Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/5/2019: Post Impeachment Hearing Meltdown Edition

Good Morning!

Somehow a picture of the so-called “unicorn puppy,” appropriately named “Narwhal,” seems appropriate today. The Democratic Party/”resistance”/mainstream media has been pushing its corrupt impeachment plot on the assumption that sufficient Trump-haters would find it cute, but as of yesterday the undemocratic motives and ugliness of the effort stood out like a tail on a puppy’s face. You can’t hide it, and lots of people will convince themselves that it’s attractive. But rationally, the damn thing has to come off.

1. On the Stanford law professor’s joke about Barron Trump’s name. Oddly, perhaps the most harmless part of the otherwise embarrassing testimony of Stanford constitutional law professor Pamela S. Karlan yesterday became the most controversial. “While the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron,” she said.

HAHAHAHAHA! Good one, professor! Gratuitous and completely irrelevant to the issues at hand,  but hey, anything to throw fish to the seals! Based on the outrage around the conservative media, most of which only referenced this knee-slapper without quoting it, I assumed that she had actually insulted the teenager.  I kept reading about how this was one more example of the double standard: using Obama’s daughters for political warfare was off limits, but now this mean professor was getting laughs from Democrats by making fun of Barron Trump. Laura Ingraham tweeted that this joke was guaranteed to turn the public against the impeachment farce for good. (I don’t think so, Laura. You should get out more.) Naturally the First Lady piled on, tweeting at the professor, “A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics. Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it.” Trump 2020 national press secretary Kayleigh McEnany went even more overboard:

“Only in the minds of crazed liberals is it funny to drag a 13-year-old child into the impeachment nonsense,” she wrote. “Pamela Karlan thought she was being clever and going for laughs, but she instead reinforced for all Americans that Democrats have no boundaries when it comes to their hatred of everything related to President Trump. Hunter Biden is supposedly off-limits according to liberals, but a 13-year-old boy is fair game. Disgusting. Every Democrat in Congress should immediately repudiate Pamela Karlan and call on her to personally apologize to the president and the first lady for mocking their son on national TV.”

Oh come ON. Continue reading

Look! An Ethics Dunce Mob: 2,400+ Law Professors

My mind may be mush, but I can get 2400 colleagues to agree with me anyway!”

In the New York Times: The Senate Should Not Confirm Kavanaugh

One of the most disillusioning aspects of the epic 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck, the worst and most damaging of them all, has been the serial disgrace of one profession after another as they abused their public trust, ethics codes, core values, and expertise. Psychiatrists, physicians, lawyers, journalists, academics, educators, judges, elected officials, pundits, journalists, law enforcement officials and more: so many have sided with partisan mobs when the nature and mission of what makes them valuable society demand that the professionals  remain neutral and objective. Law professors have been particularly fond of disgracing themselves since President Trump’s election, and almost all of them are Democrats,  so seeing over 2400 of them sign a statement that can stand as a warning to all against taking pronouncements from this particular group of  legal academics seriously is hardly a shock.  It’s still discouraging.

What is unethical, as well as dumb, about this stunt, for stunt it is? Let us count the ways.

1. It is grandstanding and virtue signaling designed to mislead the public, and seed further division, if that’s possible. Every one of these professors can have their own individual opinion about the Kavanaugh nomination, but it is no better, or more influential, nor should it be, than yours or mine. They seek to increase their influence by amassing thousands of personal and biased opinions into a single loud one masquerading as a professional opinion, which it is not.

2. The number 2400 is inherently misleading. This isn’t close to a majority of the law professors in the country. It’s not close to a majority of the Democrats and progressives in the profession. Most of the public, however, doesn’t have continuing relationships at law schools, haven’t worked for them, haven’t graduated from one, or taught at one, like, say, me. The petition is designed to deceive. There are more than 20,000 law professors in US Law schools. Now we know at least 10% appear to be unfit to teach law.

3. The letter is completely irrelevant. Nobody in the Senate cares what a group of liberal law professors want. No Senator is going to read this opinion and say, “Oh, no! I guess I better vote against Kavanaugh: a boatload of professors I’ve never heard of think I should!” Continue reading

Comment Of The Day (6): “An Ethics Alarms Holiday Challenge! Identify The Rationalizations, Logical Fallacies, Falsehoods And Outright Errors In This Essay…”

The  Comment Of The Day Weekend concludes with a short but trenchant installment by Still Spartan. It does the metaphorical heart of old Ethics Alarms good to see such spirited and unequivocal defenses of free speech here in response to a shocking flirtation by a major news network with the idea of banning “hate speech,”  publishing  Noah Berlatsky’s juvenile opinion piece.

(Believe it or not, there are two more Comments of the Day waiting from the same post.)

Does this confirm the frequent accusation that the blog is over-subscribed by conservatives? Perhaps. Nobody here seems to be defending Berlatsky, and of late, I can’t recall any conservatives or Republicans claiming that “hate speech” isn’t protected by the Bill of Rights. Just people like Berlatsky, his two confused law professors, CNN star Chris Cuomo, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (guess what party?) former DNC Chair and Vermont Governor Howard Dean, Black Lives Matter, the Democratic mayor of Portland, Vox, indoctrinated college students, professors like Berkeley leftist George Lakoff, and college presidents.

Are there any votes for Donald Trump in that group? Never mind Trump: Mitt Romney? Any Bush? John McCain? James Madison? Voltaire?

Here is Still Spartan channels Voltaire in her  Comment of the Day on the post, An Ethics Alarms Holiday Challenge! Identify The Rationalizations, Logical Fallacies, Falsehoods And Outright Errors In This Essay Advocating Limits On Speech…

I have liberal friends who think counter-protesting or banning certain speakers on college campuses truly is the way to a more peaceful and enlightened society. I have conservative friends who are outraged/disgusted at gay pride parades, and quite frankly would be more comfortable going back to the days where gay men hid in heterosexual marriages or became that special uncle who remained a life-long bachelor. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day (5!): “An Ethics Alarms Holiday Challenge! Identify The Rationalizations, Logical Fallacies, Falsehoods And Outright Errors In This Essay…”

The  Comment Of The Day Weekend continues into the long weekend with yet another one on the Holiday Challenge, wherein readers were asked to metaphorically defenestrate Noah Berlatsky’s essay calling for a hsarp edit to the First amendment.

This sharp comment is by long-time Ethics Alarms regular Glenn Logan. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, An Ethics Alarms Holiday Challenge! Identify The Rationalizations, Logical Fallacies, Falsehoods And Outright Errors In This Essay Advocating Limits On Speech…

I read this a few days ago, at least as much as I could stomach. It’s pretty irrational. I thought this was funny:

Delgado and Stefanic, though, argue the price for freedom in this case may be higher than we think. For example, a John Hopkins study published in 2013 concluded that being exposed to racism can lead to high blood pressure and stress among African Americans.

Being exposed to racism isn’t funny, but the idea that the stress of racism is different from other stresses is medically and logically bankrupt. Being called a racist can just as easily be shown to produce the same negative physiological effects, but the author is so incredibly purblind that this would never occur to him.

So are we to place progressives who allege racism at the drop of a hat into the “You can’t say that, it’s hate speech!” column along with the n-word? I’m betting no.

More hilarity:

Currently the federal government is prosecuting 200 people for being present at the protests during Donald Trump’s inauguration, including journalists and street medics.

Heh. I guess he’s unaware that those so-called protesters were rioting, a felony in every state in the union. Protests are peaceful demonstrations, but destroying property and participating in a riot is not free speech. Also, just because a person is a “street medic” or “journalist” does not make them automatically exempt from consequences if they participate in a riot.

Police officer to journalist: “Did you just break that window?”
Journalist: “Yes, but I’m a journalist.”
Officer: “Oh, I guess it’s okay, then.”

In what universe? Berlatsky’s, I suppose. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day (2): “An Ethics Alarms Holiday Challenge! Identify The Rationalizations, Logical Fallacies, Falsehoods…”

Well, still more Comments of the Day on this post turned up today, so I better get cracking. The first one is here. Next up is adimagejim‘s excellent comment that focuses on the concept of hate speech. But first, I want to give a special honorable mention to Aleksei, who was the only reader to follow the terms of the challenge as issued, which was to identify the rationalizations used by  Noah Berlatsky in his Essay That Will Live in Infamy. 

Aleksei perused the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations List and properly identified these:

1. “Everybody does it”
1A. “We can’t stop it”
13. “It’s for a good cause”
13A. The Road To Hell
23. “I’m just giving the people what they want”
27. The Victim’s Distortion
28. “These are not ordinary times”
29A. The Gruber Variation
30. “It’s a bad law/stupid rule”
31. “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford right now”
35. “Better late than never”
48. “Haters gonna hate”
51. “That’s in the past”
57A. “If it save just one life”
58. “I’m all right with it
59. “It’s the right thing to do”

I’m still waiting for the logical fallacies. Obviously Noah employed “appeal to authority” (I am pretty sure that a law professor or two can be found to stand for just about any proposition, no matter how bizarre), “the ends justifies the means” (speaking of Nazis!), the “straw man,” and “post hoc ergo propter hoc.” I have to confess: I don’t want to linger enough on this piece of offal long enough to do a definitive analysis myself. Reading it makes me angry—oh not the article itself: stupidity doesn’t make me angry. What I find infuriating is that NBC would give it the legitimacy publication as a “thought experiment,” leading others as weak-minded as its author to give his arguments the same level of  credibility he gave to the addled professors.

Here is adimagejim‘s Comment of the Day on the post, An Ethics Alarms Holiday Challenge! Identify The Rationalizations, Logical Fallacies, Falsehoods And Outright Errors In This Essay Advocating Limits On Speech…:

To be just and transparent, self-proclaimed conservatives such as George Will in his doctoral thesis defends the notion of excluding others, like Nazis, from the formal political process due to their explicit seeking to undermine or eliminate the constitutional rights of others. This is not classically liberal thought nor does it appropriately defend the rights of political minorities, as abhorrent as they may be.

The problematic issue is the notion of hate speech itself. Who is to determine what is and is not hateful speech? Who is to codify it? Who will enforce it? Who will adjudicate it? Who will pronounce the types of sentences for it? It is apparent those advocating for hate speech regulations wish to be all of the above. And, again, by the annals of their thoughts, move the goal posts of right and wrong, illegal and legal as they see fit.

Proponents of this kind of thought advocate for the notion of those they view as currently empowered as the only people capable of doing harm and therefore are one crucial step closer to conviction in the kangaroo court of their minds.

Has anyone seen what are proposed to be microaggressions by the hate speech law proponents? It is both amazing and unintelligible. Your job as the allegedly empowered is to unceasingly bow to the offended for offenses committed by you by your existence.

The result of all this would likely be an intellectual, if not actual, concentration camp. A camp to be run by erstwhile comic book editors.

Comment Of The Day (1): “An Ethics Alarms Holiday Challenge! Identify The Rationalizations, Logical Fallacies, Falsehoods…”

While I was away talking about legal ethics with some extremely lively and ethically astute D.C. lawyers, I challenged the Ethics Alarms regulars to identify the rationalizations, logical fallacies, falsehoods and outright errors in this risible essay by Noah Berlatsky, who presented a terrible case for suspending the First Amendment in the case of “Nazis” (not that there is a good case available) that was somehow deemed worthy of publication on the NBC website, in a section called “Think,” of all places. To be fair, NBC does not have a section called “Brain Dead,” so that wasn’t an option.

A brief sample of Noah’s reasoning:

“This doesn’t mean that the First Amendment is useless, clearly. Hopefully it will play a part in helping the protesters, known widely as the J20 defendants, go free. But it also isn’t a cure for all social ills. Hate speech hurts marginalized people, and the First Amendment doesn’t always and invariably protect them. Free speech advocates say that hate speech “is a price ‘we’ pay for living in a free society,” Delgado told me, but they never stop “to add up the two accounts” or look “to see on whom the price is imposed.”

“I’m expecting some Comments of the Day when I get back from my seminar,” I wrote.

I got them. First up is this masterful effort by Mrs. Q. As of this moment, Mrs. Q holds the Ethics Alarms record for the best Comment of the Day- per-comments-made-ratio (min. 25 comments or more). This COTD is also notable for its rare format, the satirical parody.

Here is Mrs. Q’s Comment of the Day on the post, An Ethics Alarms Holiday Challenge! Identify The Rationalizations, Logical Fallacies, Falsehoods And Outright Errors In This Essay Advocating Limits On Speech…:

Hi. My name is Noah. I’m Jewish so I can tell you all about what black people go through. Also I just fuckin’ hate Nazi’s for the obvious reasons. So anyway I’m mostly going to refer to one book by two authors as my jumping off point. I know that’s rather limited in making a coherent case but hey, free speech right?

First off I want you to know I’m woke. You know this because even though my fellow liberals are becoming more anti-Semitic thanks to Black Lives Matter collaborating with BDS, I’m still being published on NBC news which you know, is super down, which means I’m super down too. Continue reading

An Ethics Alarms Holiday Challenge! Identify The Rationalizations, Logical Fallacies, Falsehoods And Outright Errors In This Essay Advocating Limits On Speech…

…then please explain to me…

…why NBC would put such crap on its website, especially in a section called “Think”…

…how a freelance writer for a comic book website is deemed qualified to discuss Constitutional law..

…how people can graduate from college and not understand the principle of free speech better than this guy…

…why a “case” so easily refuted (“If you can proclaim what Nazis say as illegal speech, what will stop some other group with temporary power from declare your speech illegal?”) continues to be argued by so many?

Read the thing here.

(Keep a bucket handy.)

I’m expecting some Comments of the Day when I get back from my seminar…