Afternoon Ethics Mop-Up, 10/5/22: Flip-Flops, Cheating, A Bad Law Suit And Careless Name Change

It has been raining for five days straight here.

But never mind: what matters is that October 5th marks the date in 2017 when the New York Times blew the whistle on Hollywood mega-producer and major Clinton money source Harvey Weinstein, setting in motion all sorts of cultural. legal, political and societal forces no one could have predicted, as well as providing many depressing ethics lessons. For example, virtually everyone who pretended horror at Weinstein’s predations knew about what he was doing long before, but said and did nothing, and yes, this almost certainly included powerful Democrats as well as alleged Hollywood feminists. Yecchh. The sudden awareness of sexual harassment in high places—as if Bill Clinton hadn’t been enough to make it obvious—was quickly weaponized to take down powerful men in business, the arts, news media, politics and more, some deservedly (Kevin Spacey, Matt Lauer…) some not so much (Al Franken). The Weinstein movements #MeToo and Time’s Up also catalyzed the effort to smear Brett Kavanaugh out of his Supreme Court nomination, though they went oddly mute when Joe Biden was accused of doing privately the kind of thing he had been photographed doing to hapless girls and women for years. How and why this happened was neatly illustrated when the co-founder and COB of “Time’s Up” was revealed to have helped Andrew Cuomo discredit his multiple sexual harassment accusers.

Despite its ugly partisanship, hypocrisy and cynicism, the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck, documented here, has still had its salutary effects. Bill Clinton’s reign as a Democratic rock star finally ended. Woody Allen was at last shunned in Hollywood. 

Best of all, the double standards and empty virtue-signaling of feminists and progressives were impossible to miss. Good.

1. Remember, Karine Jean-Pierre, the President’s paid liar, says that “If you are not with where the majority of Americans are, that is extreme.” A new poll by the Trafalgar Group, taken September 17-20 and including more than 1,000 likely 2022 election voters, showed that 1.4% of voters “believe eliminating gas-powered cars and moving to electric vehicles is the best solution.” Just thought it was worth mentioning…Speaking of Karine, it has been fascinating watching her claim that when the still-high gasoline prices edge down, it is President Biden’s brilliant work paying off, but when it goes up, it’s everybody else’s fault. Now gas is going up again, and OPEC has voted to cut production, probably meaning that it will start rising sharply. Ultimately, her re-flip-flop will pose another “Just how gullible is the American public?” test. The results of the earlier ones have not been encouraging. 2. Follow-up on the chess cheating scandal! Originally covered here, the veiled allegations that American grandmaster Hans Moke Niemann was a cheater   may have had more to them than what was originally assumed. An investigation into Niemann’s play conducted by Chess.com found the scope of his cheating to be extensive, far more so than the youthful indiscretions he admitted to in the wake of the controversy.  The report found that Niemann likely received illegal assistance in more than 100 online games as recently as 2020, winning prize money in the process.   Niemann privately confessed, leading to his temporary banning  banned from the site.

3. A Streisand Effect spectacular! On Native American Day, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, virtue-signaling as usual, officially changed the name of UC Hastings College of the Law to UC College of the Law, San Francisco. The law school was founded in 1878 by Serranus Clinton Hastings, who, we are told, “supported and funded the mass killings and other atrocities committed against Native American people in the mid-19th century.” You know—like the vast majority of Americans and public officials alive at the time.  The name change will take effect on January. 1, 2023. Oopsie! An 1878 law requires the UC Hastings College of the Law to keep its founder’s name or the state must repay descendants $100,000, plus interest. Six family members sued yesterday to get their money back. The interest rate would be an annual 7% so after 144 years, California would owe Serranus Hastings’ descendants more than $1.7 billion. The suit accuses the state and the Hastings directors of breaching the 1878 contract and seeks an injunction to stop the name change.  “You can’t have your cake and eat it, too,” said Guido Piotti, who joined the family’s suit on behalf of a group of Hastings alumni who say changing the name would dilute the brand and lead to lower salaries for graduates.

Of course, almost nobody alive knew anything about old Serranus before the school decided to pander to the statute-topplers and call him a racist so they could grandstand by taking his name off the institution he founded. Now they are either stuck with a “racist name,” or they have to pay the metaphorical piper. Was any institution named after someone who lived in the 19th century or earlier not named after a racist?

4. Hardly worth mentioning, but… Donald Trump filed a suit against CNN this week claiming that it has worked “to defame [Trump] in the minds of its viewers and readers for the purpose of defeating him politically.” Sure it has, but he’s a public figure, and unless his lawyers can prove that CNN deliberately published falsehoods (as opposed to Big Lies that can easily be excused as opinions) with malice, his demand for $475 million in punitive damages is hopeless as well as mighty close to frivolous.

It’s an unethical lawsuit and an abuse of process, and whatever lawyer told him it had the chances of an ice sculpture in hell should be sanctioned.

4 thoughts on “Afternoon Ethics Mop-Up, 10/5/22: Flip-Flops, Cheating, A Bad Law Suit And Careless Name Change

  1. 1. So… every minority in every context is “extreme”? I hear this word repeated ad nauseum in political ads I’m shown on YouTube, and now I understand.

    I’m calling it. “Extreme” and “extremism” don’t mean anything other than “I don’t share these priorities”. They’re inherently subjective words, but they sound objective. I assert that people should avoid using them, and instead work on defining the problems created by a policy, and say “I’m not willing to accept this problem, and I think we can do better.”

    Speaking of which, I’m glad that politicians no longer use flowery and sophisticated language to confuse the people, even if it’s probably because they lack the wit to do so, but I’m still waiting on them to add substance to what they say. Right now they just look like sad, empty sockpuppets making “off-hand” remarks, as it were.

    3. Things would be so much less complicated if people reinterpreted the significance of events. For example, if an ethnically nonwhite student attends a school named after a racist, are they being oppressed, or are they taking an institution created by an oppressor and using it to empower themselves? “His legacy now benefits me; I wish he were alive to see it.”

  2. 3) I’m stuck defending California. I hate entails. What is the state supposed to do if the college ever went defunct? Pay the descendants just because the place had to close down? The principle is dumb. And just like reparations are dumb – the descendants of the founder who established the entails did not suffer because an ancestor did something with his own money. Unbelievable.

    • That’s a good point, too. Eventually, many if not all of these buildings named after famous people will go the way of Ozymandias’s works. Everyone does need to accept that, including the people they’re named after. The donors’ real legacy is the people whose education they’re facilitating, and if they really cared about that, they wouldn’t care so much about being credited that the school has to pay their descendants if the name is changed a century later.

      “I’m not paying to educate the next generation, I’m paying to be remembered as a rich philanthropist! If I’d known that my plaque wasn’t going to be there for a thousand years, I would have left that money to my heirs with the rest of my obscene fortune. So if that building stops standing with my name on it, you owe them what they would have had if I hadn’t donated to you!” There’s credit, and then there’s vanity.

    • “What is the state supposed to do if the college ever went defunct?”

      Your larger point about entails is a good one, but I think in this particular case, it would not be an issue if the school ceased to exist. The original law stated that the school “shall forever be designated” with the Hastings moniker. So if it went defunct, it would still be known as such, but in the past tense. Nothing in the law states that the school must continue in perpetuity, just that as long as it does, it has to have a specific name (or pay off the Hastings heirs).

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