It’s Sexual Harassment Day!

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Unfortunately, it will be a while before I get to the next ethics topic. Accompanied by the ProEthics acting troupe, The Ethical Arts Players, I’ll be running not just one but two harassment awareness and avoidance trainings today. Avoiding harassing conduct is only applied ethics after all; it should be easy, but it isn’t.

I’ll be talking about some high profile cases that have been discussed here: the Trump-Billy Bush video, naturally; Ellen Degeneris’s cute sexual harassment of Jake Gyllenhaal on television that nobody complained about because…she’s Ellen! ; and the most relevant of all for the group I’ll be talking to, made up of scientists and academics, this story.

Sexual harassers come in many varieties, and this reminds me that I need to write more about the topic. Here are 15 types that have been identified in the wild so far, but hybrids and mutants are also out there:

  1. The Power Player: A “quid pro quo” harasser: the boss.
  2. The Counselor: Exploiting mentor relationships, abusing tryst
  3. The Leader of the Pack: Leading group embarrassment or marginalization
  4. The Serial Harasser: The Intentional and shameless abuser. With all that has gone on in the law and public eye, they are still out there in force.
  5. The Groper: Hands and Eyes. Yes, that’s Joe Biden…
  6. The Opportunist: Awaiting their chances, and ready to pounce on the trusting, vulnerable and needy
  7. The Bully : Sexual harassment as punishment, manipulation or just for sadistic fun
  8. The Confidante: Building trust to abuse it, that Platonic friend who’s not really platonic.
  9. The Pest: Polite, but not taking “no” for an answer
  10. The Sympathetic Harasser – Exploiting a crisis
  11. The Gallant: Misusing compliment and manners to marginalize, the kind of harassment women often don’t notice. (Barack Obama is one.)
  12. The Nerd: Socially inept individuals who desire the attentions of their targets, and who often don’t see that they do not reciprocate these feelings.
  13. The Stalker: Watching, trailing, bothering, tracking. The most dangerous harasser.
  14. The Blunderer : An accidental or clueless harasser
  15. The Star: The open harasser who’s status prevents him from being called one, or called to account.

 

Ethics Dunce: Secret Service Agent Kerry O’Grady

Here is a Facebook post by O’Grady, the special agent in charge of the Secret Service’s Denver district, who oversees coordination with Washington-based advance teams for all Presidential trips to the area:

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This was in October, and was seen by her Facebook followers including current and former Secret Service agents. In addition to being a declaration of disloyalty, the social media post is  a Hatch Act violation, which among other things prohibits a federal employee from “posting a comment to a blog or a social media site that advocates for or against a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office,or partisan political group,” and also from using  social media to “distribute, send or forward content that advocates for or against a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.”

Never mind that, though. Continue reading

Fake Legal Résumé Ethics

fake-resume-usaWhat the legal profession will regard as conduct that calls into question a lawyer’s honesty sufficiently to disbar him is a mysterious and unpredictable area. Remember, John Edwards never received as much as a rap on the wrists for his exorbitant lying to hide the fact that he had a mistress and a love child while he was running for President in 2008. Now the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board has been affirmed in its decision to disbar lawyer Ali Zaidi for having false credentials and representations on his professional resumé.

I would expect that to send chills down many a lawyer’s spine, since professional resumés of lawyers and non-lawyers alike are so frequently loaded with puffery that it is almost an “everybody does it” ethical breach. (This is my favorite, the long-time lie of Clinton crony Bill Richardson.) Fortunately for most of them, the Rules of Professional Conduct involving honesty are narrowly interpreted to exclude all but violations of law, breaking official pledges, defaulting on loans and lying under oath, unless they involve the actual practice of law. (Lying to a judge, to a client or in a brief is career suicide.) Does a resumé fudge qualify as the unethical practice of law? Not usually: Ziadi’s must have been something special.

It was. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Punishing The 12-Year-Old Killer

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Texas Monthly this month has a troubling profile of Edwin Debrow, who is 37 years old,  has been behind bars since he was 12, and may have to stay there until he is 52. On September 21, 1991, Debrow shot a San Antonio school teacher named Curtis Edwards in the back of the head. Edwards’ body was found sprawled across the front seat of a taxi that he drove part-time at night. Edwin, police determined, had shot Edwards during an attempted robbery. Above is the photo of the 12-year-old in custody.

Texas law, you will not be surprised to learn, allows very harsh punishment for  juvenile offenders.Other states will sometimes try 12-year-olds as adults. Last year’s documentary “Beware the Slenderman” tells the strange story of Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser, two 12-year-old Wisconsin girls who attempted to stab another 12-year old girl to death in 2014. Under Wisconsin law, Weier and Geyser will be tried as adults for attempted first-degree intentional homicide, and if convicted, they could be sentenced to up to 65 years in state prison.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is this:

Is it ethical for society to punish children with such long prison sentences, no matter how serious the crime?

Continue reading

New Category: “This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President”…And The DNC Chair Candidates Forum Earns It First

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Obviously the Ethics Alarms “This will help elect Donald Trump”  category is outdated now. The ongoing inquiry of why he was elected is not. When I launched the old category late in the campaign, I never thought any of the stories so categorized, alone or in concert, actually would elect Trump; I just was trying to flag how the unsavory Clinton campaign and the divisive and inept Obama administration were giving the chaotic Republicans more of a chance than they deserved. Still, the cumulative effect of the entries in the category persuaded me that my earlier resolve to swallow a lot of Dramamine and vote for Hillary Clinton was professionally untenable, though not as untenable as voting for our new President.

It became clear to me that Republican voters last November were voting against something, just as Democratic voters in 2008 had voted for something, and in both instances, the man their votes brought to power was a beneficiary of a significant emotional release in American society, sparked by events and the conduct of elected officials.  Ethics Alarms could not have been more definite in its verdict, stated often, that voting for Donald Trump was an irresponsible and unethical act. As a believer in democracy, American character and ideals, I have to somehow reconcile that conclusion with the shocking results. The Democratic Party’s conclusion that racism, sexism and stupidity explains it all is not valid, and is in fact a big part of why Trump was elected. Also among the major factors, we have learned, are the deeply entrenched undemocratic attitudes that have led so many on the Left to behave disgracefully since the election, and the attitudes in the news media that have led journalists to increasingly abandon whatever shreds of professionalism they had remaining.

Learning and understanding what so many Americans voted against is an unfinished and ongoing inquiry. The new category, launched today, should assist the learning process.

The first episode to earn the new marker is yesterday’s forum for candidates to lead the Democratic National Committee, featuring a group including  Boynton Brown, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), former secretary of labor Tom Perez, New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley, South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison, Democratic strategist Jehmu Greene and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.  It lasted about an hour and 45 minutes, and covered many topics.

This was a perfect event for a reporter to choose which aspect of the discussion to feature, conveying to the public a distortion of reality like that experienced by the proverbial six blind men and the elephant. Politico, a prominent Democratic Party-supporting political news source, scrubbed its report of any substance that might harm the cause: it told us merely that the candidates “agreed to agree.”

The Washington Post, reporting on the session held in its backyard at George Washington University and presumably reliable, described a session that focused on “diversity and racial justice,” and concluded with Rep. Keith Ellison’s call for action that will show that “the Democratic Party is on the side of inclusion and empowerment.” Another source, Grabien News (this site rates it one of the least biased news sources; I would call it a conservative-biased  news site), reveals a bit more:

Early into the event the candidates gravitated toward a particular scapegoat for the party’s poor showing in November: Political consultancies owned by white people.

“We have to stop, particularly with the consultants,” said the chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, Jaime Harrison. “You cannot come to the DNC and get a contract and the only minority face you have is the person answering the phone.”  Minority consultants “need to get the same resources that the white consultants have gotten,” said a Fox News analyst and candidate for the chairmanship, Jehmu Greene. “The DNC did a piss poor, pathetic job” attracting minorities, she said.

Democrats must provide “training” that focuses in part on teaching Americans “how to be sensitive and how to shut their mouths if they are white,” urged the executive director of Idaho’s Democratic Party, Sally Boynton Brown, who is white. 

Continue reading

Texas Says It Will Withhold Funds From Sanctuary Cities, And It Is The Ethical Thing To Do

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Texas Governor Greg Abbott  says that the state is likely to cut off funding for Travis County after rebellious Sheriff Sally Hernandez announced it would cease cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Nationally, new Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected to do the same with federal funds, punishing various grandstanding sanctuary cities, including the Big Apple, New York City itself.

Illegal immigration facilitating cities should have been stopped at the very beginning, but the Obama Administration, pledged to enforce  the laws of the land, allowed this defiance to continue and spread. As part of an expected, indeed promised, crackdown on illegal immigration, Donald Trump should emulate his most similar past President and take a firm stand against this virtual nullification, just like Old Hickory.

Says Professor Turley…

The coming weeks will see if these confrontations are going to worsen but the politics are not promising for compromise. That would result in the type of confrontation between federal and state authorities that we have not seen on such a large scale. There are over three dozen such cities. It could lead to some interesting constitutional challenges over conditions tied to federal funding. In 1987 in South Dakota v. Dole, the Supreme Court upheld federal conditions that withheld highway funding from cities that did not enforce the federal drinking age…. Ironically, these largely liberal cities may rely the most on a ruling against the Obama Administration. In 2012, the Court found such coercion in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, when the Court struck down a provision of the Affordable Care Act that would have blocked federal Medicaid funding to states that did not adopt a Medicaid expansion.

[ I think the professor is stretching here. A lot. If that’s the best legal precedent the sanctuary cities can muster, they are doomed to lose. ] Continue reading

Let Us Praise The Even-Handed Fact Checker

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Glenn Kessler, as I have noted before, tries. The primary Washington Post fact checker leans to the left, and often his biases get the better of him, but he tries. His bias showed up recently when he balked at directly calling the oft repeated propaganda that Obama had an administration that was “historically free of scandal,” the falsehood that it is, but I give him credit for touching the issue, which has become cant in his world of partisan loyalists. Kessler refused to give the claim a rating, saying that there were arguments for and against the proposition.

Kessler brushed up against reality when he wrote, “One thing that is apparent is that Obama has benefited from the fact that the independent counsel law lapsed in 1999, since in another era some of the controversies that have enveloped his administration might have resulted in an independent prosecutor.” Right. And that’s because there were many scandals—the IRS, Fast and Furious, Clinton’s e-mails, the Bowe Bergdahl exchange, the  pay-off for Iran hostages and its cover-up, the VA—that a complicit press didn’t pursue, and a political Justice Department allowed to fade away. Kessler’s job is to debunk false partisan narratives, and that’s is a whopper of one. He blinked.

He did come through last week with a post on Obama’s biggest lies, Four Pinocchios in Kessler-speak. And today, Kessler chose one of the many, many absurd assertions made at the Women’s March, by one of the truly embarrassing members of Congress. Maxine Waters (D-Ca), who said regarding Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos,

“What about that Betsy DeVos? A billionaire who he is picking to head Education who has never seen the inside of a classroom. She has no experience, she has no background. That’s dangerous for our children.”

Kessler takes the gloves off and not only festoons Waters with Pinocchios, he calls her statement “ridiculous,” which it is. Continue reading

When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring (Or Were Disconnected): Now THIS Is An Unethical Airplane Passenger….

A Trump-deranged woman on a Baltimore to Seattle flight went bananas when she learned that a fellow passenger was not similarly inclined, and was so abusive that she was kicked off the flight.

Good.

The object of her scorn, Scott Koteskey, described the confrontation on Facebook, writing in part…

I’m boarding my flight from Baltimore to Seattle and approach my seat…As I approach my row I smile and motion to the husband and wife sitting in the aisle and middle seat that my seat was next to the window. I put my backpack in the overhead and the wife with a very stern voice says to me:

“Did you come here to cheer or to protest?”

“I came here to celebrate democracy ma’am”

She then proceeded with: (somewhat paraphrased as my memory allows):

Her: “You put a crazed man in charge of the nuclear codes! You should be ashamed!”

Me: ‘Well we’re all entitled to our opinions here ma’am.”

Her: “And I’m entitled to get drunk and puke in your lap! I’m going to throw up right in your lap! You make me sick! Don’t talk to me! Don’t look at me! Don’t you dare even put your arm on that rest. You disgust me! You should be ashamed of yourself! You put a maniac’s finger on the button” (assuming she’s means nukes). You are a bigot. You should get off this plane!”

Me: “Ma’am, by definition, bigotry is disparaging someone prior to knowing them simply by their beliefs and opinions. Thank you for being the very thing you preach against.”

She then proceeded with other various rantings such as my lack of critical thinking and other insults. Finally a flight attendant came over as you will see in the video followed by a supervisor informing that she would have to de-board the plane per captain’s orders….

Continue reading

From The “Double Standard” Files: Obama’s Voter ID Lie

"What? No, I think he looks just fine! He always looks fine!"

“What? No, I think he looks just fine! He always looks fine!”

This will undoubtedly be called a partisan post, and when it is, I will be ticked off. It is not partisan to object to outright lies. It is partisan to ignore and accept lies according to who the liar is. This is the bind the news media has placed itself in, and a brilliant, throbbing example occurred during President Obama’s last press conference.

Discussing his concerns about state voter ID  laws, Obama said,

“We’re the only advanced democracy in the world that makes it harder for people to vote.  It traces directly back to Jim Crow and the legacy of slavery, and it became sort of acceptable to restrict the franchise. . . . we are the world’s oldest continuous democracy, and yet we systematically put up barriers and make it as hard as possible for our citizens to vote….This whole notion of election-voting fraud, this is something that has constantly been disproved. This is fake news.”

Wait, by “this is fake news,” was the President really  announcing that what he just said was fiction? That would be very impressive, and a great new standard: imagine if the news media did that, and flagged their misleading stories!  But I’m pretty sure that he was trying to make us believe what isn’t true, and a falsehood that supports the phony narrative that efforts to ensure the integrity of elections are really racist plots. Explicates John Fund:

“All industrialized democracies — and most that are not — require voters to prove their identity before voting. Britain was a holdout, but last month it announced that persistent examples of voter fraud will require officials to see passports or other documentation from voters in areas prone to corruption…In 2012, I attended a conference in Washington, D.C., of election officials from more than 60 countries; they convened there to observe the U.S. presidential election. Most were astonished that so many U.S. states don’t require voter ID…. [O]ur neighbors require voter ID. Canada adopted voter-ID requirements in 2007 and saw them reaffirmed in 2010; they have worked smoothly since, with almost no complaints. Mexico’s “Credencial para Votar” has a hologram, a photo, and other information embedded in it, and it is impossible to effectively tamper with it. …Britain is painfully learning that it too must take steps to restore confidence in its elections. Sir Eric Pickles, a former Conservative cabinet minister, warned earlier this year, in a government-commissioned report titled “Securing the Ballot,” that voter fraud had been allowed to fester in Muslim communities because of “politically correct over-sensitivities about ethnicity and religion.” Sir Eric said that the authorities were in a “state of denial” and were “turning a blind eye” to fraud cases. Last month, Theresa May’s government responded to the problem. It announced that “endemic corruption” meant that voters in certain areas will now have to show photo identification. The government may even require people to prove their UK citizenship before granting them the right to vote.”

Continue reading

Inauguration Cake Ethics (No, I Can’t Believe I Wrote That Either)

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THE LATEST PROOF OF PRESIDENT TRUMP’S DEPRAVITY!

He specifically asked for an exact replica of Barack Obama’s 2013 Inauguration cake! The HORROR!

Apparently nothing is too trivial to use to attack Donald Trump. Focus, guys, focus!

The scandal:

Trump asked the baker who made the official Inauguration cake—until today, I hadn’t given any thought to the Inauguration cakes of either Trump of Obama. and I was a happier man for it—to make an exact replica of one of Obama’s cakes. Why, I have no idea. I think both the original and the copy are tacky. Don’t you?

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Celebrity baker Duff Goldman of TV’s “Ace Of Cakes” then tweeted that the cake at one of Trump’s Inauguration balls was a rip-off of his design. Social media Trump-haters immediately pronounced this as “100% plagiarism.” Donald Trump is plagiarizing cakes now! Is there anything he won’t do? I bet Hitler plagiarized cakes.

Whether this really is plagiarism is an interesting, if stupid, question. A design made for one-time only use commissioned by the White House was duplicated and used again by the White House, though with new occupants, four years later. Was it a derivative work? Homage? Fair use? Does the White House own the design, having commissioned it originally? All we have is a two-dimensional representation, and there is no definitive evidence since both were, you know, eaten. I’d say a copyright infringement claim would be futile, and petty. Here, you try to figure it out. Continue reading