Weekend Ethics Update, 10/4/2020

Weekend Update

1. I’m not going to dignify all of the online cheering of President Trump’s positive test for the Wuhan virus with quotes from celebrities and social media creatures, though I have them. There have been similar reactions to the fact that Kellyanne Conway recently tested positive as well. A reputable poll—assuming that any are reputable polls—found that 40% of Democrats surveyed were “happy” the President was sick. I have never been happy that anyone was sick in all my years on this planet. This is a mean, vicious, ethically warped group of people that are behind Joe Biden in this election, and one more factor pushing me to a tipping point. (No, I’m not there yet.) But I really do wonder how decent people can make common cause with hateful individuals like this.

For what it’s worth, my perspective is that if the President plays this right, the bout with the virus will help him in November.

I agreed with his decision to largely eschew masks in public appearances, just as FDR kept his wheelchair mostly hidden from public  view and like George Washington riding into battle in full uniform, gleaming white wig, ring a tall white charger. That’s part of leadership: looking strong while also being strong. The President got sick while doing his job. Joe Biden has been hiding in the basement, taking half-days and yesterday gave a speech while wearing a mask. He looks weak, and is weak. There has never been anything especially leader-like about Biden, and most of his support is based on blind, irrational hatred of his opponent fanned into dangerous intensity by the news media and the Angry Left. I think Donald Trump may have been the only President elected more out of dislike of the opposition than genuine support of the winning candidate, and I’m not even certain of that. The candidate perceived as the strongest leader almost always wins.

2. Nah, the First Amendment isn’t in any danger from progressives! Don’t be silly! In June, the president of Miami University appointed a task force of faculty, students and staff to develop recommendations on improving the school’s “diversity, equity and inclusion.” Tellingly, no lawyers or civil libertarians make the membership list.

Now the task force has produced its recommendations, and a more confounding mass of Authentic Frontier Gibberish it would be hard to find. ( “As an Ohio public university, Miami may serve the greater community by expanding IGD pedagogy and praxis to alums and the business community”… “Create internal and external diversity marketing plans to promote literacy around intergroup dialogue and allyship across diverse social identities with sensitivity to Miami’s status as a predominantly white institution…”)  Naturally, re-education and indoctrination are among the 43 recommendations: “Make IGD mandatory for all undergraduate students, beginning with first year students, by requiring incoming first-year students to take a 1-credit IGD course (equivalent to the CAWC’s Intro to Voices program) following UNV 101 (or similar discipline-designated courses; e.g., CHM 147). Thereafter, provide other academic and co-curricular IGD opportunities for further development.” Then there’s this:

Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “My Name Is Jack, I Am Not A Racist, And All Of You Are A Disgrace To The Nation.”

Well, you knew this, by Steve-O-in NJ, would be a Comment of the Day. I virtually begged for someone to  issue a manifesto in response to my post. There were at least six likely candidates among the regulars here, but if I had to bet, my money would have been on Steve. Here is his COTD on “My Name Is Jack, I Am Not A Racist, And All Of You Are A Disgrace To The Nation.”

Oh–in a blog with a more diverse commentariat, I could count on at least one rebuttal. I hereby pledge that any reasonably articulate one will have Comment of the Day status.

My name is Steven, and I am a conservative and a Republican. I’ve been a Republican since I was 18 and never once considered walking away.

I believe Europe and the Europeans got to where they are because they learned to be better at navigation, exploration, and warfare than others, no other reasons.

I believe Christopher Columbus was a brave navigator who sailed where no one else dared to go, and that without his opening the way between old world and new, the United States would not have come to be, and the world would be the poorer for it.

I believe that George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, and FDR were the right men at the right time to deal with the biggest crises this country found itself in, and lesser men might well have failed, and we’d be worse off for it.

I believe that the Founding Fathers got it right, and that their work doesn’t deserve to be discarded because men two centuries ago did not measure up to the values of less than two decades ago.

I believe that the conquest of the frontier was inevitable, as is always the case when a more developed society meets a less developed one. Continue reading

An Ethics Alarms Mash-up! The Great Stupid Meets The Niggardly Principle, And The Result Is…Ridiculous

Contact Greg with your support, and then tell him not to be a weenie…

Greg Patton, a communications professor at the University of California’s Marshall School of Business who is an “expert in communication, interpersonal and leadership effectiveness,” according to his faculty bio, was explaining the common use of a Chinese filler word for “that,” comparing it to (regrettable American words such as “like,” “um,” “uh”…you know, filler.  The  Chinese word he spoke sounds similar to “an English language racial slur.” Of course, since any news source doing its job will burst into flame and its employees immediately dropped into Hell if it actually prints the word so we can know what has happened, I can only guess what the word the professor didn’t say sounded like. (See The Niggardly Principles)

Ah HA! finally found it. The Chinese word is “na ge,” pronounced “nah geh.”

(Can you believe it’s come to this??)

So because the professor used a word that sounded like that mystery Word That Can Not Be Told, though nobody thought he was really using that word, but some students just wanted to signal their virtue and cause him trouble, USC has placed Patton on leave while another instructor  teaches the class.

Hold on to your head and read this statement from Marshall (Great, now I have to change my name out of shame.):

“Recently, a USC faculty member during class used a Chinese word that sounds similar to a racial slur in English. We acknowledge the historical, cultural and harmful impact of racist language..”  Well, that’s a non sequitur! It isn’t racist language, is it? The Greek word for “good morning” and the Greek word for “squid” sound alike if you don’t know Greek. Is a Greek calling you a squid because you misunderstood him?

The statement went on to say that Professor Patton “agreed to take a short term pause while we are reviewing to better understand the situation and to take any appropriate next steps.”  What’s there to understand? He did nothing wrong. What next steps?

Now, USC says, it is “offering supportive measures to any student, faculty, or staff member who requests assistance” and is committed to building a culture of respect and dignity where all members of our community can feel safe, supported, and can thrive.”

Except for professors, who must live in fear of cheap shot complaints like this one, and craven administrators who let students succeed with them.

I have no sympathy for Prof. Patton if he submits to this. He has an obligation to fight it, and, if necessary embarrass the school. If he just meekly slinks away to be “re-educated,” then he’s complicit in this frightening campaign of intimidation and censorship.

Mid-Day Ethics Madness, 8/19/2020: Susan B., Fauxahontas, Utah…And “Gordie”

When I was looking through the 2012 posts yesterday, ultimately stumbling upon the long discourse about Barack Obama’s disastrous Presidency, I was struck by how, even in an election year, so many non-political ethics issues were discussed here. This is something that was already driving me crazy about 2020. Thanks to the pandemic, there is virtually no popular culture news. Legal ethics news is drastically reduced, as are reports from other sectors of society and culture. In this warped environment, politics spreads like kudzu, or killer bees, or snakeheads—you can choose your favorite invasive species or opportunistic organism analogy. I’m trying, I swear, but my over-all impression looking back on 2012 is that writing, and I presume reading, an ethics commentary blog was a lot more fun.

I’m sorry.

1. Today’s rejected Ethics Alarms comment comes from “Gordie,” was opining on the post on Ellen De Generis’s late hit accuser. He wrote,

Ellen was an a$$ to this boy and shes paying for it now. All you lip huggers need to wake TFU and rejoice when you hear truth no matter how unsavory or unpalatable you find it. Be a bully, get bullied. Dont you all see that Karma train pullin up? And with enough hands to slap every butt as it goes on by toot toot

Observations:

  • Welcome to my world. This is why so few new voices are added to the commentariat here.
  • Does anyone know what a “lip-hugger” is?
  • Tells in the comment that let us know the writer can’t tell an ethics from fuzzy slipper: mentioning “karma,” and the statement, “Be a bully, get bullied.”

2. Here is some non-political legal ethics news, and it’s important, if technical.

Before this week, only the District of Columbia, where I am licensed, allows non-lawyers to be partners in law firms. The majority position in the profession is that non-lawyers inevitably have a different alignment of values from the legally trained, and thus are not likely to be as sensitive to duties to clients, like confidentiality, and conflicts of interest. Pure “investors” are also banned from buying a share of law firm profits, because they are deemed likely to be governed by financial needs and motives rather than the best interests of clients.

When the D.C. bar decided to break the mold decades ago, everyone assumed that other jurisdictions would follow its lead, and soon doctors, engineers, scholars and accountants, among others, would be joining firms and allowing them to add new services. (Europe and Australia already allow  such “multidisciplinary firms.”) It didn’t happen.

Now, however, the dominoes might be starting to fall.  From the ABA Journal: Continue reading

Censorship, Indoctrination And Intimidation Watch, Part 2

In Part I, I discussed an example of an individual being fired for his expression of an unpopular political opinion on a personal platform. As I mentioned there, this is a recent phenomenon of great concern to Constitutional Law Professor Jonathan Turley. as expressed on his blog and elsewhere, such as his recent testimony in the Senate about the erosion of free speech and academic freedom in  universities . The Ethics Alarms post was originally supposed to highlight examples of this ominous phenomenon highlighted by Turley, and then events overcame both Turley and Ethics Alarms, as another egregious example  arose that Turley hadn’t yet covered.

Since I offered Part I, Turley’s assault on institutions intimidating individuals based on the content of their speech continued. Here, he objected to Dartmouth’s faculty and student body attempting to silence the Dartmouth Review, and independent campus newspaper that has been a voice from the Right on the liberal campus for decades. He wrote in part,

[O]ver 1000 students and faculty members have signed a letter to the Dartmouth Board of Trustees to disassociate the school from the conservative student newspaper, the Dartmouth Review. The letter accuses the newspaper of “hateful ideologies” and “racist” columns, including one cited column objecting to the careless use of the word “racist.” … [T]he reason stated by the organizers to move against the newspaper [was] in part because of a recent controversy involving an alumni who resigned from Fox News…the organizers admit that they decided to move against the newspaper as a way to responding to the controversy surrounding the resignation of a Fox producer with Tucker Carlson. Blake Neff is a 2013 graduate of Dartmouth and Review alumni. He was found to have written a series of bigoted anonymous comments.

…. [T]he idea of the letter to force the Board to prove its antiracism by attacking the newspaper, which had no role in Neff’s misconduct:  “We thought, how can the senior leadership of Dartmouth, President Hanlon and the trustees write this letter to every member of the community, and then continue in silent complicity with a publication that since its inception has consistently been an incubator of racist hate and white supremacy?”

…The failure [to] actively target the newspaper is now viewed as de facto tolerance for racism even after the school issued a letter proclaiming its support for Black Lives Matter.

…As a blog committed to free speech issues, the concern over this controversy is obvious. There are routinely over-heated rhetoric in college newspapers including many reckless statements from faculty and students on the left. We have defended many of those speakers and writers.  However, the first response of many Dartmouth graduates to the Neff story was to seek to attack the leading conservative newspaper on campus in part for its prior association with Neff.

… What is being lost in such moves is the diversity of thought on campus…. they are seeking to pressure the university to marginalize students who want to participate in these debates from a conservative viewpoint.

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/13/2020: Kamala Harris Selection Hangover Edition [UPDATED]

Hi!

In the 1945 drama “The Lost Weekend,” Ray Milland (above) played alcoholic Don Birnam, and won  the Oscar for Best Actor. The film also won the Oscar for Best Picture. Have you ever seen it? The film is virtually never shown on TV. Milland is another one of the once major Hollywood stars who are almost completely forgotten today, a fascinating group that includes Claire Trevor, Fredric March, Irene Dunne, John Garfield, and Norma Shearer, among others. If their major works were in black and white, they weren’t lucky enough to star in a film regarded as a classic, and they didn’t have a popular TV show when their movie career waned, the culture just forgets about them….and loses as a result. How many non-film nerd Americans under the age of 40 could recognize any of those actors, never mind all of them?

1. Nothing to see here: move along! Yesterday it was reported that the Democratic Party purchased the Antifa.com domain, and that clicks on the link went directly to the Biden campaign site. I checked: it did. Then, by 5:30 pm, the Biden redirect was eliminated. Res ipsa loquitur!

UPDATE: I’m putting an official question mark on this one. It is true that the Antifa.com went to Biden’s site, but that could have been a partisan dirty trick.  Of course, if true, this is the kind of story that the mainstream media would bury. If it was a set-up, it’s the kind of story the right-leaning media would credulously report as proof of Democratic de facto embrace of violence.

Trustworthy, objective journalists would be nice…

2. The vise tightens...Yesterday I noted that colleges and universities were increasingly cancelling their acceptances of students based on revelations of their past social media posts. In one case, Liberty Woodley, 17, the 2020 valedictorian of her high school class in Cape Coral, Florida., had accepted an offer to attend the University of Florida. Then a self-righteous and vicious  actress and “influencer” named Skai Jackson last month asked her more than 500,000 Twitter followers to send her screenshots of  “hateful” social media posts, so she could wrck lives and inflict pain on strangers. Someone sent in one of Woodley’s old Instagram posts in which she wrote when she was 16.

“I really try so hard not to be a racist person, but I most definitely am, there’s no denying it,” it said. Based on that, her acceptance was revoked.

 In an interview with The Gainesville Sun,  Liberty explained that had written the post out of anger at a time when she was being constantly bullied by some black classmates. “I am not racist at all, and I am not full of hate,” she said.  Well, there’s a Catch-22 for you! Oprah Winfrey and others are haranguing whites to admit their inherent racism as a first step to addressing “systemic racism,” but if they do what is asked, it means they are hateful and must be cancelled.

What do you want to bet that Liberty will vote for all Democrats in November? Continue reading

Censorship, Indoctrination And Intimidation Watch, Part I [Corrected]

Not my meme, but it fits!

Constitutional Law Professor Jonathan Turley has been on what for him qualifies as a rampage lately, condemning efforts from the Left  to intimidate and punish anyone who isn’t in lockstep with its current agenda. Those nay-sayers are  racists and hate-mongers, you see.

Turley is always labeled a “liberal professor” by the conservative media, and once that would have been an accurate description. He, however, has remained true to his ideals while his party (he is, or was, a Democrat) and its allies moved sharply in the direction of leftist totalitarianism. Dissent on the Left or opposing the Left is no longer countenanced in most universities, in news organizations,  even in business and non-profit organizations. When Turley made legal mincemeat out of the Democratic argument for impeachment, students at American University tried to get him fired.

Turley believes in academic freedom to the extreme, as well as the First Amendment, of course, and he is properly alarmed to see professors (and others) facing institutional hostility or worse because of non-conforming views. I’ll discuss some of his recent targets in Part 2.

He  hasn’t covered this story so far. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Stockton University (NJ), And Anyone Else Who Thinks A Photograph Of The President Of The United States Constitutes “Taunting”

“OH NO! TAKE IT AWAY! IT’S EVIL!!! EVIL!!!

I am about to conclude that schools and universities keep attempting to unconstitutionally smother students’ freedom of speech and expression because they think eventually the culture will just give in and let them enforce viewpoint conformity.

In the alternative, the people who run these institutions are just dumb as a box of nutcrackers.

Let’s take Stockton College in New Jersey, for example.

Doctoral student Robert  Dailyda used a photo of the President of the United States as his Zoom background during a July 1 virtual class. Some students complained, and he administration wrote in an incident report that the photo caused students “to feel offended, disrespected, and taunted.” Such students should have been told, in no uncertain terms, “Donald Trump is President of the United States, and the elected leader of the government of the nation in which you live. If his picture makes you feel offended, disrespected, and taunted, feel free to visit the campus mental health facilities. In the alternative, grow the hell up.”

Instead, ten days later and being Summa Cum Ethics Dunces, Stockton’s administrators called the student in “on the carpet”  to justify his political views, claiming that students were offended by the Zoom background of the Evil POTUS, Dailyda’s comments in the subsequent GroupMe chat in which he was attacked by other students in the class, and his subsequent Facebook post defending his rights to express his opinion. The university claimed that students also found that post “offensive, threatening, and concerning.”

The “offensive, threatening, and concerning” post read, Continue reading

More Speech Suppression And Intimidation On The Campus: The Juniata Affair

The “Concerned Juniatian” was a student named Colin Daly. This was the very end of a much longer screed (You can read the whole, very long letter here) that the Juniatia College student sent to his campus community anonymously. Juniata is a small Pennsylvania liberal arts college affiliated with the Church of the Brethren, a Christian denomination. It is also apparently devoid of respect for such values as free speech, individuality, and dissent.

Daly, a senior, wrote the email without including his name but accidentally “left identifying information on the system he used to distribute his post to all of Juniata’s email accounts,” according to PennLive.

Before it identified Daly as the author, the college’s President James Troha wrote in a statement that the email contained “slurs, hateful language, and intimations of violence directed at members of our community on the basis of their identity.” There is no threat of any kind in the letter, and the “slurs” are words referred to as slurs, not used as slurs. Here’s the section of the letter I assume Troha is referring to:

I’d like to see Daly sue Troha for libel; I think he’d have a strong case.

The next day, after it was determined that Daly was the author, the college released a new statement. claiming that “law enforcement agencies are continuing their own investigations of the matter,” and suggesting that the letter’s author student may have broken state and federal laws.

That’s some education students at Juniata are getting. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Waning Sunday Ethics Reveries, 7/12/2020: You Know, Ethics Isn’t Fun For Me When Everyone’s Acting Irrationally”

I have a couple of Comments of the Day on the runway and a guest column too, but when Steve-O-in-NJ delivered one of his epic epistles—I think they transcend “comments”—of Alizia Tyler length, I had to choose it to end the day. The topic is one Ethics Alarms has discussed in recent week: the disturbing similarities between the Red Scare and McCarthyism and the current George Floyd Freakout.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “Waning Sunday Ethics Reveries, 7/12/2020: You Know, Ethics Isn’t Fun For Me When Everyone’s Acting Irrationally”:

I dub this the White Scare.

No doubt there are still a few people who have nightmares of the living nightmare of sitting uncomfortable and squirming in the lowest seat in the Senate chamber. You sit alone before an intimidating array of microphones, all eyes on you, questions being fired at you like crossbow bolts from every angle about anything and everything. You don’t exactly know how you got there, maybe someone said your name was mentioned in connection with some gathering or that you said or wrote something that concerned them. Your finances, your job, your friendships, your family, nothing is off-limits. Question after question, hour after hour, it drags on until you forget when it began and have no idea when it will end. Letters you wrote years ago, conversations you barely remember having, meetings you remember attending, but can’t remember who else was there, leave alone the subject, the questions keep coming. As you shake inwardly, your shirt soaked from the stress of the interrogation and the fear of its consequences, the stern-faced Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin fixes you with a glare like God throwing the Egyptian host into a panic and thunders possibly the most dreaded question in history, “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” Refuse to answer, give the wrong answer, claim not to remember, or equivocate, and you are finished, tarred as a “Red,” a Communist, someone in league with the most evil regime then in the world, and the second or third worst ever, against America, the Constitution, and everything that was good.

If you have few friends when you sit down in this loneliest chair in the world, you could well have none when you leave it. There’s a very good chance that if you held a security clearance it will be revoked, because there are just too many maybes for you to be trusted. There’s a good chance that you will lose your job as you can’t hide or scrub off the red stain. There’s a very good chance your life and your family’s life will collapse or be greatly damaged or diminished. Continue reading