Ethics Hero: Jodi Shaw

Jody Shaw

Instead of apologizing, instead of prostrating herself and her principles to remains in good graces within an oppressive culture, Jodi Shaw sounded an alarm instead. Now she needs our support, but more than that, she must be seen as a role model for anyone else, of any political stripe or ideological tilt, who believes in the values the United States was founded to nurture.

Shaw has courage. Courage is what is desperately needed, and as has been written here too often already, it is what has so far been lacking.

I first wrote about Shaw, then a Smith College administrator, last December. Shaw, had criticized the college’s critical race theory-based “sensitivity training” required of all staff members and posted her own YouTube videos on the issue. The president of Smith College, Kathleen McCartney, issued a formal statement against Shaw that said in part:

This past week, an employee of the college posted a personal video to express their concerns about the college’s programming to promote racial justice….This employee does not speak for the college or any part of the college. Further, we believe the video mischaracterizes the college’s important, ongoing efforts to build a more equitable and inclusive living, learning and working environment.

You should know that the employee has not violated any college policies by sharing their personal views on a personal channel. The National Labor Relations Act protects employees who engage in concerted activities, including speech, with respect to workplace conditions. All members of any workplace, including Smith College, have the freedom to criticize the policies and practices of their employer.

Nevertheless, I am writing to affirm that the President’s Cabinet and I believe we have a moral responsibility to promote racial justice, equity and inclusion at Smith College. To the people of color in our community, please know our commitment is steadfast. And especially to our students of color, please know we are here for you always.

I learned about the latest chapter in Shaw’s ordeal from another Ethics Hero, Bari Weiss. who resigned as the staff editor for the opinion section of the The New York Times with a searing letter revealing the cultural oppression faced by anyone on that staff who did not conform to the mandatory progressive cant. I wrote at the time, in July of last year, “Maybe Weiss’s bold and unquestionably true letter is the metaphorical slap in the face of the mainstream media that will make journalists realize that they have squandered their credibility.” Boy, I’m a gullible Pollyanna sometimes! The Times has, if anything, gotten worse, and the Left’s institutions have become, if anything, more brazen in their efforts to punish and crush dissenters. But Weiss, like other refugees from the ideological purges like Glenn Greenwald, now has a platform at substack, where you can subscribe to support the rebels. I think of it as the metaphorical hills of Greece, where my relatives waged guerilla war on the invading Nazis in WWII while trying to protect the cradle of Western thought and philosophy.

Weiss introduces Jodi and her moment of truth by writing in part,

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Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/6/2020: Euphemism, Epidemiology And Epistemology

Blazing Sun

1. Unfortunately, the University of Chicago is not typical of American educational institutions. Smith College is. When Jodi Shaw, a Smith administrative staff member, criticized the college’s critical race theory-based “sensitivity training” required of all staff members and posted here own YouTube videos on the issue, the president of Smith College, Kathleen McCartney, felt it necessary to issue a formal statement that said in part:

This past week, an employee of the college posted a personal video to express their concerns about the college’s programming to promote racial justice….This employee does not speak for the college or any part of the college. Further, we believe the video mischaracterizes the college’s important, ongoing efforts to build a more equitable and inclusive living, learning and working environment.

You should know that the employee has not violated any college policies by sharing their personal views on a personal channel. The National Labor Relations Act protects employees who engage in concerted activities, including speech, with respect to workplace conditions. All members of any workplace, including Smith College, have the freedom to criticize the policies and practices of their employer.

Nevertheless, I am writing to affirm that the President’s Cabinet and I believe we have a moral responsibility to promote racial justice, equity and inclusion at Smith College. To the people of color in our community, please know our commitment is steadfast. And especially to our students of color, please know we are here for you always.

All members of Smith College, have the freedom to criticize the policies and practices of their employer; they just risk having the president call them racists.

“Racial justice” is now an Orwellian phrase and euphemism (like “black lives matter”) to avoid discussion and to cut off dissent before it starts. After all, what kind of person objects to “justice”?

2. But wait! There’s more! In an open letter to the Smith community authored by an alumnae group, Shaw is being targeted for “re-education”:

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Chilling Speech And Expression At Smith: The Scariest Thing About This Is Not The Story Itself, But That Alarm Over It Is Not Bi-Partisan

phone-call

Students at Smith College now have access to an anonymous 24 hour bias hotline and online portal for reporting what the complaining caller regards as bias, discrimination, and harassment. These offenses can be whatever a student thinks it is.

The service will be run by EthicsPoint, a  service used by prestigious institutions like Amherst College, Tufts University, and Brown University. The conduct being reported doesn’t have to be illegal,  Smith says,  only “unfair,” “uninvited,” or “unwelcome” as well as what someone regards as “bigotry, harassment, or intimidation.”  Expressing support for the Republican nominee for President, for example, risks being called “bigotry.” A forceful argument that it isn’t bigotry might be taken as intimidation.

According to the EthicsPoint reporting portal, misconduct can include “but is not limited to, slurs, graffiti, written messages, or images.” A Smith College spokeswoman  told Campus Reform that “Smith has adopted EthicsPoint—a service used by more than 800 higher education institutions around the world—as a supplement to, not a replacement for, existing in-house options.”

This is an “everybody does it” excuse for the inexcusable, indeed, for the totalitarian. Since the reporting portal does not require a login, anyone, regardless of whether they are students or affiliated with the college, can report a student for being “offensive.”  Articles about this Orwellian development express concern that it might lead to self-censorship and chill free speech. Gee, do you think so? Of course this “report your classmates for non-conforming ideas that offend you” system chills speech. It is intended to chill speech. After four years under such a system, a typical Smith student should be completely conditioned never to speak or, better yet, think non-progressive thoughts. Continue reading

Smith College President Kathleen McCartney’s Apologizes For Saying “All Lives Matter”: Is There A Problem?

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t.

There is a problem, all right, but not the one you might think—at least not this time.

Smith College President Kathleen McCartney attempted to  show support for her students  protesting racism and police brutality by sending a campus-wide email titled, “All Lives Matter.” But the official slogan of such protests is “black lives matter.” McCartney immediately came under fire from black students and others, accusing her of minimizing the specific nature of her concerns. “No, Kathy. Please do not send out an email saying ‘All lives matter.’ This isn’t about everyone, this is about black lives,” Sophia Buchanan, a Smith student, in a typical critique.

The college President apologized several hours later, saying that she hadn’t thought about the fact that “all lives matter” was being used by some as a rebuttal to “black lives matter”:

“I regret that I was unaware the phrase/hashtag ‘all lives matter’ has been used by some to draw attention away from the focus on institutional violence against Black people…. “It minimizes the anti-blackness of this the current situation; yes, all lives matter, but not all lives are being targeted for police brutality. The black students at this school deserve to have their specific struggles and pain recognized, not dissolved into the larger student body.”

That statement put her in the cross-hairs of the “conservative media” and others, who treated it as a full-fledged “gotcha!” What??? Saying that all lives matter is offensive now? What next Orwellian proposition will political correctness bullies demand from spineless college administrators? Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Former Princeton President William G. Bowen

“I think that Birgeneau, in turn, responded intemperately, failing to make proper allowance for the immature, and, yes, arrogant inclinations of some protestors. Aggravated as he had every right to be, I think he should be with us today.”

—— William G. Bowen, former Princeton President and last-minute substitute 2014 Commencement speaker at Haverford College. Bowen’s predecessor as Haverford’s designated graduation VIP, former Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau, had withdrawn in response to Haverford student protests that he had been too tough on the Occupy Berkeley protesters.

"Honored graduates: My advice is that when faced with determined opposition, if you know you are right, run away. Thank you."

“Honored graduates: My advice is that when faced with determined opposition, if you know you are right, run away. Thank you.”

Yes, bravo. Many pundits have commented on the epidemic of anti-free expression attitudes on campus, as various groups on campuses across the country have effectively vetoed speakers at Commencements and other forums that threatened to disturb their unshakeable belief in the infallibility of their judgment and analysis of the world before their 22n’t birthday. Yes, students are arrogant, immature, intolerant, easily misled and often ridiculous; we knew that. Thus it is up to the adults to set them straight and teach them some useful life lessons. One such lesson should be to refuse to back down in the face of criticism and opposition just because it will require character, fortitude and courage to do what you have every right to do. Continue reading