Late start to the day…
…in part as a hangover from the lively Smithsonian Associates presentation on cross examination with my sister last night. The event was completely sold out, a first among my five Smithsonian programs, and it was an intense two hours, followed by lively questioning from some participants who stayed for nearly an hour to grill us.
1. Good ethics news follow-up: Marlon Anderson, the black security guard who was fired from Madison’s West High School last week for protesting being called “nigger” by a student, thus triggering an unreasonable, brain-dead and indefensible “no-tolerance” policy, is being reinstated.
Interim Superintendent Jane Belmore rescinded the termination less than a week after Anderson was fired. The dismissal triggering intense criticism here and elsewhere, including a student walk-out. One nice thing about incompetent bureaucracies is that their lazy, thoughtless, unethical actions seldom are accompanied by any real logic or conviction, so they will usually back down, following the path of least resistance.
Still, as Ethics Alarms has asked dozens of times, how can responsible parents trust educators whose judgment is so wretched?
I also want to note that most publications reporting on the story emulated the Wisconsin State Journal, which wrote, “A black security guard who was fired from Madison’s West High School last week for repeating a racial slur a student had hurled at him, in an attempt to correct the student, will get his job back.”
Gee, which racial slur? Isn’t the particular slur an essential part of this story? Was it “negro”? “Uncle Tom”? When is it ever competent journalism to withhold relevant information from readers? Is the theory that the mere word will upset some readers more than the tales of carnage the same publications include daily without censorship? Do we read stories that report, “Someone did something really terrible to 26 people in a church using a weapon of some kind”?
In this case, withholding the crucial word at issue supports the “logic” behind the no-tolerance policy that led to the whole fiasco.
2. In more news of progressive word-policing: Massachusetts state Rep. Daniel Hunt—Guess what party he belongs to. Come on, guess! Hey, you have a 50-50 chance of being right!—-has submitted a bill to the legislature that would criminalize use of the word “bitch.” There will be a hearing today on Beacon Hill. Of course the bill is unconstitutional, but why should we expect elected representatives to be able to figure that out?
Meanwhile, the Boston Herald, supposedly the city’s conservative paper (meaning it’s not as left-biased as the Boston Globe) didn’t dare publish the word, writing instead, “the B-word — the term for a female dog that is commonly used to slander women.”
Someone should tell the Herald that calling a woman a “bitch,” no matter how unjustified, cannot possibly constitute slander. Continue reading