Tag Archives: trust

Law vs. Ethics: A Cautionary Tale From Texas

You fucked up

“You can’t worry forever about your mistakes. You fucked up. You trusted us. Make the best of it. ” —Otter (DuPont) to Flounder (Its former employees) in “Animal House”

Law and ethics are two different things, and courts are frequently forced to embrace unethical results in order to uphold a bad law or to deal with a messy fact pattern. It is seldom, however, that one sees as blatant an example of atrociously unethical behavior being ruled legal as in a recent case in Texas, decided this month. It is the kind of case that promotes distrust all around, as you will see. When that is the result, the ruling itself is unethical.

In the case of Sawyer, Kempf, et al. v DuPont and Company, an employer’s false promise not to exercise a legal right in order to induce its employees to forgo their negotiated rights was deemed unenforceable. The legal reasoning is solid. The ethics stinks, and is as good an example as you will ever find for the inspiration behind Charles Dickens’ (speaking through his creation Mr. Bumble, in “Oliver Twist”) statement, “The law is a ass.” Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

Turning In Your Own Teen For Sexting?

sexting

I don’t understand this. I don’t understand the parents’ thinking at all.

I can understand reporting a child to the police who is a danger to others, who has committed a serious crime, who is a burgeoning sociopath or psychopath who needs to be stopped before something terrible occurs. I can understand when not doing so amounts to being an accessory and an accomplice. It has to be the most wrenching of parental decisions, but I understand these things.

This, however, I don’t understand.

In Dinwiddie County, Virginia, parents became suspicious, and checked their 13-year-old daughter’s cell phone and tablet. They discovered their daughter, soon to enter the eighth-grade, had been sending and receiving naked pictures of other teens, including those who were much older, 17 and 18.

CBS reports that the parents called in the sheriff’s office, even though it means that she might be charged with a crime.   “We did this now to protect her for now and in the future, because this could get worse. She could be taken,” she said.

She could also become the victim of an overzealous prosecutor, and end up in the criminal justice system for what is essentially pre-crime, become cynical and hardened before her time, and be permanently scarred, never to trust her parents again.

The story is sketchy, so there may be facts we don’t know. Before I would call the cops on my child at 13 for what is essentially high-tech flirting, I would consider..

  • Grounding her.
  • Taking away her electronic devices.
  • Getting her counseling.
  • Moving.

Wouldn’t you?

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Filed under Childhood and children, Family, Gender and Sex, Romance and Relationships, The Internet

Wishing Ethics: What Should We WANT The Outcome To Be In Ferguson?

finger-crossed

The simple answer to the question in the headline is: we should all want the truth to come out, whatever it is, and be dealt with honestly and justly. I don’t think that result is possible, unfortunately, just as it proved impossible in the Martin-Zimmerman tragedy.If the truth could be determined, however…if an experimental, advanced video recorder just happened to capture everything that occurred between Officer Wilson and Mike Brown, including in the squad car; if it captured the incident from all angles, and we could hear and see everything that transpired between them, what would we want that to be, recognizing that the tragedy cannot be undone?

Would we want it to show that Mike Brown was murdered, that he was fleeing for his life when he escaped the car, then turned, fell to his knees ( as at least one witness claims) and was gunned down with his hands in the air? Obviously many Americans, including Brown’s family, the Ferguson protestors, many African-Americans, civil rights activists, police critics, politicians and pundits, have an interest in seeing this be the final verdict of investigators, for a multitude of reasons. The grieving family wants their son to be proven innocent of any fault in his own death. Others, especially those who prematurely declared Officer Wilson of guilty of “executing” Brown, have a strong interest in being proven right, for even though it would not excuse their unfair and irresponsible rush to judgment, such a determination would greatly reduce the intensity of criticism leveled at them.

[Side Note on Ethics Dunce Jay Nixon: That won't stop the criticism here, however: Whatever the facts prove to be,  Gov. Jay Nixon's comments are indefensible, and inexcusable. Now the Democrat is denying that they meant what he clearly meant to convey: calling for "justice for Brown's family" and a "vigorous prosecution" can only mean charging Wilson, and that is what those calling for Wilson to be arrested took his comments to mean. If the Governor didn't mean that, as he now claims, then he is 1) an ignoramus and 2) beyond incompetent to recklessly comment on an emotion-charged crisis in his state without choosing his words carefully.]

Or should we hope that the facts exonerate Wilson? After all, shouldn’t we want the one living participant in this tragedy to be able to have some semblance of a life without being forever associated with villainy? Certainly his family and friends, as well as member of the Ferguson police force who want their own ranks to be vindicated, and police all over the nation who have had their profession attacked and denigrated in the wake of the shooting, fervently hope that the narrative pushed by the demonstrators is proven wrong. Others want to see Wilson proven innocent for less admirable reasons. They want to use the incident to condemn police critics, and undermine and discredit civil rights advocates, especially long-time ideological foes like Al Sharpton. They want Eric Holder to look biased, (he looks biased anyway, because he appears to be taking sides) and to make the case—one that a single episode neither supports nor can possible rebut—that police do not have itchy trigger fingers when their weapons are pointed at young black men.

From the standpoint of ethics, which means that the best outcome will be the one that does the most good for society, the choice is complex.  Continue reading

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

Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck Update: Unethical Prosecutors Edition

McCulloch: Mission Impossible

McCulloch: Mission Impossible

  • CNN’s Unethical Experts. Where does CNN find these people? Carol Costello interviewed two former prosecutors regarding the beginning of grand jury deliberations in Ferguson, both female; one white and blonde, one African American. (As soon as I retrieve the names of these disgraceful representatives of the legal profession, I’ll add them to the post.) The African American prosecutor made her position clear: since St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch has the authority to charge Officer Darren Williams without resorting to a grand jury, that’s what he should do. She termed his resort to a citizen panel to review the evidence a “punt.” Note that McCulloch’s critics have no idea what evidence is in his hands, so criticizing his decisions regarding it is by any measure irresponsible, unprofessional and unfair. She also  suggested that McCulloch was biased against African Americans because his father, a police officer, had been shot and killed by a black man. She presented no other evidence of racial bias. Then Costello went to the blonde ex-prosecutor, who a) agreed that using the grand jury was a “punt”—again without her personal knowledge of the evidence being considered; b) opined that the evidence was probably a mess, and was not clear enough or sufficient to conflict the officer of anything, so c) what should be done is appoint a special prosecutor as in the Trayvon Martin case. She noted that the Martin special prosecutor, Angela Corey, brought an indictment without using a grand jury, and that while the case may not have had enough evidence to sustain a conviction...“at least it calmed things down.”   

Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Race

Mid-EthicsTrainwreck Observations On Ferguson

train_wreck

1. This is traveling the identical route as the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman fiasco, and I wonder when the intentional similarity will begin dawning on the public, discrediting the participants and embarrassing the news media, which is as Pavlovian as the most conditioned canine.

2. In an environment where race grievance vultures lie in wait, the usual rule of prudence—an ethical value— for law enforcement becomes a fatal error. Now, if a police department waits and investigates before making an official report or filing charges when a white individual has killed a black one, it will be spun by those seeking to find sinister motives, and the news media will take the cue.

3. As in the Martin case, the victim was immediately portrayed by his family as being as threatening as a Care Bear, except for his race. Martin was introduced to the public by the news media with an old photo that made him look about 12. Michael Brown was introduced by his promising future: he was going to college, and his parents were proud of him, as if these factors are proof of unquestionable virtue and innocence. He was unarmed, and a teenager. But as I learned for the first time by seeing the surveillance video of the alleged robbery, he was a huge teenager. A man that big doesn’t have to be armed to be dangerous. Naturally, all public impressions of the incident were formed before any of this came to light. This also addresses the new outrage by protesters that the video was released to “justify” the killing. The video let us know that Brown wasn’t a harmless kid, and that’s valid information now. Continue reading

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

When Ethics Becomes Impossible: Captain Johnson’s Ferguson “Solution”

Ron Johnson

Yesterday,  Ferguson, Missouri’s newly appointed police commander, Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, walked with those protesting the shooting of African American teenager Michael Brown.The police shooting in Ferguson this week and its aftermath became an instant Ethics Train Wreck, its carnage seeded by tragedy, local tensions, growing distrust of police nationwide, worsening race relations exacerbated by Democrats and the media resorting to race-baiting to stifle criticism of the Obama administration, as well as such episodes as Occupy confrontations with police in Oakland and the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman fiasco.

Johnson’s actions calmed what had been escalating violence, with community protests spilling over into looting, irresponsible and inflammatory statements being made by both police and protesters, and an excessive, military-style response by St.Louis police that treated sometimes over-enthusiastic demonstrating as if it was Rodney King-style rioting. What Johnson did worked, in other words, and that’s both the best and the worst that can be said about it. Ethically, it was the best available option. When a situation reaches the ethics chaos stage that Ferguson has, however, this is rough utilitarianism at best. Continue reading

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Filed under Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Rights

Police Misconduct, Professional Courtesy, and the Insideous Virtue of Loyalty

"No, I still have your back...I'm just going to have to give you a speeding ticket, that's all!"

“No, I still have your back…I’m just going to have to give you a speeding ticket, that’s all!”

In 2011, Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Donna Jane Watts pulled over—after a brief chase– an off-duty Miami police officer whose vehicle she clocked at over 120 mph. Lead-footed officer Fausto Lopez explained to Watts that he was late for an off-duty job. The tradition among police, as in other professions (like the law and politics), is to extend “professional courtesy” in such situations, or as I call it, unwarranted privilege and corruption.

 Watts, however, arrested Lopez, who had a history of reckless driving, and he was eventually fired. Continue reading

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Filed under Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Workplace