The Utah Division of Motor Vehicles lists standards for vanity plates, based on a statute that “forbids any combination of letters or numbers that ‘may carry connotations offensive to good taste and decency or that would be misleading.’”
Plate letter and number combinations that reference drugs, that are “sexual, vulgar, or derogatory,” that suggest ideas “dangerous to public welfare” or disrespect “race, religion, deity, ethnic heritage, gender, or political affiliation,” are not permitted.
Thus it was that Utah high school English teacher Matt Pacenza, driving home, spied a vanity plate reading “DEPORTM.” As a concerned citizen, he snapped a photo of the personalized plate and posted it to Twitter. (Note: I’m more concerned about drivers taking photos while operating their motor vehicles than about what their plates say, but I’m weird, or so I’m told). The resulting cocial media comments attracted the attention of some state senators as well as the Utah State Tax Commission, which oversees license plate approval. Now the commission says it is reviewing whether the plate violates department guidelines.
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the weekend is…
Is there anything wrong with having that license plate on your car?
A lawyer for Utah’s chapter of the ACLU asked Utah Judge Kara Pettit to rule that the state’s lewdness law violates the Constitution by treating women differently than men and thus violating the Equal Protection Clause. The statute makes it a crime to expose “the female breast below the top of the areola” in the presence of a child in a private place “under circumstances the person should know will likely cause affront or alarm.”
Tilli Buchanan, 27, faces imprisonment, fines and the requirement to register as a sex offender for 10 years if convicted of violating the law, which she certainly did. Buchanan and her husband had been installing drywall in the garage, and they had taken off their shirts that had become scratchy from the fibers, she told reporters. When her stepchildren, aged 9, 10 and 13, walked in, she “explained she considers herself a feminist and wanted to make a point that everybody should be fine with walking around their house or elsewhere with skin showing,” her lawyers wrote in court documents. Here’s Tilli…
Lawyer Leah Farrell of the ACLU says the law requires women to do a “mental calculation” about whether going topless would cause alarm. But men can go shirtless without violating the law and without making that calculation. “That really sets up an unequal and unfair dichotomy,” Farrell says.
Prosecutors say that Buchanan stripped in front of the children and was under the influence of alcohol at the time. They also claim she said she would put her shirt back on if her husband showed her his penis.
There’s Hurricane Hysteria in the Washington area, with everyone freaking out and clearing the store shelves, and the news media making it sound like this is the End of Days. Did you know that BOTH Chicken Little and the Boy Who Cried Wolf lived in Washington, D.C.? Thanks to a late summer repeat of what goes on every time there’s a rumor of nascent snow flake during our winters, nobody’s working, returning emails and phone calls, or doing anything, it seems, except, I assume, trying to figure out a way to blame whatever happens on President Trump.
Incidentally, this was going to be an afternoon post yesterday, until my car blew a radiator hose on Route 395 at rush hour.
1. Yes, more on the “racist cartoon.” Reader Michael B. reminded me of some of the liberal editorial cartoonists’ attacks on Condoleeza Rice. Here was one such cartoon, from 2005, that I found online.
Here’s the real Condoleeza:
I’ve been challenged to post a poll on this cartoon too, but that’s tricky. The two cartoons are not equivalent. I don’t think either is racist, but if I were in the business of race-baiting, the Rice cartoon is worse for several reasons. To begin with, Serena really did throw a tantrum on the U.S. Open court, and it was ugly, thus theoretically justifying an ugly graphic portrayal. There was never an incident analogous to what the cartoon Condi is shown doing. Moreover, she never exhibited anything approaching the snarling, aggressive demeanor portrayed by the cartoonist, at least not in public. I think the face given Rice is also vaguely simian, and if a similar spoof of Michell Obama had been published, all hell would have broken loose.
There were some complaints about racist caricatures of Rice during the Bush years, but all from conservative organizations and commentators, none from the NAACP, and nothing on the scale of the uproar over the Williams cartoon.
My position is…
….that both the Williams and the Rice cartoon are within the acceptable range of an art form I detest and find inherently unethical, editorial cartooning.
….that the indignation over either cartoon is driven by bias toward the targets.
….that anyone who wasn’t vocal about “racial insensitivity” toward Rice in various cartoons is not the most convincing advocate for the position that the Knight drawing is racist. Yes, such a person might have changed their point of view, but he or she has the burden of proof to demonstrate that this is the case. I’m skeptical.
So here are TWO polls..
2. I find it difficult to believe that as Democrats are revealing the total ethical void in their current strategy, polls show voters favoring a Democratic Congress in the upcoming election. Of course, it helps that the mainstream news media won’t communicate to the public fairly so they understand what’s going on:
During his hearings, Bret Kavanaugh said, speaking of the position of the plaintiffs in a case, “In that case, they said filling out the form would make them complicit in the provision of the abortion-inducing drugs that were, as a religious matter, objected to.” This was immediately distorted in the news media and by anti-Kavanaugh activists as Kavanaugh referring to birth control as “abortion-inducing drugs.” Hillary Clinton (to be fair, I assume that she was reading second hand accounts—you know, like everyone criticizes Trump for doing with Fox News) then beclowned herself by tweeting:
I want to be sure we’re all clear about something that Brett Kavanaugh said in his confirmation hearings last week. He referred to birth-control pills as “abortion-inducing drugs.” That set off a lot of alarm bells for me, and it should for you, too.
[Pointer: Zoltar Speaks!]
CNN tweeted this (Pointer: Instapundit):
I think this qualifies as going beyond deceit to pure lying. The texts themselves were evidence. It’s like a defense attorney saying “The prosecution, without evidence, suggests that the murder weapon with the defendant’s fingerprints on it links him to the killing!”
A man cursing Donald Trump attempted to stab Republican Rudy Peters, running for the House in California, with a switchblade over the weekend.This kind of thing does not happen every day, nor in every Congressional race. Democrats have increasingly been suggesting violent measures be used against conservatives and Republicans, and there has already been one armed attack that nearly killed Rep. Steve Scalise and threatened other GOP officials. Yet when Rep. Eric Swalwell, Peters’ opponent, appeared on CNN host Erin Burnett’s show “Erin Burnett Outfront” last night, she never asked Stalwell about the attack or its implications. That’s journalistic negligence, and likely bias.
3. Please explain this to me. Anyone? Karen White, a transgender man “transitioning” to female, was accused of repeatedly raping a woman in 2016 and had been previously been jailed in 2001 for a sexual assault on a child. After telling the authorities that he identified as a woman, Karen, who still has her penis, aka her weapon of choice when engaged in sexual assault, was remanded into HMP New Hall near Wakefield, West Yorkshire, an all female facility.
She then sexually assaulted four female inmates a few days later. Who could have predicted such a thing? The prison’s spokesperson said: “We apologize sincerely for the mistakes which were made in this case. While we work to manage all prisoners, including those who are transgender, sensitively and in line with the law, we are clear that the safety of all prisoners must be our absolute priority.” Continue reading →
Utah high school student Keziah Daum posted a picture of herself looking lovely in a prom dress, and thanks to the warped values and cracked ethics of a young social justice warrior tweeter named Jeremy Lam, was set upon by the social media Furies.
Here is the tweet:
The tweet received 179 THOUSAND likes, and was retweeted 60 thousand times. Yes, a young woman going to her high school prom was condemned by all those strangers for liking and wearing an Asian-themed dress.
I don’t know what broken-chromosome mutation of progressive thought creates Americans like Jeremy—who is living in our culture, which is an amalgam of all cultures, but better—but the fact that he could attract such support with his divisive, segregated version of what our society should be is one more sign that the hard-Left is getting more anti-American by the hour. David French nicely puts this episode in perspective:
“Just so we’re clear, the radical progressive position is (1) America’s borders should be flung wide open to people from every culture in the world; (2) when American white people encounter people from those hundreds of different cultures, they need to stay in their lane; and (3) white people staying as white as possible will help our nation totally unify and diversity will be our strength.”
That’s about right. Kaziah Daum is the victim of racism here. Reasonably for someone unfairly thrust into the culture wars without justification or warning, she responded that she wasn’t trying to upset anyone; she just thought it was a pretty dress. The rest of us, French suggests, need to be more assertive: Continue reading →
[Mickey is really playing that piano. Boy he was amazing…]
1 A Russian Jumbo! And it worked! In Russia, Irina Kudinova was charged with mocking the Church after she posted a photograph that prosecutors alleged was obscene and thus constituted the “deliberate desecration of a religious object” and “insulting the feelings of believers.” Gee, I can’t imagine why anyone would think THAT..Here’s the photo:
Few cases better illustrate the principle that in Bizarro World attempts at ethical acts become unethical. The problem is that Russia has laws that discourage free speech. In order to undermine an unethical law, the judge in this case made a ruling that is obviously contrary to reality, and what anyone can see with their own eyes. If judges can ignore evidence and deny reality to protect citizens from an unjust law, then they can do the same to unjustly punish citizens who break no laws at all.
I’m happy for Kudinova, but the Russian judge is a well-intentioned ethics dunce. His solution does as much damage as good.
My answer to the first question? Absolutely not.( My answer to the second is, “I have no idea.” ) If a driver can put a sign in his rear view mirror or a bumper sticker on her bumper without state sanctions, then a driver should be able to have whatever he or she chooses on a vanity plate.
Utah, for examples, bans vanity plates with profanity, “derogatory language,” drug references, sex talk, references to bodily functions, “hate speech,” targeting a particular group, or advocating violence advocates, as well as alcohol references and the number combo “69.” Ethics verdict: None of their business. These are words and numbers, and the state is declaring content and intent impermissible. When I see a car with an obnoxious vanity plate, I’m grateful. This is useful information. Racist or vulgar plates translate into “I am an asshole, and want you to know it!”
Thank you, sir! I appreciate the heads up.
Below are the plates banned by Utah over the past five years. Most of them fly right over my head. If you have to be a cryptographer to figure out why a plate is offensive, then it’s not offensive.
The less our governments interfere with freedom of expression, the safer we are.
“What you do if you knew a friend was trying to commit suicide?”
You text back,
“Talk them out of it”
Then he texts you…
“The thing is i wanna help kill them. it be awesome. seriously im going to help her. Its like getting away with murder! Im so fucked up. I’m seriously not joking. Its going down in about a week or two.”
This was the actual scenario preceding the suicide of a 16 year old girl (above. left) in Utah.
Hunters found the girl’s body hanging from a tree. A can of industrial strength air duster and a cellphone were nearby, and the latter contained a video of the girl’s death.
It showed the girl with a noose around her neck, standing on on a rock. She inhaled the contents of the air duster can, lost consciousness, and fell off the rock, causing the noose to tighten and slowly strangle her. The video captures the ten minutes it took the girl to die.
Tyerell Przybycien, 18, arrived at the scene to claim credit for the video, telling officers that he knew the girl and was with her when she died. He told detectives that he had a fascination with death and wanted to see what it was like to watch somebody perish.
Yes, it was Przybycien who wrote the text message to a friend.
There are other disturbing aspects to the story, but my professional interest is in the conduct of Przybycien’s friend. Let us eschew, for now, the question of why anyone would have a friend like this sicko in the first place.
We know the friend has at least rudimentary ethics alarms, since his first response, “Talk her out of it,” was the right one. After that, however, his ethics alarms died. Przybycien told him that he was planning on helping a girl kill herself because it would be a turn-on, and the friend did nothing to stop him…or at least did nothing that did stop him.
We can speculate endlessly about what would work and what would not, but this tragic scenario lands squarely in the realm of the Ethics Alarms principle, “If you are in a position to stop unethical conduct, stop it.” Here a life was involved, activating the coda, “Whatever it takes.”
What might some measures be that could fulfill this ethical imperative?