Tag Archives: police

Of Course Sandra Bland Shared Responsibility For What Happened To Her, And Other Observations On The Bland Tragedy

Let us stipulate that trooper Brian Encina behaved unprofessionally and atrociously by any standard in his handling of the vehicle stop of Sandra Bland in Prairie View, Texas, on July 10, setting into motion a series of events that led to Bland’s death by apparent suicide in a jail cell three days later. The police work shown by the dashcam video is unforgivable, and could be used in officer trainings on how not to handle a traffic stop.

That does not make him responsible for Bland’s death, however. He was not responsible for an incompetent bail system that had this woman in jail for three days, apparently because it was a weekend, and if she did take her own life (agreed: since her family has no reason to trust authorities at this point, nothing is likely to convince them of that no matter what the evidence, and also agreed, the suicide verdict looks mighty shaky at this point), that is, by law and logic, an intervening cause that exonerate the officer in Bland’s death. Activists will make the obvious Freddie Gray comparisons, but in this case there is no reason to believe that the officer, no matter how wrongful his conduct, either intended or contributed to her death. At worst, Encina is guilty of bad policing and using excessive force. This is not the Freddie Gray case, unless there was a dark conspiracy of frightening proportions.

Once again, however, a black citizen is dead after a confrontation with a white cop. For many pundits, civil rights advocates and black racists as well as irresponsible elected officials, that’s evidence enough that this was a racial incident. It isn’t evidence enough, however. The racial identities of the participants do not mean race was a factor, and absent some other facts that we have not learned about yet, any effort to suggest otherwise is nothing but the Zimmerman con, assuming racism unjustly to advance a political agenda. Let’s see if the Justice Department launches a civil rights investigation this time….again, assuming nothing more suspicious turns up.  That would be the smoking gun evidence of this DOJ’s bias. I wouldn’t bet against it happening. Continue reading

53 Comments

Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Public Service, Race, Rights, U.S. Society

Unethical Quote Of The Week: The Huffington Post, Which Is Having A Really Unethical Week

KKK assestance

“The photo has gone viral this weekend as netizens praise the officer’s extraordinary show of professionalism and grace under such trying circumstances.”

The Huffington Post, commenting on the photo above, showing black police officer Leroy Smith giving a feeble white supremacist assistance during the Ku Klux Klan rally held at the South Carolina Statehouse over the weekend.

Does the Huffington Post have any idea what professionalism is? Ethical conduct? Increasingly, I have my doubts, and this is just the latest example.

We already know the average “netizen” doesn’t know ethics from shinola, but the Huffington Post is a news and culture commentary site. One would think a basic comprehension of such concepts as duty, fairness, justice, responsibility and ethics would be essential. Well, let me rephrase that: they are obviously essential. One would think the Huffington Post would know that without them, its analysis of pretty much anything is worthless.

Look, you ethics dolts: Smith was doing his job, that’s all. The fact that he personally may have objected to the beliefs and words of the protesters is completely irrelevant to his professional obligations. He must treat all professionals the same. To do otherwise would un-professional, un-ethical, and wrong. Dominique Mosbergen is  apparently  of the opinion that the normal, professional thing to do is to refuse to help people whom you don’t like, agree with, or whose views offend you. Wait—isn’t this what the jerks who refuse to sell cakes to gay couples do? Somehow I don’t think Dominique agrees with those anti-gay marriage zealots or that she feels to just treat such customers as human beings would constitute an “extraordinary show of professionalism and grace.” Why does she think a black cop helping a distressed racist like he would a similarly needy  NAACP member because they are both citizens and as a public servant he is duty-bound to treat them both exactly the same is an “extraordinary show of professionalism and grace,” then?

It is because she is incompetent and ignorant. It is because she doesn’t comprehend what professionalism is. It is because to her, “White Racist Lives Don’t Matter,” so she is just bowled over when an African American acts without employing her biases.

Leroy Smith behaved like any professional would, and should. Nothing more, nothing less. Most cops do their jobs, and do them professionally. There is nothing newsworthy or extraordinary  about the photo, except to people who believe that the primary motivating factor for most people is hate.

_____________________

Pointer: Fred

10 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Race, The Internet, Workplace

“Black Lives Matter” Is Unethical, And So Are Politicians Who Pander To It

black-lives-matterThat’s the tipping point for Ethics Alarms. “Black Lives Matter” is unethical, and those who use it are unethical. And politicians who grovel to those who criticize them for not embracing it are contemptible.

The Martin O’Malley embarrassment over the weekend clinched it for me. Demonstrators interrupted the former Maryland governor, mounting a pathetic campaign against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, as he was speaking at the Netroots Nation conference. When they shouted, “Black lives matter!” a rallying cry of protests that has superseded “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” because that one was eventually exposed as a lie,  O’Malley—the naive, racist fool!!!!— responded: “Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter.”

The activists  responded by jeering him and refusing to let him speak. .Later in the day, O’Malley, “showing the firm commitment to leadership in the face of adversity that we expect in a presidential candidate,” as one wag put it on Jonathan Turley’s blog—apologized, saying…

“I meant no disrespect. That was a mistake on my part and I meant no disrespect. I did not mean to be insensitive in any way or communicate that I did not understand the tremendous passion, commitment and feeling and depth of feeling that all of us should be attaching to this issue.”

I bent over backwards to defend Smith College President Kathleen McCartney when she apologized for using the phrase “all lives matter” in December of 2014. I wrote:

If an activist says to me, “too many children go to bed hungry!” and my retort is, “Too many people go to bed hungry!”, the unspoken argument is “So stop acting like children are a special problem!” If I say, “We need peace in Syria,” and a friend’s response is “We need to end war, period!”, I view that as an effort to minimize my concerns by launching it from the realm of a specific issue into vague, generic territory.  “Black Lives Matter!” in the context of recent police episodes where African Americans died under circumstances that many believe show police callousness and excessive force against blacks is a distinct assertion that suggests that the law enforcement and justice systems do not currently function as if black lives matter as much as white lives. It is true that “All Lives Matter” includes the larger subset “black lives matter”; it is also true that it blurs the issue at hand, and dilutes the protesters’ point. It is not inappropriate for  President McCartney to apologize in this context…unless, of course, she intended a rebuttal, in which case she is indeed spineless.

I still believe that made sense in December, but “Black Lives Matter” means something very different now, after six police officers were charged with murder to quell a Baltimore mob after Freddie Gray’s death, and after President Obama decided that the merciless shooting of a  young white woman in San Francisco by an illegal immigrant wasn’t worthy of the same attention he has given other deaths when it was a black life that had been lost. Continue reading

100 Comments

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

Ethics Observations On Cincinnati’s Fountain Square Incident And Its Aftermath

At a Fourth of July concert in Cincinnati, police had to fight their way through a mob to rescue a white male who had been nearly beaten to death as the crowd made up primarily of African Americans and Hispanic-Americans mocked him. Here is a video of the scene, if it is still up: YouTube has removed it more than once.

Observations:

1. What kind of people act like this? How do they get this way?

2. There is a controversy over whether the incident should be investigated as a hate crime. Idiocy. Madness. The discussion itself shows how silly the entire hate crime concept is. Would a group of whites mocking a bleeding white man be any less offensive to community values than a group of blacks doing so?

3. It is especially silly, not to mention offensive, when the government applies the law in a biased fashion—but then, that was always its intent.  Here is law professor Jonathan Turley tripping over his metaphorical tongue to avoid stating the obvious:

“It is not clear if there was a racial component to the crime and I would not immediately expect a hate crime investigation in such a case. Various blogs however are arguing that the Administration and local officials often immediately pledge to pursue such cases involving a black victim and white officers or assailants as a possible hate crime. I have tended to caution that such early framing of cases can have a distortive or dysfunctional impact absent clear evidence of a racial motivation. For example, while some in this crowd may have been celebrating the fact that the victim was white, it does not mean that the original attack was racially motivated.”

Oh, come on, professor. Stop spinning. The Obama Administration, the Justice Department and local officials in many cities have displayed a hair-trigger readiness to automatically consider any incident a suspected “hate crime” where a white police officer is involved in harming a black victim, absent taunting, absent the kind of revolting evidence present in this case. It isn’t “early framing,” it is racial politics and pandering to the mob and the media. On what basis were George Zimmerman and Darren Wilson subjected to federal hate crime investigations, if this video won’t prompt one? Continue reading

16 Comments

Filed under Character, Citizenship, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Race

Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic, Racist Hate….and The Dick Van Dyke Show

Forget what your dad is telling you, kid: listen to Buddy.

Forget what your dad is telling you, kid: listen to Buddy.

Question: If Ta-Nehisi Coates’ racist and hateful, anti-white, anti-US essay for The Atlantic is respectable public discourse, why isn’t Dylan Roof’s manifesto?

I think it is fair to that we know what the standards, or rather double standards, are in Barack Obama’s America. We have repeatedly been told by progressive activists that “hate speech” either isn’t or shouldn’t be protected by the Constitution, but the essay “Letter to My Son” by a regular Atlantic contributor, published by the magazine as literature, shows that “hate speech” is a narrower category in the progressive universe than its catchy name would suggest. Pompous, pretentious, labored, and smug anti-white, anti-American speech isn’t hate, apparently, but rather wisdom.

I just want to know what the rules are now.

Blogger/law professor Ann Althouse threw a link to the long piece by Coates to her readers without comment, as is often her technique. Actually, she highlighted a comment to the essay by one of the readers of Metafilter, who gushed,

I sat in the parking lot of my gym for 30 minutes reading that amazing, amazing piece. I’m rendered inarticulate by its power, by its purpose, by how fucking important it is and how I wish every person in this country would read it and really hear what he’s saying. And, just, goddamn. It’s so good. It references MLK in the same breath as Wu-Tang, and it’s all woven together so fucking effortlessly, but the references aren’t winky nods to pop culture, they’re buttressing an argument that is already so strong and undeniable and.

Althouse left off the last line, which was…

God. I know this sounds hyperbolic, but fucking hell, I hope this letter is taught in civics classes and literature classes for decades to come.

The Professor is correct: the positive reactions to this monstrosity are at least as fascinating as the essay itself. Read it all the way through, if you can. I found the long article extremely hard to get through. The prose is the sort of over-worked, straining-to-be-poetic slog that black revolutionaries and poets of the Sixties used to excel at, often from prison; Eddie Murphy did some hilarious imitations of them. Style and pretentiousness aside, the essay is tragic, frustrating and deeply sad: if this or anything even close to this is a common state of mind among African Americans, then it is small wonder progress in U.S. race relations is regressing. Continue reading

34 Comments

Filed under Childhood and children, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Race, U.S. Society

The Most Unethical Prosecutor Of All: Baltimore’s Marilyn Mosby

Mosby

In a legal ethics seminar I taught this week for government attorneys, the vast majority of them voted that Marilyn Mosby’s vainglorious announcement of charges against six officers in the death of Freddie Gray was prosecutorial abuse, and a blatant violation of professional ethics rule 3.8, which directs that (this is the Maryland version)…

The prosecutor in a criminal case shall:

(a) refrain from prosecuting a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause;


(e) except for statements that are necessary to inform the public of the nature and extent of the prosecutor’s action and that serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose, refrain from making extrajudicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused and exercise reasonable care to prevent an employee or other person under the control of the prosecutor in a criminal case from making an extrajudicial statement that the prosecutor would be prohibited from making under Rule 3.6 or this Rule.

Of course it was a breach of ethics, and an outrageous one. Her statement, which I discussed here, not only overstated her justification for bringing the charges, which were rushed and announced before a careful investigation was completed, it also stated that the officers were guilty, and worse, that the charges were being brought because the demonstrating and rioting protesters has demanded it. Mosby’s words suggested that she stood with the mob. Continue reading

12 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Race

Warning: The Companion Rule To “Bias Makes You Stupid” Is “Immunity To Bias Makes You Dead”

terrorist

The picture above shows Denis Cuspert, a German rapper and the enterprising creator of the T-shirt he is holding in the shot on the left. The photo on the right shows Denis in his current incarnation, Abu Talha Al-Almani. He formally joined the Islamic State sometime in April 2014. It is believed that he has become the Islamic State’s chief propagandist in the German language, inspiring disillusioned young Germans to become jihadists. In November 2014, he appeared in an Islamic State video holding a severed head.

I saw the photo above online this morning, and it reminded me that I have never made an important point about bias explicit here. Bias causes a lot of problems, in society and in the life of individuals, but those who furiously condemn bias  and demand that we should eradicate it from human nature are reckless and ignorant, and often dishonest as well. Bias is a crucial evolutionary feature that allows human beings to avoid making the same mistake twice, or a hundred times. It is linked to trust, and leads to wariness. Without the ability to form biases, every one of us would be fatally naive, and a victim waiting to be harmed. Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Character, Daily Life, Ethics Scoreboard classics, Ethics Train Wrecks, Law & Law Enforcement, Race