Thursday Ethics Thurstquencher, 11/17/2022: Unethical Law, Unethical WaPo, Unethical “Equity,” Unethical Law School, Unethical Police…And A Surprise!

My wife and I are now in the throes of a painful ethics dilemma for any parent of an adult. Our son unexpectedly broke up with his long-time live-in girl friend, apparently ending a relationship that seemed serious, loving, and built to last. We both love his now ex-, a wonderfully candid, gentle, courageous young woman who has overcome a lot of tragedy in her life, and whom we know loves our son passionately. (She is also arguably Spud’s favorite human being on Earth.) Our son keeps his own counsel and always has; he gave us the news in his usual unadorned, unrevealing, terse manner. He did not ask for advice or counsel, and we know him well enough to understand that he would not appreciate our offering any; indeed, his trademark is taking the opposite course of that suggested by anyone other than him. So we will do the ethical thing, which in this case is also the only option available to us: mind our own business.

1. Speaking of my dog, Spuds-like dogs will continued to be cruelly and stupidly discriminated against in Council Bluffs, Iowa, which passed an ordinance in 2005 that outlaws the possession or sale of “pit bulls.” That’s in quotes because it is clear that the ignorant dog bigots who passed the law have no clue what a pit bull is: the law defines the “dangerous breed” as “any dog that is an American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier,” or any dog with a majority of the physical traits of one or more of those breeds. In other words, the law adopts the cretinous terms of the anti-pit bull breeds website, which says that “if it looks like a pit bull, it’s a pit bull.”

Owners of pit bulls sued the city in federal court, claiming the ordinance violates their constitutional rights to due process and equal protection. A U.S. District judge dismissed the suit on summary judgment, which the dog owners appealed.

A three-judge panel of the S Eighth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s ruling, holding that the dog owners had the burden of negating every conceivable basis that might support the ordinance.

“The record here does not negate every conceivable basis for the Ordinance’s rationality,” U.S. Circuit Judge Duane Benton, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote for the unanimous panel. “While the resulting ordinance may be an imperfect fit, this court cannot second guess or judge the fairness of legislative choices on rational basis review.”

2. And speaking of vicious persecution and bad faith vendettas, The Washington Post, burying the lede, reports that it seems likely now that Donald Trump had no nefarious purpose in holding classified documents, that there were no nuclear secrets contained in them as speculated, and that the former President was probably keeping them as souvenirs he felt he had a right to:

Federal agents and prosecutors have come to believe former president Donald Trump’s motive for allegedly taking and keeping classified documents was largely his ego and a desire to hold on to the materials as trophies or mementos, according to people familiar with the matter….That review has not found any apparent business advantage to the types of classified information in Trump’s possession, these people said. FBI interviews with witnesses so far, they said, also do not point to any nefarious effort by Trump to leverage, sell or use the government secrets. Instead, the former president seemed motivated by a more basic desire not to give up what he believed was his property, these people said.

Is there any question at this point that had Trump been any other former President, and not one that Axis cant held was a dangerous threat to their version of democracy and that the Biden Administration desperately wanted to eliminate as a political threat to continued Democratic power, the Justice Department would have quietly and respectfully worked with Trump to resolve any issues, rather than staging totalitarian-style raid on a political adversary?

Not in my estimation there isn’t. Of course, it’s a complete coincidence that this assessment by the Post was published after the election…as is this emerging news.

3. “Equity!” San Francisco is offering a monthly stimulus program for transgender residents only. Mayor London Breed announced that the city would begin accepting applications for the Guaranteed Income for Trans People (GIFT) program. It will give 55 transgender residents $1,200 a month for up to 18 months. The program, we are told, will advance “equity for transgender people.” That’s an Orwellian definition of “equity,” don’t you think? It’s “equity” to use taxpayer funds to give benefits to one group to the exclusion of others, when membership in that group is entirely volitional.

San Francisco’s values and logic are so alien to anything even vaguely rational regarding so many matters that it boggles the mind. Naturally, that being the case, its residents just re-elected Nancy Pelosi as its representative in Congress. Nancy is 83, and has been a negative force in society and politics for many years.

4.  Yale Law School is chicken, and its Dean is a liar. Yale Law School Dean Heather Gerken  announced that the school is withdrawing from the rankings compiled by the U.S. News World Report:

“The U.S. News rankings are profoundly flawed, Its approach not only fails to advance the legal profession, but stands squarely in the way of progress, ” she said, claiming that the rankings devalue programs that encourage low-paying public-interest jobs and reward schools that dangle scholarships for high LSAT scores, rather than for financial need. How odd, then, that painfully progressive Yale Law School finished first in the 2021 rankings! In fact, the more likely reasons for Yale’s “you can’t fire me, I quit” move include the school’s public embarrassment  related to the political climate on campus and the dean’s inadequate response to it. 14 federal judges, including James Ho of the 5th Circuit and Elizabeth Branch of the 11th Circuit, have announced that they would no longer hire clerks from Yale Law School because of the sad state of free speech and intellectual diversity on campus. Reason posits another Reason:

This decision was made in the shadow of Students for Fair Admission v. Harvard. The Supreme Court will very soon make it difficult for elite private universities to use racial preferences for admission. Post-SFFA, the law school could no longer justify wide gaps between admission rates for applicants of different races. They can no longer rely on “personal” scores and other subterfuges. As a result, if Yale wants to keep its racial diversity numbers high, the overall LSAT and GPA scores would have to drop. And that decrease would affect the law school’s rankings.

Oh look! Harvard is following Yale and also boycotting U.S. News.

5. There sure seem to be a lot of incompetent, untrustworthy police departments out there. Never mind police shootings. In Uvalde, Texas, they finally fired an acting police chief who sat back and let students get slaughtered rather than take action against an active shooter. In San Francisco, police handling of the Paul Pelosi attack still makes no sense at all. In Moscow, Idaho, after a gruesome mass killing left four students dead near the University of Idaho, the authorities had no suspect, no explanation of what happened, and yet still announced that that authorities did not believe “the broader community was at risk,” even though four students were lying dead in pools of blood, and no one knew why. Now, days later, the police are saying the opposite. Chief James Fry of the Moscow Police Department says, “We cannot say that there is no threat to the community.”

Not to channel Mr. Kimball from “Green Acres,” but he obviously can say there was no threat to the community, because he DID say exactly that, and nothing has changed. Well, not exactly nothing: then “officials had been trying to calm nerves.” You know, by lying. Experts!

Where does Moscow recruit its police from, the CDC?

6. Finally...this isn’t ethics related exactly, but it does show the New York Times at its best, at least momentarily justifying the money I pay for it. I hope you can see it despite the paywall. Competence! The Times can still be competent, when it wants to be!

5 thoughts on “Thursday Ethics Thurstquencher, 11/17/2022: Unethical Law, Unethical WaPo, Unethical “Equity,” Unethical Law School, Unethical Police…And A Surprise!

  1. As a non-lawyer, I’d appreciate someone explaining to me how #3 is legal. Can a government entity really just hand out public funds based on certain characteristics?

  2. #5. The Moscow police took a dangerous situation and under played to prevent panic. From my experience, ever since being ridiculed for downplaying AIDS, the CDC takes mostly peaceful illnesses and institutes as much panic as it can. One analyst I follow has estimated the level of excess death currently caused by Whuhan Flu response and lockdowns is three times the excess death caused by the virus itself.

    #6. “Open in incognito tab” is a paywall hack that occasionally works for me, and did here too.

    • What usually works for me is opening the link through an archive service. Sometimes, the archived page will be the paywall, but other times it will show the article. Pictures and comments are usually broken, though.

  3. Unrequested advice- Your son may have broken his relationship with the young lady. that does not prevent you from inviting her to festivities, since both you and Spuds enjoy her company1

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