Monthly Archives: June 2010

Law School and High School Credential Corruption

In many high schools around the country, as many as fifty graduating seniors were designated “valedictorians,” because the traditional honor for the top academic performer is a coveted credential, and the schools wanted as many students as possible to have the benefit of it. On their future resumes, will these students footnote “valedictorian” to let potential employers know that it doesn’t mean they were #1 in their class? Of course not. Their schools have given them a license to inflate their qualifications and achievements. Until every school clones its valedictorians, the credential now is inherently deceptive, and it is the high school administrators, not the students, who are doing the deceiving.

Ah, but “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” The New York Times reported that at least ten law schools, S.M.U., New York University, Georgetown, and Tulane among them, have deliberately altered their grading curves—-some retroactively—in order to make their graduates artificially look better to employers. Continue reading

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Filed under U.S. Society

A Despicable “Outing” In Minneapolis

Once again we visit the always despicable practice of punitive “outing,” when gay activists, gay advocates, or the generally self-righteous decide that some individual deserves to have private matters, that he or she has an absolute right to keep private, made public. This particular instance is especially notable, because it involved an especially odious brand of unethical investigation, followed by a series of arrogant rationalizations by the offending party that would make a good, if easy, pop quiz in an ethics exam.

Lavender Magazine, a biweekly for Minneapolis’s gay and lesbian community, reported that an outspokenly anti-gay local pastor attended meetings of Faith in Action, the local affiliate of Courage, an international program of the Catholic Church that offers support for people who want to remain chaste despite same-sex attraction.
As a result of the report, the pastor was placed on leave by his church, which is looking into the matter. Continue reading

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Filed under Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Religion and Philosophy

Desperate Lie of the Week

A Connecticut television station traffic reporter, Desiree Fontaine was caught by security personnel as she apparently tried to shoplift a Hawaiian shirt, a bottle of cologne, two pairs of earrings and a necklace from a Sears store. When she was apprehended, Fontaine explained that she was shoplifting as part of a freelance reporting project she was doing “on the side.” Presumably this will set up a First Amendment defense at her trial, with her lawyer arguing that shoplifting is protected by Freedom of the Press. Continue reading

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Filed under Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

The Kagan Hearings: The Right Thing For Republicans To Do

There is not one chance in a thousand that they will do it, of course. But Senate Republicans can do much good for the country, the political culture, and, in the long term, themselves, if they would undertake a courageous, principled and ethical act: confirming Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, after establishing her qualifications to serve, by an overwhelming if not unanimous vote. Continue reading

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Filed under Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Professions

How New Ethical Standards Get Made

Jim Joyce, the American league umpire who cost Armando Galaraga a perfect game by missing the what should have been the final out of the game, achieved immediate respect for admitting his mistake and apologizing to the pitcher and the public. Now another umpire, Gary Cederstrom, following Joyce’s lead, has admitted and apologized for a botched call, a wretched called strike on Johnny Damon that ended another Tigers game with a strikeout when it should have been a game-tying ball four (the bases were loaded at the time.)

ESPN commentator John Kruk and baseball blogger Rob Neyer have expressed dismay at the apparent trend, but it is a legitimate cultural shift in ethical standards.  Continue reading

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Filed under Professions, Sports, U.S. Society

Joe Biden’s Civility Problem Is Our Problem

We all know Vice President Biden’s mouth is only loosely connected to his brain. To some this is charming; to others it is irritating or scary. His tendency in unguarded moments to slip into vernacular hitherto regarded as undignified and inappropriate for high elected officials and unsuitable for family newspapers is part of a national crisis in civility. It is a symptom of it, but when our leaders give in to destructive cultural trends, they reinforce them. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Citizenship, Daily Life, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Popular Culture, The Internet, U.S. Society

The Unethical Character Assassination of Albert Gore, Jr.

Not one but two celebrities have recently had their public image and reputation battered by the publishing of police reports that they had been accused of sexual misconduct in alleged incidents that could not be confirmed sufficiently for the police to bring charges. One was New York Mets ace pitcher Johan Santana, who was already battling uncharacteristic ineffectiveness on the mound. The other was former Vice-President Al Gore, who also has more than enough problems in his life: such as a shattered marriage, a reeling climate change policy campaign, and the lingering memory that he received the most votes in a Presidential election yet somehow never got to live in the White House. Santana’s reputation will survive if he recovers the location on his fast ball. Al Gore, however, is genuinely and seriously harmed by the claims of a masseuse who says that Gore attempted to turn her professional massage into a forced sexual encounter. Continue reading

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Filed under Daily Life, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, The Internet, U.S. Society

Loyalty and Trust: The Difference Between Generals and Pirogies

I don’t know how you could have missed it, but General McChrystal’s wasn’t the only high-profile firing of an employee for criticizing his superiors. Andrew Kurtz, a young man paid by the Pittsburgh Pirates to put on a giant pirogie suit and compete in The Great Pirogie Race around Pittsburgh’s PNC park in the fifth inning of home games, broke the cardinal rule of employee loyalty by disparaging the team in a post on his blog. The Pirates, who understandably refused to countenance a disloyal pirogie, fired Kurtz and turned his job over to one of the 17 other part-timers who get a $25 check each time they masquerade as a walking, semi-circular, boiled turnover made of unleavened dough. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Government & Politics, Professions, Sports, The Internet, U.S. Society

Nefredo v. Montgomery County: Ethical Treatment for Fortune-tellers

Or should that be “ethical treatment for charlatans”?

In the case of Nefredo v. Montgomery County, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that it was an infringement of the Right of Free Speech for the Montgomery County, Md., to deny a business license to a fortune-teller on the basis of a County ordinance that declared charging a fee for fortune-telling services was a crime. The ordinance states:

“Every person who shall demand or accept any remuneration or gratuity for forecasting or foretelling or for
pretending to forecast or foretell the future by cards, palm reading or any other scheme, practice or device shall be subject to punishment for a class B violation as set forth in section 1-19 of chapter 1 of the County Code; and in any warrant for a violation of the above provisions, it shall be sufficient to allege that the defendant forecast or foretold or pretended to forecast or foretell the future by a certain scheme, practice or device
without setting forth the particular scheme, practice or device employed…” Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Professions, Religion and Philosophy, Science & Technology, U.S. Society

Journalistic Ethics Cluelessness: Weigel, Outrageous Bias, and the Washington Post

There can be no doubt : the main-stream media is so ideologically biased that it can’t recognize obvious bias anymore, even when it undermines its credibility. That is the only conclusion one can reach from the amazing story of David Weigel, who was awarded a Post website blog to write about “inside the conservative movement.” David Weigel, as his recently leaked e-mails to a mailing list shows, detests conservatives, conservatives views, positions, commentators and leaders. He does so not in a possibly manageable “there are evident problems with the extremists in this movement and some of its underlying philosophy” fashion, but it a “I hate these morons and wish they’d all die” way, which is exactly the sentiment many of his messages convey.

Giving someone like Weigel the role of reporting on conservatives is exactly as responsible and fair as letting Michelle Malkin cover the progressive movement, asking Senator Inhofe to cover climate change developments, asking Gloria Allred to keep us up-to-date on the life of Tiger Woods, or giving Helen Thomas the assignment of covering Israel. And yet that is exactly what the Washington Post did. Continue reading

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Filed under Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Professions, The Internet, Workplace