Mid-Day Ethics Madness, 8/19/2020: Susan B., Fauxahontas, Utah…And “Gordie”

When I was looking through the 2012 posts yesterday, ultimately stumbling upon the long discourse about Barack Obama’s disastrous Presidency, I was struck by how, even in an election year, so many non-political ethics issues were discussed here. This is something that was already driving me crazy about 2020. Thanks to the pandemic, there is virtually no popular culture news. Legal ethics news is drastically reduced, as are reports from other sectors of society and culture. In this warped environment, politics spreads like kudzu, or killer bees, or snakeheads—you can choose your favorite invasive species or opportunistic organism analogy. I’m trying, I swear, but my over-all impression looking back on 2012 is that writing, and I presume reading, an ethics commentary blog was a lot more fun.

I’m sorry.

1. Today’s rejected Ethics Alarms comment comes from “Gordie,” was opining on the post on Ellen De Generis’s late hit accuser. He wrote,

Ellen was an a$$ to this boy and shes paying for it now. All you lip huggers need to wake TFU and rejoice when you hear truth no matter how unsavory or unpalatable you find it. Be a bully, get bullied. Dont you all see that Karma train pullin up? And with enough hands to slap every butt as it goes on by toot toot

Observations:

  • Welcome to my world. This is why so few new voices are added to the commentariat here.
  • Does anyone know what a “lip-hugger” is?
  • Tells in the comment that let us know the writer can’t tell an ethics from fuzzy slipper: mentioning “karma,” and the statement, “Be a bully, get bullied.”

2. Here is some non-political legal ethics news, and it’s important, if technical.

Before this week, only the District of Columbia, where I am licensed, allows non-lawyers to be partners in law firms. The majority position in the profession is that non-lawyers inevitably have a different alignment of values from the legally trained, and thus are not likely to be as sensitive to duties to clients, like confidentiality, and conflicts of interest. Pure “investors” are also banned from buying a share of law firm profits, because they are deemed likely to be governed by financial needs and motives rather than the best interests of clients.

When the D.C. bar decided to break the mold decades ago, everyone assumed that other jurisdictions would follow its lead, and soon doctors, engineers, scholars and accountants, among others, would be joining firms and allowing them to add new services. (Europe and Australia already allow  such “multidisciplinary firms.”) It didn’t happen.

Now, however, the dominoes might be starting to fall.  From the ABA Journal:

The Utah Supreme Court has unanimously approved a slate of reforms that allow for nonlawyer ownership or investment in law firms and permit legal services providers to try new ways of serving clients during a two-year pilot period. The court said the measures adopted Wednesday, including related ethics rules changes, “represent perhaps the most promising effort by courts to tackle the access-to-justice crisis in the last hundred years.. What has become clear during this time is that real change in Utahns’ access to legal services requires recognition that we will never volunteer ourselves across the access-to-justice divide and that what is needed is market-based, far-reaching reform focused on opening up the legal market to new providers, business models, and service options,” the court wrote in a standing order detailing many of the reforms.

California is among the states mulling over this radical change. I did not see Utah as the most likely state to try it.

3. Let’s play “Unethical, or Just Stupid”!

Round 1: The Democratic National Convention  included Senator Elizabeth Warren, aka “Fauxahantas” in its Native American Caucus meeting.

Round 2: Donald Trump announced on the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment  (suffrage for women) that he was pardoning Susan B. Anthony,  who was arrested for illegally voting in 1872.  In addition to being such an obvious sop to female voters who care about empty and meaningless gestures, isn’t it odd for a President who has expressed concern over voter fraud to be pardoning anyone who voted illegally?

4. Why is someone with so weak a grasp on basic rights of citizenship employed at a college? Chloe Clark, a professor of English at Iowa State University, issued a syllabus to her class stating that that in their papers and projects the students “cannot choose any topic that takes at its base that one side doesn’t deserve the same basic human rights as you do (ie: no arguments against gay marriage, abortion, Black Lives Matter, etc.). I take this seriously.”

The Young Americans For Freedom were tipped off to the syllabus by an anonymous informant in the class. The group  contacted the University, and administrators sent YAF a statement:

“The syllabus statement as written was inconsistent with the university’s standards and its commitment to the First Amendment rights of students.  After reviewing this issue with the faculty member, the syllabus has been corrected to ensure it is consistent with university policy.  Moreover, the faculty member is being provided additional information regarding the First Amendment policies of the university.

Iowa State is firmly committed to protecting the First Amendment rights of its students, faculty, and staff. With respect to student expression in the classroom, including the completion of assignments, the university does not take disciplinary action against students based on the content or viewpoints expressed in their speech.”

Nope, not good enough. The students have been intimidated, and the professor has let it be known that viewpoints she does not agree with will  be punished. This can’t be fixed with a warning or with “additional information.” She has presumably been bullying and indoctrinating students all along. She cannot be trusted, and should be sent to some bait shop in need of management.

 

19 thoughts on “Mid-Day Ethics Madness, 8/19/2020: Susan B., Fauxahontas, Utah…And “Gordie”

  1. 4. From the Iowa State website:

    “Chloe N. Clark holds an MFA in Creative Writing & Environment. After receiving her MFA from Iowa State University, she was hired on as a Lecturer there. For the past four years, she has taught English 150, English 250 (including designing a course around Monster Theory), and helped lead workshop sections of English 207.
    Chloe’s fiction and poetry has appeared in dozens of publications, including Apex, Bartleby Snopes, Bombay Gin, Booth, Crannog, Diabolical Plots, Hobart, Midwestern Gothic, Rosebud, Sleet, and more.
    Her thesis won ISU’s Research Excellence Award (2016).
    She wrote monthly columns about Genre and Fan Studies for Luna Station Quarterly, and currently reviews books and media for Nerds of a Feather, is a Contributing Reviewer for Publisher’s Weekly, and writes monthly columns on literature and writing for Ploughshares.
    Her areas of study: Creative Writing, speculative fiction, African literature, Modernism (particularly the WWI poets), folklore, cultural anthropology, film studies, music journalism, Fan Studies, Monster Theory, and New Wave Fabulism.”

    I guess we’re not in Iowa anymore.

  2. 1. And here I thought the civility in the commentariat was self-propagating. Hmm. It’s just a function of aggressive (and proper) policing of comments?

    Gordie sounds as if he’s a dog faced pony soldier!

    (Urban Dictionary contains an entry for “mouth hugger:” a woman who gives frequent fellatio for favors. Maybe that’s what Gordie meant? Isn’t it sexist to limit the definition to just women?)

    • 1. There’s also some ‘lip hugger’ hardware out there for those into oral piercings. Based entirely on my wide range of reading, as opposed to personal experience, I have come to believe oral hardware, other than braces, can enhance oral pleasuring.
      Rejection of that would-be commenter? Yes. Absolutely.

  3. Regarding ISU, you just need to start advocating for child marriage and pedophilia (Love is Love, right?) in order to expose the hypocrisy.

    Progressives have relied on the smear that rationalizations for pedophilia has been used to justify homophobic views. At this point, how can they deny that pedophilia is a sexual orientation. People claim it is an incurable disease. Hmmm…sounds like every other sexual predilection they justify.

    Of course, we still find it abhorrent because it abuses a child. But, according to this ISU doofus, she won’t tolerate the idea that children don’t have the same rights to engage in sexual relationships with adult men, even priests.

    If I were a more loathsome person than I already am, I would accuse her of being an apologist for child abuse by Catholic priests and be done with it.

    -Jut

  4. 3. ” In addition to being such an obvious sop to female voters who care about empty and meaningless gestures, isn’t it odd for a President who has expressed concern over voter fraud to be pardoning anyone who voted illegally?”

    Frankly, I thought the same thing when I saw the article. I wonder if the Democrats will point out how Trump’s pardoning of Anthony means that he shouldn’t complain about illegal immigrants voting?

  5. 3b) I don’t think Trump’s pardon was intended as a pander to women. It was intended as a master-level trolling exercise and to distract from the Democratic convention. On the latter point, I don’t think distracting from the DNC is a good strategy. That rodeo has been such a masterful axercise is de-motivation that he should shut up and try to encourage people to watch the disaster unfold.

    As to the former, it has proven to be a great bit of trolling. With one meaningless act, he has gotten Democrats and the New York Times (but I repeat myself) to denounce Susan B. Anthony as a racist monster. That’s amazing.

    All Trump has to do is throw a rake on the ground, and his enemies knock each other down in their zeal to be the first to step on it. Even little children eventually tire of playing this kind of automatic-opposition game, but today’s leftists are compelled like drug addicts to “Orange Man Bad” even the most innocuous stuff. I’ve never seen anything like it.

    Regarding #4, there isn’t a bait shop in the world that needs the sort of management that Chloe Clark could provide. She seems more like a bead store or vape shop kind of person.

    • You’re not wrong about Trump. I’m sure he is doing this to troll the Democrats (“See? I pardoned her before the Democrats did!”) and their reaction is pure insanity. There will be no more Democratic Party icons if they’re going to cancel everyone Trump endorses (even though Susan illegally voted for U.S. Grant).

      As for #4, in my state, she’d have a cupcake shop that also sells CBD oil.

    • It is even a more brilliant troll. Not only have the Democrats tried to cancel Susan B. Anthony, calling her anti-abortion and a racist, but he is subverting Google’s subverted search results. Now, when people search for illegal voting, they see that Trump Pardoned Susan B. Anthony!

  6. Gosh, anytime you bring up University and some of the stuff happening in the classes, I get a flashback. Today’s flashback was to a hypothetical marketing strategy I had to develop to encourage tourism to Atlanta. (I don’t remember why this was an assignment for a Colorado based university, but it is what it is.) Anyways, I did my research on Atlanta and came across some views that the Gay community was said to be quite vibrant with clubs and entertainment. I researched some print media publications and found that targeting tourism to this community was a good price, so I included that as one of the strategies of the marketing plan I developed. Mind you, this was 2002-2003, so I figured the world was fairly sane. When I presented my ideas, I got some unwelcome push back. Apparently, I was being a bit of a “pioneer”. (Or clueless to what they perceived the client reaction would be like from someone of a southern state.)

    Anyway, I don’t remember too much other than that. Just that I still don’t know how to read or appease a crowd.

  7. RE: 3 (2)
    I would suggest that many things done by politicians are empty gestures and done to pander for votes.

    How many members of Congress only have the distinction of proposing a name for some building.

    Not clearly an empty gesture but simply one that is sold as a big deal but has limited effect because of actual consumer behavior.

    I love all the “stimulus” payments that got spent at one of the big box stores that sell Chinese goods. Target had its best quarter ever. Could it be that by shutting down all other places consumers spend money Target became the beneficiary of the pandemic policies. If 80 % of consumer expenditures resulting from stimulus checks is used to acquire foreign goods the domestic multiplier drops dramatically.

    If we took the 3 trillion and fixed roads and bridges or some other infrastructure project we might have really benefitted. The money spent would still enter the income stream, causing GDP to rise and attenuate inflationary pressures. The only difference would be that not everyone would get a check for doing nothing which has no direct effect on GDP. The effect of GDP is dependent on how much they spend on goods, and the value of the goods purchased that is created domestically.

    I often wonder how much is actually done that has a demonstrable effect on people’s lives. It seems there is a great deal of make work projects to justify their existence.

  8. 3. No telling what was in Trump’s thought process (I’m using that term loosely), but, when it comes to legal vs. illegal voting, the proper view is that Anthony was not voting illegally, but that her right to vote was illegally restrained by state law. The Declaration made it clear that voting is a natural right (consent of the governed) and eventually the Constitution caught up. “The right … shall not be denied or abridged” is a prominent phrase in the 15th, 19th, and 26th Amendments, each acknowledging the existence of the right, not “giving the right” as some like to phrase it.
    One of the remaining big questions deals with non-citizens. Are they a part of the governed with an inherent right to give or withhold consent. My own view is that they are not a part of the governed, although they are subject to the laws of the state and country they are in, just as travellers are subject to the laws of countries they visit, but cannot vote while visiting.
    A lesser issue for me is the 26th, but still an issue. Just what is the age of adulthood? 16? 17? 18? 21? 26? Depends on the activity (sex, military, voting, drinking, insurance, for example) and the state, mostly.

    • A provocative claim, but not a stable one. The Founding documents excluded women, and woman’s rights were at least as constrained in most of the civilized world. If a woman could decide she could vote because she felt the lack of a law permitting her to was “illegal,” then why can’t a smart 16-year-old make the same argument? Or illegal aliens? Anthony was engaging in civic disobedience, meaning she knew she was breaking a law, and wanted to prompt debate that the law was unethical. Your interpretation fails because laws won’t work if wee accept it. No, her act was illegal, and the law needed to change when there was enough belief that it was to allow it to be changed.

  9. Yeah, I see that. I used the terms legal and illegal improperly. I’ll amend it to say that while she was voting illegally, the abridgment of women’s right to vote was improper.

  10. 2) Multidisciplinary partnerships (MDPs) – Since no one is commenting, I will.

    Many jurisdictions in Canada (via provincial law societies, our equivalent state bar associations) have permitted MDPs for a number of years and I think it is fair to say my firm led many of the reforms in this area. We were then a large multi-office, multi-provincial firm with a number of non-lawyer professionals – chiefly, agents practicing in the area of intellectual property. Lots of US firms have similar non-lawyers practicing before the US Patent and Trademark Office as agents, not attorneys. Until fairly recently, our law societies did not permit non-lawyer partners and I don’t know any U.S. firms were such agents are partners, even in DC where there are lots of IP firms. Many of our law societies now do allow MDPs for some years, except in British Columbia, and maybe a few smaller provinces. They do have restrictions on ownership and external investors are not permitted, though this has been discussed.

    I mostly have anecdotal evidence other than my observations on disciplinary matters published by the relevant law societies. I do not see any change in discipline issues related to confidentiality or conflicts. I don’t see any day to day behavioural change either since MDPs came about. It will depend, like many things, on firm culture. New lawyers don’t step into partnership and take years of training. Good firms ensure all employees are trained. Partnership, meaningful equity partnership, not the salaried kind, is an excellent motivator for good practice and discipline, provided the firm’s culture is appropriately aligned.

    Personally, I am not supportive of external investor/manager owners at this point. I don’t see how that brings access to justice without raising other risks. External investors have no duties as a fiduciary.

    Maybe it increases competition and drives down rates to make them affordable? I have not seen the evidence for that.

  11. From Urban Dictionary: “lip hugger” is a piece of clothing that shows off a woman’s “camel toe”. (I cannot believe I’m even typing this.)

    My guess was “Gordie” was using the term in place of the word pussy. As in: “you pussies”.

    But then what do I know.

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