Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 12/12/18: Silent Sam, Nasty Nancy, Tendentious TIME

Happy pre-Christmas panic days!

Once we’re under the two week mark, it’s all anxiety, regrets, list-making, fatigue, nostalgia, and tree needles under the nails. This is what Andy called “the most wonderful time of the year.

1. The theory: political correctness and historical airbrushing is a higher priority than education. The University of North Carolina \Board of Trustees’ approved of a proposal to build erect a $5 million history center that would, among other things, house “Silent Sam,” a statue dedicated to fallen UNC grads who fought for the Confederacy. The statue stood on campus until protesters tore it down in August. Now some faculty members and graduate assistants are threatening to go on a “grade strike,” withholding grades on papers and exams to force the school to abandon “Silent Sam” for all time. They are also trying to encourage students to support their protest.

Wrote the UNC administration in response:

“This afternoon it came to my attention that some instructors have used their roles in the classroom to ask students to take a stand on the strike,” Blouin said in the email, a copy of which Campus Reform obtained. “The University has received student and parent complaints. Such actions have been interpreted as coercion and an exploitation of the teacher-student relationship and in fact are a violation of students’ First Amendment rights as well as federal law….Our students are entitled to receive their grades in a timely manner. It is especially critical for the students preparing to graduate next Sunday, as well as the thousands of students whose scholarships, grants, loans, visa status, school transfers, job opportunities, and military commissions may be imperiled because lack of grades threaten[s] their eligibility,” the provost stated. “The proposed strike exposes the University and individuals who withhold grades to legal claims for the harm they cause to students…“Failure to meet [the faculty and GA’s] responsibilities to their students, including timely submission of final grades, will result in serious consequences.”

Firing, I hope.

2. Boy, that Trump is such an uncivil boor! House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, setting a civility example for us all while describing her meeting with the President on “the wall’: “It’s like a manhood thing for him, as if manhood could ever be associated with him….It goes to show you: you get into a tinkle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you.”

Nice.

Imagine the howls of indignation if the President described a foreign leader in such terms. Or the mass condemnation from both parties and the news media if any prior President had been insulted that way by a member of Congress.

3. “A person, a group, an idea, or an object that “for better or for worse… has done the most to influence the events of the year.” I would applaud TIME’s choice of journalists as the fading magazine’s “Person of the year” if it had the integrity to point out that this is an example of “the worse.” Indeed, journalists have deliberately warped and sabotaged public debate and discourse, withheld or buried information the public needs to know, divided the nation, defied their profession’s ethical standards, undermined their own institution and with it the health of American democracy, relentlessly worked to destabilize the Trump administration and undo the election, and have engaged in repeated incompetence, bias, dishonesty and conflicts of interest. The harm journalists have done is incalculable, and probably irreversible.

Quipped “Dilbert” cartoonist Scott Adams: “Fake News is TIME’s “Person of the Year.”

Bingo. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 10/7/18, Part II: Fake Satire, Fake Racism, Fake Harvard

Good Morning AGAIN!

My OTHER favorite hymn when I’m feeling blue..

3. If I were the producer of Saturday Night Live…I would strongly push the show to do what satirical shows are supposed to do: make fun of everyone. It is just good business, as well as comedic integrity: make everyone watch to see who gets skewered.  But no: despite the over-abundance of potential and indeed near mandatory targets of parody and mockery, SNL took sides—the same one it has been taking now, virtually exclusively, for years. There was no Spartacus sketch, despite the preening of the absurd Cory Booker, and a skit that virtually writes itself. Lindsay Graham was cruelly mocked, but not Kirsten Gillibrand, nor Diane Feinstein. Ah, but Senator Susan Collins, who made a brave, clear, invaluable speech about her choice–women get choices, I hear—to buck the #MeToo bullies and lynch mobs and confirm Brett Kavanaugh, was mocked for THAT last night, aan portrayed as weak dupe. Yet despite the mannered, baby-talking, confused presentation by Blasey-Ford, whom I would deem a satirist’s dream, the show’s writers didn’t have the guts to touch her.

4. Speaking of jokes…Georgetown prof C. Christine Fair, who the college thinks can be trusted to be neutral and fair to white men in her classroom despite her racist and violent tweets, had an explanation after her Twitter account was suspended. She had written, you will recall,

“Look at [this] chorus of entitled white men. All of them deserve miserable deaths while feminists laugh as they take their last gasps. Bonus: we castrate their corpses and feed them to swine? Yes.”

Come on! Don’t you get the joke? She was kidding! Fair told the Washington Post, whose reporter didn’t have the integrity to respond, “How stupid do you think I am?”…

“Maybe this was not my most eloquent attempt,” Fair said. “And I will certainly concede I was attempting to make people feel uncomfortable,” but  “this idea I’m somehow calling for actual violence is preposterous.”

Gee, why can’t white supremacists and racists excuse their “jokes” the same way?

The Post’s writer, however, completely accepts Fair’s alibi, and impugns anyone who took offense at it as “extreme right wing.”  Read the article.

Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 10/7/18, Part I: Signature Significance Meets The Brett Kavanaugh Nomination Ethics Train Wreck

Good Morning!

That hymn always makes me feel better. I’m not sure whether that’s because Sir Arthur Sullivan wrote the music, or because it makes me think of “Mrs. Miniver”…anyway, there’s lots to cover today, so this is a two-part warm-up…

1. Is this signature significance, or was Jordan Peterson just having a bad day? The cultishly popular Canadian clinical psychologist  and the author of “12 Rules For Life: An Antidote To Chaos” raised eyebrows across the land when he tweeted that if Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed, the ethical thing for him to do was to step down. His comment came in response to a jaw-droppingly foolish thread of tweets by brothers Eric and  Professor Bret Weinstein. In the thread, Prof Weinstein said any outcome of the Judge Kavanaugh confirmation was “unacceptable,” arguing that Kavanaugh had a “limited point of view,”  was “the kind of adult that entitled punks grow into” and would undermine the Supreme Court’s legitimacy.

I’d love to see the research demonstrating that assertion about the kind of adults punks grow into. One such “punk” grew into James Garfield. Another grew into Barack Obama.

But I digress. After Kavanaugh’s suggestion of how to resolve Bret Weinstein’s problem, the other Weinstein tweeted, “This position is held in varying forms by nearly everyone thoughtful with whom I’m speaking.” Have you ever seen a better illustration of the left-wing bubble? Nearly everyone this guy knows thinks that it makes sense for Kavanaugh to resign! Who are these deluded, confused people?

But I digress again. The issue is Peterson, who is allegedly  brilliant. His suggestion stunned his admirers, producing responses like

I find this bafflingly incomprehensible. Appease disproven accusers?

and

Ugh, no. Giving in to the screaming hysterics and bullying tactics won’t suddenly, magically restore sanguinity to America and sanctity to the Court.

and

Why? He should just give up and quit because of false allegations? I am really disappointed in you Mr. Peterson. Don’t you teach that Men should not be cowards?

My reaction to Peterson’s theory is best illustrated by this film clip…

Later, Peterson issued a slightly less stupid refinement, tweeting that he wasn’t sure if Judge Kavanaugh quitting now was the “right move”, but it would allow a “less divisive” figure to gain the nomination:

“I’m not certain that is the right move. It’s very complex. But he would have his name cleared, and a figure who might be less divisive might be put forward.”

Huh? How would the new Justice resigning after false allegations “clear his name”? As for the naive “less divisive” theory, here was a great comment on the Althouse thread regarding Peterson’s gaffe:

Today they’d howl over Garland. There is no less divisive candidate. That was the point of BK, he was a certified moderate conservative mainstream judge. The only way a candidate could satisfy the Left is if he strangled Trump with Thomas’s intestines. Twice.

Bingo!

Which brings me back to the original question: is it fair to recalibrate one’s opinion of Peterson based on one really dumb opinion, on the theory that someone as smart as he’s alleged to be would never make such a ridiculous suggestion? That’s signature significance. Or is the ethical reaction to give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume that he was just foggy for a while, or put it off on the fact that Canadians just don’t get U.S. Politics? Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 7/21/18: Seven Questions For A Rainy Day: UPDATED!

Good afternoon!

1. What did you expect? Following close on the heels of Scott Pruitt’s firing from the EPA as a result of blatant ethics violations, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said last week that he would sell all of his stock holdings to “maintain the public trust” after the Office of Government and Ethics pointed out that his financial transactions could get him into legal trouble.

“I have made inadvertent errors in completing the divestitures required by my ethics agreement,” Ross said in a statement. “To maintain the public trust, I have directed that all of my equity holdings be sold and the proceeds placed in U.S. Treasury securities.”

To maintain that public trust. Right.

The culture of CEOs and business executives is so alien to ethics that this kind of thing was assured as soon as Donald Trump was elected President. I wouldn’t say the business culture is necessarily more unethical than the political culture, it is juts unethical different ways. However, President Trump brought this brand of malfunctioning ethics alarms with him, and we shouldn’t expect it to abate until he leaves the White House.

Then we will get back to the good old-fashioned political versions of unethical conduct we’re become numb to. Ah, those were the days!

2. A question of degree. Professor Brian McNaughton, a former professor at Colorado State University, is facing a felony charge for fabricating an outside job offer to get a higher salary. This meets the technical definition of fraud. Apparently he presented the school with fabricated offer letter from the University of Minnesota. McNaughton resigned his position and apologized, and returned the fruits of the ill-gotten  raise,  about $4,000 per year over four years.

He also says that he was urged to use the tactic by other faculty members, who said it was a standard ploy. When does the “I have other job offers” gambit cross the ethics line into fraud? Clearly when you use a forged letter, but short of that, it’s just lying—unethical, but not criminal.

Writes one idealistic commentator:

…if an employee is performing a job and is good at it, that person should be compensated for it accordingly and in line with individuals within the same organization at an equivalent level professionally (ideally pay should be bench-marked against similar-sized institutions in states or parts of the country with comparable income ranges). Does a job offer and the suggestion that the employee is desirable to another organization change how well that person is performing? Promotions and rewards should be directly related to performance and an individual’s contribution to the organization and to science.

Well, yes, but competition and reality interferes with this nice, fair but overly simplistic and impractical theory. In fields where employees are not fungible, basic economic theory comes into play: you can’t deny the influence supply and demand. The fact that there is competition for an individual’s services does increase that individual’s value. Just saying “it shouldn’t be that way” doesn’t change reality. That’s what makes McNaughton’s lie fraudulent: he’s misrepresenting his value, and using false means to do it.

3. Would you fire Dan Coats for this?

Naturally the anti-Trump mob loved it, and that was the director of national intelligence’s intent: he was playing to the mob and virtue signaling to the detriment of his boss. Either than, or he’s thoroughly unprofessional and can’t be trusted to be on TV. Washington Post reporter Dan Baltz is either foolish, naive or dishonest when he writes: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/23/2018: The Honored And the Dishonorable

Good morning!

1. A major ethics condemnation of Harvard will be posted soon; this is just the ours de vours...Harvard is disgracing itself and embarrassing its alumni one more time by awarding Hillary Clinton the once-prestigious Radcliffe Medal—it can’t be prestigious after this fiasco–for her “transformative impact on society” as part of the school’s graduation activities this week.  Harvard says Clinton was chosen for the award because she’s a “champion for human rights,” a “skilled legislator” and “an advocate of American leadership” on the world stage.

Let’s get this straight up front, shall we? Harvard, headed by feminist social justice warrior Drew Faust, is giving an award named after Harvard’s now defunct sister school that championed female power, dignity, and achievement independent of men, to the woman who meticulously enabled, aided and abetted a serial harasser, sexual abuser, and philanderer by intimidating and disparaging his female victims, so she could ride on his coat-tails to achieve wealth, influence and power that she never could have attained otherwise. Once within reach of that power, she managed to botch two Presidential runs against unlikely underdogs, while reducing the feminist message to “vote for vaginas.” Meanwhile, she joined with her husband in creating a massive influence peddling business that made them both rich. Having lost a Presidential election that she only had to stay out of major scandals to win, she has become the only losing Presidential candidate in U.S. history to continue whining about her loss at every opportunity for 18 months, thus strengthening a negative female stereotype.

Did I miss anything? Probably. This is once more consolation prize Progressive Feminist Inc. is giving to Hillary as virtue-signaling, which is ironic, because it signals hypocrisy, corruption, and dishonesty.  She is an ethics corrupter. She has made the culture, politics, society, and the nation worse. Harvard’s award is just one more example.

2. Not exactly Lincoln-Douglas…The recent Munk debate–part of a series series of  discussions that the news media keeps calling “highbrow,” which only shows how lowbrow the news media is—considered the statement, “Be it resolved, what you call political correctness, I call progress…”

What you call “progress,” I call thought control, censorship, and partisan bullying, and I say the hell with it.  Race-baiting professor Michael Eric Dyson and left-wing pundit Michelle Goldberg defended the indefensible “pro” position, and probably believe it, too, which is depressing all by itself. The “con” side at least had glib, currently-in University of Toronto Clinical Psychologist Jordan Peterson, who has a best-selling book and who became a celebrity after winning a duel of wits with an unarmed British journalist. He was paired with British actor /entertainer Stephen Fry: these debates are so highbrow, the organizers don’t think anyone will watch them if they don’t have jokes.  Even if the sides had been fairly constructed (any team with Michelle Goldberg on it has been sabotaged), it’s a terrible debate topic. The day the “pro” side wins is the day “1984” has arrived. Predictably, “con” won, and this was in Canada, which doesn’t have a First Amendment (the term “political correctness’ is inherently hostile to freedom of speech, and don’t think for a second progressives don’t know it.)

So, saddled with a losing argument, Dyson did what he does: he played the race card. “You’re a mean, mad, white man,” he said to Peterson at one point. End of debate, if I am moderating. When you have to stoop to ad hominem attacks, you’ve lost.  An equally acceptable rejoinder by Peterson would have been, “And you’re a black son of a bitch.”

Technical knockout. And Dyson unmasked himself as the fraud that he is. Continue reading

“Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/20/18: Bad Ideas, False Narratives, Fake News, And Hillary’s Delusion

Happy Friday!

(You too, Reuben..)

1 The persistence and peril of bad ideas. Civilizations and societies fail in part because terrible ideas take root in the public square, become  exploited by cynical and unscrupulous elites and power-seekers, and lead to policy and cultural disasters. The nation’s gradual acceptance of illegal immigration is such an idea: when the pluses and minuses of the Trump Presidency are finally totaled and compared, no one will be able to deny that taking a direct stand against illegal immigration without compromise or weasel words will be one of Donald Trump’s positive legacies.

Nonetheless, the news media continues to indoctrinate the public with the toxic concept that illegal immigration is acceptable, against all logic and experience. In yet another “good illegal immigrant” story—frankly, I’m sick of writing about them—the New York Times gives us this:

Like many of the immigrants detained this way, Mr. de Oliveira, a house painter, had no criminal history. To the Trump administration, the other thing they had in common was more germane: a legal but, until now, unenforced obligation to leave the country that had stuck to them for years, even as they pieced together lives and families in the United States.

In the later years of the Obama administration, the government mostly left people without criminal records alone, focusing instead on immigrants who had only recently arrived or had been convicted of serious crimes.

But the Trump administration emphasizes that everyone living here illegally is fair game for deportation, a policy that has bumped up immigration arrests by more than 40 percent since the beginning of 2017. Those who were ordered out of the country years ago are especially easy marks for an agency with limited resources for enforcement — especially if they walk straight into an immigration office.

Boy, that mean, mean Trump administration, insisting that aliens who steal a place in this country along with its benefits should have to return it even if they don’t break any more laws.  There is literally no logical or legally coherent argument or rationale to support any other position. I have never heard one, read one, or been able to imagine one. Would people support a policy that allowed citizens to keep the loot they stole in a single felony as long as they never broke another law? Perhaps they would, if politicians, big business advocates for cheap labor and unethical journalists kept promoting the idea over years and decades.

2. And then there are media-fed false narratives. On Headline News this morning, Lovely Robin and her cohorts were reviewing Time’s “100 Most Influential People” and picking their favorites. Who cares, at this pathetic stage of Time’s existence, what that rag decides? One of Robin’s colleagues designated Chloe Kim, the 17-year-old medal-winning Olympic snowboarder, as his favorite among the hundred. Does anyone really believe a teenage snowboarder is one of the 10,000 most influential people in the US, much less in the top 100? Is Time’s 100 really a list of  “people most likely to be on “Dancing with the Stars”? Has any medal-winner in a Winter Olympics ever been particularly influential, except maybe in the Ice Capades? Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/31/2017: The Too Many Year Ending Ethics Issues To Handle In One Day Edition”

JP’s Comment of the Day actually was sent in today, and so, despite the injustice of allowing him to jump in line (for there still are Comments of the Day from the Holiday Challenge of two days ago awaiting their honors), I’ve decided that this one should be published in close proximity to its target, which was #1 in today’s Warm-up, about Frank Bruni’s column,  “Higher Ed’s Low Moment, in the Times today. You should read Bruni’s column first to be fair to fine JP’s work, which is in the form of an open letter.

Here is JP’s epic Comment of the Day on the post,Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/31/2017: The Too Many Year Ending Ethics Issues To Handle In One Day Edition: 

Dear Mr. Bruni,

Thank you for that colorful article you posted in the NYT. As a college graduate from two universities (almost three), I can appreciate what you said regarding higher learning and its importance on the future of Americans (and in general the world). You see, I agree there is a lot that college has to teach us. Higher education should be focused, involve critical thinking, and provide much-needed life skills that are just not acquired at the at the high school level. While these could have been excellent points when defending the role of colleges and universities, you chose to skip right over them altogether. Instead, you chose to write about how people are wrong to not trust the system with not so subtle attacks on Trump, the Republicans, and the recent tax law.

I will give you some credit. You were able to point out some reasons why some of that trust is not there. You wrote, “I also hear more college presidents talking with more concern about their campuses’ images as enclaves of a distinctly illiberal liberalism. Especially ugly episodes this year at Middlebury College and The Evergreen State College fed that impression and, I think, increased many presidents’ resolve to do something about it.”

You also pay due attention to the much-noted lack of political diversity on campuses. However, it is clear from your article you believe these examples to be trivial based on your piece’s lack of focus, language used, and quick transitions.

With that in mind, let me ask you a question, Mr. Bruni:

Have you been hiding under a rock these last 10 years, or are you just so hidden in your elitist tower you can’t see Rome burning around you?

There are many good reasons that the public doesn’t trust college campus anymore. Follow me a little bit as I explore reasons.

The Teachers.

Just this past year alone we have witnessed a number of statements made by the professionals whose job it is to shape the minds of these students. These are the people who direct them, but with statements like the following, it is a wonder we haven’t had more students following the actual advice made by them (perhaps I don’t give these students enough credit on their critical thinking skills).

  • One professor at Montclair State University wished someone would shoot President Trump outright. He was later let go.
  • Another professor at Austin Community College said it was ok with him if Betsy DeVos was sexually assaulted. He later quit.
  • A University of Tampa Professor said Hurricane Harvey was “Instant Karma” for Texas because it was a red state. Nevermind that Houston, the heaviest area affected voted Democrat (moral luck) during the previous election, this professor had to get his two cents in. He was fired as well.
  • A Drexel professor said the shooting in Vegas this past year is what happens when white people don’t get what they want. His last day is officially today.

What is notable here is 70% of the staff tried to get his full reinstatement. This is somewhat bewildering because the professor is no stranger to racist tweets. writing last Christmas that the white genocide during the Haitian Revolution was a good thing. But of course if you here him, this was just a joke.

There are many more; this last is just icing on the cake:  A professor at California State University tweeted that Trump must be hanged. He later tweeted that “Justice = The execution of two Republicans for each deported immigrant.” This isn’t even retribution theology, it is just advocating for murder. He will be teaching again in the spring. Continue reading