Category Archives: History

Unethical Website of the Month: Million Hoodies Movement for Justice

Different hoodies, different races, same ethics...

Different hoodies, different races, same ethics…

Million Hoodies Movement for Justice is, in its own way, as racist as “Chimpmania,” and, I would argue, far more harmful.

The Chimpmania racists live on the margins of respectable civilization. They are the direct ideological descendants of those who wore hoods and lynched blacks in the South, but they operate in the shadows. Their hateful words and beliefs are almost universally recognized for what they are, the product of ignorance. The vast majority of Americans of any race or creed would be mortified to be associated with the site, or with anyone who read it.

In contrast, Million Hoodies Movement for Justice projects the sheen of respectability, and aims to advance legitimate, if debatable causes: the elimination of police militarization, and the banning of profiling. It is, however, as racist in its assumptions about whites as Chimpmania is regarding African-Americans, just more subtle. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, U.S. Society, Unethical Websites

Ethics Alarms Encore: “Tom Yawkey’s Red Sox Racism, and How Not to Prove It”

Yawkey TributeEvery now and then a comment out of the blue reminds me of a post that I had forgotten. That was the case here. Reading it again for the first time in five years, I was struck by how the crux of the post is still relevant today (that crux has nothing to do with baseball), and indeed how the intervening five years have made what I thought was a bad trend a genuine political and cultural malady.

And the World Series is going on, and I feel badly about the Red Sox having such a miserable season. This post, which few read when it was first published as the blog was attracting (let’s see…) less than 200 views a day as opposed to nearly 4000 a day now, is a good one, and I enjoyed it.  That “self-professed ethicist” has his moments…. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, History, Journalism & Media, Race, Sports, Workplace

Ethics Dunce: Monica Lewinsky

Under that bus is Monica Lewinsky, and it wasn't Matt Drudge who threw her there.

Under that bus is Monica Lewinsky, and it wasn’t Matt Drudge who threw her there.

It truly pains me to have to write anything negative about Monica, who was exploited and humiliated by a President of the United States, and had her life permanently derailed because she trusted and even loved a rogue who regarded her as little more than an animated sex toy. Her re-emergence now, however—yes it is sad and desperate and makes me furious at Bill Clinton all over again—in the new guise of a “cyber-bullying” victim is intolerable, a delusion on multiple levels, despicable blame-shifting, and a welcome weasel-out of-accountability-free card for the Clintons. Yeccch.

I’m sorry for what happened to you, Monica, but you’re 40 now: it’s time to start seeing life more clearly—especially your own and the reasons why you are in the mess you are.

“Overnight, I went from being a completely private figure to a publicly humiliated one. I was Patient Zero,” Lewinsky said in a speech Monday to Forbes’s Under 30 Summit in Philadelphia. “The first person to have their reputation completely destroyed worldwide via the Internet.”

It has to take a near-fatal injection of self-serving historical air-brushing for the ex-intern to say this with a straight face, and it tells us volumes about the audience that it didn’t start throwing tomatoes:

  • She wasn’t a “completely private figure.” She was a woman having a sexual affair with the President of the United States while he lied about it—to his wife, his staff, and under oath (I haven’t covered all of the lying, either.) That makes her an individual who is engaged in conduct with tremendous public and official consequences who is only “private” because a powerful official is using his power to make it so. The proper term is “inevitable public figure waiting for the dam to break.”
  • The reason for her humiliation was and is William Jefferson Clinton, and no other. He is the one who described her as “that woman,” while denying what was true. He is the one who made his relationship with her part of a legal record while he was trying to avoid the consequences of another “bimbo eruption,” as his long-time “fixer” liked to call them.

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Filed under Character, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Leadership

Ebola, Trust, Competence, and “The Only Thing We HaveTo Fear Is Fear Itself” Ethics

On the 4th of March, 1933, newly elected President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, taking over the Presidency in the teeth of the Great Depression, intoned his famous words, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself!”  It was bravado, of course, and in essence a lie: there was a lot to fear. Roosevelt knew it, and the public certainly knew it. The whole economic system seemed to be falling apart. Anti-capitalist evolutionaries were looking for an opportunity to revolt. Nobody was sure what to do.

The statement was effective, however, in focusing the nation on the challenges at hand and riveting the pubic attention on solving problems rather than cringing in terror in fear of them. Roosevelt was a magnificent speaker, warm and charismatic, and that contributed to the force of his rhetoric, but what was most important is that he was trusted. Every new President  can draw on a full, newly-replenished  account of trust, or at least could, in FDR’s time. A new President’s promises haven’t proven to be air; his political skills and talents, honesty and character have not shown themselves to be inadequate or a fraudulent pose.  In rare cases, and FDR was certainly one, they never do. The President, for good or ill, is the human face of the U.S. Government. If he is trusted, it is trusted. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, History, Incompetent Elected Officials, Leadership, U.S. Society

Ethics Hero Emeritus: Edna Gladney (1888-1961)

Edna Gladney

I am ashamed to admit that I never heard of Edna Gladney before I chanced upon a late night Turner Movie Classics showing of the 1941 biopic “Blossoms in the Dust,” which earned the great Greer Garson one of her many Academy Award nominations for her portrayal of Gladney (that’s Greer as Edna on the left). I was unaware of Gladney’s amazing life, legacy and contributions to society because 1) I’m not from Texas; 2) it is hard to learn about great people that society forgets about, and 3) feminists aren’t doing their job, perhaps because a strong and indomitable woman whose life was devoted to saving unwanted children rather than preventing their existence doesn’t interest them as much as it should.

Yet Gladney is exactly the kind of woman whose life should inspire young girls today, and young men too, for that matter. Still,  I recently asked 18 randomly chosen friends and acquaintances who Edna Gladney was, and not one of them knew.

And most of them didn’t know who Greer Garson was, either.

Sigh. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Heroes, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Public Service, Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “Leon Panetta’s Memoirs, and Reconsidering Ethics Alarms’ Absolute Condemnation Of Such Books”

Obama's role model?

Obama’s role model?

Some thoughts as I read the comment below from Ethics Alarms stalwart Steve-O-in-NJ:

  • Woodrow Wilson is indeed, in many ways, one of the best comps for President Obama.
  • Yet there are still many, even those whose updates appear on my own Facebook page, who will shout to the skies that all such criticisms are partisan, racist, unfair attacks on a marvelous, brilliant, misunderstood  Chief Executive.
  • Why is that fading breed of Democrats fading? And where are the statesmanlike Republicans? Is there one?

Here is Steve’s Comment of the Day on the post, Leon Panetta’s Memoirs, and Reconsidering Ethics Alarms’ Absolute Condemnation Of Such Books:
Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Comment of the Day, Government & Politics, History, Leadership, Public Service

Abraham Lincoln: Good Lawyer, Bad Lawyer, Conflicted Lawyer

Lincoln in trialI recently quoted a fairly well-known section from some notes Abe Lincoln made for a lecture he was to present to young lawyers in 1850. Some of you asked if would post the whole document, which I am happy to do. Here it is:

I am not an accomplished lawyer. I find quite as much material for a lecture in those points wherein I have failed, as in those wherein I have been moderately successful. The leading rule for the lawyer, as for the man of every other calling, is diligence. Leave nothing for to-morrow which can be done to-day. Never let your correspondence fall behind. Whatever piece of business you have in hand, before stopping, do all the labor pertaining to it which can then be done. When you bring a common-law suit, if you have the facts for doing so, write the declaration at once. If a law point be involved, examine the books, and note the authority you rely on upon the declaration itself, where you are sure to find it when wanted. The same of defenses and pleas. In business not likely to be litigated, — ordinary collection cases, foreclosures, partitions, and the like, — make all examinations of titles, and note them, and even draft orders and decrees in advance. This course has a triple advantage; it avoids omissions and neglect, saves your labor when once done, performs the labor out of court when you have leisure, rather than in court when you have not. Extemporaneous speaking should be practised and cultivated. It is the lawyer’s avenue to the public. However able and faithful he may be in other respects, people are slow to bring him business if he cannot make a speech. And yet there is not a more fatal error to young lawyers than relying too much on speech-making. If any one, upon his rare powers of speaking, shall claim an exemption from the drudgery of the law, his case is a failure in advance.

Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser — in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.

Never stir up litigation. A worse man can scarcely be found than one who does this. Who can be more nearly a fiend than he who habitually overhauls the register of deeds in search of defects in titles, whereon to stir up strife, and put money in his pocket? A moral tone ought to be infused into the profession which should drive such men out of it.

The matter of fees is important, far beyond the mere question of bread and butter involved. Properly attended to, fuller justice is done to both lawyer and client. An exorbitant fee should never be claimed. As a general rule never take your whole fee in advance, nor any more than a small retainer. When fully paid beforehand, you are more than a common mortal if you can feel the same interest in the case, as if something was still in prospect for you, as well as for your client. And when you lack interest in the case the job will very likely lack skill and diligence in the performance. Settle the amount of fee and take a note in advance. Then you will feel that you are working for something, and you are sure to do your work faithfully and well. Never sell a fee note — at least not before the consideration service is performed. It leads to negligence and dishonesty — negligence by losing interest in the case, and dishonesty in refusing to refund when you have allowed the consideration to fail.

There is a vague popular belief that lawyers are necessarily dishonest. I say vague, because when we consider to what extent confidence and honors are reposed in and conferred upon lawyers by the people, it appears improbable that their impression of dishonesty is very distinct and vivid. Yet the impression is common, almost universal. Let no young man choosing the law for a calling for a moment yield to the popular belief — resolve to be honest at all events; and if in your own judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer. Choose some other occupation, rather than one in the choosing of which you do, in advance, consent to be a knave.

This is uniformly excellent, and justly cited to show Lincoln’s high ideals as a man and a professional. This quote, however, is also cited for that purpose, and I am not so fond of it. Since it comes to us second-hand, a.k.a as hearsay, from Lincoln’s law partner, friend and biographer William Herndon, I hesitate to hold it against him too much, for it may be a misrepresentation. I am more concerned with the fact that what follows is sometimes packaged with the notes above, as if they are equally worthy of emulation. No, they are not. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions