Tag Archives: University of Virginia

Down The Slippery Slope: Yale Embraces Historical Airbrushing

john-c-calhounFrom The New York Times:

After a swelling tide of protests, the president of Yale announced on Saturday that the university would change the name of a residential college commemorating John C. Calhoun, the 19th-century white supremacist statesman from South Carolina. The college will be renamed for Grace Murray Hopper, a trailblazing computer scientist and Navy rear admiral who received a master’s degree and a doctorate from Yale.

The decision was a stark reversal of the university’s decision last spring to maintain the name despite broad opposition. Though the president, Peter Salovey, said that he was still “concerned about erasing history,” he said that “these are exceptional circumstances.”

“I made this decision because I think it is the right thing to do on principle,” Mr. Salovey said on a conference call with reporters. “John C. Calhoun’s principles, his legacy as an ardent supporter of slavery as a positive good, are at odds with this university.”

And there we go!

How cowardly and equivocating  Salovey is! If he’s concerned about erasing history, and he should be as an educator, then he should have the principles and fortitude not to engage in it. But “these are exceptional circumstances,” he says. This is right out of the Rationalizations list: The Revolutionary’s Excuse: “These are not ordinary times” and The Troublesome Luxury: “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford right now.”  For good measure, he adds a third rationalization, The Ironic Rationalization, or “It’s The Right Thing To Do.”

Of course it’s not the right thing to do. The right thing to do would be to teach the smug protesting young ignoramuses, who only know that Senator Calhoun was a slavery supporter as if that is the reason he is regarded as one of the great Senators in U.S. history (it’s not), any more than Andrew Jackson is defined solely by “The Trail of Tears,” that history is complex, cultures evolve, leadership is hard and even the most accomplished human beings are flawed gaspachos of greatness and sin. That would be the right thing because Yale is allegedly an institute of higher learning. This is the act of an institute of political correctness, intellectual laziness and stereotyping.

There were other rationalizations embedded in Salovey’s betrayal of history and culture, such as..

1A. Ethics Surrender, or “We can’t stop it.”

Sure you can, if you have any integrity and care about your obligation to educate rather than capitulate.

13. The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause”

And what cause would that be, sir? Your sophomoric students are demanding that important historical figures be airbrushed out of existence like Soviet Politburo figures out of favor, and Yale’s cause is supposed to be teaching  young minds to be more tolerant of the complexities of the real world. Now Yale’s cause is “Find the path of least resistance, and maybe they’ll calm down!”

15. The Futility Illusion:  “If I don’t do it, somebody else will.”

This is only true if Yale is unable to articulate why it is important not to banish historical figures from the nation’s past as soon as activists get wind of a weakness they can exploit to bring themselves power. Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Race, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunce: “Rolling Stone” Founder/Owner Jann Wenner

rape-on-campus

 

I’ve been awarding Ethics Dunces for more than a decade now, and I’m beginning to find the title too generic. For example, Jann Wenner, in this instance, is a particularly repugnant Ethics Dunce. In short, the title’s too good for him.

Wenner’s iconic baby, Sixties relic Rolling Stone magazine, is a defendant in a  $7.5 million lawsuit brought by Nicole Eramo, a former Associate Dean of Students at the University of Virginia, who claims that the 2014 Rolling Stone article “A Rape on Campus” depicted her as a villain in the shocking story, which was ultimately shown to be about a gang rape that never happened. (Ethics Alarms covered this episode extensively, an ethics train wreck, here.) Testifying in video excerpts from his deposition, Wenner said his magazine was wrong to retract the  article, despite the fact that it was based on false allegations. In his videotaped testimony Wenner claimed that much of the material in the article was accurate

How Dan Rather of him! In a classic example of agenda-driven reporting, Rolling Stone writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely accepted the tale of a never-identified student called  “Jackie” who claimed to have been brutally raped at a party that never happened, at a misidentified fraternity, primarily by one student who was falsely accused. Because of the article, the  fraternity system at the University was temporarily shut down and permanently subjected to more stringent regulations. The male student body was tarred as teeming with sexual predators. The entire thesis of the article was based on the fabricated rape account. There is no ethical justification to continue to present such an article after its diseased heart must be removed. Continue reading

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“Jackie” Scores A Jumbo!

That's not really "Jackie" with Jimmy and Jumbo---it's Doris Day, who turned 92 this week. Happy Birthday, Doris!

That’s not really “Jackie” with Jimmy and Jumbo—it’s Doris Day, who turned 92 this week. Happy Birthday, Doris!

You remember “Jackie,” surely, who was featured often in Ethics Alarms posts last year. She is the inexplicably still un-named lying fake rape victim who exploited the sloppy journalism and miserable ethics of man-hating Rolling Stone writer Sabrina Erdley, to create a sensational account of a fraternity gang rape on the University of Virginia campus…that never happened. The resulting article led the UVA president to shut down fraternities, set anti-male feminist pundits and activists into a frenzy of nation-wide victim-mongering, brought down the fires of Hell on the brow of UVA associate dean of students Nicole Eramo, who “Jackie” fingered as an unfeeling villain, and seriously— and, one hopes, permanently— wounded the credibility of Rolling Stone, which ultimately had to retract the whole thing.

No,  the gang rape never happened. About that, there is no longer any doubt. No evidence of an assault was ever uncovered, besides “Jackie’s” lies. None of her “facts” could be confirmed, except by the progressive biases—mostly political, as the Obama Administration has been working overtime to represent campus romance as the equivalent of the Rape of the Sabine Women—that allowed the story to progress to publication in the first place.

Now Nicole Eramo is suing Rolling Stone for defamation, alleging that Erdley’s article vilified and harmed her recklessly. Naturally, her lawyers want to depose “Jackie,” since it was “Jackie’s” fiction, never verified by Rolling Stone, that created the false story.

Jackie’s lawyers, however, strongly argued on her behalf that she should not have to testify, since the experience would cause her serious psychological trauma by forcing her to relive the sexual assault—that never happened. She will be “re-victimized,” her lawyers say–remember, this is Jackie’s position; her poor lawyers are the ones she pays to present it without laughing. Continue reading

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Ethics Dunce (From The Shark-Jumping Files): The National Organization For Women

Fomzi, Homer, The National Organization for Women...

Fomzi, Homer, The National Organization for Women…

It would be good for the nation and national discourse on gender-related matters if there existed a national organization, operated with integrity, intelligence and dignity, that addressed legitimate issues of women’s rights with the zeal of an advocate as well as professionalism and common sense. There was a time, so long ago now that I can’t even recall exactly when it was, that the National Organization for Women appeared capable of evolving into just such an organization. As this incident shows beyond a shadow of a doubt, that chance has passed. NOW has descended into permanent knee-jerk hackery, the realm where its neighbors are such predictable and rightly-maligned one-note fanatics as PETA, the NRA, NARAL, and Media Matters. What a shame. What a lost opportunity to do good.

When the Worst of Ethics 2015 is finally published here (It’s coming! I swear!), the “Rolling Stone” fiasco featuring the fantasy rape accusation of “Jackie” against a University of Virginia fraternity will take one of the “honors,” and maybe more. From that collision of campus sexual assault hysteria and incompetent journalism came real harm, and several of the victims are suing the publication for defamation. One such victim is a University of Virginia associate dean named Nicole Eramo, who is alleging in her lawsuit that the magazine falsely portrayed her as negligently unconcerned with allegations of sexual assault on campus and as the now totally discredited fraternity gang rape tale’s villain.

Counsel for Eramo has asked that a court require “Jackie” to turn over any communications ,related to the alleged assault, between Jackie and  the magazine, friends, family and a campus support organization. Now NOW has presumed to interfere, and is trying to derail the lawsuit. In an open letter published this week, NOW president Terry O’Neill called on UVA president Teresa Sullivan to get Eramo to drop the suit. (She cannot force her to do that, however, and it would be unethical for Sullivan to try.) Continue reading

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Ethics Observations On The Old Dominion University Signa Nu Fraternity Freakout

It is times like this when I wonder if my theory that ethics evolves toward wisdom may be excessively optimistic.

In Norfolk, Virginia, Old Dominion University officials went bananas when a fraternity engaged in randy verbal hijinks of questionable taste at its off-campus home across the street from the institution. ( “Hijinks of questionable taste” is synonymous with “acted like a fraternity.”) Some frat boys hung painted bedsheets as banners to welcome incoming freshmen co-eds, thusly:

Fraternity

Well, THE HORROR!

ODU’s leadership responded to the tomfoolery by issuing the following statement:

“Messages like the ones displayed yesterday by a few students on the balcony of their private residence are not and will not [be] tolerated. The moment University staff became aware of these banners, they worked to have them removed. At ODU, we foster a community of respect and dignity, and these messages sickened us. They are not representative of our 3,000 faculty and staff, 25,000 students, and 130,000 alumni.

Ours is a community that works actively to promote bystander intervention and takes a stand denouncing violence against women. The ‘It’s on Us’ video is just one example of ODU students’ leadership on this topic. In addition, the University ensures all students receive education on the prevention of sexual harassment and relationship violence.”

Old Dominion’s Student Government Association also issued their own verbal condemnation of the incident. They filmed a video directly addressing the banners and stated: Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media

Ethics Observations On The Columbia Journalism Review’s Report On Rolling Stone’s False UVA Gang Rape Story

So I guess democracy is in big trouble then..

So I guess democracy is in big trouble then..

The Columbia School of Journalism was tasked with delivering the final verdict on the already thoroughly discredited Rolling Stone story “A Rape on Campus,” which first ran Nov. 19, 2014. The report, which was published yesterday, could not be more critical or devastating to the publication’s reputation and credibility. The one positive conclusion about Rolling Stone that the report documents is that the magazine cooperated fully with the investigation. In light of everything else Rolling Stone has done in this indefinably awful instance of atrocious and unethical journalism, that compliment is like praising a serial killer for leading police to the bodies of his victims.

The news media this morning is full of punditry on the CSJ report, none of it kind to Rolling Stone, so I will confine any new commentary here to the following 10 observations Ethics Alarms has already discussed the matter and related ethics issues extensively.

1. Upon receipt of the CSJ report, Rolling Stone finally took down and retracted the story by Sabrina Rubin Erdely. The story has been on the magazine’s website since mid November, and it has been universally identified as unreliable, misleading and false before the month was over. Why was the piece still up almost five months later? What the reporting of the Washington Post and others demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt was that the story was based on unsubstantiated allegations and terrible reporting practices sparked by the reporter’s ideological agenda and her own biases. Once a news article is found to be so sub-standard that it should never have been published, that means it need to be un-published,  and does not belong on a news source website, unless it is under a banner stating: “Retracted and Discredited.”

2. While the Columbia report added some new details and had the name of a university on it, its findings added little to what had already been reported elsewhere. The CSJ’s proper role was to examine the lack of professional and ethical journalism policies and procedures that led to this fiasco, and to make recommendations to prevent similar abuses of the First Amendment from occurring. The fact that the article itself was indefensible did not need confirmation.

To me, it looks like Rolling Stone used the investigation to stall, delaying accountability as long as possible. Continue reading

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Accountability, “Jackie,” and the University Of Virginia Fraternity Libel

"Jackie"

“Jackie”

There are times when I feel like the ultra-conservative Senator Keeley played by Gene Hackman in “The Bird Cage,” when he’s just learned that his daughter’s future in-laws are a gay couple, that his future son-in-law has two mothers, and the middle-aged woman he had been flirting with all evening is a gay man. Literally nothing makes sense to him any more, and he says, plaintively, “I feel like I’m insane.”

The New York Times report on the police investigation into Rolling Stone’s false story about a horrific gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity made me feel like this. It made no sense to me whatsoever.

“After a review of records and roughly 70 interviews,” the story said, “Police Chief Timothy J. Longo Sr. said at a crowded news conference here, his investigators found “no evidence” that a party even took place at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity on Sept. 28, 2012, when the rape was said to have occurred. Instead, he said, there was a formal that night at the house’s sister sorority, making it highly unlikely that the fraternity would have had a party on the same night.Despite “numerous attempts,” he said, his officers were unable to track down the man Jackie had identified as her date that night. And several interviews contradicted her version of events.”

But wait, there’s more:

During the course of the ensuing police investigation, the chief said, investigators interviewed nine of the 14 members who were living at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house in September 2012; none said they knew Jackie. The authorities also sent questionnaires to other fraternity members; 19 were returned, and none of the respondents said they knew Jackie or had any knowledge of an assault having occurred at the fraternity house. A review of bank records for the fraternity revealed no expenditures for a party. The police also found a photograph time-stamped Sept. 28, 2012. It showed two men in an otherwise empty entrance hall, the chief said.Investigators also interviewed two of Jackie’s friends, both men, whom Jackie had said met with her after the assault occurred. But both contradicted her version of events, the chief said, adding, “They don’t recall any physical injuries.” And while both said they were told by Jackie that she had gone out on the night of Sept. 28, 2012, with a person named Haven Monahan — identified in the Rolling Stone article as “Drew” — the police were unable to track Mr. Monahan down.

Meanwhile, we are told, “Jackie” refuses to cooperate with the investigation in any way. Continue reading

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