More Speech Suppression And Intimidation On The Campus: The Juniata Affair

The “Concerned Juniatian” was a student named Colin Daly. This was the very end of a much longer screed (You can read the whole, very long letter here) that the Juniatia College student sent to his campus community anonymously. Juniata is a small Pennsylvania liberal arts college affiliated with the Church of the Brethren, a Christian denomination. It is also apparently devoid of respect for such values as free speech, individuality, and dissent.

Daly, a senior, wrote the email without including his name but accidentally “left identifying information on the system he used to distribute his post to all of Juniata’s email accounts,” according to PennLive.

Before it identified Daly as the author, the college’s President James Troha wrote in a statement that the email contained “slurs, hateful language, and intimations of violence directed at members of our community on the basis of their identity.” There is no threat of any kind in the letter, and the “slurs” are words referred to as slurs, not used as slurs. Here’s the section of the letter I assume Troha is referring to:

I’d like to see Daly sue Troha for libel; I think he’d have a strong case.

The next day, after it was determined that Daly was the author, the college released a new statement. claiming that “law enforcement agencies are continuing their own investigations of the matter,” and suggesting that the letter’s author student may have broken state and federal laws.

That’s some education students at Juniata are getting. Continue reading

Colleges Have Become An Existential Threat To Free Speech, Thought, And Democracy. They Have To Be Opposed And Reformed [CORRECTED]

From the cover of Ben Shapiro’s book. Of course, most campuses won’t allow Shapiro to speak there, and explain how students are being brainwashed…

And that will take determination, character, and guts.

Two horrifying stories from our campuses illustrate the urgency of concerted, relentless opposition.  Warning: the second is even worse than the first:

1.University of Connecticut

The president and vice president of the University of Connecticut’s Undergraduate Student Government rejected the will of the students who voted them them into their positions four months ago, and announced that they were resigning. The reason, they said, was that it was inherently racist for white people to lead. Of course, it is racist by definition to claim that one race or another is more qualified to do anything, but this is the apparent quality of a UConn education on display.

VP Alex Ose , according to The Daily Campus,  quit while citing “the climate and incidents of racial injustice across the country and at the university,” and added,

I feel that it is my duty to step down from my position to make space for BIPOC (black, indigineous and people of color) voices to truly rise and be heard. It is my responsibility to make space, not to create an echo.

Fascinating. The fact that she is so devoid of critical thinking skills as to state something like this publicly is, ironically, a good reason for her to resign, but wanting to “make space” for “black, indigineous and people of color”—she misspelled indigenous—regardless of their qualifications, intelligence, judgment ability and experience is not.

As noted here earlier, this is the emerging “answer” to Question 13 (“What is the “systemic reform regarding race in America” that the George Floyd protests purport to be seeking?“): installing a color-based system that excludes merit, and designating whites as a subordinate class. UConn has apparently done an excellent job indoctrinating white students into accepting that second-class status. Go Huskies!

President Joshua Crow’s explanation for his resignation was slightly less idiotic, but still entirely based on race rather than any rational distinction. He said, “It is important in this time to ensure that marginalized groups have the platforms they need.”

Whatever that means. Need to do what? President of the student government isn’t a platform, it’s a job. What does “ensure” mean? Apparently it means ignoring the votes of students, and deciding what is “needed” by edict. If white people are marginalizing themselves, does that still make marginalizing unethical?

To be fair, college students have the excuse that they are young, inexperienced, prone to being influenced by emotion and peer pressure, and, as this nauseating display of virtue-signaling shows, badly educated. College administrators and faculty, however, have no such excuse, which is why the next account is even worse. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Ethical Quote Of The Month: French President Emmanuel Macron”

Prolific commenter Steve-O-in-NJ was on a roll last night, ultimately producing the epic Comment of the Day below regarding French President Macron’s unequivocal rejection of historical airbrushing and statue toppling in his country.

Earlier, Steve had made the sharp observation that the George Floyd Freakout mobs and their complicit elected officials and journalists are simultaneously demanding sanctification of the image and memory of Floyd, whose life consisted of a series of socially destructive and irresponsible acts,  while demanding the de-honoring of important historical figures world wide. “The only thing he ever did of note was to die at the hands of a crazy cop,” he wrote. “Yet we’re supposed to brush his history aside and worship him as some kind of new saint. Columbus achieved one of the greatest things ever done. Jefferson wrote the [Declaration of Independence]. Washington was the father of this nation. Churchill saved the world in its darkest hour. Yet we’re asked to forget their achievements and reduce them to their failures. Anyone want to explain the logic here?”

Logic, except to the extent that cultural lobotomies are a tool of revolution and totalitarianism, has little to do with it. Nor does perspective and erudition, as proved by UK Activist Lorraine Jones, who is chair of the Lambeth Independent Police Advisory Group Jones was asked about the wisdom of removing a statue of Winston Churchill in London that has been a target of local protesters.

“I’ve heard many arguments on both sides,” Jones told reporters. “Some say that he’s a racist, some say that he’s a hero. I haven’t personally met him, but what I would say is that that question of whether he should remain should be put to the community.”

She has no idea who Winston Churchill is.

Here is Steve-O-in-NJ’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethical Quote Of The Month: French President Emmanuel Macron”:

I discussed the attempted airbrushing of history here by the removal of several monuments to the Confederacy or its adherents some time ago. At the time I would have described the feeling underlying it as what I would call a moral panic, similar to the overwhelming fear surrounding role-playing games in the 1980s or the unreasonable response to New Zealand’s Mazengarb report. However, moral panics usually ebb and flow and eventually the majority see how silly they really are. I was wrong, this was not a case of a moral panic. This was a case of a chisel often used by the left, that of iconoclasm, finding an opening and being used to chip away at society in an attempt to recurve it in their image. It’s now spread to Columbus memorials, and is starting to seep into memorials to the Founding Fathers and now even to Abraham Lincoln and Churchill(?!).

Iconoclasm, defined broadly as the organized destruction of images or symbols, has been around pretty much since man started erecting symbols and memorials to individuals, groups, ideas, or anyone or anything deemed important enough to build a lasting memorial to. Sometimes it was practiced in straight-up war between nations or civilizations, as a way to damage the enemy’s morale, although it ran the risk of making him angrier instead. Sometimes it was practiced in internecine conflicts, when one group seized power over another. Occasionally it has been performed simply as a matter of political policy, without actual armed conflicts.

Examples of the first category include the sack of the Jewish Temple by Nebuchadnezzar, the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius’ destruction of the Persian fire temple at the Throne of Solomon (this one particularly thorough, with the knocking down of the temple, the extinguishing of the holy fire, and the deliberate pollution of the sacred lake with dead bodies), and the Muslim policy of destruction of religious symbols of those they defeated: the Persians’ holy standard, the original church at Santiago de Compostela (for which the Muslim rulers of Seville later paid a terrible price at the hands of St. Ferdinand of Castile), and countless Hindu idols and temples. Continue reading

Ethics Alarms 2020 Election Update: Nearing A Tipping Point, Part 1

Less than a month ago, I wrote this post, explaining why, despite the near complete ethical bankruptcy of and rejection of democratic values by the Democratic Party and its allies, I would nonetheless refuse to vote for President Donald J. Trump in November. I wrote,

Absent my professional and public assessments as a professional ethicist, I would have no difficulty at all in officially concluding that Donald Trump is the preferable, indeed essential, choice to lead the country in the next four years when the alternative is a party that has revealed the corruption and antagonism toward American ideals as has the Democratic Party. But President Trump, as I pointed out repeatedly in 2015 and 2016, is the antithesis of the kind of leader my knowledge and expertise  indicates should ever be placed in a leadership position of any kind, or in a position of power and trust.

For me to vote for such an individual would render my credibility in my profession, and what is more important, my personal and professional integrity, void.

An ethicist cannot, in my view, support or vote for Donald Trump as President, nor can an ethicist, at least this ethicist, have any position but the rejection of the current iteration of the Democratic party as antithetical to American values.

I have not reached the point of reversing myself on this crucial decision for me personally, professionally, and as an American. Not yet. I feel, however, that the time may be approaching where my case of ethics zugswang cannot be honestly addressed by refusing to take a side. This week, in particular, has forced me to consider that a tipping point may be at hand.

As I have written before, whatever cosmic script-writer came up with the harebrained idea that someone as personally repellent and ethically inert as Donald Trump should be thrust into the position of being this great nation’s crucial last defense against the rising totalitarianism and fascism of the left is a sadist with a sick sense of humor. It is increasingly difficult to deny, however, that this is the ethical conflict that America finds itself in. At the point, fast approaching, when I have to confront the conclusion that defeating the Democrat/”resistance”/ mainstream media collective is the only way to ensure that the United States and its values remain viable and intact, refraining from making a noxious choice will no longer be an option.

Three stories today accelerated the likelihood of my having to face that tipping point:

I. Writing at the Washington Post, staff cultural reporter Alyssa Rosenberg argued that the networks should cancel all the cop shows on television. You can read the thing here; if I have to explain what is frightening about her argument, then you are already too far gone to be cured. This, it is increasingly clear to me, is the agreed-upon modus operandi  of the American Left. Since they cannot advance their agenda by logic, arguments, civic debate and persuasion, they will accomplish it by intimidation, mind control, indoctrination, and censorship. We must like what they like, hate whom the hate, and believe what they believe, and every aspect of the culture, including entertainment, must advance that objective.

This is, of course, how Orwellian cultures operate, and we have witnessed a steady and barely opposed drift toward this as the preferred path to power by the Democratic Party.  Rosenberg believes that citizens should not be allowed to see TV programs that don’t comport with the Left’s now mandatory view that police must be regarded as racist villains and law enforcement be  seen as a malign force. The Post op-ed follows on the heels of the New York Times capitulating to its “woke” staff’s demand that non-conforming (to the Times’ world view) opinion pieces be rejected for publication. The news media’s activist agenda is out of the shadows and indisputable. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Month: Matt Taibbi, “Rolling Stone” Columnist

“I can understand not caring about the plight of Michael Flynn, but cases like this have turned erstwhile liberals – people who just a decade ago were marching in the streets over the civil liberties implications of Cheney’s War on Terror apparatus – into defenders of the spy state. Politicians and pundits across the last four years have rolled their eyes at attorney-client privilege, the presumption of innocence, the right to face one’s accuser, the right to counsel and a host of other issues, regularly denouncing civil rights worries as red-herring excuses for Trumpism.”

—Progressive “Rolling Stone” columnist Matt Taibbi, in “Democrats Have Abandoned Civil Liberties: The Blue Party’s Trump-era Embrace of Authoritarianism Isn’t Just Wrong, it’s a Fatal Political Mistake”

I’m not highlighting Taibbi’s excellent essay as an appeal to authority, not at all. I’ve written about the situation he’s bemoaning for more than three years, and I’ve made my case. (Check the “Totalitarianism” tag—Taibbi should be using that term rather than “authoritarianism.”)  I don’t need Matt Taibbi to prove my analysis correct. I’m calling attention to his essay because it’s a relief: so many people have told me that I am a Fox News, Trumper zombie for pointing out what should be screamingly apparent. For years I have been reading fevered warnings that the President was a dangerous authoritarian endangering democracy, when it seemed apparent that the party those critics supported were presenting the real threat by undermining our institutions and ignoring both the Constitution and the law.  I was beginning to doubt my sanity, just like Ingrid Bergman in “Gaslight.” Only a handful of analysts with courage and integrity—Professors Turley, Dershowitz, Jacobson and Althouse; journalist Glenn Greenwald, a few liberal pundits like Taibbi and Andrew Sullivan (sometimes) kept me from self-commitment.

More from Taibbi, on Michael Flynn:

Warrantless surveillance, multiple illegal leaks of classified information, a false statements charge constructed on the razor’s edge of Miranda, and the use of never-produced, secret counterintelligence evidence in a domestic criminal proceeding – this is the “rule of law” we’re being asked to cheer.

Russiagate cases were often two-level offenses: factually bogus or exaggerated, but also indicative of authoritarian practices. Democrats and Democrat-friendly pundits in the last four years have been consistently unable to register objections on either front.

Flynn’s case fit the pattern. We were told his plea was just the “tip of the iceberg” that would “take the trail of Russian collusion” to the “center of the plot,” i.e. Trump. It turned out he had no deeper story to tell. In fact, none of the people prosecutors tossed in jail to get at the Russian “plot” – some little more than bystanders – had anything to share.

Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias. Continue reading

Prelude To “The Pandemic Creates A Classic And Difficult Ethics Conflict, But The Resolution Is Clear, Part II”

No, I am not satisfied with the current draft of Part II, but I trust it’s obvious what the resolution referred to is. The lock-down has to end, and before vaccines, cures, or adequate medicine are available. One of the components of my research has been reading as many of the pro and con articles as I can stand. It is quite striking: the arguments for continuing the lockdown indefinitely are almost entirely authored by progressives, and are without exception characterized by bad logic, emotionalism, manipulated facts, biased analysis, fearmongering, and suspect motives. The majority of the arguments for opening up the economy soon are markedly more logical, unemotional, and based on sound statistics and analysis. Certainly one cannot choose between two options based on the quality of the advocates for each. Nonetheless, the divide is striking.

Ann Althouse chose such an essay today to critique, “Whose Freedom Counts?/Anti-lockdown protesters are twisting the idea of liberty” by Dahlia Lithwick, who has periodically been discussed here, the first time in 2010. It is e fair to say that her mind and mine run in different metaphorical riverbeds, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Lithwick’s article endorses yet another one of the  same ilk, Ibram X. Kendi’s  current piece in The Atlantic called “We’re Still Living and Dying in the Slaveholders’ Republic/The pandemic has brought the latest battle in the long American war over communal well-being.”

Ann makes short work of both, writing,

Aha! We see what you’re doing! What a distraction! But I suppose that because slavery was invoked, I’m expected to listen without protest while Kendi’s solemn, censorious lecture is promoted by an over-excited Lithwick. I resist. Sorry. I do hear what you’re saying, and I see how well it works to justify depriving us of all freedom. There’s never enough freedom from all the things in the world that might hurt us if we’re not kept in eternal lockdown.

Excellent. Althouse is a liberal, much as she tries to hide it, but she is not an aspiring totalitarian, like such a large swath of the current mutated progressives and Democrats. Her last sentence echoes two of my favorite quotes, “In order to have enough liberty, it is necessary to have too much,”  (Clarence Darrow), and “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety,” (Benjamin Franklin).

I have another screed to deconstruct: a New York Times editorial  by Charlie Warzel titled “Open States, Lots of Guns. America Is Paying a Heavy Price for Freedom,” or in my print edition, “Will We Get Used To The Dying?” I’ll let you read it first without my comments, here. That’s only fair.

***

Done? Maybe you don’t even need this: eviscerating Warzel ‘s analysis shouldn’t be too hard. Rebutting most of these essays isn’t hard.

Away we go…

The coronavirus scenario I can’t stop thinking about is the one where we simply get used to all the dying. I first saw it on Twitter. “Someone poke holes in this scenario,” a tweet from Eric Nelson, the editorial director of Broadside Books, read. “We keep losing 1,000 to 2,000 a day to coronavirus. People get used to it. We get less vigilant as it very slowly spreads. By December we’re close to normal, but still losing 1,500 a day, and as we tick past 300,000 dead, most people aren’t concerned.”

How old is Warzel, 15? We accept the mortality of modern life, just as our ancestors accepted the mortality of their own periods. That tweet is simply making sinister the adjustments that human beings have to make to get on with civilization. To that, it adds scaremongering, and Warzel joins in the virtue-signalling. Anyone who isn’t willing to keep the lockdown in force indefinitely isn’t concerned.

That’s crap. I’m concerned: both my wife and I are in the high-risk category; so is my sister; so are most of our extended family. I do not advocate the destruction of American society for my own self interest, that’s all. That’s how members of a community and democracy are supposed to feel.

This hit me like a ton of bricks because of just how plausible it seemed. The day I read Mr. Nelson’s tweet, 1,723 Americans were reported to have died from the virus. And yet their collective passing was hardly mourned. After all, how to distinguish those souls from the 2,097 who perished the day before or the 1,558 who died the day after?

People die every day, and from predictable causes, many of them a direct result of our way of life and societal choices. The Times has been running a feature showing selected photographs of recently succumbed victims of the Wuhan virus with a biographical sketch. I have wondered each time I see it: why are these people more worthy of ostentatious memorials in the Times than anyone who has died in the same period? The answer is, they aren’t. This is part of the news media’s effort to build anxiety and hysteria, which will be weaponized for political purposes. Hardly mourned? Every American is supposed to mourn everyone who dies every day? We mourn our loved ones. I am still mourning Dennis Nollette, a former law school roommate who was among the best human beings I have ever had the honor of knowing.  He was carried off by the epidemic within a few days. That’s plenty for me right now. I’m not becoming callous because the deaths of strangers don’t hit me as hard as the death of a cherished friend.

Furthermore, it is not “plausible” that the pandemic will continue forever; pandemics don’t. And indeed, if they did, it would be an irrefutable reason to open up now.

Such loss of life is hard to comprehend when it’s not happening in front of your own two eyes. Add to it that humans are adaptable creatures, no matter how nightmarish the scenario, and it seems understandable that our outrage would dull over time. Unsure how — or perhaps unable — to process tragedy at scale, we get used to it.

Talk about complaining about an unchangeable feature of human life, sanity,  and reality! But that kind of lament is irresponsible progressiveness in a nutshell.

There’s also a national precedent for Mr. Nelson’s hypothetical: America’s response to gun violence and school shootings.

Here we go, down the rabbit hole.

We often talk here about incompetent analogies. This is a lulu. It is embarrassing that the New York Times would consider such a contrived and illogical argument to be published as an editorial—embarrassing, and signature significance.

You should skim the next part; I know my eyes glazed over. It’s standard CNN/Don Lemon/ David Hogg propaganda and emotionalism.

As a country, we seem resigned to preventable firearm deaths. Each year, 36,000 Americans are killed by guns — roughly 100 per day, most from suicide, according to data from the Giffords Law Center. Similarly, the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund calculates that there have been 583 “incidents of gunfire” on school grounds since 2013. In the first eight months of 2019, there were at least 38 mass shootings, The Times reported. Last August, 53 Americans died in mass shootings — at work, at bars, while shopping with their children. Some of these tragedies make national headlines; many don’t. The bigger school shootings and hate-crime massacres can ignite genuine moral outrage and revive familiar debates: over safe storage practices, gun show loopholes, red flag laws, bump stocks, comprehensive background checks, stringent licensing systems and, of course, the accessibility of endlessly customizable semiautomatic weapons like AR-15s. In every case, the death tolls climb but we fail to act. There are occasional marches and protests but mostly we continue on with our lives.

Yes, we are monsters for understanding the importance of the rights of self-defense and bearing arms to a functioning democracy. In reality, while there are usually, in hindsight, ways that any single abuse of firearms could have been prevented, gun deaths are not preventable as long as there are guns, law abiding citizens have access to them, and a police state doesn’t abuse its power to make us “safe.”

Notice that Warzel’s gun-virus analogy breaks down immediately. There is no societal value to pandemics. There is no right to get fatally ill. There are no Constitutional amendments preventing the government from eliminating a disease. Continue reading

“Nah, Academia, Mainstream Media And Social Media Aren’t An Increasing Threat To Free Speech!”

The Atlantic, the increasingly progressive culture and politics magazine, has offered its readers an article by Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith and Arizona U. law professor Andrew Keane Woods called “Internet Speech Will Never Go Back to Normal: In the debate over freedom versus control of the global network, China was largely correct, and the U.S. was wrong.”

Yes, you read that correctly. Two distinguished law professors are celebrating Communist China’s censorship of the web in contrast to the U.S.’s silly approach, that crazy First Amendment thingy.  Here are some quotes to chill you to the marrow of your bones:

Covid-19 has emboldened American tech platforms to emerge from their defensive crouch. Before the pandemic, they were targets of public outrage over life under their dominion. Today, the platforms are proudly collaborating with one another, and following government guidance, to censor harmful information related to the coronavirus. And they are using their prodigious data-collection capacities, in coordination with federal and state governments, to improve contact tracing, quarantine enforcement, and other health measures. As Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg recently boasted, “The world has faced pandemics before, but this time we have a new superpower: the ability to gather and share data for good.”

Proudly working with each other and the government to censor the web!

“But the “extraordinary” measures we are seeing are not all that extraordinary. Powerful forces were pushing toward greater censorship and surveillance of digital networks long before the coronavirus jumped out of the wet markets in Wuhan, China, and they will continue to do so once the crisis passes. The practices that American tech platforms have undertaken during the pandemic represent not a break from prior developments, but an acceleration of them.”

You might think that the two authors are sounding an alarm over this development. Uh, no. They write, Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/22/2020: Krugman, Whitmer And Lemon

Good morning, all!

1. Bad guys 1. Paul Krugman’s column yesterday had the despicable headline, “The Right Sends In The Quacks.” “The quacks” according to Krugman are the Americans who are protesting in public to send a vivid message to increasingly dictatorial mayors, governors and police departments that opening society and allowing people to live their lives like free citizens rather than inmates needs to be a priority, a concept many in office as well as much of the news media appear to have discarded.

Why are the protesters “quacks?” Well, for one thing, they don’t regard protesting government policy as a non-essential activity, as we were told last week by one of our courageous, first-responder police departments. Second, many of them wore MAGA hats, meaning they are per se racists and idiots. Worst of all, some of them carried guns, legally, but still. Guns bad.

Although if I were a protest consultant, I would advise against the guns, legal weapons symbolize the Second Amendments assertion that individual rights much not be squashed by government over-reach, and that citizens have a right to arm themselves as a matter of self-defense, against their own government if necessary. It may be a message that progressives and anti-Second Amendment fanatics are incapable of processing, but it is a crucial message nonetheless, particularly when Americans are witnessing things like this, or this.

2. Or this: Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, currently the face of Wuhan virus crypto-totalitraianism, told  Rachel Maddow last week that she was considering extending social distancing guidelines in response to Michigan  protests against her stay-at-home restrictions. “We might have to actually think about extending stay-at-home orders, which is supposedly what they were protesting,” Whitmer said.

“Supposedly.” Nice. Continue reading

Let Us Have A Moment of Appreciation For The Rude, The Vulgar And The Defiant, For They Are America’s First Line Of Defense Against Totalitarianism

Oh, how I love this about Americans!

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new program to help protect New Yorkers against the Wuhan virus outbreak. It’s quite straightforward, really: report your neighbors to authorities.

“We still know there’s some people who need to get the message,” the city’s socialist mayor said on Twitter.  “And that means sometimes making sure the enforcement is there to educate people and make clear we’ve got to have social distancing.”
The simple solution, he explained is to snap a photo of an offending person or crowd, set the location on the image, and  “text it to 311-692.”

“Action will ensue,” de Blasio promised.

History has taught us that governments seeking to bend the public to its will “for the greater good” usually seek the cooperation and participation of citizen lackeys eager to ingratiate themselves with their ascendant masters. Fortunately, the United States was settled and created by people who came here to escape presumptuous tyrants and oppressive governments not of their choosing. The contrarian RNA and traditions run deep, and it always gives me a thrill to see that while they may have been diluted a bit over time, in the face of those who either do not comprehend this nation or do not respect its unique values, the old defiance flames forth. Continue reading

When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring Because You Never Were Taught About Nazi Germany

In Montana, the Valley County Health Department sent out a flier to businesses decreeing that all essential workers from outside the county must wear pink armbands or bracelets signifying their quarantine status in order to shop in the county. Anyone not wearing a pink armband, the flyer said, would be reported to police.

If that graphic is too blurry for you, it reads in part,

Anyone who is from out of town or out of Valley County who has a PINK wristband has been here 14 days or more and no longer needs to do the strict self-quarantine. They may enter your business. Anyone who is from out of town or out of Valley County, staying here/working here, and has not completed the 14 day quarantine is REQUIRED BY THE VALLEY COUNTY HEALTH OFFICER ORDER to use curbside delivery only. They are not to enter your business to shop.

Boy, that reminds me of something. What is it? It’s right on the tip of my tongue…something to do with..is it the Holocaust? Could that be it? No, it can’t be. No health department would be that stupid, would it? Especially when mayors and governors around the country are being accused of having a “Who’s the best dictator?” competition? Would it? Really?

Here’s the Nazi badge code, in case you can’t read German: Continue reading