Once Again The Courts Step In To Prevent Woke Discrimination

believe all survivors

Say what you will about the Trump Education Department, the fact that it reversed the anti-due process bullying of the Obama administration, which threatened colleges and universities that did not use a presumption of guilt to investigate accusations of campus sexual harassment and assault, was laudable and ethical. Now the Biden administration is in the process of reversing the reversal, as it once again embraces a “believe all women” context for such cases. (Well, “believe all women” except in cases where the Governor of New York and the president of the United States aren’t involved—but that’s another story.)

Fortunately, we have the courts, which are being kept especially busy as the progressives in power try to run roughshod over that damnably inconvenient Constitution thingy. This month the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the disingenuous argument by the University of Minnesota that they weren’t stacking the deck against accused male football players due to their gender, but rather tilting the process toward their accusers because the school was biased against all students accused of sexual misconduct. Riiiight, the Court concluded:

The district court concluded that a university’s bias in favor of the victims of sexual assault does not establish a reasonable inference of bias against male students, citing Doe v. University of St. Thomas, 240 F. Supp. 3d 984, 991 (D. Minn. 2017). While the circumstances here also give rise to a plausible inference of bias in favor of sexual assault victims rather than against males, “[s]ex discrimination need not be the only plausible explanation or even the most plausible explanation for a Title IX claim to proceed.” Schwake, 967 F.3d at 948; see Columbia Univ., 831 F.3d at 57. Thus, we reverse the district court’s dismissal of the Does’ Title IX discrimination claims.

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From The Increasingly Fantastic Annals Of The Great Stupid: Norton And The Philip Roth Biography

One more time I have to remark, “I don’t understand this at all.”

Last week, publisher W.W. Norton sent a memo to its staff announcing that it will permanently take Blake Bailey’s biography of Philip Roth out of print, as a result of allegations that Bailey sexually assaulted multiple women and also behaved inappropriately toward his students when he was an eighth grade English teacher.

If that sentence makes sense to you, The Big Stupid has you by the brain stem.

“Norton is permanently putting out of print our editions of ‘Philip Roth: The Biography’ …Mr. Bailey will be free to seek publication elsewhere if he chooses,” the email said in part, and was signed by Norton’s president, Julia A. Reidhead. Reidhead later said that Norton would make a donation in the amount of the advance it paid to Bailey in a mid-six-figure book deal to organizations that support sexual assault survivors and victims of sexual harassment.

What’s the theory here? That the book is eeeevil? The late Philip Roth did nothing to justify banning his book, and besides, since when did we ban autobiographies of bad people anyway? Reviews of the biography were mostly positive: in The New York Times Book Review, novelist Cynthia Ozick called it “a narrative masterwork both of wholeness and particularity, of crises wedded to character, of character erupting into insight, insight into desire, and desire into destiny.” The Washington Post described it as “a colorful, confident and uncompromising biographical triumph.” The book quickly landed on the New York Times best-seller list.

As for Bailey, he is an acclaimed literary biographer of writers like Richard Yates, John Cheever and Charles Jackson, and the author of a memoir of his own. He received the Guggenheim Fellowship and was a Pulitzer finalist for his Cheever biography. Philip Roth handpicked Bailey to write his biography after meeting with him in 2012.

In addition, the allegations against Bailey have nothing to do with his profession as a writer or his professional output. It’s not as if he was running for President and was accused by a former staffer of raping her while he was serving as a U.S. Senator. More importantly, the allegations are unproven and untested. Bailey denies them, saying in a statement, “I can assure you I have never had non-consensual sex of any kind, with anybody, ever, and if it comes to a point I shall vigorously defend my reputation and livelihood.”

Suzanne Nossel, the chief executive of the writers organization PEN America said that Norton’s action risked establishing a new, troubling norm that could narrow the range of ideas and information available to readers.

Gee, ya think?

“Bringing out a book should signify that a publisher believes there is something edifying, worthwhile or elucidating contained in the volume,” Nossel said. “It should not be construed as an endorsement of the ideas or narrative purveyed, nor of the personal conduct of the author.”

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Another Media-Protected Democrat Is Accused Of Sexual Misconduct By One Of Those Women Who Must Be Believed

This time, it’s Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, who wasn’t exactly in the best of shape politically to start with—you know, all those dead nursing home residents and a his cover-up and everything.

But we have seen how this usually plays out, have we not? Keith Ellison, formerly co-chair of the DNC, was accused of abuse by two exes, but managed to get elected Attorney General of Minnesota. Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax also has been accused of sexual assault by two women, one claiming rape. Fairfax swears the encounters were consensual, and maybe they were…but then that’s what they always say, isn’t it? Then, of course, there is Joe Biden, whose former staff member accusing him of rape didn’t stop the vast majority of American women, those progressive, feminist warriors, from voting for him.

Lindsey Boylan, a former aide to Cuomo, came forward with detailed allegations of sexual assault and harassment against the governor yesterday, adding to the accusation she had made last December. Boylan accused Cuomo of kissing her on the lips and asking her to “play strip poker” on a plane ride on his official jet. “Governor Andrew Cuomo has created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected. His inappropriate behavior toward women was an affirmation that he liked you, that you must be doing something right,” Boylan wrote. “He used intimidation to silence his critics. And if you dared to speak up, you would face consequences.”

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Ethics Overview, 1/6/2021: Don’t Believe Women If They Are Married To Democrats, Helen Keller Is A Myth, Christmas Trees Are Yummy, And More!

Calvin And Hobbes Ethics

1. About the Georgia special elections:

  • I’d love to know why people who live in big cities run by incompetent Democratic mayors still happily vote for Democrats. Atlanta and its suburbs are driving the likely victory of both Democratic candidates, yet the mayor of Atlanta, like her counterparts in Washington, D.C., New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and so many other Democratic strongholds is objectively terrible. Amazing. There is no accountability at all.
  • That said, none of the candidates for either party last night have much to recommend them except their party affiliations. I wouldn’t vote for Purdue, unless he were running against as bad a candidate as Ossoff, and maybe not even then. (From the December post on that race: “If the Republicans lose the Senate because enough voters are disgusted by this and refuse to trust a Senator who used his position to benefit financially, it is the party’s own fault. Republicans should police such conduct, and could. They apparently care more about their own riches than the fate of the nation.”)
  • Raphael Warnock’s win should kill any credibility #MeToo has for Democrats and progressives for good. He’s been accused of spousal abuse by his ex-wife, in a direct statement by her that would have prompted screams of indignation had he been a Republican. After Joe Biden’s win and now Warnock, Al Franken must feel like the biggest dupe on Earth. And he should.
  • Would the GOP have at least won one of the two Senate seats in Georgia had not the President been unable to restrain his inner asshole for a few weeks in the interests of his party and the nation? I think so.

2. Madness! Madness! I keep reading in multiple sources about how there is growing support for a national 15 dollar-an-hour minimum wage, as President-Elect Biden proclaims his support for the measure. With the disastrous shutdowns across the country killing small businesses and the restaurant industry in particular, this is the worst possible time to mandate an increase in restaurants’ expenses, but I’m sure it will happen anyway though it is irresponsible and incompetent.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/7/2020: The Day That Will Live In Infamy

Pearl Harbor

Today, of course, is the anniversary of the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

At 7:55 a.m Hawaii time, a Japanese dive bomber emerged out of the clouds above the island of Oahu. 360 Japanese warplanes followed in a devastating attack on the unsuspecting U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor. The U.S. Pacific fleet was nearly obliterated: Five of eight battleships, three destroyers, and seven other ships were sunk or severely damaged; more than 200 aircraft were destroyed; 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,200 were wounded. Japan lost just 30 planes and fewer than 100 men. By the sheerest luck, all three Pacific fleet aircraft carriers were out of the harbor and at sea on training maneuvers, allowing the U.S. to use them to turn the tide of the Pacific war against Japan at the Battle of Midway six months later.

I always felt connected to the tragedy at Pearl Harbor through my father. At the dedication of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., Dad introduced me to a veteran who had survived the attack, and just shaking his hand was a moving experience I shall never forget.

1. I’m glad I’m not a South Korean ethicist, because this would make my head explode. More than 200,000 young men each year​ have to interrupt their studies or careers in South Korea to join the military, for mandatory conscription is seen as crucial to the country’s vigilant defense against North Korea. Men must enlist for about 20 months once they turn 28. Last week, however, pop star Kim Seok-jin, the oldest member of the global K-pop phenomenon​ BTS​, turned 28 knowing that he could keep on singing, recording, touring and making money: South Korea’s Parliament passed an exception to the country’s Military Service Act​ to allow top K-pop stars like Mr. Kim postpone their ​military ​service until they turn 30.

There’s just no excuse for this classic “laws are for the little people” move, only rationalizations. “It’s a sacred duty to defend our country, but that doesn’t mean that everyone has to carry a weapon,” Noh Woong-rae, a senior lawmaker in the governing​ Democratic Party, ​said in a fatuous statement supporting the special treatment. The bill to craft pop stardom exception the Military Service Act was first introduced in September, after BTS became the first South Korean group ever to top the United States Billboard Hot 100 singles chart with its song “Dynomite.”

Here is the song that helps defend South Korea:

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An Ethics Alarms Reader Challenge: Is Time’s Up A Scam, Or Is It Doing What It Is Supposed To Be Doing?

times-up

This is really a journalism ethics matter. On November 28, The New York Post announced that Time’s Up, the #MeToo inspired Hollywood organization, had misused and wasted its funds. Yesterday there was a follow-up piece, headlined, “The Sad tale of Time’s Up and Hollywood’s failed activism.”

Taken together, the two articles are contradictory, confusing and raise as many questions about the reporters’ competence as they do about Time’s Up. If there is anyone who can decipher this mess, please do. I have a headache.

Following the fall of Harvey Weinstein and the vigor of the resulting #MeToo movement, the Time’s Up organization was formally launched on January 1, 2018. At that year’s Golden Globes a few days later, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, Emma Watson, Michelle Williams and others arrived on the red carpet with women’s rights activists in tow. Oprah Winfrey gave an impassioned speech on the broadcast, saying, “I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon! . . . The time when nobody ever has to say ‘me too’ again!” Her speech sparked talk of her running for President.

#MeToo has become a rueful joke with the blind endorsement of Joe Biden, sexual harasser and accused workplace sexual assault purveyor, by most of its most prominent advocates. Time’s Up, however, includes a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and has formal and legal obligations, not just ethical ones. The Time’s Up organization consists of the Time’s Up Foundation and Time’s Up Now Inc., a 501(c)6. There is also a Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund.

I defy anyone to make sense out of the two Post articles. To begin with, why does it only discuss the figures for 2018? 2020 is almost over; surely 2019 figures are available. Were they better? Aren’t the most recent years the most important ones? The articles say that in its first year of operation, Time’s Up spent just $312,000 of the more than $3 million it raised on sexual misconduct victims’ legal bills. It then points out that Charity watchdog groups such as Charity Navigator recommend that non-profits spend 75% of their revenues on their mission and no more than 25% on administration. “Time’s Up spent 38% on salaries alone,” it says. But Charity Navigator only “watches” charities, and those guidelines only apply to 501(c)3 organizations like the Times Up Foundation.

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On Hypocrisy: An Argument From UnHerd That I Didn’t Need To Hear

I frequently check into a British website called “UnHerd” to get a different perspective on things, and it is often an enjoyable and stimulating experience. From its “About” page:

UnHerd aims to do two things: to push back against the herd mentality with new and bold thinking, and to provide a platform for otherwise unheard ideas, people and places. We think this approach is more needed than ever. Societies across the West are divided and stuck, and the established media is struggling to make sense of what’s happening. The governing ideologies of the past generation are too often either unquestioningly defended or rejected wholesale.

It’s easy and safe to be in one or other of these two camps – defensive liberal or angry reactionary – but UnHerd is trying to do something different, and harder. We want to be bold enough to identify those things that have been lost, as well as gained, by the liberal world order of the past thirty years; but we strive to be always thoughtful rather than divisive. We are not aligned with any political party, and the writers and ideas we are interested in come from both left and right traditions. But we instinctively believe that the way forward will be found through a shift of emphasis: towards community not just individualism, towards responsibilities as well as Rights, and towards meaning and virtue over shallow materialism.

They are going to have to do better, however, than the kind of shallow commentary represented by the recent essay on hypocrisy, which stepped on two ethics landmines before it even started, with this heading:

Hypocrisy is not the worst thing on earth: No one cares if progressives don’t practise what they preach — so long as what they’re preaching is good.

Those familiar with the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations list will immediately flag the flagrant use of #22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”

I think it’s fair to say that I hate that rationalization, and that I immediately, and perhaps unalterably distrust anyone who resorts to it. The second ethics breach is the incompetent use of “good.” What does that mean, in this context? Right? Practical? Effective? Not bad?

This raised a tangential ethical problem for me: I increasingly am tempted to stop reading when an author appears t be dishonest, lazy, sneaky or dumb in the first few sentences. Usually I don’t, and occasionally I am glad I didn’t, but most of the time I find that my initial instincts were correct.

In this case, the author, conservative pundit Ben Sixsmith, does an acceptable job explaining the misuse of hypocrisy accusations, a topic often explored here. For example, he writes, Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 8/23/2020, As If Anyone Needs To be Warmed Up Today…

Hot enough for ya?

1. False narrative, bad analogy. The popular media narrative is that President Trump is in a similar position to George H.W. Bush in 1988, when polls at this point showed him trailing Democratic Presidential nominee Michael Dukakis by a large margin. Conservative media had cited the comparison earlier this summer to make the simple point that being behind in the polls in July is relatively meaningless. Lately the mainstream media has been flogging the analogy in order to continue its doomsday prediction for the Trump campaign.

“Bush ’88 rally could be map for Trump ’20” is somehow deemed worthy of a front page spot in the Sunday Times. To begin with, that’s fake news of the “future news” variety. (“…or, it might not be.”) More importantly, it’s straw man: the article exists to to show that President Trump may not be able to prevail, because, you see, having begun with the false assertion that his situation is similar to Bush’s, the Times explains that the situations aren’t that similar at all. The bad analogy is created to rebut it.

In fact, the differences between the Bush challenge in 1988 and Trump’s in 2020 mostly favor the President. Bush was never a popular figure; he was distrusted by conservatives, and only was nominated because an epicly popular President, Ronald Reagan, anointed him as his approved successor. (Barack Obama, in contrast, avoided “anointing” Biden.) A strong Democratic opponent would have beaten Bush; Dukakis was weak. He was ahead in the polls when nobody outside of Massachusetts knew what  he was like. Trump has a large base of passionate supporters, something Bush never had. He is an incumbant (Bush was not), and if they run, incumbents almost always win. Bush was an awful debater; Trump has proven effective in debates. And while Dukakis was completely supported by the liberal wing of the party, Biden has critics on the hard left, among feminists (the non-hypocrite faction), and African Americans. The Democratic party of the 1980s had not spent four years trying to overturn an election. Moreover, polls are less reliable now than they were before news media bias began warping them, and Trump’s support, as the last election showed,  is especially hard to measure. Continue reading

The Hypocrisy And Dishonesty Of The Democratic National Convention Apparently Made Rose McGowan’s Head Explode

McGowan is a former Hollywood “scream queen” (one of my personal favorites, with her entertaining turn in “Scream” and her unforgettable “babe with a an automatic rifle for an artificial leg” performance in “Grindhouse” ) turned fearless #MeToo activist. She one of Harvey Weinstein’s victims, and has earned a reputation for calling out hypocrites within that movement in merciless terms, notably  her former “Charmed” cast mate and current fellow Twitter auteur, Alyssa Milano.

It was to be expected that the odious dishonesty of  the virtual Democratic National Convention just completed would provoke her, and, sure enough, it did.

In her now familiar take-no-prisoners style, McGowran tweeted:

Observations: Continue reading

Addendum: “Now THIS Is “Condign Justice”: The Democrats’ Hypocrisy And Bill Clinton’s Massage”

The Clinton spin machine is already trying to minimize the significance of the photo of Bill Clinton being massaged by one of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex slaves, which surfaced just as Clinton was about to speak at the  virtual Democratic National Convention. That spin machine is damn good—after all, it was taught by the best. The narrative, however, is the equivalent of throwing dust in the eyes of observers while they are being blasted by a fog machine.

Here is the current “it depends what the meaning of ‘is’ is” deceit from Clinton’s lackeys, which was kindly provided by a commenter:

  • The woman who was giving him the massage in the photo was 22 years old at the time, not underage.
  • She really was a trained massage therapist.
  • The photo was taken in a public place — an airport — during a trip to Africa for a humanitarian mission, not to Jeffrey Epstein’s pedophile island.
  • Clinton was in the company of several celebrities “who have never been accused of wrongdoing” who believed they were taking part in a genuine charitable event.
  • According to the masseuse, Clinton was charming and sweet and did nothing inappropriate during the trip.

I wrote the following in response, which Zanshin, another veteran commenter, proprly suggests should be buried in the comments, which, sadly, a lot of readers ignore. I’ve edited it slightly: Continue reading