Tag Archives: justice

Comment of The Day (Public Service Message Division): “Wanetta Gibson Is Even Worse Than We Thought”

Wait a second...I'm getting my rifle...

Wait a second…I’m getting my rifle…

We haven’t had one of these in a while, and I’m feeling like having a good fish-shoot in the ol’ barrel, so here we go….

Apparently there has been another development in the Wanetta Gibson saga—I know this because the last post about this horrible woman is suddenly getting traffic again—and this has moved one Terrance Skerrette—I sure hope there’s just one— to enter one of those periodic comments I receive here that serves as a public service announcement for the ethically-challenged. You know the kind—Saturday Night Live parodies of such spots used to be a staple:

“Hello. I’m Jack Marshall, and this is Terrance. Terrance was raised in an environment that left him with an inability to understand ethics. That’s right–he will go through life justifying horrendous conduct by using rationalizations, hideous logic, and warped values. Will you help Terrance? No, he can’t be helped by treatment, but perhaps, if you give generously, we can provide him with a comfortable shack in the forest and plenty of food, so he can live comfortably without infecting anyone else with his hopeless ethical ignorance and dangerous excuses for terrible conduct. Please send your generous contributions to “Help Terrance,” care of Ethics Alarms. Thank you. Terrance would thank you too, but he probably thinks you are evil.”

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Family, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Romance and Relationships, U.S. Society

Ethics Hero Emeritus: Senator Howard Baker (1925-2014)

Howard_Baker

Howard H. Baker Jr., a three-term Tennessee Senator whose trademarks were integrity, honesty, and a refusal to allow partisanship get in the way of what he believed was the right thing to do, died today.  The Republican leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky,  called him “one of the Senate’s most towering figures.” How ironic, or perhaps just insincere. If McConnell understood and admired the qualities that made Baker “towering” he couldn’t possibly be the divisive, petty, ultra-partisan hack that he is. Then again, comparing Baker’s career and character to the scrimy, petty, self-centered and ethics-challenged dwarves that make up all of McConnell’s colleagues  in both Houses and on both sides of the aisle reveals such an obvious disparity that even the sorry likes of McConnell couldn’t deny it.

Howard Baker stands especially tall in my memory as I watch the disgraceful conduct of House Democrats, doing all they could to derail the I.R.S scandal hearings and to prevent the uncovering of facts surrounding the executive branch’s abuse of power, because they have chosen political loyalty and expediency over transparency, fairness, duty to country, and trust. Contrast this horror show with the principled stance of Baker during Watergate, seeking uncomfortable truths rather than throwing obstacles in the way of efforts to uncover them, treating abuse of power and attempted cover-ups from his own party’s President as he would the same from a Democrat, asking the famous question, “What did the President know, and when did he know it?” Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, History, Leadership, U.S. Society

Laser Pointer Abuse: Why Ethics Gets Complicated

laser pointerThis month, the FBI announced that it was expanding a program rewarding anyone who reports an incident of an individual aiming a laser pointer at an airplane with $10,000. ( This use of the cheap lasers is a federal crime.) The bounty was previously offered in a handful of cities, but because it seems to have reduced the number of laser strikes on planes, it is being expanded nationwide.

Wait…is this really a problem? It’s several problems, in fact. The main problem is that laser pointers can, if the wielder of one gets “lucky,’ bring down an airplane. The related problem is that this country is littered with so many unbelievable assholes that we even have to discuss this….and imagine what other stupid, dangerous, irresponsible things they do when they aren’t trying blind pilots thousands of feet in the air.

Incidents where laser pointers interfered with the operation of commercial airliners have increased a ridiculous 1000% rate since 2005, when federal agencies started compiling statistics. Last year, there were 3,960 laser strikes against aircraft reported, an average of almost 11 incidents per day.

Some ethics-related thoughts:

1. There is no way around it: sociopaths, who are essentially ethics-free, are a constant threat and blight on society. Aside from the children involved, whose conduct can be chalked up to immaturity and flawed reasoning, the people who would aim a laser pointer at an airplane just for the hell of it are kin to those who set fires, vandalize buildings, create computer viruses and generally make life ugly and dangerous for the rest of us because they can. You can’t educate them or give them a sense of right and wrong. All you can do is make laws with harsh punishment for the stupid, destructive conduct these individuals engage in to give themselves a sense of power and importance. Ethics is irrelevant; their ethics alarms can’t be repaired, because they don’t exist. The laser-abusers  illustrate the maxim often quoted here that “When ethics fails, the law steps in.”

2. Anyone who uses a laser pointer this way and who is aware of the potential results is capable of much worse. This is signature significance, don’t you think? It is tempting to use such a crime as a justification for pre-crime: anyone who would do this is too stupid or too inherently anti-social to be trusted in a free society. Pre-crime, however, is a concept too prone to abuse, a slippery slope that the Constitution wisely precludes. I would, however, see no reason not to require a conviction of this crime to be disclosed to every potential employer, for all time. Nobody should trust someone who even once would risk causing an airplane to fall out of the sky because it would be cool, and I don’t care if the reason for the act was the lack of brain cells, IQ points, the sense God gave a mollusk or a missing conscience. I don’t want you in my neighborhood, near my family, or in my workplace. I don’t trust you. and I never will. Does this place a burden on you, if others feel as I do? Good, and too bad for you. Don’t try to shoot 757s out of the sky for laughs, and you won’t have the problem. Continue reading

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

KABOOM! A Judge Bends Over Backward To Make Sure A Crooked Cop Keeps His Pension

head_explodes

I don’t see how a justice system that allows this nonsense can maintain any credibility whatsoever. Thus my brains and skull fragments are scattered all over my office. Read on at the peril of a blown cranium.

James Romano is the police chief of Scott Township and a part-time police officer in Dickson City in  Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania. Last year, he was investigating sexual misconduct charges against a local high school teacher that he had filed himself. Romano began a romantic relationship with a woman whom he was interviewing as part of that investigation. In the process, he revealed confidential investigative information about the case ( he told her she was “his favorite victim”), and when he learned that she was going to be interviewed by authorities, Romano texted her a message saying “just remember nothing about me,” and later told her not to tell the truth to investigators. Roman was charged with two counts of intimidation of a witness or victim, and one count of obstructing administration of law or other governmental function.

Are you ready? Romano pleaded guilty and agreed to resign his post, but his lawyer persuaded Lackawanna County President Judge Thomas Munley to defer Romano’s sentencing until the state confirms that the former chief will receive his pension, a determination that may not be made until Mr. Romano turns 50, seven years from now.

KABOOM!

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Filed under Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Workplace

Ethics Quiz: If There Is Going To Be A Racial Double Standard For Bigoted Statements, Can We Please At Least Know What It Is?

stop-sign2

Item: Donald Sterling, billionaire owner of the NBA Clippers, while speaking with his mistress/girl friend/ escort in the bedroom, announces that he doesn’t want her bringing black men to Clippers games. In the process, he does not say anything specifically derogatory about African- Americans. He believes the statement is private, and that he is talking to someone he could trust.He was wrong. A recording of the conversation was leaked to the press, and Sterling has been roundly vilified as a vile racist, threatened with a boycott by the players, mostly African-American, in the NBA, fined 2.5 million dollars and banned from the game.

Item: Via Mike Wise, Washington Post sports writer—

“Following Wednesday’s Pacers-Wizards game in Indianapolis, during the time when NBA rules permit media members to be present, the music blaring in the Indiana locker room was filled with vile language: racist, homophobic and misogynist. Afterward, I complained on Twitter that if Commissioner Adam Silver truly wants an inclusive league, he ought to address this (common) practice.”

Result: Wise, who is white, was attacked as a racist. What NBA players listen to in the locker room is none of his business, he is told (but what Donal Sterling says in his bed room is their business.) The NBA has done, and is expected to do, nothing.

Item: Appearing on ESPN where he is a commentator, Charles Barkley, former NBA star (and an African-American), decided to deride the women of San Antonio, Texas as fat. “There’s some big ‘ol women down there,” said Barkley. “That’s a gold mine for Weight Watchers.” He added, “Victoria is definitely a secret. They can’t wear no Victoria’s Secret down there.” A spokesperson for a fat acceptance group protested:

“Making slurs about body size is just as offensive as making comments about body color. One would think being a black man, he’d be more sensitive to having his physical body criticized. It’s totally out of line. He should absolutely apologize.”

Barkley not only refused to apologize, but defiantly challenged anyone objecting to his remarks, jokes or future comments to “change the channel.”  Nobody expects Barkley to suffer any consequences from this series of events.

Item: In 2007, talk show provocateur Don Imus got into a facetious discussion with a broadcast team member about how te women’s basket ball team from Rutgers was “rough looking” and had some “nappy-looking ho’s.” He also referenced Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” and the film’s “Jigaboos vs.  Wannabes.” Imus apologized profusely, pronouncing the exchange inappropriate, thoughtless and stupid. Under pressure from various civil rights groups,  WFAN, which produced his show, fired Imus, who has never regained his previous prominence.

Item: In 2013, media professional Justine Sacco tweeted a race-based joke before boarding a plane to Africa: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” A furious cyber mob condemned her as a racist, and demanded her punishment. When she landed in Africa, she learned that she had  been fired.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz for today is…

What the hell is going on here?

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Race, Religion and Philosophy, Sports, U.S. Society, Workplace

The “Bernie” Sentence’s Message: The Lives Of Mean People Aren’t Worth As Much As Those Of Nice People

Jack Black as Bernie, the nicest murderer you'd ever want to know.

Jack Black as Bernie, the nicest murderer you’d ever want to know.

“Bernie” is a quirky 2011 movie telling a strange and true story. Jack Black plays Bernie Tiede, an oddly cheery mortician who became a small town community favorite for his kind deeds and upbeat manner. Bernie even befriends the town pariah, a mean, rich old woman named Marjorie Nugent (played by Shirley Maclaine) whom he managed to reform–slightly–until she finally became even too much for him to bear, and in 1996 he shot her dead.

He was loved, she was hated, and the community (Carthage, Texas) rallied behind the murderer even though he hid his friend’s body in a freezer for nine months and spent about 2 million dollars of her money.  The pro-Bernie bias was so strong  prosecutors had to seek a change of venue, since no local jury would convict him. They got it, and a jury that knew neither charming Bernie nor his nasty victim found him guilty (because he was) and sent him to jail for life in 1997.

After the film was released, however, attorney Jodi Cole took up Tiede’s appeal. She discovered that he had a collection of books aimed at survivors of sexual abuse, and got Bernie to admit, for the first time, that he was abused as a child. Cole hired a psychiatrist who testified that Tiede’s abuse probably influenced the murder and his willingness to endure an abusive relationship with Nugent, until he finally snapped. This changed the mind of Panola County District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson, who told a judge Tuesday that he supported reducing the sentence to time served. State District Judge Diane DeVasto agreed. Bernie is now a free man, living in the apartment over the garage of the man who directed the film about him.
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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Law & Law Enforcement, Romance and Relationships

A Chaos Theory Law, An Anomalous Case, And Charles Grodin’s Lament

I swear, I'm not trying to belittle Charles Grodin by posting this photo of him back when he earned his living with his primary talent, which was comedy. I just want you to recall who the guy is, since he and the Nation obviously would like you to forget.

I swear, I’m not trying to belittle Charles Grodin by posting this photo of him back when he earned his living with his primary talent, which was comedy. I just want you to recall who the guy is, since he and the Nation obviously would like you to think he’s somebody else.

Charles Grodin doesn’t like the felony murder rule.

The felony murder rule, which essentially holds that anyone who is proven to have been involved with a felony during which someone was killed is guilty of First Degree Murder, is one of the harsher devices in American jurisprudence. I must confess, I sort of like it, and always have. Like all laws, however, it doesn’t work perfectly all the time.

The reason I like the rule is that it acknowledges the real danger of initiating felonies, crimes that are serious and destructive. If you burn a business down to collect the insurance, for example, you should be held responsible by the law if the fire gets out of control and someone is killed. The law combines criminal and civil offenses; the felony murder rule is like a negligent crime principle. It is a law that implicitly understands Chaos Theory at a basic level: actions often have unpredictable consequences, and even if the consequences are worse than you expected or could have expected, you still are accountable for putting dangerous and perhaps deadly forces in motion. If you commit a felony, you better make damn sure you know what you are doing, because if people get killed,  you will be held to a doubly harsh standard. Better yet, don’t commit the crime. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Law & Law Enforcement

My Hypocrisy Detector Just Blew Up!

sarcasm

In a favorite episode of “The Simpsons,” the Springfield equivilent of Mensa is having a contentious debate. Prof. Frink, the local mad scientis, complains that the tone has set the readings of his newly-invented “sarcasm detector” dangerously high. “Comic Book Guy,” another brainy member of the club, snarks, “A sarcasm detector? That’s a real useful invention!” Whereupon the sarcasm detector blows up.

Well, my hypocrisy detector just blew up. The readings started going off the charts when I came across this item:

NEW YORK (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday night that excessive partisanship flowing through the nation’s political system is causing the U.S. to march “backwards instead of forward”…Clinton cited the need to “get back to evidence-based decision-making.”

Oh, you mean like telling America that the allegations that your husband had lied under oath about his sexual affairs in a sexual harassment lawsuit and was using the power of his office to obstruct justice and cover it up was the creation of “a vast right wing conspiracy,” Hillary?  When you knew that the allegations were true? That kind of “evidence-based decision-making”?

I swear, if this awful, dishonest, cynical and untrustworthy woman runs for President, everything here will be exploding—my sarcasm detector, lie detector, hypocrisy detector, head…you name it.

This was just a warm-up, though. Then I read a Washington Post puff piece on Anita Hill, who is peddling a new documentary that casts her as a hero, which is ridiculous on its face. Anita Hill is the walking, talking embodiment of feminist hypocrisy, especially when paired with Hillary’s target, Paula Jones. I remember back when I worked for a large trial attorney lobby and Monicagate was in full force. The female president of the association was going on about her support of Clinton and how this was all, well, Hillary provided the talking point, and I had the cheek to remind her that during Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings she wore a button that said “I believe Anita Hill.”

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Filed under Character, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

Unethical Website of the Month: “I Love Dogs”

This isn't the puppy in the post, but I've been looking for an excuse use this photo...

This isn’t the puppy in the post, but I’ve been looking for an excuse use this photo…

I love dogs too, but encouraging people to beat alleged animal abusers to the verge of death just doesn’t seem right to me. I’m funny that way.

Indeed, I wonder about the values and mental stability of those who think this is a rational and ethical response to the perpetrator of any kind of crime, not just animal abuse.

“I Love Dogs” has sent into the web a virtual “Wanted Poster” with a photo of a real human being, ostensibly a canine abuser who “nearly beat this pup”—also pictured—“to death.” The poster suggests that readers should share the poster if they “believe that he deserves the same.”

Sure enough, many do. The post has gleaned many thousands of likes, about 5000 shares, and a wave of comments like those that follow here. I’ve included the names of the posters, who obviously didn’t think their comments were anything to be ashamed of. I wish I could include the thousands more like them, but there is too much anonymity in crowds. Posting the commenters’ names that appear below is a public service. I suggest avoiding them. Also proofreading their work, as they all appear to have dropped out of the third grade…

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Filed under Animals, Character, Law & Law Enforcement, The Internet, U.S. Society, Unethical Websites

Now THIS Is An Unethical Sentence!

This time, it's the Judge who has "affluenza"...

This time, it’s the Judge who has “affluenza”…

He’s not a juvenile. He’s a middle-aged man, and a DuPont heir, living off of his trust fund. He’s also a child rapist, and the child he raped was his daughter, who was three.

Nonetheless, Delaware Judge Jan Jurden sentenced Robert H. Richards IV to treatment rather than jail.

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Family, Law & Law Enforcement