On this day in ethics, 1918: Washington catcher Eddie Ainsmith claimed that he should be deferred from the draft because he was a major league baseball player. Uh, nice try, Eddie, but no, Secretary of War Newton D Baker ruled, as he tried to suppress uncontrollable eye-rolling..
1. “California, here I come!…here I come!…here I come!…” Oh. Never mind. The California Supreme Court took a measure off the ballot that would have allowed Californians to vote on whether the state should be divided into three smaller states, like this:
In its opinion, the Court argued that the changes demanded by the ballot measure exceeded California voters’ broad authority to enact laws by initiative, established in 1911. If enacted, the measure would have in effect abolished the state Constitution and all existing laws, which would have to be replaced by lawmakers in the three new states. The measure would also alter the laws that define California’s boundaries, amending the state Constitution. That cannot be done by initiative, but instead requires approval by two-thirds of both houses of the Legislature to be placed on the ballot.
I know that the splitting up of California was a transparent effort to hijack the Senate by adding four more guaranteed Democrats. It was also doomed, since this plot would need to pass Congress and not be vetoed by the President. Still, wouldn’t something as obvious as violating the state Constitution arise before the wacko measure was placed on the ballot? How incompetent can you get? How much more incompetent can California get?
2. THIS will end well… Facebook claims that it will be removing false information from its pages when it threatens to cause violence, before it will cause violence. Sure, we all trust Facebook as an objective, trustworthy arbiter of speech, don’t we? Don’t we? Especially since they use the ever-reliable Snopes to check. During an interview with ReCode’s Kara Swisher, Mark Zuckerberg cited Holocaust denials as the kind of misinformation Facebook would allow to remain on the platform. “At the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong,” Zuckerberg told Swisher. “I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong.”
He doesn’t? I’m not sure Holocaust denial is automatically eligible for Hanlon’s Razor; on the other hand, there are good faith idiots. Speaking of idiots, Zuckerman was surprised when his ignorant shrug sparked angry attacks like that of Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, who said, “Holocaust denial is a willful, deliberate and longstanding deception tactic by anti-Semites that is incontrovertibly hateful, hurtful, and threatening to Jews.Facebook has a moral and ethical obligation not to allow its dissemination.”
Hmmmm. How about ignorant claims that President Trump committed “treason”? How about “climate change denial,” which one of Bobby Kennedy’s kids or grandkids or cousins or something says should be a crime? ? What do you do about claims that gays have been excluded by God from the institution of marriage? Isn’t hate speech “violence”?
I don’t trust Facebook, with its ideologically slanted staff, and its idiot savant, politically naive CEO, using the likes of Snopes, to decide what is false, dangerously false, or properly censorable. Either everything is allowed, or the public, its knowledge, its speech and its political and social views will be subject to manipulation at the source.
3. A legitimate lawsuit, not unethical, just icky...No, there is nothing wrong with MGM Resorts International maintaining in court that the victims of the October 1 mass shooting in Vegas can’t sue it for negligence because of the post-9/11 law passed to protect institutional targets of terrorism from being hit with millions of dollars in damages when it was not at fault for the tragedy that occurred on its property
Citing a 2002 federal act that extends liability protection to any company that uses “anti-terrorism” technology or services that can “help prevent and respond to mass violence,” the lawsuit argues that the security vendor MGM hired was certified by the Department of Homeland Security for “protecting against and responding to acts of mass injury and destruction.” It is asking that a judge decide if the 2002 act is applicable, and if so, to hold that future civil lawsuits against the company are not viable. We are told that the lawsuit has provoked a “backlash,” meaning that lawyer who stand to get millions in fees are unethically trying to discourage the strategy by using emotional blackmail. If MGM isn’t liable under the law, they have every right, and indeed the obligation to their stockholders, to file the suit to avoid having to pay huge damage awards.
4. Are these great lawyer weasel words, or what? Julie Ezell, the former general counsel for the Oklahoma State Department of Health, has been charged with sending threatening emails to herself and reporting them to state officials. She is accused of posing as a medical marijuana advocate in the emails and sending them to herself once or twice a day for four days. She had resigned on Friday without giving a reason. This week, Ezell was charged in Oklahoma County with using computers to violate state laws, falsely reporting a crime, and preparing false evidence, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
Here is the masterful statement that her lawyer, Ed Blau, released:
“Julie Ezell has worked as a loyal and dedicated public servant her entire career as a lawyer. These charges do not reflect who she is as a person, nor do they reflect the type of advocate she has been for the people of the State of Oklahoma. These allegations will be answered, and additional relevant information will be provided by us at the appropriate time.”
Isn’t that great? He never engages in outright misrepresentation of deceit, suggesting or saying that she is innocent or that she claims to be innocent. The first sentence is a non-sequitur, like saying his lawyer saying that Dennis Rader, BTK Killer, was a good Cub Scout leader. Any lawyer could make the second statement, which is on the Rationalization list (21A. The Criminal’s Redemption, or “It’s just a small part of what I am!”) about any criminal. Of course the allegations will be answered, and from the looks of it, the answer will be “Guilty as charged.”