1. Shameless self-promotion Dept. Once again, I am presenting my three-hour Clarence Darrow and modern attorney ethics CLE program for the D.C. Bar, and later this summer, Virginia CLE will be sponsoring the same seminar in Richmond and Northern Virginia. As always, my partner and collaborator in All Things Darrow is esteemed D.C. actor (and American University law school instructor, and, I am proud to say, my friend) Paul Morella, who has been Darrowing since he premiered my one-man show about the great and flawed lawyer in 2000, for The American Century Theater. His website is here. This is Paul…
Paul is a lot taller, thinner and better looking than Darrow, and unlike Clarence, he also bathes regularly. It doesn’t matter. I can’t recommend his show, which he performs for bar associations and legal groups around the country, more highly, and would feel this way even if I hadn’t written it. Of course, any group that wants Continuing Legal Education credits can also book today’s seminar, which has many of Darrow’s greatest courtroom orations, but also legal ethics commentary from me.
2. Ah-HA! NOW I understand why I’m being sued for defamation! This is in the “This comes as no surprise” category, but it still explains a lot. The Pew Research Center just released a survey that demonstrates that a large proportion of the public can’t distinguish facts from opinions. The main portion of the study measured the public’s ability to distinguish between five factual statements and five opinion statements. Pew found
“…that a majority of Americans correctly identified at least three of the five statements in each set. But this result is only a little better than random guesses. Far fewer Americans got all five correct, and roughly a quarter got most or all wrong. Even more revealing is that certain Americans do far better at parsing through this content than others. Those with high political awareness, those who are very digitally savvy and those who place high levels of trust in the news media are better able than others to accurately identify news-related statements as factual or opinion.”
I challenge that last part. It may well be that those who place high levels of trust in the news media could distinguish between fact and opinion in those ten statements, but it doesn’t change the fact (now this is my opinion, but I still believe it is demonstrably true) that the news media distorts what it represents as facts based on journalists’ biased opinions.
In fact, I’m interested in how this poll comes out:
3. Once again: The Unibomber was right. This morning began with a panic, as my wife’s computer was suddenly taken over by a bellowing British woman and a fright screen “from Microsoft” telling her that a malign “pornography virus” had infected her computer, and that she had to address it immediately or the commuter would be shut down. The non-stop vocal warning on a loop made it hard to think straight, but of course this was a scam. My smart, savvy wife and business partner had downloaded a document from a new site, and this was the result. After about 30 minutes of both of us doing our best chicken-with-its-head-cut-off impression, we fixed the problem. Even then: how did we know that the free program we used to eliminate the virus wasn’t also a trick?
My wife has been using computers and the web for a long time. We are now completely defendant on technology that most of us do not sufficiently understand to use competently, and will never understand sufficiently to use competently. Is it ethical or sane to build modern society and commerce on a foundation that most of those dependent on it will not and cannot master?
4. Doh! That Ethics Alarm didn’t ring! In Baltimore, a Dunkin’ Donuts store manager of the West 41st Street store posted the sign below “based on her own personal judgment” to address a “customer service and satisfaction issue.”
The chain quickly determined the sign to be “inappropriate,” and the sign was removed.
How could the manager not realize that the sign would set off a public relations disaster and be interpreted as xenophobic prejudice? Is it all right for English speaking employees to shout in the store? Who shouts in a Dunkin’ Donuts store anyway?
Now watch: because of one idiot, Dunkin’ Donuts will have to hold company wide sensitivity trainings, and promise free donuts to foreign language speakers as penance.
Note also that this manager, like the Starbuck’s manager who called the cops on two African Americans for not immediately buying some coffee as they waited for a companion, is female. How odd. I thought women were inherently better managers than men…
5. What a coincidence! In related news, Starbucks announced that it will close 150 poorly performing company-operated stores next year, about three times as many as it typically closes. The doomed stores are located in mostly urban areas, which is to say, the places where the chain’s new “woke” policy of letting homeless people just gang out and use the bathrooms at will are likely to be especially burdensome. The unexpectedly high casualty list may also be related to the fact—this isn’t my opinion, now—that Starbuck’s corporate brain-washing effort in the wake (that’s woke in the wake, now) of the arrest fiasco cost, according to outgoing chairman Howard Schultz, “tens of millions” of dollars. The training also delayed the launch of Starbucks’ spring and summer marketing campaign by about two weeks.
I wonder how many completely innocent Starbucks employees, including African Americans, will lose their jobs because of the company’s hysterical over-reaction to the admitted mishandling of a single incident? I feel sorry for them. I do not feel sorry for Starbucks in the least.