Day Before The Night Before Christmas Ethics Package, 12/23/2019, Now UPDATED With The Meme I Stupidly Didn’t Post Despite Polling On It (Sorry!)

Merry Christmas!

TWICE yesterday store employees returned my “Merry Christmas!” with  a “Happy Holidays!” that was delivered in a tone that to my ear was intended to convey, “No, THIS is what you should say.” Both times, I was tempted to call them on it, but did not. Maybe I was being hypersensitive, maybe that wasn’t their intent…but of course it was. The next clerk or cashier who does that to me might get a “No, Merry Christmas. Do you have a problem with that?” back.  I’m that close…

1. ARGHH! “Baseball” censorship! Here’s another nauseating example of the capitulation to the word-banners. The MLB TV channel, which, like its satellite radio counterpart, is challenged to come up with programming this time of year. (The radio version held a quiz last week in which we were challenged to identify expressions of despair and horror as either coming from Cleveland Indians fan tweets about the trading of ace pitcher Corey Kluber, or from reviews of “Cats.”) Yesterday the channel was showing Ken Burns’ terrific documentary “Baseball.” In the segment on Ty Cobb, we were told about in infamous incident in which Cobb jumped into the stands to beat up an abusive fan, who, it turned out, had no hands. When the crowd shouted this fact at the infuriated player, he reportedly replied that he’d throttle anyone who called him “that” even if he had no legs. What was “that”? Why, it was that Cobb was a “half-BEEEEEEEEP!” Yes, a loud, high-pitched beep was injected into the narration instead of the word itself, which was in Burns’ original work (I own a copy.) Morons. If the word is  discernible from the context, then the beep equals the word, so just use the word. If it isn’t clearly indicated—and while I was pretty sure, knowing the story, but uncertain enough that I had to check—then it is incompetent to leave viewers wondering. Half-crazy? Half-wit? Half-lizard? Half-breed? No, Cobb was called “half nigger,” and the exact word is essential to understand the incident but also a key component of Cobb’s character. Did Burns approve the marring of his soundtrack? I doubt it.

This has got to stop.

2. Great: colleges are now free to bribe students to renege on their promises. In a proposed agreement announced this month in response to Justice Department antitrust accusations, the National Association for College Admission Counseling said it would allow its member college and university counselors to recruit students even after they have committed to another school and would permit members to encourage students to transfer after they have already enrolled. From the Times:

Now, colleges will be free to offer perks, like special scholarships or priority in course selection, to early-decision applicants, students who are less likely to need tuition assistance and use the process to secure a spot at their first-choice schools. …Institutions will also be able to continue recruiting students beyond a widely applied May 1 deadline that is typically imposed for students who have applied through a regular decision process and are considering offers based, at least in part, on financial aid packages.

The promises to commit to a school that gave you an early admission were never legally binding, just ethically binding. And they still are. Any college whose applicant reneges on such an agreement after being seduced by another college should send a letter telling him or her, “Thank you for voluntarily withdrawing your acceptance. Our school wants only students of good character, who are trustworthy, honest, and value integrity. Now that we know that you do not honor commitments, we realize that we erred in accepting you. We’re sure you will fit right in at the school you chose, however, and wish you the best in your years there.” Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up In Vegas, Afternoon Warm-Up In Alexandria, 11/22/2019

Walter Cronkite, Nov. 22, 1963, relaying the shocking news that changed…everything.

Good whatever it is where you are!

1. President Kennedy was assassinated on this date in 1963. He had been President exactly as long as Donald Trump has, and by most measures, President Trump has accomplished more,despite the fact that JFK really did have “the best people.” You might have to go back to George Washington to find a more qualified Cabinet.  By this point in his term, JFK, we now know, had already committed impeachable “high crimes and misdemeanors” notably through his reckless sexual escapades with an Israeli spy and a mob moll, allowing J. Edgar Hoover (speaking of Deep State villains) to blackmail his administration, and perhaps others. Yet the vast majority of the public regards Kennedy as a great President, which shows what a pretty face, an inspiring speaking style, a complicit news media, and getting shot will do for a President’s reputation.

I’d ponder what this nation would be like if Lee Harvey Oswald had missed that beautiful day in Dallas, but that way madness lies, as King Lear like to say.

2.  How many botches can Joe Biden’s campaign take?  The Biden campaign sent out an email about Joe’s performance in the Democratic debate several hours before ithe debate had started. “Did I make you proud?” it began. (I can’t imagine another typical stumble-fest from Biden would make anyone proud, but never mind)

“I’m leaving the fifth Democratic debate now,” It continued. “I hope I made you proud out there and I hope I made it clear to the world why our campaign is so important.”

I wrote about something like this during the 2012 debates, when USA Today published an analysis by a conservative and a liberal pundit over the previous night’s Obama-Romney debate that was obviously written before the debate took place. These things are lies. What should the public take away from learning about them? They should learn that the people involved will deceive them even when they don’t have to.

“You might have just gotten an email from Joe about just getting off of the debate stage,” the rapidly deployed statement from the embarrassed campaign said.  “That’s our bad, team. We know Joe is going to make us proud tonight. We were just so excited for it that we accidentally hit send too soon,” they added.

Huh? If the message was written before the debate but pretended that it was written after the debate, it is a lie regardless of when it is sent. Continue reading

Dead Ethics Alarms+Blackface+Social Media+Spineless School Administrators= One Hopeless Ethics Train Wreck

Constant reader/commenter/master provocateur Michael Ejercito flagged this story for us, and it had already garnered some interesting commentary before I spotted it.  Michael has a distinct style here and is always asking questions that are the equivalent of firecrackers thrown into a wake. He’s one the longest-enduring participants here, and I haven’t let him know sufficiently how much I appreciate what he contributes.Thanks, Michael.

This is a hopeless ethics train wreck at this point, screwed up beyond all repair. I will note the points at which it all could have been avoided, but really, as it is now, it can only get worse. The thing unfolded like contemporary Shakespeare tragedy, in five acts.

ACT I: In Illinois, photos and video  posted to Snapchat, showed a group of white males wearing blackface pulling up to a fast food drive-thru and making denigrating comments about African-American girls. One of the boys is wearing a sweatshirt from Homewood-Flossmoor High School, where all of them were students.

Morons with dead ethics alarms. No high school student in the United States should be unaware that such a prank/stunt/ unbelievably stupid act and self-publishing the evidence of it is almost—but not quite!—the equivalent of maliciously shouting fire in a crowded theater, and thus deliberately tempting others to react emotionally and destructively. I know, teenage boys are too close to sociopaths for comfort, but conduct  like this indicts their parents, their teachers, and the community, as well as them.

Just to be clear, the reason why this is not quite like shouting fire in a crowded theater is that doing that is deliberately inciting a riot, and thus not legal and protected speech. Blackface is offensive speech, but still legal.

ACT II: A former student of the school re-posted the content to her Facebook page, thus ensuring as much damage as possible.  Over a thousand students and others now knew about the blackface episode, and so did the school district.

This is like someone hearing someone whisper fire in a crowded theater when there is no fire, and then shouting what was whispered to maximize the damage. If the student wanted to alert school officials, then she should have done this responsibly and quietly. Doing what she did was intentionally creating an online mob and inciting as much anger and irrationality as possible. The student was virtue-signaling, while magnifying  the harm done by the original jerks. That is malicious.

ACT III: District 233 superintendent Von Mansfield and Homewood-Flossmoor High School principal Jerry Anderson sent out a letter to parents denouncing the “highly offensive and culturally insensitive” posts, saying,

“The social media postings that were seen and heard were not representative of the high expectations we have for all students that attend our school.This type of behavior is contrary to our expectations, is being addressed quickly and appropriately and will not be tolerated.”

What students do and post to social media off campus and unrelated to school personnel and activities is none of the school’s business. They have no obligation to comment on it or disclaim it.  Let me repeat that: What students do and post to social media off campus and unrelated to school personnel and activities is none of the school’s business. Just because school activists, social justice warriors, busy-bodies, victim-mongers and trouble makers want to start shaking their fists and screaming at clouds over what someone else does, student or not doesn’t mean that the school should take the bait. Wearing blackface is 100% legal, in fact, it is Constitutionally protected. So is saying mean things about black girls, Asian girls, white girls, or Martian girls. The letter from the administrators made a tricky problem worse, and that’s not the moronic boys’ fault, nor the trouble-making ex-student’s fault. It’s their fault. They are supposed to be adults, and more competent, responsible, and reasonable than this.

[No, I do not think the fact that one of the students was wearing a school T-shirt made this a school-related act. If one of the students was wearing a Union Jack T-shirt, I would not assume that Great Britain was behind the episode.]

ACT IV: In an effort to urge administrators to take harsh discipline against the students in the blackface episode, nearly 1,000 of the uninvolved students participated in a walkout,  “chanting their demands for justice.” I assume this means that hackneyed “No justice, no peace” chant that I have come to loathe as much as “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”Students don’t get to dictate discipline to administrators. That is known as “letting the inmates running the asylum.” Every one of the students participating in the protest should have been suspended. The parties responsible for students acting like this are the dim-witted and unethical educators who have allowed and even encouraged student holidays to protest gun control and climate policies. Protesting is not part of high school; it isn’t even a valid component of college.

ACT V: The president and vice president of the district’s board of education reacted by sending  out a letter following the walkout, where they condemned the blackfaced students’ conduct  and praising the “speedy response” from Homewood-Flossmoor administrators, which allegedly includes an investigation. The administrators have no right to investigate legal actions engaged in outside of school not involving other students. The parents of the students should tell the school to back off, and hire some tough lawyers to make the point as vividly as possible. “Our children misbehaved, and this is our job, not yours. You worry about education in the school, we’ll worry about how our kids act out of it.”

The letter read,

“The District 233 Board of Education will be revisiting and moving forward with the diversity and inclusion aspects of our new strategic plan, as they relate to cultural awareness and cultural competency training. Homewood-Flossmoor High School will continue to stand against racism, and against insensitive and disrespectful behavior of any kind, and will take the appropriate and necessary actions to ensure that all students are respected, that our differences are embraced and that our unity is celebrated.”

Oh, ugh, yechh, blechh. More posturing and virtue-signaling out of abject cowardice. “Cultural awareness and cultural competency training” sounds like, and almost certainly will be, political indoctrination. I’d like to see 1000 students walk out over that. You can’t dictate that “all students are respected,” and wearing blackface off school grounds isn’t a show of disrespect for students, since it didn’t involve students other than the jerks in blackface. Nor can students be compelled to embrace differences or to celebrate unity, especially when there is only one kind of unity that Big Brother School District will allow to be celebrated, and because you can’t encourage “differences” while demanding unity.

My review of the play? Everybody involved screwed up, acted without considering consequences or proper boundaries. At this point, this mess can not be fixed. If my son was one of the idiots who wore blackface, I would consider,

  • My own protest to the school and the school district, as well as a law suit for demonizing and endangering my son based on his non-school related conduct.
  • Meeting with every administrator involved and explaining in great detail why they are incompetent fools unqualified to train goats, much less educate children.
  • Taking my son out of the school, and either hone schooling him or shipping him off to military school.
  • Making him regret the day he donned blackface for the rest of his youth, telling him that such privileges as driving, having an email account, using social media or having a cell phone would cease until he was living elsewhere and over 18.

Good job, everybody!

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/25/18: Your School Shooting Ethics Train Wreck Update [UPDATED]

Good Morning!

1  Addendum to the “Weapons of War” post: I almost included this in the post itself, but it was long enough. During the debates here over the Confederate statue-toppling orgies and the Charlottesville riot, we often heard the defense that Robert E. Lee, et al., were unworthy of statues, monuments and memorials because they were traitors. I always viewed this as a rationalization for the real reason the Confederates are being airbrushed out of our public history, which is that their political and social beliefs don’t measure up to 21st Century ethics. The “traitor” argument is a neat way to distinguish Robert E. Lee from slave-owners like George Washington.  However, as the post explains, the United States was founded on the principle that it is not treason for citizens to seek to create a new government when they concluded that the current one has abused its power and cannot be reformed. That is certainly what the Confederacy believed. Under the Founding documents, they had every right to leave the Union, and would have done so peacefully had Lincoln allowed it. Robert E. Lee was wrong, and he was a racist, but he was no traitor. By Jefferson’s formula that was ratified unanimously by the Continental Congress, he was a patriot.

2. Everybody’s flailing. President Trump floated the much-mocked “arm teachers” suggestion, and then used the cultural DeLorean to retrieve the “popular culture is too violent” explanation. The gun violence in the U.S. is very much driven by our culture, and pop culture both reflects and affects it. Hollywood made some efforts to tone down the violence last year; it also had the worst year at the box office in a quarter of a century, so we’ll see how long that lasts. The President just doesn’t understand the Constitution very well: the government can’t force video games, music, TV shows and movies to be less violent, but it can launch efforts to build a public consensus to dial back the fictional killing.

You know, like Tipper Gore’s effort to get the sex, obscenity and violence out of rap music. That sure worked well. The Obama approach would be to send out a menacing letter saying something like, “We recommend that you tone it down, but of course we can’t make you, but you know there are a lot of ways we could make your life miserable if you displease us, not that we would ever try to muscle you or anything since it you have the right of free speech. Just a word to the wise between friends. Nice little business you have there; it would be a shame if anything were to happen to it…”

The President’s critics sneered that he is “flailing” on the issue. I don’t see that he is flailing any more than anyone else. To the zealots, “flailing” means “not advocating the repeal of the Second Amendment.”

3. At least Vox is honest. In this article, left-wing Vox argues that the solution to gun violence “isn’t a big mystery,” but then only uses innuendo to explain what the solution is. Guess! here’s the biggest clue (emphasis mine): Continue reading

Vote For The 2013 Curmie, Designating The Worst Of Misconduct In The Name Of Education

...and middle school, and elementary school....

…and middle school, and elementary school….

Over at Rick Jones’ Curmudgeon Central, the final nominees for his not-so-coveted 2013 Curmie Award are up, and the winner will be determined by the vote of Rick’s readers. The Curmies memorialize the worst in U.S. conduct by education professionals, and a revoltingly diverse group of miscreants he has assembled. I urge you all to drop by, read Rick’s commentary (and about some of the awful incidents that didn’t make the cut), and vote.

Only three of Rick’s final eight were covered on Ethics Alarms, and while I am confident that the ultimate winner is among them, I am now second guessing my editorial judgment. Rick’s blog is more education-centric than Ethics Alarms ( his work has filled the gap created when the excellent “No Tolerance” blog went down), but I’m trying to recall why I passed on the other six, particularly Alex Evans and his imaginary grenade, and the student suspended for disarming another student. I think I was getting so sick of post-Sandy Hook hysteria when the invisible grenade story came out that I just couldn’t write about another one just then. The other one…well, as Rick notes, there were some complicating factors, but I should have covered it. Luckily Rick Jones was on the case, and did his usual excellent job.

Here, with Rick’s descriptions and links to his commentary, are the nominees:

Principal Greer Phillips of PS 79 (the Horan School) in East Harlem for conducting a completely unannounced (to teachers, to the police…) lockdown drill less than a week after the horrors at Sandy Hook Elementary. In aggravation: outrageous timing and an incompetently run drill complete with contradictory instructions, but also the makeup of the student body (a high percentage of students with emotional or cognitive problems). In mitigation: I can’t think of a thing. [Ethics Alarms commentary here.]

Principal Valerie Lara-Black of Mary Blair Elementary School in Loveland, Colorado for suspending 2nd-grader Alex Evans for throwing an imaginary grenade into an equally imaginary box containing “something evil.” In aggravation: this is stupid behavior even if there’s something tangible. In mitigation: there’s probably some idiotic zero tolerance policy that purports to justify if not demand these flights of inanity.

Principal Tracey Perkins of Cypress Lake (FL) High School for suspending a 16-year-old student because he disarmed another student, a football player who was threatening a teammate with a loaded gun. You see, he was “involved in an incident in which a weapon was present.” In aggravation: apart from the sheer idiocy the charges, they were changed after the school started being (quite rightly) embarrassed by the publicity. In mitigation: it is possible that the boy was indeed uncooperative with the ensuing investigation.

Principal Carla Scuzzarella of North Andover (MA) High School for stripping Erin Cox from her volleyball team captaincy and suspending her for five games because she went by a party where there was alcohol long enough to drive a drunken friend home. In aggravation: the police statement makes it clear that Ms. Cox had not been drinking, and the policy manual makes a specific point about the folly of guilt by association. In mitigation: there are reports that she was at the party longer than it would have taken just to collect her friend.

Officials at Dietrich (ID) High School for reporting science teacher Tim McDaniel to the school board and the state professional standards commission, allegedly for using the word “vagina.” Yes, in a biology class. In aggravation: Mr. McDaniel seems to be being penalized for the precise reason that he was doing his job. In mitigation: it is unclear to what extent the school per se was responsible for the brouhaha, although they clearly did little to prevent it.

Batavia (IL) High School and their equally incompetent school board for punishing social studies teacher John Dryden. His crime? Reminding his students of their 5th amendment rights while distributing a survey that could indeed have led to self-incrimination. In aggravation: the survey, with students’ name on it, was a clear invasion of student privacy, motivated by the usual nannyish hogwash. In mitigation: Dryden did react without checking with school officials about the intents of the survey. [Ethics Alarms commentary here.]

The unnamed teacher at Boles Junior High in Arlington, Texas for pouring pencil shavings into the mouth of 8th-grader Marquis Jay, and to the authorities who cravenly gave her a slap on the wrist. In aggravation: you need aggravation??? In mitigation: the boy deserved some punishment—he was at best inattentive—and it seems to have been an unpremeditated and isolated incident. [Ethics Alarms commentary here.]

Principal John Hynes of Grace Brethren High School in Simi Valley, California for the completely unauthorized action of changing the grades of at least one student (possibly several, including his own daughter), and the spineless board who allowed him get by with little punishment. In aggravation: it’s a short step from what has been admitted to and what has been alleged, which would be an outrageous abuse of power. In mitigation: with the exception of the one case, the allegations come almost exclusively from a now-former teacher. This may not be the most objective of sources.

Logo Ethics: How Insane Is Campus Political Correctness? A Quiz

Here are four logos from U.S. institutions of learning.  Each was or  is under attack by groups of students or administrators as being “offensive,” and in each case, the school’s administration either spent or is spending time and money to comply with the concerns. You have to guess the reason for the offense in each case.

Ready? Here’s number #1, from Brooklyn College:

Logo1

Give up? Well, back in 2009, we have recently learned, Karen L. Gould, who had just taken over as the first woman president of Brooklyn College, raised $107,000 to replace the old logo (the silhouette of the school’s landmark La Guardia Hall clock tower), because she thought it looked like a giant penis. [An earlier version of the post surmised that she therefore believed the logo was sexist. There is no evidence of that; it was my surmise and my error.]

She would not be happy living in Washington, D.C., clearly.

Ready for the next one? Here’s #2, from the University of Connecticut: Continue reading

The Case of the Sexy Six-Year-Old

To a 6-year-old, this music video is not sexy, because he has no idea what sexy is. And school administrators “know it.”

We haven’t had a jaw-dropping case of  “no-tolerance” idiocy from school administrators in, oh, a week or so, but this one is worth at least three.

D’Avonte Meadows, a first-grader at Sable Elementary School in Aurora, Colorado, was suspended for three days for “sexual harassment” and “disrupting other students.” His offense was singing a portion of the popular song (by hip-hop group LMFAO) “I’m sexy and I know it” to a female student. Sample lyrics: Continue reading

A Journalist’s Integrity: “To Hell With Of Freedom of the Press— MY Interests Are At Risk!”

Andrea, in her alternate "news censorship is bad" persona

Earlier this year, Andrea McCarren, a reporter with D.C.’s WUSA Channel 9 News, did a controversial special report om under-age drinking in the upscale Washington suburb of Bethesda, Maryland, with special focus on how parents excused and facilitated the law-breaking. She was subjected to a deluge of hate mail and online attacks for her story, and her children, who go to a Bethesda high school, were mocked and harassed by other students. The incident and the uproar had finally calmed down, when the school paper at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High, where the McCarren children are enrolled, decided to publish a feature about the episode.

McCarren—journalist, champion of the public’s right to know and the dedicated defender of the First Amendment—called the school’s principal and persuaded her to confiscate issues of the paper that had not yet been distributed, and to demand that students who already had copies return them. Why? Was the story false, libelous, or misleading? No. Was it a legitimate news story with relevance to the school? Of course.

McCarren had the school paper censored because she had the power and influence to do it, and because she felt that the story could have inconvenient and unfortunate consequences for people she cared about. Continue reading

Here’s An Idea: How About Making Teachers Actually Read Their Code of Ethics?

Read the Code, Miss Umbridge!

I don’t believe that the outrageous stories I read almost every day about incompetent, abusive, irresponsible teachers necessarily prove that there is a higher percentage of teachers who got their credentials straight from Hell today than in past generations, though I strongly suspect that is the case. In the days before the internet, horror stories stayed local, and seldom even made the paper. Thus we didn’t hear about the kind of student-terrorizing episodes that have turned up over the last few days, such as….

…..The fourth grade teacher whose brilliant idea to explain the Civil War was to have a slave auction in class, with the white students bidding on the non-white students.

…..The kindergarten teacher who reportedly told students to encircle a classmate, call him a pig and make pig noises because the boy was “messy.” Continue reading