Afternoon Ethics Jolt, 8/3/2018: A Lawyer Finds A New Way To Be Unethical, Verizon Makes Our Kids Obnoxious And Ignorant, And The Times Decides To Show Its Colors…



Yes, I couldn’t get this up before noon again. Mornings have been crazy lately. And no, I’m not at the beach…I just WISH I was at the beach.

1. A legal ethics “Kaboom! From the New York Times account of the litigation surrounding New York Yankee great Thurmon Munson’s death when his private plane crashed in 1979:

James Wiles, one of FlightSafety International’s lawyers at the time, still contends there was no culpability in Munson’s death on the part of either company. But a trial, he said, was just too risky…. Wiles, who was present for all the depositions…said that when Yogi Berra testified, he put a box of 24 baseballs in front of him and requested he sign them. Berra, who was a Yankees coach when Munson died, grudgingly obliged, but at one point asked if Wiles was authorized to make such a demand.

“It’s my deposition,” Wiles said he told Berra.

My head exploded after reading that. There is no rule I can find that declares such a blatant professional abuse unethical, unless it is the deceitful “It’s my deposition” response, which is literally true but falsely implies that the lawyer has the power to force a witness in a deposition to do something completely unrelated to the case for the lawyer’s personal benefit. Rule or no rule, this was incredibly unethical, and a perfect example of how lawyers will come up with ways to be unethical that they can’t be sanctioned for.

2. More on the New York Times’ new editor: Yesterday, I covered the astounding—but maybe not so astounding—appointment of far-left journalist Sarah Jeong as its technology editor despite a huge archive of explicitly racist and sexist tweets. The Times’ defiant explanation, a rationalization, really, stated:

“We hired Sarah Jeong because of the exceptional work she has done … her journalism and the fact that she is a young Asian woman have made her a subject of frequent online harassment. For a period of time she responded to that harassment by imitating the rhetoric of her harassers. She regrets it, and The Times does not condone it.”

Jeong’s statement was simply dishonest:

“I engaged in what I thought of at the time as counter-trolling. While it was intended as satire, I deeply regret that I mimicked the language of my harassers. These comments were not aimed at a general audience, because general audiences do not engage in harassment campaigns. I can understand how hurtful these posts are out of context, and would not do it again.”

The issue is not whether she will “do it again”—presumably even the Times wouldn’t stand for that, but whether her many racist outbursts online do not raise the rebuttable presumption that she is, in fact, a racist. Nothing in her statement tells us that she doesn’t believe such things as “white men are fucking bullshit,” only that she didn’t aim these comments at the general public.

I find it hard to believe that the even Times is so stupid and arrogant that it will dig in its metaphorical heels and refuse to admit its gross mistake. As Glenn Reynolds writes today,

“By keeping her on and defending her, the New York Times — and the blue-check tribe on Twitter that’s been taking her side — is playing into Trump’s hands. See, Trump can say, this is what they really think of you. Because, you know, it is.

Her Twitterrecord is not like the objects of the Hader Gotchas,  private, old, tweets by public figures when they were unknown, kids, or fooling around. They are consistent, carefully composed, and signature significance: no, I do not believe that anyone who is not an anti-white racist could sent such tweets. If she is no longer an anti-white racist, then she needs to explain why, persuasively. If she is an anti-white racist, then the Times should admit it, and accept the natural conclusions that follow.

The conservative media is not going to let this go, nor should they. The real question—I know I ask this a lot—is why progressives aren’t as troubled by the appointment as conservatives are.

Here are some of the examples of commentary this episode has sparked…

From Andrew Sullivan, who writes in part,

But the alternative view — that of today’s political left — is that Jeong definitionally cannot be racist, because she’s both a woman and a racial minority. Racism against whites, in this neo-Marxist view, just “isn’t a thing” — just as misandry literally cannot exist at all. And this is because, in this paradigm, racism has nothing to do with a person’s willingness to pre-judge people by the color of their skin, or to make broad, ugly generalizations about whole groups of people, based on hoary stereotypes. Rather, racism is entirely institutional and systemic, a function of power, and therefore it can only be expressed by the powerful — i.e., primarily white, straight men. For a nonwhite female, like Sarah Jeong, it is simply impossible. In the religion of social constructionism, Jeong, by virtue of being an Asian woman, is one of the elect, incapable of the sin of racism or group prejudice. All she is doing is resisting whiteness and maleness, which indeed require resistance every second of the day.

That’s why Jeong hasn’t apologized to the white people she denigrated or conceded that her tweets were racist. Nor has she taken responsibility for them. Her statement actually blames her ugly tweets on trolls whose online harassment of her prompted her to respond in turn. She was merely “counter-trolling.” She says her tweets, which were not responses to any individual, were also “not aimed at a general audience,” and now understands that these tweets were “hurtful” and won’t do them again. The New York Times also buys this argument: “her journalism and the fact that she is a young Asian woman have made her a subject of frequent online harassment. For a period of time, she responded to that harassment by imitating the rhetoric of her harassers.”

Let me explain why I think this is the purest of bullshit. If you want to respond to trolls by trolling them, you respond to them directly. You don’t post slurs about an entire race of people (the overwhelming majority of whom are not trolls) on an open-forum website like Twitter. And these racist tweets were not just a function of one sudden exasperated vent at a harasser; they continued for two years. Another tweet from 2016 has her exclaiming: “fuck white women lol.”

From the Spectator:

“…Police? “Cops f—king suck” and “they’re f—king horrible,” according to this Harvard Law alumna, who hates the men and women whose job is to enforce the law. She responded to the 2014 race riot in Ferguson, Missouri, by aiming obscenities at the police and declaring “America is f—king racist.” This rhetoric was not a response to harassment, nor was Ms. Jeong “mimicking” anyone as “satire.” Her anti-police sentiments, like her anti-Christian sentiments, are evidently sincere. These opinions are endorsed by her new employers, who share the same “educated left wing elite” worldview. It’s doubtful the New York Times would hire anyone who wasn’t a cop-hating atheist.

Ms. Jeong has routinely expressed her total contempt for males. In August 2014, she tweeted, “Men are too f–king emotional to be let out in public. Jesus Christ,” and followed that with, “Yo. Men. Just get off Twitter. Every man. All of you. You can’t handle this sh—.” She has repeatedly said “all men are garbage.” In July 2014, she tweeted a question: “hey what’s worse, a man who calls himself a feminist, or a man who refuses to call himself a feminist”? To which she answered: “it’s a trick question all men are equally garbage in my eyes.” She has declared “men are innately, unintentionally garbage” (Feb. 24, 2015) and “men are fountains of meaningless garbage and they see every woman as an open landfill for their thoughts” (April 22, 2015).”

And this, from the Federalist.

3. ARGH! My reference to the Times’ “metaphorical heels”  reminded me of the annoying Verizon TV ad where the nerdy Verizon guy says something is a metaphor, and a kid corrects him, saying, “Simile, not metaphor!”

The half-shaven Nerd—the current rage  is to emasculate TV spokespersons by making them asexual, weak and unattractive, don’t ask me why—smiles and says, “Well played!” No, it was NOT well played, and he should have pointed out to the rude little know-it-all that metaphor includes all figures of speech that employ association, comparison, and resemblance, such as antithesis, hyperbole, metonymy, and, yes, simile. They are all subsets of metaphor. But thanks, Verizon, for modelling obnoxious behavior for our children and giving them bad information too.




22 thoughts on “Afternoon Ethics Jolt, 8/3/2018: A Lawyer Finds A New Way To Be Unethical, Verizon Makes Our Kids Obnoxious And Ignorant, And The Times Decides To Show Its Colors…

  1. #3. I gave up making this argument a couple of decades ago but, yes, I distinctly remember being taught in school that “a simile is a metaphor, but not all metaphors are similes.” I used to be surprised that so many folks didn’t understand it that way, but I gave up being surprised a couple of decades ago as well.

    • Shortly after screen grabs of this woman’s tweets began circulating on the net, I posted them to my Facebook feed, where I have a ton of fellow journalists as friends.

      Under the screen grabs I wrote: “This is why Americans don’t trust the media. People aren’t stupid. They see there’s no media outrage over these hateful tweets, after seeing all the controversy over Roseanne’s solitary tweet. How are we as reporters supposed to look people in the eye and tell them there’s no bias?”

      As you may have guessed, I got attacked. Again, I posted this before this issue had really hit the airwaves, so nobody who responded to me had heard of this. One guy, a fairly well-known author who has since unfriended me, at first chided me for getting duped by a parody account. When I proved to him it was legitimate, his answer was a snippy: “ok, you got me the NYT wants all white people to die.”

      Another reporter for a national organization, who once worked for my newspaper, took the stance that’s become the official leftist talking point on this matter: What this woman tweeted wasn’t so bad, because minorities have been oppressed, and white people are evil, and blah blah blah.

      These morons are so out of touch with normal people, it’s not even funny. When Trump’s approval rating went up the other day, some TV bubblehead says, “He must walk on water.”

      No, idiot. He doesn’t walk on water. You just have no clue what’s going on outside DC or NY. And IT’S LITERALLY YOUR JOB TO KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON.

      There are lots of white people out there in middle America who don’t appreciate being constantly dogged by these elitists. “Dear white people” crap is everywhere. Vox has dozens of articles like “Things white people have messed up about Christmas.”

      I love being a reporter, but for 2-3 years now I’ve been downright ashamed of my profession. I honestly can’t look anyone in the eye and tell them most of the media isn’t biased. The fact that I got attacked for my Facebook post pretty much proves it.

      A few hours after my post, a former colleague sent me a private message and told me she loved my post. Of course, she was too afraid to like it on Facebook.

      That should tell you everything you need to know. It’s goddamn scary.

  2. I wonder what would happen if minority opinion leaders were pressed to denounce Ms Jeong’s in a public setting as is often the case when Republicans are queeried about some other Republican’s statement.

    Let’s start with:
    Jim Accosta
    Rachel Maddow
    Mika Brzynsk
    Maxine Waters

  3. 2. I think my comment on the Hader issue yesterday exemplifies what Sullivan was talking about. The Times ultimately is displaying its religiously Left stance that minorities, especially ones w/ more than one minority status, are to be revered as Wise Council – especially if they go along with whatever the Times says. If I had a dollar for every young activist who delighted in my “perspective as a ______” I’d have a little more going to my retirement.

    Sadly this editor is a bigot plain & simple. And the Times pretending her bigotry is of an acceptable type, helps no one, especially (and ironically) people of color, et al.

    • Mrs Q
      I originally was going to make the same comment that you had covered this yesterday but instead went in a different direction.

  4. “The half-shaven Nerd—the current rage is to emasculate TV spokespersons by making them asexual, weak and unattractive, don’t ask me why—”

    I doubt that annoying Verizon guy with the white sneakers and the paisley shirts buttoned at the neck is considered asexual, weak or unattractive. I think he’s the current archetype of an acceptable millenial guy. He’s a passive aggressive geek. He’s dressed in intentionally goofy, almost camp attire to make fun of masculine, cis-gendered (is that the right word) guys. I’m sure he’s considered cute by most millenials. He’s not threatening. He’d never kiss you without a signed written consent. He doesn’t dress as if he has a job. He’s not interested in making money because that would involve taking that money away from some more deserving person. In short, the guy is a paradigm of contemporary beauty and wonderfulness.

    Come on, Jack. Get with the program. The guy’s a goofball. He’s a guy. But he acts like a neutered guy, so he’s okay.

  5. 1 Unethical lawyers — seems like a pretty significant subspecies to me. Might even be larger than the alternative.

    For the record, “Trust but verify” is always a good principle when dealing with lawyers.

    2 Jeong — I think the right has decided that they are going to claim this scalp if it takes them until doomsday. Not ethical at all, but frankly, exactly what we should expect.

    Also, the next time the blue check mob descends on a right-leaning person for a racist comment, particularly a journalist, what argument is the left going to use? The “university lounge” argument that only white people can be racist only passes the laugh test if your irredeemably and hopelessly progressive. So I can’t wait for the next conservative transgression to see what happens, it should be instructive.

    3 Metaphorical Verizon — I love your point about the ugly, emasculated, eunuch dipwad they have for a spokesperson. What ever happened to Mr. Clean, or the Brawny dude? I guess they died the death of toxic masculinity.

    As for metaphor/simile, can we really expect a phone company to get that right? I mean, with commercials as insanely shallow as the one to which you refer, could the ad company producing it possibly be expected to get something that esoteric correct? Larry Tate would probably be patting them on the back.

  6. #2 – High on my list of “Things that got Trump elected” is the presumption that all white males are automatically privileged and powerful compared to any woman and / or a minority. It ignores that there are plenty of downwardly mobile white males in this country, particularly in key swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.

    This country is still overwhelmingly white, and it is a rather stupid electoral strategy to piss off the single largest voting block.

    • ”it is a rather stupid electoral strategy to piss off the single largest voting block.”

      Bingo! And the odds-on favorite for the title of my next (first?) novel: Revenge of the Deplorables.

      Even though Lefties (most, not all) have had the opportunity to learn times too numerous to mention, the lesson hasn’t taken.

      It’s especially true in America’s Dairyland (WESconsin, as OB would put it) who has selected Scott Walker as Governor three consecutive times in fewer than 8 years.

      And the approach of the self-anointed We Know What’s Best For You crowd?

      Continue to scratch their collective @$$ while they attempt to whittle down an uninspiring group of ~ 8 gubernatorial hopefuls while lamenting state residents (at whom they sniff with unambiguously withering derision) that refuse to see things the way they should.

  7. “By keeping her on and defending her, the New York Times — and the blue-check tribe on Twitter that’s been taking her side — is playing into Trump’s hands. See, Trump can say, this is what they really think of you. Because, you know, it is.“

    The mask slipped. This got Trump elected… ‘deplorables’ have feelings, too.

    It will get Trump elected again.

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