A crazy tale of justice long-delayed

Aaron Fisher has a trial date.

On April 10, the southern Missourian man, accused of sexually assaulting his 5-month-old daughter, will face a jury of his peers.

The only problem? Fisher’s first charges related to the incident (though not the ones he faces now) were brought in 2009.

That’s over seven years ago.

Fisher’s case has lasted for so long that he had to get a new public defender — in 2014, his previous one retired.

Read the latest update on Fisher’s case from KOMU 8 News.

Journalists barred from White House briefing

  • The New York Times
  • The Los Angeles Times
  • BuzzFeed News
  • Politico
  • CNN

All reputable outlets.

All blocked from covering an off-camera White House press briefing on Friday.

The Washington Times and Breitbart News, both conservative-leaning, were still allowed in.

The Associated Press and Time magazine, however, chose not to attend, citing concerns about the Trump administration’s decision to block the five outlets.

Read coverage of the issue from The New York Times, The Associated Press and NBC News.

Revisiting Columbia’s shantytown legacy

The University of Missouri has a long history of protests.

In 2015, a group of students under the banner of “Concerned Student 1950” camped out on the Carnahan Quadrangle to protest racism at the school’s flagship Columbia campus, confronting what they saw as an inappropriate silence from university officials.

Jonathan Butler, a graduate student and leader of the movement, staged a week-long hunger strike. This triggered support from the football team, which began a boycott of all sports-related activity to undergird Butler’s effort.

The national news media caught the story. Soon, the entire country had its eyes on MU.

Continue reading “Revisiting Columbia’s shantytown legacy”

Missouri’s new first lady

Who is Missouri’s new first lady?

Besides holding degrees from Harvard, Stanford and Oxford, Sheena Greitens also teaches political science at the University of Missouri.

An excellent article in this morning’s Columbia Missourian tells her story.

 

What is ‘fake news’?

Setting aside the metaphysical quandary, a potential lawsuit in Colorado could, if nothing else, set a new legal definition of the term “fake news.”

If filed, the suit would pit the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, a local newspaper, against state Sen. Ray Scott.

Scott, a Republican, referred to an opinion column in the Sentinel as “fake news” in separate posts on Facebook and Twitter earlier this month. In defense, the paper’s publisher is considering a defamation suit, although he has yet to pursue any concrete legal action.

The story has earned national attention, perhaps due to the current political climate—the Trump administration has made it a point to assail the national news media, describing such outlets as “the enemy of the American people.

 

UM System gets new president

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Dr. Mun Y. Choi will serve as the 24th president of the four-campus University of Missouri System, officially stepping into the role and replacing Interim President Mike Middleton next spring.

The UM Board of Curators announced their new hire during a news conference in Jefferson City Wednesday morning. During the event, Choi spoke to the press and answered questions from reporters.

Choi will replace former system president Tim Wolfe, whose resignation was triggered by racially-charged protests at the university system’s flagship campus in Columbia last fall. The protests, which earned national media attention, also resulted in the resignation of R. Bowen Loftin, the chancellor heading the main campus.

The UM Board of Curators released a statement Monday signaling the end of their nearly year-long search for a new president. At the time, Choi was speculated as the pick, but was not officially confirmed until days later.

 

Washington Society hosts public dialogue on ethics

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Overview

The Washington Society held a public dialogue on the origins of morality in the Kinder Institute on the University of Missouri campus Monday afternoon. The dialogue, titled “Where Does Morality Come From?” was led by political science Professors Justin Dyer and Jonathan Krieckhaus. Dyer is director of the Kinder Institute.

Krieckhaus kicked off the event by going through a numbered list of points to make about morality in general (copy below).

First, Krieckhaus made the point that it is not prima facie evident that morality does in fact exist.

Knowing this, his second point listed four “existential stances” one can take toward morality: Amorality, logic, deism and naturalism.

The professor’s third point was to explain the increasing importance of this final type, naturalism. Our country is growing less religious with each successive generation, he said, and so, if we are to preserve and develop a shared sense of moral norms, we must turn to non-deist moral reasoning.

Krieckhaus’ fourth point explored the pros and cons of such a form of moral reasoning, mentioning that it is potentially more useful, but also more difficult to develop.

Finally, the last point centered on the Golden Rule. Does the notion of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you fulfill the requirements of a shared naturalist morality in the way we would wish? Not quite, explained the professor, listing a few fundamental disagreements we would still have, such as matters of sexual engagement and abortion rights. However, the Golden Rule is still important, as it is useful in guiding our morality in many other cases.

After Krieckhaus’ lecture, there was a similar introduction from Dyer, a moment of dialogue between the professors and then a period where audience members could ask questions.doc-oct-11-2016-9-02-am

My Analysis

I found Krieckhaus’ talk to be the most interesting of all the segments, specifically his assertion of the importance of non-deist moral reasoning.

It was here that he began to reference Plato. Krieckhaus, who believes there is a discoverable logical foundation upon which we can build our shared morality, nevertheless explored what a world would be like if that was not the case. In such a world, we may need to develop a “noble myth,” he said, echoing the notion of Plato’s noble lie. Even if a non-deist morality doesn’t exist, it is best for society that we create the illusion that one does.

I completely agree with this assertion. Society needs some moral norms in order to function properly. Religion has traditionally been the easiest manner of communicating these norms, but as the developed world continues its trajectory away from deism, it is imperative we find a sturdier foundation upon which to build a new moral system.