Andrea Dick And The “Fuck Biden” Ethics Train Wreck

fuck-biden-flag

I was just thinking of neighbors like Andrea Dick yesterday, after I walked my politically tolerant dog Spuds past the many obnoxious lawn signs that have proliferated in my little corner of Alexandria, Virginia. There is, of course, the large, hand painted wooden sign reading “Black Lives Matter” that is festooned with rainbow flags and a full size suit of armor for some reason. That’s been an eyesore for more than a year. Then there are the moronic “End Racism” virtue-signaling signs—“End Stupidity” would be equally effective—and that list of facile progressive nostrums, including “No human is illegal.” You know, this one:

love-is-love

Well aren’t you wonderful! There is also that oldie but goodie, “Dissent is Patriotic,” whatever that means. There are several versions of this one…

Our America

All of them are the equivalent of the homeowner standing on his or her front lawn and preaching through a megaphone, and in the cases of the homes that post signs like this one…

Welcome sign

…the implication is that all the other houses nearby are full of greedy, racist bigots. All the signs offend me. The entire practice of using one’s property to preach, proselytize or politic is offensive. Yes, it’s protected speech, and using speech like that is abusing the right.

Andrea Dick is an angry supporter of former President Donald J. Trump and detests President Biden, so she has banners and signs expressing these view on her New Jersey house and lawn, including “Don’t Blame Me/I Voted for Trump” and several banners and signs with the message in the graphic under the post’s title. These are also ugly and offensive, but no more so than the virtue-signaling blather I have to see every day.

But her neighbors complained, so local officials first asked her to take down several of the banners that they said violated an anti-obscenity ordinance. She refused, and now she is resisting a judge’s order that she do so or face $250 fines every day the “Fuck Biden” banners and signs remain. Andrea Dick is pledging to fight it in court on free speech grounds.

“It’s my First Amendment right,” she said in an interview on Monday, “and I’m going to stick with that.”

Ethics Verdicts:

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Why Is Banning The Teaching Of Critical Race Theory In Schools Ethically Justifiable When Banning The Teaching Of Evolution Is Not?

Critical Race ban

On this, the 96th anniversary of the beginning of the Scopes Trial in 1925, let’s consider attorney Clarence Darrow’s opening statement. Here is the crux of it:

“…Along comes somebody who says ‘we have got to believe it as I believe it. It is a crime to know more than I know.’ And they publish a law to inhibit learning. This law says that it shall be a criminal offense to teach in the public schools any account of the origin of man that is in conflict with the divine account in the Bible. It makes the Bible the yardstick to measure every man’s intellect, to measure every man’s intelligence and to measure every man’s learning. Are your mathematics good? Turn to Elijah 1:2. Is your philosophy good? See II Samuel 3. Is your astronomy good? See Genesis 2:7. Is your chemistry good? See – well, chemistry, see Deuteronomy 3:6, or anything that tells about brimstone. Every bit of knowledge that the mind has must be submitted to a religious test. It is a travesty upon language, it is a travesty upon justice, it is a travesty upon the constitution to say that any citizen of Tennessee can be deprived of his rights by a legislative body in the face of the constitution.

Of course, I used to hear when I was a boy you could lead a horse to water, but you could not make him drink water. I could lead a man to water, but I could not make him drink, either. And you can close your eyes and you won’t see, cannot see, refuse to open your eyes – stick your fingers in your ears and you cannot hear – if you want to. But your life and my life and the life of every American citizen depends after all upon the tolerance and forbearance of his fellow man. If men are not tolerant, if men cannot respect each other’s opinions, if men cannot live and let live, then no man’s life is safe, no man’s life is safe.

Here is a country made up of Englishmen, Irishmen, Scotch, German, Europeans, Asiatics, Africans, men of every sort and men of every creed and men of every scientific belief. Who is going to begin this sorting out and say, “I shall measure you; I know you are a fool, or worse; I know and I have read a creed telling what I know and I will make people go to Heaven even if they don’t want to go with me. I will make them do it.” Where is the man that is wise enough to do this?

If today you can take a thing like evolution and make it a crime to teach it in the public school, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private school, and the next year you can make it a crime to teach it from the hustings or in the church. At the next session you may ban books and the newspapers. Soon you may set Catholic against Protestant and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the minds of men. If you can do one you can do the other. Ignorance and fanaticism are ever busy and need feeding. Always they are feeding and gloating for more. Today it is the public school teachers, tomorrow the private. The next day the preachers and the lecturers, the magazines, the books, the newspapers. After a while, Your Honor, it is the setting of man against man and creed against creed until, with flying banners and beating drums, we are marching backward to the glorious ages of the sixteenth century when bigots lighted torches to burn the men who dared to bring any intelligence and enlightenment and culture to the human mind.

As mentioned in the post earlier today, the issue of whether a state could ban the teaching of evolution was never settled in Scopes, but many years later in the Supreme Court case of Epperson v. Arkansas (1968), which struck down a state law that criminalized the teaching of evolution in public schools. Epperson, however, was narrowly decided on the basis that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits a state from requiring, in the words of the majority opinion, “that teaching and learning must be tailored to the principles or prohibitions of any religious sect or dogma.” It was not based on freedom of speech, or as Darrow termed it, “freedom of thought.” The Theory of Evolution and “Critical Race Theory” are both theories, though one is based in scientific research and the other is a product of scholarly analysis. Though the latter seems to carry the heft of religious faith in some quarters, freedom of religion is not the issue where banning critical race theory is involved. Nor, realistically speaking, is freedom of speech as Darrow describes it.

School districts, which are agents of the government, have a recognized right to oversee the content of what is taught in the public schools, within reason, and when the purpose is defensible. Teachers are not free to teach whatever they choose, though their controversial choices cannot be made criminal, just grounds for dismissal. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals made this clear in Evans-Marshall v. Bd of Ed of Tipp City Exempted Village Sch Dist. (6th Cir. 2010), a case involving a high school English teacher who was fired for using classroom assignments and materials without following the appropriate steps for approval. The court stated, “Even to the extent academic freedom, as a constitutional rule, could somehow apply to primary and secondary schools, that does not insulate a teacher’s curricular and pedagogical choices from the school board’s oversight.”

School districts still can’t define a curriculum so narrowly that it violates students’ constitutional rights. In Board of Island Trees v. Pico (U.S. 1982), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the school district could not remove books from the school library without a legitimate pedagogical reason, because doing so violated students’ free speech rights of access to information.  Districts and schools are also limited to what they can require children to study, though most cases in this realm again involve religion. However, once school districts and schools have defined a legally permissible curriculum, courts will give them broad discretion to implement it even over community and parental objections. For example:

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Down The Slippery Slope To Lawyer Censorship: First Giuliani, And Now This

silence

Rudy Giuliani, as discussed here, was just suspended from the practice of law on the basis of out of courts statements that the New York bar disagrees with, while representing a client they hate (Donald Trump), using a standard that has never been applied to a lawyer before.

Yet what was just done to South Carolina lawyer David Paul Traywick by the state Supreme Court was even worse, and more ominous. The Court ordered his suspension from the practice of law based on social media posts that were pure opinion, and that had no connection to the practice of law at all. Traywick lost his license for six months. He will also have to complete at least one hour of diversity education, undergo an anger management assessment, submit to an evaluation through the South Carolina Bar program Lawyers Helping Lawyers, and comply for one year with any treatment recommended by “re-education” authorities.

The Court felt justified punishing him after the South Carolina Office of Disciplinary Counsel received complaints from 46 people about Traywick’s Facebook posts. The posts were accessible to the public, and his profile identified himself as a lawyer while mentioning his law firm his law firm.

The Court found twelve posts by Traywick “troubling.”I will interject here that an individual’s statement on social media are none of a court’s business, indeed none of its damn business, unless they are libelous or criminal, or evidence in a case before it. None of the posts fit into those categories. Two of the posts nonetheless triggered the suspension:

  • On April 5, 2020, Traywick posted what the Court calls “an offensive comment regarding tattoos,” apparently so offensive the the opinion won’t even enlighten us to what it was. After whatever it was he was saying about tattoos, which could have only been an opinion, he  challenged his readers, “Prove me wrong. Pro tip: you can’t.” In a subsequent post in response to a comment, he wrote, “The general statement has exceptions, such as for bikers, sailors, convicts or infantry. But these college educated, liberal suburbanites. No, the rule was written for these boring mother fuckers. And they are everywhere. Fuck em. Especially these females, Jesus Christ!”
  • On June 3, 2020, at the peak of the George Floyd Freakout, they lawyer posted, also on Facebook,  “Here’s how much that shitstain’s life actually mattered: Stock futures up. Markets moved higher Monday and Tuesday. Fuck you. Unfriend me.

By no stretch of the imagination or the Rules of Professional Conduct do those statements justify suspending a lawyer’s right to practice law. It is protected speech under the First Amendment. It does not involve the practice of law. The comments are profane, but profanity is not grounds for discipline out of a legal context. They are vulgar, but the same hold with those. They may offend readers, but nobody is forcing readers to follow this jerk. The lawyer appears, based on his comments, to be an asshole, but being an asshole is not a disqualification for practicing law. It is often an asset, some might say. He may have been lying, but not in any way that could be linked to his trustworthiness as a lawyer, and lies are also protected speech unless they constitute fraud or perjury.

Yet the Court wrote,

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One More Time: Conservative Personal Liberty Faces Off Against Enforced Progressive Cant

Shawnee

This time, personal liberty won.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Shawnee State professor Nicholas Meriwether, who had been reprimanded and disciplined because he “refused to refer to students by their ‘preferred pronouns. ‘” The small Ohio state school had issued a 2016 order that that any professor who “refused to use a pronoun that reflects a student’s self-asserted gender identity” would face discipline. When Meriwether asked if his own beliefs affected what he could call students, the official response was that he must call students what they demanded “regardless of” his own “convictions or views on the subject.” The student in question was male in appearance but identified as female. Meriwether maintained that his Christian faith forbade him from referring to a male in female terms; the student, according to Meriwether, threatened him if he refused to comply with the pronoun edict.  The court over-ruled a lower federal district court and held that university officials had violated the professor’s First Amendment rights to free speech and to the free exercise of his religion, thus attempting to“wield alarming power to compel ideological conformity.”

Normally, as in the Christian baker scenarios, I would take the position that, law aside—ethics, you know!—, this is an “asshole meets asshole” situation. How hard is it for either party to just yield a bit, respect the other’s sensitivities, extreme or not, and be accommodating? It is a Golden Rule opportunity. This time, however, it seems clear that the professor was willing to be reasonable, and the woke, non-binery, transitioning or whatever he or she was student was determined to go to extreme lengths to bend the professor to “her” will.

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Today’s Evidence That We Put People In Power Who Don’t Understand The Bill Of Rights: Kentucky State Senate Bill SB 211

jackheadexplosion

Incidentally,

KABOOM!

The Bill, if it became law, would make it a crime to insult a police officer if the words or gestures provoked a violent response. It would be class B misdemeanor, punishable up to 90 days in prison, when someone “accosts, insults, taunts, or challenges a law enforcement officer with offensive or derisive words, or by gestures or other physical contact, that would have a direct tendency to provoke a violent response from the perspective of a reasonable and prudent person.”

This potential law (actually, it isn’t even potential because the thing would be unconstitutional and a First Amendment breach the second it was passed and signed) is one of the most embarrassing pieces of legislative garbage I have seen in a very long time. It essentially says that if a citizen is so darn mean to a police officer by saying nasty things or making scary faces, and the officer is so unprofessional, incompetent and badly trained that he or she commits violent battery, the victim of the cop’s attack can be locked up! Brilliant!

Let’s look at the relevant section of the Bill of Rights, shall we? You know, that old document they apparently don’t teach in Kentucky schools and that applies to the States through the 14th Amendment? The one progressives don’t like?

Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech…

This isn’t hard, or shouldn’t be, even for Kentuckians. (My father grew up in Kentucky.) When a law says “you can be imprisoned for saying things that a police officer finds offensive” that’s abridging free speech. What ignoramus composed this monstrosity?

He is State Senator Danny Carroll, (R-Benton), who says the bill is in response to the riots in Louisville last summer (There is another Breonna Taylor demonstration going on in Louisville right now) and on Capitol Hill in D.C.

Oh. What?

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Creeping Totalitarianism Alert! As Expected, The Democratic Party Moves To Censor Speech And Suppress Dissent

Committee anouncement

“In their zeal for control over online speech, House Democrats are getting closer and closer to the constitutional line, if they have not already crossed it,” writes Glenn Greenwald at substack. But the point is, they want to cross it, and have been signalling that they want to cross it for a long time. This is not a conspiracy theory. This is real.

On March 25, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will interrogate Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Facebooks’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai at a hearing which the Committee announced will focus “on misinformation and disinformation plaguing online platforms.” “Misinformation and disinformation” is defined by Democrats as any opinions, theories or analysis that they find inconvenient. Such statements as “President Trump colluded with the Russians,” “President Trump incited a deadly insurrection” or “Hunter Biden has done nothing wrong” are not “misinformation and disinformation.” Clear?

Writes Greenwald,

“House Democrats have made no secret of their ultimate goal with this hearing: to exert control over the content on these online platforms. “Industry self-regulation has failed,” they said, and therefore “we must begin the work of changing incentives driving social media companies to allow and even promote misinformation and disinformation.” In other words, they intend to use state power to influence and coerce these companies to change which content they do and do not allow to be published.”

This is a direct attack on democracy, and the certainly that the Democratic Party was poised to use this strategy once they were in power was the reason, as I stated in November, that I concluded that the only responsible choice was to vote to re-elect Donald Trump, who is as attractive to an ethicist as head cheese is to a vegan. Those who allowed emotion, bias and propaganda to convince them otherwise were irresponsible and incompetent, and have enabled an existential crisis.

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Comment Of The Day: “Oppressing The Twitter Troll”

censorship cartoon

This is Glenn Logan’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Oppressing The Twitter Troll”:

I always like to look at the law, and at the charges, to see if they are particularized and actually allege a violation.It seems to me the particular law at issue is 18 U.S. Code § 241 – Conspiracy against rights. The relevant text would seem to be paragraph 1:

If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; orIf two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured—

What the government is alleging here, apparently, is essentially a conspiracy to cyber-bully. Attempting to convince others to vote a certain way or not to vote at all is called “electioneering” and is not only legal in the United States, but protected speech under the First Amendment, as well as widely practiced by all political parties 24-7-365, legally and peacefully. The law criminalizing conspiracies to deprive persons of rights was passed during the civil rights era and was plainly directed at the Klu Klux Klan and similar organizations.

As we all know, those groups would intimidate voters of all races, but primarily black people and their sympathizers, by burning crosses, lynchings, threats, and other violent actions to suppress or affect voting against the groups’ interests. Most of their methods were illegal under state and federal law to begin with, but the law in this case provided an additional tool to attack those who plannedlawless actions against the rights of others as well as those who carried them out. It is a bit like the Civil RICO laws, which were primarily aimed at those who directed corrupt mob actions but almost never participated in overt criminal activity.

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Oppressing The Twitter Troll

Twitter troll meme

Federal prosecutors accused Douglass Mackey, 31, described in news reports as a “Twitter Troll,”of coordinating with co-conspirators to spread misinformation on Twitter in 2016 that Hillary Clinton’s supporters could vote by sending a text message to a specific phone number.

Mackey was arrested a week ago in the first criminal case in the country alleging voter suppression through the use of false tweets.

Seth DuCharme, the acting United States attorney in Brooklyn, whose office is prosecuting the case, said, “With Mackey’s arrest, we serve notice that those who would subvert the democratic process in this manner cannot rely on the cloak of internet anonymity to evade responsibility for their crimes.” The alleged crime is a conspiracy to “oppress” or “intimidate” anyone from exercising a constitutional right, such as voting. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Prosecutors allege that 4,900 really gullible and lazy Hillary Clinton supporters were fooled by Mackey’s scheme into trying to vote for her using a phone number publicized on social media. Mackey and his co-conspirators joked online about about tricking “dopey” liberals.

There is no question that what Mackey et al. did was unethical, dishonest, unfair and sinister. However, I find it hard to understand how he can be prosecuted while the deceptions of others whose efforts to mislead voters and either dissuade them from voting or get them to vote for a candidate they otherwise would not have were far more widespread and had far more impact on election results. My guess is that this charge is harassment, and harassment based on partisan intimidation.

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Ethics Footnotes, 1/17/21:Well, I’M Reading, Anyway…

Boy, only diehards are on Ethics Alarms today, yesterday too. I don’t get it; it’s a long weekend, but so what? It’s not like everyone is traveling on long weekends while American are still trembling in terror over the Wuhan virus. Must ethics take a holiday? Apparently so...

1. How can anyone have sympathy for New Yorkers? The city is falling apart. Crime is up, the wealthy are fleeing, corporations are fleeing, the mayor has eliminated admission tests for much of the public school system and stated that his goal is to redistribute wealth, Times Square has returned to pre-Rudy squalor, and tourism was falling like a rock even before the pandemic. They voted for a confessed socialist as mayor (and for his communist, conflict-of-interest flaunting wife)—perhaps acceptable as a novelty—then re-elected him after a disastrous first term. Now, six months ahead of this year’s Democratic mayoral primary that will decide who the next mayor will be because the city’s minorities wouldn’t vote for a Republican if he was running against Nero, the natives are getting restless. Polls show that New Yorkers regard de Blasio’s pet issues of combating climate change and pollution on the bottom of their priority list, but only 56% of respondents said they hold a “very or somewhat unfavorable” view of the guy that was the architect of the city’s collapse. Why isn’t it more like 90%? I suppose for the same reason they elected him twice. In democracy, you get what you deserve. Civic literacy is the individual’s ethical responsibility, nobody else’s.

2. Now THIS is an incompetent elected official…Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) actually said in a video posted last week—I wouldn’t kid you!-–“This idea that saying that Pennsylvania was ‘rigged’ or that we were ‘trying to steal the election,’ that’s a lie. And you do not have the right, that is not protected speech.” Fetterman goes on to say that Twitter should have immediately removed any tweet from President Donald Trump that questioned the integrity of the election, and, in the immortal mark of someone who doesn’t know the First Amendment from a Yorkshire Terrier, compared Trump’s claims to “yelling fire in a crowded theater when there is none.”

This idiot is reportedly considering a run for the U.S. Senate in 2022.

To be fair, Fetterman’s view of the free speech,which is to say “there is none unless progressives approve,” appears to be on the way to becoming the predominant one in the Democratic Party.

Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos…

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From The “Scared Yet” Files: The Rest Of The Story On The Persecution Of Professor Charles Negy

Nagy Tweet

As Ethics Alarms noted back in August (which seems like years ago), the University of Central Florida set out to destroy Professor Negy, who was tenured and has taught at the university for decades by inviting students to bring formal complaints against him “based on abusive or discriminatory behavior by any faculty or staff.” Students were already demanding his dismissal because he dared to post the accurate tweet above, but the institution knew it couldn’t fire him for that.

Negy’s lawyer,Samantha K. Harris, described the process:

Since June 4th, a litany (we don’t know the exact number, because they won’t say) of complaints has been lodged against Negy for his classroom pedagogy, for speech that allegedly occurred over a 15-year period from 2005 to 2020. The university charged Negy with discriminatory harassment on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, sex, gender identity/expression, and disability…while providing him with only a handful of “examples” of his alleged wrongdoing. … the university subjected Negy to an “investigative interview” that was one of the most Kafkaesque things I have seen in my 15 years advising students and faculty about campus disciplinary matters. For four straight hours, UCF’s investigator grilled Negy about accusations stemming directly from his classroom pedagogy, having made no effort to weed out the countless accusations that were obviously just critiques of his choice of teaching material….When Negy, physically and emotionally exhausted after four hours of interrogation, asked if the interview was almost over, we learned that the investigator had not even gotten halfway through her list of accusations. Another five-hour inquisition was scheduled for the following week.

This investigation was obviously undertaken in retaliation for Negy’s protected tweets… How many professors are going to be willing to speak out if the result is a nine-hour inquisition followed by an almost inevitable punishment?…Cases like this are canaries in the coal mine: if a public university—a government agency—can treat someone this way for deviating from the university’s orthodoxy, and face no accountability for doing so, then what (and who) is next? The answer, of course, is you and me. We are next. If decent people do not take a stand against these abuses, it’s not a matter of if the state-endorsed mob will come for us—it’s only a matter of when.

When, as we now can see, has arrived.

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