Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 6/1/2019: Ethics Is Busting Out All Over! Mostly BAD Ethics…

Happy June!

1. Boycott/extortion update! Let’s see if Georgia has as much guts and principle as Alabama, and tells Disney to go fly a kite.

Hugh Culverhouse, Jr., the University of Alabama’s largest donor,  called for a boycott of Alabama , both the University and the state , because of Alabama’s defiant, anti-Roe  abortion ban, recently signed into law. The university’s law school was renamed Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law last September 2018 after the Florida businessman pledged  $26.5 million to the university. In response to Culverhouse’s boycott call, University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis St. John recommended to the Board of Trustees that it return the $21.5 million  the law school it has actually received from Culverhouse, and restore the name to “The University of Alabama School of Law.”

Good. That’s exactly how states should respond to attempted extortion by individuals and corporations to control their lawmaking and bend the state to their wills rather than the decisions of voters. The whole story is at TaxProf Blog.

2. Nah! A reverend like, say, Martin Luther King would never engage in the kinds of sordid acts his biographer claims! They are men of God!

Bobby J. Blackburn, the pastor of Elevate Church in Prestonsburg, Kentucky,  was arrested this week and  charged with the prohibited use of an electronic communication system to procure a minor to commit a sex act. Blackburn is also the owner of Giovanni’s, a pizza restaurant in Prestonsburg. A girl who worked there showed a police sergeant images of an iMessage conversation she had with Blackburn in which he asked the minor to engage in a “threesome” with him and another girl, also a minor. He also made other sexually explicit requests.

Rev. Bobby tried to weasel out of his mess by bringing a third young woman to the police station and having her claim that she sent the incriminating messages from his phone. It didn’t work: under questioning, she admitted that she was lying and that Blackburn ordered  her to make the false claim under threat of losing her job.

I hear he’s one heck of a pastor, though!

3. And I hear this guy is a great and godly teacher… Michael Comeau taught at Waller Elementary School in Bossier City for six years,  and received the prestigious Milken education award, which comes with a $25,000 prize, as one of the best teachers in the nation. He was honored for transforming “low-achieving students” into “high-achieving learners.” and  for his commitment to struggling students.  His star continued to rise, and he became the  principal at Holy Family Catholic school in Port Allen, Louisiana.

Then, when Comeau was accompanying some of his  students on a school-sponsored trip to Washington, D.C., he succumbed to the charms of the big city. D.C. officers were dispatched about 2:20 a.m. yesterday to Archibald’s Gentlemen’s Club—it’s a strip joint on K Street, or so I’ve heard—-following  a complaint about “an intoxicated man refusing to pay his bill.” The principal was standing in the street refusing to move, so police arrested him for public intoxication and possession of an open container of alcohol. He also had his service dog with him, and at the strip club as well. Comeau was lucky he wasn’t charged with endangering the morals of a canine.

Principal Comeau submitted his resignation to the school, and also resigned from his role as a reserve officer at the Brusly Police Department Friday morning.

I think it’s fair to call this a case of malfunctioning ethics alarms, don’t you? Boy, people get into Washington, D.C. and suddenly lose all sense of right and wrong…

Personal note: I had a law school room mate who frequented Archibald’s. Based on what he told me (and the Archibald’s talent he hired for my bachelor’s party), it isn’t worth losing your job over.

4. Now, don’t get me wrong: there are ethical teachers this teacher…

Megan Parson, a fourth-grade teacher at Hays Elementary School in Rockwall, Texas. Seeing a tornado in the distance, she sprung into action, leaving her classroom, ditching her high-heeled shoes, and running down the street in the driving rain to warn the parents picking up their children to come into the school for shelter, as she shouted, “A tornado is coming! A tornado is coming!” So quickly did she act that she only realized mid-dash that she  was still wearing the red kimono and  fake mustache she had put on during the class  party to celebrate the end of the school year.

As it turned out, the tornado never reached the school. Her Paul Revere-like instincts are ethical and admirable. One lesson , however, that should be absorbed from the episode: if you are going to sound the alarm, best not to look like a wacko when doing it.

If Paul had been riding a pantomime horse and had broccoli stuck in his ears, we might be part of the United Kingdom still…

5.  Ethics Estoppel 101: Conservative author Dinesh D’Sousa tweeted this yesterday:

Not that Dineesh is wrong, it’s just that if the President of the United States pardoned you for your 2012 felony conviction after which you were sentenced to eight months in a halfway house, , five years probation, and a $30,000 fine, perhaps you’re not the ideal person to be complaining about miscreants getting special treatment.

6. Back to our ethical educators…No, on second thought  I think I’m going to devote a separate post to the school principal who plagiarized a speech that actor Ashton Kutcher gave at the 2013 Kid’s Choice Awards. Coming right up!


18 thoughts on “Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 6/1/2019: Ethics Is Busting Out All Over! Mostly BAD Ethics…

  1. Rev. Bobby tried to weasel out of his mess by bringing a third young woman to the police station and having her claim that she sent the incriminating messages from his phone. It didn’t work: under questioning, she admitted that she was lying and that Blackburn ordered her to make the false claim under threat of losing her job.

    I hear he’s one heck of a pastor, though!

    These guys are hardly distinguishable from John Geoghan and Nechemya Weberman.

  2. 1: Good for Chancellor Finis. I don’t personally approve of abortions for lack of planning, but corporations and donors using extortion is a very bad precedent. Demands will accelerate and magnify and no one will be left to speak. Pay the danegeld and no one will be free of fake parental obsession..

    4: I did not think the teacher was wearing a kimono, it looked more like a superhero cape… Just because it turned out not being necessary, was moral luck. Good for her!

    • 4–”I did not think the teacher was wearing a kimono, it looked more like a superhero cape”

      That may put the kibosh on some soon-to-be-manufactured Cultural Appropriation complaints…

  3. 1. Georgia/Alabama

    Roll Tide!

    C’mon, Dawgs!

    No, I’m not watching a football game while straddling the Alabama/Georgia border, I swear…

    2. Pedophile minister

    I’m from Kentucky. I wish we could take him out and shoot him with a firing squad consisting of Kentucky long rifles, not just for his pedophilia, but for embarrassing my state.

    Dirtbag. God may forgive him, but I won’t.

    4. Ethical teacher

    There are probably a lot more like her than the guy in #3. At least, I choose to believe that…

    5. D’Sousa

    His prosecution was an abuse of discretion. I forgive him.

    • Re No. 5: no Dinesh fan here but he was prosecuted for an arcane campaign finance violation when he donated $10k to his friend’s US Senate campaign. The prosecution was way over the top and the sentence unusually harsh for the stupid law for which most get a slap on the hands. Trump’s pardon was justified as well as justifiable. I am going to give him a pass.

      • Yep. That’s exactly right. I’m not a fan either, for what it’s worth, but what was done to him was pure politics, and an abuse of prosecutorial discretion.

          • I don’t know if it was stupid or not. The help D’Sousa received is technically available to every citizen, and frankly, he deserved it. If the facts alleged in the Smollett case is true, there’s no way he deserved the help he got.

            But I get your point — it’s a bad look that lacks self-awareness.

  4. 2 – As a small point of clarity, he was A pastor of that church not THE pastor. Larger churches may have 6-8 “pastors”, not just the guy who preaches on Sunday.
    However, as a part of the leadership of my church, I’ve seen way too many churches naively fall for smooth talkers, especially when they’re younger (this guy is 26) as a way to reach out to younger people. I had to forcefully argue against a guy like this who was a high school teacher and wanted to help with the church youth group. I didn’t like his attitude and smooth talking; 6 months later he was fired and arrested for having a relationship with a high school student of his. I suspect there was talk and rumors that were ignored as well because “brother Bobby wouldn’t do that” all the while criticizing the Catholic church for ignoring talk and rumors about priests.

    4 – I live near the Dallas area (Rockwall is basically a Dallas suburb), and saw an interview with this teacher that is a good watch:
    This is a teacher that Rockwall should be extremely proud of.

    • 2. Some Protestant churches today are terribly naive, that’s true, but it really shouldn’t matter if the guy was the lead or senior pastor versus an associate one. Churches have got to be more careful in vetting the people they allow around kids.

      My church does background checks even on volunteers who have to have been members of the church for at least a year, we are never allowed to be alone with a child and the rule of three is required even in the bathroom. The whole kids section of the church is locked down while the service is going on because we’ve had people show up and randomly walk through the hallways during the preaching, looking into classrooms, etc; transients show up demanding money (sometimes high; sometimes not; often combative) and non-custodial parents and grandparents try to pick up kids without notice while the custodial parent is in the service.

      Pedophiles go where the children are. They know churches, like many charitable organizations, are often desperately in need of volunteers and they seem like a godsend when they throw themselves into working with the kids. If they can maneuver themselves into a position of trust and authority over the kids, they will. You’re right that they are smooth-talkers; but that can’t be an excuse anymore. Churches have to be more careful than any other organization because they are inevitably judged more harshly when someone slips through the cracks.

      • I agree, and we have similar policies. But I suspect no amount of background checks or policies would have caught this, and can sometimes make people / churches complacent thinking the people is solved. They need to be extra vigilant and not bury their heads in the sand.

  5. Re No. 4:

    Any 4th grade teacher willing to don a res cqpe and Mario mustache is beyond reproach. 4th graders are a tough crowd. She should be given a medal of honor fir warning parents and a medal of bravery for daring to wear that in class. That takes real guts.


  6. Regarding #4 – if she left her room while there were still kids in it, she’d probably be fired. The article doesn’t say if she still had kids under supervision but if a teacher left kids unattended, especially during a possible emergency event, running off to warn the parents isn’t going to be enough to save her job.

    • if a teacher left kids unattended, especially during a possible emergency event

      True, and a valid point.

      I wonder if it ever crossed her mind? Under duress (like, when a tornado is on the ground nearby) many might make less than appropriate decisions in the heat of the moment. Hard to fault the teacher either way, but if she had left students she might have gotten fired for trying to save lives.

      Sad world sometimes

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