Down The Slippery Slope To Lawyer Censorship: First Giuliani, And Now This

silence

Rudy Giuliani, as discussed here, was just suspended from the practice of law on the basis of out of courts statements that the New York bar disagrees with, while representing a client they hate (Donald Trump), using a standard that has never been applied to a lawyer before.

Yet what was just done to South Carolina lawyer David Paul Traywick by the state Supreme Court was even worse, and more ominous. The Court ordered his suspension from the practice of law based on social media posts that were pure opinion, and that had no connection to the practice of law at all. Traywick lost his license for six months. He will also have to complete at least one hour of diversity education, undergo an anger management assessment, submit to an evaluation through the South Carolina Bar program Lawyers Helping Lawyers, and comply for one year with any treatment recommended by “re-education” authorities.

The Court felt justified punishing him after the South Carolina Office of Disciplinary Counsel received complaints from 46 people about Traywick’s Facebook posts. The posts were accessible to the public, and his profile identified himself as a lawyer while mentioning his law firm his law firm.

The Court found twelve posts by Traywick “troubling.”I will interject here that an individual’s statement on social media are none of a court’s business, indeed none of its damn business, unless they are libelous or criminal, or evidence in a case before it. None of the posts fit into those categories. Two of the posts nonetheless triggered the suspension:

  • On April 5, 2020, Traywick posted what the Court calls “an offensive comment regarding tattoos,” apparently so offensive the the opinion won’t even enlighten us to what it was. After whatever it was he was saying about tattoos, which could have only been an opinion, he  challenged his readers, “Prove me wrong. Pro tip: you can’t.” In a subsequent post in response to a comment, he wrote, “The general statement has exceptions, such as for bikers, sailors, convicts or infantry. But these college educated, liberal suburbanites. No, the rule was written for these boring mother fuckers. And they are everywhere. Fuck em. Especially these females, Jesus Christ!”
  • On June 3, 2020, at the peak of the George Floyd Freakout, they lawyer posted, also on Facebook,  “Here’s how much that shitstain’s life actually mattered: Stock futures up. Markets moved higher Monday and Tuesday. Fuck you. Unfriend me.

By no stretch of the imagination or the Rules of Professional Conduct do those statements justify suspending a lawyer’s right to practice law. It is protected speech under the First Amendment. It does not involve the practice of law. The comments are profane, but profanity is not grounds for discipline out of a legal context. They are vulgar, but the same hold with those. They may offend readers, but nobody is forcing readers to follow this jerk. The lawyer appears, based on his comments, to be an asshole, but being an asshole is not a disqualification for practicing law. It is often an asset, some might say. He may have been lying, but not in any way that could be linked to his trustworthiness as a lawyer, and lies are also protected speech unless they constitute fraud or perjury.

Yet the Court wrote,

Continue reading

On Bill Cosby’s Get-Out-Of-Jail-Forever Card…

Bill Cosby4

The Pennsylvania State Supreme Court has overturned Bill Cosby’s sex assault conviction, and the 83-year-old comedian/Jello pudding salesman/serial rapist will be released from prison with no chance of his having to go back, according to the ruling vacating his conviction issued yesterday.

Is that justice? Well, it’s a kind of justice, but only for Cosby. Pennsylvania’s highest court overturned his conviction because a previous prosecutor had granted him immunity from prosecution in order to force the Coz to admit to some of his criminal sexual activity. Cosby could not use the Fifth Amendment nor lie without risking perjury charges, so he made several incriminating statements on the record. These should not have been used to convict him later, but a different prosecutor determined that his office was not bound by the previous deal. But it was. Because Cosby’s statements were improperly used against him, the conviction was based on inadmissible evidence. This new ruling bars any retrial in the case.

Much as Bill Cosby deserves to rot in prison, upon reading the opinion, I see no way to criticize the decision. Even bad people have to be prosecuted and convicted the right way, and Cosby, who is about as bad as one can get, was not. I’m sure there is some reason why Cosby’s lawyer wasn’t able to block the use of his client’s damning but unusable testimony before Cosby had to spend time in jail, but so far, I can’t find it.

If a sociopathic predator like Bill Cosby can be freed on the basis of an unfair trial—and he can and should be—so can and should a brutal cop like Derk Chauvin, whose trial was also unfair, though for very different reasons. We shall see how far the integrity of the justice system goes.

Nobody is going to riot over Bill Cosby going free. That, I fear, might be the critical difference.

KABOOM! The New York Times Op-Ed Page Is Trying To Kill Me (And, Apparently, The USA)

jackheadexplosion

Once again, we have an opinion piece that an objective, serious newspaper that respects it readers and is committed to the idea of promoting good government and a responsible citizenry would read upon submission and say, politely holding back giggles, “Come on! We can’t print this: it’s ridiculous.” Not only that, but the author, Christina Greer, is actually employed by a university to pass along her brand of “reasoning” and “analysis” to innocent, unsuspecting students, who pay for the privilege. She’s an associate professor of political science at Fordham.

I hate beginning the day with dire thoughts of hurling myself into a woodchipper in despair. It’s been happening a lot lately.

This is the title: “Dear Kamala Harris: It’s a Trap!” And this is its thesis: Mean, possibly sexist and racist President Biden is setting up the Vice-President to fail by giving her really hard assignments that she isn’t qualified to pull off, and this is likely to adversely affect her chances of being elected President. No, I’m serious: I wouldn’t make that up. I couldn’t make that up. Prof. Greer really argues that in an essay that tries to turn so many basic premises of political and social reality on their metaphorical heads, it made MY head blow up. [Once again, much gratitude is due to reader Steve Witherspoon, who constructed that GIF.)

Here is the crux of her argument:

Addressing the root causes of migration is one of several jobs President Biden has handed Ms. Harris, who had no deep expertise with Latin America issues or the decades-long quandary of federal immigration reform. He has also asked her to lead the administration’s voting-rights efforts, which are in a filibuster limbo. According to The Times, he has her working on combating vaccine hesitancy and fighting for policing reform, too, among other uphill battles….

“Ms. Harris, at this point, can’t seem to win for trying. She is a historic yet inexperienced vice president who is taking on work that can easily backfire as so many people sit in judgment, with critics sniping (especially right-wing commentators) and allies spinning (like with official statements about “success”).

“And all the while, the clock is ticking. Most political observers think that if Mr. Biden decides not to run for re-election in 2024 (when he will be 81), Ms. Harris most definitely will. He had to know that in choosing her as his vice president, he was making her his heir apparent. But based on how things look now, her work as his No. 2 could end up being baggage more than a boon. Mr. Biden and his team aren’t giving her chances to get some wins and more experience on her ledger. Rather, it’s the hardest of the hard stuff.”

The translation for “historic but inexperienced” is “unqualified.” Being a historic VP is just box-checking. It doesn’t get the job done, and there is no excuse for making “historic” a candidate’s only asset, which is definitely the case with Kamala. (Electing a wombat, a coma victim, or a lawn chair would also be historic.) Harris has no executive experience. She was a prosecutor, and a pretty bad one, who rose in California politics by sleeping with a powerful pol. Joe Biden chose her as his running mate because his party had painted itself into a corner and decided that it was more important that he have a female, sort-of black running mate than someone actually qulaified to be President. She prevailed because the alternatives—Stacey Abrams was the least horrible of her competition— were even worse than she was. She was chosen entirely for her lack of a y chromosome and her skin shade, even though it was clear, or should have been, that Biden would be the most fragile President elected since an irresponsible FDR ran for a fourth term knowing he was a goner.

I shouldn’t have to explain this to a political science professor, but being President of the United States is hard. Being delegated difficult aspects of it is an opportunity for a competent VP to show that she is capable of handling the challenge, and any individual in the position of Vice-President should relish the chance. If the Vice-President isn’t up to any task under the President’s list of responsibilities, then she wasn’t qualified to be in the job in the first place. I cannot imagine Greer’s complaint being made on behalf of Teddy Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Adlai Stevenson, Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, George H.W., Bush, Al Gore, Dick Cheney and many other previous VPs; it would be an insult. She appears to think that the objective is to sneak an unqualified, certified screw-up into the White House for the same reason she was allowed to run for Vice President, to be “historic.” Somehow, I think most Americans would like a little more reason to place the fate of their nation into a leader’s hands.

Having pre-exploded my head with her basic premise, I was spared later eruptions when Greer suggested that giving poor Kamala tough jobs to handle shows how racist and sexist we all are. Look at this sophistry:

“This country has yet to have an honest conversation and reflection on the ways in which race and gender play out in electoral politics. There are voters who look at Ms. Harris and immediately believe she is unqualified for the job because of her gender, her immigrant parents and the color of her skin. Republicans tend to say the quiet part loud, but if we are being honest, far too many Democrats would never be able to vote for a Black woman at the top of the ticket, no matter how qualified.”

Uh, Professor? Harris isn’t qualified, and your essay makes that clear, not that it already wasn’t obvious. So this is all obfuscation and misdirection. What your essay argues is that voters should favor a candidate who isn’t qualified just because of her gender and color—which is idiotic. Greer blathers on,

Many white liberals like racial and gender equality in theory but get a little gun-shy when asked to make room at the table for others on a long list of issues — school integration, housing, homelessness, incarceration, policing and executive leadership among them. And for those of you scoffing, ask yourself why you can list almost every major and minor flaw of Hillary Clinton, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Maxine Waters and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to name just a few. Many liberals struggle with issues of gender and race in practice; they may not admit to having a problem with Ms. Harris per se, but many still expect her to conform to certain standards and judge her harshly when she struggles on issues that are difficult to begin with.”

Boy, I’m sure lucky my brains were all over the ceiling before I read THAT paragraph. I can list the major flaws—we don’t need to get to the minor flaws— of Hillary Clinton, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Maxine Waters and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (who all have thick files on Ethics Alarms) because I pay attention. Hillary is the best of that terrible group, and she was a candidate for President only because of her husband, ran arguably the worst campaign in American history, and had been a notable failure as Secretary of State.

The nonsense continues; read the rest if you dare. Two final points:

  • If you found yourself guessing the author’s race, you would be right. And articles like this do no favors for the cause of “diversity and inclusion.” The essay, to be blunt, is incompetent and biased, with a female, black scholar making a self-evidently foolish argument driven by her own loyalties. Academics have to be better than that, and if they aren’t, the raise a rebuttable presumption that they were hired for reasons that have nothing to do with their skills, erudition, or the “content of their character.”
  • Hilariously, Ezra Klein, whom we recently visited as he inflicted his own biased distortion of reality on Times readers, found Greer’s analysis spot on, tweeting, “This seems right. Kamala Harris will probably be the Democratic nominee in 24 or 28. Biden’s team should be giving her portfolios that make it likelier she’ll win. Instead they’re giving her impossible problems that will likely become liabilities.”

I’m in a “How could this happen?” mood today, I guess. How did progressives get this stupid and confused? I really can’t understand it. Nobody would have written an op-ed like Greer’s ten years ago. If someone did, it would have never been published, and if the thing were published, it would have been mocked mercilessly across the political spectrum.

Sunrise Ethics Serenade, June 30, 2021: Rot, Tragedy, Justice, Arrogance, And Irony

DC Sunrise2

1. Evidence that The Great Stupid was upon us in 2019 if only we had been paying attention...My wife, a World War II history buff, was watching the ending credits most recent movie version of “Midway”(2019) when I heard her emit the sound of a wounded animal. This message had flashed across the screen:

“The film is dedicated to the American and Japanese sailors who fought at Midway. The sea remembers its own.”

What…The…Hell? Those Japanese sailors wouldn’t have had to fight at all if their nation hadn’t killed 3,000 American servicemen is a sneak attack six months earlier. Since when do American films salute those who killed Americans? Now I have to check and see whether there was a tribute at the end of “Flight 93” commemorating the brave Al Qida terrorists who died trying to crash a plane into the Capitol.

Equally disturbing is that I recall no mention at all of “Midway’s” offensive coda in reviews of the film, and could find only one mention of it online. I know, I know, American film studios are desperate to pander to foreign markets. That’s not a good enough reason for that disgusting suck-up to a ruthless and racist enemy.

2. This reminds me of my ethical objection to “bucket lists”...Susan Montoya, 65, an assistant principal at Georgia O’Keefe Elementary School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, died when the hot air balloon she was riding in hit power lines and crashed. It was reported that the ride was an item on her “bucket list.” I don’t know who first came up with the idea that human life was just a collection of enumerated experiences and accomplishments like getting a merit badge, or how it became popular, but it’s a narcissistic and wasteful mindset. If you can’t think of anything more productive to do with your life than to treat it like a grocery list, you’ve missed the point.

Continue reading

Ethics Heroes: The New York Yankees

bat girl

Now you know, if you know anything about me, that the headline above was not easy for me to write. Fair, however is fair.

Gwen Goldman was 10-years-old in 1961 when she wrote to her favorite baseball team and said that she wanted to be the Yankees’ batgirl. She got a response, too, from the Yankees GM Roy Hamey. His answer, on a letter with the Yankee logo that Gwen framed and hangs in her home today, was that baseball wasn’t for girls. “In a game dominated by men a young lady such as yourself would feel out of place in a dugout,” he wrote in part. “I am sure you can understand.”

This year, her adult daughter Abby emailed a photo of the letter to the team, and current Yankees GM Brian Cashman saw it. Last week, on the 60th anniversary of Hamey’s original letter, Cashman contacted Gwen Goldman to tell her that she would finally be able to achieve her dream of being a batgirl for her beloved Yankees. And so it was that yesterday night she was the honorary batgirl for the Yankees in their game against the Los Angeles Angels. It was part of the team’s HOPE Week, a tradition the Yankees started in 2009 to promote acts of goodwill that could provide hope and encouragement to others.

“This dream of 60 years that didn’t happen is happening,” Goldman said before her big night. “It’s thanks to Abby, starting it going, and to the Yankees organization for being at the forefront of believing about breaking down those gender barriers. The letter Brian Cashman wrote to me [that’s the one in her left hand, above] , it’s just beautiful and speaks a lot to who they are as an organization, trying to do what’s right. … I picked the right team to be a fan of, didn’t I?”

Well, no, Gwen, it’s the wrong team, but this time they did the right thing.

Continue reading

Re Rudy Giuliani’s “Interim Suspension”

rudy_giuliani_ap

New York’s Supreme Court took the draconian step of suspending Rudy Giuliani, former federal prosecutor, former mayor of New York City, and counsel to former President Trump, from practicing law based on his statements, allegation and, in some cases, presentations in court and court documents, regarding the 2020 election and his clients claims that it had been “stolen.” From the opinion:

“For the reasons that follow, we conclude that there is uncontroverted evidence
that respondent communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts,
lawmakers and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for former President Donald
J. Trump and the Trump campaign in connection with Trump’s failed effort at reelection
in 2020. These false statements were made to improperly bolster respondent’s narrative
that due to widespread voter fraud, victory in the 2020 United States presidential
election was stolen from his client. We conclude that respondent’s conduct immediately
threatens the public interest and warrants interim suspension from the practice of law,
pending further proceedings before the Attorney Grievance Committee (sometimes AGC
or Committee).”

Note that Giuliani has been suspended before the completion of an investigation of the claims against him, or a hearing, based on a conclusion that the public is literally endangered by the possibility of his continuing to make the same claims that former President Trump and many others are making in public every day. The stated justification for the extremely rare interim suspension never explicitly made clear: exactly what is the danger to the public that justifies this? The Supreme Court of the State of New York is simply continuing the false narrative that there was a “violent insurrection” by misled members of the public on January 6 caused by the insistence of the President and others that the election was stolen by the Democrats, and Trump was really elected. Indeed, the Court writes,

“One only has to look at the ongoing present public discord over the 2020 election, which erupted into violence, insurrection and death on January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol, to understand the extent of the damage that can be done when the public is misled by false information about the elections. The AGC [Attorney Grievance Committee] contends that respondent’s misconduct directly inflamed tensions that bubbled over into the events of January 6, 2021 in this nation’s Capitol.”

I shouldn’t have to point out that neither Trump nor any non-lawyers making the “stolen election” claim t have been or can be punished by the the Courts or the government, but the New York Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct can be used to do just that to Giuliani for serving a client the judges don’t like (they are all Democrats). To justify this, the opinion uses the fact that a lawyers’ speech is more subject to regulation than normal citizens because of their “persuasiveness,” supposed trustworthiness as members of a profession that is forbidden from lying, and bootstraps its argument by noting that the real purpose of the Rules us not to punish lawyers, but to protect the public. That is true, but the purpose is to protect the public from being represented by bad and untrustworthy lawyers, or substantively harmed by lawyers assisting criminal or predatory clients, not to muzzle lawyers from making controversial statements in the public square.

This case has been the subject of much debate by my legal ethicist colleagues of late, with a depressing near-consensus that Rudy is getting what he deserves. This is because, I detect, the vast majority of lawyers cannot see through their political biases and Trump hate. At the most simple level, the ruling is premature because contrary to the Court’s certitude, all of the evidence is not in, though the claim that there was widespread election fraud and that the election was “stolen” has for many months been pronounced “a lie” by Democrats and the mainstream media with suspicious vigor. While the opinion makes a convincing case that many of Giuliani’s statements, including some made to courts and government bodies, were careless, sloppy, badly sourced, unprofessional and wrong, it cannot know at this point that his (or Trump’s) general claim is false. If its is not false, then raising doubts among the public cannot be called dangerous to the public. It is more dangerous to keep opinions, arguments and ideas from the public’s awareness “for their own good.”

Thus this is a First Amendment problem. Except for one assertion about the status of a complaint, which he later corrected, Giuliani is not accused of improprieties in court proceedings where he functioned as an advocate. The Court’s focus is almost entirely on Giuliani’s public statements on the radio, in podcasts, on TV shows and news interviews. Alan Dershowitz, along with Jonathan Turley among the very few well-known lawyers (and Democrats) who have managed to maintain their integrity during the nearly five-year attack on Donald Trump, reacted to the interim suspension by telling Breitbart (which I will not link to after being burned to many times),

“I taught legal ethics for, I don’t know, 35 years at Harvard Law school. I think of myself as a leading expert on legal ethics. I’ve never ever seen a case where a lawyer was essentially disbarred … without a hearing. The most basic concept of due process is you don’t deprive somebody of his living, of his freedom, of his ability to work without a hearing. And then the criteria under which they suspended his law license is so vague. It says in the course of representing a client, a lawyer shall not knowingly make a false statement of fact or law to a third person. In other words, if he goes on your show, or he goes on my podcast, or he goes on Fox or anywhere else, and he makes a statement which turns out to be false, and he had reason to believe it was false, he could be disbarred. Do you know how many lawyers we’d have left if we applied that standard across the board? … We have case after case after case where prosecutors, defense attorneys, lawyers of every kind, have made statements … which turn out to be untrue, and they’re never disbarred. And certainly not without a hearing. And so, this is a first. …The atmosphere is such today that if you defended President Trump in any way, they’re out to get you. And they’re certainly out to get Rudy Giuliani.

In other words, the suspension is a politically motivated silencing. I strongly suspect that anti-Trump bias was at the heart of this slap at Giuliani, as Dershowitz says. Turley, in a piece for The Hill, expressed similar concerns:

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/29/21: Beautiful Morning, Ugly Ethics

This date in 1972 witnessed one of the more egregious examples of liberal judges using political ideology and capriciously-applied ethics to avoid following the law. In Furman v. Georgia,the remnants of the Warren Court, now under conservative Chief Justice Warren Burger, who dissented, prevailed in a narrow 5-4 decision that ruled the death penalty to be “cruel and unusual” under the Eighth Amendment. This was about as far away from “originalism” as the Court could get, since the Founders obviously did not regard executions as unusual at all, and cruelty has always been a subjective concept. But the Court left the metaphorical door open for new Congressional legislation that could make death sentences constitutional again if it included standardized guidelines for juries that would ameliorate “arbitrary” applications of capital punishment. Four years later SCOTUS reinstated the death penalty, which was overwhelmingly supported by the public, and in 1977, Gary Gilmore, a career criminal who cruelly and unusually murdered an elderly couple who refused to give him their car, faced a firing squad in Utah, a fate he definitely deserved.

1. I wish I had the time and fortitude to detail just how bad this New York Times Magazine article is, but I don’t, and maybe nobody with a life does. So I’ll just leave it to you to read it: “What if American Democracy Fails the Climate Crisis?” in the New York Times “Climate Issue.” Despicably, the Times handed the article over to openly and egregiously Left-biased journalist Ezra Klein, the founder of Vox and a dedicated practitioner of journalism as progressive propaganda. This means that only one point of view pervades the exercise, differing only in degrees and minor details. Even the title is loaded with assumptions that poison fair discourse, and I hope I will not be spoiling the suspense by pointing out that the “solution” Klein and his of-one-mind panelists (including one of the authors of the risible so-called “Green New Deal”) is a Leftist take-over of the U.S. and preferably capitulation to world government. I was going to list the most outrageous and dishonest quotes, but that would have taken up the whole post. The “I mentally checked out here” moment was in the introduction, in which Klein writes, being “hopeful,” “A rising generation understands the urgency of the moment, even if their elders do not.” That rising generation understands nothing about climate science, much like their “elders,” but have been indoctrinated into thinking they do. That’s “hopeful” for a nascent totalitarian like Klein. The rest of the issue is substantially deceit and propaganda, like the article about how climate change is already ravaging islands like the Bahamas, focusing on Hurricane Dorian as if there is any way to trace its origins to the topic of the issue.

Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Unethical Tweet Of The Month: The Portland Police Bureau”

BLM sign 2

My designation as unethical of the Portland police’s desperate tweet to avert a riot—funny, I had come to the conclusion that Portland liked riots—informing the Antifa and others that the victim of a fatal police-involved shooting wasn’t black as was being reported so there really was nothing to get all worked up about (My interpretation of the tweet’s meaning; some disagree) sparked interesting reactions, but none more welcome than that of veteran commenter Extradimensional Cephalopod, who had been AWOL for far too long. Here is his (its?) Comment of the Day—#26, by my count—on the post, “Unethical Tweet Of The Month: The Portland Police Bureau”…

This story is ominously reminiscent (differences in power dynamics notwithstanding) of an old Jewish joke–a bit of gallows humor. I can’t find the source for it at the moment, but it was set in either the first half of the 20th Century or earlier, and a Jewish community in or near a city was panicking because a girl in the area had been found murdered. The community they knew the gentiles’ antisemitism would lead them to blame the Jewish community and lash out with violence and more bigotry. Then the rabbi arrives to calm the crowd, “It’s alright, everyone! I have good news! The murdered girl was Jewish!”

Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “From Garry Wills, A ‘Bias Makes You Stupid’ Cautionary Tale”

I could tell that Garry Wills’ weak and logically distorted defense of Catholics who support abortion was a disgraceful display for a distinguished historian; indeed, almost any objective reader could. I was hoping one of the commentariat would delve into the substance of his desperate historical and theological argument, and Rich in CT delivered with gusto.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “From Garry Wills, A ‘Bias Makes You Stupid’ Cautionary Tale.

Garry Wills is either pompously ignorant of the theological topics he purports to write about, or he is lying.

His article is scatter-shot, meant to intimidate and confuse unprepared Catholic Apologists who might attempt rebuttal. It offers so many arguments that it is difficult to cohesively refute because it changes topic so quickly. Yet, it touches each topic so quickly because its analysis or portrayal of the content is blatantly distorted or outright wrong. It falls apart entirely upon any sort of careful review.

I shall address it point-by-point, rearranging it slightly to form a more logical, cohesive rebuttal.

No one told “Matthew” or “Mark” or “Luke” or “John” or Paul, or any other New Testament author, that he should condemn this sin of all sins.

Matthew portrays Herod as a monster for slaughtering the young children of Bethlehem. Luke has the infant John leap for joy in Elizabeth’s womb in the presence of Mary (obviously, Luke would approve of injecting saline into the fetal John’s heart to end his nascent life…). Most importantly, no Pharisee attempted to trap Jesus by asking whether he approved of abortion.

Early Christians did not disagree on abortion, so it was not addressed in scripture. Saint Paul writes extensively about the disagreements in the early church. No one wrote to him asking if abortion were permitted, so he did not need to address it.

Other early Christian writings, however, did address the topic: the first century catechism, the Diache, specifically condemns abortion and infanticide. Many over the centuries have argued abortion should not be condemned, but never denied that the Catholic Church taught it was a grave sin from the beginning.

Even major figures of religious history do not tell us that the fetus is a person. St. Augustine says he searched Scripture trying but failing to find out when in the procreative process personal life begins.

Continue reading

Afternoon Over-Heated Ethics. 6/28/2021: On #MeToo, Barr, Teddy And Tuna

This date is another ethics milestone in American culture. On June 28, 1969, a police raid of the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay club located on New York City’s Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, sparked a violent protest among the club’s patrons and supporters of gay rights. It was a set of facts resembling the George Floyd rioting in which an event unrelated to the matter being protested proved to be a cultural catalyst. The club was illegally serving liquor without a license among other its other violations, so the police were legitimately enforcing the law, but the gay community had been harassed by law enforcement for too long, and for whatever reason, the anger and resentment boiled over. The crowd became a mob and began throwing bottles at the police as the demonstration spilled over into the neighboring streets. New York’s riot police quelled the uprising before dawn. Next came several days of demonstrations in the city, followed by the formation of the Gay Liberation Front as and other gay, lesbian and bisexual civil rights organizations. In 1970, New York’s first official gay pride parade was organized, and the gay rights movement became inexorable.

Sometimes riots work.

1. More evidence that #MeToo has lost all coherence and integrity. New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer finished fifth in the voting for New York mayor last week after at one point being regarded as one of the front-runners. His campaign was derailed by an ambush accusation by a woman, Jean Kim, who accused him of touching her without her consent in the back of taxis more than two decades ago. She admitted that she was moved to reveal her allegations now in order to discourage voters from favoring him in the primary. Her story did not include any contemporaneous corroboration, which Kim conceded didn’t exist, or a suggestion of a pattern. Nonetheless, the accusation alone was enough to undermine his candidacy. Stringer emphatically denied her claims. It didn’t matter.

In Washington, D.C., former major league baseball player F.P.Santangelo, who has provided color commentary on Washington Nationals broadcasts on MASN since 2011, was accused of sexual misconduct by a woman who will not identify herself publicly. Santangelo denied the allegation, but he has been suspended from the broadcasts for months. MASN, the local sports network ,investigated the matter initially before asking Major League Baseball for assistance. So far, nothing has emerged to suggest Santalgelo is guilty or that his accuser can back up her claims.

Yet President Joe Biden simply sidestepped a far more credible accusation from a named former employee, and the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, remains in office despite multiple accusations of sexual harassment, also by alleged victims whose stories are far better supported than those of Santangelo’s or Stringer’s accusers. Meanwhile—not to be the proverbial “broken record,” whatever that was, none of the Democratic Senators who styled themselves as feminist avengers while denigrating SCOTUS nominee Bret Kavanaugh as a juvenile rapist on the basis of another uncorroborated accusation have demanded any accountability for Biden or Cuomo.

2. Suddenly, Bill Barr is a man of principle to the Left and a traitor to the Right. The mainstream media is crowing over Barr’s pronouncement in a feature in The Atlantic that Trump’s claims of election fraud were and are “bullshit.” The forner U.S. Attorney General revealed that when Trump confronted him for publicly saying the voter fraud claims could not be substantiated, he told Trump,

“You know, you only have five weeks, Mr. President, after an election to make legal challenges.This would have taken a crackerjack team with a really coherent and disciplined strategy. Instead, you have a clown show. No self-respecting lawyer is going anywhere near it. It’s just a joke. That’s why you are where you are.”

So when Barr concluded that the highly conflicted and partisan Mueller Report had found no evidence of impeachable conduct by the President, he was a Trump-licking hack, but when he refused to engage in partisan use of the Justice Department, like his successor, he was a principled public servant. At least, that’s the current progressive narrative. Conservatives viewed him as a heroic figure opposing an obvious coup attempt from Democrats during “Russiagate,” but now are calling him a traitor.

The truth is that Bill Barr has always been the same: he calls it as he sees it, as a good lawyer should, and deserves our respect for that, whether he’s right or wrong.

Continue reading