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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Weekend Ethics Update, 10/4/2020

Weekend Update

1. I’m not going to dignify all of the online cheering of President Trump’s positive test for the Wuhan virus with quotes from celebrities and social media creatures, though I have them. There have been similar reactions to the fact that Kellyanne Conway recently tested positive as well. A reputable poll—assuming that any are reputable polls—found that 40% of Democrats surveyed were “happy” the President was sick. I have never been happy that anyone was sick in all my years on this planet. This is a mean, vicious, ethically warped group of people that are behind Joe Biden in this election, and one more factor pushing me to a tipping point. (No, I’m not there yet.) But I really do wonder how decent people can make common cause with hateful individuals like this.

For what it’s worth, my perspective is that if the President plays this right, the bout with the virus will help him in November.

I agreed with his decision to largely eschew masks in public appearances, just as FDR kept his wheelchair mostly hidden from public  view and like George Washington riding into battle in full uniform, gleaming white wig, ring a tall white charger. That’s part of leadership: looking strong while also being strong. The President got sick while doing his job. Joe Biden has been hiding in the basement, taking half-days and yesterday gave a speech while wearing a mask. He looks weak, and is weak. There has never been anything especially leader-like about Biden, and most of his support is based on blind, irrational hatred of his opponent fanned into dangerous intensity by the news media and the Angry Left. I think Donald Trump may have been the only President elected more out of dislike of the opposition than genuine support of the winning candidate, and I’m not even certain of that. The candidate perceived as the strongest leader almost always wins.

2. Nah, the First Amendment isn’t in any danger from progressives! Don’t be silly! In June, the president of Miami University appointed a task force of faculty, students and staff to develop recommendations on improving the school’s “diversity, equity and inclusion.” Tellingly, no lawyers or civil libertarians make the membership list.

Now the task force has produced its recommendations, and a more confounding mass of Authentic Frontier Gibberish it would be hard to find. ( “As an Ohio public university, Miami may serve the greater community by expanding IGD pedagogy and praxis to alums and the business community”… “Create internal and external diversity marketing plans to promote literacy around intergroup dialogue and allyship across diverse social identities with sensitivity to Miami’s status as a predominantly white institution…”)  Naturally, re-education and indoctrination are among the 43 recommendations: “Make IGD mandatory for all undergraduate students, beginning with first year students, by requiring incoming first-year students to take a 1-credit IGD course (equivalent to the CAWC’s Intro to Voices program) following UNV 101 (or similar discipline-designated courses; e.g., CHM 147). Thereafter, provide other academic and co-curricular IGD opportunities for further development.” Then there’s this:

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It Shouldn’t Require A “Theocracy” to Decide THIS Lawsuit Correctly

The Capitol Hill Baptist Church in the District of Columbia, is suing Mayor Muriel Bowser and the District government for violating its First Amendment right to worship.

Good.

“CHBC desires to gather for a physical, corporate gathering of believers in the District of Columbia on Sunday, September 27, 2020, and on subsequent Sundays, and would do so but for those actions of the Defendants that are the subject of this Complaint,” the lawsuit charges. It seems pretty clear that Bowser is applying one set of rules against religious institutions and another set of piorities entirely when it comes to activities she cares about. In March, Bowser (Is she the most unethical big city mayor in the U.S.? She’s certainly in the running, but it’s a tough field) issued an executive order prohibiting churches from meeting indoors or out because of public health concerns related to the pandemic. D.C.’s  four-stage plan would bar in-person worship gatherings until there is an “effective cure or vaccine” for the Wuhan virus, a rule that can be counted on to wound, perhaps mortally, church communities that have been built up over many decades. Right now gatherings are supposedly limited to 100 people or up to 50 percent of the building’s capacity, whichever is fewer. The 850-member Capitol Hill Baptist Church  has been meeting in a field in Virginia.

The 142-year-old congregation explains in its suit that “a weekly in-person worship gathering of the entire congregation is a religious conviction for which there is no substitute. The Church does not offer virtual worship services, it does not utilize a multi-site model, and it does not offer multiple Sunday morning worship services.”

The church’s covenant, to which all members must agree, pledges that they “will not forsake the assembling of [them]selves together,” as decreed in the Bible.  The church’s website explains,

“Since its founding in 1878, CHBC has met in-person every Sunday except for three weeks during the Spanish Flu in 1918. That changed following Mayor Bowser’s first orders concerning COVID-19 on March 11, 2020. Since that time, the members of CHBC—most of whom live in the District—have been unable to meet in person, as one congregation inside District limits (even outdoors)….CHBC has applied for multiple waivers to the policy. District officials refuse to provide CHBC with a waiver beyond 100 persons as part of a mass gathering…A church is not a building that can be opened and closed. A church is not an event to be watched. A church is a community that gathers regularly and that community should be treated fairly by the District government.”

Fairly? On June 10, the church asked for a waiver so the congregation could meet at currently abandoned RFK Stadium, which is large enough to permit social distancing. The mayor’s office didn’t respond to the request and subsequent appeals until September 15, and then issued a rejection stating that “[w]aivers for places of worship above that expanded capacity (100 attendees) are not being granted at this time.” Continue reading

Censorship, Indoctrination And Intimidation Watch, Part 2

In Part I, I discussed an example of an individual being fired for his expression of an unpopular political opinion on a personal platform. As I mentioned there, this is a recent phenomenon of great concern to Constitutional Law Professor Jonathan Turley. as expressed on his blog and elsewhere, such as his recent testimony in the Senate about the erosion of free speech and academic freedom in  universities . The Ethics Alarms post was originally supposed to highlight examples of this ominous phenomenon highlighted by Turley, and then events overcame both Turley and Ethics Alarms, as another egregious example  arose that Turley hadn’t yet covered.

Since I offered Part I, Turley’s assault on institutions intimidating individuals based on the content of their speech continued. Here, he objected to Dartmouth’s faculty and student body attempting to silence the Dartmouth Review, and independent campus newspaper that has been a voice from the Right on the liberal campus for decades. He wrote in part,

[O]ver 1000 students and faculty members have signed a letter to the Dartmouth Board of Trustees to disassociate the school from the conservative student newspaper, the Dartmouth Review. The letter accuses the newspaper of “hateful ideologies” and “racist” columns, including one cited column objecting to the careless use of the word “racist.” … [T]he reason stated by the organizers to move against the newspaper [was] in part because of a recent controversy involving an alumni who resigned from Fox News…the organizers admit that they decided to move against the newspaper as a way to responding to the controversy surrounding the resignation of a Fox producer with Tucker Carlson. Blake Neff is a 2013 graduate of Dartmouth and Review alumni. He was found to have written a series of bigoted anonymous comments.

…. [T]he idea of the letter to force the Board to prove its antiracism by attacking the newspaper, which had no role in Neff’s misconduct:  “We thought, how can the senior leadership of Dartmouth, President Hanlon and the trustees write this letter to every member of the community, and then continue in silent complicity with a publication that since its inception has consistently been an incubator of racist hate and white supremacy?”

…The failure [to] actively target the newspaper is now viewed as de facto tolerance for racism even after the school issued a letter proclaiming its support for Black Lives Matter.

…As a blog committed to free speech issues, the concern over this controversy is obvious. There are routinely over-heated rhetoric in college newspapers including many reckless statements from faculty and students on the left. We have defended many of those speakers and writers.  However, the first response of many Dartmouth graduates to the Neff story was to seek to attack the leading conservative newspaper on campus in part for its prior association with Neff.

… What is being lost in such moves is the diversity of thought on campus…. they are seeking to pressure the university to marginalize students who want to participate in these debates from a conservative viewpoint.

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