Last-Ditch Ethics Catch-Up, 8/1/2022: Strange Questions And Answers

This was a strange day that kept me out of the office and Ethics Alarms from morn til dusk. Sorry: couldn’t be helped. It will stand in my memory as the day I was asked, in an official appearance as an ethicist in a bar deliberation over the fitness of a young man to be allowed into the august profession of “lawyer,” this question: “Do you believe character should be taught in law school?”

It might be the most bizarre question I have been asked by anyone over the age of 9 in my life. “Character” isn’t a subject or even a definable feature. If someone hasn’t developed character by the age of 21, I cannot imagine how a law school would teach it.

1. Quickly approaching “Julie Principle” territory is The Nation’s Elie Mystal, who has a long dossier at Ethics Alarms from the days before his mind snapped like a dry twig in the wind, leaving him a perpetually furious, racist, hatemongering fool. Yet that’s good enough for MSNBC, which would feature a drooling lunatic in a straitjacket if he or she spouted sufficiently venomous insults about Republicans (and Donald Trump, of course).

Here’s what poor, mad Elie said on MSNBC today:

“It’s going to be a close election in Georgia because Walker has the backing of the Republicans. You ask why are Republicans backing this man who’s so clearly unintelligent, who so clearly doesn’t have independent thoughts, but that’s actually the reason. Walker is going do what he’s told, and that is what Republicans like. That’s what Republicans want from their Negroes: to do what they were told. And Walker presents exactly as a person who lacks independent thoughts, lacks an independent agenda, lacks an independent ability to grasp policies, and he’s just going to go in there and vote like Mitch McConnell tells them to vote.”

I am definitely not a Walker fan, but the denigrating “Negro” slur should have been flagged and reprimanded by the MSNBC host, except that it was Tiffany Cross, who is almost a female version of Elie. Moreover, it is hilarious for a Democrat to mock any Republican for “doing what he is told,” when the current Democrats in the House and Senate have voted in lockstep with their leaders’ demands almost without exception.

2. The most crucial ethical values for a U.S. President in foreign policy are integrity and reliability. So this….

…inexcusable, incompetent, and dangerous.

Joe Biden’s pal Obama was lousy at this crucial aspect of being President (See: “the red line” in Syria), and Biden is even worse.

3. More official unfamiliarity with that Constitution thingy. What the hell? Hawaiian Governor David Ige signed legislation that transfers control of Mauna Kea, where a powerful observatory dwells, away from the University of Hawaii and into the state’s control. The new law declares astronomy as a state policy of Hawaii (I have no idea how astronomy can be a policy) and establishes the Mauna Kea Stewardship and Oversight Authority, an 11-member voting group that will now have dominion over how the land is managed. The law requires that the group’s membership must include one member who is a “lineal descendant” of a practitioner of Native Hawaiian traditions associated with the mountain. Another must be a recognized practitioner of those Native Hawaiian traditional practices.

This is unconstitutional on its face, and any reasonable literate college junior should be able to explain why: it is both a racial and a religious requirement for a state position.

4. From the “Shut up and sing!” files: Pop superstar Taylor Swift was criticized after a survey in Yard, a sustainability marketing agency, that found her private jet had taken 170 flights in 2022, sending out more CO2 emissions, 8,293.54 tons, than a thousand normal individuals’ carbon footprints over the same period. Swift is, therefore, another grandstanding climate change hypocrite, like Leonardo DiCaprio and the King, Al Gore. But Swift has an explanation! Her publicist said, “Taylor’s jet is loaned out regularly to other individuals. To attribute most or all of these trips to her is blatantly incorrect.”

Oh. And how exactly does that relieve the singer from accountability for the environmental impact of the private jet she owns in any way? It doesn’t, of course. But Swift, like other celebrities, assumes that her fans are idiots, and with depressing frequency they are right.

5. Nah, there’s no political indoctrination in the public schools! It’s a baseless conspiracy theory! Xavier Adams, an Orange High School teacher in Hillsborough, North Carolina, had his students create mortuary-style toe tags to represent illegal immigrants who have died attempting to cross the Mexican-Arizona border. He boasted about this in a Facebook post, itself evidence that the guy shouldn’t be teaching anyone.

Students were required to write down the cause of death, body condition, and names of the illegal immigrants in a “Latinx Studies” class according to Adams. The toe tags were posted on an “18-foot by 10-foot wall in specific places” to show where the illegal immigrants died, the post revealed.

The cause of death should have been easy to discern: deliberately attempting to break U.S. laws by engaging in dangerous activity. [Pointer: Willem Reese]

12 thoughts on “Last-Ditch Ethics Catch-Up, 8/1/2022: Strange Questions And Answers

  1. 2) I’m… I’m…. Ugh. I’m. Def-def-def-def-defending the defending the administration here. Ugh. The hell did I just say?

    I don’t think it is national policy to support an independent Taiwan- I thought it’s always been our national policy to support a unified China *not under* Communist control.

    So support of Taiwan as Biden puts it and non-support of Taiwanese independence as the spokesman put it isn’t necessarily contradictory.

    It’s a silly fiction at this point since we’ve all but acknowledged Communist China since the Nixon era- but it’s a geopolitical fiction we have to maintain since we don’t approve of communism.

    Ugh. But the Biden administration is awful. Absolutely horrible. Can we ever forget I defended them?

  2. #1: “These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference. For if we don’t move at all, then their allies will line up against us and there’ll be no way of stopping them…It’ll be Reconstruction all over again.”
    Lyndon B. Johnson (D)

    “…if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” Joseph R. Biden (D)

  3. Regarding #5, any of those who died attempting to walk across the border in the summer months should have their cause of death listed as “suicide”. The heat in the desert southwest in the summer is no joke. Attempting to walk for dozens of miles in it without training and acclimation is playing dice with your life. Those who encourage such risk-taking are complicit in the deaths that result.

  4. 1. Let’s go to the Imagination Station and take a short ride on the Dream Train. It’s the evening, it’s Tucker Carlson in front of the camera, and he says…on the TV in front of you…

    “It’s going to be a close election in Georgia because Warnock has the backing of the Democrats. You ask why are Democrats backing this man who’s so clearly unintelligent, who so clearly doesn’t have independent thoughts, but that’s actually the reason. Warnock is going do what he’s told, and that is what Democrats like. That’s what Democrats want from their Negroes: to do what they were told. And Warnock presents exactly as a person who lacks independent thoughts, lacks an independent agenda, lacks an independent ability to grasp policies, and he’s just going to go in there and vote like Chuck Schumer tells them to vote.”

    …I’d hear the cries of “racism” from here and I’ll lay a Jackson down that Carlson is out of a job by noon the following day. The Fox News Channel may have its own issues, but the other twenty-four-hour news outlets are cesspools.

    4. Those concerned about climate should look elsewhere. 8,293.54 tons of CO2 is a drop in the bucket (not in a figurative sense) compared to the amount of water vapor that is already up there and is already absorbing the same infrared energy that CO2 absorbs. Sleep tight tonight.

    5. The Good Book predicts that in the last days, good will be considered evil and evil considered good. One more grain of sand in the ever-growing pile.

    • #4. And your point is exactly how you can know the ‘climate change’ people aren’t trying to fix climate change. If they really wanted to reduce greenhouse gas warming, they would look at what is causing it. Their temperature monitoring stations read the biggest increases in temperatures in the cities, especially at night where the temperatures don’t drop as much anymore. This is due to an increased humidity in the cities caused by the increase in reservoirs (that lose 1/2 of their water to evaporation each year). Why not store the water underground instead, where it won’t be lost to evaporation (less water shortage), dropping the humidity and reducing the nighttime temperatures? Hey, why not make all the roofs white (r light colored) so they will reflect sunlight? Do the ‘climate change experts’ try any of these things? No, because they don’t care about reducing warming, they care about taking away the public’s access to power. That is why Hawaii shut down their coal-fired electric plant…for global warming. What did they replace it with? Oil. Why? Oil is more expensive, so it will require people to use less energy. Why did Europe replace nuclear power with Russian natural gas to ‘reduce global warming’? It increases the amount of carbon dioxide produced, but it makes power more expensive and takes it away from the people.

  5. #5. But it gets better.

    Perspective | Excellent rather than exceptional: Becoming the Beginning Teacher of the Year

    Xavier Adams
    February 28, 2022

    On Thursday, February 17, I was named the NCCAT 2022 Prudential North Carolina Beginning Teacher of the Year.

    The odds of me winning this recognition were incredibly low – not because there is a deficit in my work ethic, teaching skills, or character, but because there are several societal factors that have inhibited and discouraged many Black men from becoming educators. In fact, less than 2% of educators in the United States are Black men. If you applied to Harvard University in the last year, you would have a higher chance (3.4%) of getting admitted into the university than having a Black man be your teacher while there. The unfortunate reality is that Black men are just one of several identities — like teachers with a disability — that are underrepresented in the identities of educators in the United States…

    Spoiler alert: no, it really doesn’t get any better.

    • Dr. L.
      I read the excerpt of Xavier Adams’s article. I then read his whole article via the link you provided. I even read an NEA article that was linked to the Adams article. The NEA article concerned the issue that only 2% of teachers are black men. Both articles blame societal factors for the lack of black male educators. For perspective, I looked up the student demographics at Columbia University’s Teacher College. In the total enrolment of 4,547 students, there were only 407 black students, or 9%. These further brakes down to 123 black males and 284 black females or 2.7% and 6.2% respectively.

      The US Census estimates the Black population at 13.6% in 7/2021. I attended Columbia University in the ’70s. I can tell you Columbia was woke before the word existed. I can’t imagine it is any different now. I would wager that if even a marginally qualified black applied to the Teachers College, they would be accepted. I submit the black community could fix the problem Adams is complaining about if it wanted. Unfortunately, it is more acceptable for some to blame others and play the victim than it is to look in the mirror.

  6. Re: The Preamble; Character Counts.

    Query: “Do you believe character should be taught in law school?”

    Answer: Yes, but how in the name of Mike do you teach that? Ethics is a required law school course and the ethics exam is required for licenture in Texas. Yet, it seems that if you are a lousy person going into law school, law school will not, under any circumstances, learn the lousiness out of you – I dare say that that applies to every profession or trade. If you are a person of strong personal character, than law school will not enhance that or even dent it. Law school is not intended to form a person’s moral or ethical standing. Hell, law school doesn’t even teach law students how to do lawyer stuff. It is there to teach how to think like a lawyer by figuring out what the problem is and where to look for the answer.

    For example over the last year, I joined a law firm representing landlords and hedge funds, doing real estate, corporate, litigation, and other matters. I have dealt with the fabled “legal aid” warriors. Let me tell that over the last year, I have found two of them that i admire The rest are lazy, incompetent, and ineffective. I am working on a case where a prior homeowner has a slam-dunk claim against her mortgage company for wrongful foreclosure but the legal aid lawyer can’t seem to care enough about bringing that claim against the bank. It is depressing because I have told her (repeatedly) how to file the claim but nothing. This case is set for trial in September but the homeowner will lose.


  7. Regarding the issue of character. I was taught by a learned and astute observer of the human condition, “Once an asshole, always an asshole.” He has yet to be proven wrong by my observation.

  8. Character: the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.

    The opinion of people about character is very subjective, for instance…

    • Some people think Donald Trump has loads of character and others do not.
    • Some people think Mitch McConnel is a characterless slug and others do not.
    • Some people think John Wayne had lots of character and others do not.
    • Some people think Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Taylor Swift, Martin Luther King Jr. and Rick Genest the tattooed “Zombie Boy” have/had character and others do not.

    …it really is all subjective.

    The fact is that everyone has character, the problem is that not everyone thinks that some “styles” (for lack of a better word) of character are socially appropriate or desirable but that’s based on their own character and subjective views on what is and is not appropriate.

    When someone asked a question like, “Do you believe character should be taught in law school?” I think the question should be immediately turned to a question “Do you believe that ethics and morals should be taught and practiced in law school?” I think the answer to that second question is definitely yes.

    One thing is clear…

    “Character is a diamond that scratches every other stone.”

  9. Following up on the character issue. A few years ago the former president of my college visited Seattle and had dinner with a few of us. One of the attendants asked him the question “why so many classes on ethics?” (we had and the college still has) something like the equivalent one full credit class of ethics per year. His response was just perfect, paraphrasing: “We cannot teach students to be good. This is something they have already learned from their parents and family. We cannot give them human values or teach them how to live them every day. But these are young people who spend about a third of the day with us; and if we don’t promote a culture of ethical behavior, everything taught by their parents and families could be lost and corrupted. We do not teach them, but we create a culture where they will not forget what they have learned.”

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