I am fascinated by deceit, and not just because I live near Washington, D.C., where it is the official tongue. It is fascinating because deceit is often the most effective kind of lie, tricking a listener or a reader using their own assumptions, desires, misplaced trust or inattentiveness against them by stating a literal truth to imply an actual falsehood. Most of all, deceit is fascinating because so many people, including those who employ it habitually, think that it isn’t a lie at all.
This morning I found three wonderful examples of deceit, brought to our attention by three distinguished bloggers, so let’s play the challenging, exciting and never-ending game that’s sweeping the nation…
Spot That DECEIT!
Let’s warm up with something easy…
1. The NFL Deceit
Law prof-blogger Ann Althouse found it difficult to believe that the NFL hadn’t seen the videotape showing Baltimore Ravens stat Ray Rice knocking out his fiancee with a well-aimed punch before it gave him his first, absurdly light punishment, though the official spokesperson yesterday said…
“We requested from law enforcement any and all information about the incident, including the video from inside the elevator.That video was not made available to us and no one in our office has seen it until today.”
Spot That DECEIT!
“Civility is not weighed equally with free speech. It is not a prerequisite of free speech. It is a value, an idea, to be tested in the marketplace of ideas with other vales. Free speech is often uncivil. Lenny Bruce was uncivil. “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” was uncivil. “I have not yet begun to fight” was uncivil. “I called you naughty darling because I do not like that other world” was uncivil. “Now, if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children and with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments, I submit; so let it be done!” was uncivil. The equality of all humans regardless of station has always been a deeply uncivil idea, because “civil” usually means “that which makes me comfortable.” Comfortable people paint nice watercolors but otherwise don’t accomplish much.”
—Ken White, First Amendment lawyer, wit, philosopher and blogger par excellance, in a masterful dismembering of a sinister email about free speech sent to Berkeley students, faculty, and staff by U.C. Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks .
An equivocating, double-talking, free-speech degrading college administrator attempts to warp our nation’s values in the minds of the young, and Ken exposes the university’s censorious and timid soul for the dangerous fraud and the disgrace to intellectual freedom that it is.
As Carly Simon said once about James Bond, nobody does it better.
—Comedienne Joan Rivers, 81, in her reported final words before expiring yesterday.
Joan Rivers would rate Ethics Hero status if I did not have a philosophical objection to calling someone a hero because everyone else is a weenie. Yes, Rivers spouted off whatever outrageous, impolitic, offensive thing that materialized in her nimble brain regardless of who it might offend, as long as she felt someone, or a critical mass of someones, would find it funny. That is the proper mindset for any professional comic, but it has become both a rare and dangerous one, as we regularly see comedians grovelling in remorse as soon as sufficient numbers of well-placed critics designate a joke as “insensitive.”
Rivers, whom I can never recall making me laugh for a second, served an important cultural purpose while she was alive, as do Jackie Mason, Mel Brooks and Don Rickles, perhaps the last remaining in-your-face comedians from the days when funny was all that mattered, and careers weren’t ended by stepping just a little too far over the line, or even a lot too far. Her successors, like Sarah Silverman and Lewis Black, don’t count: they are vicious toward whatever group or groups their audience deems deserving of abuse, and only them. In the end, it is likely that the only clowns with the license that Rivers enjoyed will be animated cartoons, like Peter Griffin(“The Family Guy”) and Homer Simpson. Continue reading
Who knows what dark thoughts lurk a teacher’s imagination, unless he tells us? And should it matter if he does?
Patrick McLaw, an eighth grade language arts teachers at Mace’s Lane Middle School in Cambridge, Maryland, has been placed on indefinite administrative leave by the Dorchester County Board of Education and the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office. This measure was taken after it was discovered that McLaw had serveal aliases, two of which he has used to write novels. One of those novels was about the largest school shooting in the country’s history, set in the year 2902.
Because these books terrified parents, apparently, Dorchester County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Henry Wagner felt it necessary to announce that the Dorchester County Board of Education had moved swiftly, saying, “We have advised our community that the gentleman has been placed on administrative leave, and has been prohibited from entering any Dorchester County public school property.” That’s not all that happened. McLaw was taken into custody for an “emergency medical evaluation.” The same day,police swept Mace’s Lane Middle School for bombs and guns.
This sounds like a Kafka novel. Of course, if Kafka had been a middle school teacher in Cambridge Maryland, parents probably would be afraid that he was going to turn their kids into cockroaches.
How can this hysterical reaction to a teacher’s novel be justified, legally, logically or ethically?
Your Labor Day Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz involves yet another possible variation on “The Naked Teacher Principle”:
Is there an “Alarming Novelist-Teacher Principle” ?
But it’s complicated.
Cathy McCarthy (above) is a 2013 graduate of Loyola Law School-Los Angeles, and she is sounding the clarion call for the right of bikini model-lawyers to be taken seriously. She wrote…
I graduated law school a year ago after receiving an academic scholarship and passed the California Bar last November on my first try. I am also a model and have had moderate success, building fan base of over 26,000 people where I do mostly bikini promotions. Does this make me better or worse at my job? According to some people, it makes me unable to be taken “seriously” in the business community. In fact, two weeks ago, I was reprimanded by a coworker for my online presence and was told to “handle the situation.”I fought back and was ultimately let off the hook, but this is not the first time that I have faced backlash from colleagues who think that a lawyer should not also get the privilege of “looking hot in a bikini.”
Unlike the case with primary and secondary school teachers, where a published presence on the web that is sexually provocative can interfere with a healthy student-teacher relationship, there is no automatic impediment to a lawyer client relationship posed by the lawyer moonlighting as a bikini model, a fold-out, or even a porn star. The profession acknowledges this in several legal ethics opinions affirming lawyers’ First Amendment rights. Lawyers can express themselves any way they choose, provided that it does not undermine their ability to represent their clients in any way. Continue reading
“To even investigate something like that is itself a civil rights violation.”
—-Prof. Glenn Reynolds, the “Instapundit,“ commenting on the news that the Department of Justice is investigating as a possible civil rights violation the anti-Obama float that appeared in a Nebraska Independence Day parade.
He is correct. This is government intimidation and an attempt to chill political speech. The float was crude and its sentiment was misplaced, but sending government agents to investigate it is indistinguishable from sending the FBI to knock on your door after your letter to the editor critical of the President appears in the paper.
Where are the liberals who will have the integrity to call this what it is?
I can’t wait to find out.
The scourge of political correctness causes many kinds of damage, but the most ominous is that it intentionally greases a steep slippery slope. The effort to constrain private and public expression according to an endlessly versatile definition of “offensiveness” is a desirable weapon for political activists, grievance bullies, censorious and debate-challenged advocates, weenies, and busybodies. Once one specious argument for strangling another small sliver of free speech succeeds, usually after capitulation in the face of relentless vilification and hounding aided and abetted by the press, this ugly and anti-American faction of the progressive movement just moves on to another target. The process will never end, although it will get more oppressive, restrictive and absurd. That is, it will never end until a backlash and an outbreak of rationality stops it in its tracks.
The Patent Office’s politically motivated (and doomed) attack on the Washington Redskins was an example of political correctness at its worst, and sure enough, here comes another deluded censor with a related and even sillier grievance. Simon Waxman wrote a jaw-dropping op-ed for the Washington Post arguing that the military’s use of Native American names and works on its helicopters and weaponry is a “slur.” Why, you ask? Because the white man cheated and defeated the Indians using superior fire power, that’s why. Yeah, sure, we pretend to honor their bravery now, but that’s just to salve our guilty consciences. He blathers…
The message carried by the word Apache emblazoned on one of history’s great fighting machines is that the Americans overcame an opponent so powerful and true that we are proud to adopt its name. They tested our mettle, and we proved stronger, so don’t mess with us. In whatever measure it is tribute to the dead, it is in greater measure a boost to our national sense of superiority. And this message of superiority is shared not just with U.S. citizens but with those of the 14 nations whose governments buy the Apache helicopters we sell. It is shared, too, with those who hear the whir of an Apache overhead or find its guns trained on them. Noam Chomsky has clarified the moral stakes in provocative, instructive terms: “We might react differently if the Luftwaffe were to call its fighter planes ‘Jew’ and ‘Gypsy.’ ”