May The Fourth Ethics Warm-Up: The Derby, Booing Mitt, And Other Pastimes…

Besides the terrible pun, May the 4th has great ethical significance in U.S. history. The children of the Sixties have the date seared into their memories as the 1970 tipping point in the Vietnam war protests. Twenty-eight young and badly trained National Guardsmen fired their weapons at a group of anti-war demonstrators on the Kent State University campus. Four students were killed, eight were wounded, and one was permanently paralyzed. The tragedy didn’t make the war any more or less wrong, but it massively shifted sympathies to students, protesters, and the one-time punchline of the previous few years, hippies. Future U.S. activists learned the lesson of Kent State well: if you can goad the opposition into violence, it is a victory for the cause, just and reasonable or not. This makes no sense, of course, other than being the ideal use of the cognitive dissonance scale

But Kent State doesn’t came close to the impact of the Haymarket Square Riot in Chicago, Illinois on this date in 1886. A bomb was thrown at a squad of police attempting to break up a peaceful labor rally that was getting rowdy. The police responded to the bomb by wildly shooting into the crowd, killing more than a dozen people and injuring hundreds. The episode had wide-reaching effects in labor, law and politics, galvanizing the union movement, leading to great political courage by some politicians (like Illinois Governor John Peter Altgeld, who pardoned three arrested activists who hadn’t been executed or died in 1893) and craven expediency by others.

The episode was also the major catalyst in bring a small-time lawyer named Clarence Darrow to Chicago, and inspiring him to be a labor lawyer.

1. More on Brandon Mitchell, the Chauvin juror who couldn’t keep his mouth shut. The photo of Mitchell wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt at a protest in Washington D.C. last August…

…has some legal experts…and me…wondering if the chances of the Chauvin verdict being overturned just got a whole lot better. “I’d never been to D.C.,” Mitchell humina-huminaed about his reasons for attending the event. “The opportunity to go to D.C., the opportunity to be around thousands and thousands of Black people; I just thought it was a good opportunity to be a part of something.”

Part of what, exactly, sir?

Brandon also says he doesn’t recall wearing such a shirt. That’s not encouraging regarding his honesty, is it?

Meanwhile, in the story about the latest development in the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck, the AP writes,

A photo, posted on social media, shows Brandon Mitchell, who is Black, attending the Aug. 28 event to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington. Floyd’s brother and sister, Philonise and Bridgett Floyd, and relatives of others who have been shot by police addressed the crowd.

Others who have been shot by the police? Floyd was shot too? I did not know that!

2. I’d say Caitlyn Jenner, previously Olympian Bruce, is an ideal expert witness on the topic of trans women competing with biological women in athletic events, wouldn’t you? So, naturally, she’s being branded a traitor by the LBGTQ community for stating the obvious: it’s unfair to allow transitioning biological males to compete with women in sports. Charlotte Clymer, for example, a writer and LGBTQ activist, tweeted that Jenner is “dead wrong” and appealed to the authority of gay female athletes Billie Jean King and Megan Rapinoe, who really know nothing about the issue at all, except perhaps what they deny. King’s big step for equality in sports was beating a senior male tennis player, Bobby Riggs, while she was in her prime (and Riggs was hardly pro quality at that point), and Rapinoe’s women’s soccer team has been defeated soundly by teen-aged boys. “There is no evidence this is a problem anywhere,” wrote Clymer. Right:

No problem! Do you see a problem? I don’t see any problem…

3. On booing Mitt Romney. The 2012 GOP nominee for President and current Utah Senator was drowned out by boos at the state’s Republican Convention last week. The treatment was uncivil and wrong, but anger at Romney (and the other NeverTrumpers in the party) is well-earned. Romney, Liz Cheney, both wimp GOP Speakers before Pelosi took over, Bill Kristol, Jeff Flake, George Will and others, including the corrupt Lincoln Project members, allowed their personal dislike for Donald Trump to grease the skids for the current radical Democrats to gain power and threaten the republic in multiple ways. Senator Susan Collins’ attempted defense of Mitt was really a pretty good indictment, as she cited principles like strong national defense, limited government and individual liberty as bedrock GOP beliefs, and added, “I think all of us who abide by [Republican] principles should remember Ronald Reagan’s admonition to Republicans that the person who agrees with you 70 or 80 percent of the time is your friend, not your enemy.”

But Donald Trump, warts, scales, oozing boils and noxious pustules and all, did embrace those principles, and did agree with the NeverTrumpers at least 80% of the time. They not only shunned him, they joined forces with the enemies of all those ideals to defeat him. Romney (who has no bedrock principles) was among the worst.

4. How did the Kentucky Derby get better ratings than the Oscars (and the State of the Union Address), even with an afternoon broadcast? I detest horse racing, a beautiful but cruel sport dominated by the idle rich, but I admit that I tuned in briefly last weekend. I was curious to see what virtue-signaling the Derby would engage in to suck up to the systemic racism mob. None! I expected “My Old Kentucky Home” to have been replaced by “Imagine” or something equally nauseating. (Actually, nothing is as nauseating as “Imagine.”) Nope, they played it—a Stephen Foster song, just like “Old Black Joe,” and “De Camp Town Races,” as it is called in “Blazing Saddles.” As the camera panned the crowd and all the drunken ladies in their ridiculous hats, I desperately looked for faces that weren’t blinding white. There weren’t many (see the photo above). I did see a black jockey—and he was the only one the New York Times thought worthy of writing about. Nobody knelt during the National Anthem, which was wretchedly sung. I would have bet my house that at least the singer would have been black, and I would be living in a box now. The Derby was, as a far as I could tell, exactly as it has always been, and there wasn’t a whiff of politics or wokism anywhere.

I did see NBC interview a first time Derby-goer, who said,

“I’d never been to Kentucky. The opportunity to go to the Derby., the opportunity to be around thousands and thousands of white people; I just thought it was a good opportunity to be a part of something.”

I’m kidding

37 thoughts on “May The Fourth Ethics Warm-Up: The Derby, Booing Mitt, And Other Pastimes…

    • Nonsense. The Lincoln Project was very successful at its main objective: grifting millions of dollars from progressives to enrich the “project’s” principals. Worked like a charm.

  1. I too was amazed by “My Old Kentucky Home not being banned. “‘Tis summer, the darkies are gay?” Weep no more, my ladies, indeed.

    And wait, this is the state Mitch McConnell calls home? But hey, Mike Tirico is black!


    And let’s not forget, the winning horse is owned by a Saudi or some such gazillionaire! There’s some diversity for you!

      • My 7th Great Grandfather Joseph Willis sat on a Post Revolutionary War jury, with one Daniel Boone, tasked with determining the fate of ~ 4000 acres along the Ohio River owned by dastardly Loyalists.

        The trial was to establish whether, in the post-Revolutionary War climate, two substantial Kentucky landowners, John Connolly and Alexander McKee, were in fact still British subjects.

        To no one’s surprise them there Tories were stripped of their land, which eventually became Louisville, KY.

    • Well, there was a major effort to get it banned. It failed, although it may yet succeed with three more Derbys with Biden in the White House. I wouldn’t rule out a federal investigation of everyone involved because of the song. The Woke Brigade did manage to get singing the lyrics stopped last year, and they don’t put the lyrics up on the jumbotrons anymore like they used to.

      There was also a major effort by organized labor to shut down the Derby with a valet strike, which they authorized on the eve of the Derby. It also didn’t happen, although I’m not sanguine about why.

      My Old Kentucky Home is the state song of Kentucky, so any effort to ban it outright is liable to create legislative backlash in a state where the Democratic party truly is a rump party in the legislature, and for the most part, everywhere else except Louisville and Lexington.

      By the way, I did have the winner across the board. Alas, I am a small bettor (pro forma, really), but at least we got back some of our other losses for Oaks and Derby day.

  2. Horses don’t preach at you condescendingly on topics they are deeply ignorant and hypocritical about. That’s how the Derby beat the Oscars’ ratings. Also, the colors of the horses has no bearing on which one wins.

    With all its shortcomings and cruelty, horse racing is still more ethical than Hollywood…

  3. But is booing Romney wrong? I mean, this wasn’t a government function, they weren’t booing him as he was representing the United States before foreigners. This was the Republican Convention. The audience was supposed to be representative of the state party. He and the party leadership should have known that the Party (as opposed to the party leadership) feel that Romney betrayed them and embarrassed them. Romney should have been snubbed and not been allowed to make an appearance, because that is what should happen when you misbehave. To allow him to appear shows that that Romney and the leadership are either out of touch or have contempt for the Party. Maybe leadership better start having some respect for the people again or there will be more discontent.

    If your drunken uncle runs over your dog at Thanksgiving, don’t you think you can complain if Grandma brings him (unrepentant and drunk) to Christmas dinner at your house?

    • Romney needed to be reminded that there is a reckoning coming for him and the other RINOs, never-Trumpers and neocons who infest the GOP. The true conservatives may play nice to facilitate a mid-term turnover in Congress, but no one has forgotten their betrayal. Their time is coming.

  4. The chances of that verdict being overturned just DID get a whole lot better, this lawyer would say. Brandon’s an obvious BLM partisan who lied about it. The shirt says it all. He can claim he didn’t pre-judge, but the appearance of impropriety stands out here like a bright red poppy in a sea of lilies. If the defendant here were anyone else, it would be a slam-dunk overturn. This is too close to a poisoned jury pool for the verdict to stand. If it is, Chauvin will be a de facto political prisoner and every white person in this country better be prepared to flee rather than offer resistance to a non-white criminal, because BLM et al. will poison the jury pool wherever you are tried until there can never be any verdict other than guilty as charged. It’s the opposite number to Southern good old boy networks where Billy Bob would have lynched po’ Willie for looking at Sarah Jo the wrong way and the jury would be Goober, Gomer, and Bo. Now, Ryan or Sean or Oliver is going to be accused of shooting poor oppressed Malik who just needed money, and the jury is going to be Taj, Chimmiqua, and Amiri.

  5. Just going to put this out there….

    I thought Nelson was waaaaay too passive during jury selection, but even with that, I’m having significant difficulties believing that this potential juror could go through selection and come across as not predisposed for the prosecution unless he lied.

    • Suspecting an impossibility of an innocent verdict and likely guilty on all counts verdict, what’s the chance that passivity on the part of Nelson was calculated to increase chance of the verdict being overturned?

  6. Regarding Chauvin, I think everyone knew it was a fait accompli, and that any number of potential jurors would … minimize, I guess … any potential problems with their “fairness.” I suspect most of them were positive Chauvin would be convicted no matter what, and used that judgment to rationalize their questionnaire questions.

    I’m not sure even the fictional Dr. Jason Bull could’ve pulled a fair jury out of that pool with all the tech in the world. He probably would’ve gotten Mitchell stricken, though…

    • Turley thinks there is grounds for an appeal, and writes,

      “It is still not clear the extent of any bias in the case of Mitchell. Some reports indicate that he may have done podcasts on police brutality and the George Floyd case. That would be particularly serious, though we saw in the Stone trial the lengths that courts will go to avoid the obvious.The defense will have the same uphill battle in the Chauvin appeal and the question is whether there is anything in addition to the photo. It will also have to be prepared to answer, as in the Stone case, why it did not perform a full Internet search on prospective jurors.”

      Hence my ineffective assistance of counsel vibe…

      • I agree with Turley that there are grounds for appeal. However, this part of his commentary is telling, and I think, more likely than not dispositive:

        That would be particularly serious, though we saw in the Stone trial the lengths that courts will go to avoid the obvious.The defense will have the same uphill battle in the Chauvin appeal and the question is whether there is anything in addition to the photo.

        The legal system wants no part of this. They will rationalize it not based on any notion of “justice,” social or otherwise, but on a simple value calculation — it will be less destructive for the country if Chauvin is simply thrown under the jail and sacrificed for the “greater good.” After all, isn’t that the real end of justice — the greater good? Not to mention the fact that the life of the judge(s) who overturns this verdict, regardless of the persuasiveness of the evidence for it, won’t be worth a plugged nickel and they all know it. We delude ourselves if we think that doesn’t enter into the calculation.

        In any case, Chauvin is clearly not a good person, and the world would arguably be better off without him in society. “Who can complain if a bad man comes to a bad end?”, they will aver to themselves.

        It is clear that at least a couple of people on the jury, Mitchell notwithstanding, were willing to be persuaded that reasonable doubt existed. Therein lies problem, at least as I understand the law — he was convicted in virtually all their minds before the trial was gaveled into session.

        My history books say something about “innocent until proven guilty…” or whatever. How antebellum of me for believing it should matter in all cases, great and petty.

        • The concern shouldn’t be for Chauvin, who was probably a bully all his life and just got a license to be one in the form of the badge. The concern should be for the precedent this could set, where anyone judged sufficiently bad loses the right to a fair trial and only gets a trial at all because it has to LOOK like he was treated fairly. In my days of doing labor and employment law I did a lot of administrative court work, which almost never draws an audience. One day the whole courtroom was full of administrative law judges from Poland, who were learning the American system and how fairness is supposed to work, and, during a break, one of them said to me that under the old socialist order nothing like this was even conceivable. The decision was known when the charges were brought, but they still had to go through the motions, like actors playing out a play.

          I’ve known civil judges to stick it to lawyers or threaten to stick it to them a hundred different ways, mostly because NJ has a few lazy judges who do everything they can to avoid actually trying cases, including messing with people’s schedules, prejudging motions, doing the minimum in rendering decisions, and so on. They had a lot more, but the Administrative Office of the Courts started cracking down on those practices after pressure from the statewide bar complaining that it was creating a poor climate in the courts and certain judges were getting more and more blatant in their contempt for lawyers and litigants and also pressure from the insurance industry complaining that judges were tilting the playing field against them because they always told defendants to come up with more money and never told plaintiffs to take less or not to get greedy. Criminal judges are a different breed, though, and scrupulously do not screw with either side, especially not with the defense, because they know the Appellate Division will not hesitate to throw out a conviction if it looks like the deck was stacked against the defendant. That’s why prosecutors and defense attorneys alike have to be careful with the use of peremptory challenges (6 each, no less, no more), but prosecutors especially, so it doesn’t look like I’m stacking a jury against a criminal defendant from Newark with folks from Cedar Grove and Livingston, where houses start at $400,000.

          I think this juror is just the tip of the iceberg, though. More is going to come out, and it’s going to be obvious this guy could NEVER get a fair trial.

  7. The horse racing industry is certainly cruel to many horses. It’s a shame that the Derby overshadows just about everything else in the town. My journeys to Louisville included one trip to the Derby in 1990 as the guest of old friends. It was quite a spectacle, but not my cup of tea -or julep. When they sang “My Old Kentucky Home” that year, the lyrics sung were “Tis summer the PEOPLE are gay.” (I suppose some of them were.)
    I haven’t been to Louisville in over a decade, but I used to visit regularly. My first trips to Louisville were to attend training courses at the U of L’s National Crime Prevention Institute and later at the Southern Police Institute. Several of those courses carried college credit, so technically I am a U of L alumnus. I liked the town / area so much I vacationed there a half dozen times and overnighted there on a number of trips farther north. I used to say that the Louisville area was likely the northernmost region in the US where I would want to reside.
    On a positive tourism note, the Louisville Slugger Museum is a delight for any baseball fan. There are plenty of other museums, historic homes and sites to tour, plus the Belle of Louisville riverboat and the “bourbon tours” if that is your thing. There are some great gun shows at the State Fair and Expo Center a couple of times a year as well. I always found the area welcoming and the people very hospitable.

  8. Mayday, Mayday …
    The 135th anniversary of Haymarket, the Big Event for Labor, now pretty much forgotten. There’s a plaque in the square marking the site near Desplaines & Randolph Streets. Just hauled down from my bookshelf a seminal text (required reading for one of my many courses entitled “Radicalism & Reform in the 19th Century”) by Paul Avrich, published to commemorate the Centennial. Time for a reread. Thanks for bringing it up Jack.

  9. 3. Trump may have aligned himself with essential Republican values 80 per cent (or some other large number) of the times, but he has been dramatically wrong on at least two counts, each one serious enough to turn any reasonable person against him.
    His repeated plea to Pence to refuse to certify the election was an attempt to undermine both democracy and federalism. It is blindingly obvious that each state certifies its own election results. When the votes are tabulated in a joint session of Congress, there is a little-used procedure for challenging the validity of a state’s results, but the Vice President’s role in that process is purely administrative. Begging him to illegally go beyond that role is signature significance that Trump should be banished from the Republican Party.
    Likewise, his continuing insistence that the election was stolen from him, his refusal to acknowledge reality, is another attempt to undermine democracy, similar to the destructive efforts of the likes of Clinton and those who styled themselves as ‘the resistance’ after the 2016 election.
    Some prominent Republicans and Conservatives became ‘never-Trumpers’ well before the 2020 election. Well, good for them for recognizing the evil, destructive, character in a politician who places himself above the country.

    • But that’s all in the “Trump is an asshole with no impulse control” category. We knew that. None of his blatherings on these matter constituted policy, or substance. “Turn against him” is way too broad. I turned against him 20 years ago, and never turned back, but that’s him (Romney mentioned his “character” deficits—beside the point.) What matters in a President is what he does and advocates substantively, and on substance, Trump was a human sea wall. “Tear down that sea wall! It’s an icky green, and it stinks.”
      Not a wise move.

      There are very good reasons for Trump to believe the election was “stolen” from him after a 4 year combined effort to de-legitimize and undermine his Presidency. Until the end, he handled it all amazingly well.

      But the main point is that by the time the election was over, “turning against Trump” was a) chicken and b) irrelevant. Romney and the NeverTrumpers turned against him on Day One. You can’t use his post-election tantrum to justify that.

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