Ethics Quiz: The Basecamp Political Discussion Ban

Last week, software company Basecamp’s CEO Jason Fried anounced in a blog post that employees would no longer be allowed to openly share their “societal and political discussions” at work. “Every discussion remotely related to politics, advocacy or society at large quickly spins away from pleasant,” Fried wrote. “You shouldn’t have to wonder if staying out of it means you’re complicit, or wading into it means you’re a target.” Coinbase, a cryptocurrency company, issued a similar edict last year, but the internal reaction to Fried’s announcement was a rebellion. Basecamp employs around 60 people, and about a third of the them have accepted buyouts to leave in an apparent protest against the new policy.

There are few legal limits on employers regulating political speech in the workplace. First Amendment rights do not apply to private sector employers. Any speech ban has to clearly state that the policy will not apply to discussions relating to terms and conditions of employment protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. An employer must also consistently enforce the policy lest selective enforcement suggest discrimination on the basis of race, gender, or other protected classifications.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Week is…

Is such a ban ethical?

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Regarding “Uncle Tim”: Everybody’s Wrong.

Scott response

South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott delivered a rarity, an opposing party “replay” to a Presidential address that was eloquent, powerful, and relevant. However, Scott also fell into the ethics abyss by demanding that Twitter take down tweets that included the hashtag “Uncle Tim.” Scott called the trend “upsetting” and “so disappointing” this morning, saying that it shows the left “are literally attacking the color of my skin.”

Well yes, they are. That shouldn’t be surprise, since they have also been attacking the color of MY skin.

The conservatives, as the mainstream media likes to say when Republican point out hypocrisy, “pounced”:

Tim tweet 1

Tim tweet 2

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The Great Stupid Rolls On: Once Again, The News Media Makes Us Play “Wheel Of Fortune”…

Barely three weeks ago, Ethics Alarms offered this post, “The New York Times Refusing To Inform Its Readers What Meyers Leonard Was Suspended For Saying Is Far More Unethical Than Leonard Saying It.” Readers of the Times and many other news sources had revealed that the NBA’s Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard was in big trouble because he had used a word that was an ethnic slur so terrible that we couldn’t be told exactly what it was. This is censorship and journalism incompetence at its worse: without knowing the word, the story makes no sense. It is a central fact that the public must know in order to assess whether the outrage over the utterance and the eventual consequences were just.

Ethics Alarms had to inform readers that the word was “kike.” That’s not my job. Nonetheless, I have respect for the public, language, the duty of communication and free speech that the majority of American journalists do not.

Now, in an example of bad ethics deja vu, it’s happened again. Rather than do their job and tell the story, most of the news media is requiring the public to play “Wheel of Fortune,” and complete a phrase by guessing what a word is in order to understand why its utterance by a professional athlete is newsworthy.

Here was how USA Today reported the episode:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis apologized for a tweet he sent Sunday night that contained an anti-Asian slur.  Davis said he confused the term for one he was intending to mean “lame” while trying to blame the media for the traction the tweet received.”I would never offend any group of people,” Davis, 24, wrote. “You reporters can look for another story to blow up. The term was directed towards a producer claiming he ‘ran Miami’ With that being said I’ll retire that word from my vocabulary giving the hard times our Asian family are enduring. According to ESPN, Davis wrote “Gotta stop letting (expletive) in Miami” in the tweet that has since been deleted. Anti-Asian attacks have increased recently as the COVID-19 pandemic continues into its second year.In response to the tweet, the Asian American Journalists Association Sports Task Force said in a statement that it “is disappointed by his sentiment, especially at a time when Asians in the United States are experiencing a sharp increase in anti-Asian hate which has resulted in harassment and attacks.”

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Gertrude Stein Weeps: SUNY Student Owen Stevens Suspended For Writing “A Man Is A Man, A Woman Is A Woman” (And Other Controversial Views)

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This is quite a story. It shows that The Great Stupid is still capable of getting more stupid. It shows that colleges and universities are determined to crush, not just dissent, but those who merely point out the inherent absurdity of progressive cant. It also shows that too many university administrators don’t read court opinions and don’t understand the First Amendment.

To take the last first, Owen Stevens, a contrary student at the State University of New York-Geneseo (SUNY-Geneseo), simply cannot be punished by the school for an Instagram posted video and his blog, no matter what they say, short of defaming or threatening a student or faculty member. What he did say in an Instagram post, “A man is a man, a woman is a woman. A man is not a woman and a woman is not a man,” is at worst a viewpoint, and really a fact. A state school can’t possibly get away with suspending a student 1) for non campus conduct, 2) for protected speech, or 3) for social media comments unrelated to the institution. It’s unethical, and it’s illegal. And, of course, it is stupid.

The email Owen received from the school (and quickly posted) is smoking gun evidence of an anti-speech, anti-expression, anti-dissent, indoctrination mindset infecting the school and corrupting its culture. Some students who did not agree with his positions reported the posts to the university’s administration like the good little totalitarians and fascists they have been raised and educated to be. The university’s administration then suspended Stevens from all field teaching programs, which are mandatory for education students. The school argued that his claims “call into question” a teacher’s requirement to “maintain a classroom environment protecting the mental and emotional well-being of all students.”

The school is wrong, disgusting, un-American, and dangerous.

“After review of all available materials, I find that, based on your continued public stance and social media presence, you do not consistently demonstrate behaviors required by the Conceptual Framework of the School of Education,” the Dean of the school of education wrote in an email to Stevens informing him of the suspension.

To get the suspension lifted, Stevens must complete a “remediation plan,” which involves deleting the posts on his Instagram account, reducing his social media presence, and attending a training he dubbed “re-education.” It implies that future teachers like Stevens must support “all forms” of gender identity. The email said that statement conflicts with the Dignity for All Students Act in the state of New York and SUNY’s inclusivity doctrine, which states that teachers should promote “a diverse campus community marked by mutual respect for the unique talents and contributions of each individual.”

The doctrine does not support viewpoint inclusivity, obviously.

The quote highlighted in the headline is not the only statement by Stevens that the Dean felt warranted punishment, though that’s the impression you will get from reading conservative media headlines. No, Stevens was busy on Instagram and his blog hitting progressive hot buttons. His website JustOwen.com features the American flag with the description “An American, Loving America”. There is a “Just Owen’ podcast too, which Stevens describes thusly: “I firmly believe that America is the greatest country ever. My podcast covers culture, politics, and life through the lens of a conservative and Christian man. Liberty, American values, and individuality are the greatest gifts that this country has to offer. Please subscribe to the show! I’d love to have you.” On Instagram, he has stated that abortion is murder, that Islam is violent, that Columbus should be honored, that “All Lives Matter” and that he disapproves of gay marriage.

The Horror.

He has a right to those views, the right to express them, and the right to do so without being persecuted by anyone, but especially a state institution.

Stephens is fighting all of this, and deserves the support of every American regardless of partisan leanings and ideology—except the fascists, of course.

Incidentally, there has been virtually no coverage of this dead canary by the mainstream media.

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Sources: Daily Wire, MEAWW

Enforced Ideological Conformity: The Unethical Firing Of Gina Carano

Gina

Gina Carano, the actress who plays Cara Dune on Disney+’s “The Mandalorian,” was fired by Lucasfilm. I saw the note yesterday, and the company’s explanation which was that Carano’s

“…social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”

From this I presumed that the actress had posted something that was racist or otherwise bigoted and hateful—constitutional speech, but not a public opinion that an organization dependent on widespread public favor is obligated to tolerate from its employees. Then today, I saw what she wrote, which was,

“Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different than hating someone for their political views?”

She did not denigrate anyone based on their cultural and religious identities. LucasFilm’s statement is a lie, and indeed is very close to defamation. Carano should sue. Meanwhile, Pedro Pascal, who plays the Mandalorian in the same series, tweeted out this idiocy in 2018:

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Why Don’t College Students Believe In Free Speech? Because They Are Taught By Totalitarianism Advocates Like Duke Professors Bill Adair and Philip Napoli. That’s Why.

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In an advocacy piece in The Hill this week, the professors, who teach public policy instructors insist that the breaching of the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters shows that the government must decide what statements and opinions are legally permissible. They wrote in part,

“Last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol was based on lies…The mob that stormed the building was acting on a tidal wave of misinformation about the election that was spread by the president, his fellow Republicans and their supporters using a web of partisan media outlets, social media and the dark corners of the internet.The lies flourished despite an extraordinary amount of debunking by fact-checkers and Washington journalists. But that fact-checking didn’t persuade the mob that stormed the Capitol — nor did it dissuade millions of other supporters of the president. Fed a steady diet of repetitive falsehoods by elected officials and partisan outlets, they believed the lies so much that they were driven to violence.”

“In his first week in office, President-elect Biden should announce a bipartisan commission to investigate the problem of misinformation and make recommendations about how to address it.The commission should take a broad approach and consider all possible solutions: incentives, voluntary industry reforms, education, regulations and new laws.”

Observations:

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Comment Of The Day: “Scared Yet?” [Corrected]

And now, a fearless Comment of the Day from Mrs. Q, on the post, “Scared Yet?”

Fear is understandable but not helpful in responding to this increasingly disturbing trend. Quite frankly, these people want you to be afraid. Don’t give them that power.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be steadfast in our discernment of the information MSM is putting out or the tech giants’ actions. In fact, I suspect some readers here have only scratched the surface of what these “powers and principalities” are capable of.

For example, it would be wise to research the reach a corporation like Alphabet Inc. (Google’s owner) has in the field of medicine. If you think Google having a say in what we say is intense, check out the medical patents these “well-meaning” folks are working on. Don’t forget that Google is already used to increasingly hold more of our digital medical records. Add to that our genetic information being held by 23 and Me, whose founder is none other than Google founder Sergey Brin’s ex-wife.

As we move towards a green new world order, consider the “smart” technology being inserted into controlling our water usage, household heating and cooling, and even our cars. Is it far fetched to wonder if the wrong opinions could get one cut off from use of resources through smart tech? I’m not sure it is anymore.

Then you have the issue of what you say being “heard” by way of Amazon’s Alexa or the Hey Google voice-activated search tools. If you’ve ever noticed that suddenly your mobile device is suggesting targeted ad products to you after a private conversation in which some issue is mentioned, then you might want to consider just what is being recorded. In parts of the UK, laws are being considered to punish those in private conversations at home or elsewhere, where wrongthink may be spoken. For that to work you need omnipresent informants everywhere or a device that records you.

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Ethics Cool-Down, 1/8/2021: Be Afraid…[Corrected]

I checked: over the past seven years, no fewer than six regular Ethics Alarms commenters have written me to say they were withdrawing from the blog for reasons related to their emotional, mental or physical health.

Ethics is supposed to be good for you…

1. The President announced that he would not be attending Joe Biden’s inauguration, thus overtaking Hillary Clinton as the “worst loser” in all of American Presidential history. Andrew Johnson declined to see in his successor, President Grant, and was certainly bitter, but he didn’t lose the election: he wasn’t even nominated. John Adams, who did lose to Jefferson in his bid for a second term, didn’t attend his lifetime frenemy’s swearing in, but had the valid excuse that he was mourning the death of his son Charles. John Quincy Adams, John’s son, comes closest to Trump’s sore loser act, as he also refused to go to the inauguration of the man who defeated him, Andrew Jackson. However, “Quincy” had good reason to be afraid of “Old Hickory,” who was furious with Adams for letting his campaign attack his wife.

Trump should attend the inauguration, of course, though I am not surprised that he isn’t. It would be a unifying gesture, and would also show character, courage, and patriotism. It is an important tradition for the incoming and outgoing Presidents to jointly engage in the orderly transfer of power.

2. The vise tightens. Apparently Big Tech and social media have decided not to even try to hide their collective assault on free expression and dissenting views:

  • Twitter permanently banned the President of the United States from its platform. I don’t care what their official excuse is: this is a major communications source placing its fist down hard on one side of the scales of political discourse. It signaled this long ago, for those of us who weren’t trying to gaslight the public. Civil libertarians should be concerned, but they aren’t, because they almost unanimously are perfectly happy to see those they don’t like or disagree with silenced. Iran’s Ayatollah, meanwhile, can still send out tweets while he supports terrorism.
  • Facebook also banned the President from its platform. Again, this is purely partisan political censorship. The US is facing a single party in control of two branches of the government allied with the news media, social media and the tech firms to stifle dissent and political opposition.

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Waning 2020 Ethics Warm-Up

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A reader reports that he can’t pull up Ethics Alarms on Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge. Is anyone else having this problem?

Wasn’t it nice when we naively assumed that such things were just technical glitches and not part of Big Tech’s increasingly intrusive alliance with the totalitarian-minded forces of the extreme Left?

1. Embrace the narrative. “Louisiana Congressman-elect Luke Letlow dies with COVID-19” is just one of many headlines announcing that the 41-year-old Representative-elect died from the Wuhan virus. So far, every headline I’ve seen is some version of this. Letlow died of a heart attack, in fact, during some un-named procedure related to his treatment for the virus. People die of unexpected heart attacks with some frequency during hospital procedures for other problems, and the cause of death is usually listed as “heart attack.” Maybe the virus caused his death and maybe it didn’t, but the headlines stating this as fact is more pandemic fearmongering, and. yes, fake news.

2. Good. You will recall that Twitter censored The New York Post’s account of the incriminating Hunter Biden laptop being found because it claimed that the business memos, photos of a Hunter using illegal drugs, and other disturbing photos came from a “hacker,” when Twitter’s real objective was, it seems fair to conclude, to keep as many people as possible from learning about matters that might cause them not to vote for Hunter’s father. Now the computer repair company’s owner is  suing Twitter for $500,000,000.00 for libel, defamation, and ruining his business, claiming that the social media giant disparaged him.

3. One more reason to distrust the election results: President Donald Trump topped former President Barack Obama for the title of most admired man in America in Gallup’s 2020 survey. Trump had tied with Obama in 2019 while Obama beat him in 2017 and 2018. President Joe Biden came in third. Obama had been #1 since 2008.

Don’t you find this strange?

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Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/28/20: Happy Birthday, Woodrow Wilson!

2020 end

As 2020 staggers to a conclusion, Ethics Alarms wants to express its gratitude to the core of devoted Alarmist commentators who kept the dialogue going during what is always an annual cratering of blog traffic. I appreciate it. I also appreciated the many kind holiday wishes, in what has been a muted Christmas for the Marshalls for a number of reasons I won’t bore you with.

In case you were among the missing, I draw your attention to…

…among other hopefully edifying and entertaining posts.

1. After signalling otherwise or perhaps just trolling, President Trump signed the truly awful pandemic relief and omnibus spending bill, really sending the national debt into orbit. One theory is that doing so was necessary to avoid a Democratic sweep of the two Senate seats up for grabs in Georgia. I will file the event as one more car on the Wuhan Virus Ethics Train Wreck, and one that will do more damage in the long run than most of them.

2. In Nevada, Gabrielle Clark filed a federal lawsuit against her son’s charter school last week for refusing to let him opt out of a mandatory class that promotes anti-white racism. It claims that Democracy Prep at the Agassi Campus forced William Clark “to make professions about his racial, sexual, gender and religious identities in verbal class exercises and in graded, written homework assignments,” creating a hostile environment, and subjecting he son’s statements ” to the scrutiny, interrogation and derogatory labeling of students, teachers and school administrators,” who are “still are coercing him to accept and affirm politicized and discriminatory principles and statements that he cannot in conscience affirm.” The lawsuit includes nearly 150 pages of exhibits documenting the curriculum in the graduation requirement “Sociology of Change,” which promotes intersectionality and critical race theory, in breach of what was promised when the Clark’s first sent their son to the school.

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