Celebrating July 5th as a federal holiday is affirmatively strange, because not much good happened on this date. Ted Williams died on July 5, 2002, for example. In 1852, Frederick Douglass picked this date to give his “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” anti-America speech to the Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society in Rochester, laying the groundwork for anti-America movements in the black community ever since. On this date in 1921, baseball began unraveling the worst scandal in U.S. professional sports, as it concluded that the 1919 World Series had been fixed by gamblers bribing the key players on the Chicago White Sox, aka “The Black Sox.” It was also the date, in 1865, that a military tribunal convicted David Herold, George Atzerodt, Lewis Payne, Mary Surratt, Michael O’Laughlin, Edward Spangler, Samuel Arnold and Dr. Samuel Mudd of “maliciously, unlawfully, and traitorously” conspiring with John Wilkes Booth and others to assassinate President Lincoln on April 14, 1865, and planning to kill General Grant, Vice President Johnson, and Secretary of State William Seward. It was one of the most unfair trials in U.S. history, despite the fact that all of the alleged conspirators were probably guilty. Herold, Atzerodt, Payne, and Surratt were executed [above].
In short, it’s not a good date for ethics.
1 Ethics Alarms has a new Ethics Villain to keep tabs on. David Cole, the ACLU Legal Director who made an ass of himself and attacked his organization’s own client by criticizing a SCOTUS decision that followed the ACLU’s position, was the main authority in a New York Times review of the Court’s just completed term. Here’s nice Cole quote: “The new court is definitely conservative, but that doesn’t mean it is necessarily hostile to civil liberties. It protected many liberties that conservatives favor, including religious liberty, property rights, free speech, the privacy of the home and the right of the wealthy to donate to charities anonymously.”
No partisan bias there! Wait, David, just what are the rights that the progressive justices protect?
2. Speaking of SCOTUS, Steve-O-in NJ asked for my opinion of this idiotic essay in The Week: “The case for ending judicial review.” It reminded me that I never finished the Ethics Alarms compendium of fake news categories, of which this is one: Fantasy Controversies. This kind of essay might as well be “The case for eliminating sex,” “The case for using flatulence to fly to the moon” or “The case for a cheese-based economy.” There is no way for Congress to stop the Court from overruling laws—Separation of Powers exemplified— it finds unconstitutional short of a Constitutional amendment, which is fantasy itself. At the end of the essay, the author concludes, ‘Well, maybe it’s not such a good idea after all.’
It is unethical to waste readers’ time.
3. But most readers are so ignorant of the law and the Constitution that publications like The Week can get away with publishing such garbage. Some comments sparked by Bill Cosby’s release from prison because he was unlawfully convicted are depressing reminders of the inadequacy of our civic education..
“We know he’s guilty, but as far as I’m concerned, as of today, the justices that have made this decision have just enabled a criminal to go without a consequence,” Heidi Thomas, who testified that Mr. Cosby raped her in 1984, told a Denver news channel. “What message is that sending to other victims? To other perpetrators? This is one case, but the precedent they have just set is devastating.”
The precedent it set has nothing to do with rape or Cosby, but with reaffirming that prosecutors cannot trick a suspect into waiving his rights against self-incrimination based on a promise of immunity and then have a new prosecutor renege on the deal.
Victoria Valentino, another of Mr. Cosby’s accusers, told ABC News that she was “deeply distressed” by what she said was “the injustice of the whole thing.” The injustice was that a man was sent to prison using evidence that could not be legally used against him. Punishing someone for a crime by using illicit means isn’t “justice.”
Do most Americans understand that even guilty people have rights?
4. Sentencing Ethics. Remember Allison Mack? On “Smallville”? That’s her, third from the left…
Well, somehow over the ten years since the popular TV show ended, she became involved with the cultlike group Nxivm,and used her celebrity and acting talents to recruited female “slaves” into a secret sorority, collected information used to coerce their compliance using extortion, and directed several of the women to have sex with the group’s leader, Keith Raniere. She and Raniere discussed ceremonies in which the so-called slaves would be branded with his initials while unclothed and tied down, in his words, “almost like a sacrifice.” Nice! It sounds more lively than “Smallville” ever was.
Mack pleaded guilty in 2019 to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy charges for taking part in all this, but because gave federal prosecutors what they called “substantial assistance” in building a case against others in the group, she was only sentenced to three years in prison rather than the 14-17 years sentencing guidelines called for.
Now that’s not “justice.” It would take a great deal to convince me that the light sentence wasn’t substantially driven by the facts that Mack is 1) female 2) attractive, and 3) a celebrity. It is this kind of “justice” that let Jeffrey Epstein loose on the world.
She’ll serve a year and a half, and then star on a reality show. Do you doubt it?