To Be Fair, MIT Was Probably Corrupted By Being Too Close To Harvard….

MIT

Dorian Abbot, an associate professor of geophysics at the University of Chicago, wrote in an op-ed on New York Times exile Bari Weiss’ Substack last weeky that MIT, just a few bocks beyond Harvrad on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, Mass., had informed him that his Carlson Lecture was being canceled to “avoid controversy.” He wrote in part,

“In the fall of 2020 I started advocating openly for academic freedom and merit-based evaluations. I recorded some short YouTube videos in which I argued for the importance of treating each person as an individual worthy of dignity and respect. In an academic context, that means giving everyone a fair and equal opportunity when they apply for a position as well as allowing them to express their opinions openly, even if you disagree with them. 

“As a result, I was immediately targeted for cancellation, primarily by a group of graduate students in my department. Whistleblowers later revealed that the attack was partially planned and coordinated on the Ford Foundation Fellowship Program listserv by a graduate student in my department….

“That group of graduate students organized a letter of denunciation. It claimed that I threatened the ‘safety and belonging of all underrepresented groups within the department,’ and it was presented to my department chair. The letter demanded that my teaching and research be restricted in a way that would cripple my ability to function as a scientist. A strong statement in support of faculty free expression by University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer put an end to that, and that is where things stood until the summer of 2021. 

“On August 12, a colleague and I wrote an op-ed in Newsweek in which we argued that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) as it currently is implemented on campus “violates the ethical and legal principle of equal treatment” and “treats persons as merely means to an end, giving primacy to a statistic over the individuality of a human being.” We proposed instead ‘an alternative framework called Merit, Fairness, and Equality (MFE) whereby university applicants are treated as individuals and evaluated through a rigorous and unbiased process based on their merit and qualifications alone.’ We noted that this would mean an end to legacy and athletic admission advantages, which significantly favor white applicants. 

“Shortly thereafter, my detractors developed a new strategy to try to isolate me and intimidate everyone else into silence: They argued on Twitter that I should not be invited to give science seminars at other universities and coordinated replacement speakers. This is an effective and increasingly common way to ratchet up the cost of dissenting because disseminating new work to colleagues is an important part of the scientific endeavor. 

“Sure enough, this strategy was employed when I was chosen to give the Carlson Lecture at MIT — a major honor in my field. It is an annual public talk given to a large audience and my topic was “climate and the potential for life on other planets.” On September 22, a new Twitter mob, composed of a group of MIT students, postdocs, and recent alumni, demanded that I be uninvited

“It worked….”

Observations:

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In Florida, “I Eat Ass” And A Qualified Immunity Ethics Conundrum

i-eat-ass-mask-black

A policeman’s lot is not a happy one, and qualified immunity, the doctrine that exists to shield officers and other state officials from liability when they commit torts in the course of their duties, is under fire because of its role in blocking accountability for cops who engage in police brutality. But without qualified immunity, policing would become even more perilous than it already is.

Take the “I Eat Ass” controversy.

Please.

In Florida, jerk Dillon Shane Webb had a sticker on his vehicle that boasted “I Eat Ass.” (Some may disagree, but Ethics Alarms regards public display of that legend signature significance, as a non-jerk would never do it. Not even once). Columbia County Sheriff’s Deputy Travis English pulled Webb over in May of 2019 and demanded that he cover up the message. Webb refused, and he was subsequently arrested and jailed for “obscene writing on vehicles” and “resisting an officer without violence,” because he had refused to obscure the sticker. Reason, the libertarian cite that is usually more reasonable, wrote that Officer English “took exception” to “I Eat Ass.” No, the officer was under the impression that the display violated Fla. Stat. § 847.011(2), which prohibits “any sticker, decal, emblem or other device attached to a motor vehicle containing obscene descriptions, photographs, or depictions.”

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/15/2021: “Having A Hard Time Keeping Up” Edition

Just a housekeeping note…I am struggling to find a way to keep Ethics Alarms reasonably current and informative at a time when the ethics issues are resembling an avalanche from my point of view. Avoiding the trap of letting political matters eat the blog is also a constant chore; it has been for many years, but the problem seems to be getting worse. The daily warm-up format was developed to help me cover more issues, but it has become an amazingly time-consuming project, usually taking me two hours on most days. That’s still less than it would take to cover each of the four or five items in full posts (tagging, proofreading and completing the links now takes longer than ever, thanks to WordPress “improvements). Of course, posting 8 or 9 posts a day instead of just three or four would help traffic, which depresses me, but unfortunately, I have other responsibilities. Then there are the long-delayed but promised Part Twos and Threes that are staring at me like unpaid debts, making me feel guilty. I can’t believe the Ethics Scoreboard would have an essay a week, and sometimes not even that. I’ll figure it out….

1. Well, this makes me feel a little better...it appears that the commentariat on both Ann Althouse’s blog and the home of Professor Turley’s usually excellent analysis have also become overwhelmingly conservative as the progressives have fled except for a few determined souls. Ann and the professor are both left-leaning, but their integrity has led them to be critical of the progressive hive as well as the news media that nourishes it. Being objective is now the mark of an evil conservative, apparently, or so their critics claim. That’s a horrifying cultural development, but at least the flight of the progressives on Ethics Alarms was not an isolated phenomenon.

2. More on “Peril”...

  • The story in Bob Woodward’s latest book about Gen. Milley’s breach of the chain of command because, apparently, he was biased by several Big Lies about his Commander in Chief only rated page 16 coverage in the New York Times, behind, for example, Squaw Valley changing its name because a lifetime petty criminal was accidentally killed by a Minnesota cop. Meanwhile, this is front page, multiple op-ed stuff over at the Washington Post. It the Post’s Bob Woodward’s claims are true, then it should be a front page story in both papers. If it isn’t, THAT’s a front page story. 
  • Of course, the story may be garbage, but the Post won’t consider that. Example: in a piece by Greg Sargent called “Awful new revelations about Trump and Jan. 6 show Mike Pence is no hero,” this excerpt from “Peril” is cited as factual enough to be called an “awful revelation.” Trump and Pence are supposedly arguing about whether Pence should block the certification of the election:
“If these people say you had the power, wouldn’t you want to?” Trump asked.
“I wouldn’t want any one person to have that authority,” Pence said.
“But wouldn’t it be almost cool to have that power?” Trump asked, according to Woodward and Costa.
“No,” Pence said. He went on, “I’ve done everything I could and then some to find a way around this. It’s simply not possible.”
 
How can these quotes be believed? It was a conversation between two people. Trump wasn’t Woodward’s source, and neither was Pence. Yet we are told that these are exact quotes. Unless Woodward was there, which he wasn’t, the account is hearsay at best, and maybe third- or fourth-hand hearsay. Greg Sargent, however, believes them, and a Post editor thinks that’s enough to justify representing a fabricated conversation as real.
 

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Scared Yet? I Want To Hear A Legitimate Defense Of YouTube Censoring Senator Paul’s Speech…

Spoiler: There isn’t one.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), the U.S. Senate’s most passionate libertarian, was suspended from YouTube for expressing his strong opposition to Wuhan virus mandates and calling for widespread citizen resistance. This is res ipsa loquitur: Big Tech is using its corporate power to support government policies and prevent dissent. The argument that YouTube (that is, Google) is a private entity and not bound by the First Amendment is disingenuous, just as similar arguments defending Facebook, Twitter and other social media banning President Trump as well as posts that offer opinions and positions they don’t want the public to see. When corporations use their massive power and influence to suppress speech and control the flow of information, they pose an existential threat to democracy. When they exercise this power to advance the political agenda of a specific group, individual or party, that threat is worse. When they are censoring and distorting on behalf of the government, the threat is dire.

Paul released a rebuttal and condemnation of YouTube’s indefensible action, and it was also taken down by Our Video Masters. You can view it here, on Rumble. If I could embed it, I would.

Let me turn the floor over to Professor Turley, not as an appeal to authority, but because there is no reason for me to write in different words what he has said persuasively already:

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Clemson Must Fire Two Ethics Dunce Administrators, But It Has To Do A Lot More Than That…

Trick Clemson

Clemson administrators Amy Burke and Sharetta Bufford manipulated the university’s pandemic limitations on attendance at events to limit the number of available tickets as conservative group Turning Point USA’s local chapter hosted conservative speakers Tomi Lahren, Brandon Tatum, and Graham Allen for an event on the South Carolina campus in April 2020. Not only did the two women reserve a batch of tickets that they had no intention of using, they boasted about it on social media.

Financial aid counselor Burke wrote, “i’ve reserved my two. and then two for pippi. and two for my work email. and two for my business account. i just realized i have plans though, dang it…” Bufford, who serves as assistant director of recruitment and inclusive excellence, said, “I just reserved 10. I JUST might show up to see what all the fuss is about!”

Obviously “inclusive excellence” doesn’t include students with non-conforming world views.

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Ethics Nightmares, 6/23-24/21

I’m up at 3:30 am writing an ethics post because a nightmare woke me up. I don’t want to talk about it…

1. Breaking! American citizens are not as stupid as progressives think they are! At least in this instance…the first wave in the Democratic Party’s unethical push to eliminate safeguards agaiants fraudulent voting was the campaign during the Obama administration to label voter ID requirements as “racist’ and “voter suppression.” The argument that it made sense not to require voters to present the same level of identification necessary to rent a car, cash a check or get on an airplane when the integrity of our elections is involved was intellectually dishonest, but the with the degree to which the news media carried the message for their favorite party, I assumed this particular brainwashing exercise was a success. But in the wake of the failure of that party’s attempted take-down of election security last week, the Monmouth University Poll revealed that 80% of the public, approve of voter ID. I know, polls. But that’s a pretty convincing margin:

Even Democrats favor ID, though not by a large enough margin to generate any respect. The big surprise was that Monmouth shows whites splitting 77/21 in favor of ID and nonwhites favoring the measure even more strongly, at 84/13.

The American Left, wherein the One-Worlders dwell, always like to cite the United States’ failure to emulate European governments—which the U.S. decided at its origin not to follow by design—as an argument for various measures like banning capital punishment, nanny states, , and gun ownership restrictions, but have been adamantly mute on the fact that 46 of 47 European countries require government-issued photo ID to vote. The one exception has been Great Britain (although not Northern Ireland), and last month Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government said it would make photo IDs mandatory in response to a Royal Commission report.

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How Do We Stop This? Once Again, It’s Word-Banning Time At An Institution That Should Know Better

Rutgers-Law-School-Article-202101111459

Not only is Ethics Alarms adamantly opposed to the current effort by the rising totalitarian Left to ban words on the grounds that they might be “hurtful,” I have taken a vow on the issue. I artculated it here, concluding,

“My pledge: I will regard all words in the English language as among the tools I have to speak with, write with, argue with, joke with, and most importantly, think with. I will gladly be accountable when I use any words irresponsibly, but I will not submit to efforts to drag me and my society into the world of Big Brother, by accepting efforts to literally eliminate any of my tools, or attempts to decree that some Americans can use certain words, and others cannot. Fuck that.

That was in November of 2019. The post covered several unethical examples of employees, writers and teachers being punished, even dismissed, for quoting the word “nigger” in circumstances where no one could possibly conclude that the word was being used by the speaker to denigrate anyone. This incidents seemed so self-evidently ridiculous and such obvious incursions on the principle of free speech and expression that I, naive Pollyanna that I am, assumed that they were outliers and aberrations. Instead, such episodes have become more common in the year and a half since, and are given increasing validity as the shadow of The Great Stupid covers the fruited plain.

One can track many of the recent examples using the Ethics Alarms tag, “nigger.” And if you think you are “harmed” by a blog tag, I have some psychiatric facilities I can refer you to.

The latest of these has occurred at Rutgers, already a long-standing nest of woke insanity. A white first-year law student student at Rutgers Law School quoted a line from a 1993 U.S.Supreme Court decision, State v. Bridges, 133 N.J. 447. when discussing a case during a professor’s virtual office hours. The student was recorded, while discussing the circumstances under which a criminal defendant could be held liable for crimes committed by his co-conspirators, reading a quote from a defendant that first appeared in an opinion written by a former State Supreme Court judge, Alan B. Handler. “He said, um — and I’ll use a racial word, but it’s a quote,” the student said, “He says, ‘I’m going to go to Trenton and come back with my niggers.’”

In early April, in response to the incident, a group of Black first-year students at Rutgers Law began circulating a petition calling for the creation of a policy on racial slurs and formal, public apologies from the student and the professor, Vera Bergelson. “At the height of a ‘racial reckoning,’ a responsible adult should know not to use a racial slur regardless of its use in a 1993 opinion,” states the petition, which has been signed by law school students and campus organizations across the country. “We vehemently condemn the use of the N-word by the student and the acquiescence of its usage,” the petition says.

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Wait…Why Does Facebook Allow Non-Americans To Censor Our Political Discourse?

That’s impressive: Facebook’s “quasi-independent” review board is even more unethical than I thought.

That board’s membership was in my print version of the New York Times yesterday. If it’s on the web, it’s too well hidden for me, but here is the disturbing part: on the 20 person board, 15 of the “‘experts” don’t live in the United States of America.

Let’s make this clear: as Tom Slater of “Spiked!” correctly points out, Facebook’s banning of Trump ‘represented one of the most terrifying corporate interventions into democratic politics in recent memory. In removing Trump from its platform, used by around 70 per cent of adult Americans, Facebook was effectively standing between a president and his people, depriving him of access to what now constitutes the public square. This is an assault on democracy that makes the surreal storming of the Capitol pale into insignificance.”

Exactly. And to review a decision with massive consequences for our nation and its public, Facebook turns to distant arbiters who 1) have no stake in the fate of the United States at all and 2) lack the cultural values unique to this country of treasuring and protecting free speech and expression.

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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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