It’s Time For Jack’s “Believe It Or Not!” Vox Actually Published This Essay Three Days Ago!

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The article by German Lopez in Vox published on June 4 is more than just head exploding. It is clinical evidence of brain dysfunction or such deep cynicism and disrespect for readers that the author and editors should be under surveillance. I’m exaggerating only slightly.

Vox is an openly Leftist website founded by Ezra Klein, who pretended to be an ethical journalist at the Washington Post until his outrageous partisan bias became too obvious to deny. Since then it has become the kind of news and commentary source, like MSNBC, only taken seriously by those who want to hear a slanted, spun, openly partisan view of reality that jibes with their unalterable world view. Yet this thing is unbelievable even by that standard.

Over the past week, even the mainstream media has accepted the likelihood that its government, and particularly its health authorities led by Dr. Anthony Fauci, lied to the public repeatedly, hid evidence and covered up facts and documents throughout the pandemic, prime among those fact the likely origins of the Wuhan virus (you’ll never guess where it came from!) This was a betrayal of trust of epic and historic proportions. So what does Vox identify as America’s “biggest pandemic failure”?

We’re not more like China! Or Iran! We don’t automatically bow to government restrictions on our liberties. We don’t trust the experts to run our lives! Some excerpts:

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A Deeper Dive Into The Western Washington University “No Exit” Protest

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Guest Post by Rick Jones

[Before I turn the floor over to Rick, also known here as “Curmie,” a couple of comments are in order. I had hoped that the post yesterday about the Western Washington University student protest over the decision to produce “No Exit,” the 1944 existential drama by Jean-Paul Sartre, would generate commentary from Rick, for several reasons. First, he is one of my favorite bloggers on his own, the proprietor of Curmudgeon Central, which has a new post up right now regarding the George Floyd incident one year mark. More relevant to our topic right here and now, Rick is a distinguished college professor, drama teacher and stage director, who has special insight into university students and live theater. As he reveals in the article to come, he also is better qualified to discuss “No Exit” than I; indeed, he has now convinced me to give the work another chance, since it has been decades since I read or saw it.

I also was thrilled to receive this submission from Rick because I feel very strongly that live theater is imperiled in the U.S. I know most readers here do not share my dedication to theater; few Americans do, and fewer all the time. But I have lived a double life (as a character in Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Inspector Hound” adds “At least!”), spending  as much of my passions and energies on theater as any other pursuit from high school until to five years ago, when I ended the 20-year run of my small, maverick, professional theater company. My timing was excellent, because the panic-driven lockdown has killed many of The American Century Theater’s competitors here in the D.C. area, maybe most of them, and a year of using Zoom and streaming services has undoubtedly convinced many one time audience members that live theater isn’t worth the time, inconvenience or expense. In the same period, toxic political correctness, political obsession and woke fanaticism has grown exponentially, and these were existential threats to theater already.

The “No Exit” controversy is a symptom of a very serious threat to live performance art, which has been a force for uniting societies and enlightening the public for centuries. We need it more than ever now. A lot is at stake. JM]

***

My department has produced “No Exit”(which, by the way, I like a lot more than you do, Jack) twice in the last decade.  The first of these was directed by a talented and intelligent female student (an ardent feminist, by the way) who went on to earn a Master’s from a prestigious university overseas.  And we also did an online-only production last fall, directed by a colleague who’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever known, with a PhD in Theatre from arguably the best doctoral program in the country.  Oh, did I mention that she’s a lesbian? 

And, of course, the sense of isolation in the play was a major reason the play was chosen: because we all have a greater understanding of that phenomenon now than even the most creative thinkers could have managed a year earlier.  Moreover, please forgive me if I think that perhaps my colleague, who has published and taught courses on Queer Theatre, might have a more sophisticated understanding of the concepts at play in that particular theoretical framework than would a gaggle of pretentiously woke undergrads.

I am apparently lucky not to be at WWU.  When I announced my show for this spring as Jean Genet’s “The Maids”and described the two central characters as “would-be murderers who engage in sado-masochistic lesbian incest,” it generated interest on the part of most of our best actresses; if there was any dissent—from either very liberal students or a very conservative larger community—I never heard about it.  (Side note: although it wasn’t produced until later, “The Maids” was chosen and announced prior to”No Exit” which was a late substitution for a play we were unable to do.  I wouldn’t have chosen to do two existential French dramas from the 1940s in the same season, but that’s what we ended up with.)

But revenons à nos moutons.  When I started this response, I intended to go point by point through the students’ commentary, but that got really long, as virtually everything they say is nonsense.  So: a few general points:

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Ethics Half-Hero: Western Washington University

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When it comes to colleges and universities standing up to political correctness and woke demands for intellectual non-diversity, half-heroes are still better than the norm. The norm is abject cowardice and the ethical integrity of a sea sponge.

At Western Washington University, theater students attempted to cancel the Theater Department’s fall production of “No Exit,” the 1944 existential drama by Jean-Paul Sartre. (Full disclosure: I would rather be cursed to organize a thousand sock drawers than watch or read that play again.)

A letter of protest from students echoed many of the rationalizations for censorship and political cleansing of the arts that have metastasized into serious threats to intellectual freedom and creative liberty across the nation. Not to keep you in unnecessary suspense, the school did not cave to the student demands, nor grovel an apology for daring to arouse their ire, as most colleges (and high schools) would do today. “No Exit” will still be produced in the Fall. The school still only gets a half-hero rating for its verdict of no exit from “No Exit,” however, because it has agreed to provide “trigger warnings” for audience members.

As to the latter: Yecchh. By capitulating to this degree, the school has allowed the camel’s nose of faux ideological trauma into the metaphorical tent of the arts. Art, especially performance art, is intended to provoke strong reactions by introducing new and unexpected experiences and ideas into the unique dynamic of an audience. Someone who is so emotionally (read “politically programmed to be..) fragile that they have to be warned so they can avoid uncomfortable, jarring or, more frightening yet to crypto-totalitarians, non-conforming ideas should avoid the theater, like a tone deaf man who only appreciates commercial jingles should avoid the opera. By pandering to this part of the student demands, the school has abandoned a crucial principle without which theater cannot survive.

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Ethics Footnotes, 5/11/21: Misremember The Alamo, and Other Alarming Things That Could Never Happen Here

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1. The glorious defeat of the Alamo by that champion of diversity, General Santa Anna! The San Antonio Express-News reports that a local activist and university professor, Mario Salas, who has taught African American studies and somehow ended up on the city’s historical commission (though he is not a historian), is claiming that Santa Anna’s army in 1836, the one that slaughtered the defenders of the Alamo, had an all black regiment that has been erased from history. The theory seems to be that if the Mexican dictator had an all-black regiment, he’s not the villain in the Alamo story, he’s the tragic hero: a woke dictator who opposed slavery and fought against the white supremacist Alamo defenders. Like most of the historical revisionism designed to smear American history and its heroes, this requires ignoring a lot of facts.

The Texas Revolution was part of a much wider war that engulfed Mexico at the same time, not a rebellion based on slavery and race. From much of northern Mexico and including Texas as well as states as far from Texas as Yucatan, the war’s primary issue was Santa Anna’s betrayal of the federalists and his abrogation of the 1824 Mexican constitution when he sought absolute dictatorial power. He abolished state legislatures and redrew state boundaries into military districts. His favored treatment of those who opposed him was to execute whole regions. Keeping slavery in Texas was indeed a bone of contention among the mostly Southerners who settled the region, but non-slave states in Mexico were rebelling as well.

Santa Anna would have been a villain if all his soldiers were black.

2. Oh! The defendant deserved to be attacked by the judge! Chief Magistrate Cary Hays III of Crawford County, Georgia “physically assaulted an inmate while the inmate was handcuffed, shackled at the feet, and accompanied by a law enforcement officer,” according to an ethics complaint. This is officially an allegation, but there is a video, and there were plenty of witnesses.

On December 2020, the inmate began cursing at Judge Hays and continued to do so as he was led out of the conference room where his bond hearing took place. Judge Hays “verbally engaged the inmate,” who cursed at Hays again. Hays followed the inmate into the hallway, grabbed him and pushed him into and up against a wall. The inmate did not physically threaten Judge Hays, attempt to escape or flee from custody.

Judge Hays’ defense? He says he didn’t hurt the guy, and if the video had sound and included what the inmate called him, his actions would be considered justified.

No, Your Honor, they wouldn’t.

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Attention Democrats: Former President Trump Is Not Your Vaccination Monkey

The arrogance and hypocrisy of the rising totalitarians of the Left is staggering.

Chelsea Clinton said yesterday that former President Trump ought do “the right thing” by publicizing photos of himself getting shot up with one of the various vaccines that we keep learning new information about that we were not informed of before we had the vaccines. After all, the one-time “First Daughter” asserts, this would encourage Trump voters, who polls show (if you trust them) are more dubious about Wuhan virus vaccines than the more compliant Americans, to throw aside their doubts and get with the program. Get in line. Follow orders.

First of all, Chelsea Clinton is a B or C list celebrity, and that’s all she is. She has no more legitimate authority than such empty-headed loud-mouths and “social media influencers” as the Kardashians or Alyssa Milano—less, in fact, since Milano actually built a career in show business with her own talent. Clinton is a woman who was lucky in the assignment of parents Fate gave her, and that bit of good fortune should entitle her to as much legitimacy as a critic of President Trump as the goof who won the last Powerball lottery.

I’ve met Chelsea, and she’s nice enough, but so is the elderly man who owns my local 7-11. I don’t see him telling Donald Trump what “the right thing is.”

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The New Fascists Among Us, Part II: The American Medical Association

The tweet above is the smoking gun that proves the attitude toward freedom of thought, opinion and expression in the American Medical Association, a group that most Americans believe is dedicated to the area of expertise of its members: health and medicine. The tell-tale words of the fascist are right there: “harmful podcast and tweet,” because words that challenge the required orthodoxy must not be allowed, and “We are taking steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” meaning intimidation, punishment, indoctrination, and censorship. These are the tools of those who fear free speech, and who demand compliance with mandated beliefs.

Once the damning tweet was exposed by, among others, Campus Reform, the American Medical Association took it down. There is no reason to do this unless the group realizes that it reveals too much. This tweet, however remains:

That tweet exposes the AMA for what it is: a political ally of an ambitious rights-repressive regime, and an organization that is abusing its perceived authority and the public trust. As with a similar recent proclamation by the CDC, firearms and the Second Amendment are not the proper concern of the AMA. Using the power of a collective professional organization to lobby publicly or privately for restrictions on American rights unrelated to medicine is an abuse of power and a misrepresentation. (The American Bar Association, and many, many others, engage in the same insidious mission creep. It is why I refuse to belong to the ABA.)

In past posts on this topic, I have noted that if my doctor started questioning me about whether there is a firearm in my home (there is), I would a) end the discussion, b) leave the office and c) find a new doctor, just as I would if he quizzed me about how fast I drove or what kind of dog I owned. Physicians are authoritarian by nature, and I suppose it is to be expected that they would gravitate toward totalitarian government and its methods. Expected, I say, but not tolerated or excused, at least by me.

Nobody else should tolerate or excuse it either.

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And The Shackles Tighten Still More: The Continuing Big Tech Censorship Of Donald Trump

Once I would have headlined this post with “Stop Making Me Defend Donald Trump!” But this is no longer about Donald Trump, and readers who can’t figure this out, frankly, are too dense and gullible to read here.

Earlier this week, former President Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump posted on Instagram: “BIG SHOW TONIGHT – I will be joined by President Donald Trump on The Right View!!”

Then, when she posted her “big show,” Facebook took down the video of her interview with the ex-President after sending her an email stating that content with the voice of former President Trump “is not currently allowed on our platforms (including new posts with President Trump speaking).” The Facebook spokesman said the video was not permitted on Facebook and Instagram because of the former president’s indefinite suspension. Facebook also warned that any future posts featuring Trump would also be removed “resulting in additional limitations on accounts that posted it.”

I wouldn’t walk down my stairs to watch Trump be interviewed by Eric Trump’s wife, or just about any interviewer, frankly. Nonetheless, he is a recent President, a former President, a political leader, and an important historical, cultural and political figure in the United States of America, which is allegedly a free country. Millions of members of the public are interested in his words, beliefs and activities, and access to information about those should not be impeded by powerful private companies.

The news media’s embargo on facts and events for its partisan objectives created this slippery slope, and this slide is accelerating. Tech companies and communications corporations are actively controlling what Americans can see, hear, think about, and think. An entire political party and its corrupted “base” are perfectly satisfied with this distortion of democracy. Others are just quietly being misled, and are now the apocryphal slowly boiling frogs, doomed to have teeth ripping at the flesh of their legs before they understand what has happened to them.

Meanwhile, anyone–like me—seeing something ominous in this is a “conspiracy theorist”—you know, liars and wackos. Why would anyone see a conspiracy at work when a major political figure approximately half the nation voted for to be President less than four months ago is erased from the public eye and ear by a joint campaign stretching across the airwaves and the internet? Crazy!

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Ethics Test For Your Progressive-Turning-Totalitarian Colleagues, Friends And Relatives

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Ask them about the fact that Instagram is blocking posts including the video showing President Biden falling while boarding Air Force One. Ask them if this is acceptable to them. Ask them how they would have responded if platforms had banned publication of videos of President Trump that fed antagonistic partisan beliefs and attitudes.

If they try to excuse it, rationalize it or justify it, ask them when they abandoned integrity, if they ever had it.

Ask them when they began to support the destruction of our democracy.

Ask them how they became fascists.

Added:

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As with the fact of Biden’s problems themselves, this isn’t a laughing matter.

From “The Rest Of The Story Files,” The Resolution Of The Great Central Park Dog-Walking Controversy, And I Don’t Like It One Bit

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You might have forgotten this ethics story from last May. That would be understandable. It was momentarily big news (though it should not have been), but it occurred on the same day Derek Chauvin put his knee on George Floyd’s neck, and the George Floyd Freak-out and The Great Stupid soon descended on the land.

The verdict here—you might want to review the post—was that the villain in the story, Amy Cooper, was indeed an asshole for calling the cops on a black bird-watcher in Central Park.She did it because he told her to leash her dog (as the rules required) and began filming her defiant reaction. The other Cooper, Bird-watcher Christian, posted the video, thus severely tearing the fabric of Amy’s life for a single incident of miserable conduct. (“Take that, bitch!”) She was fired and humiliated, and New York banned her from Central Park and tried to put her in jail. Amy is also probably tarred as a racist for life, though as I argued in the post, the fact that she mistreated a black man and attempted to use his race against him doesn’t prove she’s a racist. It just proves she’s an asshole.

Christian, who did his part to blow an ultimately minor dispute into a national controversy, ultimately had second thoughts, and to his credit decided not to pursue a legal vendetta against Amy. I don’t like his rationale for this, which consisted of two rationalizations that I detest: #38 B, Excessive Accountability, or “She’s Suffered Enough,” and the awful rationalization #22, Comparative Virtue, or “There are worse things.” He told a reporter that he felt the lack of D.C. statehood was more important than punishing Amy Cooper. Oh. If there’s one thing that makes me think about D.C. statehood, it’s a rude white dogwalker having an altercation with a black bird-watcher.

I would have had no problem with prosecuting Amy Cooper for making a false complaint to the police if that law were enforced in New York as a matter of course. It isn’t, however. NYC District Attorney Cyrus Vance decided to charge Amy because of the high profile nature of the case, and to grandstand for social justice warriors, using the Minnesota white cop’s knee on black neck narrative as an opportunity. The Ethics Alarms verdict is that this was an unfair and irresponsible reason to pile on Amy, not because she didn’t deserve to be charged, but because the motive behind her charging was unethical for a prosecutor, and indeed racially biased. Vance would not have charged a black Amy under the exact same circumstances.

Now you’re caught up, so this next development can be put in context: the criminal case against Cooper was dismissed a month ago. In part because Christian Cooper declined to support her prosecution, Amy Cooper cut a plea deal that stipulated that if she completed a “therapeutic program” including instruction “about racial biases,” all charges would be dropped. She did, and they were. Amy had faced up to a year in jail if convicted, so a metaphorical gun was at her head. Learn to love Big Brother, or else.

Yecchh.

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Gertrude Stein Weeps: SUNY Student Owen Stevens Suspended For Writing “A Man Is A Man, A Woman Is A Woman” (And Other Controversial Views)

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This is quite a story. It shows that The Great Stupid is still capable of getting more stupid. It shows that colleges and universities are determined to crush, not just dissent, but those who merely point out the inherent absurdity of progressive cant. It also shows that too many university administrators don’t read court opinions and don’t understand the First Amendment.

To take the last first, Owen Stevens, a contrary student at the State University of New York-Geneseo (SUNY-Geneseo), simply cannot be punished by the school for an Instagram posted video and his blog, no matter what they say, short of defaming or threatening a student or faculty member. What he did say in an Instagram post, “A man is a man, a woman is a woman. A man is not a woman and a woman is not a man,” is at worst a viewpoint, and really a fact. A state school can’t possibly get away with suspending a student 1) for non campus conduct, 2) for protected speech, or 3) for social media comments unrelated to the institution. It’s unethical, and it’s illegal. And, of course, it is stupid.

The email Owen received from the school (and quickly posted) is smoking gun evidence of an anti-speech, anti-expression, anti-dissent, indoctrination mindset infecting the school and corrupting its culture. Some students who did not agree with his positions reported the posts to the university’s administration like the good little totalitarians and fascists they have been raised and educated to be. The university’s administration then suspended Stevens from all field teaching programs, which are mandatory for education students. The school argued that his claims “call into question” a teacher’s requirement to “maintain a classroom environment protecting the mental and emotional well-being of all students.”

The school is wrong, disgusting, un-American, and dangerous.

“After review of all available materials, I find that, based on your continued public stance and social media presence, you do not consistently demonstrate behaviors required by the Conceptual Framework of the School of Education,” the Dean of the school of education wrote in an email to Stevens informing him of the suspension.

To get the suspension lifted, Stevens must complete a “remediation plan,” which involves deleting the posts on his Instagram account, reducing his social media presence, and attending a training he dubbed “re-education.” It implies that future teachers like Stevens must support “all forms” of gender identity. The email said that statement conflicts with the Dignity for All Students Act in the state of New York and SUNY’s inclusivity doctrine, which states that teachers should promote “a diverse campus community marked by mutual respect for the unique talents and contributions of each individual.”

The doctrine does not support viewpoint inclusivity, obviously.

The quote highlighted in the headline is not the only statement by Stevens that the Dean felt warranted punishment, though that’s the impression you will get from reading conservative media headlines. No, Stevens was busy on Instagram and his blog hitting progressive hot buttons. His website JustOwen.com features the American flag with the description “An American, Loving America”. There is a “Just Owen’ podcast too, which Stevens describes thusly: “I firmly believe that America is the greatest country ever. My podcast covers culture, politics, and life through the lens of a conservative and Christian man. Liberty, American values, and individuality are the greatest gifts that this country has to offer. Please subscribe to the show! I’d love to have you.” On Instagram, he has stated that abortion is murder, that Islam is violent, that Columbus should be honored, that “All Lives Matter” and that he disapproves of gay marriage.

The Horror.

He has a right to those views, the right to express them, and the right to do so without being persecuted by anyone, but especially a state institution.

Stephens is fighting all of this, and deserves the support of every American regardless of partisan leanings and ideology—except the fascists, of course.

Incidentally, there has been virtually no coverage of this dead canary by the mainstream media.

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Sources: Daily Wire, MEAWW