Ethics Dunce: Old Town Sport And Health in Alexandria, VA. Why? Because White Nationalists Have A Right To Work Out Too

Let me be clear what you are saying, Professor: when you engage in harassment and bullying, that’s good, but if the bad guys do the same thing, it’s despicable. Do I have that right?

Last week, controversial speaker and white nationalist Richard Spencer was working out at the Old Town Sport&Health gym where he is a member, minding his own business,  when C. Christine Fair, an associate professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, recognized him and got in his face.

“Not only are you a Nazi — you are a cowardly Nazi,’ ” Fair says she told him.  “I just want to say to you, I’m sick of your crap — that this country belongs [to people like you]. . . . As a woman, I find your statements to be particularly odious; moreover, I find your presence in this gym to be unacceptable, your presence in this town to be unacceptable.”

Spencer called for a trainer, who happened to be black, to stop Fair and allow him to go back to working out.

“Seriously? This superior race of a white man needed the help of a female African American? What kind of martial race member is he?” Fair wrote in a post about the incident. Fair continued to harass Spencer, and another gym member stepped in to defend him. Fair said she told the woman, “Right now you’re being ignorant, and you’re actually enabling a real-life Nazi.”

So, naturally, Old Town Sport&Health terminated the professor’s membership for bullying and harassing other members.

Just kidding! It terminated Spencer’s membership for having the audacity to hold different views than Professor Fair. Whether Alexandria kicks him out of town on the same theory, as Fair believes is the right thing to do, is unknown.

Boy I hate it when people make me defend racists. I especially  hate it when smug, self-righteous totalitarians and noodle-spined, unprincipled  gym owners make me defend racists. Nonetheless, Spencer was the abused victim here, Fair was the offender, and she, not he, should have been told to work out somewhere else.

I’m so weary of reading about restaurants that give discounts to diners who pray, and bar owners who declare that no Democrats are welcome and Maine propane dealers who tell their customers that they can freeze to death if they voted for Donald Trump. I’m tired of pointing out what should be obvious to everyone in a pluralistic society, but suddenly isn’t, particularly, it seems, to proto-totalitarians like the Georgetown professor, who is doubtless hard at work indoctrinating her young charges into believing that those with non-conforming views should have their rights taken away for the greater good. I detest Spencer’s views, but I consider Fair and her kind the far greater threat to the nation, in part because there are so many of them. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: The Joy of Knitting Proprietor Elizabeth Poe

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Once more, we see the disturbing trend of hyper-partisan business owners attempting to divide the nation into politically exclusive camps, with progressive and conservative bars, restaurants, supermarkets, hardwear stores, pet shops and, in this case, yarn shops. This is madness, and indefensible ethically, especially in a pluralistic democracy. It is also pure bigotry, attributing negative character traits to individuals based on one characteristic alone. Banning customers because they have a political view is no less hateful, and no less offensive to the nation’s ideals, than banning them because they are black.

Elizabeth Poe, owner of a small yarn store, The Joy of Knitting, in Franklin, Tennessee, doesn’t comprehend that, so she proudly posted this  unethical announcement  on Facebook, telling potential customers who participated in the Women’s March last week,

“…if you want yarn for any project for the women’s movement that you please shop for yarn elsewhere…The vulgarity, vile and evilness of this movement is absolutely despicable. That kind of behavior is unacceptable and is not welcomed at The Joy of Knitting. I will never need that kind of business to remain open. Two wrongs will never ever make it right. As the owner of this business and a Christian, I have a duty to my customers and my community to promote values of mutual respect, love, compassion, understanding, and integrity. The women’s movement is counterproductive to unity of family, friends, community, and nation.”

Whereas shunning fellow citizens because they advocate different policies and positions than you do is a wonderful way to “promote values of mutual respect, love, compassion, understanding, and integrity, unity of family, friends, community, and nation.” Continue reading

The Professor’s Blackface Salute: An Ethics Mess

oregon-blackface-mashup

Halloween costumes, political correctness, law, privacy, and the Niggardly Principles—this one has it all.

Last Halloween, University of Oregon law professor Nancy Shurtz dressed as Dr. Damon Tweedy, the author of Black Men In A White Coat , as an homage to the African American physician and author. She did this at a Halloween party in her own home. Nobody at the party appeared to misunderstand the gesture or the intent of the costume, in part because she could explain it on the spot, and because they knew that Shurtz was no racist. Shurtz had also told the students who were invited that she would be “going as a popular book title,” hence the blackface, Afro wig, white coat, and  stethoscope.The university report on the episode states that Shurtz “was inspired by this book and by the author, that she greatly admires [the author] and wanted to honor him, and that she dressed as the book because she finds it reprehensible that there is a shortage of racial diversity, and particularly of black men, in higher education.”

But as always happens now because there is no such thing as a reasonable expectation of privacy even in one’s own home, reports of Shurtz in costume and make-up got out into the campus at large, and inflamed the predictable outrage. The university launched an investigation that culminated in a critical report prepared by an attorney and the university’s Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity.  Shurtz issued an apology—for her private conduct within her own home that was pounced upon by Political Correctness Furies, since she appears to be one herself-–on November 1. Some of her colleagues on the faculty and many students demanded that she resign, and she may have to yet. Shurtz has been censored and suspended, and is now on paid leave. It being claimed that her wearing the costume–within her own home as a gesture that all agreed was intended as benign and that nobody at the party either objected to or failed to understand— created “a hostile environment” at the school. This is apparently because

“as part of the uproar, students said things of which the administration disapproved: The report specifically notes that students used “other offensive racially-based terminology during class times in the context of discussing this event and broader racial issues.” It related that “some of the witnesses reported that the students’ reactions to the event were racially insensitive or divisive.” And it apparently viewed such statements as relevant to whether Shurtz’s own speech was properly punished.”

The report, meanwhile, concludes that the costume constituted “harassment,” and that her intentions are irrelevant.

Writes First Amendment expert Prof. Eugene Volokh: Continue reading

A “Peace On Earth, Good Will Toward Men” Ethics Quiz: The Bitter Propane Dealer

A Skowhegan, Maine Trump voter.

A Skowhegan, Maine Trump voter.

The quiz itself has little to do with the fact that Michael Turner is the kind of bad American, bad neighbor, bad community member and  jerk who makes Ebenezer Scrooge seem like a mensch, but ponder on his conduct anyway.  If you are one of the residents in Skowhegan, Maine   and you call Turner LP Gas in Skowhegan, Maine to buy propane to heat your home, you get this message from the owner:

“If you voted for Donald Trump for president, I will no longer be delivering your gas. Please find someone else.”

No, it’s not a hate crime, it’s just hate. It gets cold in Maine, and Skowhegan, like the rest of the state, has a lot of poor people among it’s 8500 or so residents. It also has many who are elderly and poor, for whom having to find another propane supplier may be not just inconvenient, but life-threatening. This is why we have public accommodation laws: To protect us, especially the vulnerable among us, from bigots and bullies like Michael Turner.

He is no different in his lack of decency and the void of ethical values in his soul than the racists who refused to allow black citizens to frequent their establishments before the Civil Rights Act, bridal shop owners who won’t sell wedding dresses to same-sex couples, and the innkeepers who turned away a pregnant woman and her husband long ago, on a night we celebrate soon.

Ethics Alarms has discussed this ugly phenomenon many times. The Bush administration tried to validate it by approving the so called “workers’ right of conscience, ” that permitted a wide variety of health care workers to refuse to administer treatments they found morally repugnant. President Obama, to his credit, restricted that wide-open door to division and bigotry, then allowed the rest of his years in office to exacerbate societal schisms to the point that we have large numbers of a political party trying to overturn a legal election while calling  Americans who dared to vote differently than they did racists, sexists and fascists.

A recent Ethics Alarms post titled, “Americans: End This Slippery Slope Now, Before It’s Too Late,” about a Washington, D.C. restaurant that publicly apologized for letting an alt-right group to eat there, asked,

Are all groups, families and individuals now going to be required to declare their political and ideological positions before being allowed to order a lasagna? What is an acceptable group? If there is a protest over a Black Lives Matter dinner,  will Maggiano’s apologize? If Mike Pence and his family eats there and the “Hamilton” cast protests, does that mean they will refuse to serve cannoli members of the Trump administration? Despite the fact that the protests came from progressives, the attack on the restaurant is totalitarian in substance.  What is being commanded is conformity of thought.

Ah, but the persecutors are the good guys, don’t you understand? They know they are right, so they can rationalize hurting anyone who isn’t like them. Michael Turner is this breed of citizen. I must admit, when I warned that electing Donald Trump would turn the U.S. into a nation of assholes, I didn’t anticipate that it would be assholes like Michael Turner.

There’s no quiz on this topic, for it is settled ethics that his practice of punishing neighbors for their political views stinks. No, the quiz involves the conduct of Turner’s customers:

Today’s Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz is this…

If Turner required customers to state that they voted against Donald Trump in order to buy propane from him, would it be unethical for Trump voters to lie?

Continue reading

Americans: End This Slippery Slope Now, Before It’s Too Late.

maggianos

Ethics Alarms has repeatedly inveighed against public accommodations that have attempted to discriminate based on customers’ social and political views. This growing phenomenon is part of the ugly legacy of division and and hyper-partisanship created by the Obama years, and it threatens to get worse. If we want an ethical society and a healthy culture, we have to unite and reject this undemocratic tendency quickly and emphatically. It literally threatens all of us.

The specific incident prompting this alarm comes from a restaurant in my region, Maggiano’s Little Italy in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Last week, Maggiano’s was subject to a protest so vociferous that the restaurant has to shut down for the safety of employees and diners. The reason for the protest was that National Policy Institute (NPI), an alt-right group, was having a banquet there. In a grovelling e-mail to the community, Maggiano’s management wrote that

“We were not aware that NPI was dining with us or what the group represents. After the event, an attendee sent a tweet in which she made a “Sieg Heil salute” in support of Hitler and white supremacy. This expression of support of Hitler is extremely offensive to us, as our restaurant is home to Teammates and Guests of every race, religion and cultural background. We want to sincerely apologize to the community of Friendship Heights for inadvertently hosting this meeting, which resulted in hateful sentiment.”

When did it become required conduct for restaurants to investigate the liberal bona fides of a group before it could be granted leave to dine there? When did what a diner tweets after a meal become conduct a restaurant had to account for? If Maggiano’s can be bullied into apologizing for serving the NPI, why would serving any other group or organization that some group of self-righteous protesters find objectionable, fairly or not, pose a similar risk?

Put aside the Nazi salute: that’s inappropriate conduct in a public place, and the restaurant could certainly, and should, tell diners who behaved like that to leave. That’s not what the restaurant is apologizing for, however.  They are apologizing for hosting the group, despite its Constitutionally protected political views. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Do We Really Want To Live In A Society Where Tow-Truck Drivers Refuse To Tow The Cars Of Bernie Sanders Supporters?”

 

I'm sorry. I couldn't resist.

I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist.

Not much introduction is needed for prolific commenter Pennagain‘s eloquent Comment of the Day on the despicable conduct by Trump supporter Ken Shupe. The news media really don’t comprehend what is important here: it almost seems that if the motorist he left stranded because she had a Sanders sticker on her car wasn’t handicapped, this might never have been a news story at all, especially since the conduct is not far removed from what would naturally be expected from most Trump fans, or to use the technical term, idiots.

Pennagain does get it, though. Here is his Comment of the Day  on the post, Do We Really Want To Live In A Society Where Tow-Truck Drivers Refuse To Tow The Cars Of Bernie Sanders Supporters?

In all the years — about forty, I think — during which I wore backpacks whereon buttons could advertise my positive preferences (social, political, philosophical or just amusing, never sports since I wasn’t suicidal), I never thought of removing one unless it was outdated for one reason or another. People often commented (that was part of the pleasure of it unless I was late to work) as either just a passing acknowledgement pro or con, or as an invitation to an argument. If the latter, I turned it to discussion as far as possible and usually succeeded, even if it meant one of us getting off the bus or the elevator with the other, or standing with a group on a street corner or at a park bench, and twice that I can remember adjourning to a nearby eatery for several hours.

Usually, people were satisfied just to state their preferences (“sharing” was big — a few jump in front of me or turn their backs so I could view their statements). More often than not and usually with tourists (or out-of-state, especially in small towns) there was an exchange of views, even if just for a few minutes, with those who were more curious than aggressive. The plus side was gathering acquaintances whom I ran into regularly, exchanging greetings or insults of the friendlier kind. Verbal aggression, yes, nearly always from fringe religious groups; physical threats only from very old people (…never understood that) and those clearly with psychological problems. I don’t know if I changed any minds, but I do know I set several people to thinking, and they did the same for me. [if they hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t be posting here now]

Continue reading

Do We Really Want To Live In A Society Where Tow-Truck Drivers Refuse To Tow The Cars Of Bernie Sanders Supporters?

Bernie Sticker

In Ashville, North Carolina,  tow truck driver Ken Shupe arrived on the scene to find motorist Cassy McWade standing by her accident-disabled vehicle  on Interstate 26. “He goes around back and comes back and says ‘I can’t tow you,” Wade told a reporter. “My first instinct was there must be something wrong with the car. And he says, ‘No, you’re a Bernie supporter.’ And I was like wait, really? And he says, ‘Yes ma’am,’ and just walks away.”

Here’s Shupe’s version:

“Something came over me, I think the Lord came to me, and he just said get in the truck and leave. And when I got in my truck, you know, I was so proud, because I felt like I finally drew a line in the sand and stood up for what I believed.”

A few quick points and then I’ll get to the real issue:

1. Shupe is an utter, virulent, IQ-deficient jerk whose conduct and attitude makes a mockery of whatever faith it is cursed to have him belonging to it, and constitute a blight on the society, community,culture and nation so unfortunate as to be stuck with him.

2. News reports make a big deal out of the fact that McWade is confined to a wheelchair. Ah: the theory is that we are only obligated to help our handicapped neighbors in need, is it? It shouldn’t matter if she was an Olympic medalist in the 50 yard dash. You don’t treat other human beings like that in any society that values human rights and common decency.

3. Shupe’s company is Shupee Max Towing in Traveler’s Rest, South Carolina. Nobody in their right mind should patronize this unAmerican creep, including his own family. This was anti-social,  cruel and objectively horrible behavior toward someone in need, and Shupe needs to be shunned, hard. If he can’t co-exist with others any better than this, he needs to live in a cave somewhere, because he’s not fit for human association.

4. To anticipate an objection: you may ask how it is that I can argue that friendship should outweigh political differences and advocacy of unethical conduct, and yet designate Ken for ignominy and rejection. If Ken were a friend of mine, I can see myself standing by him even after this miserable behavior. But, as Samuel L. Jackson tells John Travolta in “Pulp Fiction,” “We’d have to be talkin’ about one charming motherfucking pig.”

In a way, however, we should be grateful to Ken Shupe, who has provided in short order and timely fashion a near perfect example of the society-wrecking virus being actively spread by irresponsible zealots on both ends of the political spectrum who are determined to divide the nation and the culture as never before. Yes, never before. During the American Civil War, generals on opposite sides of some of the most bloody battles ever fought arranged to meet and exchange pleasantries, because they had been, and remained, friends. They understood what the self-righteous tow-truck operator, and, increasingly, our entire society, doesn’t. Continue reading

No, Of Course You Don’t End Friendships Over Support For Donald Trump…

cat and mouse

Donald Trump derangement has induced Slate’s Isaac Chotiner to pen one of the least self-aware and ethically tone deaf pieces within memory. In a post taking issue with New York Times columnist Peter Wehner’s  recent column arguing that political differences should not sever friendships and other  personal relationships, he argued that while Wehner’s principle was usually sound, it should not apply when the source of discourse is Donald Trump. He writes:

“Of course friendships should survive some political differences: I have friends who think differently than I do about everything from proper tax rates to abortion regulations. But having a friend who supports a blatantly (and proudly) bigoted candidate is categorically different. Everyone might have a different line about what issue to take some sort of moral stand on, but Trump has stepped over pretty much all of them.”

If Chotiner wants to choose his friends like that, he is free to do so. This is the attitude that is tearing apart the traditional connective tissue that makes America a unique and productive society, however, and he is promoting it.  It is also the demonization impulse, now being fed by zealots in both political parties and activists in every field, crusade and issue. This is the ultimate slippery slope. Hate your neighbor, if he doesn’t think like you do. Chotiner is embracing partyism, intolerance and, ironically, bigotry, exactly what he says makes Trump supporters unworthy of human companionship. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week: FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai

First-Amendment-on-scroll1

“The text of the First Amendment is enshrined in our Constitution, but there are certain cultural values that undergird the amendment that are critical for its protections to have actual meaning. If that culture starts to wither away, then so too will the freedom that it supports.”

—FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai  to the Washington Examiner, in an interview where he expressed concern that respect for First Amendment principles were diminishing, particularly on college campuses.

Isn’t it fascinating that so many of those who are concerned about the freedom of speech being diminished by political correctness have responded by supporting a Presidential candidate who regularly abuses the right of free speech, and whose response to protesters at his own speeches is to abuse them?

But I digress.

Today’s example of what Pai is talking about comes from California State University Los Angeles (CSULA), where president William Covino, responding to expressions of dismay from the same kinds of students who needed counseling at Rutgers, cancelled a scheduled speech by conservative pundit and Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro, and in a particularly Orwellian touch, did so citing the need for the “free exchange of ideas.” Continue reading

“His WORDS Are Too Horrible to Bear!” Why Is Rutgers Pampering Student Delusions About Free Speech?

"He DISAGREES WITH ME!! ARRGH!! It's too painful to BEAR!!!"

“He DISAGREES WITH ME!! ARRGH!! It’s too painful to BEAR!!!”

It is unethical to make students or their parents pay obscene amounts of money to be rendered incompetent and dysfunctional for the life challenges that face them. Based on this bizarre incident at Rutgers—tuition about $25,000 per year, per student—that is exactly what that esteemed institution is doing. How many others are doing the same?

Journalist Milo Yiannopoulos—that’s being generous: I’d call him a professional troll, or a white, gay Ann Coulter—kicked off his “Dangerous Faggot” tour at Rutgers. He’s an in-your-face, liberal shibboleth-shattering, intentionally provocative rabble-rouser of the hard right, famously banned by Twitter, which now appears to be sucking up to Social Justice Warriors. Milo, who is one of the ugly, culture-scarring mutants created by the radiation emanating from the hyper-partisan environment encouraged by the Obama Administration,  expounded on  gender wage gap myths, feminism, the “rape culture” and Black Lives Matters in as offensive a manner as he could, and he is talented at being offensive. Some 50 students in the audience who were there to bury Milo, not to praise him,  stood up and smeared fake blood on their faces to signal their opposition. Ten protesters left, forty stayed.

Then they had a collective breakdown, or something. The Daily Targum, Rutgers newspaper, reported that following Yiannopoulos’ appearance, students and faculty gathered in the Paul Robeson Cultural Center to discuss their trauma at his words and the reaction to it from students in the audience. “We are here to show support,” was the mantra repeated by nearly every person in the crowd as they introduced themselves, as if voluntarily listening to a hard-right, politically incorrect conservative provocateur was the equivalent of experiencing sexual assault or the death of a child. Continue reading