Morning Ethics Wake-Up, 10/20/2020: Being Kind To Jeffrey And Other Matters

happy wake-up

1. Time to leave Jeffrey Toobin alone in his misery. I assume this will be an awful day in an awful week for poor Jeff Toobin, now that the full story of his Zoom debacle is out and being commented upon in the social media.  I would like to make an appeal for the mirth and ridicule to be cut short and minimized. It isn’t a case of “he’s suffered enough.” It’s a case of “he’s going to suffer as much as its possible for a human being to suffer without being convicted of a crime and thrown in jail even if nobody says another thing about him in public.” This hasn’t happened before to a public figure: the closest was Anthony Weiner’s sexting women, and as humiliating as that was, it doesn’t come close to what Toobin’s Zoom botch has done to the legal analyst’s career, reputation and dignity.

I hope his family is standing by him; I hope he has a group of loyal and compassionate friends who will care for him now; I hope the popular culture shows that it is capable of compassion, though my optimism on the latter point is far from high. I fear for his life. I was trying to imagine something as emotionally devastating as Toobin’s level of personal and professional humiliation, and my mind kept flipping to the end of  the ugly thriller “Seven,” when police detective Brad Pitt murders serial killer Kevin Spacey after having a package delivered to him containing Pitt’s young wife’s severed head. Pitt’s character, who is presumably on his way to a long stay in a padded room, is actually better off than Toobin: at least he is completely blameless.

It’s not a good analogy, but it’s all I can think of.

Ethics Alarms will not be mentioning the Toobin-Zoom affair again. But before we never speak of this again, let me mention that in Ann Althouse’s blog post on the topic yesterday she wrote (in addition to “This may be the stupidest thing I have seen in 17 years of blogging”), “Who believes he thought he was off camera? Even if he thought he had “muted the Zoom video,” how could he not make absolutely sure before bringing his penis out…?”

I don’t know what goes through Ann’s mind sometimes. Did she think Toobin would deliberately torpedo his life? Of course he thought he was off camera!

2. While we’re on the subject of metaphorical self -immolation, it was revealed at a trial last week that Amy Cooper, the primary villain in the Cooper vs. Cooper racial episode that briefly held public attention until the George Floyd Freakout happened, made a second false call on the black bird-watcher who confronted her about walking her dog in Central Park without a leash.

“The defendant twice reported that an African-American man was putting her in danger, first by stating that he was threatening her and her dog, and then in a second call indicating that he tried to assault her in the Ramble area of the park,” Joan Illuzzi, a senior prosecutor, said. The second, previously undisclosed conversation was disclosed as the Bad Cooper appeared remotely in Manhattan Criminal Court on the misdemeanor charge of filing a false police report, which carries a maximum sentence of a year in jail. I’m sure you recall the incident, which Ethics Alarms discussed here. To his credit, the other Cooper, whom I already fault for blowing up a single incident of individual misconduct into an indictment of American society generally (and by acting like a jerk in the original encounter, though Amy Cooper lapped him), has refused to cooperate in the prosecution, which he has criticized as overkill.

3. 2020 proves my contention that early voting is a sign of an irresponsible voter. It is increasingly looking like the emails implicating Biden the Younger and Biden the Elder in pernicious influence peddling and the latter in stonewalling and lying his head off. This is significant, and should at very least give responsible voters pause before they vote for a Presidential challenger whom they already know is failing cognitively, is a serial sexual harasser representing a party that supposedly cancels such people, has endorsed the Marxist Black Lives Matter and the loony Green New Deal, and we now have evidence that he’s a lying crook to boot. For millions of voters, however, who prefer convenience to civic competence, such new information is useless; they’ve already cast their votes.

This is also historically ignorant; the number of Presidential races that have turned (or almost turned) on late developments and new revelations is hardly insignificant. There should be a single day for voting except in extreme emergencies. Early voting cheapens the franchise and encourages poor decisions.

Long-time readers here know that in 2016 I changed my decision on voting in the final days of that campaign.

4. More on the misleading nature of the 2020 election polls: Gallup came out with this poll yesterday which must have caused heart palpitations in Trump Hate Country. It suggests that voter identification between Republicans and Democrats is essentially even, and Democrats had the edge in that category in 2016, 2012, and 2008. If that statistic is accurate, it means the polls have been botching their mix of those polled, and that the conventional wisdom is upside down.

5. Because those with decency and ethical values who regard themselves as  Democrats might consider hiding their heads under bags after this month….Victory Girls does a yeoman job trashing yesterday’s despicable New York Times article (Mainstream media, especially the Times = Democrats) and other critics engaged in trashing Judge Barrett for her family’s adoptions as a desperate “How low can you go?” effort to derail her confirmation.

“Detractors have criticized as ‘white saviorism’ the judge’s public accounts of her children’s dire situations before they left Haiti,” write Times reporters Catherine Porter and Serge F. Kovaleski as they enlist new Ethics Alarms Rationalization #70, and raising the question of whether “white saviorism” isn’t still preferable to “white leaving the children starving in the gutterism.” Victory Girls points us to Senator McConnell’s slap at the Times smear yesterday, in which the GOP Senate leader wrote in part,

“The article editorializes that “Just as everything with her nomination, the adoptions have been hard to totally separate from the politics of the moment.” What does that mean? Hard for whom? Only a few far-left commentators and now the Times have opted to scrutinize Judge Barrett’s children rather than her qualifications. The Times deliberately chose to paraphrase and amplify what “some critics” and “detractors” may be saying about this family. The media chooses which unhinged claims and tweets to ignore, which ones to indignantly push back against, and which ones to legitimize and elevate.

If Judge Barrett happened to be a liberal icon, the press would be running interference against personal attacks and hounding Republicans to denounce them, not pretending they represent some chin-stroking national conversation. “

Of course.

32 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Wake-Up, 10/20/2020: Being Kind To Jeffrey And Other Matters

  1. 5. There has been a narrative on the pro-choice/pro-abortion side that those who favor any restrictions at all on abortion only care about the unborn, not about kids after they are born, and that this is an effort to control women. They will trot out any number of facts and opinions they can to support this belief.
    Now, they are faced with someone who is anti-abortion who has shown a high level of caring for kids, to the point that she and her husband have brought two kids out of an impoverished orphanage and made their life prospects far better than they would have been. I believe that some adoptions are made to fulfill a desire or need of the adopting adult, but that most are made out of a real concern for the kids, that while it is not possible to save all kids from desperate lives, it is possible to save some through adoption.
    Since this doesn’t fit the narrative with regard to conservatives, a different attack becomes necessary, and the term “white colonialism” gains increased favor and more widespread use. When that isn’t enough, they throw out some questions whether the adoptions even were legal or whether the kids actually were orphans. That is how ugly and irrational some on the left have shown themselves to be.
    McConnell’s point that the press chooses what to highlight and amplify is exactly right, as is Victory Girls’ insistence that such trash be called out and exposed for what it is. I doubt that any of this will lead to a change in how a senator votes on Barrett’s nomination. I expect that The Times and Kendi and others promoting the “white colonialism” idea believe that, too, but, why miss a chance to smear those you oppose politically?

    • If this is form of white colonialism where are the affluent blacks who could step up. Instead of buying 20 million dollar mansions and fleets of exotic cars and complaining of racism LeBron why don’t you and your compatriots take the responsibility to care for those you don’t want whites to help.

  2. 1, “This hasn’t happened before to a public figure: the closest was Anthony Weiner’s sexting women, and as humiliating as that was, it doesn’t come close to what Toobin’s Zoom botch has done to the legal analyst’s career, reputation and dignity.”

    What about Paul Reubens?

    • Hey, what’s Pee-Wee Herman’s favorite restaurant?

      The Palm!

      What’s Pee-Wee Herman’s favorite holiday?

      Palm Sunday!

      What’s this? (make a loose fist)

      Pee Week’s playhouse!

      Honk! Honk! Wocka! Wocka!

      2. “Karen” is quickly becoming the next Boogeyman in American society, and non-black people who call the police on black people in low-level situations are now assumed to be bad guys. Put on your headphones, cede the playground, let the shoplifted merch go. It’s not that big of a deal if someone’s blasting their music in your neighborhood late at night, or one group of guys is commandeering the basketball court like they own it and telling anyone get lost or they will eff them up, or someone picks up a few choice items when no one’s looking that the store’s got plenty of anyway. It’s a VERY big deal if the police come to enforce a noise ordinance, or access to what’s supposed to be public, or to prevent petty theft, because then there’s a danger that the perpetrators could lose their lives to a cowboy cop.

  3. “Detractors have criticized as ‘white saviorism’ the judge’s public accounts of her children’s dire situations before they left Haiti,” write Times reporters Catherine Porter and Serge F. Kovaleski.

    Let’s rewrite that sentence in different ways. . .

    Detractors have criticized as ‘white saviorism’ the Democrats promoting affirmative action because of the dire employment situation Blacks faced.

    Detractors have criticized as ‘white saviorism’ the Democrats promoting open borders and DACA because of the dire situations the people faced in their home countries.

    Detractors have criticized as ‘white saviorism’ the Democrats promoting hate speech legislation because of the hurt feelings minorities face from microaggressions.

    If the Times statement is true then the only systemic racism that exists is that which is codified in law to protect a subset of humanity from the vagaries of life. This is prima facie evidence that the makers of such laws do not believe the protected subset is CAPABLE of achieving success because of their immutable characteristics.

  4. (3) Wasn’t the stated reason that Trump was impeached that there was no reasonable suspicion of corruption involving Joe Biden? Didn’t the House of Representatives affirm this and we put the President on trial for investigating corruption where none existed? Didn’t all the news media insist this was true? I seem to remember something like that happened in the distant past…

    • Correct.

      According to the story, the owner of the repair shop had given the laptop to the FBI ;Rudy Guiliani has a copy of the hard drive’s contents.

      The laptop had evidence related to the impeachment inquiry. The whole reason the repair shop owner contyacted Guiliani is because the FBI took no action regarding the laptop.

      Neither President Trump’s defense team nor the House Judiciary Committee were provided with copies of the hard drive, etl alone a summary of the relevant evidence. This is what I believe is called a Brady violation.

      For if the e-mails are authentic, then what is alleged would be sufficient probable cause to ask Ukraine President Zelensky for a second look into Vice President Biden’s role in the firing of that Ukrainian prosecutor.

      If the e-mails were forged, this would beg the question of who forged the e-mails, and if Trump had been involved. For I believe it is fair to say that framing someone (let alone a political rival) for a crime is a properly impeachable offense.

      It is telling that the House Judiciary Committee did not claim last Friday to have had a copy of these e-mails, let alone any report that these e-mails were forgeries.

  5. It suggests that voter identification between Republicans and Democrats is essentially even, and Democrats had the edge in that category in 2016, 2012, and 2008. If that statistic is accurate, it means the polls have been botching their mix of those polled, and that the conventional wisdom is upside down.

    The polls would be accurate if those who vote roughly matched the demographics of those who were polled.

    It does not seem likely that the voters will match the demographics of those polled.

    • Correction. They didn’t come out with that poll recently. That data has been up there for quite a while, updated each time they add a new poll. I have been looking at it for at least a few months. That is why I knew the polling was skewed.

  6. 1. I remember when I was still working from home, spending a little bit of time here talking about the necessity of treating a zoom meeting like you’re in the office, because your employer is employing you, regardless of where you’re working, and has the right to enforce basic standards, like wearing pants (or not masturbating during the meeting) even if no one else (you hope) will know you aren’t wearing pants (or) because they have placed trust in you. I also said not wearing pants is stupid because if an emergency asserts itself, and you have to move quickly, its less embarrassing (literally) to do so with pants.

    Anyone who asserted I was wrong then want to re-evaluate?

  7. I think this is part of a bigger problem — something women have been screaming about for years. There are a lot of Jeffrey Toobins out there. The stories aren’t necessarily as public, but every organization deals with this. Assuming the story is accurate, Toobin was on a second phone call with another woman while on his Zoom meeting and deliberately pointed his camera at his crotch so he could watch himself masturbate. He thought hitting the mute button disabled his camera — so in addition to being gross, a bad employee, and a cheater, he also is technologically illiterate.

    Men who are like this do need to be shamed and thrown out of our jobs. We are sick of working with men like this. And if you think their behavior is limited to a freak Zoom call, you are wrong.

    • I agree. (Holy shit, right?)

      A great judge of character is what someone does when they think no one is looking. Would you do that? I sure as hell wouldn’t. I don’t feel any need to defend this, and I don’t see a reason to. It’s unfortunate that this is as big a deal as it is, because even gross and extreme personal failings shouldn’t necessarily be national news, but there’s no universe where Toobin should keep his job, and I wouldn’t blame his wife if she left him.

    • How do you know he was not on a second zoom call because the woman asked to watch.

      I am suck and tired of the double standard foe women. Women we are told must be allowed to be sexual creatures with procedures available for them should pregnancy occur. We cannot demand them to carry a baby full term if it might interrupt her career or lifestyle. The man is always the pervert when he seeks gratification but women are supposedly pure of thought word and deed. Tell me what is that rabbit device discussed on Sex in the City.

      Toobin is a disgrace because he chose to engage in a private behavior in an absolutely inappropriate place and time. But to suggest that this behavior is endemic among males is as bigoted as saying a particular group is shiftless and lazy

      • I don’t even know how to respond to nonsensical tirade, but I’ll give it the old college try.

        1) Women are “sexual creatures with procedures available for them should pregnancy occur.” Okay, both men and women are sexual creatures, correct. This is not about sex — this is about NOT having sex while on a work Zoom call, or at work period. This also is not about abortion. But, speaking of abortion, are you aware of the well-known story that Toobin tried to convince his mistress to have an abortion and then refused to pay child support and denied paternity until it was court ordered following a genetic test when the kid was 10 or 11. Classy dude.

        2) No, YOU cannot demand that any woman carry a baby to full term, nor can you demand that she get an abortion, like Toobin tried to do. Similarly, we cannot stop you from getting a vasectomy. And I know more than one woman in real life whose husbands went out to get vasectomies without them knowing while carrying on the charade of trying for a baby. It makes for a terrible marriage (or divorce), but bodily autonomy trumps a partner’s wishes in this regard.

        3) Do you really want me to explain the rabbit to you? I’m hoping that’s tongue-in-cheek, but if not, please Google it. I will stipulate for the record though that any woman who uses a rabbit while on a work zoom call should be fired.

        4) I didn’t say it was endemic among males, I said — and I’m right — that is endemic to every single organization in this country. Every workplace has at least one of these guys — or 100, or 1000 — depending on the size of the employer. And the skeeviness leaks out of every pore of their bodies — the shoulder rubs, the cornering of you in an elevator or work cocktail party, the sexual jokes, etc. And yes, this problem happens in higher percentages with men, but I don’t think all men are sleazeballs. But, it only takes one to ruin an entire workplace.

        • Yep, yep, and yep. Every woman cal tell a story about at least guy at work who made her skin crawl.

          I do know of at least one woman who behaved creepily to men at work. It was other women who reminded the men it was harassment and encouraged them to report it.

        • Mmhmm, and sometimes it only takes one stumble to become known as that guy. This isn’t a stumble, though. A stumble is a conversation that goes wrong unintentionally, or a joke heard by ears it wasn’t meant for, or a thoughtless jostle. Deliberate contact or deliberate disgusting behavior isn’t a stumble. This was beyond even either of those.

          • Correct. And I, like many women, have negotiated hundreds of stumbles. And I have not reported one because I recognized them as just that. Everyone can make a mistake.

        • SS.
          We are in general agreement about the fact that such behavior is absolutely inappropriate in the workplace.

          People seem to miss the forest for the trees. Toobin has power that are attractive to some women. Trump has power that is attractive to some women. This means that the sexual behaviors and attitudes of powerful men are affected and shaped by the behaviors of receptive women toward men with power. Subordinate males are not sexually motivated by a female’s higher power and resource potential Protege’s and wannabe’s of the men with power learn what works to obtain the favors of the young and attractive. It is absolutely imperative that women take some responsibility for the signals they send just as men are responsible for the responses they give. Willing females are not victims they are independent decision makers who may or may not be making good decisions. Any other description would be Chauvinistic.

          I took issue with what I interpreted was a slam against males in general. That is how it came across to me. I will reiterate my last paragraph:

          “Toobin is a disgrace because he chose to engage in a private behavior in an absolutely inappropriate place and time. But to suggest that this behavior is endemic among males is as bigoted as saying a particular group is shiftless and lazy.”

          Yes I am aware that Toobin is a creep and has been for a long time and not just because of the self righteousness he exhibits while engaging in extramarital affairs. None of this is the point. The idea that he aimed the camera down to watch himself is difficult to fathom when he could simply look down. I think it is more probable that he intended to send the imagery to willing and receptive female but instead toggled the camera back to the work Zoom meeting by mistake. Neither of us has any evidence to support either hypothesis. The only thing that is not in doubt is that Toobin’s conduct made him no longer valuable to the organizations that employ him as an arbiter of right and wrong.

          I worked in an academic institution and watched female students attempt to cozy up to younger male faculty to gain an edge. It was well known that one tenured throwback to the 70s engaged in numerous affairs with students. I had one student damn near bare a breast during a conversation relating to an economic production function model. A female consultant would often lean over my desk to offer dynamic vistas of her cleavage. Funny thing, she was hired to replace me. I had a female assistant develop a sexual relationship with my superior. This allowed her to gain a sympathetic ear from my boss when I had to take corrective action with her work product. When I hear about “MEN!” I hear the same thing that others hear when the word nigger is used pejoratively against them. Behavior is individualistic and not a collective trait. So, you see only that which impacts your gender but the same occurs that impact us that you do not see. We only know what we experience.

          This has been a pet peeve of mine for years. I was the one that had to go to mandatory training on harassment. It was not mandated for females. This mandate assumed all the men were potential predators. The training for females ALWAYS portrayed them as victims and the training for males was all about male behaviors.

          Perhaps my examples were sub par but I am tired of the double standard that presumes that women are never sexual aggressors but only victims. Most of the violators of the naked teacher principle so far have been women. My goal was to point out that women have sought sexual parity through legislation and court rulings. I have no problem with any of that. But I do have a problem when women attempt to use the Victorian belief of purity and chastity when it serves their economic and legal interests but then demand an unfettered ability to be as sexually active as they wish. That was my only point.

          • Yes, some women are attracted to power. As you work in academia, you are aware that for millennia a woman’s very survival depended on attracting a stronger, richer, male because society and sometimes the law prohibited women from achieving any power or wealth at all. Some of us are still learning and adapting. But, I digress. One thing has not changed — the person in power has the greater responsibility in these situations, and it is his (or her) job to say no and walk the moral, ethical, and oftentimes legal path.

  8. Sorry, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for Jeff Toobin. His entire persona is incredibly smirky and snarky and superior. If you look up biased media, his cutesy little New Yorker cartoon image is the picture. I have no more sympathy for him than I did Carlos Danger or Elliott Spitzer or Charlie Rose or Garrison Keillor or Mark Sanford. Toobin will be fine. He can go fishing for the rest of his life.

  9. he’s going to suffer as much as its possible for a human being to suffer without being convicted of a crime and thrown in jail even if nobody says another thing about him in public.” This hasn’t happened before to a public figure: the closest was Anthony Weiner’s sexting women, and as humiliating as that was, it doesn’t come close to what Toobin’s Zoom botch has done to the legal analyst’s career, reputation and dignity.

    I dunno: Toobin had an extramarital affair about 10 years ago, pushed for an abortion, then denied the child was his until dna proved otherwise. Didn’t kill his career then.

    Another dem politician with a history of credible rape accusations, and a preditory sexual relationship with a low level employee in the White House didn’t seem to ultimately suffer all that much. His main enabler also very nearly made it into the Presidency some years later.

    • You can’t seriously compare those scandals to being caught on camera masturbating in frnt of your colleagues on video! There’s so much precedent for the other stuff: Clinton, Gingrich, Trunp, rock stars and celebrities galore. How many open masturbation scandals among professionals do you know of? (and no, getting caught in an adult film house isn’t comparable.) Plus Toobin is supposed to be a true professional–he’s a lawyer and a journalist: he’s not a comic like Louis CK or Paul Reubens. No comparison.

      • I think it depends on intent. Toobin’s earlier adultery-driven actions were intentional and harmful, as were Clinton’s, and both much worse, IMO. If this Zoom video was indeed an accident, it’s gross, embarrassing, stupid, and careless, but not intentionally harmful or illegal. In a way, it’s little different from a teen forgetting to lock his bedroom door and having his mother walk in, but with more repercussions, including coworkers questioning his mental state, and fitness to engage with others.

        Why anyone should care what Reuben did with or to himself alone in a sleazy porn theater, I don’t know.

  10. To Resurrect this from 2014:

    “I’m almost convinced to support:

    1) Election Day is made a national holiday, no one may be compelled to work, except bare essential services run on skeleton crews – PDs, FDs, hospitals, etc (and those have to file for exemptions to work). However, should an individual choose to work, they don’t get to be considered as an exception to this and do not get to be rolled into #2.

    2) No Early Voting. Nope. None. It shouldn’t be too much of an “inconvenience” involved in determining National direction. With the following exception – after clearing in advance the individuals who are assigned to the skeleton crews for item #1, those individuals may vote the day prior to Election Day, receiving the day prior, the same protections from employers as described in #1. Long lines bother you?

    3) Absentee Voting for Military / Government Assignment away from home / similar civilian arrangement / extreme condition barring ability to be present at polling station. If you can’t be bothered to return to your home polling station for Election Day, you need to change your registered location OR even your actual state of residence if you are so permanently situated.

    Of course that is relatively unrefined.”

    After talking with my wife she pointed out that obviously there should be mail in voting for people who are infirm or physically incapable of reaching the polls as part of this list…who specifically request such a ballot and demonstrate the hardship.

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