On The Freedom Of Speech Front…

Strangely, many of the same people who are claiming that democracy is hanging by a thread or two are also trying to fray a rather obvious thread, the right to free expression and free speech. Since that First Amendment thingy is a bear, they have to find ways around it that will stifle ideas, opinions and arguments that interfere with the “greater good”.”” (as they see it, natch). Or pretend the First Amendment “isn’t what it is” (#64).

Recent developments:

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More Evidence That The Public Is In Need Of Basic Education Regarding The Constitution And The Bill Of Rights…

The online petition can demand until it is blue in the face, if petitions could be blue in the face, or had a face, for that matter.

The comments of the citizen in the video clip are 100% First Amendment protected speech. There is no valid argument to the contrary. Signatories of such a petition have announced that a) they don’t believe in free speech; b) they want the government to censor individual opinions they disagree with and c) they are unfit to participate or benefit from a democratic republic, preferring a totalitarian government provided its agendas aligns with those of the petition-signers.

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Nah, Democrats In Congress Aren’t Trying To Circumvent the First Amendment By Pressuring Private Entities To Censor Political Speech They Don’t Like…What Would Ever Give You That Idea?

This week, three Democratic members of the House, Adam Schiff, André Carson, Kathy Castor, and Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, sent a letter on Congressional stationery to Meta’s President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg, urging, pushing and pressuring his company (Meta is the re-branded Facebook parent) to continue to block former President Donald Trump from communicating his opinions, positions and thoughts. The entire letter’s text is below.

It is a smoking gun. Sure, the letter isn’t exactly official, and yes, the four Democrats do not say they speak for Congress as a whole, and yes, it isn’t technically a First Amendment violation, because there is no law involved, and the signers of the letter have no immediate power to make Meta do anything. The letter however, carries an intrinsic veiled threat, and its message is clear: “We can’t censor Trump, so we want you do do it for us.” That is a disgusting violation of the spirit and intent of the First Amendment, making it shockingly clear once again how little respect this corrupted party has for basic individual rights, and how far it is tilting in the direction of totalitarianism. I’m anticipating the sound of a large BOOM emanating from downtown D.C. when Professor Turley reads the letter; presumably he will find it as disturbing as I do. Imagine a similar letter to a major network urging it not to cover the speeches of a prominent critic of Democratic policies, and to ban him from being interviewed as well. I see no substantive difference.

(Just to be clear: “election denial” is protected speech, and Democrats have engaged in it frequently and freely for 20 years.)

The letter follows…It is addressed to Nicholas Clegg President, Global Affairs Meta,1 Hacker WayMenlo Park, California, and begins, ” To Mr. Clegg”:

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Someone Explain The Kobe Bryant Photos Case To Me, Because I Don’t Understand It At All

It appears to be a triumph of “ick” over both law and ethics.

Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, was awarded $16 million as her part of a $31 million jury verdict Wednesday against Los Angeles County. Deputies and firefighters had shared gruesome photos of the NBA star; their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna; and other victims killed in a 2020 helicopter crash; the family of those other victims received the rest of $31 million. The nine jurors unanimously agreed with Vanessa Bryant and her attorneys’ argument that the photos invaded her privacy and caused emotional distress.

I’m sure they caused emotional distress. But how can an event that occurs in public be declared sufficiently private to have the protection of the right to privacy? If a journalist had taken the photos and published them, or shared them on a news website, presumably there would be no way Bryant’s widow would have a cause of action. I don’t see how a bystander with a cell phone could be blocked or sued either. These pictures were shared mostly among employees of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s and fire departments.They also were seen by some of their spouses and in one case by a bartender at a bar where a deputy was drinking. Well not to be unsympathetic, but so what? How does the right to privacy make reality a personal property protected by the law? If the bloody crash occurred where a crowd of a hundred people could see it, how would the law black them from taking photos and showing them to friends?

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/22/2022: Let’s Hit The Ground Running!

1. It’s a joke!!! That tweet is just the tip of the moronic iceberg for Republican Senate candidate in Missouri Eric Greitens. In a new fundraising video for his U.S. Senate campaign released this week, Greitens, a former Missouri governor who resigned before he could be impeached on multiple grounds including sexual assault, holds a pump-action shotgun and introduces himself as a Navy SEAL. (He is not a Seal: he resigned shortly before announcing his Senate run this year.) The video then shows him with a group of men in tactical gear hunting “RINOs”—Republicans who are not conservative enough for his tastes. He says, “Join the MAGA crew! Get a RINO hunting permit. There’s no bagging limit, no tagging limit, and it doesn’t expire until we save our country!”

And Sarah Palin was once accused of inciting murder by having little gun-sights on a campaign map!

Predictably, the irresponsible ad is being used by the mainstream news media and Democrats to characterize all conservatives and Republicans while hyping more anti-gun hysteria. Here’s CNN:

Some of history’s leading fascist movements used the strategy of armed volunteer militias intimidating, threatening and attacking political opponents. And the implications of Greitens’ ad are stunning: Line up behind the most extreme right-wing policies — and implicitly behind former President Donald Trump — or be hunted down by armed, jackbooted thugs.

Right. The implications of Greitens’ ad are that he’s a liar and an asshole, and that he is only slightly more fit to serve in the Senate than Herschel Walker, who defines the bottom of the bottom of the barrel… but presumably Missouri voters know that already. The ad and Greitens himself are metaphorical albatrosses around the GOP’s neck, but the party hung them there. He has been endorsed by several GOP luminaries, though so far, not by Trump.

2. Poll check: President Biden’s latest Civiqs approval rating hit 32%, with 56% disapproving of Joe. Again I ask: Who are those 32% that approve of Biden? What is it they approve of? What democracy can function if fully a third of the electorate have the IQs of flatworms and are happy to see the country rot?

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School For Snowflakes: Time To Raze The University Of Central Florida And Sow The Campus With Salt

The problem, unfortunately, is that in this case the relatively unimportant institution may be another indicator of the totalitarian drift of American higher education as a whole.

Three University of Central Florida students asked a court to declare the school’s  discriminatory-harassment policy unconstitutional. All three wanted to express views against abortion, affirmative action and illegal immigration, as well as their opinions on  LGBTQ issues, but said that they dared not to do so  because of the university’s oppressive speech and conduct rules. After the lower court refused to consider the case on procedural grounds, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the speech restrictions.

A junior high school student relatively familiar with the First Amendment could have figured this out. What is terrifying is that such a censorious, viewpoint-restricting piece of anti-democratic poison could have been concocted and enforced on any American campus. The University of Central Florida’s “discriminatory harassment” policy states, Continue reading

Ethics Observations On “The After-School Satan Club”

It’s difficult to know how to begin…

Let’s start with the unfortunate fact that this is not a hoax, a joke, or a parody. The Jane Addams elementary school in the Moline-Coal Valley School District—that’s Illinois—has approved an after-school club called “The Satan Club.” Here is the flyer requesting parental permission:

Note that it is sponsored by The Satanic Temple, which released this reassuring statement:

After School Satan Club does not attempt to convert children to any religious ideology. Instead, The Satanic Temple supports children to think for themselves. All After School Satan Clubs are based upon a uniform syllabus that emphasizes a scientific, rationalist, non-superstitious worldview.

There, that should put everyone’s mind at ease!

Now here is the school district’s statement:

The Moline-Coal Valley School District understands that there is concern and confusion over an upcoming after-school club at Jane Addams elementary.

The District would like to provide information on the situation. The Moline-Coal Valley School District and Board of Education have policies and administrative procedures in place which allow for community use of its publicly funded facilities outside the school day.

The district does not discriminate against any groups who wish to rent our facilities, including religious-affiliated groups. Religiously affiliated groups are among those allowed to rent our facilities for a fee.

The district has, in the past, approved these types of groups, one example being the Good News Club, which is an after-school child evangelism fellowship group. Flyers and promotional materials for these types of groups are approved for lobby posting or display only, and not for mass distribution.

Students or parents are then able to pick up the flyer from the lobby, if they so choose, which is aligned to District policy. Please note that the district must provide equal access to all groups and that students need parental permission to attend any after-school event. Our focus remains on student safety and student achievement.

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The Rest Of The Story: “The Baby On The Album Cover: Dumb Lawsuit, Valid Ethics Point”

Last August, I wrote about Spencer Eldon’s “Hail Mary” lawsuit against the surviving members of the band Nirvana over their use of his baby photo (which his parents received compensation for) in an iconic album cover above for “Nevermind.” The verdict here was that the lawsuit was doomed, he was greedy, and the law supported the band. However, I also wrote,

...Nonetheless, parents who use their children for public display are engaging in unethical conduct. Yes, they have the legal right to do it, and no, there is virtually no chance that any law will be passed banning what I consider to be child exploitation and low-level, but still unethical, child abuse. My wife and I have been watching the long-running British TV series “Call the Midwife,” and every episode requires one or more infants who are forced, without their consent, to endure the stressful experiences of playing newborns or sick baby’s under lights, in the arms of strangers, often covered with fake blood.

Elden might be insincere and the lawsuit is probably hopeless, but he’s not wrong in one respect. “[When] I go to a baseball game and think about it: ‘Man, everybody at this baseball game has probably seen my little baby penis,’” he said in one interview. “I feel like I got part of my human rights revoked.” Not rights, never rights: parents will always have the right to inflict indignities, publicity and stress on their minor offspring for fame and fortune. From the Coppertone girl to Linda Blair to “Mikey” and the kid in “The Shining,” they have all been unethically exploited by their parents, just like Spenser Eldon, without informed consent.

It’s legal, but it isn’t ethical.

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A Court of Appeals Confirms: The First Amendment Protects Hate Speech And Expressive Acts By Irredeemable Jerks

1. Good!

2. Why don’t they train police to understand that so cases like this aren’t necessary?

Artemas Buford Johnson was arrested when he drove past a Seattle Police Department officer, shouted “Fuck the police!” and then made a shooting gesture using his fingers.  In its decision in State v. Buford-Johnson, yesterday, a unanimous ruling by the Washington Court of Appeals with Judge Lori Smith joined by Judge Bill Bowman and Acting Chief Judge Beth Andrus held that the arrest was unconstitutional.

Of course it was. The opinion stated in part, Continue reading