Tag Archives: Freedom of Speech

An Ethics Riddle: What Do Starbucks And The University Of Virginia Have In Common?

They both called the cops on someone who was violating a policy. Only one of them, however, was accused of racism.

Bruce Kothmann, a University of Virginia alumnus, read aloud from his Bible on the steps of the school’s Rotunda this week, so university police came make him stop. He did stop, because he didn’t want to be arrested. For such public speech is no longer allowed at the public university. The Rotunda is not one of the places the university has designated for public speech by outsiders. Kothmann was on to campus because his daughter had just finished her sophomore year, but was reading from his  Bible with him to challenge the school’s  policy limiting speech on campus.

A terse reader comment on the story said, “This is basically what happened at Starbucks.” The comment is correct.

Would UVA have sent the police to silence a black parent? My guess: no, and if it had, the school would be grovelling in the dust right now, begging for forgiveness. Unless the school could quickly point to a white transgressor who got the cops called on him, a charge of race bias would be devastating, and, of course, effective.

You recall the Starbucks episode: I covered it here. Two African Americans were informed of a Starbucks policy that required those using the facilities to be customers. The men refused, the manager called the police claiming trespass, and the rest is ugly, race-baiting history. The two men could have left just as Mr. Kothmann agreed to stop reading, but that’s just moral luck. The reader was right: the episodes were the same….except for the race of the violator involved.

The Ethics Alarms position is that both policies, that of the university and the old Starbucks policy, are reasonable, with the Starbucks policy being the more  defensible, since UVA is a public university and has the First Amendment to contend with. Never mind: the news media and the social justice social media mob have little interest in a white man being stopped by police from reading that old rag, The Bible, but if two black men violating a private business’s reasonable policy have that policy enforced against them, that’s intolerable.

We have the birth of a new racial privilege, now extending beyond police shootings (a white cop can safety shoot a threatening white suspect, but not a black one) to other forms of previously justifiable conduct. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/28/18: Ingratitude, Dishonesty, Hypocrisy, Speech Suppression And Character Assassination…Is This A Great Country, Or What?

1. An especially despicable example of airbrushing history. It’s done. Yawkey Way, the street bordering Boston’s iconic Fenway Park that was renamed in honor of the owner of the Red Sox and the park following his death in 1977, has been returned to its old name of Jersey Street. The team petitioned for the change, an example of ingratitude and willful betrayal seldom seen in a public institution. A rough equivalent would be the University of Virginia banning the name of Thomas Jefferson. It is not an exaggeration to say that the Boston Red Sox franchise owes it esteemed (and profitable) status in Boston’s culture to Tom Yawkey, who owned the team for almost half a century. He has a plaque in baseball’s Hall of Fame, too. But Yawkey, who was born in the 19th Century was a man of his time, and was late accepting the need to integrate baseball, like every other baseball team owner until 1947, when the Dodgers broke the color line. By the final decade of Yawkee’s ownership, he had certainly learned his lesson: his team had the longest stretch of excellence since Babe Ruth was sold, led by such black stars as George Scott, Reggie Smith, Jim Rice, Cecil Cooper, and Luis Tiant.

Never mind. Last year, Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones triggered a public relations crisis for the team when he claimed that he had heard racial slurs from some fans in the centerfield bleachers. (I don’t doubt him.) The easy solution was to throw Tom Yawkey’s memory under the metaphorical bus, since purging his name (his wife, Jean Yawkey, also owned the team after her husband’s death) from the franchise he built. It proves that John Henry is “woke,” you see.How cynical and cowardly.

(My previous posts on this topic are here.)

2. Another one bites the dust. Good. Representative Patrick Meehan (R-PA) had already announced that he wouldn’t be running again after it was revealed that he had paid taxpayer funds to a sexual harassment victim on his staff,  abruptly resigned yesterday to avoid a House ethics investigation. “While I do believe I would be exonerated of any wrongdoing, I also did not want to put my staff through the rigors of an Ethics Committee investigation and believed it was best for them to have a head start on new employment rather than being caught up in an inquiry,”  Meehan said in his disingenuous statement, insulting anyone who read it,“And since I have chosen to resign, the inquiry will not become a burden to taxpayers and committee staff.”

Riiiight.

Meehan also said he would payback  $39,000 to the Treasury to reimburse the cost of what he described as a “severance payment,” as in “negotiated damages for workplace misconduct that he didn’t want to have made public.”

Say what you will about #MeToo, it has chased a lot of public trust-abusing creeps out of Congress. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/24/18: Jarrar And The Kardashians

Good morning, everyone!

1 Something stupid. I haven’t written about the Kardashians for a long time, unless you count Kanye West, but he has a legitimate claim to celebrity and the fact that he’s married to Kim K. is more or less a footnote. This morning, checking some cyanide out at the CVS, I saw this cover by the register:

Quick, now: why would it be smart and profitable to put this story on the front of a tabloid magazine? Who is Khloe Kardashian (normally I would try to find a way to get that accent over the “e” but it just isn’t worth it) and why would anyone on God’s green earth care about what she’s doing or what someone else is doing to her?

This woman is the youngest of the original Kardashian sisters, all of whom achieved fame-via-reality show after Kim’s sex tape was released and she gained fame for the size and shape of her butt. I’m not kidding. That’s it. That’s the whole basis for the culture’s love affair with the Kardashians,  and the reality show that introduced ugly duckling heavyish for a professional slut family youngest sister Khloe to America began in 2007, eleven full years ago. And what has Khloe, who is no longer heavy, or recognizable, and that was worth a book and a spin-off reality show—done since then to make her adventures worthy of the time you would normally use to alphabetize your sock drawer?  Absolutely nothing, other than appearing on TV with her weird, venal, narcissistic family, and being rich due to no fault of her won. (Her late father was one of O.J.’s cronies, played by David Shwimmer —“Ross” in “Friends”— in the O.J. miniseries, and her mother is a successful Hollywood hustler.) Here is the full extent of her societal worth, courtesy of the ridiculously long Wikipedia entry:

On September 27, 2009, Kardashian married NBA basketball player Lamar Odom, who was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers at the time. The couple were married exactly one month after they met at a party for Odom’s teammate Metta World Peace. Following her marriage, Kardashian removed her middle name to include her married surname, becoming Khloé Kardashian Odom. Kardashian adopted a pet boxer named Bernard “BHops” Hopkins, after the famous boxer.

On December 13, 2013, after months of speculated separation, Kardashian filed for divorce from Odom and for legal restoration of her last name.[43] Divorce papers were signed by both parties in July 2015; however, the divorce had yet to receive final approval from a judge. In October 2015, Odom was hospitalized after being found unconscious in a Nevada brothel, and was in a coma for four days; as he lay in a hospital, Kardashian withdrew her pending divorce petition. In an interview with People Magazine, Kardashian confirmed that they had not reconciled and the divorce had been withdrawn so that she might make medical decisions on Odom’s behalf.Kardashian and Odom’s divorce was finalized in December 2016.

Kardashian is currently in a relationship with basketball player Tristan Thompson. The couple reside in Cleveland, Ohio.In December 2017, she announced they were expecting their first child together.  In March 2018, Kardashian revealed she would have a girl. On April 12, 2018, Kardashian gave birth to their daughter, True Thompson. He cheated on Khloe Kardashian with other girls leading to him being inactive on social media at Khloe Kardashian’s wishes.

This does not speak well of the culture, American society, its values or its prospects.  My father’s generation was enthralled by the family dramas and controversies surrounding pubic figures like Charles Lindbergh, who, after all, accomplished something and displayed useful and admirable values in doing so.  His generation and the precedding one did have a soft spot for robbers like Dillinger, Bonny and Clyde and before them, Jesse James, but that was because they were styled as latter day Robin Hoods. At least robbing the rich to give to the poor is something. Actors, actresses and sports heroes have always been popular culture icons, but they were famous for their art and achievements, not just for showing up, or worse, showing up and acting like an idiot.  Imagine Babe Ruth being idolized because of fame bestowed on him solely based on his gluttony, promiscuity and drunkenness. That’s where we appear to be now. There really are tweens out there who will announce that they want to grow up to be like one of the six or seven—I don’t know where to put the former Bruce Jenner—Kardashian girls. Parents should lock them in a high tower like Rapunzel, but they won’t, because they probably hope their daughters grow up to be like Kim, Kourtney, Kendall, Khloe aand whatever that the other ones are named…Katmandu? Kalamazoo?

How can ethics survive in a culture like that? What am I doing? Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: “From The Ethics Alarms ‘Horrible People’ Files: The Vile Progressive Professor (Yes, Another One, and Yes, I Would Fire Her)”

More interesting musings on the proudly vicious Fresno State prof, who is the current poster model for many things: the ugliness of today’s political divide, the abuse of freedom of speech and academic freedom, and the arrogance of academia. I just realized that Randa qualifies as a fick, someone who “openly and blatantly violates social norms of responsibility, honesty or fairness without shame or remorse.”

Here is Humble Talent’s Comment of the Day on the post, From The Ethics Alarms “Horrible People” Files: The Vile Progressive Professor (Yes, Another One, and Yes, I Would Fire Her):

I’m seeing an absolute deluge of comments online rehashing the general theme of: “You free speech activists sure seem to discard your principles when it’s convenient.” And It’d like to take a moment to dissect that.

Before I get too far into these weeds, I want to make a distinction: I think the cleanest comparison between the left and the right on this issue would be the left’s protection of Randa Jarrar from firing, and a situation where the right protected someone who had invoked the ire of the left—let’s assume a Nazi. I don’t think there’s a large contingent of people lining up to say that employers should retain people who are openly anti-Semitic. There might be some, but I feel this would be the exception as opposed to the rule, and that these people would be warping the principle of free speech to things they shouldn’t. This means that almost by nature, the people saying variations of “You free speech activists sure seem to discard your principles when it’s convenient.” are almost certainly comparing apples to oranges.

But I think that those people don’t really understand the distinction that makes that true. Following that… Cast Iron Pot, meet Stainless Steel Kettle.  It would be great if just for once progressives actually lived up to their own ideals. If they believe, as they’ve been telling us for years now, that free speech has consequences, and they believe that this case is actually synonymous to all the other cases that they think prove the abject hypocrisy of the right, then by all means point out that hypocrisy, but do so in a way that doesn’t protect Jarrar… Because you’re admitting what she did wasn’t protected. Look, there’s a possibility that someone in any situation might be able to define a difference between two situations that you might not see. They might be wrong, but there could be at least a semblance of internal consistency, even if it’s flawed… If you think that this is the kind of situation that the free speechers would normally be defending but aren’t for partisan reasons, while simultaneously defending what you admit you would normally not specifically for partisan reasons, then you don’t even have the fig leaf of internal consistency and should hide your head in a sack. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/21/2018, Part 2: Wait, It’s Afternoon Already!

Good afternoon!

Here are ethics items that have nothing to do with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School anti-Second Amendment  demogogues.

2. Unethical Lawsuit of the Year. Incredibly, the Democratic National Committee yesterday announced that it is suing the Trump campaign, the Russian government, and Wikileaks, accusing them of conspiring to disrupt the 2016 Presidential election.  Suits require facts. There are no facts to support this lawsuit, only speculation, rumors and propaganda. The legal analysts whose opinions I respect haven’t even acknowledged the suit yet, perhaps because they suspect, or know, that it is a cynical publicity ploy and merely laying the foundation for a Democratic Party fundraising blitz. (Using the civil courts for such purposes is unethical, of course.) The betting here (and elsewhere) is that the lawsuit will be dismissed in short order. It is grandstanding, and to my eye, pretty desperate grandstanding.  Such a lawsuit would open the Democrats, their allies and the Clinton campaign to all manner of intrusive and embarrassing discovery. My first reaction to the news was that this almost as stupid as Oscar Wilde’s criminal libel suit over being called “a Sodomite.”

Wikileaks had an amusing response:

“The Democrats are suing WikiLeaks and @JulianAssange for revealing how the DNC rigged the Democratic primaries. Help us counter-sue. We’ve never lost a publishing case and discovery is going to be amazing fun.”

3.  More future news! Ann Althouse flagged for us a future news (psychic news?) classic,  Morning Joe” Scarborough’s op-ed in the Washington Post, “It’s becoming clear that Trump won’t run in 2020”.

Althouse writes,

I’m reading the headline and laughing. It’s on the most-read list at The Washington Post. It’s what people want to read, and isn’t that what fake news is all about, giving the people what they want (and getting them to want what you want them to want)? “Allies are quietly admitting”… “Republicans are sensing”… and Joe Scarborough is picking up the message. It seems to me Trump has faced vicious opposition all along, and he keeps winning in spite of/because of it.

This isn’t really fake news, though. Psychic news or future news is a different unethical beast, and in this case, it’s just an abuse of punditry.  It becomes fake news when the headline “Trump won’t run for re-election, insiders say” starts turning up. What is especially ironic about this trend is that there has never been a President whose stated intentions have been so changeable and unreliable, and yet the very same journalists who complain about this are willing to run breathless stories about what some leaker claims he said was his intent. President trump can’t be counted upon to do this week what he said he would do last week, and the Post thinks it is worth publishing what Morning Joe’s sources say President Trump  plans on doing three years from now. Continue reading

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“Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/20/18: Bad Ideas, False Narratives, Fake News, And Hillary’s Delusion

Happy Friday!

(You too, Reuben..)

1 The persistence and peril of bad ideas. Civilizations and societies fail in part because terrible ideas take root in the public square, become  exploited by cynical and unscrupulous elites and power-seekers, and lead to policy and cultural disasters. The nation’s gradual acceptance of illegal immigration is such an idea: when the pluses and minuses of the Trump Presidency are finally totaled and compared, no one will be able to deny that taking a direct stand against illegal immigration without compromise or weasel words will be one of Donald Trump’s positive legacies.

Nonetheless, the news media continues to indoctrinate the public with the toxic concept that illegal immigration is acceptable, against all logic and experience. In yet another “good illegal immigrant” story—frankly, I’m sick of writing about them—the New York Times gives us this:

Like many of the immigrants detained this way, Mr. de Oliveira, a house painter, had no criminal history. To the Trump administration, the other thing they had in common was more germane: a legal but, until now, unenforced obligation to leave the country that had stuck to them for years, even as they pieced together lives and families in the United States.

In the later years of the Obama administration, the government mostly left people without criminal records alone, focusing instead on immigrants who had only recently arrived or had been convicted of serious crimes.

But the Trump administration emphasizes that everyone living here illegally is fair game for deportation, a policy that has bumped up immigration arrests by more than 40 percent since the beginning of 2017. Those who were ordered out of the country years ago are especially easy marks for an agency with limited resources for enforcement — especially if they walk straight into an immigration office.

Boy, that mean, mean Trump administration, insisting that aliens who steal a place in this country along with its benefits should have to return it even if they don’t break any more laws.  There is literally no logical or legally coherent argument or rationale to support any other position. I have never heard one, read one, or been able to imagine one. Would people support a policy that allowed citizens to keep the loot they stole in a single felony as long as they never broke another law? Perhaps they would, if politicians, big business advocates for cheap labor and unethical journalists kept promoting the idea over years and decades.

2. And then there are media-fed false narratives. On Headline News this morning, Lovely Robin and her cohorts were reviewing Time’s “100 Most Influential People” and picking their favorites. Who cares, at this pathetic stage of Time’s existence, what that rag decides? One of Robin’s colleagues designated Chloe Kim, the 17-year-old medal-winning Olympic snowboarder, as his favorite among the hundred. Does anyone really believe a teenage snowboarder is one of the 10,000 most influential people in the US, much less in the top 100? Is Time’s 100 really a list of  “people most likely to be on “Dancing with the Stars”? Has any medal-winner in a Winter Olympics ever been particularly influential, except maybe in the Ice Capades? Continue reading

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From The Ethics Alarms “Horrible People” Files: The Vile Progressive Professor (Yes, Another One, and Yes, I Would Fire Her)

Randa Jarrar, a professor in the English department at California State University, Fresno (That’s her above: am I the only one that finds her expression unsettling?)  tweeted an hour after Barbara Bush’s death was announced,

“Barbara Bush was a generous and smart and amazing racist who, along with her husband, raised a war criminal. Fuck  outta here with your nice words.”

Later, she added that she was happy that George W. Bush was probably sad that his mother had died, and…

“PSA: either you are against these pieces of shit and their genocidal ways or you’re part of the problem. That’s actually how simple this is. I’m happy the witch is dead. Can’t wait for the rest of her family to fall to their demise the way 1.5 million Iraqis have.”

After her ugly Twitter hate-storm tweets generated more than 2,000 critical replies, the professor posted a phone number suggesting that it was a way to reach her. No, it was really the number of a  crisis and suicide prevention center, causing their phones to be swamped.Tweeted Eugene Gu, MD, a pediatric surgeon,

“Replying to @randajarrar. Your freedom of speech does not entitle you to have all these people spam an actual mental health crisis line. Please stop,”

This completely gratuitous embarrassment to CSU Fresno caused the president of the school to respond with a public statement, also via Twitter: Continue reading

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