Unethical Website Of The Month: “Above The Law”


Stay classy, Above The Law!

Above The Law, which styles itself a legal profession gossip site and half-baked professional ethics watchdog, has been a useful resource for me on occasion, though the commentary of its writers, particularly lead writer Elie Mystal, has often left a lot to be desired ethically and logically. My last four posts regarding Above the Law, going back a year, have been Ethics Dunce entries, and there easily could have been more.

I used to get Above the Law’s stories sent to my in box, as I had subscribed several years ago. Then I noticed that I wasn’t getting them any more, so I subscribed again. I got notices for a few days, then they stopped. Again I subscribed. Again, my subscription vanished.

I just re-subscribed today, and expect that I will again be cut off.

Ethics Alarms has, it seemed, been “unfriended” by Above The Law, because I have had the impertinence to point out the increasingly lunk-headed ethics confusion and partisan bias of the site. Wow, that’s petty!  That’s also cowardly: the site seems to think that if I don’t know about their frequently misguided posts, I wouldn’t be able to criticize them. In fact, they are mostly right. I have now more than once gone many weeks without noticing the lack of the site’s notices in my e-mail. Life without “Above the Law’ is still rich and full of joy.

I did check today, however, which is when I discovered my latest subscription was gone with the wind. While I was responding positively to the site’s invitation to me to subscribe (for the 4th time), I checked the most recent posts, and saw this, from Elie, naturally…

Praising a recent post by a professor who was criticized for openly supporting Black Lives Matter—a group that declares on its website that the deaths of “Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police” were “murders” before any investigation or assessment of the events leading up to the shootings has been completed—Mystal’s post, titled “To Be Honest, I’m In No Mood To Explain #BlackLivesMatter To White People Today” reads in part…

…Of course people who do not think black lives matter worth a damn were going to use this incident to try to discredit the movement.

This post is a good counter to all of that… if countering the racist agenda of Confederate America is what you are inclined to do today.

I’m not. I am not inclined to explain myself to white people today. I do no feel the need to create a false equivalency between the dangers that cops face from the general public as they do their jobs, and the dangers black people face, from the police, as they try to live their lives.

They are two different things. Cops are paid to put themselves in dangerous situations and handle themselves professionally and appropriately. Black people are citizens entitled to due process of laws.

 This isn’t a race war. It’s state-sponsored terrorism against African-American communities pitted against the proliferation of firearms in the hands of too many people.

Explaining why #BlackLivesMatter is a call for social change while #BlueLivesMatter is a fig leaf for police oppression might be an argument that some white people need to hear today. But you’ll have to go to some other brother to get it.

 Me, I’m just out here survivin’ y’all. And that is hard enough without having to figure out how to explain things in a way Rudolph Giuliani would understand.

Fuck Rudy. Fuck you if you agree with him. That’s my argument. Have a nice weekend.

Well, that was informative! I used to think Mystal was just an unusually opinionated Ethics Dunce with a law degree who could be relied upon to come down on the wrong side of a legal ethics story about 30% of the time. Now I know Elie’s also a racist and an unprofessional, emotion and bias-driven hack as well…and that Above the Law holds its writers to no standards of fairness, civility or responsibility.

All this is good to know for future reference. Meanwhile, I do agree with Rudy (on this, if not much else), and I eagerly await my subscription’s next mysterious cancellation.

[NOTE of CORRECTION: In the original post, I misspelled Mr. Mistral’s name as “Ellie” because that’s how my eyes have always read it. It’s “Elie,” though—why, I don’t know.]

21 thoughts on “Unethical Website Of The Month: “Above The Law”

  1. This is just the kind of reaction to anyone raising a question that I mentioned earlier. Mystal’s at the point in an argument where he’s heard all he’s going to hear, he’s got his position, he’s strong in his position, and he’s going to respond to any more challenges with curses or fisticuffs. I know because I’ve been there. There comes a point where you’ve just had enough, nothing is going to change your mind, as far as you are concerned the issue is settled, you just don’t want to hear anything else about it, and if anyone else insists on continuing to discuss it you are going to tell that person to STFU or you are going to punch him out. He’s there. A lot of people are there. Tread lightly, Jack, at least in person, I’d say, or you risk getting hurt.

    • Last lines of the New York Times article:

      “Who the hell wants to have a police officer put their hand on them or yell and scream at them? It’s an awful experience,” he said. “I’ve had it multiple, multiple times. Every black man I know has had this experience. Every one of them. It is hard to believe that the world is your oyster if the police can rough you up without punishment. And when I talked to minority youth, almost every single one of them mentions lower level uses of force as the reason why they believe the world is corrupt.”

      And that’s the point that needs to be addressed. It’s a huge point in and of itself, but nearly invisible in the blackness obscuring it.

      • The study is telling. Blacks get hard hands more often, whites get shot more often. The opinion veiling the truth is merely the curtain hiding the wizard attempting to control our world view. The numbers don’t lie.

  2. I agree with your post, but the gentleman’s name is Elie Mystal. I think Ellie would be a woman’s, rather than a man’s, name. Also, you should change it because, you know, racism.

    • I have been trying to figure out Ellie’s gender for years, with no clue. What difference does it make? I thought I left out all pronouns…I’ll go back and check. John Wayne’s real name was Marion.

      • Elie Mystal is a man. I was trying to sarcastically make the point that he might construe your misspelling of his name as racism. However, I do think that Elie is pronounced “Eli” and is a man’s name. Ellie, I believe would be pronounced “el-ee” and is, therefore, a woman’s name.

        I think you may have misunderstood what I was attempting to say. You have, accidentally I’m certain of if, misspelled Elie’s name. I’m positive you have done this accidentally because you have earned a lot of goodwill with me about your ethical compass through my months of perusing this blog. I do not believe you would ever intentionally misspell a person’s name because I suspect that you, like me, would believe that showing respect towards a person is even more important when we vehemently disagree with what that person is saying or what that person has done.

        However, it’s possible a newcomer may believe you have misspelled his name out of malice because you dislike his “opinion” piece at Above the Law. This may be compounded by the fact that, I believe, you have accidentally replaced a man’s name with a woman. This could possibly be seen as an attempt to belittle or humiliate Mr. Mystal. Normally, I would not point out such a trivial mistake, but in this case, I fear it could undermine your point by making some believe you are just unfairly attacking Mr.Mystal. I’m sure you do not seek to humiliate or Mr. Mystal, but I am not a newcomer to this blog.

        Getting the name right makes no difference to your overall point about his lack of ethics in that particularly post (which was obnoxious, offensive, and beneath both the lowest of the low of journalists and lawyers, of which he proclaims to be both).

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