Today’s Dispatch From “The Great Stupid”: The Chivalry Assignment (Corrected)

Chivalry

At Texas’s Shallowater High School, a “chivalry” assignment given to female students required girls to “dress in a feminine manner,” lower their heads and curtsy to please men, “walk behind men daintily as if their feet were bound,” and “not complain or whine.” The boys were told to dress in jackets and ties, pick up any object dropped by “the ladies” and to hold doors open, among other things.

The alleged purpose of the assignment was to “demonstrate to the school how the code of chivalry and standards set in the medieval concept of courtly love carries over into the modern day.” An assignment sheet included a set of “rules” with a line for an “adult witness signature” next to each:

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When Ethics Fails, The Law Steps In, And Often Makes An Ass Of Itself…

Greg-Abbott

There is no excuse for this:

Abbott tweet

Well, let me clarify that a bit. Anger, frustration, outrage at the open attack on democracy and a level playing field in the marketplace of ideas are all legitimate reasons for someone to default to “there ought to be a law!,” but there is no excuse for elected officials like Abbott and Texas legislators displaying such ignorance of the Bill of Rights.

Stipulated: what Big Tech and the social media platforms are doing right now, deliberately and brazenly attempting to slam their fists down on the scales of democracy to make it as difficult as possible to communicate opinions, news and other expression that our rising woke dictators find inconvenient, is a genuine threat to the nation’s values and existence. However, those same values will be weakened if laws mandating companies to be fair and ethical undermine the First Amendment. As the giddy AUC and my Trump Deranged Facebook friends immediately reply to any criticism of the growing censorship of conservatives and especially President Trump, a private company has a nearly absolute right to decide who has access to its free services. As the social justice crusaders don’t say, but prove every time they make this kneejerk observation, they are thrilled to see their fellow citizens muzzled this way, since it advances their own interests. Big Tech and the social media companies have the right, but it is not right for them to abuse it this way when they have so much control over public debate and information.

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Sunset Ethics Round-Up, 2/2/2021: The Narrative That Refuses To Die, The Weenie Who Whines From A Safe Distance, And Other Tales

setting sun

Pop quiz! What’s the significance of the photo above?

It’s official: last month, February 2021 was the worst in Ethics Alarms traffic in five years, and last week was the worst non-holiday week in longer than that. I am at a loss to explain it, and I am going to stop obsessing about it. The comments are among the best and most erudite on the web, and I am confident that the quality and variety of content remains as high as ever.

1. Never give up that narrative! Over the weekend the Times had a puzzling news article telling us that the FBI had “zeroed in” on a suspect in the death of Brian Sicknick, the Capitol police officer who was falsely and repeatedly cited by mainstream media sources and the Trump prosecution in the impeachment trial as being “killed” in the riot or by rioters. The great discovery was that of a video showing someone in the crowd spraying pepper spray or bear spray on officers during the melee. However, as the article itself states, neither irritant is known to be fatal, and both the officers and the crazies were using it that day. Sicknick died of a stroke after the riot, and no link between his death and what occurred while he was trying to control the crowd has been established.

The usual course is to first establish that there has been a homicide, then to look for suspects. “Let’s see if we can pin this on someone” is not considered ethical. I predict that no one will be prosecuted for Sicknick’s death—not ethically, anyway.

2. Speaking of predictions: In yesterday’s post about Governor Cuomo’s apology, I wrote,

[T]he acid test for sexual harassment (and worse) is whether there are additional victims who come forward after the first one breaks the silence. Cuomo is now up to two. It’s a safe bet there are more.

Yesterday a third accuser came forward. Three usually is the tipping point at which even the most protective mainstream media hacks will finally turn on a Democrat. For example, I doubt that Justin Fairfax, the Lt Governor of Virginia, would have survived three rape accusers, but he’s a black Democrat, so the formula is a bit different. The Babylon Bee has it exactly right. Meanwhile, Jim Treacher writes,

Late night liberal “comedians” are finally jumping on the bandwagon to criticize formerly beloved New York governor, Andrew Cuomo. Taking the media’s lead, “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert suddenly found the scandal-embroiled Democrat was an easy target, after several women came forward alleging sexual harassment from the governor.

On his Monday night show, Colbert spent roughly three minutes mocking Cuomo as an “old man” pervert for his alleged creepy comments and behavior towards young women. This after, he spent 2020 grossly promoting the Democrat’s leadership and sex appeal.

These are awful people. They were prepared to ignore the thousands of nursing home deaths Cuomo caused and covered up while praising him as a brilliant pandemic leader (unlike President Trump.) Indulging in the kind of sexual harassment and assault that Joe Biden engaged in regularly while cameras were shooting is too much to bear, however. Now Cuomo is a monster.

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Dumb And Dumber: A Snap Shot Of Our Dysfunctional Civic Discourse

Two dumb tweets

If there is any value to Twitter at all, it may be its ability to reveal the intellectual deficits of those who use it.

The above tweet and response is a fine example. Hannah Cox is a libertarian-conservative writer, commentator, and activist, a Newsmax “Insider” and a frequent contributor to The Washington Examiner. Her tweet above is signature significance: any one who could state for public consumption that the United States “is one of the biggest and most intrusive governments known to man” without their brain leaping out through their nose and slapping them in the face cannot be trusted. It is a really ignorant exaggeration, the kind of hyperbole Donald Trump made daily. Overstating a point for the delectation of idiots doesn’t help. It hurts because such statements make an entire philosophy of government seem stupid by misrepresenting it.

The tweet it is responding to, by “proud progressive” Texas State Representative John Talerico, is, impressively, even worse. It is stupid AND scary. He describes himself on Twitter as “youngest legislator, former middle school teacher, and eighth generation Texan.” Then he virtue-signals by adding “1 John 4:8”: that’s the “Good is love” quote. How young is this idiot, 10? Was he frozen cryogenically in 1967 and warmed up to run for the Texas legislature against a slug? What are they teaching in Texas schools? Surely not logic, political science or world history. They clearly aren’t teaching Ben Franklin’s critical observation, “Those who give up liberty for security deserve neither.” Talerico’s tweet is an open-ended appeal to totalitarian government, if he means what he wrote—Texas schools may not be teaching English, either. The opposite of limited government is unlimited government, and unlimited government is “a boot stamping on a human face— forever,” in George Orwell’s chilling metaphor from “1984.” The Texas schools don’t teach that either, I bet.

Sadly, this is the usual level of dialogue between the Left and the Right that now frames our democracy. It’s incompetent; it’s irresponsible, and as we have seen for at least 20 years, it nurtures dysfunctional politics, government and democracy like moisture nurtures mildew.

Ethics Quote Of The Month: Colonel William Travis

Victory or Death

“”To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World—Fellow Citizens & compatriots— I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna — I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man — The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken — I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls — I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch — The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country —Victory or Death.

Col. William Barrett Travis, Commander of the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, on February 24, 1836, as his make-shift fort with its couple hundred volunteers were surrounded by the army of General Santa Ana, and a siege was inevitable.

Travis sent out several appeals for assistance and reinforcement that day, but this one has been enshrined as one of the iconic letters in American history. When the Texas revolution began in 1835, Travis, a failed lawyer, businessman and husband—he had abandoned his wife and unborn child in Alabama to escape his debts and start a new life in the Mexican territory—had became a lieutenant-colonel in the revolutionary army and was given command of troops in the recently captured city of San Antonio de Bexar (now San Antonio). On February 23, 1836, a large Mexican force commanded by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana arrived in the town. Travis and his troops barricaded themselves in an abandoned mission repurposed as a fort, the Alamo, where they were  joined by a volunteer force led by Texas land speculator and adventurer Jim Bowie. Later, another, smaller group of volunteers organized by former Congressman and self-made legend Davy Crockett joined them.

Before Travis’s fevered and desperate letter-writing, the Mexican dictator had demanded the fort’s unconditional surrender, promising no quarter if the defenders refused. As his letter said, Travis answered with a cannon shot.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

This is an especially important time for Americans to remember the Alamo.


Comment Of The Day Double Feature: “Ted Cruz ‘Scandal’ Significance: Another Smoking Gun”… And Metaphorical Squirrels (1)

Incredibly, some media news sources are still blathering on about how Ted Cruz took his family to sunny Mexico while poor, normal, working Texans were trapped in their freeing homes. The Spectator had some wry words about this on Friday, describing the phenomenon as “squirrels”: distracting but inconsequential attractions the biased news media sends out to avoid covering stories that are unflattering to their client, the Democratic Party. Scott McKay writes in part,

Squirrels. What dog can resist chasing one? And if you don’t want a national discussion of a topic on which your side cannot hold its own, it’s best to set loose an arboreous rodent or two.

Like, for example, if Andrew “Sonny” Cuomo, the New York governor who played Grim Reaper to thousands of his state’s seniors by stashing COVID-19 patients in nursing homes where they resided, would suddenly find himself under scrutiny by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

That wouldn’t be a good look, would it? The Democrat establishment has done all it could to pump Sonny up as a potential national figure. Considering their bench is so shallow they had to present the decrepit and addled Joe Biden as their nominee for resident, er, president, Cuomo is what passes for a future ace in the hole when Biden has been put to pasture and the Democrats recognize Kamala Harris isn’t sellable to the country even if the dead can be made to vote again in strength.

If Cuomo didn’t offer a future presidential prospect, he would surely be someone to throw under the bus. He’s a gubernatorial Biden — a shameless clown devoid of credibility or competence who represents everything regular Americans despise about the political class. Cuomo is the very picture of our coastal elites: his success owes almost completely to the name he inherited from his father Vito, er, Mario Cuomo and his membership in the ruling-class club. Cuomo spouts all of the pieties of the managerial elite, and he’s mastered the art of faking sincerity when he does so. His abject corruption and incompetence in office is easy to paper over — the Cuomos have run so much of New York’s middle class out of the state there are no longer enough of them to ever vote a Democrat out of office, and therefore their party has perfected at the state level the Weaponized Governmental Failure that’s usually reserved for Democrat machines in the cities.

And of course, brother Fredo — sorry, Chris — hosts a show on CNN when he’s not engaged in pugilism with less-than-adoring viewers or faking a COVID quarantine. CNN’s management actually thinks it’s cute to have Fredo interviewing Sonny on its air despite the breathtaking affront to journalistic integrity that represents. That occasional moment of on-air fraternal bliss suddenly lost its luster when the G-Men began covering the set.

Later, he concludes,

Nor are the squirrels going back into the trees anytime soon, because it won’t be long before the Democrats and their compliant minions in the news media and pop culture recognize the urgency of air cover for all kinds of coming disasters.

There’s the unscientific failure to reopen schools as parents groan under the strain of trying to survive the COVID economy while becoming amateur homeschoolers. There’s the burgeoning failure to fulfill Dirty Joe Biden’s vaccine promises while Biden purports to have conjured the vaccines out of thin air. There’s the fact Biden is calling a lid on conducting foreign policy and delegating it to Kamala Harris. There is the looming disaster in China and Iran policy, and particularly the coming crippling shortage in rare-earth minerals. There is the growing recognition that the Brian Sicknick story, on which the Jan. 6 “insurrection” narrative has been built, appears not to have contained a wisp or a smidgeon of truth.

And on and on.

The problem with squirrels is eventually the dogs lose interest. What comes afterward could be fascinating, and not in a good way.

I feel complicit, a bit, in the squirrel problem, but it is a matter of focus. The cover-up that Cuomo has been credibly accused of is obviously unethical: nobody needs me to point that out. Cruz’s mess, which he blundered into, raised ethical issues, which is why it has been more evident on Ethics Alarms.

Two commenters, Null Pointer and Chris Marschner, have contributed Comments of the Day on the matter, one in response to the other, and they make an attractive matched set. First up is Null Pointer’s COTD on the post, “Ted Cruz ‘Scandal’ Significance: Another Smoking Gun”:

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Ethics Inquiry: Did Sen. Cruz Do Anything Wrong?

Cruz trip

As Bill Clinton might say (and probably has, maybe more than once), it depends on what your definition of “wrong” is.

Millions of Texans were left without electricity this week in the middle of the state’s power crisis following a massive winter storm. The Senator’s wife Heidi sent text messages to friends and neighbors complaining that their home was “FREEZING,” and that she wanted the family to escape on the 17th to someplace warmer, at least until Sunday. The mission, if her husband chose to accept it: get to the luxury Ritz-Carlton in sunny Cancún, Mexico. The destination is apparently a family favorite. The GOP Senator did accept, and the Freezing Cruzes fled Houston, hopping an afternoon flight. The consensus of the news media, the commentariat and social media was that…

In fact, you would think Cruz had been caught having a secret romantic rendezvous with a goat. Incriminating photos of Cruz and his wife boarding the flight launched a full-fledged scandal. How dare he flee a crisis when his state was in misery? Ted responded by playing the Parent Card, explaining he had flown to Mexico “to be a good dad” and to chaperone his daughters and their friends, and he promised he was coming back yesterday, which he did.

When he returned, Cruz admitted that his family trip had been a mistake. That is undeniable.

But was it unethical? Was it wrong?

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From The Ethics Alarms Sarcasm Dept., Cross-Filed in “Unethical…But Funny!”: Yeah, THIS Sure Engenders Trust In The Competence Of State Law Enforcement

Chucky

The Texas public safety department sent out an Amber Alert asking citizens to keep an eye out for Chucky, the homicidal possessed doll from the Child’s Play movies, who, it said, was a suspect in a kidnapping. The nonsensical message was blasted to people’s mobile phones three times.

It described the suspect as being called “Chucky” and described him as a 28-year-old with red, auburn hair, band blue eyes who stood at 3ft 1in tall and weighed 16lbs. He was wearing blue denim overalls, alarmed Texans were told with a multi-colored striped long sleeve shirt and was presumed armed with a large knife – matching his appearance in the films.

His race was listed as “Other: Doll.”

The department issued a statement saying: “This alert is a result of a test malfunction. We apologize for the confusion this may have caused and are diligently working to ensure this does not happen again.”

Oh, it’s a TEST malfunction! That’s OK then. “May have caused”? There’s no confusion: the Texas Safety Department is run by utter boobs. When a state department starts warning the public about fictional serial killers from horror movies, the best way to ensure it doesn’t happen again is to clean house.

I feel it necessary to post this song, from “Lil’ Abner”…

Monday Ethics Warm-Up, 10/19/2020: Wherein My Head Explodes At Least Once

head-explode Calvin

1. KABOOM! Just when I thought 1) Georgetown could not embarrass this alum more thoroughly and 2) my head had been immunized from exploding comes the astounding news that Georgetown University has hired former FBI agent Peter Strzok as an adjunct professor. Strzok is now listed on the university’s staff page and he mentioned the Walsh School of Foreign Service on his Twitter profile. An alumnus, he will be teaching a “Counterintelligence and National Security” in the fall semester.

While engaged in an adulterous affair with then FBI lawyer Lisa Page in 2016, Strzok exchanged suspicious anti- Trump messages that called into question the legitimacy and fairness of the Mueller investigation. The FBI fired Strzok  in 2018 for  undermining public confidence in the non-partisanship of the bureau and federal law enforcement.

Stay classy, Georgetown! I already have my law school diploma facing the wall; I guess I can coat it with some kind of noxious substance…

2. The villain here is the professor. This is no time to be a weenie. Actually, there is never a good time to be a weenie. A professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law used “nigger” (referred to in infantile fashion by the law school’s announcement as “the n-word,” since “poopy badspeak” hasn’t caught on yet) in the context of discussing an offensive language case. But of course a student or six reported him, because they could, and it is an easy way for young progressive cowards to justify puffing up their pigeon chests because they get to cause trouble for someone who did absolutely nothing wrong.

The adjunct professor has not been identified, but in an email from law school administrators, including Law Dean Amy Wildermuth, it was announced that the professor has resigned.

“The instructor apologized and expressed his deep regret to the class, and informed the class at 1 p.m. today that he was resigning immediately from teaching at Pitt Law,” the announcement said in part.  “We condemn the use of this word, and we believe that saying this word and words like it, even in an academic context, is deeply hurtful,” the note concluded.

Words are not hurtful. Meanings are hurtful, when they are intentional. This is virtue-signaling and language policing of the most indefensible sort. The professor, whoever he is, had an obligation to the school, the culture, his profession, common sense and himself to fight, not surrender.

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The SCOTUS Decision In June Medical Services v. Russo

This post just leapt over several others because the case was just announced.

The Louisiana Unsafe Abortion Protection Act, enacted in 2014, requires physicians performing abortions in Louisiana to have the right to admit patients to a hospital within thirty miles of the place where the abortion is performed. The law is virtually identical (as today’s opinion points out) to a Texas law that the Court held in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt was unconstitutional four years ago by a vote of 5-3. In a vote that will have conservative bloggers’ heads exploding  like fireworks, Chief Justice John Roberts, who had been among the dissenters in the Texas case, joined the four liberals in ruling that the Louisiana law is also unconstitutional, while saying that he still believes that the Texas case was wrongly decided.

The decision is here. SCOTUS Blog’s coverage is here.

I won’t comment on the dissents—-there are several—because I haven’t read them yet.  (But I would bet my head that Justices Alito and Thomas essentially recycled their previous objections to Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. ) However, I wrote at length about the Texas case in 2016, and upon reviewing it, I see nothing substantially different from what I would conclude about today’s decision. in both cases, it seems clear that the state was using a pretextual safety measure to restrict abortions as much as possible.  Then I wrote, Continue reading