Tag Archives: freedom of expression

Althouse’s Commenters Delineate A Trend

Is something in the etho-cultural air? I wonder. Suddenly hints that patience with the resistance/progressive/Democratic/mainstream media assault on the Presidency, democracy, fairness, honesty, civic discourse and the rule of law is running out even with typically left-leaning citizens are turning up in multiple venues all at once. This is, of course, gratifying here at Ethics Alarms, since I have regarded this as an ethics crisis since 2016.

Fascinating evidence can be found in the comments to a recent post by Ann Althouse, in which she pointed to a res ipsa loquitur piece in Politico, “‘What Happened to Alan Dershowitz?’,  which I would summarize as “Whatever could have possessed Alan Dershowitz to make him opt for objectivity, principles and integrity at a time like this?” Ann, as she frequently does, didn’t comment substantively on the essay, deciding instead to make an arch observation while pointing the way for her readers. She flagged what she called “the most obvious quote” in the essay: “Maybe the question isn’t what happened to Alan Dershowitz. Maybe it’s what happened to everyone else.” Of course, nothing happened to Dershowitz. He’s doing what a lawyer, an analyst and a trustworthy pundit is supposed to do: apply the same standards to everybody; not let emotion rule reason, and when all around him are losing their heads and blaming it on him, keeping his own despite temptations to follow the mob.

Ann’s readers distinguished themselves in their reactions. I wonder if the Democrats are paying attention. They are fools if they don’t.

Read as many as you can. Here’s a representative sample: Continue reading

15 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Quotes, The Internet, U.S. Society

A Strange And Disturbing Conversation…

It’s baaaack!

Yesterday I did a pro bono ethics presentation for a local lawyer group. During the lunch, which, as usual in such situations, I never got to eat, I was seated next to a lively, intense, talkative young man, like the rest of my audience, a corporate counsel. The discussion was oddly tentative for a long time, which the lawyer’s body-language suggesting wariness and his verbal choices suggesting unusual care. He was probing for something, and I couldn’t tell what. What was it that they vibe reminded me of? Poker? A job interview? Suddenly I realized what it was: the conversation had the tenor, though not the implied subject matter, of those awkward conversations I recalled from parties and encounters where a new male acquaintance was trying to figure out a) whether I was gay and b) whether, if I wasn’t, he could trust me enough to say that he was.

In this case, however, the young man was probing to see if I hated President Trump. I don’t know which comment of mine put him at ease, but suddenly it all poured out. This lawyer and Haitian-American immigrant was an enthusiastic supporter of the President’s policies and leadership style. Once he was certain that I would not look at him like he was the spawn of Satan for daring to express such a view—which he explained extremely logically and eruditely—we had a fascinating discussion, covering illegal immigration, the news media’s bias, the “resistance,” racism, muscular foreign policy leadership, the 2016 campaign,  and more.

However, the fact that simply expressing support for the elected President of the United States, even limited support, indeed even the absence of affirmative contempt, is considered such a perilous social stance that citizens are afraid to express it among their peers demonstrates the monstrous—I think that’s a fair adjective here—intimidation and speech suppression that has been perpetrated by the Left since the 2016 election. Hate is such a powerful emotion that even when it is unjustified, the threat of it being focused on you now keeps Americans from openly expressing their opinions. This is a thought and attitude control strategy, weaponizing the Cognitive Dissonance scale (above) to achieve power and control. If you have this position, we will hate you. Be warned. The message goes out in a thousand ways, especially on social media, but in face-to-face encounters as well, with family, in the workplace, and in social situations.  Some—I think a surprising number–have the strength to resist it as the unethical compelled political conformity tactic that it is. Still, many capitulate, at least in public.  The tactic is even turned on experts and analysts with integrity as well, as in this Politico essay about Alan Dershowitz, which carries the message that a good liberal should not be making the case that the criminal law is being abused and civil libertarian principles discarded as the Left attempts to undo an election by any means necessary. The effectiveness and intimidating weight of the implied threat of shunning is acknowledged by what one blogger describes as the “Trump Bump”—“that little obligatory hiccup in which the speaker on any given topic must pause to make a pejorative reference to Donald Trump before going on, in order to establish his or her bona fides as a good person. ” Continue reading

24 Comments

Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Social Media, U.S. Society

“Cultural Appropriation” Indoctrination From Gonzaga University

From Campus Reform, one of two useful websites that peers into the sick culture of many indoctrinating left-wing educational institutions (the other is Campus Reform) comes the release of this jaw-dropping memo sent to students at Gonzaga University:

That Facebook entry links to a website listing “6 Ways To Celebrate Cinco de Mayo Without Appropriating The Mexican Culture.” The Gonzaga Facebook page includes a graphic with such advice as “don’t you dare put on that ‘sombrero,’” “acknowledge the stereotypes you have internalized and discover why they are problematic,” ““donate to organizations working for immigrant rights,”  and  “support AUTHENTIC Mexican businesses,” although “CHIPOTLE DOESN’T COUNT.”  “Try a family-owned restaurant run by actual Mexican people (They have better food anyway. We promise.),” the graphic says. “Maybe even enjoy some authentic Mexican music.”

My immediate reaction to this ham-handed, bigoted message would be, after the obligatory “Bite me!,” to have lunch at Taco Bell, pull out those old Bill Dana comedy albums,  and to watch “The Three Amigos.” Oh, and I will put on a sombrero (I own a great one, as well as an authentic Sioux headdress, three cowboy hats, a fez, a Viking helmet (not so authentic), a beret,  and Kaiser Wilhelm helmet, and a jester’s cap), because I will wear anything on my bald head that I goddamn please, and if my attire offends someone, that’s their problem. I don’t wear any of those costume pieces as insults, and as a member of the world community, I will borrow, honor, emulate and appropriate whatever part of it that appeals to me. For I am a free citizen of the United States of America, and don’t order me to express myself as you would prefer. Continue reading

56 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Around the World, Citizenship, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Rights, U.S. Society

Ethics Quote Of The Day: Charles W. Cooke

“You’re going to need a plan. A state-by-state, county-by-county, street-by-street, door-to door plan. A detailed roadmap to abolition that involves the military and the police and a whole host of informants — and, probably, a hell of a lot of blood, too. Sure, the ACLU won’t like it, especially when you start going around poorer neighborhoods. Sure, there are probably between 20 and 30 million Americans who would rather fight a civil war than let you into their houses. Sure, there is no historical precedent in America for the mass confiscation of a commonly owned item — let alone one that was until recently constitutionally protected. Sure, it’s slightly odd that you think that we can’t deport 11 million people but we can search 123 million homes. But that’s just the price we have to pay. Times have changed.”

—-Charles W. Cooke in a National Review self-described rant in 2015, ” …Aimed at Those Who Would Repeal the Second Amendment”

I missed Cooke’s piece in 2015, but it should be required reading today. Today was “Kill the Second Amendment Day” on social media and among the talking heads on Sunday Morning TV shows, in part because the obligatory coordinated freak-out over any tragic shooting always hits a brick wall of reality that disingenuous talk of “sensible gun reforms” won’t remove, and because for the second time in barely a week, , a New York Times op-ed regular advocated taking a big chunk out of the Bill of Rights. Once again, it was another Times house conservative, Bret Stephens, making the very un-conservative case for abridging individual rights. Earlier it was Ross Douthat wanting to hamstring freedom of speech in order to make “better men.” Stephens wants to repeal the Second Amendment.

I received fair criticism for attributing Douthat’s column to the leftist agenda of the Times, but Stephens’ piece reinforces my theory. For quite a while it has been clear that the Left views the Constitution as an impediment to it ascendance to transformational power the U.S. This has been on display from many angles, on many fronts, and with increasing intensity.  Progressives tried to get around the Electoral College to elect Hillary, and attacked that Constitutional device for months. They still regard the Due Process clause as an annoyance and an obstacle to blocking untrustworthy citizens from acquiring guns. During the battle over Obamacare, multiple leaders of the Democratic Party mocked the idea that the Commerce Clause imposed any limits at all on Congressional power, hence its ability, in their eyes, to “pass a law forcing citizens to buy broccoli.” (SCOTUS ruled otherwise, but the individual mandate was rescued by a creative Chief Justice.)

Hillary Clinton proposed excepting political speech in the form of purchased public advocacy for political candidates from the First Amendment. The grass roots Left, along with members of the media and leaders of the Democratic Party like Howard Dean, have not only denied that so-called “hate speech” is protected, but have acted as if it isn’t, and demanded that it shouldn’t be.  Majority Democratic states and cities are actively defying federalism in their efforts to prevent the enforcement of immigration laws. Since President Trump’s election, many Democrats in Congress and elsewhere that Constitutional requirements for impeachment should yield to simple numbers: If a party has enough votes, it should be able to remove a President, or at least this one.

I think it’s clever for the Times to use its nominal conservative writers to advance the progressive cause of selectively gutting the cornerstone of everything the United States of America has achieved in two and a half centuries. I also think that is what it has done here.

But I digress. Continue reading

114 Comments

Filed under U.S. Society

The Reason We Can’t Trust Progressives With Power: They Really Don’t Like Free Speech [CORRECTED!]

It’s not just “hate speech,” and speech questioning climate change, and conservative speakers on campus, and professors using offensive words to discuss how we should treat offensive words, and political speech by citizens banding together to support candidates and express issue positions. and employees making jokes that others choose to find offensive.  Increasingly prominent progressive elected officials, activists, scholars and pundits are advocating the elimination of free expression in realms that have been long protected by the Supreme Court, and that are currently protected as First Amendment speech by the Constitution.

Witness New York Times  columnist Ros Douthat’s recent op-ed flippantly titled, “Let’s Ban Porn.”  Buried in the essay’s Authentic Frontier Gibbberish designed, I assume, to numb the ethics alarms is a call for content-based government censorship, meaning that communicating “porn”–which the Supreme Court never got closer to defining than Justice Potter Stewart’s  famous and pathetic “I know it when I see it”—would be a crime.

How can a journalist, of all people and professions—excuse me,professions—advocate doing what the Bill of Rights specifically prohibits? By stooping to an argument like this one..

“But we are supposed to be in the midst of a great sexual reassessment, a clearing-out of assumptions that serve misogyny and impose bad sex on semi-willing women. And such a reassessment will be incomplete if it never reconsiders our surrender to the idea that many teenagers, most young men especially, will get their sex education from online smut….The belief that it should not be restricted is a mistake; the belief that it cannot be censored is a superstition. Law and jurisprudence changed once and can change again, and while you can find anything somewhere on the internet, making hard-core porn something to be quested after in dark corners would dramatically reduce its pedagogical role, its cultural normalcy, its power over libidos everywhere. That we cannot imagine such censorship is part of our larger inability to imagine any escape from the online world’s immersive power, even as we harbor growing doubts about its influence upon our psyches.”

No, Ross, the reason that we can’t imagine such censorship is because the United States of American is predicated on the core principle, among others, that the government restricting what can be imagined, said, expressed, written and published is far, far more dangerous that any content that can be imagined,  said, expressed, written and published, and thus the remedy for controversial, ugly or otherwise controversial speech is more speech, not laws. What Douthat’s op-ed translates as, and heaven knows it needs a translation though there is no “Leftist Virtue-Signalling Bloviation” to English handbook that I can find on Amazon, is that porn is bad for people, though apparently only men, because the Left’s official position of the moment is that Men Are The Problem.”  For example,  douhat writes,

“So if you want better men by any standard, there is every reason to regard ubiquitous pornography as an obstacle — and to suspect that between virtual reality and creepy forms of customization, its influence is only likely to get worse.”

Continue reading

26 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

Question: Is There Any Justification For A State Censoring Vanity Plates? (And What’s Wrong With “KAIJUU”?)

My answer to the first question? Absolutely not.(  My answer to the second is, “I have no idea.” ) If a driver can put a sign in his rear view mirror or a bumper sticker on her bumper without state sanctions, then a driver should be able to have whatever he or she chooses on a vanity plate.

Utah, for examples, bans vanity plates with profanity, “derogatory language,”  drug references,  sex talk, references to bodily functions, “hate speech,” targeting a particular group, or advocating violence advocates, as well as alcohol references and the number combo “69.” Ethics verdict: None of their business. These are words and numbers, and the state is declaring content and intent impermissible. When I see a car with an obnoxious vanity plate, I’m grateful. This is useful information. Racist or vulgar plates translate into “I am an asshole, and want you to know it!”

Thank you, sir! I appreciate the heads up.

Below are the plates banned by Utah over the past five years. Most of them fly right over my head. If you have to be a cryptographer to figure out why a plate is offensive, then it’s not offensive.

The less our governments interfere with freedom of expression, the safer we are.

Here’s the list (the  pointer marks indicate spaces): Continue reading

36 Comments

Filed under Character, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising, Rights, U.S. Society

Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 1/18/2018: Enemies Of The People

Today’s Comment of the Day teaches a couple of lessons:

1 Contrary to common belief, and Ethics Alarms Comment of the Day does not have to be long, though many are. Indeed, I was tempted to make Willem Reese’s one sentence comment to the Kangaroo People abortion ethics thought experiment a Comment of the Day. He asked, shaming us all,

“The deciding case would likely be Roo v.Wade, then?”

2.  Late comments on older posts are still worth reading.

Here is Pennagain’s Comment of the Day on the post, Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 1/18/2018: Enemies Of The People:

Over the past couple of decades, approximately, I have become increasingly uneasy, depressed, anxious, angry, isolate and finally maddened by what has gone into the methodical and insanely deliberate betrayal of ideals and freedoms, the destruction of respected, useful institutions, the disregard for all the high, bright values in “my” society, my culture. But even when the detrimental changes began to affect me directly — my person, my quality of life, my safety and security (such as it was: I’ve never needed much) — I clung to the mantra this too shall pass. But, as my historian friend kept reminding me, the 500+ year old Roman Republic went belly up within the same amount of time, and never found its feet again. Still, I wasn’t scared out of my wits until I read the word “COUNTERSPEECH.”

Counter. Speech. Against speech. Not just anti-First Amendment, something to STOP PEOPLE FROM SPEAKING. Not just “free” speech; simply not using any words that mean anything. The language of technology, the language that becomes more abbreviated with all its faster-than-life(sic) changes, a spoken version of texting and twitting, a dumbing of vocabulary, a numbing of nuance. . A muffling of all meaningful voices. The left will pull the blanket over its head first, and willingly, and not even understand what is happening until it wakes up in the middle of the night with its headphones glued to its brains, silently screaming.

Much as I hate to bring up the name of der Furher because it has become such a cliche, he has the most appropriate description of what “Counterspeech” can become. It is akin to what Hitler first announced at the Wannsee Conference in 1942 as The Final Solution.

2 Comments

Filed under Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Facebook, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Rights, Social Media, The Internet, U.S. Society