Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 2/22/19: Irony, Absentee, And General Lee

Good evening, Ethics Lovers!

Those of you who are older than me will recall that Spike Jones used to call his audience “music lovers.” I have strived to be the Spike Jones of ethics.

1. Oh, you know you want it: today’s Jussie Smollett ethics items!

  • Do we really have to say “alleged” when talking about Smollett’s hoax? Well, we you have to say “alleged” about every fact about someone that has not been the object of a jury trial? The use of “alleged” has to do with formal guilt, not opinion or unavoidable conclusions. Yes, responsible journalism ethics requires “alleged” is such situations as Smollett’s, indeed various ethics codes state this in black and white. But “we” are not journalists, and “we” have eyes, ears and brains. This isn’t a case, as with the accustaions against Brett Kavanaugh, where there is an unsupported, unsubstantiated allegation: that’s “alleged” by definition. This isn’t: with the exception of the fact that Smollett refuses to admit what he did, the evidence is overwhelming, and his original story makes less sense the more you think about it.

It’s OK to say he did it.

  • Here’s Jussie’s lawyers’ statement from yesterday. Beginning by claiming that we had witnessed “an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system,” Smollett’s legal team said,

“The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election. Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”

Observations: 1) The police statement yesterday was indeed excessive. This kind of angry denunciation of anyone accused of a crime taints the jury pool. Prosecutors have been disciplined for making public statements like that. 2) Calling Smollett a man of impeccable character is giggle-inducing, but not a lie. If the lawyer thinks that, he can say it, and nobody can prove he’s lying. 3) Ah! The lawyer says that Smollett maintains his innocence, and not that Smollett IS innocent. That’s how lawyers are supposed to phrase it in such circumstances.

  • From the “bias makes you bat-shit crazy” files: The Daily Caller tracked down Jussie’s anti-Trump tweets, which hint at a motive for claiming that racist and homophobic Trump supporters roughed him up. Here are a few…

“Trump stole a presidency. White supremacist cabinet. Syrians being exterminated. Tell DC 2 get real criminals & let the kid smoke her damn j”… “Get that dude out of office as president…”…”Pathetic excuse by U.S.”President” to show no condolence & further sell/spew/spit his white supremest, xenophobic, racism as fact. GTFOH”…”Shut the hell up you bitch ass nigga. You will continue to run this country further into the ground and risk lives every time you breathe. You’re not the president. Just a dumpster full of hate. FOH. Sick to my stomach that literal shit currently represents America to the world.”

Nice. Fox, which features “Empire,” apparently allowed a star to spout hate like this on social media assuming that fans of the show loved the Trump Hate. The tweet that will haint Jussie, I suspect, is this one, from 2016:

“The Trump way of campaigning… Take a pile of bullshit lies, sprinkle a drop of truth on top & call it “FACT”. I pray we aren’t this dumb”

How ironic!

  • Apparently some of Jussie’s cast members want him fired. Is that fair? No, he should only be fired after he is convicted or makes a plea deal. However, it is fair to suspend him (with pay) and put his character in a coma or something until the matter is resolved.

2.  A clear ethics lesson in this fiasco. From AOL:

The North Carolina Board of Elections voted unanimously to hold a new election in the state’s 9th District after overwhelming evidence of vote tampering.

Prior to the board’s decision, Republican Mark Harris, the declared winner in the race who had been fighting for his election to be certified, changed his position and called for a new election. Harris was initially declared the winner by 905 votes over Democrat Dan McCready but the race was never certified as evidence began to surface of ballot fraud by employees of the Harris campaign. On the fourth day of an evidentiary hearing by the board, Harris said there should be another election.

The lesson? Absentee ballots are a blight on the electoral system, and should be severely restricted, as should all early voting.

Meanwhile, Harris ought to be banned from running, though he won’t be. The Republican hired the crooked consultants who tried to steal the election, and he should be held accountable. There will be new primaries for both parties. so maybe GOP voters will have the sense to reject him.

3. It’s bad enough to be a political correctness historical censor, but being an ignorant and incompetent historical censor is unforgivable. Social justice warrior vandals in North Carolina attempted to torch a statue of Gen. Lee outside the veterans museum named after him.

Museum officials believe the defacers mistook Gen. William Lee with Gen. Robert E. Lee. “I think it was a big mistake,” Mark Johnson, the museum’s curator, told WNCN.

“The United States owes so much to our military forces and all five military branches are what has kept this country safe and free for all these years,” the museum said on Facebook. “Then comes along some jerk punk  and he tries to burn the statue of WWII Major General William C. Lee.”

Yeah, I can see how they would mistake the General for a Civil War soldier:

 

23 thoughts on “Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 2/22/19: Irony, Absentee, And General Lee

    • Point one
      A person of impeccable character does not give a police officer his brother’s name to avoid giving his own name.

      Mr Smollet’s tweets were no less bigoted than Roseannes that got her canned. So he is being given preferential treatment. I agree he should not be fired and nor should have Roseanne Barr.

      Point 2. Absentee ballots should be a last resort and reserved for people that cannot be available on election day. Ballot harvesting which is what led to this fiasco should be outlawed at the federal level for all elections.

      3. I would like to know how someone can feel fear from a statue of any person if they have no ability to determine who they are afraid of and an understanding if why.

      • ”A person of impeccable character does not give a police officer his brother’s name to avoid giving his own name.”

        Reminds me of a funny story, Chris.

        Late spring of 1978, a friend and I were in his car outside a Stop-n-Go in Middleton, WI, counting up change to see how much beer we could buy when a police car pulls up along side.

        LE gets out, goes to his window and asks for his drivers license (why I can’t remember for the life of me) and goes back to his car. Looking over at my friend, I observe his heart visibly pounding under his shirt; I’m thinking “ruh roh!”

        Anywho, LE returned shortly thereafter and says: “Looks like everything’s in order here, Greg, have a nice evening.”

        Oddly enough, my friend, Dave, has a brother named Greg. Never did ask him why, we had beer to secure after all, but I sure as heckfire will the next time I talk to him.

        Is he a ”person of impeccable character?” Nope; truth be told, neither am I.

        And it’s times like this that I’m eternally thankful there’s such a thing as The Julie Principle!

  1. I used to think that you couldn’t cure stupid but you could cure ignorance. Now I’m not so sure of the latter, especially if the ignorant defiantly remain that way.

  2. 1. I don’t agree that the press conference was excessive. Smollett staged a fake crime, reported it to the police which wasted countless man hours for the investigation and went on television complaining about how he would be treated better if he were Mexican or a Muslim.

    This is a high-profile case. The press conference, in my opinion, helps negate some of the damage Smollett’s publicity blitz contributed to his already reprehensible hoax.

    But, at least, he doesn’t have the ISIS Bride’s lawyer:
    http://video.foxnews.com/v/6005337194001/

    Is there some ethical line a lawyer crosses by calling his client a “scumbag monster”?

    In both cases, I’m reminded of Richard Nixon’s final address to his staff before leaving the White House (something more people should consider and certainly that Tricky Dick should have much sooner):

    “Always give your best, never get discouraged, never be petty; always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.”

  3. On Number 3: my towntecently debated whether to return the name of Lake Calhoun to its indigenous name, ignoring both the reason for naming it after Calhoun in the first place (Calhoun was Secretary of War at the time and army surveyors named the lake after their boss) and the cultural appropriation of the names of an oppressed minority.

    My solution: re-name the lake after Rory Calhoun, that underappreciated everyman.

    -Jut

    • Could you elaborate on why early voting is beneficial and should be expanded. At what point should you be permited to change your vote in light of new information.

      • Probably never, Chris. Early voting, which I do regularly, is a sort of a crap shoot…if something happens and the person you voted for turns out to be a slime-ball, well, maybe you should have waited. In any case, a vote, once cast is and should be irrevocable.

  4. The statement crafted by Smollett’s legal team is hilarious. It reminds me of something that might came out of Blutto’s mouth in “Animal House”. Great work team!

  5. “Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence”

    Bet his legal team wanted to get that out there before The Onion or Babylon Bee made it their own. Heck, it’ll still have a looooong shelf life as a hilarious meme.

    ”betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”

    Isn’t that approach reserved for those accused of a college campus sexual peccadillo or an alleged #MeToo violation sometime in the last three + decades, or been nominated to the Supreme Court by President Trump?

  6. Point one
    A person of impeccable character does not give a police officer his brother’s name to avoid giving his own name.

    Mr Smollet’s tweets were no less bigoted than Roseannes that got her canned. So he is being given preferential treatment. I agree he should not be fired and nor should have Roseanne Barr.

    Point 2. Absentee ballots should be a last resort and reserved for people that cannot be available on election day. Ballot harvesting which is what led to this fiasco should be outlawed at the federal level for all elections.

    3. I would like to know how someone can feel fear from a statue of any person if they have no ability to determine who they are afraid of and an understanding if why.

  7. 1 Does anyone think that should the police have initially come up with a couple of seemingly likely suspects for the “crime”, that this “man of impeccable character” wouldn’t have left the innocents to twist in the wind…maybe even confirm or suggest that they were his attackers?

    Speculation, of course, but he did put others at risk of real harm. I wouldn’t have wanted to be a white guy with a red hat in the wrong area around then.

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