Ethics Alarms commenter Chris Marschner again scores a Comment of the Day regarding the subtext of my recent post about Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis, whose stunning abuse of government power to punish a citizen’s free speech was ignored while destroying NBA team owner Donald Sterling, because he privately articulated offensive views to a vengeful girlfriend, became a media obsession and a national rallying point.
But I do.
The Maryland Supreme Court just reinstated a Clayton W. Boulware, a Montgomery County attorney who had been suspended for six months after being convicted of covertly filming up the skirts of two women, one of whom was a minor, in a public place. Boulware was suspended in September for six months with a three-year probationary period to follow the suspension.
In his defense, Boulware blamed his upskirt peeping on an “open relationship” with a younger woman, introducing him to a “swinging lifestyle” that included filming themselves having sex. But that relationship is over now, the court notes, so, hey, no problem.
The bar disciplinary board noted in its report to the court that it believed a more lenient approach to punishing Boulware was called for because of those “mitigating circumstances.” Lawyers are, as everyone knows, putty in the hands of swinging young women, and this always results in them shooting up other women’s skirts.
I feel like I am losing my mind. Continue reading
In the latest smoking gun example of how the administrators of public schools are widely recruited from the Homes For The Bewildered, we learn of Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins, Colorado, where the principal, Tom Lopez, and his staff agreed to let the school’s “Cultural Arms Club” lead the student body in an Arabic version of the Pledge of Allegiance, one that replaced “under God,” the ill-advised addendum to the Pledge added by Congress when the U.S. felt under siege from “godless Communism” with “under Allah.”
As further proof that they should be managing a street corner balloon establishment, the school’s administration professes amazement that parents and citizens are upset with this, and as more evidence yet, places the blame on the students. After all it was their idea, and if they voted to have their fellow students recite the pledge in duck voices, or Pig Latin, or punctuated with “Heil Hitler!” salutes and “der Fuhrer” in place of “God,” I’m sure that would be okey-dokey too. Continue reading
This story is obviously trivial, because the news media doesn’t think it’s worth getting upset about. After all, it doesn’t involve race:
“PEORIA — Police searched a West Bluff house Tuesday and seized phones and computers in an effort to unmask the author of a parody Twitter account that purported to be Mayor Jim Ardis. The account — known as @Peoriamayor on the popular social media service that limits entries to 140 characters — already had been suspended for several weeks when up to seven plainclothes police officers executed a search warrant about 5:20 p.m. at 1220 N. University St. Three people at the home were taken to the Peoria Police Department for questioning. Two other residents were picked up at their places of employment and taken to the station, as well. One resident — 36-year-old Jacob L. Elliott — was booked into the Peoria County Jail on charges of possessing 30 to 500 grams of marijuana and possessing drug paraphernalia, but no arrests were made in connection with the Twitter account.”
The Twitter account was obviously a parody, if not an especially deft or clever one. After all, one would have to be a hopeless doofus, and an unusually dim one at that, to believe that the mayor of any city, even Toronto’s ridiculous Rob Ford, would happily tweet about his own drug use, crimes and corruption like the Twitter avatar of the Peoria mayor did.
Yet here was Mayor Ardis’s justification to reporters for his jaw-dropping abuse of power:
“I still maintain my right to protect my identity is my right. Are there no boundaries on what you can say, when you can say it, who you can say it to? You can’t say (those tweets) on behalf of me. That’s my problem. This guy took away my freedom of speech.”
Uh-huh. Show me a how “this guy” broke any law that justifies a police raid, you unbelievably arrogant, incompetent fascist.
Some observations: Continue reading
This ugly beast keeps raising its head out of the muck, and it is the duty of every citizen, Republican or Democrat, who believes in justice and due process under law to beat it back with heavy clubs.
The Republican Governors Association is defending one of its own, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, with a series of ads attacking state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, an attorney who is her Democratic opposition in the gubernatorial race. The message of the ad, as summarized by a voice-over, is that “Sheheen defended violent criminals who abused women and went to work setting them free.”
False. Continue reading
You are welcome to read the transcript and/or listen to my interview on NPR yesterday with Michel Martin, both of which can be found here.
It’s too bad, really. They seem like such a nice couple…
“Shouldn’t we be equally angered by the fact that his private, intimate conversation was taped and then leaked to the media? Didn’t we just call to task the NSA for intruding into American citizen’s privacy in such an un-American way? Although the impact is similar to Mitt Romney’s comments that were secretly taped, the difference is that Romney was giving a public speech. The making and release of this tape is so sleazy that just listening to it makes me feel like an accomplice to the crime. We didn’t steal the cake but we’re all gorging ourselves on it. So, if we’re all going to be outraged…Let’s be outraged that private conversations between people in an intimate relationship are recorded and publicly played. Let’s be outraged that whoever did the betraying will probably get a book deal, a sitcom, trade recipes with Hoda and Kathie Lee, and soon appear on “Celebrity Apprentice” and “Dancing with the Stars.”‘
–—Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in an essay pointing out some of hypocrisies and excesses in the reactions to the Donald Sterling saga.
Good for Kareem. I was just about to make this point myself, and preparing to be pilloried for making excuses for a racist. Kareem is a lot bigger than I am, and I’m happy to stand behind him.
I watched two African-American lawyers on CNN today erupt in over-the-top outrage that has become the norm in the “finger-wagging Olympics” that Abdul-Jabbar decries in the rest of his article. One of the lawyers called Sterling’s remarks defamatory—“defamatory?” Sterling didn’t say a word that was negative about blacks; he just said he didn’t want his girl friend taking photos with them. His comments constitute smoking gun proof of racial bias, sure, but they aren’t “defamatory.” The other lawyer called them “the most vile, disgusting...” on and on and on, comments that he had ever heard. Really? I doubt that. You know, once you award the prize to Sterling’s racist comments, you have no more superlatives left for really horrible racist remarks. The two sportswriters, Christine Brennan and Bill Rhoden, who preceded my commentary on NPR today, did the same thing. It was a contest over who could express the most outrage.
It is a small surprise, then, in this hyper-charged atmosphere, that the conduct of V. Stiviano is getting an ethics pass, as if betrayal doesn’t matter as long as the betrayed party is despicable, and what she did was justified because she exposed a racist to the world. It’s not justified. The ends don’t justify the means, when the means are betrayal and mean-spirited vengeance, and when the methods used threaten to become a social norm, turning American homes and bedrooms into Stalinesque trap where no secret is safe. We’ve seen this practice before and I’ve condemned it before: the Harvard Law student turned into a campus pariah by a jealous rival circulating a private e-mail to the people most likely to be offended by it; Alec Baldwin’s daughter releasing private communications with her intemperate father to harm his reputation; Mel Gibson’s girlfriend doing the same; e-mail jokes being intercepted and sent to political enemies as a tool of personal destruction; clumsy suitors having their fumbles turned into national ridicule by the objects of their affection. Continue reading
The public tolerates the news media being such a full-throated shill for the Democratic Party that there is no reason for partisan websites to be outrageous about it. Thus when Talking Points Memo breached not just journalistic principles of fairness and objectivity, but also honesty, it needed to be called out. To its credit, the Democratic National Committee delivered the slap-down to its loyal ally, even though, as usual, the victim of the biased media mugging was a Republican.
TPM published an online account of last week’s contentious debate between CNN anchor Carol Costello and RNC spokesman Sean Spicer over the media’s treatment of Republicans in the wake of rancher Cliven Bundy’s offensive comments about blacks and slavery. Costello’s argument was that it was fair to tar the GOP with Bundy’s ignorant views, since many in the party supported his anti-government actions. Astoundingly, TPM though that it would enhance Costello’s views if its readers thought that Spicer was a skinhead. Thus it doctored a photo, using CNN’s set, showing Spicer like this, after he had shaved his head for charity a while back:
In fact, he had appeared on TV looking this way:
It looks like I’ll be a guest on NPR’s “Tell Me More” this morning around 11:20 to talk about the Donald Sterling controversy.
I’m not sure exactly what this post has to do with ethics. Obligation, perhaps. Still, I have to write it.
Yesterday, I learned that Greg Davidson had died. The news thrust me into the heart of some intense and strange hybrid of “Stand By Me,” “Animal House,” “Mister Roberts,” and “The Sandlot.” I hadn’t seen or talked to Greg for 41 years, since the day he sold me my first car, a red Nova that I paid for with cash, using my bank account started for me by my Dad when I was a baby. Wiped it out, too. But that’s not why Greg Davidson was important in my life.
I met Greg in the 7th Grade, when we were both 12. He was the first un-self-consciously cool kid I ever met, and one of the few people I have known had this distinction. (I will embarrass him by saying this, but my son is one of them too.) If you can picture the character of Chris (River Phoenix) in “Stand by Me,” that was Greg—athletic, physically graceful, blond, with a buzz cut, relatively quiet, and a natural leader. He was, essentially, a man in attitude and conduct long before the rest of us (some of us are still working at it)—he won the affections of my 6th grade crush, Margie, and formed a famous, much admired steady couple with her that lasted well into high school.
He was smart, but defiant in a puckish and courageous way: this was the early Sixties, and we all regarded the regimentation of school as an insult. Greg undermined that, regularly, and at considerable personal cost, by waging clever, chaotic war against authority that he considered an affront to human dignity—the equivalent of Mr.Roberts throwing the Captain’s palm tree into the drink. One of my favorites was when he tweaked a pompous high school English teacher who chafed under the nick-name Greg had devised for him—“Tweety Bird”—because it caught on, and because it was so dead-on accurate. Greg went to the trouble of making stationery with a small picture of the Warner Brothers avian in the corner, distributed it, and that week poor Mr. Hendrickson received an assigned essay from every student on Tweety paper. Greg denied that he had anything to do with the plot, but accompanied his denials with Otter’s iconic wink to Dean Wormer, so he left no doubt who Mr. H’s true tormenter was, not there was any doubt.
The teacher did not take it well. Continue reading