Category Archives: Law & Law Enforcement

Surely There Is A Gay John Adams In Oregon Who Will Fight The State’s Outrageous Persecution Of The Kleins…Isn’t There?

Come on, John, I know you're out there....

Come on, John, I know you’re out there….

Even if one believes that the refusal of  Sweet Cakes  to make a wedding cake for a gay couple was a dubious exercise of religion as well as a mean and petty one, the astounding punishment levied on the now defunct bakery’s owners must be condemned as an abuse of power.

Having already lost their bakery business due to mob action online by Gay Marriage Advocate Furies, Aaron and Melissa Klein, former Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian hit the couple with a $135,000 judgment  for “emotional damages” to the couple, and issued a gag order on them that forbids the Kleins from explaining to potential customers of Sweet Cakes their anti- same-sex wedding policies.

Of course—I guess I can’t really say “of course” if such a travesty can occur—no state can order anyone not to talk about anything in such a situation. The unconstitutional gag order is essentially moot, since to violate it the Kleins would have to still own a bakery and they do not, but it still acts to intimidate others and chill freedom of speech. It must be challenged and overturned. The fine is also unconscionable, and effectively makes villains out of the originally aggrieved couple if they don’t immediately agree to waive it. There is a duty in law to mitigate damages: the couple could and did minimize the harm of their cake request’s rejection by obtaining a wedding cake elsewhere. The Kleins didn’t stop them from getting married, and any harm that came to them from the publicity of their humiliation by the bakery was exacerbated by the couple’s own actions, not the Kleins’. $135,000? That’s beyond punitive. That’s vengeance. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Business & Commercial, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

A Jumbo For Sulu

SuluGeorge Takei, the Japanese-America actor permanently enshrined in pop culture history for his role of Sulu in the original “Star Trek” TV series. He has essentially lived off that one felicitous part for forty years, recently acquiring less moldy,  non-sci-fi following by being a gay rights advocate.

Takei recently skimmed, or just didn’t comprehend, Clarence Thomas’s  audacious dissent to the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling and Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion declaring same-sex marriage to be a fundamental right protected by the Constitution. Apparently he also does not comprehend that Supreme Court dissents are both stimulating and useful to legal scholars as well as those, unlike Mr. Sulu, possessing an open and curious mind.

Thomas made the unusual but provocative argument that human dignity is innate:

Human dignity has long been understood in this country to be innate. When the Framers proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” and “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” they referred to a vision of mankind in which all humans are created in the image of God and therefore of inherent worth. That vision is the foundation upon which
this Nation was built.

The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.

Thomas was expressing  his disagreement with the majority that the government withholding the right to marry from gays robbed them of human dignity. I think it is a rather pedantic argument that has more validity in the abstract than in reality, but the position that rights come from creation rather than the government is a core concept in the Declaration of Independence, and one that statists, as in “modern Democrats,” like to ignore. If individuals are born with rights, they cannot be truly taken away. If citizens must look to the government to have their rights granted to them, then government is granted too much power in exchange. Thomas’s philosophical argument is classic conservatism. Naturally, that means, in Takei’s intolerant and partyist world view, that he deserves abuse. Continue reading

23 Comments

Filed under Facebook, Government & Politics, History, Jumbo, Law & Law Enforcement, Religion and Philosophy

An Open Letter To America Ferrera In Response To Her Open Letter To Donald Trump

America, America...

America, America…

Dear America (It’s really neat to be able to write a real letter to America on Independence weekend—thanks for that),

I can see why you called your open letter to Donald Trump “Thank You, Donald Trump!” The Donald did indeed do the supporters of illegal immigration a big favor by attaching his obnoxious face, words and character to the proposition that the United States has an obligation to control who comes into the country, like every other responsible nation. It is easy to pretend that any assertion by a big, loud-mouthed jerk is wrong, even when it is right, because most people can’t distinguish a message from its messenger. Similarly, a dishonest and dangerous message communicated by an attractive, Hispanic American celebrity and actress is typically accorded more legitimacy than it deserves, especially since the historical and political acumen of professional actors tends to be limited.

Well played. But that’s not the same as being right.

Your letter begins with a multi-layered lie. “You’ve said some pretty offensive things about Latino immigrants recently,” you say. In fact, Trump said nothing about immigrants. Did you read a transcript of his remarks, or just the portion clipped out of it by news organizations because this is Donald Trump, rich Republican buffoon, and fairness and ethical journalism don’t matter. My guess is that you didn’t read the transcript, which makes your open letter incompetent and irresponsible. Or, if you did, it is intentionally misleading, and an attempt to increase the ignorance of people who take policy screeds from actresses seriously. Continue reading

18 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Character, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, U.S. Society

Anti-Gun Zealots Must Reconcile Their Rhetoric With This, Or Concede That Their Adversaries, And All Citizens, Have A Right To Protect Themselves

In Macon, Georgia, a coordinated mob of teens attacked a Walmart like a scene out of “Dawn of the Dead.” Surveillance cameras revealed this:

The Macon Telegraph reports that a group of about 50 teens swarmed the store and began destroying property, apparently for the fun of it. A customer in a motorized scooter was pulled from his seat and dragged on the floor, police say.  17-year-old Kharron Nathan Green entered the store at about 2 a.m. last Sunday morning and flashed “gang signs.” At his signal, a group of about 50 people, apparently teens or a bit older, charged into the store. They departed when police arrived. Green, was the only one arrested, not because he was the ringleader, but because he is an idiot. He returned to the scene of the crime to fetch a dropped phone.

That nobody was seriously hurt or killed is moral luck, nothing more.

Is it relevant that all of the teens appear to be black? Sure it is, though many news outlets—like the Macon Telegraph, in fact— didn’t think so, because that creates inconvenient implications. For one thing, it was very relevant to any police officer trying to deal with the onslaught, as having to shoot one of the mob if he was aggressive would have the cop branded as a racist killer  and possibly railroaded into a murder trial by the Georgia equivalent of Marilyn Mosby. Continue reading

84 Comments

Filed under Citizenship, Daily Life, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Facebook, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, U.S. Society

This Is NBC: With All The Ethical Reasons To Fire Donald Trump, It Picks An Unethical One

Dignity...always dignity.

Dignity…always dignity.

It has happened here with Bill Clinton, Bristol Palin, and many others: this is the downside of running a website committed to fairness. I have had to come to the defense of some very unethical people through the years, but I can’t think of anyone I detest defending more than Donald Trump.

From the AP:

“NBC said Monday that it is ending its business relationship with mogul and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump because of comments he made about Mexican immigrants during the announcement of his campaign.”

Let me count the lies:

1. Anyone, including AP, who believes this is why NBC fired Trump is too gullible to function in society. He was fired because Mexico, Univision and illegal immigration advocates were threatening to make NBC’s life miserable. If what Trump said mattered to NBC, NBC would have fired him shortly after he said it.

2. Trump said nothing about Mexican immigrants. His much-maligned quote discussed illegal immigrants from Mexico “bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists and some, I assume, are good people.”  The unethical and dishonest effort by the news media to confuse the immigration issue and the crucial, material distinction between legal immigrants, whom the nation should welcome, and illegal immigrants, which it should not and must not, is more harmful than anything Trump has said on the topic.

3. The statement is deceitfully phrased to represent what Trump said as a slur on Mexicans, as a racist statement. Trump was talking about, in his typically lazy, crude fashion, our national problem of  unchecked illegals streaming across the Southern border, and the undeniable fact that this group includes criminals and rapists (like here, here, here…how many examples do you want?), as well as “good people.” Trump obviously wasn’t claiming that all illegal immigrants were criminals and rapists, because that would mean that some of the criminals and rapists would also have to be “good people.” But Mexico, which counts on us to solve their social problems for it, and illegal alien activists, who don’t want Americans to know that many of those sneaking into our country are not the salt of the earth, but quite the opposite, have successfully imposed a political correctness embargo on speaking the unpleasant truth.

Now on to the hypocrisy. NBC firing Trump is not just a little like, but almost EXACTLY THE SAME AS A&E firing Duck Dynasty’s scion Phil Robertson for public statements that were completely consistent with the reality star’s persona as A&E understood from the moment it inked a contract with him. The same is true of Trump’s trademark bluntness. The one difference: Robertson’s homophobic statements were blunt and ignorant, while Trumps statements about illegal immigrant were blunt and true. Continue reading

19 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Workplace

Ethics Quote Of The Week: The Washington Post

“The court’s legal analysis in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission was something of a reach. But the ruling’s practical implications are unequivocally positive.”

—–The Washington Post in an editorial praising the Supreme Court’s approval of Arizon’s unconstitutional solution to the persistent problem of gerrymandering abuse.

"IGNORE WHEN INCONVENIENT" Really?

“IGNORE WHEN INCONVENIENT” Really?

The Post’s quote means nothing more nor less than “the ends justify the means.” “Something of a reach” is a shameless equivocation: John Roberts’ dissent to the 5-4 majority’s “legal analysis” —there really is none—resembles Mike Tyson slapping around Honey Boo-Boo. The decision’s argument approving the Arizona end-around the Constitution’s Elections Clause that reads, “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof” can be fairly summarized as “this will work, so the Constitution be damned.” It’s not a “reach.” It’s  obvious defiance of what the document says.

It that so bad? It depends on what you think is more important, integrity or solving a problem. All of the big Supreme Court decisions in the past week have essentially raised this ethics conflict, and it is clear that the liberals on the Court is on the side of solving problems—at least as they see them— even when it means compromising what the Constitution says and what the Founders intended who drafted it, with the libertarian Justice Kennedy, who tends to lean away from laws constraining citizens anyway, often joining the  colleagues to his left. This issue is as stark an example as there can be,

Gerrymandering is unethical and anti-democratic. It was not foreseen by the authors of the Constitution, who can’t be expected to have predicted every devious political maneuver their successors would come up with to pollute their ideals. Unfortunately, the Constitution doesn’t provide a way for the public to stop the practice, other than electing less corrupt legislators, and legislators use gerrymandering to make that exceedingly difficult. A tweak of the wording in the Constitution could carve out an exception, but the Founders also made amending the Constitution in any way at all an almost impossible chore, including amending it to allow easier amending.

What’s a country to do? Well, sometimes the ends really do justify the means: that’s what utilitarianism means. If the Court can kill or limit gerrymandering by, as John Roberts felicitously put it in his dissent, gerrymandering the Constitution, it might be a good choice on balance. It benefits democracy. The conservatives argue, however, and legitimately so, that such a decision also creates a dangerous, even sinister precedent despite its good intentions (none of the Justices seem to think that gerrymandering is anything but unhealthy for democracy). What other laws that violate the plain words of the Constitution will the Court approve because its “practical implications are unequivocally positive,” to the cheers of partisans?  How many times can the Court do this before the Constitution is a dead letter, and any executive–or despot— can claim that government action, regardless of what Constitutional guarantees oppose it, is to be rubber stamped because it solves a real problem? Continue reading

25 Comments

Filed under Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

Playing Dangerous Cognitive Dissonance Games With U.S. The Supreme Court

The cognitive dissonance scale, now being used to weaken a crucial U.S. institution for political gain.

The cognitive dissonance scale, now being used to weaken a crucial U.S. institution for political gain.

Of all government institutions, the U.S. Supreme Court has traditionally only trailed the Presidency in public trust and esteem. There are several good reasons for this. One is that being appointed for life, the Justices are presumed to be less subject to the personal and political agendas that make the positions of politicians suspect. Another is that the Court has often taken heroic stances that made the United States a better nation and more just culture. A third is that unlike elected political offices, that of a judge requires an education and technical expertise that the average citizen does not possess. The Justices are traditionally accorded the deference given to experts. Perhaps the most important reason we trust the Court is because we need to do so. It was made the third branch to protect the Constitution against violations of core rights, as well as to be an objective mediator when the other branches, or states, or courts, reach an impasse. Of the many ingenious devices the Founders put in place, the U.S. Supreme Court is one of the wisest.

That the Court is accorded inherent respect and trust is essential to the stability of our government. What the Court says, goes, and the culture and society, including the most furious dissenters in political parties and interest groups, must follow a ruling and constrain its efforts within those boundaries. There have been times when the Court recognized that its unique credibility obligated it to intercede in dangerous conflicts that might otherwise escalate to social unrest or worse. The 2000 Presidential election was a potentially dangerous situation because the result in Florida rested on a margin of error that the available technology was incapable of resolving with certainty.  Unlike the similarly dubious results in the 1960 election, the initial losing candidate and his party decided to plunge the nation into an electoral morass, in this case one complicated by politicized state courts, vague local statutes, confusing ballots, partisan media reports and varying standards of what constituted a vote, with the rotten cherry on top being a rare situation (it had happened only three times before)  in which a popular vote loser was  the apparent electoral vote winner. The Supreme Court stepped up and stopped it from spinning out of control, in essence declaring a winner. It was a courageous and responsible act, one that many (including me) predicted, and though it came at a high cost, one that exemplified why the Court’s public acceptance must be high—so it has some room to fall when it has to take a controversial stand.

This crisis was not the beginning of the effort by parties and activists to discredit the Court by impugning its motives and undermining the public’s trust, but it caused a permanent escalation. It was when the insinuation that a Justices nominated by Republican Presidents (or Democratic ones, depending on who’s leading the chorus of critics) see their job as bolstering that party’s policies and interests became routine. Continue reading

14 Comments

Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society