The Third Niggardly Principle , the last of three Ethics Alarms rules applying to situations where someone mistakenly takes offense at a valid and useful word, comes into play when capitulating to such sensitivity create a precedent that will do tangible harm to society, culture, individual rights and personal freedoms. It declares:
“When suppressing speech and conduct based on an individual’s or a group’s claim, sincere or otherwise, that such speech or conduct is offensive, however understandable and reasonable this claim may be, creates or threatens to create a powerful precedent that will undermine freedom of speech, expression or political opinion elsewhere, calls to suppress the speech or conduct must be opposed and rejected.
Spineless, fearful, submissive and appeasing corporate lackeys, showing us that they can be counted on to surrender core American principles and values to keep their market share and pander to the mob, have decided in recent days to ban certain well understood, useful, common and benign words because “some” believe they imply racism: Continue reading →
I have a feeling I may be using this clip, the final lines from “The Bridge of the River Kwai,” a lot from now on. In fact, I’m going to add it to the Ethics Alarms clips list right now. Back in a minute…I just realized that there’s another clip I left out of that post, so we are now up to eleven.
Back. As Lili Von Shtupp said, “I feel wefweshed!
These are truly the crazy times. The George Floyd Freakout has emboldened the power-hungry, the self-righteous, the manipulative and the irresponsible, while those who have not abandoned their values and faculties descend into fear and submissiveness. For example…
“When…suppressing speech and conduct based on an individual’s or a group’s sincere claim that such speech or conduct is offensive, however understandable and reasonable this claim may be, creates or threatens to create a powerful precedent that will undermine freedom of speech, expression or political opinion elsewhere, calls to suppress the speech or conduct must be opposed and rejected.”
The City Council of Duluth, Minnesota, is considering stripping the word “chief” from the job titles of top administrators because the mayor thinks the word is offensive to Native Americans. It was reported that during a press conference yesterday, Mayor Emily Larson “implored City Council members to vote to approve the change next week ‘”so that we have more inclusive leadership and less language that is rooted in hurt and offensive, intentional marginalization.”
Alicia Kozlowski, the city’s community relations officer, told reporters, “I think there are other titles that we have the opportunity to use to steer away from language that may put people down based off their race or culture.”
These women are idiots and ignoramuses, but they are virtue-signaling, and while madness reigns, facts don’t matter. “Chief” is not a Native American word: it’s Middle English: from the Old French chief, or chef, based on the Latin caput ,’ meaning “head’.’
Then we have this item from the University of Florida, where for the last two decades or so “Gator Bait!” has been a popular chant by the football team’s fans in response to a song played by the school’s band… Continue reading →
1. Why keep calling it the Wuhan virus? Because the largely successful news media and political correctness assault on the completely legitimate (and non-racist) label continues to bolster Chinese Communist propaganda and blame-shifting, and because the effort emerged as yet another use of Big Lie #4: “Trump Is A Racist/White Supremacist.”
As for me personally, I will keep using the term because I resent being told that what cannot possibly be racist is racist, especially when my capitulation enables similar political correctness bullying. See the Third Niggardly Principle.
2. Because it’s so darn difficult to maintain social distancing while playing tennis... About 200 yards from my home in Alexandria, Virginia, the public tennis courts have their nets removed by another proto-fascist. Yesterday, I saw two people playing on one of the courts using a self-rigged net. Good for them.
3. The problem is, you can’t force bank employees to come to work. Our bank, a large national chain, has all of its offices closed in this area, Banking is certainly an essential service, but the fact is that you can’t do banking completely remotely, though the bank is pretending you can. Its website asks for a social security number at the same time as scammers are sending out fake emails that lead you to an authentic-looking clone of the bank’s site so they can steal your personal data. Try to call to clarify or address any problem, and you get a message about how wait times are longer than usual. I’ll say they are: to try to get a fraudulent $4000 charge to our account cancelled, I had to wait for an hour and 40 minutes, then be transferred to wait another 35 minutes, then be cut off when a transfer failed.
Meanwhile, the bank’s on-hold music is played at an unbearable volume, and is an endless loop of some hellish arrangement of a melody that would have been rejected for a theme park ride. I am certain that the recording is designed to make you hang up, or, in the alternative, go crazy and run into the street naked. It is exactly like the deliberately uncomfortable seats and garish color schemes fast food outlets use to ensure you vacate the premises the second you finish eating. I swear that there cannot be a single person on the globe who would find this music anything but torture. The genre is “loud, abrasive, repetitious semi-music,” and there is no market for that. It makes hip-hop seem like Chopin.
Banks are essential, and rather than stopping stores from selling “non-essential” items, the government ought to require really essential services to have open outlets to serve depositors and bank customers experiencing their own emergencies. If a 7-11 clerk can come to work, so can a bank employee. Banks have my property within their control, and in exchange for the privilege, they are obligated to respond when I need service related to that money. Continue reading →
It was reported by a non-reliable source that this is the anti-virus mask Rep. Lee put on her dog…
[Okay, bear with me now. This COTD by Steve Witherspoon was actually entered on this post, where the issue at hand was alluded to obliquely in the post, then expanded upon in a comment. But I went into far more detail regarding the issue in today’s Warm-Up, and there was even a poll on the issue, so I’m assigning the comment to that post, not the one that inspired it.]
I officially mark my immediate ethics conflict as solved. The poll results are moot regarding this specific episode but still valid regarding the general problem. So far, about half the voters said I had a duty to post the non-diverse idiot photos even if it did get me called a racist (Easy for them to say!). Fortunately, the option I favored (with three votes out of 24) was made accessible within minutes of the posting. I know have a fully diverse array of dufuses wearing their masks wrong, and hope to have more.
In addition to Rep. Lee, we have Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner:
1. More on my mask photo ethics conflict...I wrote about this in a comment on the post last night about Rep. Lee, but I’m still obsessing about it because I still don’t know what the ethical course is. When I saw that photo of Rep. Lee wearing her mask with her nose exposed (this makes her a nose-breathing idiot rather than a mouth-breathing idiot; it was also upside down), I was going to post it with two other photos showing elected officials doing the same thing. At literally the last second, an ethics alarm sounded. The other two officials, a city mayor and a member of Congress known to be, shall we say, an unlikely “Jeopardy!” contestant, were both black. In the case of Lee, who is the chair of a task force on the national response to the epidemic,the validity of pointing out the visual evidence that she’s an epic boob (we knew that, but still) is unassailable, perhaps even by the race-baiting standards of the Congresswoman herself, who repeatedly attributed any criticism of Barack Obama to racism.
Objectively, however, when accompanied by two other photos of African-American political figures making fools of themselves, would not the array appear to be a racist “dog whistle”? I don’t need to be tarred as a racist—I already have lost considerable income because I dare to oppose the anti-Trump mobs—and this would invite that result. Moreover, as I also commented last night, conservative sites were stinking with racist comments about the Lee photo. (“If you let blacks vote, you get blacks in power over you. This applies to every other non-American race and culture too,” wrote one commenter on Instapundit.) Thus the Second Niggardly Principle seemed to be triggered:
“When an individual or group can accomplish its legitimate objectives without engaging in speech or conduct that will offend individuals whose basis for the supposed offense is emotional, mistaken or ignorant, but is not malicious and is based on well-established impulses of human nature, it is unethical to intentionally engage in such speech or conduct.”
In the narrow context of my post, I’m confident that this is the right call. In a larger context, however, the Third Niggardly Principle seems to apply:
“When, however, suppressing speech and conduct based on an individual’s or a group’s sincere claim that such speech or conduct is offensive, however understandable and reasonable this claim may be, creates or threatens to create a powerful precedent that will undermine freedom of speech, expression or political opinion elsewhere, calls to suppress the speech or conduct must be opposed and rejected.”
Indeed Ethics Alarms has made a recent Third Niggardly Principle stand, refusing to accept the widespread ban on any designation of the virus that references its origins and the Chinese government’s role in turning it into a pandemic. I have done this even though the Chinese connection has led some thugs to attack Asian-Americans. I believe the principle that facts and words must not be suppressed because some may misconstrue them or react irrationally is a crucial one, and a principle that the totalitarian Left is working hard to deconstruct.
So in light of all the factors, what was, or is, the ethical way to handle this conflict?
2. Speaking of polls, here’s where the last one sits. Polling is still open, and you can vote as many times as you want, for different candidates. The poll asks you to choose which Democratic Presidential candidates would endorse withholding online classes from all public school students because poor students didn’t have WiFi access:
Let’s start with this false headline from the Times: “West Point Strips Racist Motto From Its Football Team Flag.” The motto is ” “God Forgives, Brothers Don’t.” There is nothing racist about that motto, in meaning, history or intent. The Times implies that West point has been flying a racist motto since the line was added, about 25 years ago. Wrong. Fake news. Dumb reporters.
But that’s not all. Do you see any motto on that flag above? No? Perhaps it’s because there is no motto on it, just the initials of the motto. Is “I.G.W.T” a motto? How about “L.F.O.D”? Here, look closely at where the skull’s lip would be, if it weren’t a skull:
When the academy discovered that slogan that those initials represented was now being used by the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, a violent white supremacist prison gang where male members refer to one another as “brothers” and call their female associates “sisters,” it became all scared and stuff about being criticized by race-baiters and mean people, so it removed the words. Yes, this is how a venerable military academy thinks now. I know I feel safer.
Halloween costumes, political correctness, law, privacy, and the Niggardly Principles—this one has it all.
Last Halloween, University of Oregon law professor Nancy Shurtz dressed as Dr. Damon Tweedy, the author of Black Men In A White Coat , as an homage to the African American physician and author. She did this at a Halloween party in her own home. Nobody at the party appeared to misunderstand the gesture or the intent of the costume, in part because she could explain it on the spot, and because they knew that Shurtz was no racist. Shurtz had also told the students who were invited that she would be “going as a popular book title,” hence the blackface, Afro wig, white coat, and stethoscope.The university report on the episode states that Shurtz “was inspired by this book and by the author, that she greatly admires [the author] and wanted to honor him, and that she dressed as the book because she finds it reprehensible that there is a shortage of racial diversity, and particularly of black men, in higher education.”
But as always happens now because there is no such thing as a reasonable expectation of privacy even in one’s own home, reports of Shurtz in costume and make-up got out into the campus at large, and inflamed the predictable outrage. The university launched an investigation that culminated in a critical report prepared by an attorney and the university’s Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity. Shurtz issued an apology—for her private conduct within her own home that was pounced upon by Political Correctness Furies, since she appears to be one herself-–on November 1. Some of her colleagues on the faculty and many students demanded that she resign, and she may have to yet. Shurtz has been censored and suspended, and is now on paid leave. It being claimed that her wearing the costume–within her own home as a gesture that all agreed was intended as benign and that nobody at the party either objected to or failed to understand— created “a hostile environment” at the school. This is apparently because
“as part of the uproar, students said things of which the administration disapproved: The report specifically notes that students used “other offensive racially-based terminology during class times in the context of discussing this event and broader racial issues.” It related that “some of the witnesses reported that the students’ reactions to the event were racially insensitive or divisive.” And it apparently viewed such statements as relevant to whether Shurtz’s own speech was properly punished.”
The report, meanwhile, concludes that the costume constituted “harassment,” and that her intentions are irrelevant.
In 1934, under the auspices of the New Deal’s Public Works of Art program, artist Ann Rice O’Hanlon painted a fresco (the largest ever painted by a woman up to that time) in the University of Kentucky’s Memorial Hall. It has become famous and is much admired by art historians, and thousands of Kentucky students have walked past it through the decades. The large, six section artwork depicts many events, industries, traditions and activities that were significant to the state, invented in Kentucky or by Kentuckians, as well as historical events. Among the scenes shown are black slaves picking tobacco and black musicians serenading whites.
Ann Rice O’Hanlon’s masterpiece became the target of choice at Kentucky as the University ‘s black students were seeking to emulate the power plays by their equivalents at the University of Missouri, Yale, Amherst, Harvard Law, Dartmouth and other institutions. The Kentucky students held a meeting with president Eli Capilouto and argued that the fresco was offensive, as it relegated black people to roles as slaves or servants, and did not portray the cruelty of slavery and the later Jim Crow culture that existed in the state. Capilouto capitulated, agreeing to move the work to “a more appropriate location.” In the meantime, Kentucky will cover up the 45-by-8-foot fresco while adding a sign explaining why the mural is obscured.
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is this:
Should a university remove works of art on campus because particular groups of students or individual members of such groups find the artwork upsetting, offensive, or a negative influence on their experience?
While Paris was bleeding, the predicted anti-white black student power play spread from its origins at Yale and the University of Missouri to 23 other campuses (so far). None of the new outbreaks of victim-mongering, black-dictated apartheid and outrageous demands had any more justification than the Mizzou Meltdown, but they all entered the competition. Some highlights:
Amherst students demanded a crack-down on any free speech in the form of criticism of Black Lives Matters or the protest goals.
Dartmouth’s Black Lives Matters members roamed through the campus library, verbally assaulting white students attempting to study.
Smith College held a sit-in, and barred reporters-–the new breed of campus freedom-fighters just don’t like that pesky First Amendment—unless they promised to cover the protest positively. There’s one more school that doesn’t teach basic American rights and values….
Occidental College is in the middle of a me-too imitation of the Mizzou stunt, with students occupying a three-story administration building all this week, demanding that a series of actions ranging from racist to just unreasonable to oppressive, in the name of “safety” and “diversity”, of course. They are also insisting that President Jonathan Veitch resign. Predictably, the leftist faculty which helped make the students this way are fully supportive. Read the demands here; my favorites: demanding an increase in tenured black professors and black doctors (a racist demand: there is no mention of ability; color is enough); funding for the student group for black men, which is racist and counter-diverse by definition; and “elimination of military and police rhetoric from all documents and daily discourse.”
Freedom of speech is so passe.
The crazy is getting stronger: The University of Vermont-–from the lands where Bernie Sanders roams— hosted a three-day retreat for students who “self-identify as white,” called “Examining White Privilege: A Retreat for Undergraduate Students Who Self-Identify as White.” The goal was to give students “the opportunity” to “conceptualize and articulate whiteness from a personal and systemic lens” and “recognize and understand white privilege from an individual experience.” This, I submit, has absolutely nothing to do with education, and everything to do with self-obsession and narcissism.
Ah, but my favorite is Princeton, which finding itself third among its fellow Ivies (as usual), this time in concocting an embarrassing and offensive student protest, decided to go for broke.This week, members of the Black Justice League walked out of class and occupied the building that houses the Princeton administration’s offices. They demanded that the school reject “the racist legacy of Woodrow Wilson,” formerly president of Princeton before becoming a President of the United States and Democratic Party icon, by removing his name from anything bearing it. They also demanded “cultural competency training” for Princeton professors and assistants (that is, forced re-education and ideological brainwashing, academia style) teaching at Princeton, courses on the “history of marginalized people,” that is, approved leftist narratives, and the setting aside of public spaceto be restricted to the use and enjoyment of black students only, which is properly called self-segregation and racist exclusion.
“Sure, it’s uncomfortable having a bust of an unapologetic sexual predator in a Disney World attraction, and it might prompt some uncomfortable question from the kiddies. Well, good. It’s never too soon to learn that human beings are flawed, complex creatures, and that even the most brilliant and talented have dark sides, do terrible things, and can be cruel, selfish, dishonest and even criminal. We honor Thomas Jefferson for his crucial role in giving this nation life, and defining its mission and values for the ages. We’re not honoring his hypocrisy, his cowardice, his own rapes, or his slaveholding….
“First they came for Cosby, and we did not speak out…”
There is no stop to this slippery slope, and the political correctness mob will never stop.”
Some people I respect a great deal really went after me for that pronouncement, particularly on Facebook. “Hyperbole!” “Scaremongering!” “Just because a theme park doesn’t want to sport the bust of a rapist and stunning hypocrite in a TV Hall Of Fame doesn’t mean that there is any danger of politically correct zealots toppling the statue of Tom from his memorial!” “There is no such slippery slope,” I was scolded.