A Mother’s Day Ethics Bouquet, 5/8/2022: For You, Mom, Even Though Ethics Wasn’t Your Long Suit…

  • Don’t you think it’s odd that there isn’t a single really great song about mothers? There are lots of great father songs.
  • My mom, whom I think about every day and miss terribly, was wonderful in so many ways, but was almost as unethical as my father was ethical. It’s a tribute to his parenting that he communicated to my sister and me early on that this was just a quirk, and while mom had much to teach about love, loyalty and compassion, hers was not the ethical or moral compass to follow.
  • I just saw a man riding a real, honest-to-goodness velocipede in the church parking lot across from our house! I have never seen that in real life, only in photos and old movies.
  • The eighth of May, 1945, was  the day when German troops throughout Europe finally laid down their arms, and World War II, the worst catastrophe the modern world has ever suffered through, featuring the most unethical and cruel aggressors imaginable, finally came to an end. Evil easily could have triumphed; that it did not was as much a function of luck as anything else. This is always a day on which to draw a collective breath. Whew! That was a close one…

1. Funny, but stupid. This meme is fascinating.

It could easily be intended to mock the kind of hysterical distortions from the Left’s Supreme Court leak freakout—on that basis, I laughed when I saw it. However, it almost certainly IS one of those hysterical distortions, which reduce debate to an infantile level. I’m sure many progressives think it’s profound. [Pointer: Arthur in Maine] Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/5/2022 (Cont.): Part 2, Rogan, Roker, “Reacher” And “More”

1. There is hope! The new Amazon Prime Jack Reacher series, “Reacher,” has no mixed race couples in it whatsoever. I was amazed, and wonder if this means the thing was made in 2019, before Hollywood decided that the accidental killing in Minnesota of a black perp by a brutal white cop in an incident having nothing to do with race meant that the world film and TV present to America must be one where nearly 100% of all married and unmarried relationships consist of two races. Isn’t it amazing that a casting feature that was once not only routine but accurate seems remarkable by its absence, and it was completely benign then and would still be accurate now?

2. Just for curiosity, I’m going to keep getting these Harvard alerts. The unethical though famous institution I graduated from once is marking this big reunion year with special online events for participants. The first one, not surprisingly, deals with…climate change! You would think that such a university, with all the subjects it covers and all of the departments available, could put together a schedule that didn’t consist of partisan obsessions, wouldn’t you?

But no. I fully expect subsequent programs to include, “Systemic Racism,” “Protecting the Right to Choose,” “The January 6 Insurrection” and “Mainstream Media Conservative Bias.”

I’m getting enough propaganda on climate change, thanks. Today I learned that “Once considered comic relief to anchors, television meteorologists are making it clear to viewers that they are covering a crisis in real time.” The “news story” headline begins, “As Storms Intensify…” Intensify based on what? There is no proof that storms are “intensifying” that justifies stating this as fact.

But you can’t deny that Al Roker is an “expert” on climate science though! After all, he attended the State University of New York at Oswego where he received a BA in communications in 1976….

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Oh, Fine: Now I Have To Revise My Harvard Reunion Boycott Letter…

MacBeth in Stride

…by adding yet another reason for my absence. Harvard is practicing straight-up segregation. It really is. But it’s OK, see, because only non-black people are being discriminated against. This is the quality of reasoning at Harvard in the 21st Century.

“Macbeth in Stride” is currently being performed by the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University’s Loeb Drama Center, near Harvard Square. This adaptation of the Shakespeare tragedy includes modern music and a version of Lady Macbeth as an “ambitious black woman” to elevate “black female power, femininity, and desire.” <YAWN!> When I see Orson Welles in Hell, remind me to thank him for inflicting on the culture an endless parade of Shakespeare updates with lazy and facile political metaphors, all executed by adapters and directors less talented than he was.

But I digress. For the reason I will have to add to my report of protest is this: Harvard’s major theater on campus has decided that we white folk aren’t welcome to one performance. From the show’s webpage,

We have designated this performance to be an exclusive space for Black-identifying audience members. For our non-Black allies, we appreciate your support in making this a completely Black-identifying evening. We invite you to join us at another performance during the run.

The production is under the auspices of Harvard’s theater department, and the race-segregated performance is on campus, in a university building and held under the college’s banner. This astounding example of direct racial bias must have been approved by Harvard itself.

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Why I’m Skipping My College Class Reunion…

Harvard strike

I already noted here that I would not attend my 50th College reunion next year because my alma mater has repeatedly embarrassed me, causing me to (literally) turn my diploma to the wall. I wrote an explanation for my boycott for my class’s reunion book, which will be published in 2022. Some of you asked that I post what I wrote. Here it is…


This is a depressing report to write. My family was always besotted with Harvard. We lived in Arlington, Mass., a short bus ride from Harvard Square. My father, Jack A. Marshall, Sr. (the Greater) graduated from the College after WWII on the GI Bill. He met my mother on campus, waving to the young Greek beauty looking at him from her office window in Mass Hall, where she was a secretary. My sister, Edith Marshall ’74 and I both attended the College after my mother returned to work there, eventually becoming the Asst. Dean of Housing.Despite all Harvard has meant to me and my family over the decades, and despite all of the special friends I long to see again, I won’t be attending the class reunion.

The university has repeatedly embarrassed and angered me over the last decade (and before), causing me to turn my diploma face to the wall. The school has become a hyper-partisan, ideologically extreme institutional shill, less devoted to educating its students and upholding its role model status than to following progressive cant regardless of the consequences or the core values trashed in the process.

I’m a professional ethicist these days, having finally abandoned the other half of my career as a stage director (The American Century Theater, 1995-2015, RIP). Most of my work is in legal ethics as a trainer and consultant. Thus I was horrified when, in 2019, Harvard’s Dean of the College announced the firing of Prof. Ronald Sullivan as Winthrop House faculty dean because he was defending Harvey Weinstein against his New York prosecution. The Winthrop House students ignorantly declared Sullivan insufficiently virtuous, but instead of using the episode to teach them (and others) what lawyers are ethically required to do, the dean joined the sit-in protest calling for his removal. To be clear about how wrong this was, by firing Sullivan, Harvard was endorsing and engaging in liberal fascism and directly opposing core democratic values.

Lawyers don’t endorse the acts, beliefs or opinions of the clients they represent. From the Massachusetts Bar’s ethics rules (I taught the Rules section of the introductory and mandatory course for new bar admittees)…

“Rule 1.2 (b): A lawyer’s representation of a client, including representation by appointment, does not constitute an endorsement of the client’s political, economic, social, or moral views or activities.”

This is a crucial principle. Fair trials and our criminal justice system depend on it; it is embodied in the Sixth Amendment of the Bill of Rights. But Harvard students found the principle insufficiently “woke,” and the college agreed. The fact that Harvard undergrads haven’t learned the importance of guaranteeing all citizens legal representation, and the fact that Harvard hasn’t taught it, apparently because its own leadership doesn’t agree with the principle itself, indicates that Harvard has devolved into more of a left-wing indoctrination machine than a liberal arts college.

That was the proverbial last straw, but there was much more before and since. Harvard’s announcement that it would defend its policy of discriminating against Asian-American college applicants in exactly the same fashion that it discriminated against Jews well into the 1960s was unconscionable. Before that, the College announced that it would punish students for belonging to single gender off-campus clubs, a decision that was the students’ choice to make and that concerned the school not at all. Harvard joined other venal institutions with lesser resources to refuse tuition refunds to students robbed of in-person teaching and the campus experience during the pandemic lockdown—odd, since I distinctly recall being told in orientation that it was the contact with other students, midnight bull sessions and extra-curricular activities (like my beloved Gilbert and Sullivan Players) that provided the real value in attending Harvard (and they were).

There are many more such betrayals on my list, but describing them all would be as tedious for you as it is upsetting for me.

Dad died in his sleep in 2009, exactly the way he wanted to go. I found him in his favorite chair. It was my birthday, and I will always suspect that my father thought of his timing as a good joke. It was a gift, really: he had just started to show his age (at 89), and he was determined not to ever burden Mom or his family. My mother never recovered from losing the love of her life, and died almost a year to the day of my father’s magnificent funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, with all the honors due to a Silver Star recipient. They are both resting there now, not far from my Alexandria home where I live with my wonderful wife Grace and, in a downstairs apartment, my 26-year-old son Grant, who does what he knew he wanted to do from childhood: he’s an auto mechanic and tech. I, in contrast, never could decide what to do with my life.

To Dave, Skip, Nels, Dick, Dennis, Mike, Howie, Greg (Thanks again), Ollie, and so many others, I have missed you, and wish I could come to Cambridge.

I just can’t do it.

More Ammunition For My College Reunion Note About Why I Will Not Be Attending Next Year…

Harvard diploma

I have to get writing soon, since the deadline is October 1. And it is clear that I have more material than I can possibly include to demonstrate why a Harvard diploma for this graduate is now an embarrassment and not to be celebrated. Another example was forwarded to me today.

A reliable blogger and respected lawyer with excellent ethics credentials tweeted that he had spoken with a man who had applied for a job at Harvard for which he was not only well-qualified, but one of the few individuals who was qualified. He had heard nothing for three months, and finally inquired, whereupon he was told via letter that he had been rejected because he did not have the requisite qualifications. By chance, the blogger knew the individual who had signed the letter, and called him up. Off the record, the individual informed him that not only qualified, but the only applicant qualified for the opening. However, he was a white, heterosexual male, and thus was rejected by the hiring committee for not meeting their demographic requirements.

[Note: the tweets did not mention the institution by name, and only alluded to the school’s address, leaving open the possibility that M.I.T., which is just down the street in Cambridge, could also be the school at issue. However. M.I.T. is not currently being sued for discriminatory practices, nor has it defended the same. My own inquiries have persuaded me that Harvard is the culprit here, but the lawyer-blogger did not break his “off the record” promise, though he came close.]

Ethics Dunce: Harvard President Larry Bacow

Allow me to stipulate that it’s unethical for a President of Harvard University to make his students stupid. Can we agree on that? In truth, it would be unethical for the President of what is supposed to be America’s most distinguished, selective and eminent institution of higher learning to make anyone stupid, but surely the leader of such an institution has a special obligation to his own students, correct?

Apparently Mr Bacow doesn’t comprehend this. Harvard President Larry Bacow issued a message to all “Members of the Harvard Community” this month. Usually such broadcasts from Olympus involve a particularly earth-shaking event on campus, but this one was standard issue climate change propaganda and fear-mongering:

Climate change is the most consequential threat facing humanity. . . . We are going to need a little optimism to preserve life on Earth as we know and cherish it today. The last several months have laid at our feet undeniable evidence of the world to come—massive fires that consume entire towns, unprecedented flooding that inundates major urban areas, record heat waves and drought that devastate food supplies and increase water scarcity. Few, if any, parts of the globe are being spared as livelihoods are dashed, lives are lost, and regions are rendered unlivable.

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Nicki Minaj Madness Continues As Harvard Gives Me Another Reason To Skip My Class Reunion…

Harvard Minaj

Who would have predicted that a nasal-voiced Trinidad rapper’s ridiculous explanation that her cousin’s friend’s swollen testicles were why she was unvaccinated against the Wuhan virus would bind together Joy Reid, the CDC, The White House, Twitter, “The View,” the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and Harvard College in public controversies highlighting the Totalitarian Left’s increasingly ominous enthusiasm for curtailing free speech?

And yet here we are, because the United States of America has lost its collective mind, with progressives and Democrats leading the madness. For the third Ethics Alarms post in three days about a celebrity I would normally ignore, we have this addition to the Nicki Minaj Affair: a Harvard undergrad using the Twitter handle @imjustjuice tweeted two weeks ago that he and his suitemates had been contacted by Harvard authorities and told to remove from their window a flag showing an unusually restrained Minaj saluting in front of Old Glory. (I missed this story at the time because, as noted above, I pay no attention to Minaj. I also pay increasingly little to my alma mater, which regularly disgraces itself.) The latest example of Harvard’s abuse of common sense, civil rights, authority and ethics sat relatively unnoticed until Swollen Testiclegate erupted, but now we learn that Minaj fans have unleashed their fury on America’s oldest, most prestigious and, of late, most obnoxious university.


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Friday Ethics Wars, 9/17/21: More Harvard Craziness, Woolly Mammoth Ethics, And The Importance Of Hiring A Competent Hitman

Death Star2

1. Fair Harvard, you continue to be an embarrassment. This is a candidate to make it into my “why I’m boycotting my reunion” note for the Class book: Giang Nguyen, executive director of Harvard University Health Services, sent a campus-wide memo telling students to follow these rules while eating and socializing in the dining halls. (I learned more eating in the dining halls and in late night snack sessions than I did in my classes):

“Eating and drinking together are a cornerstone of human social interaction, but there are ways to interact that minimize the time spent unmasked and in close proximity,” Nguyen wrote.

Among his requests to students:

  • Follow the “Quick Sip Rule” when drinking. Lower your mask, take a sip, and then promptly cover your mouth and nose. A straw can make this more efficient.
  • Do not linger with your mask down. If you wish to slowly savor a hot beverage, do it away from others.
  • Consume and cover! Consume your meal and immediately mask up when done.
  • Conversation, checking your phone, and other activities should be masked, even when you are in a designated indoor dining area.
  • If you are taking your time between bites (for conversation, for example), put your mask back on.
  • Dine in small parties of 2-to-4 people.
  • Avoid table-hopping.
  • Consider dining consistently with the same small group of people rather than a different group at every meal of the day.
  • Keep your close contacts to a minimum.
  • Limit each interaction to under 15 minutes.
  • Plan events that don’t involve eating, drinking, or removal of masks

My advice to the author of such a “request” were I a student today: “Bite me. Then put your mask on.” Harvard has a 94 percent vaccination rate among its students. As of this week, its test positivity rate is 0.18 percent.

2. Fake Woolly Mammoth ethics. This article managed to go on at great length about how a new company is planning to “de-extinctify” Wooly Mammoths and start new herds in Siberia as if it all made perfect sense. They’ve fooled private investors into giving them $15 million for the project: this is a scam, whether they know it or not. As far as the Times piece goes, it rates an ethics foul for never once mentioning “Jurassic Park.” Come to think of it, the article should have mentioned “The Producers.” Jerry A. Coyne, Ph.D, and Emeritus Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, explains just how absurd the project is:

“What they are doing is making a genetically modified Asian elephant by inserting into its genome a maximum of sixty mammoth genes that they think differentiate the modern species from the extinct one: genes that involve hairiness, cold tolerance, amount of fat, and so on. What they’d get would be a genetic chimera, an almost entirely Asian elephant but one that is hairier, chunkier, and more tolerant of cold. That is NOT a woolly mammoth, nor would it behave like a woolly mammoth, for they’re not inserting behavior genes…Further, a lot of other genes differ between a mammoth and an Asian elephant. What guarantee is there that the inserted mammoth genes would be expressed correctly, or even work at all in concert with the Asian elephant developmental system? But it gets worse. Since you can’t implant a transgenic embryo into an elephant mom (we don’t know how to do that, and we would get just one or two chances), [the group] has this bright idea…’make an artificial mammoth uterus lined with uterine tissue grown from stem cells.’

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Monday Mid-Day Ethics Considerations: Megan Rapinoe, Harvard, Pelosi And Double Standards


1. I have some ethics observations on this thing that was sent out to white parents in the Highland Park area of Texas by a Black Lives Matter-affiliated group:

Sacrifice memo

Here they are:

  • As long as white individuals hesitate to push back on BLM’s outrageous assertions and demands, the group will continue to grow more audacious and arrogant
  • The logic of this demand can only make sense to someone who has no concept of right, wrong, and fairness. “We want you to handicap your own children in order to clear the way for our children, who can’t compete and who shouldn’t have to work especially hard to overcome obstacles that you and your children are not responsible for placing in their path.”
  • The screed is an excellent example of how the concept of equal opportunity has been warped into “equity,” meaning not just equality of results, which life never guarantees, but punitive measures to ensure advantages of  favored groups over those that are disfavored, aka whites and males.
  • The extension of the argument in the letter would require athletes fortunate to have advantages of strength, speed, and skill to pledge not to compete against those not so “privileged” as to be born with these advantages, and job applicants of superior talent, intelligence and character to refuse to place themselves in a position where they would be chosen for a job over less fortunate job-seekers.

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Jesus’s Wife: A Depressing Example Of Why American Institutions Are Not Trusted And Don’t Deserve To Be

Who do you trust 3

Most people younger than me don’t know (or care) that before he was the king of late night TV on “The Tonight Show,” Johnny Carson was the young, engaging host of a pseudo-quiz show called “Who Do You Trust?” I think of that show’s title when, as is increasingly the case, I encounter stories like this one, which is described in excruciating detail in a plaintive article in the Chronicle of Hight Education.. The main facts are these:

—A 2014 Harvard Theological Review article by Harvard Divinity School professor Karen L. King purported to have uncovered an ancient papyrus fragment in which Jesus refers to “my wife.” This, coming after the sensational best-selling novel “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown and its subsequent film version starring Tom Hanks, both of which were based on a fanciful conspiracy theory regarding Mary Magdalene’s alleged relationship with Jesus Christ, understandably caused quite a stir in academia, theological circles, and the popular press.

–King’s article was deemed unlikely to the point of absurdity by many scholars from the moment it was published. “Almost everything we know,” one expert wrote, “about the nature of historical evidence points to forgery.”

—King had failed to take basic steps to vet the manuscript, which she’d provocatively named “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife.” Worse, two of the journal’s three peer reviewers had decided the papyrus was a fake. Only one had not: an acclaimed papyrologist named Roger Bagnall. Bagnall, however, had helped King draft the very paper the journal asked him to review. This is called a conflict of interest, indeed a screaming conflict of interest. Not only had King identified him in the paper as her primary adviser, but Bagnall had been filmed declaring the papyrus’s authenticity for a forthcoming Smithsonian Channel documentary.

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