The 8th Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2016, Part 2


Part II of the Worst continues with education horrors, legal outrages, the Lie of the Year, and more.

Above? That’s obviously the…

Fake News of the Year.

Now the doesn’t get any better.

Biggest KABOOM! 


The YMCA Slavery Recreation.  You know, even looking through this category was dangerous. I had forgotten about all these stories, which, by definition, were all horrible. This one, from February, however, had to be the winner. The YMCA Storer Camps in Jackson, Michigan included an “educational” activity called “Underground Railroad” in which black children were asked to play runaway slaves, as some teachers and camp instructors acted as slave masters, chasing them down using real horses. Once captured, the children were “auctioned off.” The principal of the school that subjected its pre-teen students to the slavery simulations rather than the other better known YMCA camp activities like nature hikes, kayaking, canoeing, horseback riding and sitting around campfires responded that he didn’t expect the uproar, since no student had ever complained before.

Most Unethical High School Discipline

Red Mountain High School  in Mesa, Arizona. On a dare from a friend, high school football player Hunter Osborn briefly flashed his naughty bits in the team photo. Nobody noticed, including the yearbook’s faculty advisor, so the photo was published in the school yearbook.  Months later, the gag was discovered. Even though the photo was so small that offending nudity was virtually invisible to the naked eye, the school had Osborn was arrested and charged with 69 counts of indecent exposure. The charges were dropped because none of the 69 “victims” pressed charges.

Most Unethical No-Tolerance Action


John Glenn High School in Suburban Detroit.  The offense: “Inappropriate use of electronics in the restroom.” The conduct: Hazel Juco, a 17-year-old student, went to the school’s bathroom to wash her hands. When she turned on the faucet, ugly brown water came out. She then used her cell-phone to take photos of the discolored water and posted it to Facebook and Twitter.

She was suspended, but eventually social media and the local news vindicated her. The water was polluted, and the school district admitted that Hazel was punished for doing the right thing.

Most Unethical School Teacher

(Excluding Rapists)

A Tie! 

1. Malik Leigh, a teacher in Palm Beach Lakes High School’s pre-law academy a kindergarten teacher at Captain Johnston Blakely Elementary on Bainbridge Island, Washington

Leigh’s specialty is indoctrination. Aming his exam questions last year…

“If Donald Trump becomes president of the United states, we are:

A.) Screwed

B.) Screwed

C.) Screwed

D.) Screwed behind a really YUGE wall that Mexico pays for.”


“When performing an opening statement, it is best to:

A. Wink at the Judge

B. find the hottest person on the Jury and focus your words on them

C. Speak to them as if they are cordial friends.

D. Treat them like the MORONS they are.”

He was suspended.


2. “Jill Watson.” You can’t be a more unethical teacher than when you’re not a teacher at all. Or human.

Naked Teacher of the Year

Leigh Anne Arthur, In a completely warped and unfair application of the Naked Teacher Principle, school district officials in Union County demanded and received the resignation of the engineering teacher  after a student stole her phone, examined its contents and found a semi-nude selfie  intended for her husband’s enjoyment only.The student, who  warned her that “something bad was coming,” sent the images to other students through text messages and social media Arthur sued the school board for wrongful termination, but recently dropped the suit.  The student was charged with a computer crime and voyeurism. The Naked Teacher Principle holds that

A secondary school teacher or administrator (or other role model for children) who allows pictures of himself or herself to be widely publicized, as on the web, showing the teacher naked or engaging in sexually provocative poses, cannot complain when he or she is dismissed by the school as a result. The first formulation of the NTP can be found here.

This obviously does not apply to Arthur. Ironically it would apply to the incoming First Lady if she were a teacher, and arguably applies still, since the First Lady is a role model.

Double Standard Of The Year


Progressives and Democrats, who performed an immediate U-turn as soon Donald Trump won the election, and after having expressing outrage and indignation when Trump had suggested, about a month earlier, that he might not “accept the results of the election,” which he had claimed was “rigged,” immediately challenged the results of the election, and claimed it was rigged.

And they are still doing it today.

 Lie of the Year


Jumbo of the Year

Jumbo film

(Awarded to the individual whose denial of an evident fact most resembles Jimmy Durante’s response when caught trying to steal an elephant in the musical “Jumbo”: “Elephant? What elephant?”)

Hillary Clinton, who said…

“Director Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people, that there were decisions discussed and made to classify retroactively certain of the emails.”

   —- Clinton to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, asserting that what was demonstrably false was true, regarding a searing public statement by Comey that Clinton’s year-long denials were not true, and that her handling of her e-mails were dangerously careless.

It is fitting that the lie of the year arises out of the Ethics Train Wreck of the Year, the refusal of Hillary Clinton to admit that using a home-brewed server to send and receive official State Department e-mails, some containing classified material, wasn’t just “not the best decision” but a reckless, stupid, selfish, ignorant decision that put the nation’s security at risk, and only a non-criminal decision because the FBI and the Justice Department gave Clinton the benefit of some very large, smelly doubts. Even reliable Clinton enabler Politifact couldn’t spin this one, writing,

A reasonable person would interpret Clinton’s statement to mean that Comey has endorsed her public remarks about her email. This is not the case….Further, while not explicitly rebuking Clinton’s public comments, Comey highlighted a major problem with them. Clinton repeatedly said she did not have any classified information whatsoever in her email, marked or unmarked. After the FBI investigation, including the interview with Clinton, Comey said she unequivocally did.

We rate her claim Pants on Fire.

RUNNER-UP: The tortured claim that the Electoral College was intended to have a veto over the popular vote in the states, and that electors would be doing their duty to vote for candidates other than those they were pledged to vote for, because Alexander Hamilton argued for such a process in Federalist Paper #68.

Back to PolitiFact: the left-leaning fact-check organization conveniently forgot about the real lie of the year when making its year-end award, and designated “Fake News” as its choice. This means that such absurd hoaxes cited by PolitiFact as “Hillary Clinton is running a child sex ring out of a pizza shop,” “Democrats want to impose Islamic law in Florida,” and “Thousands of people at a Donald Trump rally in Manhattan chanted, “We hate Muslims, we hate blacks, we want our great country back” allegedly had more significance than the lies on television of a Presidential candidate.

Let’s call this “The Lie Of The Year About The Lie Of The Year.”

Uncivil U.S. Official of the Year

FILE - In this May 26, 2016 file photo, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg takes part in a conference in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Ginsburg says she doesn’t want to think about the possibility of Donald Trump winning the White House, and predicts the next president, “whoever she will be,” probably will have a few appointments to make to the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the second straight Supreme Court Justice to earn this distinction. In 2016 she announced that she would consider fleeing the country if Donald Trump won the election; wore her “dissent gabot” as a public, coded protest when he did win, and called protesting NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick “dumb.”

She eventually apologized for everything but the gabon.

Ethics Alarms assumes that President Trump will lock up this award for the next four years.

The Jesse Jackson Award 

(For the Year’s Worst Amateur Diplomat)

Donald Trump.  Between sending verbal nosegays to Vladimir Putin, to using tweets to troll Mexico and China, to unsettling China-US relations by having a phone chat with the Taiwan president, Donald Trump both before and after the election blithely meddled in the most difficult game on earth, international diplomacy, giving no assurances that he knew what he was doing. Let’s hope he’s a fast learner…


Most Unethical Sports League


The NFL, for the fourth year and counting. It continues to stonewall on its concussion problems, sending players on their way to dementia with every game (while thousands cheer), and this year became complicit in on-the-field race-baiting and police-bashing, allowing San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick (above) to grandstand every game by showing his disrespect for the National Anthem and his solidarity with Black Lives Matters. The NFL also allowed Beyoncé to star in a an anti-police, Black Lives Matter-celebrating half-time show, featuring “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!”

Sports Cheat of the Year

Russia. It took a long time for this story to unfold, but it finally did.

Unethical Lawyers of the Year

Law Firm Division

The Thornton Law Firm in Boston, Mass. The firm used an illegal and unethical maneuver to circumvent election laws and give millions of dollars to the Democratic Party and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Harry Reid, President Obama and Hillary Clinton, among others.  The scheme was revealed by the Center for Responsive Politics and the Spotlight investigative team at the Boston Globe.

Incompetent Lawyer Division

Michigan lawyer  Robert Slameka. Davontae Sanford  spent his teen years and early 20s behind bars for multiple murders he didn’t commit, thanks to Slameka’s astonishingly lazy and inept defense.  Slameka was  censored 17 times for incompetent and unethical representation, but he would still be representing—and screwing over— trusting defendants like Sanford and getting them sent to prison had his law license not been suspended last year after he was convicted last year of breaking into his ex-girlfriend’s house.

U.S. Government Attorney Division

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who cast a shadow over the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation and put FBI Chief James Comey in an impossible position by allowing the husband of the subject of the investigation, yes, Bill Clinton, to meet with her.

Unethical Prosecutor of the Year


Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, edging out last year’s winner,  Baltimore’s City Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who easily could have won on her “merits,” as the blog discusses here. But Bondi accepted a de facto bribe (and an illegal one) from Donald Trump’s foundation, and accepted a job in the new administration as a pay-off for dropping a lawsuit against Trump University. Nice.

Unethical Judge of the Year

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, of course. He’s the one who  sentenced former Stanford swimming star Brock Turner to six months in county jail and three years’ probation for raping an unconscious female student. RUNNER-UP: Rhonda Crawford, who won a Chicago judgeship running unopposed, while under indictment for pretending to be a judge and actually ruling is some cases, because…oh, it’s too complicated. Last I checked, it was up in the air whether she was going to the bench or jail. You know. Chicago.

Part I is here.

Part III is the way,


7 thoughts on “The 8th Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2016, Part 2

  1. Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, of course. He’s the one who sentenced former Stanford swimming star Brock Turner to six months in county jail and three years’ probation for raping an unconscious female student.

    Would he not be tied with the judge in this case?

    This happened in 2014. The La Joya police chief at the time also saw the video, and reported it to city authorities. As a result, a Hidalgo County grand jury charged Peralez with three counts of civil rights violations and one count of “official oppression”—yes, I would agree that a cop sticking various objects, organic and otherwise, into a confined woman’s vagina without her consent qualifies as “oppression”— and he was sentenced to a whopping 6 months in state jail and 30 days in county jail after a plea bargain.

  2. Here’s an early contender for 2017:

    Isaac Marion, writer of the Warm Bodies series of books, posted screencaps of tweets Donald Trump wrote about him. So far just one of these tweets has been retweeted 20,000 times:

    The problem? The tweets aren’t real, and when Marion was called on that, he retreated to the “satire” defense, seemingly ignorant of the fact that if thousands of people read your work and don’t know it’s satire, then it’s not good satire. He still hasn’t admitted any wrongdoing or taken the tweets down. It seems clear to me he made up the tweets to make it look like Trump was attacking him to get publicity and sell books.

  3. “Ethics Alarms are the feelings in your gut, the twinges in your conscience, and the sense of caution in your brain when situations involving choices of right and wrong are beginning to develop, fast approaching, or unavoidable. The better your alarms work and the sooner they start sounding, the more likely you are to do the right thing, or at least to use good ethical reasoning to decide what to do. ” – the definition of Colin Kaepernick’s decision to use his platform to bring awareness to race disparities in the justice system and America. You may disagree with his conclusions about the system, his interpretation of data, or his protest methods, but I’m having a hard time seeing how his behavior is unethical. In fact, once he learned that others might interpret his sitting during the national anthem as disrespectful to military veterans (an unintended consequence of his protest and certainly not his intent from what I can tell), he compromised by moving to a kneeling position to indicate an awareness of respect for veterans. I suggest you educate yourself on these issues further. See Nate Boyer (former NFL player and military veteran) articles at a minimum and perhaps race-based policing issues if you are up for some real work. – signed a white guy who appreciates peace officers and also thinks our country can do a better job of ensuring everyone (regardless of race) gets equal treatment under the law.

    • I made my case in more than one post. It’s unethical because it turns a sporting event that spectators go to for one purpose, into divisive political grandstanding. He is misusing his position and the NFL to make a political statement that he can’t even express coherently. It harmed his team and the NFL. Selfish, useless, irresponsible, incompetent, stupid.

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