SCOTUS Approves State Tuition Aid For Students To Attend Religious Schools

People gather outside the Supreme Court building as the court hears oral arguments in the Espinoza v. Montana Dept. of Revenue case in Washington, U.S., January 22, 2020. REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger.

This opinion just came down, and I haven’t had an opportunity to read it, and probably won’t until tomorrow.  In Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the justices held that the application of the Montana Constitution’s “no-aid” provision to a state program providing tuition assistance to parents who send their children to private schools discriminated against religious schools and the families whose children attend or hope to attend them, in violation of the free exercise clause.  This was a straight conservatives vs. liberals majority, and Chief Justice Roberts, much maligned of late, wrote the majority opinion. The Washington Post  reports,

Chief Justice John G. Roberts …said the Montana Supreme Court was wrong to strike down the program because of a provision in the state constitution that forbids public funds from going to religious institutions. The U.S. Constitution’s protection of religious freedom prevails, he said.

“A state need not subsidize private education,” Roberts wrote. “But once a state decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.

Again, I haven’t read the legal arguments, but the ethical justification for the opinion is clear. If public schools could be trusted not to indoctrinate students with political view and social positions that their parents might oppose, the urgency of the state providing affordable alternatives would be far less. However, alert and involved parents realize, or should, that by sending students to public schools, they are too often subjecting them to partisan and ideological brain-washing, and we are seeing the results in the streets as I write this. There need to be alternatives other than home-schooling. The ethics principles here are fairness, respect, and autonomy. Continue reading

Ethics Alarms 2020 Election Update: Nearing A Tipping Point, Part 1

Less than a month ago, I wrote this post, explaining why, despite the near complete ethical bankruptcy of and rejection of democratic values by the Democratic Party and its allies, I would nonetheless refuse to vote for President Donald J. Trump in November. I wrote,

Absent my professional and public assessments as a professional ethicist, I would have no difficulty at all in officially concluding that Donald Trump is the preferable, indeed essential, choice to lead the country in the next four years when the alternative is a party that has revealed the corruption and antagonism toward American ideals as has the Democratic Party. But President Trump, as I pointed out repeatedly in 2015 and 2016, is the antithesis of the kind of leader my knowledge and expertise  indicates should ever be placed in a leadership position of any kind, or in a position of power and trust.

For me to vote for such an individual would render my credibility in my profession, and what is more important, my personal and professional integrity, void.

An ethicist cannot, in my view, support or vote for Donald Trump as President, nor can an ethicist, at least this ethicist, have any position but the rejection of the current iteration of the Democratic party as antithetical to American values.

I have not reached the point of reversing myself on this crucial decision for me personally, professionally, and as an American. Not yet. I feel, however, that the time may be approaching where my case of ethics zugswang cannot be honestly addressed by refusing to take a side. This week, in particular, has forced me to consider that a tipping point may be at hand.

As I have written before, whatever cosmic script-writer came up with the harebrained idea that someone as personally repellent and ethically inert as Donald Trump should be thrust into the position of being this great nation’s crucial last defense against the rising totalitarianism and fascism of the left is a sadist with a sick sense of humor. It is increasingly difficult to deny, however, that this is the ethical conflict that America finds itself in. At the point, fast approaching, when I have to confront the conclusion that defeating the Democrat/”resistance”/ mainstream media collective is the only way to ensure that the United States and its values remain viable and intact, refraining from making a noxious choice will no longer be an option.

Three stories today accelerated the likelihood of my having to face that tipping point:

I. Writing at the Washington Post, staff cultural reporter Alyssa Rosenberg argued that the networks should cancel all the cop shows on television. You can read the thing here; if I have to explain what is frightening about her argument, then you are already too far gone to be cured. This, it is increasingly clear to me, is the agreed-upon modus operandi  of the American Left. Since they cannot advance their agenda by logic, arguments, civic debate and persuasion, they will accomplish it by intimidation, mind control, indoctrination, and censorship. We must like what they like, hate whom the hate, and believe what they believe, and every aspect of the culture, including entertainment, must advance that objective.

This is, of course, how Orwellian cultures operate, and we have witnessed a steady and barely opposed drift toward this as the preferred path to power by the Democratic Party.  Rosenberg believes that citizens should not be allowed to see TV programs that don’t comport with the Left’s now mandatory view that police must be regarded as racist villains and law enforcement be  seen as a malign force. The Post op-ed follows on the heels of the New York Times capitulating to its “woke” staff’s demand that non-conforming (to the Times’ world view) opinion pieces be rejected for publication. The news media’s activist agenda is out of the shadows and indisputable. Continue reading

Ethics Alarms 2020 Election Update: Nearing A Tipping Point, Part 2

The first two stories pushing me to a tipping point are discussed in Part 1, here.

This is the third.

3. Brown University issued embarrassingly rote agitprop in support of the George Floyd protests, and Brown Professor of Social Sciences and Economics  Glen Loury, an African American, searingly called them on it.  The letter is a template for the indoctrination virtually all students now receive at elite institutions of higher learning; it could have issued from any one of a thousand schools. Like Twinkies or Lucky Charms cereal, the letter is devoid of nutrition, though of the intellectual variety. Loury published a rebuttal. He’s an ethics hero. Here is Loury’s letter: Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 4/11/2020: Law School Indoctrination, The Surgeon General, And One More Mainstream Media Bias Smoking Gun

Not depressed or crazy yet!

This translated (by Mort Shuman) Jacques Brel song made my mother depressed and crazy, yet she insisted on playing it. She was like that. You know…Greek. I’m really glad that she didn’t live to see this particular ordeal through, because I would have made my folks live with us for the duration, and I would definitely be crazy by now.

I did not know John Denver recorded this; as with everything else he sung, he does a masterful job. He fought depression his whole life, which astounded me, given his public demeanor, when I first learned that. That was before I learned how common and pervasive this terrible illness is. They are not being hyperbolic when they say that a protected lockdown will eventually cause a lot of suicides.

1. One more from “Social Q’s. In the same column that triggered me regarding this issue, there was another interesting query :

Like millions, I am working from home and spending lots of time videoconferencing with co-workers and clients. My boss conferences in from his home office, where, behind his smiling face, hangs a painting of a cyclone tearing through a city. He may be so used to it that he’s oblivious to the bad message it sends. He’s not a friend, but we have a cordial relationship. Should I point out that the painting may upset people?

I am less interested in this question for its ethical issue, which is not worth discussing–“No, you idiot, you do NOT have any business telling someone forced to participate in a video conference that he has an obligation to decorate his home to please other participants  and to avoid “upsetting” the hypersensitive!”—than I am curious about how anyone would get the idea that such an obligation exists. It’s not as if he has a swastika or a Confederate flag hanging behind him, or erotic art, or a historical photograph that could fairly be called unduly provocative.

I find this to be a nascent totalitarian mindset, requiring conformity in all things, and it scares me to death, frankly.

2. The indoctrination problem. I just got the latest copy of the Georgetown University Law Center alumni magazine, and was impressed by how large, slick and professional it has become in the decades since I put together the first issue when I was the GULC Director of Development under Dean David McCarthy. Oh, they changed the name a few years ago: the Dean and I had called it “Res Ipsa Loquitur,” which should come as no surprise to any regular readers here. The real revelation, however, is what a pure progressive and partisan indoctrination factory the school has become. Justice Ginsburg welcomed the incoming class. Nancy Pelosi and Henry Louis Gates ( of Beer Summit fame) addressed  the graduating third year students. New York Solicitor General Barbara Underwood successfully  sued the Trump Foundation, so she was worthy of an honorary degree.

The featured interview in the issue: Justice Elena Kagan. A new Workers Rights Institute has been launched.  Invited to serve on a panel about “Challenges to the Rule of Law,” was George Conway. The school just dedicated its “green spaces” to Democratic D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. There is a major article about our obligation to guarantee the health of “migrants,” the current cover-word of choice meaning “Illegal immigrants.” Of course, there’s a climate change activist piece, an anti-nationalism piece, and a pro-diversity piece. Continue reading

High Noon Ethics Showdown, 4/2/2020: Reality Dawns

Yyyyyyup!

Interestingly, the usually busy street bordering on our cul de sac looks just like this right now, except Gary Cooper isn’t anywhere to be seen…

1. What? The U.S. does NOT have more Wuhan virus cases than China? How can that be??? Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.), hardly a knee-jerk Trump apologist, who sits on the Senate committee that deals with classified intelligence, said the Chinese Communist Party continues to lie about the death toll from the virus. He has said information he has viewed shows the United States does not surpass China in terms of deaths. This was obvious to anyone not actively trying to use the spread of the illness for partisan advantage, but it’s nice to have confirmation.

“The claim that the United States has more coronavirus deaths than China is false,” Sasse said yesterday. “Without commenting on any classified information, this much is painfully obvious: The Chinese Communist Party has lied, is lying, and will continue to lie about coronavirus to protect the regime. Beijing’s garbage propaganda shouldn’t be taken seriously by the World Health Organization, by independent journalists, or by the American epidemiologists who are going to beat this terrible virus.”

This, of course, further impugns the news media. Stephen Kruiser wrote,

“Every day, they find new ways to reinforce the “Enemy of People” status that they have been earning every day in the Trump era. They’ve routinely scolded anyone who accurately refers to the virus as being of Chinese origin, screaming “RACISM!” as if they were getting paid each time they uttered or typed the word. What has been most insidious has been the parroting of whatever China reports about the virus. Almost everyone in American media has been acting as ChiCom public relations lackeys, taking everything that the Chinese government says and passing it along without questioning any of it.”

Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/28/2020: Well, In At Least One Respect, WW II Must Have Felt Like This…

“This” being that almost every single news item and media article related in some way to a single topic, the war then, the pandemic today. That’s one reason President Roosevelt asked major League Baseball to keep playing on, despite the fact that most of the game’s stars had enlisted or were about to,  leaving the teams to field old players, players who came out of retirement, minor leaguers, and such curiosities as Pete Gray, the one-armed outfielder. 

Wait: the baseball season was supposed to start two days ago, and is postponed at least until May. In that regard, at least, this is worse than World War II…

1. Speaking of baseball: Red Sox ethics! Major League Baseball approved a pool of 30 million dollars (That’s $1 million per club) to compensate ballpark employees during the enforced suspension of games. That left out the employees of subcontractors like Aramark, the company that supplies Fenway Park with food services, among other things. The Sox announced that it would add a half-million dollars to the $1 million for Aramark, a move that is expected to shame the other 29 clubs into similar moves.

2. You wonder why America’s children are growing up to be Marxists? Well, this doesn’t help: The following articles appeared this week in Teen Vogue:

3. From the front page of the Boston Herald:

I’m not going to track down the article; it would just ruin the wonderful picture in my head. Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up, 3/17/2020: Wuhan Virus-Free Zone. Well, Almost…

Good morning.

Stir crazy yet?

I have discovered, in my ongoing efforts to get traffic here back to 2016 levels, before Facebook banned the blog and The Great Exodus Of The Trump Deranged, that daily visits are 20% higher if I get a post up before 8 am. This has often caused me to get out of bed at 4 am or earlier to hit the keyboard. Today I couldn’t do it: I was so anxious last night about all the looming cancellations of my ethics programs that I barely got any sleep. Sure enough, I’m down about 400 visits compared to yesterday.

There are remarkably few comments on the Paige Spiranac saga. Well, I thought it was interesting. I also must confess that the post was in part for beloved long-time commenter Lucky, who I hope is still following the blog. Paige is his type.

I have concluded that a large number of my Facebook Friends block my posts from their feeds, because they’d rather read the daily wave of anti-Trump columns from the likes of Paul Krugman, Jennifer Rubin, and Michelle Goldberg without any unsettling clarifications from me. I have never unfriended anyone who didn’t personally insult me, but I’d unfriend someone for that. It reminds me of the “Black Mirror” episode where you can block someone in real life, and then they can’t see you, communicate with you, and vice versa.

I’m procrastinating finishing Part III of the Wuhan Virus ethics series. It covers politics and the news media, and the content makes me so angry I can’t see straight. Increasingly I’ve been wanting to write like Kurt Schlichter, the novelist/conservative gadfly, who writes things like,

“But the battle is really for the shriveled heart of the Democrat Party, and no one better represents the yin and the yang of that dying collection of power-hungry elitists and grasping greedos than the doddering socialist Sanders and that Biden guy who should by all rights be chasing that damn know-it-all squirrel around the park.”

I can write like that, I have written like that in the past, and I enjoy writing like that, but its not ethical. Schlichter recently wrote that a snarling Hillary Clinton would pop out of Joe Biden’s chest at the Democratic National Convention like in “Alien.”   What a great image…

1. Do you feel like you are being conditioned and brain washed against your will? In addition to Hollywood’s efforts to change the race or gender of every white male hero of yore, TV commercials are now giving sex changes and race overhauls to iconic characters in ads. “Mikey” in a new Life cereal commercial is a little girl. “Jake from State Farm” is now a black guy. I really don’t care who plays “Mikey” or “Jake from State Farm.” I do object to intrusive woke propaganda.

I’m waiting for Tony the Tiger to show up as a black panther and for a new Jolly Green Giantess…

…who goes “Hee Hee Hee!” Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Month: Ann Althouse

Ann Althouse cited this item from the Capital Times:

“Several Madison alders are sponsoring the resolution creating the LGBTQ+ Rainbow Murals and Crossings Art Pilot Program, which would install LGBTQ+ inclusive rainbow flag markings… at pedestrian crossings on the Capital City Trail and near the Capitol Square…. ‘…It would be a reminder to residents who see it that the LGBTQ community is an important part of the fabric of Madison, especially given that we have a lesbian mayor and many other queer people in positions of power’.”

This prompted her Ethical Quote of the Month:

“Why should the street be painted to remind us of who’s in a position of power? I would not paint anything political on the street. Let the street be a street. It doesn’t need to talk to us, especially not to nudge us about what we should believe or value.”

Why indeed.

This is why the Carly Simon song came to mind, but with slightly altered lyrics:

We can never know about the days to come
But the right side of history
Is clear.. wondering if you’re on board with me
Or just going through the motions now

Indoctrination, indoctrination
Is making me woke
I’m in the right crowd now

And I tell you how easy it feels to be so good
How right to have the mob around
But I, I rehearsed these words just late last night
When I was thinking about how washed your brain could be.

Indoctrination, indoctrination
Is keeping me safe,
Safe from the antifa..

And tomorrow we might not be agreeing
That would mean that we cannot associate
So let us program your brain for good
Repeat this phrase, ‘cause we’ll tell you what to think
We’ll tell you what to think
And stay right here, ‘cause we’ll tell you what to think.

We’ll tell you what to think.
We’ll tell you what to think.
We’ll tell you what to think.
We’ll tell you what to think…

Ethics Quote Of The Week: John Hinderaker

“It is almost unbelievable how ignorant and ill-educated America’s college students are. They are well below average in every material way. For all my life I have been an advocate for higher education, but I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that college is generally a mistake, as young people are mostly misinformed there, rather than educated. There are a few technical fields–medicine, engineering, possibly law–where such education is actually useful. Otherwise, we and our young people would be better off if they eschewed institutions like Colgate in favor of trade and technical schools, or immediate entry into the labor market. They couldn’t possibly do worse than to pursue the typical four-year liberal arts degree.”

—-Attorney-blogger John Hinderaker, in a Powerline post about the  hostile treatment conservative  author Heather McDonald received from Colgate students when she was invited to speak there.

The reason this seems almost unbelievable to Hinderaker, and the reason I chose this as an ethics quote, is that his painful conclusion that nobody wants to admit is true. I don’t want to admit it, and I was becoming convinced of this decades ago, when I  was part of the administration of Georgetown Law Center and discovered that we had Yale graduates who couldn’t write a coherent sentence, and later, when I had Stanford interns who thought Jane Fonda was an aerobics instructor and who looked at me blankly when I mentioned the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and still later, when a smart young woman who had graduated from Hofsta didn’t know who Jackie Robinson was, and when a Skadden Arps attorney with a Cornell degree guessed that the Civil War was fought sometime in the 1930s.

This is why I was not disappointed when my son, scion of a family with three Harvard graduates and a career Harvard employee, announced that he saw no point in going to college. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “KABOOM! At What Point Do Parents Blow The Whistle On Flagrant Ideological Indoctrination In Our Schools?”

This superb Comment of the Day by Steve-O-in NJ, on the post, “KABOOM! At What Point Do Parents Blow The Whistle On Flagrant Ideological Indoctrination In Our Schools?,” needs no introduction.

It just needs to be read.

A USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon, mainstay of the last 12 years of the Cold War, launches to fly a patrol. In those years it could have been anywhere from Italy to Spain to Turkey, while throughout Europe squadrons of the same under allied flags kept watch. A USAF F-15 Eagle, older still (they entered service in 1976) takes to the air. In the Cold War they kept watch further north, in Germany, in England, and even at Keflavik in Iceland. Every day they drilled, every day they patrolled, every day they were ready to go into battle on command, to stop the tyrannical scourge of Soviet communism or die trying.

We’d made a deal we wished we hadn’t had to with them, because the alternative was the genocidal tyranny of Nazism. We’d either looked the other way on, or not asked and not been told about, or accepted their lies about the worst things they’d done then like the Katyn Forest Massacre. However, we’d also seen them try to starve and freeze West Berlin out, and we’d seen them roll right over Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 when they dared to try to move toward greater freedom. We would be damned if we were going to let them bring that tyranny to the Rhine or past it. We’d heard from those who escaped what the conditions were like on the other side of the Iron Curtain, and we wanted no part of them.

We wanted no part of a system where there was one political party and only one. We wanted no part of a system where those who deviated from the party line either died or disappeared suddenly. We wanted no part of a system where faith was officially disapproved of and suppressed. We wanted no part of a system where the individual was just a cog in the government machine and had no hope of doing better. The system they offered was simply antithetical to what the Founding Fathers set up for this country, and we weren’t letting them bring it here. We’d fight to prevent it, and we’d die fighting rather than surrender to it. That’s why there were these patrols, that’s why the 41 for freedom were at sea at all times, but no one knew exactly where, and that’s why the 2nd Armored Division was always ready to go and the 82nd and 101st had battalions ready to fly out on minimal notice.

Now one of our political parties is likely to nominate a man who not only went behind the Iron Curtain, but did it willingly, for a honeymoon, when most of us head to someplace with a lot of sun and sand, or a lot of palazzos and palaces if the beach isn’t our thing. Not only did he go there, but he praised what he found there, in the place where those who dared speak out vanished and a refrigerator was a luxury item, saying it was a better system than we had here. Not only did he go there and praise what he found, but he did it while Ronald Reagan was finally arm-wrestling the Soviets to their final defeat, which would lead to their dissolution 3 years later. Not only all this, but he wants to bring that failed system here, on speed, and his followers say damned be anyone who stands in his way, because cities will burn otherwise.

I don’t know what’s more ironic (though not in an amusing way), that this system no longer exists in the nation where it originated (which also doesn’t exist anymore), or that the party that’s about to nominate this man is the same party that produced Thomas Jefferson, architect of the American brand of freedom, Andrew Jackson, who decisively stopped the first attempts to tear this nation apart, FDR, whom many still count as third in the great trinity of US presidents with Washington and Lincoln, and Harry Truman, who was the first president to stand up against this system that his party now wants to bring here. Continue reading