Evening Ethics Nightcap, 11/3/2021: Estoppel, Civility, Censure, Life Imitates Liam Neeson, And Another Daddy Disappears


1. Ethics Alarms gets to criticize “Let’s go, Brandon” as an uncivil, gutter taunt that should not be wielded against the President of the United States. CNN doesn’t. This appears to have become ethics estoppel day, with EA noting the absurdity of mainstream media journalists like Greg Sargent and and Rachel Maddow whining about Fox News providing aid to Republican candidates. The same principle should mute CNN hypocrites like John Berman and Briana Keilar tut-tutting over the coded “Fuck Joe Biden” chant. CNN was silent when Congresswoman and “Squad” member Rashida Tlaib called President Trump a “motherfucker,” didn’t find it newsworthy when Robert de Niro used similar language before celebrity audiences in multiple venues, and didn’t express worries about the state of political discourse when Kathy Griffin posed with a model of Trump’s severed head. Now, however, they are offended because”their” President is the target. Journalists aren’t supposed to consider one President as more “theirs” than another, and the same principles of respect and civility should apply to each POTUS equally.

2. Speaking of civility, during a Supreme Court argument yesterday, the issue was whether elected bodies can censure their members for incivility or other inappropriate rhetoric or expressive speech without violating the First Amendment.Are censures, which are formal reprimands and a kind of punishment, a form of free speech or a threat to it? The case was brought by David Wilson, a former elected trustee of the Houston Community College System. Wilson sued the system’s board, orchestrated robocalls and hired private investigators to look into whether another trustee had lied about where she lived. In 2018, Wilson’s fellow board members had enough of his criticism and censured him. “The board finds that Mr. Wilson’s conduct was not only inappropriate, but reprehensible, and such conduct warrants disciplinary action,” the resolution said. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit allowed the case to proceed, ruling last year that punishing an elected official for his speech might breach the Constitution.

Stay tuned.

3. My guess? No jury will convict him. In a stunning example of life imitating art, or more specifically Liam Neeson movies, 60-year-old John Eisenman is under arrest in Spokane and charged with murdering 19-year-old Andrew Sorenson, whose body was found stuffed in the trunk of an abandoned car. The evidence indicates that Eisenman rescued his daughter from a prostitution ring a year ago, just like in “Taken.” After obtaining information indicating that Sorenson was the one who sold her to the traffickers, Eisenman located Sorenson, bound him, placed him in the trunk, and hit Sorenson over the head multiple times with a cinder block. Then the infuriated father stabbed him repeatedly until he was very dead.

Eisenman has no previous criminal record, and is being held on a million dollar bail.

4. Not to re-open a sensitive topic, but…the now World Series Champion Braves placed utilityman Ehire Adrianza on the postseason paternity list and had to replace him prior to Game 6, which the Braves won. Adrianza, though not a regular, was a valuable piece for Atlanta, a switch-hitter who had many key pinch hits during the season. He has a union-bargained right to his paternity leave, which probably took him out of the Series entirely. His absence weakened the team at the most crucial moment of the entire season. Adrianza did not have to abandon his team mates; he chose to. It is just moral luck that the Braves won anyway, and that his talents were not needed.

I am very curious as to whether his services will be retained by the team after this. If I were the manager of general manager, he’d be playing somewhere else next Spring.

22 thoughts on “Evening Ethics Nightcap, 11/3/2021: Estoppel, Civility, Censure, Life Imitates Liam Neeson, And Another Daddy Disappears

    • This reminds me of the case of the father who took a baseball bat to beat a dog to death that had mauled his son. The jury refused to convict him. I don’t get it — do juries think their duty is to seek “justice”? Why is it so difficult to follow instructions? A jury simply has to decide whether or not the prosecution has proved guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Period. Assuming the facts were not in dispute, I would have voted to convict both of them.

      • Well, no. That’s the gloss and/or reinvention that the moderns* have repeatedly tried, with limited success, to throw over an institution derived from customs and traditions that go back over a thousand years and possibly to the barbarian kingdoms even longer ago – an institution that was meant to set up a sort of safety valve so justice would never become so egregious as to lose support.

        * Here, “moderns” includes all those pushing that line for the last several centuries. You are almost word for word echoing the complaint Edmund Spenser made about Irish jurors not supporting the Tudor regime’s desired approach.

        • The power of jury nullification is indeed very important and suppressed by the institutions that know it’s a balance of power away from them. The flip side of this power of the jury is the tampering that can arise in organized crime and perhaps far worse, influence by media and mob in the cases of OJ, Zimmerman, and Chauvin.

          • That’s why they invented the Court of Star Chamber, so the big men of the day could be tried there without being able to apply that sort of pressure. But we know how that turned out, so now we know which is the lesser evil.

        • Thank you for the link (and thank you P.M. Lawrence and WallPhone for the information — I’m learning a great deal on EA). I was called for jury duty recently and tried to do some reading (by searching something like “the role of juries”) beforehand to get an idea of what is expected of a juror. I came up with what I wrote above (although I never found a clear-cut description), and it made sense to me.

          It turned out that the prosecution used their first peremptory challenge to excuse me (probably something about me going on for awhile about the high bar of “reasonable doubt”). I can’t imagine that anyone who studied the material at the FIJA site would ever make it through the jury selection process (unless they confined themselves to yes/no responses and generally spoke as little as possible).

    • Another case is the killing of Ken McElroy. I’m sure that if the investigation were able to produce suspects for trial, no jury would convict.

      Similarly, the case of Bernard Goetz in NYC. I’m not sure if he really is the person responsible for the shootings… How do we know he’s not just a notoriety-seeking lackey who had successfully attached his name to the case?

  1. Concerning subject two, if the Supreme Court finds that elected bodies do not have the right to censure their members for incivility and other rhetoric, would this mean that no body, including the houses of Congress, could use censures any more?

  2. #2: My sense is first, that if censure amounts to nothing more than the voicing of the body’s disapproval, without any further consequences, then there should be no 1st Amendment claim against it. It’s merely speech.

    As for other disciplinary actions by elected bodies, it seems the analysis for employee speech ought to apply. Even though the other elected members are not, strictly speaking, the employers of the member being disciplined, the role of disciplinarian has been delegated to them by the voters.

  3. #3 Based on everything I’ve read and heard about this case, John Eisenman should be convicted of 1st Degree intentional premeditated homicide since what he did literally falls into that category of murder, it was preplanned and was very intentional. The sentencing phase of the trial after he is rightfully convicted of 1st degree homicide is where mercy should be shown to Eisenman.

    • Steve,

      I think you are exactly right. Should the evidence point to his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, a jury’s declaration of “innocent” subverts the process. The jury should not allow what it thinks the penalty for a crime should be to in any way alter its verdict on that crime.

    • It sounds like preplanned abduction for sure. There’d be a strong case for crime of passion/manslaughter for the bashing with a cinderblock and subsequent actions, however.

    • In his last, unfortunate case, Clarence Darrow argued for a “natural law” that allowed parents to avenge their children, in that instance, a mother who paid to have an acquitted defendant in her daughter’s rape case murdered. Darrow lost, as he should have, but the rape in question also probably never took place. Darrow always argued for jury nullification when his clients were guilty. And jury nullification is legal today. In NH, a defense lawyer can even argue for it.

  4. #2 I think how the board uses their punishment by censure is a key point. If their censure is nothing more than the board expressing severe disapproval in a formal statement then I think he really doesn’t have much of a case and Wilson should get over it, after all he did intentionally poke the bear with his actions and the bear responded – actions have consequences. If their censure is anything more than expressing severe disapproval in a formal statement and in anyway restricted Wilson’s ability to express his opinions then I think he has a really good case.

  5. #1 “Journalists aren’t supposed to consider one President as more “theirs” than another, and the same principles of respect and civility should apply to each POTUS equally.”

    This kind of incivility towards the President of the United States is wrong no matter which side it comes from or which President it’s directed at, period!

    I also think this fake moral outrage from a bunch of political snowflakes snowflaking hard (#Michael West) shines a bright light on the brazen hypocrisy that’s been at the core of the political left’s political tactics for many years. Double standards seem to be the norm for most Democratic Party and progressive activists and we all know that most of the media are cultish Democratic Party activists.

    This particular fake moral outrage hypocrisy should be pounded into the face of the public ad nauseam.

  6. 1. You might as well be talking to the wall, Jack. These journalists come from the same school of thought that gave us college newspapers who write that all ideas are not equal and they need to be spending more time on the good ideas and less on the bad ones, i.e. any idea they don’t agree with. This also goes back to my statement that the left wants a monopoly on everything. Only they get to criticize, only they get to abuse, only they get to influence. No one else. If you don’t have something liberal to say, then shut up, bigot.

    2. Stay tuned indeed. This seems to fall more under the aegis of harassment and conduct unbecoming than unpopular speech, though.

    3. Probably no jury would convict, and that shouldn’t be, taking the law into one’s own hands should be strongly discouraged, as should premeditated revenge killings.

    4. If I were the GM he would probably find his services were no longer required in the spring, as long as I could be sure it would stand up.

  7. 3. “My guess? No jury will convict him.”
    I can predict with confidence that if our justice system continues to be subverted and weakened from within by liberal legislative bodies, prosecutors and judges, we will see more and more people “taking the law into their own hands.”
    As a deputy sheriff, I always warned victims and victims’ families against resorting to vigilantism. In addition to their illegality, I have seen such acts go horribly wrong in other ways, bringing only more tragedy on those involved. Yet, I cannot “condemn the sin without prayers for the sinner.” If the defendant in this case is convicted, I hope he receives the same considerable leniency which would predictably have been extended (and probably has previously been – we are talking about Washington state here) to the waste of protoplasm he killed.
    Finally, in these chaotic times, I sympathize with the sentiment if not the act. These days I am more protective of my family than ever. I used to laugh dismissively at the widely-seen memes reading, “The older I get, the less that life imprisonment serves as a deterrent.” I don’t laugh anymore. It is common knowledge that “there’s no such thing as a perfect crime,” but I can tell you from experience in investigating cold cases that more than a few are committed perfectly enough.

    • For what it’s worth, I once heard but cannot substantiate that the British police once used sophisticated statistical analysis to give them a soundly based estimate of how many crimes were completely escaping notice. It was similar to something sometimes used in proofreading: you turn loose several different and independent error detection methods, then model how many errors are detected by one method, how many by two, and so on; then you read off how many are detected by zero methods, which tells you to a certain accuracy how many are completely missed (and so, whether it’s worth doing more to find them), even though it doesn’t actually tell you what and where the errors are. The story goes that the count for undetected crimes in Britain was so large that they stopped doing that sort of analysis.

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