Today in ethics history, in 1971, the New York Times published stolen documents in order to try to turn public opinion against the Vietnam war and the administration of Richard Nixon. On June 30, On June 30, the Supreme Court ruled that the Times had the right to publish the material, a leap down a slippery slope that may have been (barely) justified with a responsible, trustworthy, objective and non-partisan news media, but has, as some predicted at the time, provided a motive for criminal activity, such as leaks by government lawyers for partisan goals, that has done incalculable harm to the nation.
The New York Times published portions of the 47-volume Pentagon analysis of how the U.S. commitment in Southeast Asia grew over a period of three decades, especially during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. It had been stolen by Daniel Ellsberg, a former Defense Department analyst turned antiwar activist who gave them to the Times. The Times was also an opponent of the war and especially of President Richard Nixon. Though the controversy was framed as a “the public has a right to know” issue, it was also a partisan and ideological strike by the Times. Now, of course, the paper does little else when political matters are involved.
1. Let’s start with some good ethics news. Uber driver Latonya Young picked up a passenger named Kevin Esch. They got to chatting, and Latonya, 43, disclosed that she had dropped out of school at age 16 when she gave birth to her now 26-year-old son. She wanted to re-enroll in classes at Georgia State University, but didn’t have the funds to pay the necessary $700. Without informing her, Esch paid the $700 for her, allowing Latonya to re-enroll, She finally graduated with a bachelor of science in criminal justice.
2. Would it be wrong to call this “good ethics news”? Ethics Alarms has a special designation, the Fick, which describes someone who is openly unethical and proud of it. The term is named after Leroy Fick, first described here, who made headlines after he continued to collect food stamps despite winning the Michigan lottery, giving just under a million bucks after taxes. Well, thanks to reader Other Bill, I learned yesterday that Leroy has reached the end of his slimy trail. Fick blew through his winnings in just two years, sadly typical for lottery winners, and ended up jail for a drug charge and firearm conviction. What a surprise. Last week, Police recovered the 69-year-old’s body from the Tittabawassee River.
3. And the Great Stupid rolls on…In Randolph, New Jersey, a school board that couldn’t deal with complaints over changing Columbus Day to “indigenous People’s Day” decided that many of the holiday names might be offensive to the ubiquitous some, so it voted to take every holiday’s name off the school calendar. Now all the holiday dates will simply read, “Day Off.”
Wait until someone notices that Martin Luther King Day is missing. This all smells like racist plot to get his day removed.
4. ‘He Loved Big Althouse!’ Blogress Ann posted another non-comment from a reader, since comments are banned, but Ann will highlight emails she receives and call them comments. See, now, though no comments are allowed, you see a comments link, at which you are told that “Only members of this blog can comment directly. That means only me and Meade. But if you email me — at firstname.lastname@example.org — I might put your comment down here in the comments section (or on the front page).” Meade is Ann’s husband, and no terms for “membership” have ever been mentioned, so that message is–what? Snotty? Supposed to be funny?
Two days ago Althouse put this email on her “front page”:
“I was a prolific commenter, probably too prolific, previously. I was really upset when you stopped allowing comments. But now that I am getting over my withdrawal symptoms, I am kind of liking it, especially now that you are bringing back curated, artisanal, commenting via email.”
This gets one of the ethics Alarms “Animal House” clips:
4. Stay classy, Democrats! Did you know that President Trump was uncivil and used personal insults and attacks, which coarsened our civic discourse? At the televised debate among Democratic candidates for mayor of New York City, the group was asked which landmark they’d name for Rudy Giuliani. The question itself is unprofessional and unethical, since it calls for ad hominem insults, but none of the candidates had the integrity to refuse the bait. Here are the oh-so-clever answers:
- Adams: “Rikers Island”
- Wiley: “A dump”
- Yang: “An anchor at the bottom of the sea”
- Garcia: “A sewage plant”
- Stringer: “Affordable housing development, formerly Trump Tower. We could call it Giuliani Way”
As mayor, Giuliani ended a NYC crime wave, increased tourism, and made Times Square a safe and attractive destination. Under the current Democratic/Communist regime, crime is up, murders are up, and even before the pandemic Times Square declined to its pre-Rudy filth.
5. Finally, from the “Ick” not Ethics Dept: