We have been discussing the rollback of free speech on U.S. college campuses as well the adoption of de facto speech codes. Cardiff Metropolitan University has issued a list of phrases that are now deemed as inappropriate including “right-hand man” and “gentleman’s agreement” as well as “forefather” and “sportsmanship.”
The proposed cuts of the Trump Administration of the EPA has many of us deeply concerned, particularly those cuts targeting climate change offices and research. As someone who believe that climate change is one of the greatest threats facing this planet, the evidence continues to mount that we are at or passing a tipping point. Now, an Argentine research base near the northern tip of the Antarctic peninsula has recorded the record temperature at 63.5° Fahrenheit (17.5 degrees Celsius). It is an astonishing and frightening increase.
With the chorus of calls for an “independent counsel” or “special prosecutor” to investigate the Russian hacking scandal, there has been one element that remains rather ambiguous: what is the specific crime to be investigated? Clearly there is the hacking but that crime is well-known and was committed by Russians who are unlikely to be subject to any real investigation. A special counsel, as opposed to a bipartisan commission, would require the articulation of a crime and the basis for the investigation. I am all in favor of independent investigations of this and other issues. However, if we are going to move beyond a special commission to special counsel we need to have more evidence and a notion of what we are investigating. That may come but we are not there yet. Below is my column in The Hill Newspaper on the subject — and the moral outrage over hacking.
We have been discussing the rising intolerance and violence on college campuses, particularly against conservative speakers. The latest such example can be found at Middlebury College where Professor Allison Stanger was assaulted by protesters and injured after she merely accompanied a controversial speaker to campus. It was a disgraceful but increasingly common scene on our campuses as students fought to prevent others from hearing opposing views or speakers.
There is an ongoing controversy over the new wrestling champion of Euless Trinity High School, Mack Beggs, 17. Beggs was born a girl but is now a transgender boy taking testosterone as part of his treatment. However, the UIL Wrestling State Tournament officials decided that Beggs would still compete as a girl despite the fact that he is taking steroids that have bulked him up in a way that would be normally a banning offense.
A group of 15 ethics law professors from around the country has filed bar charges against White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. For full disclosure, Conway is one of my former students at George Washington University Law School (she graduated in 1995). The letter from 15 professors alleged ethical violations of government rules as well as “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.” Most of the allegations in the letter are, in my view, without merit and seem overtly political. The one issue that has already been raised in Congress and has a legal foundation is the alleged endorsement of Conway of the product line of Ivanka Trump. That is a technical violation of federal rules, but the question is whether it was a venial rather than mortal sin. The “violation” was the result of a side comment by Conway on television criticizing the decision of Nordstrom to drop the line. The White House Counsel’s office let it be known that Conway had been “counseled” over the infraction. However, ethics charges should not be a form of politics by other means and, with all due respect to these accomplished academics, this letter strikes me as raising largely political objections to Conway’s work as a spokesperson for the Administration.
There is an appeal filed in Dallas by a teacher, Resa Woodward, 38, who was fired because of her prior work in the adult film industry almost two decades ago. We have previously discussed such cases, which I find troubling because these are people who worked in a lawful industry. It is even more concerning when, as here, the individual claims that she was forced into the industry as a form of “sex slavery.”