Thinking is a chore right now, never mind typing.
We returned from a triumphant two-Darrow ethics program New Jersey tour, highlighted by the intense Darrow oratory performed by actor/legal instructor Paul Morella. This does a cynical ethics CLE presenter’s heart good: finding myself short of time, I asked the assembled NJ Bar members to vote on whether Paul should omit Darrow’s famous Leopold and Loeb closing argument, or Darrow’s own desperate plea for an acquittal when he faced a jury considering his own guilt of jury tampering in the 1911 MacNamara case. The group almost unanimously voted that we complete both closings, with my ethics commentary as well, bringing the program to an end almost a half hour later than scheduled. Nobody left, and believe me, in most CLE seminars, the lawyers seldom stay one second longer than they have to.
Brought a tear to my eye…
No rest in sight, though: tomorrow, I take an early flight to team up with rock guitar whiz and singer Mike Messer in Las Vegas for Ethics Rock Extreme. And I’m punchy now...
1. Well, maybe the NFL is learning…News item: The Miami Dolphins released already suspended running back Mark Walton on Tuesday, hours after he was arrested on charges of punching his pregnant girlfriend multiple times in the head. Walton had been serving a four-game suspension because of three arrests before the season started. He was sentenced in August to six months’ probation after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor weapons charge.
2. Just a quick impeachment hearings note: It is astounding to me that witnesses are being called by the Democrats to testify regarding their opinions on a President’s phone call to a foreign leader. Big black headlines shout that witnesses called a phone call “inappropriate.” Who cares? The President has the authority to decide what is “appropriate,” and there are no impeachment articles in the Constitution designating “acting inappropriately” according to someone else’s opinion as a “high crime and misdemeanor.” Leaders become leaders because they do thinks that others think are “inappropriate.”
Don’t get get me started on presidential actions through the centuries that experts, government veterans and other critics at the time thought were “inappropriate,” or worse.
I started compiling a list of what I would consider genuinely impeachable actions by past Presidents The list makes the current impeachment push look even more contrived than it already is.
3. I see that the group that surreptitiously filmed Planned Parenthood staff discussing abortions was hit with over 2 million dollars in damages. Good.
A federal jury in San Francisco decided that David R. Daleiden, an anti-abortion activist had broken federal and state laws by secretly recording staff and executives in 2015. The videos were indeed troubling, but the ends don’t justify the means.
The jury found that Daleiden, the leader of a group called the Center for Medical Progress, had trespassed on private property and committed fraud by posing as a biotechnology representative. His defense is that he was acting as an investigative journalist. No, he was acting as a spy, trying to see what he could find.
We are rapidly reaching the point where journalists need to be defined with some specificity. The problem is that is that so few professional journalists practice journalism any more, at least the ethical variety. Is anyone with a laptop and a camera a journalist?
Planned Parenthood was decisively exposed as being callous about the nascent human beings they were snuffing out. It apologized for the ugly tone that one of its officials had used in a video while discussing a sale of fetal tissue, but this was a PR move. I’m quite sure the callousness was typical on the organization, but that doesn’t justify the lies and violations of privacy the “journalist” engaged in to get it recorded.
4. If we start judging art by the character of the artists, we’ll just have lousy are created by nice people.
- In France, people, are suddenly upset with fugitive rapist Roman Polanski, who has been avoiding justice in Europe for decades. A.R.P., an association of film directors, is putting a motion before its members to exclude anybody convicted of sexual assault, and suspend any member being investigated for it. Polanski was recently accused of a second rape that allegedly occurred in 1970. The new measure appears to be aimed at him. “A.R.P. strongly supports all victims of violence and today decided to make a strong commitment to support the fight for the rights of victims,” the organization’s statement said.
As usual, this is grandstanding and virtue-signaling. The organization exists to promote the film director’s art, not #Me Too. Now protests by groups of feminists have shut down several screenings of the director’s latest film around the country.
- In London, a similar attitude is dogging the “Gauguin Portraits” exhibition at the National Gallery in London. The show, which runs through Jan. 26, focuses on painter Paul Gauguin’s popular works, including paintings of the young girls he lived—and slept with— with in Tahiti. The wall text tells visitors that Gauguin entered into many sexual relations with young girls. “Gauguin undoubtedly exploited his position as a privileged Westerner to make the most of the sexual freedoms available to him,” art-lovers learn.
Christopher Riopelle, a co-curator of the National Gallery show, sasy that now artworks must be viewed “in a much more nuanced context.” “I don’t think, any longer, that it’s enough to say, ‘Oh well, that’s the way they did it back then,’ ” he said.
Better, then, is to judge the conduct of artists based on modern sensibilities, and mark down the worth of their artistic creations because they are found to be ethically sub-par?
“The person, I can totally abhor and loathe, but the work is the work,” Vicente Todolí, who was Tate Modern’s director when it staged a major Gauguin exhibition in 2010, told the New York Times.
“Once an artist creates something, it doesn’t belong to the artist anymore: It belongs to the world,” he said. Otherwise, he cautioned, we would stop reading the anti-Semitic author Louis-Ferdinand Céline, or shun Cervantes and Shakespeare if we found something unsavory about them.
Exactly. This is applicable to Gauguin, Danny Kaye, Earnest Hemingway, Bill Cosby, Mozart , Woody Allen, Frank Sinatra and Roman Polanski, among thousands of other artists. “Is It Time Gauguin Got Canceled?” asks the Times
Don’t be silly.
5. On “Red Flag” laws. “In order to have enough liberty, it is necessary to have too much.” As is often the case after spending time with Mr. Darrow, my favorite quote of his keeps intruding on my thoughts.
The authorities in the Seattle area became alarmed at a photo on social media in October showing a man holding two AK-47-style rifles above a caption above read: “one ticket for “Joker” please.”
Detectives checked the man’s online history and discovered Charels Donnelly, 23, writing about threatening his mother with a gun and describing fantasies about hurting women.
“I will shoot any woman any time for any reason,” was one Twitter post. “Kill all women,” was another. A third read, “Prowling the Seattle streets for women to assault. No luck so far. Hopefully my urges will be satisfied soon.”
Using a new “red flag” law police sought and obtained a temporary court order to seize three handguns and three rifles, including an AK-47-style rifle and its accompanying magazines from Donnelly’s home. Donnelly testified at a hearing that many of the posts about violence were just jokes for his friends.
So do I. “In order to have enough liberty, it is necessary to have too much.”
And if Donnelly goes on a shooting rampage using those weapons returned to him? That will be moral luck. The correctness of the judge’s ruling will not be changed.