How Far Have Our Universities Traveled Into Thought Control Territory? This Far: Stanford Wants To Punish A Student For Reading A Politically Incorrect Historical Document

A while back, one of this blog’s self-exiled commenters told me that he left because I had become more hostile to the Left in recent years, in contrast to my position when Ethics Alarms started in 2010. He’s right, of course. In 2010, this story would have been unimaginable. My standards haven’t changed. But one whole side of the political spectrum has been abandoning ethics and core American principles with increasing arrogance, aggressiveness and ruthlessness.

I am in shock over this latest episode.

After a photo of a Stanford student reading Adolf Hitler’s autobiography “Mein Kampf” circulated on campus, The Stanford Daily revealed that administrators were working with the students involved to “address” the incident. Two campus rabbis emailed Jewish students saying administrators “are in ongoing conversation with the individuals involved, who are committed to and actively engaged in a process of reckoning and sincere repair.”

Reckoning—for reading something? “Repair”? Is that the strong stench of re-education I feel in my nostrils? Continue reading

Stanford Goes Big Brother With A Newspeak List

That’s Isaac Asimov above, expressing his doubts that attempts at vocabulary restriction by totalitarians actually works.

I don’t think the ethical issue is whether efforts to “compress” language are successful. The issue is what the effort tells us about the people and institutions who make those efforts. The latest is Stanford University.

Stanford’s IT department released an list x of “harmful language” that it wants erased from the school’s websites, and, by extension, campus discourse.The list is an outgrowth of the “Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative,” which aims to “eliminate” words that may be deemed “racist, violent, and biased.”

The IT department’s censorious document is a mess, a mixture of apples, oranges and passion fruit. Some of the words and phrases marked as unacceptable are rude and archaic. Others are completely innocent as well as useful, condemned because they might have been used somewhere, sometime, by someone in a derogatory context.

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From EA’s “When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring” Files: The Stanford Marching Band’s Religious Mockery

Nice.

At halftime in the Brigham Young University (BYU) and Stanford University’s (Stanford) football game in California, Stanford’s band devoted its halftime show to insulting the Mormon faith The skit was called “Gay Chicken,” and featured a mock wedding ceremony of two women,using the words of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints marriage ceremony that declares a man and woman united “for time and all eternity.” In the skit, the wedding   officiant quoted Genesis 1:28 and directed both women to “be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.”

Gee, that sounds so hilarious I can’t imagine why the many Mormons in the crowd would feel attacked! They should have been laughing their heads off! Well, some people just have no sense of humor….

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More “Good” Segregation And Racial Discrimination On Progressive College Campuses

When exactly did racial segregation pass from the agendas of racists, bigots, white supremacists, KKK members and Jim Crow enthusiasts to the playbook of progressive black activists? What was the catalyst, the tipping point? I’m almost certain the fault lies with Barack Obama, but I have to work out the process more carefully before I’m ready to make that case. Nevertheless, our ever-woke, leftist-indoctrination factories we still foolishly refer to as institutions of higher education increasingly are seeing and tolerating such “good” racial discrimination. A new outbreak has been triggered by the movie sequel to the Marvel hit, “Black Panther,” “Wakanda Forever.”

University of California Santa Barbara students were offered a free screening of the film, but advised that white students were not exactly welcome. The Black Student Union, which sponsored the showing with the assistance of outside organizations, wrote on its Instagram page stated event was intended to be “Black-centered” and a “gathering of Black community….We are lovingly curating this space to support and affirm Black people and Black joy. We ask that our non-Black allies support our intention of creating a Black affinity and celebration space.”

We are lovingly telling you crackers to keep your white asses out of our celebration.

Nice.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/13/2019: Protests, Insults, Complaints And Threats

Started this at 3:15 am.

To be honest, I’m going back to bed as soon I  post it…

1. Today’s sample of Trump Derangement: Someone calling himself “Morgan Kilgore” (not hi s real name, however) just submitted a comment in all caps, to this post from May. It reads: TRUMP IS A CROOK AND ROBINSON SAID IT VERY PLAIN SIMPLE, UNLKE THE MUELLER REPORT..YOU TRUMP SUPPORTERS ARE A BUNCH OF FOOLS,LEAD BY A FOOL AND CONMAN.IF TRUMP TOOK A DUMP ON YOUR TURKEY DINNER,YOU WOULD STILL MAKE AN EXCUSE FOR HIM AND IT’S
SAD PEOPLE,VERY SAD. HEY MAYBE YOUR CHILDREN WILL GROWN UP AND HAVE TRUMP. VALUES.

The comment makes no substantive arguments and does not attempt to rebut the post, which is pretty air tight, frankly. I get a lot of these. (“Morgan” will not be joining our discussions.) The comment is also pretty typical of what the average Trump-obsessed Facebook user posts or “likes” on a daily basis.

2.  Freedom of speech watch: Jonathan Turley, who deserves praise for relentlessly flagging and criticizing the alarming increase in anti-speech advocacy from the Left, notes,

“The doublespeak used to justify the denial of free speech is particularly chilling. The students [at Stanford] insisted that allowing people to hear [ conservative pundit Ben Shapiro]  put them at risk: “WE are tired of Stanford Administration’s complicity in putting Black, Brown, Trans, Queer, and Muslim students at risk by allowing SCR to bring Ben Shapiro to campus”…The students declared their commitment not “to allow Shapiro’s talk to go uninterrupted.” In other words, we will not allow other students and faculty listen and have a discourse with Shapiro. What is striking is how these students believe that denying free speech is a noble act — a view fueled by many faculty members who treat speech as violence or a tool of oppression. That makes being a censor sound like being a civil libertarian. You simply declare, as did the Stanford students, that this is a “harmful event” with “harmful people.” Done.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/31/18: Labor Day Weekend Edition

Good Morning.

This was in some respects the worst month in Ethics Alarms history, and I won’t be sorry to see it go. This weekend I will be spending more hours trying to cover ethics issues and developments while  knowing that an even smaller group of readers will bother to consider them, as they will off at beaches and mountain retreats, or sweltering at backyard barbecues. I have to admit it’s discouraging, and makes what needs to feel important and stimulating feel like an unsatisfying slog instead. Well, if you’re reading this, it’s not your fault.

1. Ethics estoppel. I couldn’t believe I read more than one local account of last night’s Detroit-Yankee game, a crushing loss for New York, complaining that Tigers DH Victor Martinez’s game-tying homer in the 9th “wouldn’t have been a home run in any of the other 29 Major League stadiums.”  Wow. The unmatched dominance of the New York Yankees over all of baseball has been significantly aided by its uniquely short right field fence ever since the original Yankee Stadium was built to provide cheap right field home runs to Babe Ruth, who hardly needed any help. Even though the shot to right isn’t as easy as it used to be (those old Yankee Stadium dimensions are illegal now), the Yankees still build their offense around that fence, and it is substantially responsible for the fact that the team leads all of baseball in home runs, and games won by cheap home runs.

Yankee fans and media are estopped from complaining when an opposing player benefits for a change. What utter gall!

2. Worst management ethics ever. President Trump is again tweeting about what a lousy job Attorney General Jeff Sessions is doing. Is he trying to make Sessions resign? Why? Why doesn’t he just fire him? This is a guy who became famous using “You’re fired!” as a trademark. Undermining a subordinate in public can’t possible make him or her perform better. It also signifies a dysfunctional organization and chain of command. In Sessions’ case, it makes the target look like a pathetic weenie devoid of self- respect. If my boss complained in public about me, I would resign that very day, with a brief statement that no professional should have to endure such gratuitous abuse from a superior, and that I would not. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/3/2018: Remember Pickett’s Charge! Edition [UPDATED]

Good Morning!

1. “General, I have no division!” At about 2:00 pm, , July 3, 1863, by the little Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg, Robert E. Lee launched his last, desperate and audacious stratagem to win the pivotal battle of the American Civil War, a massed Napoleonic assault on the entrenched Union position on Cemetary Ridge, with a “copse of trees” at its center. The doomed march into artillery and rifle fire, across an open field and over fences, lasted less than an hour. The Union forces suffered 1,500 casualties,, while at least 1,123 Confederates were killed on the battlefield, 4,019 were wounded, and nearly 4000 Rebel soldiers were captured. Lee’s bold stroke had failed spectacularly, and would go down in history as one of the worst military blunders of all time.

That verdict is debatable, but this is not: Pickett’s Charge, as the attack came to be called, holds as many fascinating ethics lessons as any event in American history, and this blog has returned to it for enlightenment time and time again.

There is the matter of the duty to prevent a disaster that you know is going to occur, the whistleblower’s duty, and the theme of Barbara Tuchman’s work, “The March of Folly.” There was Robert E. Lee’s noble and unequivocal acceptance of accountability for the disaster, telling the returning and defeated warriors that “It is all my fault.” The defeat also turned on moral luck, with many unpredictable factors, such as the intervention of a brave and intrepid Union cavalry officer named George Armstrong Custer, who also teaches that our greatest strengths and most deadly flaws are often the same thing, and that the Seven Enabling Virtues can be employed for both good and wrongful objectives.  Pickett’s Charge shows how, as Bill James explained, nature conspires to make us unethical.

Pickett’s Charge also teaches that leadership requires pro-active decision-making, and the willingness to fail, to be excoriated, to be blamed, as an essential element of succeeding. Most of all, perhaps, it illustrates the peril’s of hindsight bias, for without a few random turns of fate, Robert E. Lee’s gamble might have worked.

2. Funny how if you continually denigrate someone based on his color and gender, he will eventually stop respecting you. Stanford University has established a Men and Masculinities Project  that aims to help men develop “healthy and inclusive male identities”—because they obviously don’t have those now.  “We acknowledge that male identity is a social privilege, and the aim for this project is to provide the education and support needed to better the actions of the male community rather than marginalize others,” anti-man-splains Stanford’s gurus. Stanford, of course, is not alone in pushing the ubiquitous progressive narrative that men are toxic, along with whites, making white men the worst of all. Perhaps this might explain why support for Democrats among young white men is falling fast.

Nah, it must be because they are sexist and racist…

3. But..but…settled science! The Economist estimates that as many as 400,000 papers published in supposedly peer-reviewed journals were not peer-reviewed at all. Scientists, scholars and academics are no more trustworthy or alien to unethical conduct than anyone else, but because most of the public (and journalists) don’t  understand what they write about and have to accept what they claim on faith, they are presumed to be trustworthy.

Think of them as the equivalent of auto mechanics. Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up, Memorial Day, 5/28/18: Things That Don’t Mix

1. Let’s start with some non-traditional casting hypocrisy.

  • Example A: In “The Gentleman Caller,” an Off-Broadway drama by Phillip Dawkins, an imagined romantic interlude between famously gay Fifties playwrights Tennessee Williams and William Inge has been cast with a Hispanic, and Hispanic-looking, actor as the very un-Hispanic Williams, and an Asian-American actor as the quite Caucasian Inge. This is self-indulgent grandstanding by the director that doesn’t serve the play—that’s the director’s duty, to serve the play—and the playwright was a fool to allow it. If the drama was just about two gay playwrights, it wouldn’t matter who was cast to portray them, or what the actors looked like. The identity of the writers is important to this  drama, however. You don’t cast a short, bald man as Abraham Lincoln, and you don’t cast a fat, flat-chested woman as Marilyn Monroe unless you are actively trying to sabotage the play. The New York Times critic didn’t have the integrity to point out the reverse-whitewashing casting-–mustn’t criticize fellow social justice warriors, you know!—but the stunt is both incompetent and discriminatory.

If a director cast an Irish-American and an Italian-American as James Baldwin and Richard Wright in a similar play, he would be excoriated, and rightly so.

  • Example B. Jim Parsons, best known as aging nerd Sheldon in “Big Bang Theory” and now starring on Broadway in the ensemble revival of “The Boys in the Band,” told the New York Times in an interview that the producer insisted that everyone in the cast be gay. Nice. Gay actors have been insisting forever that their sexuality was no bar to their playing straight characters—this is true, if they are any good as actors—but apparently reverse discrimination is fine.  It’s not fine. It’s bigotry.

When my late, lamented theater company revived that play almost 20 years ago, the director, John Moran, himself gay, insisted that the sexual orientation of the actors who auditioned would play no part in his casting decisions, and it did not. I think most of the all-male cast was not gay, but all of them were (and are) excellent.

One of my favorite Clarence Darrow quotes is, “I’m for the underdog. He needs friends a damn sight more than the other fellow. The best fun in life is to fight for the underdog…If the underdog got on top he would probably be just as rotten as the upper dog, but in the meantime I am for him.”

Things that don’t mix: Anti-discrimination rhetoric and discrimination

2. Another “good illegal immigrant” story. Guatemalan woman Gomez Gonzalez was shot to death in a border incident as she tried to enter the U.S. illegally. The episode is under investigation, and the facts are murky: the border patrol claims that she was in a crowd of people trying to cross the border illegally that became threatening and violent.  Here is how CNN begins its account of the controversy:

“Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez traveled 1,500 miles to the United States, hoping to find a job and a better future. Shortly after she set foot in Texas, a Border Patrol agent shot and killed her.”

No bias there! It is absolutely irrelevant to the legal and ethical issues here why Gonzalez was entering the country illegally. She did not deserve to be shot under any circumstances, and she was no more justified in violating our immigration laws whether her objective was to find a “better future” or to open a meth lab. The news media insists on sentimentalizing what is a black and white issue of sovereignty, law-breaking and enforcement, with the intent of confusing the public and demonizing opponents of illegal immigration.

Things that don’t mix: Lawbreaking and status as a virtuous martyr

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Yes, Black Lives Matters Is A Racist Organization (Racism Is Unethical)

Black Lives Matter has banned whites from attending an upcoming event in Philadelphia, designating it as  “black only.”

The April 15 meeting will plan  projects and initiatives for the upcoming year as well as serving as a “black only space”  for people—well, those who are the right color— to “meet, strategize and organize.” Whites are explicitly banned from the meeting, according to the organization’s Facebook event page.

When criticism began coming over Twitter, Black Lives Matter Philly explained that their meetings are “black centered.”

Oh.

Racist.

As Ethics Alarms has stated repeatedly.

While reminding all that the Democratic Party still officially endorses BLM and thus its hypocritical anti-white racism as well, there is this: Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky

Let’s see if this sentence generates a fraction of the national attention that the so-called “affluenza” sentence did. For this is much, much worse.

Star Stanford swimmer and Olympic swimming team candidate Brock Turner was arrested in the early morning hours of Jan. 18, 2015  when two Stanford graduate students  saw him on the ground, thrusting his hips atop an unconscious, partially clothed woman. They called police; Turner ran, and police chased him down Turner. In trial, Turner claimed that the woman had consented, though police found her unconscious.

The jury didn’t believe him, and convicted Turner of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object. The usual sentence for sexual assault is six years in state prison. Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, however,  sentenced Turner to six months in county jail and three years’ probation. Turner could get out of prison after just three months.

For rape.

I do not find the Judge’s reasoning persuasive. His arguments were.. Continue reading