Unethical Quote Of The Week: Slate Legal Columnist Dahlia Lithwick and Law Professor David S. Cohen

if you think THAT's a distortion, just try looking as the Golden Rule in the mirror...

If you think THAT’s a distortion, just try looking as the Golden Rule in the mirror…

“If Mr. Trump had lost the Electoral College while winning the popular vote, an army of Republican lawyers would have descended on the courts and local election officials.”

—-Slate Editor Dahlia Lithwick and Drexel University law professor David S. Cohen in a NYT op-ed, “Buck Up, Democrats, and Fight Like Republicans.”

I love this quote! It is a pure example of one of the many invalid Golden Rule permutations that appear on the invaluable Ethics Alarms Rationalizations list under #58. The Golden Rule Mutation, or “I’m all right with it!” Among the blatant rationalizations disguised in Golden Rule cloaks are…

  • Do unto others as you know others would do unto you.
  • Do unto others what they did unto you.
  • Do unto others as you wish others would do unto you even though you wouldn’t deserve it.
  • Do unto others as those others treat others.
  • Do unto others as they threatened to do unto you.
  • Do unto others as others who think like you do would also do to those others.
  • Do unto others according to how you feel about what they did unto you.
  • Do unto others before they do it unto you.
  • Do unto me as you would want to have done unto you if you were as devoid of civilized values as I am.

As for #58, it translates into…

“Do unto others as if the others felt like I do, even though they may not.”

The possible variations are infinite, and every one of them is intellectually dishonest and unethical. It’s astounding, and depressing, that two lawyers, one an alleged analyst and the other a law professor, would endorse such an unethical proposition.  They do it because they are openly partisan and politically biased, and as we all should know by now if you’ve been paying attention here, bias makes you stupid.

The op-ed’s Golden Rule mutation is one I should add to the list, though it’s a bit long:

“Do unto others as you conveniently assume the others would do unto you, even though there is no evidence that they would.”

So far, only Democrats have challenged the results of a Presidential election—in 2000, 2004, and now. The Republicans never have. In the one close election that might have been challenged, in 1960, Richard Nixon refused to do it, saying that it was best for the nation to accept the results. (Note to Democrats: When Richard Nixon makes you look bad, you really are bad.) Law professor Ann Althouse, who is one of the non-partisan  heroes in the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck, properly scoffs at Lithwick and Cohen’s “evidence” that the GOP would be beclowning itself like the Democrats are now, writing,

“Lithwick and Cohen offer as proof of their assertion the way the GOP fought in Florida in the 2000 election. But that had absolutely nothing with denying the fundamental constitutional structure that is the Electoral College.”

Moreover, Republicans in 2000 were responding to legal challenges by Democrats. What were they supposed to do, just  say, “OK, you’ve complained, here’s the White House”?

I’m trying to recall if I have ever lost respect for so many people—professionals, journalists, elected officials, colleagues and associates— over their unethical conduct and statements over a single issue. This is all so futile, so infantile, so intellectually tortured, so undemocratic, so un-American, so destructive and so wrong.


32 thoughts on “Unethical Quote Of The Week: Slate Legal Columnist Dahlia Lithwick and Law Professor David S. Cohen

  1. Jack wrote, “I’m trying to recall if I have ever lost respect for so many people… …over their unethical conduct and statements over a single issue. This is all so futile, so infantile, so intellectually tortured, so undemocratic, so un-American, so destructive and so wrong.”


  2. Fight what? The fight’s over for now. The Democrats can and can’t face the fact that they came up short and are about to lose the 2 biggest prizes of all: the White House and the SCOTUS, because they ran a terrible candidate with a terrible message. If they wanted to demand recounts that time has passed, and the time for legal challenges is done. There are enough functioning brains on the blue side of things that they didn’t try to press either of those, for fear of completely losing their credibility. But they are doing their damnedest to delegitimize Trump and make sure he can’t do a thing once he gets in office. They are also doing their damnedest to attack those who supported Trump or support him now (like myself, although reluctantly).

    I mentioned Jackie Evancho, the now 16yo AGT winner, yesterday. She has made a bit of a name for herself on the PBS circuit (Capitol Fourth, National Memorial Day Concert, etc.) and was just tapped yesterday to sing the National Anthem at Trump’s inauguration. Normally that’s considered a great honor and she would be getting a lot of “Go Jackie!” messages, but her social media has been FLOODED with messages of hate, some of them quite profane, telling Jackie they’ll never listen to her again, that this is a slap in the face to LGBT members of her family, that she’s evil for associating herself with Trump, that she must also hate this or that group, that they hope Trump will grab HER pussy, etc., etc.

    For comparison, Charlotte Church, her UK successor in the role of designated “angel” singer, made some really stupid and offensive comments about 9/11 and the FDNY the day after, and, although it probably sent her CD sales falling lower than they already were and accelerated her exit from the crossover world, you didn’t see anything like this level of direct hate and attacks.

    When you are spewing profanity and venom at a 16-year-old girl who doesn’t even have the right to vote, because she takes a singing gig most singers would give anything for, over politics, your ethical compass is seriously askew.

  3. I’ve said it many times: The biggest threat posed by Trump running, and now becoming, President is that those more on my side of the political spectrum would absolutely fall over ourselves in an attempt to stop him, shedding our humanity and losing all sense of what is an appropriate ways to treat our fellow Earthlings, throwing out the principles and values that got us so far.

    “And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you–where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast–man’s laws, not God’s–and if you cut them down–and you’re just the man to do it–d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?”

  4. Jack, I am glad you have arrived where I have sat for several years: I lost respect for most of these people when they proved, over and over, that they are intellectually dishonest, and approve of the ends justifying the means.

    Note that there are (admittedly fewer) Republicans that have earned my derision for the same reasons (I’m looking at YOU, John McCain!) The problem is one of ethics, not partisan politics.

    I do not think myself better than most of them, however: power has corrupted far better men than I, once they enter the cesspool surrounding Washington DC.

  5. “Moreover, Republicans in 2000 were responding to legal challenges by Democrats. What were they supposed to do, just say, “OK, you’ve complained, here’s the White House”?”

    Yes – much like Republicans are supposed to do today: “OK, you really do like the Cntons more than the Trumps, here’s the White House.” Let the Cntons’ foundation assets pay the bills for them to live there.

    The Apprentice can just continue to reside and rule from Trump Tower, and get his hands on all that public dough. The Cntons can go back to living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and be a “shadow presidency,” like…was it Jesse Jackson? who was a “shadow senator” for DC? And then, Americans can proceed to just pick and choose, cafeteria-style, which laws they will obey, which persons they will acknowledge as their titled political leaders. Yeah, let’s just delegitimize everything and everybody (but especially, those who have already delegitimized themselves).

    • Lucky,

      I am confused by your post. I am not sure what you mean, if sarcasm was intended, or what.

      Please elaborate, as I am sure the confusing is a symptom of the tamales I had for lunch! 🙂

      • Slick, Lucky is one of the best I have ever seen at sarcasm, so much so that he has produced an occasional twinge of jealousy. My guess, yes, sarcasm was intended and done well.

      • I apologize Slick Willy, for the delay in responding to your comment. I hope your tamales of yesterday are by now out of, or mostly out of, your system, as is my sarcasm of yesterday. (I like tamales, too!) My sarcasm-generators were more out-of-synch than usual yesterday. I confuse myself sometimes; I have discovered through careful self-analysis, plus others’ analysis, that my thinking sometimes flows through more than one track, and more than one sarcasm-injecting “processor” at the same time. It’s manageable though, most of the time, that multi-track thinking; it helps me to avoid having a “one-track mind,” which in my case would make me dangerous, even if my multi-track sarcasm injectors .

        So yes, I was definitely sarcastic in my comment yesterday. Re-reading my own comment a couple of times, I appreciate your saying I was confusing, and again, I apologize. On one hand, I was trying to build on Jack’s sarcasm, which is always so much clearer, and which I try to keep emulating – but I can never manage to be as uproariously funny as Jack often manages to be, even as he stays on-point. On the other hand…I know I was pissed off about the concerted effort that’s being made to “legitimize” a “not my president” movement against Trump (whom I will call the Apprentice, at least until after what I consider his first major test after being inaugurated – if he makes it that far, to inauguration I mean, never mind making it through that first major test, whatever that will be – and I am not being sarcastic or even kidding there). My lesson from your admitted confusion is a re-taking of a lesson I have not learned yet: when angry, venting is OK, but, if venting in writing that others can be expected to read, avoid mixing sarcasm with venting; you (i.e., me, Lucky) still do not write well enough yet to mix sarcasm with venting.

        • Ach! Failed to finish the last sentence of my first paragraph above: “…even if my multi-track sarcasm injectors continued to operate in parallel instead of in series.”

  6. Jack, is it hard for you that your common sense/ethics approach to the 2016 presidential election, though undeniably(?) correct, falls on (mostly) deaf ears?What am I getting at is this – if it truly bothers you that your postings do nothing(?) to change the political/social environment (and I sometimes get the impression that it does) then aren’t you setting yourself up for an early death? You can’t continue fighting the devil without negative consequences to your physical self. Venting is fine, but don’t allow it to take away your health and vitality.

    • I’m not wired that way, never have been. I’d rather be futile than inert. Remember, I’ve spent my life in theater, engaging in a creative enterprise that is all-consuming, under-appreciated, quickly forgotten and leaves no trace.

      • Better futile than inert – same here. But better still effective. As long as you don’t lose the moral high ground in the process, for then you’ve lost it all.

        I’m not saying this is easy. I’m not saying there aren’t cases of ambiguity, where deciding what is less immoral is fraught, debatable, and where reasonable people can disagree.

        I mean that it takes a constant effort to retain integrity, that we’re all human, errors will be made, but that means we can’t afford to be lax here lest we make even more.

  7. With any luck Trump will only go for one term and General Mattis can make a run the next go around. Then we can enjoy the delightfully fun Mad Dog 2020 campaign.

    (Not original but I can’t recall where I heard it)

  8. This today from the Washington Post: “A new poll shows 52% of Republicans actually think Trump won the popular vote.”

    Of course, if true, it’s a troubling statistic, speaking tot the polarized nature of political discourse in our nation. But note the context the Post is giving us:

    “Clinton’s lead now exceeds 2.8 million votes (more than 2.1 percent of the total vote) and continues to grow. Many Democrats hope this fact alone might persuade Republican electors to reject Trump in favor of some alternative.

    “But this hope faces a serious challenge: Half of all Republicans actually think Trump won the popular vote. …

    “If the Republican electors are anything like the party rank and file, they may think voting for Trump is in line with the choices of the American people.”

    Apparently, if Republican Electors fail to be persuaded to break their pledges and enact the popular votes of their states, it’s probably due to partisan ignorance, according to the Post.

    I’d like to see a poll breaking down how partisans think the Electoral College is supposed to work.

    • “Many Democrats hope this fact alone might persuade Republican electors to reject Trump in favor of some alternative.”

      A Democrat who believes this is at least as ignorant as a Republican who thinks Trump won the popular vote. And apparently a large number of Democrats don’t believe that the winner is determined by the Electoral vote. Morons.

    • It’s because too many uncivically educated americans think the President is a *direct* “representative” of the People. He/she is NOT a direct representative of the people. He *supposed* to be a executor of the law chosen by a balancing of America’a vast and differing regional cultures in order to avoid having a consistent tyranny of a few select cities over the rest.

    • And I imagine a large number of those believing he won the popular vote aren’t necessarily because of the fake news sites pushing Trump’s own quote as an actual representation of fact but because a lot of Republicans fear a great number of votes were cast illegally and shouldn’t have been counted.

      This in no way alleviates those who believe Trump’s comment nor those who think that illegal votes account for 2.1 million of Hillary’s votes.

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