Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 2/8/2020: “Procrastinating To Delay Writing About Another Debate” Edition [CORRECTED]

Good morning.

Way, way too much ethics-related politics this past week. I keep getting complaints about all the political content, and it annoys me too, but I don’t know what kind of alternatives I have. Back in the sane days, the idea of a House Speaker planning on tearing up the official copy of the State of the Union speech would have been the stuff of Saturday Night Live…when SNL would make fun of Democrats, anyway. I’m trying to keep the politics to a minimum. I swear.

1.  The Astros cheating scandal, cont. Would you wonder about this answer? A.J. Hinch, the ex-Houston Astros manager who was fired and suspended by Major League Baseball for allowing an illegal sign-stealing scheme to be used by his players for the entire 2017 World Champion Astros season, finally sat down for an interview.   When he was asked whether Houston players had utilized buzzers in their uniforms to receive signsduring the 2019 season as some have claimed based on inconclusive evidence and rumors, Hinch only would answer, “The Commissioner’s Office did as thorough of an investigation as anyone could imagine was possible.”

Why not “No”? That was what reporters term a “non-denial denial.”

2. If they advised her to run her sick child through the washing machine and he drowned,  would that be their fault too? The death of a four-year-old boy named Najee is being blamed on an anti-vaxx Facebook group.

The boy had been diagnosed with the flu and the doctor had  prescribed Tamiflu. His mother sought advice from the Facebook group “Stop Mandatory Vaccination” on how to treat her son’s’ illness. The members told her to give the boy vitamins, botanicals, zinc, fruits and vegetables, and to skip the medicine.

“Ok perfect I’ll try that,” she responded. Later that night, Najee had a seizure and died.

The mother is responsible. It’s her child. The fact that she got deadly advice from non-medical personnel she should not have consulted anyway does not relieve her of absolute accountability, any more than if she had taken the advice of a phone psychic a raving homeless man wearing a cat on his head.  This isn’t Facebook’s fault or the idiotic anti-vaxx movement’s fault. Her ignorance and gullibility killed her child, and we should be saying so, clearly and emphatically.

3. Update: The incredibly uncivil lawyer. Remember California lawyer Christopher Hooks, the plaintiffs attorney who told Allstate’s lawyers to “eat a bowl of dicks”?

In the hearing before U.S. District Judge Otis Wright to determine whether his clients’ (now former clients’) case would be dismissed because of his threats and insults, Hook began by arriving late and lying to the judge about how late. Eventually he caused the judge to snap. First Hook argued that his incriminating emails  could not be authenticated, prompting a warning from Wright, who said, “This is not the day to be cute. And I am not the guy.”

Then Hook argued that the emails were zealous representation, designed to get Allstate to discuss a settlement after theywouldn’t return his phone calls. Hook conceded that he had failed to conduct himself in a professional manner, and that it was wrong. He told the judge that his emails were protected by the First Amendment and the litigation privilege. That did it.

“You honestly believe the First Amendment extends to anything?” Wright replied. “You did go to law school, right?” Wright told Hook that he had threatened people and behaved like a gangster, and declared that the legal profession didn’t  need lawyers like him.

“I am going to do what I can to remove you from this profession., the judge said, and demanded that Hook surrender his law license.

“I will not do that,” Hook replied, as Wright cut him off.  “Shut up!” the judge said. “I want you to resign from this profession.”

“We’re out of here!” Wright  concluded. And he ended the hearing.

4. Another update: Disney and the unauthorized “Lion King” showing. As related here, Disney received (ignorant) bad publicity when it demanded a copyright fee from an elementary school that charged money to watch a DVD of “The Lion King” as a fundraiser. Treading the this line between good public relations and legal necessity, Disney CEO Bob Iger tweeted an apology to the school on behalf of the company, and announced that he’ll personally donate to the school’s fundraising initiative, presumable more than enough to pay for the $250 Disney demanded for the school’s flagrant copyright infringement. Disney can’t waive the fee: if it did, that would create  a precedent that could undermine the company’s rights in the film.

7 thoughts on “Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 2/8/2020: “Procrastinating To Delay Writing About Another Debate” Edition [CORRECTED]

  1. Re Point 4. The CEO is establishing just as dangerous precedent by making a donation. As soon as it is learned that a school can bully Disney exec’s into making donations it will become common place just as if he waived the fee.

    There is no way the PTA was unaware of copyright laws. Every video I ever viewed has a large block of text that says WARNING THIS MATERIAL IS PROTECTED BY US COPYRIGHT LAW. I am of the belief that the PTA took the risk, got caught and then played the victim of the big bad corporation. This is what is taught.

    • I agree, I don’t believe you can get a room full of people and not one person realizes there is a problem.

      Getting a license is actually very easy. They have an online process for schools to submit, and if they are doing a free showing there is no charge and it lasts for quite a long time and permits multiple showings. Disney only charges if you’re going to charge money, and it’s not much.

      • George Carlin summed it up nicely:

        “Think about how dumb the average person is. Then, you realize that half the population is even dumber than that!”

  2. #3 It appears that Judge Otis Wright III, of locally famous “Prenda Law” made famous by Popehat, years ago, still has his mojo. [If you are unfamiliar, a google search for “popehat” yields a couple of “prenda” hits… Be prepared to invest some time. ]

    #4. I think that someone at the PTA made a decent argument to the unknowing based on “no one will ever know”, or .its for the children”, or maybe “Disney would never go after the PTA”, or some combination of these. Unless there is some unreported information, I don’t see a case for bullying of Disney, but then again its been 60 years since I was on a schoolyard so the modern equivalent of actual bullying is unknown to me. The current edition looks pretty lame, in my opinion.

  3. Typo in Comment 2?

    “The fact that she got deadly advice from non-medical personnel she should [NOT?] have consulted anyway does not relieve her of absolute accountability….”

    That poor little kid.

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