Category Archives: Unethical Blog Post

Ethics Dunce: Federal Judge Richard G. Kopf

"Oh dear...and he looks like such a NICE federal judge!"

“Oh dear…and he looks like such a NICE federal judge!”

Richard G. Kopf is a senior district court judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska, and a blogger. He is also,I would say obviously, an Ethics Dunce. Why?

He told the U.S. Supreme Court to shut the fuck up.

He really did.

That he did this on his blog, Hercules and the Umpire, doesn’t matter. It was in print, in public, and he’s a Federal judge. The obscenity came in the context of Judge Kopf’s criticism of the recent Hobby Lobby decision, but the context doesn’t matter either. There is no context in which it would be appropriate, judicial and ethical for a member of the judiciary to tell the Supreme Court of the United States to shut the fuck up. Nor does it matter that he used the texting code stfu rather than spelling out the words.

For a Federal judge to be openly disrespectful, uncivil and abusive to the top of the nation’s judicial branch is an assault on the rule of law, and undermines public respect for our institutions. As lawyer and blogger Rich Hasen wrote, Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, The Internet, Unethical Blog Post

Ethics Observations On A Journalism Scandal

washington-post-logo

Shame.

Executive Summary: Washington Post reporters Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin wrote a story for the website’s Wonkblog headlined, “The biggest lease holder in Canada’s oil sands isn’t Exxon Mobil or Chevron. It’s the Koch brothers.” The story was essentially false. It was based on easily disproved data from a progressive activist organization. Eilperin has close ties to both the environmental advocates opposing the Keystone pipeline, and desperately trying to turn public opinion against it. She also has tied to the White House. John Hinderaker, on Powerline, his respected conservative politics blog, exposed the Post story as a blatant misinformation with a likely political motive. The reporters responded with a jaw-dropping rationalization, and are currently being excoriated by the Post’s readers online.

The Facts: The Post article by Mufson and Eilperin begins: Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Heroes, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Professions, Unethical Blog Post, Workplace

What Do You Do With The Drunken Judge? Media Distortion And Judge Gisele Pollack

Broward County (Florida) Judge Gisele Pollack, a recovering alcoholic, showed all the signs of suffering a relapse during her session on the bench two weeks ago, when she abruptly ended the day’s proceedings after an hour and a half that featured the judge slurring her words and acting erratically. She presides over misdemeanor drug court, a program she established shortly after being elected as a county judge.  Her program offenders to have their charges dismissed and their drug records erased after six months of treatment.

After staying away from work for a day, Judge Pollack returned to the bench in the late afternoon, and presided over a courtroom packed with about a hundred drug offenders, along with  their friends and their families. The event marked the completion of rehab for dozens of offenders and the dismissal of their misdemeanor marijuana charges.“You’ve got to remain vigilant,” she told the graduates, emphasizing that they had to work hard to avoid relapses that would  place them back in front of her, and perhaps in jail.

After court, she acknowledged her own health crisis and announced that she was going into an outpatient rehab program. An attorney retained by the judge in the wake of her conduct attributed her relapse to personal issues, telling reporters that she has  “had some severe personal tragedy in her life. Her mother recently passed away, and they were very close. It’s been really devastating for her.” Apparently her son is also suffering from a serious illness. Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, a longtime friend, told reporters, 

“If this causes the people to not have faith and not have trust in what goes on in that drug courtroom, then she will have to step aside,’ he said. ‘My hope is is people will wrap their ever-loving arms around Judge Pollack just as she has wrapped her arms around thousands of people.”

What’s going on here? I think it’s pretty obvious: a recovering alcoholic in a critical position of public trust suffered a relapse, as alcoholics are wont to do. If one is an alcoholic, this is a symptom of a very persistent, pernicious and incurable disease that kills many Americans every year, does horrific damage to families, businesses, governments and the economy, and that is incurable. Being an alcoholic is not an ethical violation for a judge or a lawyer, nor is having a relapse. Allowing that relapse to affect the competent performance of one’s duties, however, is an ethical violation that calls into question a legal professional’s ability to do her job. It could trigger professional sanctions; it certainly should trigger an official inquiry. A Florida judge appearing drunk on the bench, just once, is still a massive ethical breach. It arguably violates the first five Canons of Judicial Ethics a Florida judge is bound to follow… Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, The Internet, Unethical Blog Post, Workplace

No, Mary, A Cure For Down Syndrome Isn’t Wrong, But Infecting Readers With Your Warped Ethical Reasoning Is

Let me know when Mary's gone and it safe to take my boot off.

Let me know when Mary’s gone and it’s safe to take the boot off.

The internet can carry the contagion of horrible reasoning with astounding speed, especially since so many of us have been slow to accept that being published no longer creates any likelihood that a writer has a coherent thought worth reading. Even knowing this, I was still taken aback by the startling ethics illiteracy on display in blogger Mary Fischer’s post  titled “Possible ‘Cure’ for Down Syndrome Seems So Wrong.” This is the kind of undisciplined, emotion-driven, bias and rationalization besotted thinking about life issues that Ethics Alarms was launched to combat, and yet reading Fischer’s sloppy substitute for thought, I still found myself wondering: How does someone get this way? How do they function in life if their method of determining right from wrong reaches conclusions like this? How many people read posts so devoid of anything resembling legitimate ethical analysis and  allow it to become part of their belief system?

I’m not even sure that I want to know the answers to these questions. Continue reading

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Filed under Bioethics, Family, Health and Medicine, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology, The Internet, Unethical Blog Post

Unethical Blog Post of the Month (Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck Division): “The Wire” Creator David Simon

Well, that's one more show I won't be watching on Netflix...

Well, that’s one more show I won’t be watching on Netflix…

On his blog, the creator of the critically-praised HBO drama “The Wire” hit all the marks of Trayvon Martin derangement—misstatement of facts, ignorance of the law, presumption of guilt without proof, unreasoning fury, and appeal to violence. David Simon wrote, Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, The Internet, U.S. Society, Unethical Blog Post

Unethical Quote of the Week: Economist Paul Krugman

“…The prostitute thing is embarrassing and painful to think about, but not a disqualification for public office. David Vitter is still in the Senate, and in internal LA Republican politics is apparently squashing the very pious Bobby Jindal like a bug…I know that opinions differ about just how effective Spitzer’s confrontations were. But at least he tried — which is more than you can say about almost anyone else in our political life. Basically, the malefactors of great leverage were bailed out and went right back to being bad guys again, and everyone in public life pretended that nothing had happened. That, I think, is why there’s a surprising reservoir of support for Spitzer; people remember him as someone who showed at least some of the righteous outrage that has been so wrongly absent from our national discourse. It’s a useful reminder, and it’s why I regard his entry into the race, win or lose, as a good thing.”

-— Inexplicably revered progressive economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, discussing the re-entry of Eliot Spitzer into New York state politics on his blog. Spitzer, despite having to resign from office as governor because he was caught partaking in the services of a prostitution ring—the same kind of enterprise he aggressively prosecuted as state attorney general, is now running for comptroller.

Explain, please: How can anyone rely on the judgment of someone whose ethical reasoning is this miserable?

Explain, please: How can anyone rely on the judgment of someone whose ethical reasoning is this miserable?

I do not understand how anyone can read or take seriously Krugman’s opinions on budget management and national affairs—he thinks that the national debt is no big deal at the moment, a position that is essential to Obama-enabling—when the favorite economist of progressives and Democrats can write something as indicting as the quote above. The post is appallingly irrational, irresponsible and unethical: it suggests that the author’s judgment is miserable, that his ethics are negligible, that his biases rule his intellect….and that, apparently with justification, he is confident that the Park Avenue liberals who quote him at dinner parties won’t lose an ounce of respect for or abandon an inch of reliance regarding a champion who believes such rot. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Quotes, Finance, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Unethical Blog Post

Post Script: Rant Sports And Its “Top 25 Athletes Turned Actors of All Time” vs. The Ethics Alarms List

Suprise!

Surprise!

This topic isn’t really worth two posts, I know, but after some commenters mentioned other obvious examples of distinguished athletes turned actors the Rant Sports  incompetent post ignored, I did some additional research myself.

The first thing I discovered was that Renae Juska’s list was about 90% lifted from other similar web lists that had appeared on various sites over the past three years. These lists were almost as incompetent as hers, though one of them included Johnny Weismuller, and another included Esther Williams. For the most part, however, all included the same basic group of athlete-actors, clearly serving as the basis for the next blogger looking for a cheap post.

This is how bad or misleading information gets stuck in the public mind and discourse, and the process occurs regarding topics and issues that matter, not just gratuitous lists.. This is why politicians still talk about women only earning 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man, and how 50% of marriages end in divorce. This how rumors and mistaken beliefs take hold and spread, changing the results of elections and the course of history…lazy writers cribbing dubious facts, unsubstantiated stats and lazy compilations of data from other lazy writers. The phenomenon feeds itself. Take the current case: someone asking themselves the question, “Gee, I wonder who the most prominent actors who were also accomplished athletes are?” will google the question and check four or five sites, read virtually the same names on all of them, and think the topic has been accurately researched. That will be an illusion, and soon there will be another post, confirming the earlier ones, and further validating informational garbage.

I also checked the biographies of actors whom I knew had athletic backgrounds, and the performing credits of prominent athletes whom I knew worked in TV, stage and films. I also considered some of the candidates, omitted by Juska, that various commenters had suggested. The result is this list of 30 athlete/actors who were ignored by Juska and Rant Sports, every one of whom is beyond question more deserving of a place on an “all-time” list of “Top 25 Athletes Turned Actors” than many of the choices on the Rant Sports list, and quite a few of which—Robson, Williams, Henie, Rigby, Weismuller, Crabbe, Norris, Beradino, and others—should rank near the top. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Professions, Sports, The Internet, U.S. Society, Unethical Blog Post, Unethical Websites

Unethical Website and Post Of The Month: Rant Sports And Its “Top 25 Athletes Turned Actors of All Time.”

Maybe #1---but that would take some research.

Maybe #1—but that would take some research.

It is true that you cannot trust everything, indeed most things, that you read on the web, and thus should approach all supposedly factual statements with skepticism and ready access to Google. That does not excuse websites that recklessly and irresponsibly spread misinformation however, or that through their own laziness and ignorance spread ignorance among others.

A slick sports website called Rant Sports provided a particularly galling example this week, when it presumed to post a list it called “Top 25 Athletes Turned Actors of All Time.” All the sports sites draw traffic with this kind of trivia-mongering, but even trivia-mongering demands a modicum of research, care, and fact. This may be an opinion piece, but it isn’t the opinions that are problematical. Renae Juska, the fraud who created the list, obviously engaged in no research at all, so her”Top 25″ really was “First 25 I was able to jot down on a piece of paper.” As I will now demonstrate, Juska, on a site dedicated to sports, made an assertion that is demonstrably and objectively false, and under color of authority, misleading readers but just as wrongly, unfairly neglecting many athletes who would have to be ranked on any such list that was given the amount of research expected of a seventh-grader’s term paper.

Here are some examples of how misleading and poorly researched the list is:

  • To begin with, all but one of the “top athletes” are male. Wrong. One of the greatest athletes-turned actresses died just last month, the great Esther Williams, a record-setting competitive swimmer who was unable to compete in the Olympics because of World War II. She was an athlete IN her movies, the most famous of which were aquacade spectaculars featuring Williams swimming, diving, doing what was later called synchronized swimming (she is credited with helping to create the sport), all while smiling and looking drop-dead gorgeous in a one-piece bathing suit. Does Williams qualify as a “Top Actor” over Number 16 on Juska’s idiotic list, the immortal Stacy Keibler, the only woman he deems worthy? Here are her credentials, as Juska cites them: “She began acting in 1998 and was a professional wrestler from 1999-2006. Her most well-known appearances have been in WWE Judgement Day, Summerslam and WrestleMania XX. She has also had guest appearances on How I Met Your Mother, Mayne Street and Samurai Girl.”  Esther’s credits are here, and you can see her in action here:

To say there is no contest is not an opinion, it is fact. Of course, Juska probably never heard of Esther Williams, which means that she has no business making this list at all.

Believe it or not, it gets worse… Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Research and Scholarship, Sports, The Internet, Unethical Blog Post, Unethical Websites

“Hello, Hello, Hello…Hello!” An Ethics Dunce Trio: Newspaper, Sportswriter, President

the-three-stooges

I have a lot of catching up to do with ethics issue backed up as far as the eye can see, so I will try to deal efficiently with the three Ethics Dunces that confronted me this morning:

Ethics Dunce #1 : The Washington Post Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Sports, Unethical Blog Post, Workplace

Lisa Long’s Unethical, Despicable Bargain: Betrayal For A Blog Post

No silver for this mother's betrayal...just blogging fame..

No silver for this mother’s betrayal…just blogging fame..

I hope free-lance writer Lisa Long enjoys her brief notoriety as a result of her blog post on The Blue Review that was  re-published on the Huffington Post and  Gawker, guaranteeing millions of readers. That should be worth at least a few more published articles for her, and maybe even a cable interview or two. After all, it would be a pity  to deliberately and callously burden the life of her emotionally disturbed son and get nothing out of it at all.

One thing she is already getting as the result of her sensationally-titled essay “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” is harsh criticism for making such a cynical and self-serving bargain. In her post, Long relates the harrowing tale of her life with her 13-year-old son, whose erratic behavior and emotional outbursts terrify and dismay her. In the most quoted portion of the post, she proclaims his equivalence to well-known serial killers:

“I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am James Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.”

Gee, thanks Mom! Continue reading

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Filed under Family, Journalism & Media, Literature, Professions, The Internet, Unethical Blog Post