One More Time…Ethics Dunce: California, And Its “Jumbo” Culture

Has any state…heck, has any 10-year-old’s tree house club…had as many terrible ideas as California? No wonder its presidential vote single-handedly gave the popular vote to Hillary. And the United States is supposed to allow itself to be the dog wagged by this Bizarro World ethics culture?

The latest: Under a bill now heading through the California State Legislature, millions of criminal Californians who have misdemeanor or lower-level felony records would have their criminal records officially sealed from public view once they completed prison or jail sentences. I’m shocked to read that the legislation would not apply to people convicted of committing  murder or rape. Well, give the Golden State time.

We are told with a sniff and a tear that in the United States, a record showing a criminal conviction or even an arrest that does not lead to a conviction can make it difficult for someone to find a jobs, rent an apartment or obtain professional license. Well, that’s because conduct has consequences, and in particular breaking trust has consequences. Society is based on mutual trust. Committing criminal acts raises reasonable doubts in society as to whether an individual can be trusted to–let’s see, handle money for an employer, follow rules, meet financial obligations or serve in a professional capacity, the primary requirement of which is trustworthiness.

Simply because someone has been in jail doesn’t mean they have become more trustworthy. Why would it? So under California’s brilliant scheme, a bank could hire a convicted embezzler as a bank teller. A law school could hire a convicted bank-robber as a law pro—oops. Sorry. My alma mater already did that. But at least it had the opportunity to know what it was doing.

This is kindergarten easy: if I am going to trust someone with my business or my property, I have a right to know who that person is, and if he or she has a record of warranting trust. The fact that convicted criminals have a tough time doesn’t mean I should be put at risk. They committed the crime, why are the citizens who haven’t broken any laws being forced to take risks they don’t want to take?

That would be a good book topic: what makes lawmakers reason like this? I don’t want to say it’s just those from the Left, but it’s just those from the Left. What IS that short circuit, that logical glitch, that missed neural connection that produces the fallacious ethical theory that life problems people cause for themselves must be solved by forcing innocent bystanders to pay for them? Where does that wacky theory arise that a reasonable way to deal with unpleasant reality is to declare that it doesn’t exist? The kind description for this is “magical thinking.” A better description is “lying.”

I don’t know why I’ve had Jimmy Durante on the brain lately, but everything is reminding me of “Jumbo,” when he tried to solve a looming law enforcement dilemma by pretending that the largest elephant in the world wasn’t behind him, when it was. This is what the progressive side of the ideological spectrum has somehow adopted as its approach to so many things: ignoring reality, and making it difficult for others to acknowledge it. Jimmy’s line was “Elephant? What elephant?” Democrats, with  the Super-Democrats in California, have developed so many adaptations:

  • Illegal immigration? What illegal immigration?
  • Lost jobs because of minimum wage increases? I have no idea what you’re talking about.
  • Impossible costs of speculative climate change fixes? What costs?
  • Anti-Semitism? What anti-Semitism?
  • We’re shocked, shocked to learn that Hollywood producers are pressuring actresses into sex!
  • Deep state? What Deep State?
  • Socialism? Who’s talking about Socialism?
  • Not accepting the results of elections? We’re not refusing to accept the results of the election: Hillary won, and it was stolen from her.
  • Killing unborn babies? What unborn babies?
  • Hate? What hate? We don’t hate anybody.
  • Of course, the ethics Alarms favorite…”Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias.”

I like the Jumbo analogy, but maybe another one is better, I can’t decide. Rationalization #10 on the Ethics Alarms list is “The Unethical Tree in the Forest, or “What they don’t know won’t hurt them,” which I describe as one of the dumber rationalizations. “Just as a tree that falls in the forest with nobody around both makes noise and causes damage, so undetected, well-disguised or covered-up wrongs are exactly as wrong as those that end up on the front pages. They also cause the same amount of harm much of the time.” This delusion certainly fits the proposed law: the former criminal whose crimes we don’t know about wasn’t a criminal at all.

14 thoughts on “One More Time…Ethics Dunce: California, And Its “Jumbo” Culture

  1. This would put them in a bit of a quandary on certain issues.

    Their big push right now for “universal background checks” involves assuming the likelyhood that any private gun owner or buyer is an actual or potential felon to the extent that such laws are needed to counter that threat. This proposal could put actual felons outside the reach of such laws.

    Same sort of thing might apply to those convicted of certain domestic violence or sex crime offences.

    It seems to often be a hallmark of leftist thought that little consideration is given to unintended consequences.

    • I am sure that they will make an exception of checking on lawful gun owners (but allowing real criminals do whatever they want.)

      That is the Democrat way of looking at things: punish the lawful and let the criminal go.

  2. I gave up on understanding anything California does a long time ago.

    This little gem snagged my eye today:
    https://news.yahoo.com/simpsons-boss-al-jean-believes-143521435.html;_ylt=AwrE19sJkolcuvgAvZFXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEyOWtmZ2s5BGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwM1BHZ0aWQDQjcwMTNfMQRzZWMDc3I-

    Yes, a fictional TV show was used for pedophile grooming purposes. Why did I never notice that while thinking what a sweet episode this was for letting a mental health patient show Bart how to appreciate his sister on her birthday?

    These are the people who are deciding what programs and films we see and what’s in them. This is their mentality.

    It’s stories like these that remind me of the late columnist Mike Royko who once wrote, “Why didn’t Superman mind his own business and let Lex Luthor sink the whole state into the ocean?”

  3. The panic and astonishment that so many displayed on social media when they discovered that the KKK still existed, when the press decided to dig them up and use their existence to prove Trump’s a white supremacist, was mind-blowing. I would have thought the Klan to be much more of a threat to a black President, but we saw nary a mention of them until they were useful for Trump bashing. Suddenly they’re a huge threat under Trump.

    On a similar note, how many times in your life did you hear the word ‘Evangelical’ before 2016? I can guarantee I’ve heard it more since 2016 than I ever did before. They’re just discovering all these awful boogeymen. Either they really are that sheltered, or it’s calculated fear-mongering.

  4. In 2012, the Tennessee legislature changed the state’s expungement law to allow many nonviolent criminal convictions to be removed from an individual’s record. For the offense to qualify, it must be “nonviolent,” defined as “an offense without the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against another person or property.” The offense must not contain the use of a firearm, a loss of $25,000 or more, or be classified as a sex offense. The expungement law was further liberalized in 2018.
    Examples of eligible nonviolent offenses include theft, forgery, writing a worthless check, auto burglary, vandalism, aggravated criminal trespass, failure to appear in court, unlawful possession of a controlled substance (marijuana), and possession of drug paraphernalia. These offenses (and many others including many DUI crimes and low-level felonies) are eligible for expungement.
    A number of law firms now make their bread and butter by processing these expungement orders, and even current jail inmates keep court clerks busy with expungement orders for their prior transgressions. The state pockets about $200 for each offense expunged, and local court clerks get about $100.
    Interestingly, expungement in Tennessee only requires that the offense information be purged from any “public” database utilized to search for criminal histories. This allows police agencies to maintain the information on “non-public” intelligence databases (only accessible to police), so that if Johnny Badboy has had his extensive auto burglary and theft record expunged, a police check of intelligence files can still tell police his true history. Too bad for a prospective employer who might want to know if Johnny has a criminal background.

    • So we have real secret police files we can ‘leak’ when the target is Republican but claim ‘privacy’ when the miscreant is progressive.

      What could possibly go wrong?

  5. Good intentions such as expunging public databases to give a criminal a “second chance” to be a productive law abiding citizen is a terrible idea. Hopefully this insanity will not spread to other states. The California that I once knew and loved is gone.

    • I did notice that lots of agencies are deleting their gang databases because they don’t have the ‘correct’ racial balance. It seems that less than 5% of gang members are white. Most are black or hispanic. In London, they are deleting their gang database because of the vast number of Muslims on it. Instead of keeping track of gang members, they are having stores remove even plastic knives. Currently, you can’t even buy a plastic knife in England unless you are 18 years old. Now, they say they need stricter regulations. Britains’ violent crime rate is double ours based on the official numbers (Remember, British crime numbers are for convictions, not crime reports, ours are for crime reports). If you adjusted them for conviction rates, Britains rate would probably be 5-10x that of the US.

      Think about this every time you hear someone mock a slippery-slope argument against a leftist policy.

  6. I think this is a terrible idea. What I think would be a good idea is to vastly reduce the number of crimes that are considered felonies. A felony carries a lifetime stigma and lifetime restriction of rights, so it should be reserved to crimes of such severity that it justifies people being cautious around this individual for the remainder of their life.

    Today, there are felonies you can commit without ever knowing it, felonies that neither harm nor inconvenience any person or governmental unit. Why should such an action even be illegal, much less a felony? I think felonies should be reserved for crimes that have serious impact in the lives of their victims (and there needs to be a REAL victim for it to be a felony). Murder, rape, assault resulting is serious bodily injury, serious fraud, and serious property crimes should be felonies. Someone who defrauds 50 seniors out of their retirement money should be a felon. Someone who hits someone during a heated argument without causing any serious damage should not be. Bruises heal.

    Not every crime requires a life sentence. I think this is what they are trying to fix. Rather than fix what is broken, however, they are trying to keep the broken system and then ignore the results. This is like running the output of your printer directly into a paper shredder because no one is allowed to look at it. Maybe not printing that stuff in the first place would be a better idea.

  7. I’m sure their justification is about fixing the “racist system.” African Americans are more likely to have a record, and therefore more likely to be denied a job due to a record. The argument is all those company owners (A.K.A. racist rich white cisgendered men) are holding them down using their arrest records as justification. If those racist rich white men can’t see the records, then it fixes the systemic racism. Or something like that….

  8. We are told with a sniff and a tear that in the United States, a record showing a criminal conviction or even an arrest that does not lead to a conviction can make it difficult for someone to find a jobs, rent an apartment or obtain professional license. Well, that’s because conduct has consequences, and in particular breaking trust has consequences. Society is based on mutual trust. Committing criminal acts raises reasonable doubts in society as to whether an individual can be trusted to–let’s see, handle money for an employer, follow rules, meet financial obligations or serve in a professional capacity, the primary requirement of which is trustworthiness.

    There seems to be tension with what you wrote here.

    https://ethicsalarms.com/2019/03/10/the-child-molesting-pitcher-chapter-2/

    That’s interesting: I was not aware of the sports exception to paying one’s debt to society, special conditions of leniency for minors, and the right to have second chances in a democracy.

    First of all,a mere arrest should not lead to these consequences. None other than the United States Supreme Court stated this. ““Arrest, by itself, is not considered competent evidence at either a criminal or civil trial to prove that a person did certain prohibited acts.”, Schware v. Board of Bar Examiners, 353 U.S. 232, 241 fn6 (1957), citing Wigmore, Evidence, § 980a.

    While there should be consequences to convictions, these consequences should not necessarily be permanent. I am not necessarily opposed to laws establishing automatic expungement after some time after the judgment of conviction.

    In this instant case, i am opposed because it sweeps too broadly, providing for automatic expungement immediately after release from custody for a wide swath of offenses. Depending on the nature of the offense, there should be a period (for most crimes) where the felon has to live among the law abiding before expungement is granted.

    An example is that expungement for child molestation by adult offender should not happen until twenty-five years after release from custody or the victim’s fiftieth birthday, whichever is later.

    • How is it inconsistent? 1) We are talking about juvenile offenses vs adult offenses. 2) I make no exception for sex crimes when the convict was an adult. An employer has the right to know.

      There is no right to be forgotten.

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