Professor Volokh’s Ethics Dissent On The Vicious, Pazuzu-Blaming Professor’s Firing

‘Yes, I know he’s an idiot, but we should support idiots as highly paid teachers of our children, for the protection of the non-idiots…

Eugene Volokh is one of the best and most objective legal minds in the country. If he finds himself on the Supreme Court when Kennedy retires or Ginsberg shuffles off this mortal coil, we will not have suffered through the ugliness of the Trump years in vain. When he opines, I listen, as we all should, and he has now opined regarding the now fired idiot that I wrote about this morning, ex-University of Tampa visiting sociology professor Ken Storey.

Storey used Twitter, in the middle of the still-unfolding human disaster in Houston and soon New Orleans, to announce that flooding victims who were Trump supporters or Republicans deserved to die. He did this twice, so his later claim that his words did not intentionally convey what his words were obviously intended to convey was a desperate and obvious lie.

I wrote:

The university or college that fires an employee like Storey is protecting its reputation as a responsible institution, by stating in clear terms that people with terrible judgment and cruel and unethical instincts who are motivated by hate and intolerance are not qualified to teach….because they aren’t. That professors increasingly have no ethics alarms beeping when the prepare to publish sentiments like Storey’s (or worse) shows how thoroughly the leftist echo chambers of most campus faculties turn academics into Pat Robertson, which is to say, rigid, mean, and dumb. Once upon a time, liberals giggled themselves silly over the evangelical huckster’s periodic pronouncement about how a disaster was God’s way of punishing the U.S. for not abusing gays sufficiently, or similar bile, Now they do the same thing, and expect their colleagues and students to applaud.

Today, in the Washington Post, Professor Volokh advocates a different position:

Storey’s comments were nasty and mean-spirited; and I should note that the University of Tampa is a private university, in a state that doesn’t limit private employers’ ability to fire employees for their speech. The university’s actions thus seem legal (assuming they didn’t breach any contract). And Storey’s comments also weren’t academic or likely to be part of a serious political debate.

But the university’s action strikes me as further undermining the freedom of expression and debate at American universities, including the freedom to say things that are much more thoughtful. If you were an untenured faculty member at the University of Tampa, would you feel free to express your views on controversial subjects, when you saw how the university reacted to this tweet? Even if your views were very different politically, what do you think the University would do if people started pressuring for your dismissal, pointing to the Storey incident as precedent?

I’ve talked before about “censorship envy,” one mechanism through which these sorts of speech restrictions can grow: “If my neighbor — and especially my political adversary — gets to ban speech he reviles,” the thinking goes, “why shouldn’t I get to do the same?”

If a university has a strong policy of protecting speech, including offensive speech, administrators can point to that policy as a means of resisting calls for firing a controversial faculty member, and they can appeal to people’s desire to see speakers on their own side protected, and use that desire to help protect speakers on all sides. But once the university starts firing some people for speech “that do[es] not reflect [the university’s] community views or values,” that makes it much harder to resist calls for more suppression. Indeed, at that point tolerating speech starts implicitly conveying the message that the speech does reflect the university’s community views or values — and to avoid that implication, the university would have to fire any speaker who offended some sufficiently influential constituency.

I am very confident that in this rare case, Prof. Volokh is dead wrong. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/30/17: A Vicious Professor, Pazuzu, And Kathy Griffin Revokes Her Apology

[ Just to remind you how good Debbie, Gene and Donald were. Note that these dancers skipped the staircase..]

GOOD Morning…

I’m changing the Warm-Up headlines to reflect the topics covered. I may even go back and revise the old headlines. It took a while, but I realized that having dozens of essentially identical post titles with only a date as the distinction made archive research harder than it had to be.

1.I would have headlined the story of now fired visiting University of Tampa professor Ken Storey “Vicious, bigoted and possessed by the Demon Pazuzu is no way to go through academia, son,” but so many professors have used social media to make outrageous and offensive statements that the ethics issue is getting repetitious. (I think Jonathan Turley has done a post on each one of them, and will continue to on his blog.)

The question is whether a college or university is breaching its commitment to free expression and academic freedom when it fires a professor who says that all men are rapists, or that whites should be exterminated, or, in Storey’s case,

When asked later if this theory also applied to Florida,  and Trump supporters there deserved a similar fate.the Florida college professor replied,

“Yep, those who voted for him here deserve it as well.”

The answer is no. The university or college that fires an employee like Storey is protecting its reputation as a responsible institution, by stating in clear terms that people with terrible judgment and cruel and unethical instincts who are motivated by hate and intolerance are not qualified to teach….because they aren’t. That professors increasingly have no ethics alarms beeping when the prepare to publish sentiments like Storey’s (or worse) shows how thoroughly the leftist echo chambers of most campus faculties turn academics into Pat Robertson, which is to say, rigid, mean, and dumb. Once upon a time, liberals giggled themselves silly over the evangelical huckster’s periodic pronouncement about how a disaster was God’s way of punishing the U.S. for not abusing gays sufficiently, or similar bile, Now they do the same thing, and expect their colleagues and students to applaud.

Ken compounded his ethical offense by the standards of Ethics Alarms by issuing a terrible apology that evoked the Pazuzu excuse. Realizing that he had gone too far, he tweeted,

“I deeply regret a statement I posted yesterday. I never meant to wish ill will upon any group. I hope all affected by Harvey recover quickly.”

Translation: “Oops. My hateful expression of glee over the tragedy afflicting Texans seems to have put my job in jeopardy. I regret that, so I have pulled down my tweet and am pretending to be sorry. I never meant to wish ill will upon any group, even though somehow my tweet wished ill on a group in the clearest terms, and I doubled down on it. Someone or something else must have been responsible. I hope all affected by Harvey recover quickly. (Saying that will let me keep my job, right?)”

This is a #10 apology on the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale, the worst there is:

An insincere and dishonest apology designed to allow the wrongdoer to escape accountability cheaply, and to deceive his or her victims into forgiveness and trust, so they are vulnerable to future wrongdoing.

Storey was fired.

Good.

2. Speaking of phony apologies, Kathy Griffin, she of the Bloody Head, went all the way to Australia to reveal that she really isn’t sorry about representing that the beheading of a U.S. President is hilarious: Continue reading

Does The Naked Teacher Principle Apply To A Porn Star Teacher Whose Students Don’t Know What Porn Is?

The Ethics Alarms Naked Teacher Principle states:

A secondary school teacher or administrator (or other role model for children) who allows pictures of himself or herself to be widely publicized, as on the web, showing the teacher naked or engaging in sexually provocative poses, cannot complain when he or she is dismissed by the school as a result.

Various discussions  f the NTP can be found here. [The original post on the topic is on the old Ethics Scoreboard, which is down at the moment thanks to an incompetent web hosting operation. It will be back soon, or there will be blood….]

Now we have the borderline case of a kindergarten teacher—that’s primary school, not secondary school—who is a proud porn performer as a second occupation.

Nina Skye is a preschool teacher at a religious school in Los Angeles and decided to go public—with Fox News, of all places—with her secret double life moonlighting in the adult film industry.

“I love teaching. I love sex. If I can get away with doing both, then I will,” Nina says. “I know what I’m doing when it comes to teaching, I’m a really good teacher.”  On the other hand, “It’s easy money. For my very first scene, I just did a regular boy on girl and I got paid $2,500 on the spot.”

Skye’s explanation about why she is revealing her passion at the risk of her teaching? “I guess some people are really tied by that moral code, ” she says.  “There’s a really big stigma associated with it, and how our society views it, but that’s not how I am… I’m really open-minded. Super open-minded and not judgemental.” Continue reading

I Suppose Ethics Alarms Has To Officially Designate “Bloody Headgate” As An Ethics Train Wreck, Since Now The VFW Has Boarded

The Veterans of Foreign Wars declared that Kathy Griffin’s photo of Trump’s severed head is unprotected under the First Amendment.

They are ignorant and have embarrassed themselves. The organization doesn’t even understand what its members have been allegedly fighting to protect and preserve.

VFW National Commander Brian Duffy issued a statement that “The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. strongly condemns comedian Kathy Griffin’s incredibly revolting attack on the President of the United States . . . . What she did was not humorous nor should it be protected speech or expression. Playing to an audience with a severed head is what our enemies do. The USO should end its relationship with her.”

Actually, playing to an audience with a severed head is what Shakespearean companies performing “MacBeth” have done on stages, professional, college and amateur, in the U.S. and elsewhere for hundreds of years, you ignoramus.

This is another reason why the Left’s claims that “hate speech” shouldn’t be protected are so dangerous to our society: too many citizens of all political persuasions don’t understand what free speech is, and are too ignorant to know how to counter this threat to democracy

Let’s see: Griffin, her lawyer, the President and his punching-down tweet; Rosie O’Donnell, who announced that she had no sympathy for 11-year-old Barron Trump seeing photos of someone apparently holding up his father’s head, the mainstream media hypocrites who told audiences that Griffin’s “eliminationist rhetoric” wasn’t news or worth discussing, though a far less threatening image dominated their conversations for weeks when they tried to tie Sarah Palin’s metaphorical cross-hairs on a political race map to the madman who shot Rep. Giffords…I was wondering which organization would be the first on the Right to claim that what Griffin did warranted criminal punishment. The VFW would have been a good bet.

But wait! There’s more!... and I should have seen this one coming too. Progressive favorite Alec Baldwin, a habitual boor and Ethics Dunce, weighed- in in support of Griffin and her severed Trump head as only he can, tweeting,

“Dear Kathy Griffin, Kathy….baby…I’ve been there. The whole Henry Hyde thing [with] Conan, where we bring out an oxygen mask at the end? a joke. That’s what I thought. That’s what we intended. No one walked out of the studio and said, “No! We’re serious!” No one. But all your gutless, weasels in the GOP insisted that I actually threatened Hyde. They played the victim beautifully. Kathy…fuck them. Fuck them all. No 1 believes u meant 2 threaten Trump.Trump is such a senile idiot, all he has is Twitter fights. ignore him. Like the leaders of all the other countries in the world. Ignore him.”

Honestly, I do not understand how anyone can laugh at Baldwin knowing the anger, bitterness and nastiness that ooze out of every pore; it’s like finding Bill Cosby or Woody Allen funny. Yet that this guy passes for a wit, political pundit and truthteller by Hollywood progressive standards.

Dear Alec…
Continue reading

Bloody Head Update: The Kathy Griffin Press Conference

 

I just watched the Kathy Griffin press conference. The justification for the mdia event that Griffin is “fighting back” against “bullying” from President Trump and his family over her bloody head bit.

Ethics Observations:

1. Presidents shouldn’t “punch down” against civilians, even celebrities, even ridiculous celebrities like Griffin. It is  indeed a form of bullying. I have written about this before. It is an abuse of power and position no matter what the provocation. The public would have been more sympathetic to him and his family if he had just kept quiet. He can’t help himself, and he will not learn.

2. Anyone who doesn’t think Griffin was counting on, praying for, a twitter war to break out between her and POTUS over her visual attack on him (and the office, and the country) by holding up an effigy of his severed head really is too innocent and naiive to talk about this issue. Thus her protests—tearful protests!—over her stunt backfiring have to be seen for the sham that they are. She didn’t just ask for this, she was counting on it. What she didn’t foresee was having no defenders except Jim Carey and a few others.

Did you have any doubt that the photo would prompt a tweet from Trump? Did anyone? Continue reading

Now THIS Is As Close To Genuinely Frivolous Lawsuit As You Are Likely To See…And Naturally, It Is An Attack On The President

Publicity stunt? Whatever would make you think this lawsuit is a publicity stunt???

As we have discussed here before, though we often complain of frivolous lawsuits,  even the worst law suits seldom meet the technical standard of what is “frivolous.”

The D.C. bar’s ethics rules state that…

A lawyer shall not bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous, which includes a good-faith argument for an extension, modification, or reversal of existing law.

This provides what I sometimes call “stupid lawyer” protection, on the theory that a stupid lawyer may have a sincere belief that an absurd action has a chance of prevailing, thus avoiding the rule’s rock bottom standard for “frivolous.” The recently filed lawsuit in Washington, D.C. against President Trump and the local Trump hotel, however, may be that rarest of legal birds, the truly frivolous lawsuit.

The married couple that owns  the Cork Wine Bar in Washington claim that the Trump International Hotel and the  restaurants similarly located in the Old Post Office building have an illegal advantage over other nearby establishments, like theirs, because of the association with the President.  Essentially the law suit claims that it’s all so unfair.

In addition to the res ipsa loquitur factor, which is to say that the lawsuit screams abuse of process to harass the President, we also have these suspicious factors: Continue reading

Memo To Ray Dolin: Being Dishonest, Irresponsible and Stupid Is No Way To Promote Kindness, You Boob.

A simple Ethics Dunce just doesn’t do Ray Dolin justice.

Yes, I guess you’re kind, Ray—kind of an idiot.

You may have read the initial story. Ray was hiking across America to promote a personal memoir called “Kindness in America,” when, Ray told police,  he was the victim of a drive-by shooting in Montana, leaving him with a bleeding bullet wound in the upper arm. “How horrible and ironic!” the press exclaimed. “What a sad indication of the cruelty in the nation. Imagine–shot while promoting kindness!

Except that it turns out that Ray shot himself. You see, his promotional hike wasn’t getting the attention he expected, so he thought a random and ironic attack would be just what was needed to give his book publicity a shot in the arm! Har!!!

(I’m sorry.)

The problem was that his description of his drive-by attacker resulted in an arrest of an innocent driver, and when police pressed Ray on the details of the shooting as he lay recuperating in his hospital room, he finally had to admit that the whole thing was a hoax. I suppose one can be kind and be a liar too, but eventually the unethical trait undermines the ethical one. For example, the woman who stopped to help Dolin after he shot himself was being kind, and he he thanked her by making her a pawn in his self-enriching deception. That’s not very kind.

On balance, I would say that Ray Dolin needs to bone up on some of the subtleties of ethics, including the virtue of kindness and the importance of honesty, before he’s qualified to write a book about it. I guess you could say that he jumped the gun. Har!

I’m sorry again.

But what a moron. 

______________________________________

Pointer: Drudge

Facts: Billings Gazette

Graphic: Daily Telegraph

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at  jamproethics@verizon.net.

The Despicable Nadya Suleman and Ethics Estoppel

Nadya Suleman, a.k.a. Octomom, strikes a dignified pose

From the beginning, the only thing keeping Nadya Suleman from being unequivocally despicable has been the lingering suspicion that she was mentally ill. It might be more than a suspicion, to be fair: having octuplets by artificial insemination when one already has six young children and no viable means of support could be called “proof.”  Now even that malady is an insufficient defense: the issue is settled, and she is despicable beyond redemption. One cannot call her the worst mother on the world, sadly, because every day brings the story of another infant thrown down a laundry chute or left in the care of a six-year-old while mom goes partying or looking for drugs. She may be, however, the worst mother ever to become famous for being a mother.

In the latest issue of InTouch magazine—the rag is one full step down from Us magazine, and one half-step up from The National Enquirer—Suleman confesses that she now reviles her octo-brood. “I hate the babies, they disgust me,’ she says. “My older six are animals, getting more and more out of control, because I have no time to properly discipline them.” Elsewhere in the article she bellyaches about how hard it is being a single, unemployed, narcissistic, absurd, irresponsible mother of fourteen children. “The only way I can cope is to lock myself in the bathroom and cry. Sometimes I sit there for hours and even eat my lunch sitting on the toilet floor. Anything to get peace and quiet,” she laments. Yes, Octomom says she regrets having all the children. Continue reading

On Hoaxes, Avatar, and More Late Night Ethics

Hoax Update

  • Singer, model, television personality and inexplicable celebrity Tia Tequila announced in December that she was engaged to the heiress to the Johnson and Johnson fortune, Casey Johnson. The troubled Johnson turned up dead in squalid circumstances in January, prompting a grief-stricken online statement from Tia in which she spelled her beloved’s name wrong. Shortly after this, it was revealed that the engagement was a publicity stunt by Tequila, who barely knew Johnson. Fake romances for publicity purposes are as old as the Tudors, but this sort of thing further trivializes truth for an entire generation. Continue reading