“OK, now this is entirely your free choice…”
This has turned into Revisiting Old Posts Day on Ethics Alarms.
Last July, I posted an Ethics Quiz regarding a Virginia judge’s sentence offering a profligate and irresponsible serial father to choice between an extra four years in jail and a vasectomy at his own expense. After asking readers whether they thought the sentence was ethical, especially in light of the state’s ugly history of forced sterilizations, I demurred, writing,
I am not ready to make a call on this one. Since neglected children often become the responsibility of taxpayers, the argument that the state has no legitimate interest in regulating profligate reproduction by irresponsible parents falls flat. Is taking away someone’s ability to have more children (after seven) really a greater intrusion on his freedom than locking him up? Yet this sentence seems to cross lines that government should cross with caution, if at all. I’m not sorry that Herald won’t be inflicting more of his line on us. I am uneasy, however, with the way this result came about.
I am now ready to make an ethics call in the quiz in light of this news report: Continue reading
Once again, the ethically disabled in conservative punditry are forcing me to come to the defense of one of the most loathsome politicians extant. Senator Harry Reid’s announcement that he is leaving the Senate after his current term expires in 2016 has inspired a spate of baseless speculation that the serious facial injuries he sustained on New Years Day were not the result of an exercise equipment mishap, and may have been the souvenirs or a beating by Vegas mob goons to teach “Dirty Harry” to deliver the goods when the Godfather ask a favor.
As Basil Fawlty would say, “Oh, thank you! Thank you so VERY MUCH!” I love wasting a good hour of sock drawer organization explaining why its wrong to mistreat the likes of Harry Reid. Continue reading
Thanks to three related factors…
1. The uncritical acceptance of Dorian Johnson’s false characterization of Mike Brown’s shooting by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, leading to a society-wide condemnation not only of Wilson but police departments across the country and white Americans as racially hostile to young black men, and
2. The fact that police officers have been shooting and killing an awful lot of unarmed black men, young or not, and
3. Inflammatory and irresponsible rhetoric from national and local leaders and elected officials
….we are in a dangerously unstable environment of virulent racial distrust, where the police are regarded as immediately suspect and placed in a defensive posture with a presumption of racism and excessive violence virtually any time an African American is the object of police action, regardless of the circumstances or justification. This is being exploited by those arrested, their families, civil rights activists, elected officials, protest organizers and the news media.
Here are two ugly sagas that illustrate the problem: Continue reading
Bought, believed, or both?
One of my favorite topics here, the public’s (and news media’s) misunderstanding of legal ethics and the function of lawyers, recently broke into the news with a crash as progressives saw Barack Obama’s constitutional law professor at Harvard and liberal icon Lawrence Tribe go before Congress and testified against the President’s climate change initiative, the Clean Power Plan, saying that it was the equivalent of “burning the Constitution.” This has been called every name in the book by progressives, from betrayal to greed to dishonesty.
“Laurence Tribe must not have been sworn in over a Bible today before testifying before Congress, because if he had been, that Bible would have burst into flames after his phony testimony about EPA’s legal authority to set standards for unlimited carbon pollution from power plants,” said David DiMartino, adviser to the Climate Action Campaign.“But I guess we shouldn’t be surprised— a wad of coal industry money burning a hole in your pocket can make you do strange things,” he added.
Indeed, Tribe was hired to represent its interests by Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private-sector coal company, and is the company’s counsel in a lawsuit that seeks to invalidate the EPA plan. That is what lawyers do, and what they exist to do: represent citizens and companies as they seek to avail themselves of their guaranteed right to use the law to protect their interests. Continue reading
It is true that watching, rooting for, betting on and generally contributing to the perpetuation of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, March Madness, and thus big time college basketball generally, is not as unethical as supporting pro football…after all, as Rationalization #22 reminds us, at least we aren’t killing anyone. Still, the whole system is rotten to the core: it warps higher education priorities, it instills toxic values in students, it has nothing to do with student athletics, and it rewards deceit, bribery, and cheating. FACT: Colleges would be better and the culture would be healthier without it.
Unfortunately, that would require people like the President of the United States to show some restraint for the good of society and the education of our children, and say, “Nope. College is for education, and spending millions to create teams of mercenaries who are only interested in making the NBA is a disgraceful misapplication of resources as well as inherently corrupting.”
You doubt that description? Look at the University of Massachusetts, which announced that it will retire a jersey in honor of John Calipari to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the university’s 1996 appearance in the men’s basketball Final Four, when he was the coach. Calipari, the university noted in the announcement, “catapulted” the university to “national prominence.” Well, that’s one description. Because the N.C.A.A. eventually found out that Calipari’s star player, Marcus Camby, had accepted riches and, ah, “services” (prostitution services, for example), from sports agents, the university had to pay $151,000 in fines—how many indigent students’ tuition might that have paid for? At least one—and the Final Four appearance that Calipari is being honored for was wiped from the record books. Continue reading
Hillary Clinton wiped her server clean of emails after a congressional committee had been established to investigate matters that she knew her e-mails related to and would be requested to investigate. She also made this decision after the Department of State belatedly asked her to return her e-mails for the public record as the law requires.
Destruction of documents after they have been requested by an official body authorized to do so is called spoliation. That’s intentional destruction of evidence to hide the truth: it can be illegal, and is always unethical. Moreover, spoliation supports the rebuttable presumption that the individual in charge is attempting to cover up wrongdoing. For an ex-government official to do this is damning; for a potential presidential candidate to do it is disqualifying…or should be, if the partisans of the party she belongs to have a shred of integrity, decency, civic responsibility or common sense.
Based on the comments on the Slate report on Clinton’s spoiliation, they may not have. Continue reading