this case, however, the call is mandatory on ethical grounds. It is unethical for a school dedicated to the arts to hand oversight to an gross incompetent who doesn’t comprehend the arts she is supposedly responsible for teaching; it is unethical for someone to take on this responsibility who is wildly unqualified for the job; and it is unethical for that individual to act in a way that undermines the mission of the school she heads.
I have just fairly described Lisa Mars, currently the principal at the Fiorello LaGuardia High School, the high school “of music, arts the performing arts” made famous in the movie and TV show, “Fame.”
On opening night of a school production of “The Sound of Music,” she ordered all Nazi-themed props and set pieces struck. They are offensive, you see. Never mind that the show is set during Germany’s take-over of Austria as the Third Reich was expanding. Never mind that Nazi Germany and its officers are major elements in the plot, or that the plot is based on the real-life escape of the singing Von Trapp family from the Nazis. Never mind that theater is a representational art form. Stage deaths are not real killings, stage rape isn’t really rape, stage racism isn’t really racism, and stage representations of Nazi symbols do not promote fascism. Most grade-school actors can grasp this basic principle, but not the head of a school for the performing arts.
“This is a very liberal school, we’re all against Nazis,” one sophomore said. “But to take out the symbol is to try to erase history.” Yes, that too. “Obviously the symbols are offensive,” he added. “But in context, they are supposed to be.”
Make him principal. Continue reading