The ACLU Believes Certain Sports Are Racist Now…

The logic and legal reasoning underlying the American Civil Liberty Union’s current bit of woke grandstanding is profoundly depressing. These people are lawyers. This is the caliber of legal minds we are supposed to trust to protect the Bill of Rights?

Central Michigan University eliminated its men’s track and field team. It shouldn’t matter why, but in its announcement of the move in May of 2020, the school cited budget concerns in the midst of the pandemic lockdown. This seems reasonable; when funds are tight, colleges should be spending money on education rather than sports. The controversy was launched when CMU decided this year to add a men’s golf program.

The decision, the ACLU of Michigan decided, was racist in light of the fate of track and field. In one letter, the organization protested that track and field was crucial to the Black community because it has “offered many a way out of oppressive poverty.”

I’d like to see the data on that.

Then the ACLU wrote the university president on September 16 that golf, in contrast, was a “white sport.” “Country clubs that have been the training grounds for elite golfers have historically been racially exclusive,” the letter states. “Add to that the expense of the sport and the socio-economic circumstances of many African Americans, and the reasons for the whiteness of golf are quite evident.”

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Thursday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/30/2021: A Lecture, A Snub, A Cheat, And A Punch


This is why this blog takes too much time: I just tried to find a song about Thursday. It isn’t that there aren’t any, although I hadn’t heard of a single one though at least one and often many ditties about the other six days rattle around in what I laughingly call my brain. It’s just that they all—and there are a lot– are lousy or forgettable, and if there is a Thursday song written before 2000, I can’t find it. It’s as if we hit the 21st century and a bunch of song-writers said, “Hey! Nobody’s written a hit song about Thursday! I can write the next “Monday Monday” or “Never on a Sunday” but about Thursday! I’ll be rich and famous!” Uhhhh…no.

Is it unethical to waste time going down dead ends like this when there are so many half-completed posts and languishing Ethics Alarms projects? Yes. But it is the story of my scattered life and incoherent career. I am like a dog with squirrels.

1. Speaking of dogs...I’m going to cross-post this on the endless comment thread regarding pit bull breed bias here. Yesterday I was walking Spuds, as usual changing directions and routes constantly to avoid encounters with children (who he loves, but he’s too strong to bet on random meetings), scooters, skateboards and bicycles (which frighten him for some reason) and other dogs, which he always wants to play with, but they and their owners are not always of a similar mind. Two little girls on scooters were zipping along on the sidewalk right at us, so I prepared to cross the street. But someone walking two other dogs was on that sidewalk, and cars were coming by from either direction. On the grass to my right was large groups of people, and someone was also coming up behind us. Trapped, I shouted to the girls to stop. They kept coming. I shouted again. They paid no attention, and now Spuds was wagging his tail. Finally, I stepped out, pointed my finger as I raised my arm, and said, in my best public speaker voice, “Both of you, STOP RIGHT NOW! I’m warning you!” I scared the hell out of them. Good. They froze. Then they got my lecture about paying attention to their surroundings, understanding that they don’t own the sidewalk, and not being stupid about dogs. If they had kept coming, Spuds might have reacted to their scooters, one of the girls might have fallen and been hurt, and that would be curtains for Spuds. Meanwhile, another “vicious pit bull attack injures child” story would be published on Parents have an obligation to teach kids the basics of community, and it is clear to me that most don’t. “Did you hear me? Do you understand?” I said to the girls as I finally could cross the street. I felt bad: they looked like they might cry. “Y-y-y-yes,” the older girl stammered. “We’re sorry.” It’s OK,” I said. “But remember what I said.”

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Unethical Quote Of The Month (But Thanks For The Candor, Terry!): Former Va. Governor And Current Gubernatorial Candidate Terry McAuliffe

“I don’t think parents should be telling schools what to teach.”

Terry McAuliffe, Democratic candidate for Governor of Virginia, in  the televised debate with Republican adversary Glenn Youngkin

Every now and then one of the crypto-totalitarian Democrats or progressives slip up and rip his or her mask off, and McAuliffe’s sudden outburst of damning truth was a real Jack Nicholson “You’re damn right I did!” moment. I know virtually nothing about Glenn Youngkin, but I know too much about Clinton bag-man McAuliffe, and if God’s in his heaven and there is justice in the cosmos, this outburst will keep McAuliffe, who is corrupt and almost as slimy as the Clintons, out of the Governor’s mansion. It isn’t the reason I won’t be voting for Terry, who was Bill’s fundraiser, only because it doesn’t have to be. There are so many other reasons, as his Ethics Alarms dossier shows and the alarming essay below from my previous platform, The Ethics Scoreboard, amply demonstrates.

But enough of McAuliffe for now, for this post isn’t really about him as much as it is about his quote and what (and who—Terry was also Chair of the Democratic National Committee) it represents. For it expresses fairly the current attitude of the Left regarding public education. Children are in school for progressives, Democrats, Marxists and anti-American activists to indoctrinate. Gabriel Gipes, the so-called “Antifa Teacher” was an extreme case, but lazy parents and apathetic citizens allowed the Left to take over the educational establishment (as well as other institutions) a long time ago. Now they are shocked—shocked!-–with the advent of critical race theory and the “1619 Project’s” pollution of public school curricula—to find that our children have been and are being programmed to accept progressive cant as truth, and even to oppose the Bill of Rights as well as the foundational culture of the nation itself.

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Ethics Warm-Up: 9/29/2021: Falling Trust

September 29 should be celebrated as Barn Door Fallacy Day. More than the last historical episode I flagged as illustrating the phenomenon, the Tylenol poisoning fiasco (I’m taking Tylenol this very second, because I’m in agony) illustrated the human race’s irrational instinct to go overboard after an unprecedented event by installing measures that would have prevented it if a time machine were available.

Flight attendant Paula Prince bought a bottle of cyanide-laced Tylenol on this date in 1982, and was found dead two days later. Six other people had died in northwest Chicago, and investigators eventually realized all seven victims had taken Extra-Strength Tylenol poisoned with cyanide. Extra-Strength Tylenol was recalled nationwide, but the only contaminated capsules were found in the Chicago area. The poisoner was never caught, but the cost to consumers and corporations of the sudden rush to make all containers “tamper-proof” is in the billions. I think about that random killer every time a have to grab a knife to cut off what is supposed to be an easy peel-off paper seal to use a new bottle of Ketchup or to open new jar of peanut butter. Thank to our product liability jurisprudence: once there was a high-profile poisoning of a container, all manufacturers faced liability if their product was similarly contaminated. It was suddenly “foreseeable.”

Manufacturers have no choice, I suppose, and a statistical cost-benefit analysis that balances the expense of eliminating the tiny risk with the odds of another deadly incident carries unacceptable perils of reputational devastation if metaphorical lightning strikes twice. Then there is always the copycat phenomenon to worry about. Essentially, the Tylenol tragedy shows how societal trust among millions can be shattered permanently by a single sociopath.

Once Americans trusted each other not to poison food and drugs just because they could. Now we don’t. Can’t.

1. Officials who use religion this way undermine both their own credibility and religion. New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who took over after Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned, told members of the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, “There are people out there who aren’t listening to God and what God wants. You know this. You know who they are. I need you to be my apostles. I need you to go out and talk about it and say, ‘We owe this to each other. We love each other.’ Jesus taught us to love one another. And how do you show that love, but to care about each other enough to say, ‘Please get vaccinated because I love you. I want you to live.'”

Ick, ptooi, yuck, gag, gack! So, the first female governor of New York is also an idiot, though not the first. Let’s see: pandering, exploitation, appeal to authority,and fear-mongering. The odds that an unvaccinated worshiper will die is less than 1%. “Jesus would want you to get vaccinated” is presumptuous and insulting.

Good luck, New York.

2. Paid liar ethics…is it fair to keep pointing out what a hack Jen Psaki is? I found myself defending one of her endless series of obfuscations and double-talk spin attempts to my wife, saying that every White House press secretary has an impossible job and has to engage in daily misrepresentation or excuse-making to a greater or lesser extent. Her response: an ethical person doesn’t take that job.

Jen was in top form two days ago, when she responded to reporters citing data indicating that President Biden’s proposed increase in the corporate tax rate from 21 to 26.5% would lead to lower wages for workers and higher prices. Psaki said, “There are some… who argue that in the past, companies have passed on these costs to consumers. We feel that that’s unfair and absurd and the American people will not stand for that.” 

There aren’t “some who argue” that. It is a matter of history and predictable cause and effect. Companies pass on costs to consumers. Fact. “It won’t happen because ‘we’ think that’s unfair” is magical thinking. It instantly reminded me of a memorable discussion with my parents when they were both in their late 80s.

My mother suddenly said, “Do people wake up feeling fine and then just drop dead the same day with no warning?” My father, who was always amused by my mother’s ongoing battle with mortality, said, “Of course! It happens every day, to millions of people! It could happen to either of us, today!” “Well, I just refuse to accept that,” Mom replied. “You have no choice but to accept it, Eleanor,” Dad said, laughing. “That’s how it works.” “Nope,” she insisted, not smiling a bit. “I don’t accept it.”

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Res Ipsa Loquitur: The 2021 MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowships…[CORRECTED]

MacArthur grants

The MacArthur Foundation named the recipients of its 2021 “genius” grants. Above are the 15 honorees NPR chose to represent the group Each will receive $625,000, which they are free to spend however they see fit: Left to right, top row to bottom, are Hanif Abdurraqib, Daniel Alarcón, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Jordan Casteel, Don Mee Choi, Nicole Fleetwood, Cristina Ibarra, Ibram X. Kendi, Daniel Lind-Ramos, Monica Muñoz Martinez, Safiya Noble, Alex Rivera, Jacqueline Stewart, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar.

As you can see, all the Fellows shown are “of color.” Since I can’t count, this originally confused me into thinking these were all of the Fellows, but ten were missing. [Hence the correction.] I checked of the remaining ten, three are white, and the ethnicity of one is uncertain: I can’t find any reference to her parents. There is only one Asian-American in the 25, which is decidedly strange. So the final tally, counting the mystery woman as white, is four out of 25 “geniuses” among the individuals chosen, 16%. The 2020 Census found 61% of Americans were white.

Is it racially insensitive to mention this? The Foundation is confident that its obvious bias won’t be criticized—this kind of disproportionate demographic mix would be considered evidence of discrimination in most contexts—and NPR decided only to highlight the “of color” honorees. What happened to “inclusion and diversity”?

Meanwhile, I am officially humiliated by belonging to such an inferior race.


Pointer: Here’s Johnny, who alerted me to the fact that I miscounted.

Ethics Quiz: The Perfect Murder Assignment

lamb murder

“Ick” or ethics? This recurring question seems to be at the core of a controversy at Central Valley High School in Spokane, Washington. Ninth graders in a language arts class were instructed to compile the components of the “perfect murder.”

The assignment read, in part:

“Turn the following into real sentences and put them in a paragraph briefly explaining, ‘the perfect murder.’ Items should appear in your paragraph according to the order of importance. There are 10 ideas here, so if you remove one you have to add an idea of your own.

  1. It should be easy to arrange.
  2. It should leave no clues.
  3. There should be no noise.
  4. It should look like suicide.
  5. It should take place in a lonely, isolated place.
  6. It should not be cheap.
  7. No violence should be necessary.
  8. It should look like an accident.
  9. It should be quick.
  10. The murderer should have a good alibi.”

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Now THIS Is The Appearance Of Impropriety…


The big legal ethics story of the day is a Wall Street Journal report showing that 131 federal judges, appointed by nearly every President from Lyndon Johnson to Donald Trump, have violated federal law by failing to recuse themselves in cases where either they or family members held a financial interest in one of the parties, meaning that the judge’s decision could have resulted in a direct or indirect benefit. This is, of course, a conflict of interest. Even if the judge was as trustworthy as a saint and would never dream of allowing such a conflict to interfere with his or her judgment, allowing these cases to appear before them violates the judicial ethics canon requiring judges to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

The Wall Street Journal report found that the judges failed to recuse themselves from 685 court cases since 2010. About two-thirds of all federal district judges had holdings of individual stocks, about one of every five of these heard at least one case involving those stocks without withdrawing. When these judges participated in such cases, about two-thirds of their rulings on motions favored the party that their or their family’s financial interests would benefit from prevailing.

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Pre-Road Trip Ethics, 9/27/2021…

Clearly, everything I know about life I learned from “Animal House.” I know. Sad.

I am foolishly trying to get up one last post before starting out on the 2 hr and 34 minute drive in the dark to Charlottesville, where I will be doing a three hour CLE seminar in a debate format with my old friend and tormentor John May. John, among other things, is a much-sought after defense attorney for lawyers accused of malpractice and ethics violations. In the matter of legal ethics, he takes a pragmatic, law firm practice approach, so in this course, titled “Ethics Wars!,” he plays Darth Vader to my Yoda. At least that’s how I look at it. You can find details about the session here, where you can sign up for the live or recorded version.

1. Birth of a Big Lie. In Del Rio, Texas, tens of thousands of people who have illegally crossed the border have been living for more than a week in a makeshift camp under a bridge. A photographer took a photo of a Border Patrol officer on horseback trying to stop people who were trying to cross the Rio Grande River illegally. Sawyer Hackett, who works for former Obama HUD Secretary Julian Castro, tweeted it out claiming, “Border patrol is mounted on horseback rounding up Haitian refugees with whips. This is unfathomable cruelty towards people fleeing disaster and political ruin. The administration must stop this.” Of course, the Border Patrol doesn’t use “whips,” but facts don’t matter, and a Democratic Administration prefers to vilify and falsely impugn its own law enforcement officers when to advances the narrative of the Good Illegal Immigrant.” Biden’s paid liar Jen Psaki appeared on CBS Morning News on claiming that Border Patrol agents’ actions were “horrific and horrible.” “That’s not who the Biden and Harris administration is,” she said.

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Having To Argue The Obvious On Gender Identity: “Trans”

lienear constant

it’s not as catchy as “Bias makes you stupid, ” but “Ideology makes you unethical” is just as true. However, just as bias is unavoidable, ideologies of some kind are necessary. The trick is to find one that doesn’t do more harm than good.

The diagram above was explained to me by a friend, fan and boss, the late Richard Halpern. He was a devotee of Chaos Theory, which he called his “religion.’ Life is chaos, he said, and human systems were chaotic. He likened living to a passenger plane’s journey through the endlessly unpredictable air currents and weather phenomenon in the skies. He analogized the plane’s guidance system to a linear constant through chaos, without which, Rich said, the plane would be lost. “No plane follows the charted path the whole trip, because it is constantly knocked off course, but that constant is there for the plane to return to. Ideologies are the same: you have to have that ever-present constant or be lost, with no basis for deciding where to turn, and when you’re navigating through chaos, it really doesn’t matter what it is.

This is why religion is so useful, and all mandated value systems, what Ethics Alarms defines as “morality.” Laws are mandated moral codes, You don’t have to make a million separate decisions, just one: Follow that constant! The constant can be repugnant to others or based on myth and bias, but once someone commits to it, it will do the job. This is where cults come from. This is how Amway became successful. This is why people elevate political and social goals to the point that all of their decisions about who to associate with, what to watch and read and how to align priorities are based on them. Abortion. The environment. “Social justice.”

A new book by Helen Joyce, an Irish journalist who is executive editor for events business of “The Economist,” takes on one of the weirder ideologies that has arisen in recent years, what she calls “gender-identity ideology.” It would be nice if she were a psychiatrist, or a doctor, but then those and most other professional groups in the United States have been so cowed into knee-jerk alliance with the progressive movement that any member of them daring to challenge the cant would face “cancellation.” Her book is titled “Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality.” To be fair, that title could be fairly and accurately adapted to any ideology; remember that neo-conservative icon Irving Kristol (yes, Bill’s dad) famously said that a conservative was “a liberal who has been mugged by reality.” (A cynic is a neo-conservative who was mugged by Iraq.)

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