Tag Archives: lies

The Professor and the Insensitive Law School Exam Question

"Go ahead, tell Prof. Kingsfield that his exam is unfair because it triggers your emotions and you can't think straight. I dare you."

“Go ahead, tell Prof. Kingsfield that his exam is unfair because it triggers your emotions and you can’t think straight. I dare you.”

A Constitutional Law exam at UCLA Law School included this question:

CNN News reported: On Nov. 24, St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch announced in a publicized press conference that Police Officer Darren Wilson (who has since resigned) would not be indicted in the August 9 shooting of Michael Brown. Michael Brown’s stepfather, Louis Head, was with hundreds of protesters assembled outside the police station, listening on loudspeakers and car radios when they learned Officer Wilson was not being charged. Standing on the hood of a car, Mr. Head embraced Michael Brown’s mother. Mr. Head asked someone for a bullhorn but it was not passed to him. He turned to the crowd, stomped on the hood and shouted, repeatedly, “Burn this bitch down!”

Police Chief Tom Jackson told Fox “News,” “We are pursuing those comments … We can’t let Ferguson and the community die [as a result of the riots and fires following McCulloch’s announcement]. Everyone who is responsible for taking away people’s property, their livelihoods, their jobs, their businesses — every single one of them needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

County Attorney Robert McCulloch asks lawyers in his office whether to seek an indictment against Head by relying on a statute forbidding breach of the peace and another prohibiting rioting (six or more persons assembling to violate laws with violence). A recent hire in the office, you are asked to write a memo discussing the relevant 1st Amendment issues in such a prosecution. Write the memo.

The question is a fair and legitimate one, and very typical of law school exams, which often ask students to apply course content to current events. Nonetheless, it provoked a controversy.

Shyrissa Dobbins, a second-year law student in the course and is chair of the Black Law Students Association, complained, “Daily I think about Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and I have a challenge. Every day I think about this injustice and how I’m in a law school that won’t even make a statement about it.” Hussain Turk, a second-year law student who took the exam, argued that  exams should not ask students to address controversial events, and that the question was unfair, as it could be more emotionally difficult for black students to answer. “These kinds of questions create a hostile learning environment for students of color, especially black students who are already disadvantaged by the institution,” Turk said.

There is only one proper rebuttal for this foolishness:

“Grow up, deal with your biases, start thinking like lawyers or find a profession you can handle.”

Pathetically, the law professor, Robert Goldstein apologized in an email in an e-mail to students, saying, “I recognize … that the recent disturbing and painful events and subsequent decisions in Ferguson and New York make this subject too raw to be an opportunity for many of you to demonstrate what you have learned in this class this year,” and promised to discount scores students receive on the question if it lowers the overall score of the student.

Law school Dean Rachel Moran added to the misplaced sensitivity-fest, and her e-mail, said…

“In retrospect, however, he understands that the question was ill-timed for the examination and could have been problematic for students given the anguish among many in our community over the grand jury decisions in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases.”

Observations: Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Law & Law Enforcement

Watch “Blue Bloods”

Blue Bloods

I owe Tom Selleck an apology. The long-time genial hunk, famous as “Magnum, P.I.” and notable in show business lore for missing the career opportunity of a lifetime when contractual obligations forced him to turn down the role of Indiana Jones in “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” has guided his CBS police series “Blue Bloods” to five seasons, exploring tough ethics dilemmas in virtually every episode, and usually doing it very well. For some reason, I’ve only cited the show a few times, once critically, and it deserves better. Netflix started streaming the show, and my wife has been watching about three a day. I really hadn’t been paying sufficient attention, or respect. It’s a wonderful ethics show, the best since “Star Trek, the Next Generation’s” hay day, and one of the very best ethics TV shows of all time.

Selleck plays fictional New York City police chief Frank Reagan. The show could be called “The Conflicts of Interest Family, ” because law enforcement is the family business, and Selleck’s large brood includes two sons, one a patrolman and the other a detective, under his command, and a daughter who is an assistant district attorney. Reagan delicately balances the jobs a father, mediator and boss, all while being given back-seat advice from his father, who is retired but was also a NYC police chief.

I have found myself thinking about how Selleck’s character would react to the Ferguson ethics train wreck. Police shootings have been frequent topics of episodes, as have political efforts to demonize police. Frank was a fan of New York’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy, and accusations of profiling do not reduce him to a mass of apologetic jelly. Meanwhile, he has forged a working relationship or trust with the City’s black mayor, whose loyalties to the black community, and more than a few dubious civil rights headline-seekers.

Selleck is a credentialed, if low-key, Hollywood conservative, and his show’s demographics are just short of Social Security territory.  It’s too bad: teachers should assign the show and discuss the episodes in class. The episode I wrote about earlier was an entire ethics course on its own, but hardly unique in the series: What should an undercover cop do when a child is imperiled in a burning building, and he is the only one who can get to the kid in time? If his photo is taken by the media that arrive on the scene, not only is his cover blown, but his life and family may be in danger. He hands off the child to his partner, who is the on photographed and becomes a hero. The city is clamoring for the Chief to decorate him as a hero. Naturally, the real rescuer is a Reagan.  Should the partner be willing to live a lie? Should the Chief deceive the public and preside over a fake ceremony to preserve an undercover operation that might bust the mob?  This was a memorable “Bluebloods” episode. but many reach this level of ethics complexity, and the duds are far and few between. This season the show has explored many ethics problems that have been debated in the news, such as campus rape, police body cameras, the “blue line,” news media bias, and others.

I apologize, Mr. Selleck. I have neglected your excellent efforts to present ethical dilemmas in law enforcement, leadership and parenting to the public in an intelligent, balanced, courageous and entertaining manner. Great job, on a great show. Please keep it up. I promise to pay closer attention.

 

 

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It Appears Likely That Michael Brown Did NOT Have His Hands Up When He Was Shot… Now What?

hands up

How does the culture, the news media, the civil rights  industry, and politicians determined to benefit by making African-Americans suspicious, paranoid, racist and, of course, lifetime Democrats, make amends for this? How do they undo the damage to mutual trust and American society?

Obviously they don’t. They don’t even try. In fact, all in indications are that they will refuse to acknowledge that the entire, national effort to portray the tragic confrontation between Michael Brown and Officer Wilson as a race-triggered execution was based on a lie that was presumed to be accurate despite much reason to doubt it.

The original claim that Brown was shot and killed after putting his hands in the air came from his friend and partner in crime, Dorian Johnson. Johnson, who already had a record of lying to police, was with Brown prior to the August 9 confrontation, and had joined him in the petty robbery that occurred just before Brown’s arrest. In his TV interviews  after the shooting, Johnson said that Wilson shot Brown in the back, causing him to turn around with his hands up, pleading, ‘I don’t have a gun, stop shooting!’ Before the grand jury, Johnson, who admitted that he hid during the incident and later ran home to change clothes so he wouldn’t be identified, even elaborated and provided minute details to his fabrication, stating under oath that the shot in his back caused Brown’s body to “do like a jerking movement, not to where it looked like he got hit in his back, but I knew, it maybe could have grazed him, but he definitely made a jerking movement.” The forensic evidence showed that Brown was not shot in the back. Continue reading

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The Gruber Corruption Files: Another University Decides A Cover-Up Is “The Right Thing To Do,” While The News Media Spins For Obama

Who cares?

Who cares?

After the Jonathan Gruber video that included the Obamacare insider crowing about passing a misleading health care bill thanks “the stupidity of the American voter” in an October 2013 panel appearance at The University of Pennsylvania, the institution, good, compliant, loyal to Obama and apparently complicit in the Administration’s philosophy of deception, hid the damning comments by taking the video offline. The university reposted it after being compared to the Soviet Union and condemned for censoring knowledge rather than spreading it.

On Monday, the University of Rhode Island also attempted to assist the progressive cover-up of its contempt for the public and democracy, removing its video of  2012 discussion where Gruber explains how the law was passed to “exploit” the American voters’ “lack of economic understanding.” So far, URI has offered no explanation regarding why the video was pulled, and it doesn’t have to.

The video was pulled because the overwhelmingly left-leaning academic establishment in the U.S., like the similarly slanted journalistic establishment, have taken sides, choosing to assist and abet the desperate, anti-democratic efforts by Democrats to lie, hide and spin their way out of the fair and clear implications of Gruber’s inconvenient truths. This is frightening, and every citizen regardless of political preference should understand that the effort must be foiled if our system of government is to regain lost trust and integrity. Universities and journalists are supposed to be truth-seekers, and in this matter are behaving like political operatives. Note that only Fox and the National Review, so far, have reported Rhode Island’s efforts to bury Gruber’s statements, and that is just a continuation of a disconcerting theme throughout this fiasco.

From an excellent Examiner summary of how the mainstream media is spinning the story: Continue reading

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Comment of the Day: “Rationalization List Update: 29 (a). The Gruber Variation and 47. Contrived Consent, or ‘The Rapist’s Defense'”

Magician, hoax-exposer, historian, truth-seeker James Randi

Magician, hoax-exposer, historian, truth-seeker James Randi

Alexander Cheezem weighed in with a wonderful expansion on The Gruber Variation (and its parent, Rationalization #29,  The Altruistic Switcheroo). It speaks for itself: the gist involves the situations when deception really does have  beneficial results for the deceived,  intended by the deceiver—in which case, the claim that an otherwise unethical act was “for his own good” mean that the act not have been unethical, and thus the claim is not rationalization, but truth.

One immediate result of Alexander’s comment is that I’m editing the text in #29. I wrote:

It is true that misfortune carries many life lessons, that what doesn’t kill us often makes us stronger, and that what hurts today may be the source of valuable wisdom and perspective later, but it really takes a lot of gall to cheat, lie to, steal from or otherwise harm someone and claim it will be a good thing in the long term. Yet an amazingly large number of people possess this much gall, because the Altruistic Switcheroo is very common, especially among parents who want to convince themselves that bad parenting is really the opposite. A marker for this rationalization is the statement, “You’ll thank me some day”—the specious theory of the sadistic parent who named his son “Sue” in the famous Shel Silverstein song made famous by Johnny Cash. No, he won’t.

“A Boy Named Sue” is a lousy example. It is true that the singer ends the song by saying he isn’t thankful, and I don’t blame him, but the father’s theory was borne out: the name did make his son tougher. There’s nothing in the lyrics to suggest that he name choice was sadistic, and if the only rationale for the song was what the father claimed it was, it’s no rationalization. Oh, it was cruel, irresponsible and unfair—and stupid— but the father did name the boy “Sue” for his own good. (The fact that his cruel tactic worked still doesn’t make it right: that would be 3. Consequentialism, or  “It Worked Out for the Best.”

I’ll end the passage before the dash.

Here is Alexander’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Rationalization List Update: 29 (a). The Gruber Variation and 47. Contrived Consent, or ‘The Rapist’s Defense'”:

Interesting additions, but I think that the Gruber Variation needs a bit of a caveat in nuance regarding its description: it needs to be distinguished from both legitimate teaching techniques which involve parallels and certain grey areas.

To handle the last first, I’ll just give a few examples, starting with Project Alpha ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Alpha ) and the Sokal Hoax (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair ). Both involved presenting people who were supposed to safeguard against deception with a hoax in order to expose the holes in said safeguards. Both involved rationales which closely paralleled the Gruber Variation in several respects, and were criticized for actually following that sort of logic (I disagree, although I do think that both were ethically “grey”). Continue reading

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Rationalization List Update: 29 (a). The Gruber Variation and 47. Contrived Consent, or “The Rapist’s Defense”

Remember the TV show fondly...hate the rationalization.

Remember the TV show fondly…hate the rationalization.

In the midst of the disturbing revelation—via Dr. Jonathan Gruber’s many videos— that our government thinks that passing laws that have a large impact on our lives should be accomplished by conning us, as well as the discouraging realization that many of our Democratic and progressive friends and neighbors agree, there are some good things to come out of Gruber’s clarification of how the Affordable Care Act was enacted. We know, for example, that at least one of the major political parties no longer believes in American democracy as it was intended to be practiced, with an informed electorate and a civicly literate citizenry. That’s good to know, just as while it is horrible to have one’s house is infested with scorpions, it is still better to know it than not. We now also know that a substantial part of the news media is in cahoots with these democracy deniers—as of last night, for example, neither NBC nor ABC had broached the topic of the Gruber videos, a full week after they had become public. Again, that’s horrible, but we need to be aware of it, and it is good that we are.

Among the silver linings in this particularly threatening cloud is that it alerted me to two more—well, one and a half more—rationalizations for the Ethics Alarms Rationalization List. They have many applications beyond the Affordable Care Act. Say hello to 29 (a). The Gruber Variation, and 47. Contrived Consent, or “The Rapist’s Defense.”

The Gruber Variation doesn’t warrant its own category, but it is a very specific riff on 29. The Altruistic Switcheroo: “It’s for his own good, which is described on the list thusly:

“This rationalization is a pip, because it allows one to frame self-serving, unethical conduct as an act of good will and generosity. Cheating the young sprout will teach him to be more careful the next time, and it’s just a pleasant coincidence that you benefit from the deception. It is true that misfortune carries many life lessons, that what doesn’t kill us often makes us stronger, and that what hurts today may be the source of valuable wisdom and perspective later, but it really takes a lot of gall to cheat, lie to, steal from or otherwise harm someone and claim it will be a good thing in the long term. Yet an amazingly large number of people possess this much gall, because the Altruistic Switcheroo is very common, especially among parents who want to convince themselves that bad parenting is really the opposite. A marker for this rationalization is the statement, “You’ll thank me some day”—the specious theory of the sadistic parent who named his son “Sue” in the famous Shel Silverstein song made famous by Johnny Cash. No, he won’t.”

The Gruber Variation adds contempt to the mix, as it uses the presumed mental inadequacy of a victim to justify manipulating him: Continue reading

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Ethics Hero: CNN’s Jake Tapper

Light in the darknessNot all non-conservative media journalists are working to assist Democrats in their frantic damage control now that their epic contempt for the democratic process, transparency, truth, and the American public has been exposed by the videotaped crowing of paid manipulator Jonathan Gruber.

When junior Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy (D) did his part by following the current game plan and attempting to dismiss Gruber as a footnote by tweeting…

“It’s sad to me that good political journalists are spending so much time on these irrelevant comments by this guy Gruber”

…CNN anchor Jake Tapper shot back in a tweet of his own,

“@ChrisMurphyCT respectfully, it’s sad to me that some politicians would claim the comments are irrelevant”

Tapper was using the device of ironic parallel construction, but it’s more than sad, it is horrifying. An insider who was crucial to the drafting of Obamacare admits that the Administration’s objective was to mislead the Congressional Budget Office and deceive “stupid voters,” and now the party that paid him $400,000 is covering up with a series of rationalizations, denials and lies. This is the fourth of the defenses apparently being emailed to all loyal Obamacare defenders from the high command.

First we have the rationalization: “Everybody does this with bills..it’s no big deal.”

Second is the brazen lie, or the Jumbo: “We were completely transparent!”

Third is the totalitarian mantra, “Hey, it was the only way, and it was worth it!” (The ends justify the means.)

The Fourth: airbrushing history, the Nancy Pelosi amnesia: “Who is this guy?”

The proof of Senator Murphy’s complicity is the Clintonian “this guy, Gruber, ” echoing “that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” Gruber had been lavishly praised by both Harry Reid on the floor of the Senate and Pelosi: Murphy knows damn well who “that guy” is, and why his revelations remove all semblance of trustworthiness from his party and its leaders…unless they can trick those stupid voters one more time!!

One journalist from the mainstream media, at least, is on to them.

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