Late Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/22/2021 (But It’s Morning In Hawaii!)

An exhausting day yesterday that extended several hours into the evening thanks to having a legal ethics seminar to run, so I am late to the office as well as feeling less than smurfy. I’m sorry. One more example of how the lockdown as well as other questionable pandemic responses will have unanticipated and negative impacts going forward: my Zoom versions of what were designed as live, interactive, dynamic in-person seminars tend to devolve into lectures, as I can neither see, interact with or prod participants into Socratic dialogues. I have to talk and improvise the whole three hours, and the results are decidedly inferior to what I can achieve in person. Lawyers are going to have less-effective ethics alarms in the days to come…

1. Ethics Quote of the Day: Times critic Lindsay Zoladz, in her essay about the current rush to recast past events, art, culture and personalities according to current sensibilities:

The allure of presentism is causing people to romanticize contemporary perspectives at the expense of an excessively vilified past…The past was imperfect, yes, but so is the present. Inevitably, the future will be too. The lesson to be taken from all these reconsiderations is not necessarily how much wiser we are now, but how difficult it is to see the biases of the present moment. If anything, these looks back should be reminders to stay vigilant against presentism, conventional wisdom and the numbing orthodoxy of groupthink. 


2. Now who’s ready to do the same to anti-free speech, thought-controlling colleges and universities? Jeff T. Green, an advertising-technology billionaire, formally resigned his membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and publicly rebuked the faith over social issues and LGBTQ rights.

“I believe the Mormon church has hindered global progress in women’s rights, civil rights and racial equality, and LGBTQ+ rights,” he wrote in a resignation letter to Mormon church President Russell Nelson. Eleven family members and a friend formally resigned along with him. Now Green’s  estimated $5 billion assets will be donated elsewhere, starting with a $600,000 donation to the LGBTQ-rights group Equality Utah.

Wealthy donors and philanthropists too often continue to fund other institutions that pursue values and objectives that the donors do not support, being satisfied as long as their names remain in marble somewhere on campus. This is not only a foolish use of charitable funds, it’s an unethical one.

3. SThe theory is that replacing the name with  something less frightening and without negative connotations will change how the public perceives people with the diagnosis, as well as how the afflicted  see themselves.

“That term over time has become so associated with hopelessness, with dangerousness, with volatile and erratic behavior, that doctors are afraid to use that term with people and their family members,” said Dr. Raquelle Mesholam-Gately, a Harvard psychologist. “And people who have the condition don’t want to be associated with that name.”

You know the drill: whatever name they come up with, like, say, “Niceymanagablism” or something, will eventually also have negative connotations, because this is a terrible illness no matter what it’s called. The real purpose of name changes like this is to mislead, confuse, and make communication more difficult, along with precise thought. Solving problems by banning the words necessary to discuss them is all the rage now, perhaps more than ever.

4. How tasteful! Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, a 26-year-old truck driver, received a 110-year prison sentence after his truck was involved in a deadly crash that killed four people. Aguilera-Mederos said his brakes failed , but he was convicted on 27 counts in October, and at his December 13, the judge held that the prison terms for each count had to served be served consecutively, resulting in a 110-year prison term. Many in the community are upset with what they see as an unfairly harsh sentence.

So Kayla Wildeman, a Jefferson County deputy district attorney who was part of a team of prosecutors that prosecuted Aguilera-Mederos posted a photo of a brake shoe from a semi-truck and an accompanying plaque on Facebook, given to her as a gift by a fellow deputy district attorney.


Her response to the resulting anger at the trophy and her pride in it? She took down her Twitter account. All fixed!

19 thoughts on “Late Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/22/2021 (But It’s Morning In Hawaii!)

  1. We are doing our annual skills training in preparation for the coming tax season. One of the things we always do is some role playing sessions. Doing those in person is typically awkward and halting. However, doing them online, virtually — it makes the awkward in person role playing look worthy of an Oscar.

    Even with fairly motivated adults, virtual classes are just not the same as in person. I can hardly imagine how bad it must be for grade school kids — almost child abuse.

    4)I look at that and I am thinking, wait what? What’s wrong about an award for convicting someone you believe is a murderer? I am assuming it was some type of homicide conviction. Harsh, perhaps, but if you killed four people?

  2. How is point #2 not the same as virtue signaling that gets noted here all of the ime? (for the record, I am LDS),,
    If Mr. Green had sat down with his local bishop and told him what he was doing and why it would be one thing… but to publicly excoriate Church leadership and seek media coverage for doing so is another.
    But he is on the “good” side, so no worries…
    Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night… Cheers, MIke

    • Who is he virtue-signaling to? Resigning and withholding donations is action, and substantive action; resigning from a church is also a major and wrenching decision. Presumably the public nature of it is designed to provoke discussion within the LDS and to perhaps be a catalyst for change. Core ingredients of virtue-signaling is opportunism and insincerity. Note the explicit analogy in the post: would you call a billionaire donor who announced she would no longer give to Harvard because it has become hostile to free thought, association and expression virtue-signaling?

      • He hasn’t been practicing in over 10 years; so it’s not a change in his life or the local congregation’s.

        And the analogy to Harvard is flawed, because he’s not complaining that church is changing, he’s complaining that it isn’t changing with the times. It’d be more akin to a wealthy donor who stopped donating a decade earlier but decided to publicly announce that they won’t be donating any more because Harvard isn’t progressive enough.

        • That’s a not a distinction. He is protesting behavior he objects for reasons he feels is valid, because he believes the behavior is unethical. What difference does it make whether it’s old behavior or new behavior? What matters is his assessment of the behavior and conviction that he cannot be associated with it.

          • I disagree. As I mentioned earlier, he stopped practicing years and years ago. He is making this announcement now, more than a decade later, because that’s what’s in vogue right now. Had he made this announcement back in 2009 or whenever, the response from the media, from his fellow travelers, and from social media would have been very different, if not non-existent.

            • Which is why it makes sense to make the announcement now more than then This morning, I just saw his protest noted on HLN. And as members of the Church are required to tithe, it’s a meaningful, not just symbolic, protest

              • That’s where I disagree. It’s symbolic because he hasn’t been doing it for over 10 years already (“just so you know, I’m STILL ignoring you!!”) and even if his belief about the church hurting people through what we believe is sincere, it’s preaching to a very powerful, very conforming choir. Do you see no ethical difference between a wealthy Harvard donor publicly denouncing Harvard for not being anti-racist (oooh, so brave!) and denouncing it for not protecting free speech (this one actually takes bravery). Both probably believe their cause is legitimate, but only one has the potential for harming, rather than helping one’s professional or personal life.

                • I agree. I can appreciate him putting his money where his mouth is, but I can’t help but think that this is to get applause from the woke crowd.

                  And I wouldn’t say that members are “required” to pay tithing. To get a temple recommend, yes you should be a full tithe payer, but all they do is ask if you are, and if you say yes, you’re good to go. There’s no audit like with the IRS.

  3. Here is a tweet worth writing about.

    “Inconvenient by design”

    That is signature significance.

  4. The Potter verdict just came in (Daunte Wright shooting): Guilty of both counts.

    I don’t know. I feel less strongly about this case than the Rittenhouse case, the fact pattern just wasn’t as good for her as it was for Kyle… At the end of the day she did make a mistake, that mistake cost Wright his life, and while we can make the argument that lethal force could have been justified, apparently the jury didn’t buy it. I still don’t like the verdict, I think that Grey and Engh did a significantly better job than the State. I was convinced, at least. I also think that while Frank (state’s primary) didn’t rise to Binger’s level of scummy prosecution moves, there were some very questionable practices in play here and some obvious avenues for appeal.


  5. My husband was a commercial truck driver before he became a CPA. He notes that despite the “it was an accident” mantra, the driver was speeding down a steep grade, causing his brakes to burn up. He then failed to use runaway ramps or other alternatives to the devastation he caused. His sentence may be excessive, but serving no time, or time served would be a miscarriage of justice.

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