Tag Archives: justice

Bill Clinton’s Predator Past Rises Again To Haunt Hillary: Fair?

hand rising

It is more than fair, actually. This is what George Will calls “condign justice.” It is so appropriate, ironic and long deserved  that all fair-minded Americans should run into the street shouting “Calloo! Callay!”

Well, metaphorically at least.

The fact that Bill Clinton smugly ducked impeachment while damaging the law, the culture, his office and his party in the process (just ask President Gore) and was allowed to slip easily into the role of beloved elder statesman and obscenely compensated celebrity speaker was enough to make one question the existence of cosmic justice. The fact that his wife was allowed to undermine the cases of his various victims and then achieve high elected office wearing the mantle of feminist champion was, if possible, worse, a catalyst for cynicism and despair.

I know of what I speak.

But as American jurist John Bannister Gibson (1780-1853) observed, “Millstones of Justice turn exceedingly slow, but grind exceedingly fine.” Both Bill and Hillary got careless and smug as time went on, as the culture evolved around them, not entirely in healthy ways, but definitely dangerous ways for them. Thanks to the Obama Administration’s weaponizing of sexual discrimination, bias and assault for partisan combat, feminists adopted an extreme and dangerous approach to sexual assault, taking the position that all women who accuse a man of rape or assault must begin with the presumption of credibility, in direct contradiction of long-held, core principles of American justice, which hold that the presumption of innocence rests with the accused, and an alleged victim must still prove her case. The Democratic Party, which back in Bill’s day shrugged off Clinton’s conduct with rationalizations like “Everybody does it” and fictions like “Illicit sexual activity by the President in his office with an employee that he subsequently lies about under oath and uses his power as President to evade responsibility for is personal conduct” (Bernie Sanders, who is old and didn’t get the memo, just repeated this canard: Try to keep up, Bernie!), embraced the feminist position with foolish and undemocratic gusto, and suddenly Hillary Clinton was saying, as if the history of her husband didn’t exist, that all victims of sexual abuse had the right to be believed. She said this, and then sent Bill out on the road to support her. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership

The Unethical Web-Shaming Destruction Of Holly Jones

kilroysFB.0

“I will never go back to this location for New Year’s Eve!!!” young Holly Jones ranted on an Indianapolis bar and restaurant’s Facebook page. “After the way we were treated when we spent $700+ and having our meal ruined by watching a dead person being wheeled out from an overdose my night has been ruined!” The angry post accused the evening’s restaurant manager of rudeness, the party’s waitress of profanity and the establishment itself of inattention.

After a sharp on-line rebuttal by the restaurant, the Web Furies were unleashed. Jones’ post became the latest web-shaming catalyst and an invitation to join a cyber-mob where fun could be had by all turning an ordinary jerk into a national villain. Lots of people signed up. The mob tracked down Jones and bombarded her own Facebook page with hate—she took the page down—then moved on to the salon where she worked as a hairdresser, threatening a boycott unless it fired Jones.

So it did.

These exercises in vicious web shaming can be ranked along an ethics spectrum. At the most unethical end is the destruction of Justine Sacco, who had her legitimate marketing career destroyed by social media’s  hysterical over-reaction to a self-deprecating, politically incorrect tweet. Now she works promoting a fantasy sports gambling website, a sleazy enterprise that entices chumps into losing serious cash with a business model derived from internet poker—she not only had her life derailed, she was corrupted too.

At the other end is Adam Smith, the one-time executive who wrecked his own career, with the help of another cyber-mob, by proudly posting a video of himself abusing an innocent Chic-fil-A  employee because Smith didn’t like her boss’s objections to gay marriage.  Somewhere between the two is Lindsay Stone, who lost her job by posting a photo showing her pretending–she later said— to scream at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier while flipping the bird at the “Silence and Respect” sign.

The distance between Smith and Jones is the difference between words and conduct. Smith’s video showed him abusing a young woman, and his posting of the video indicated that he saw nothing wrong with it. Jones, in contrast, did nothing, other than prove herself to be, at least at the moment she posted her rant, an utter jerk. Everyone along the spectrum, however, including Jones, were excessively and unjustly harmed by the web-shaming  campaign against them. Last I checked, Smith was unemployed and destitute three years after his episode of atrocious judgment.

In the current case, the cyber-mob forcing Holly’s employer to fire her is ethically worse, by far, than anything she can reasonably be accused of doing by posting her criticism of the restaurant. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Facebook, Social Media, U.S. Society, Workplace

Mistrial In The First Freddie Gray Trial: There’s No Way Out Of This Ethics Train Wreck

Judge Declares Mistrial In First Freddie Gray Trial

In Baltimore this week, a judge declared a mistrial in the case of Baltimore Police Officer William G. Porter after jurors said they were deadlocked regarding all of the charges against him in the death of Freddie Gray. Porter, 26 and an African American, is the first of six police officers to be tried in Gray’s death. He has been charged with with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. Street protests began almost immediately.

Let’s review this disaster so far, shall we? Continue reading

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

Desperately Seeking A Justification For The Unjustifiable Mizzou Meltdown, And Failing

protest-mizzou

Yesterday, the Washington Post’s Janelle Moss, an African American issues columnist, presented an aggressive, dishonest and insulting justification for the destructive black student protests at the University of Missouri. In an earlier essay, I described them as an “I’m mad at the world and somebody has to pay for it” tantrum. I’m sticking by that description, despite the ennobling spin being put on it by apologists, many of whom are trying to blunt the damage being done to civil rights advocacy by the events of the last several days.

[N]owhere in this still-young week has there been a better example of the tension between the conservative and liberal views of race and the politics around it than behind the podium where University of Missouri President Timothy M. Wolfe stood and resigned Monday,” she wrote.  This is setting up Wolfe’s speech as a straw man. He was forced to resign, and ordered to do it without making matters worse. He was also protecting himself, and, I believe, was a weak and inept leader. How nice to be able to take a hastily written statement by such a dubious representative of any group and declare it the exemplar of “conservative views on race.”

Moss’s introduction was smoking gun proof that this was an example of an advocate picking out evidence to support what she already was committed to supporting, and atrocious evidence at that.

“The Fix is aware that some Americans are inclined to reject, outright, the idea that some words — those that we choose to express our ideas, what we say at critical moments and that which we do not mention — have deeper, often multi-layered meaning, ” she writes.  I don’t know what she thinks she is saying. “Many Americans” reject the idea that words have meaning? “Multi-layered” meanings? Who? Who believes that? What she is trying to do is to justify her next “proof,” which is junk science.

She consulted two minority social scientists, who have clear biases of their own (but coincidentally aligned with hers)  to psychoanalyze what Wolfe said in resigning, and allowing her to use their self-serving diagnosis (one has a book out about “dog-whistle” racism; the other makes his living writing and teaching about how racist the U.S. is) of a short and quickly composed speech to read not just Wolfe’s thoughts but to attribute them to all “conservatives.” The result is, or should be embarrassing. Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Professions, Race, Research and Scholarship, U.S. Society

Ten Ethics Observations On The Resignation Of University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe

dominoes2

…for nothing, as far as I can see, except being in the wrong job when an “I’m mad at the world and somebody has to pay for it” tantrum by some of the black students got out of control.

Observations:

1. I have searched and searched for a substantive reason for the upheaval. There is apparently nothing there. The university, the education of students and two men’s career’s (the University’s Chancellor has also been forced to resign) have all been disrupted, and for no good reason, except that some students decided it was a good time to grandstand. This makes the entire episode unjust by definition.

How ironic it is supposed to be about “justice.”

2. The main driver of events was graduate student Jonathan Butler, who started a hunger strike to force Wolfe to resign”for justice.” Given a chance to explain his position by the Washington Post, he had nothing definitive or constructive to offer, just vague dissatisfaction:

“I’m saying, even if you can’t really understand systemic oppression and systemic racism, is the fact we can’t be at a university where we have values like “Respect, Responsibility, Discovery and Excellence” and we don’t have any of those things being enacted on campus, especially in terms of respect. I’m on a campus where people feel free to call people the n-word, where people feel free as recently as last week, to used [their] own feces to smear a swastika in a residential hall. Everything that glitters is not gold. We really need to dig deep and be real with ourselves about the world we live in and understand that we’re not perfect but understand that just because we’re not perfect doesn’t mean we don’t start to understand and address the issues around us.”

Right. Some kids in a car that may not have been students and another individual on campus who has not been identified used  racial epithets. Some mentally deficient person, also unidentified, drew a swastika on campus using human excrement. (This type of incident tends to be a hoax  as often as not.) What exactly is the president of a university supposed to do about such things ? Wolfe mandated “sensitivity courses” for everyone on campus, which is already too much. I would refuse to attend. I would not respect anyone who did attend.

Heck, I might start a hunger strike.

It works. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Leadership, Race

“Justice for the Nicholas Brothers”…Again

Sometimes it all seems worth it.

Yesterday, late at night, I received an e-mail from a music teacher at a Catholic elementary school in Connecticut. He had introduced his young students to great musicians of the past, such as Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, and arouse their admiration and excitement when he showed them videos of The Nicholas Brothers. Recently he came upon my post on Fayard and Harold from 2012, and felt compelled to write me agreeing with my lament that such miraculous performers could be so forgotten today because of their marginalization by the film industry and society. He wrote…

“We have most definitely talked of racism but I now want to read the class your article and get the feedback. Your article is succinct and eloquent.  Your article assessment is sadly true. My goal is not necessarily to revive the Nicholas Brothers:  it is to kindle in each of the kids in the class the spirit of excellence that each of us has and to let nothing stop us from reaching the top.”
To be honest, I had forgotten about my post about remembering the Nicholas Brothers. I checked: the post has only been read by about a thousand visitors since I wrote it; if my objective is to keep the legacy of these amazing dancers alive, it’s probably time for a re-post.

At the Sun Valley Lodge, there is a television station devoted to playing the 1941 film “Sun Valley Serenade” on a loop. It is a genuinely awful movie, starring John Payne of “Miracle on 34th Street” fame, Norwegian ice skater Sonia Henie, and Milton Berle, although it does show the famous ski resort in the days when guests used to be towed around the slopes on their skis by horses. Last time I was in Sun Valley to give a presentation, I watched about half the film in disconnected bites, since I never can sleep on such trips. This time I finally saw the whole thing. At about 3 AM, as Glenn Miller was leading his band in the longest version of “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” in history, Fayard and Harold Nicholas suddenly flipped onto the screen, and “Sun Valley Serenade” briefly went from fatuous to immortal.

If your reflex response to that last sentence was “WHO??,” you are part of the reason for this post, and also in the vast and deprived majority of Americans. As I circulated among my future audience of lawyers and their spouses yesterday morning, happily informing them that the terrible movie playing around the clock in their rooms included the dance team called “the unforgettable Nicholas Brothers” in more than one tribute, I learned that none of them had any idea what I was talking about, and many of these individuals were old enough to have been able to see Fayard and Harold in a theater. The Nicholas Brothers were, you see, the greatest tap-dancers who ever lived, and the most amazing dance team that ever will be. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Education, Race, U.S. Society

The Gangolf Jobb Affair: When The Only Tool You Have Is A Hammer…You Can End Up Looking Pretty Silly

"HA! Just what I need to stop illegal immigration!"

“HA! Just what I need to stop illegal immigration!”

Meet Gangolf Jobb, a German scientist, and the inventor of Treefinder.  Treefinder is often used in  scientific papers to build “phylogenetic trees,” which are  diagrams that showing the most likely evolutionary relationship of various species, from sequence data. He is angry at nations that, in his view, are endangering capitalism and the world by allowing too many migrants and immigrants to cross their boarders. So to punish such countries, including the U.S., he is  revoking the license to Treefinder of scientists in Germany, Austria, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Denmark, and the United States.

There are many things wrong with this solution. Most of all, it is unjust. I think I might be able to come up with something less related to immigration and refugee policy than phylogenetic trees, but it would be a challenge. What is the point, not to mention the logic—and this guy is a scientist!—of punishing an elite group of scientists for what their native politicians are doing? The victims of Jobb’s indignation have no special power in this matter, don’t involve themselves in it, and don’t advance it by misuse of his software. This is warped accountability and responsibility; it is like kicking your dog because you are mad at the neighbors. Continue reading

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