AARGH! The University of Michigan Firing Its President Made Me Think About Bill Clinton Again!

Mark S. Schlissel, the president of the University of Michigan, was fired  yesterday after an emergency meeting of the Board of Regents His relationship with a subordinate at the university had been revealed by an anonymous whistleblower who was, ironically, named Linda Tripp. Nononono! I’m sorry: damn flashback again.

The Board easily concluded that Schlissel had violated university policy and behaved “in a manner inconsistent with the dignity and reputation of the university.” His employment was terminated effective immediately, canceling a contract that would have continued paying him his base salary of $927,000 for four more years. The letter to Dr. Schlissel informing him that he was being fired said the complaint had arrived on December 8. “There can be no question that you were acutely aware that any inappropriate conduct or communication between you and a subordinate would cause substantial harm to the dignity and reputation of the University of Michigan,” the letter said.

The month long investigation triggered by the anonymous tip revealed dozens of email exchanges using “inappropriate tone and inappropriate language,” and showed that Dr. Schlissel used official business to carry out the relationship. His conduct was “particularly egregious,” the letter said, because he had taken a public position against sexual harassment, handing out pens to feminists like Bella Abzug after signing into law an anti-sexual harassment…no, I’m sorry, that was Bill Clinton.  Schlissel had only used the occasion of a university provost, Martin Philbert, being accused of sexual misconduct in August 2020 to send a letter to the university intoning that “the highest priority” was to make the university “safe for all.”

Dr. Schlissel, who is married and has four grown children. His wife, in response to the firing, immediately declared his demise to be the result of a vast right wing conspiracy. DANG! There go those flashbacks again!

I vowed a while back not to write any more about Bill Clinton. It was, as a few of you remember, the revolting ethical blindness revealed by Clinton’s defenders during Monica Madness and the even more revolting hypocrisy by passionate feminists who refused to condemn the POTUS’s text-book sexual harassment of a lowly intern (Bill supported abortion, you see, so that gave him immunity) that got me into the ethics blogging trap in the first place.

As an ethicist, I found the rationalizations being thrown out to get Clinton off the hook copious and nauseating, beginning with “Everybody Does It,” Number One, and including the worst of all. #22, “It’s not the worst thing!” Even though Clinton used Monica Lewinsky as his personal inflatable sex doll in his workplace, during work hours, with the knowledge of other subordinates, Democrats and pundits insisted on dismissing this as “private, personal conduct.”

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The YouTube Ethics Dilemma: I Need The Platform, But It’s A Censorious, Partisan Propaganda Machine

I don’t miss Twitter much. I quit the social media platform last year, disgusted with its blatant partisan censorship, its censoring of Donald Trump, and the odd way it flagrantly maintained a double standard in which misleading or questionable progressive tweets were opinions, but misleading or questionable conservative tweets were lies, mandating the tweet-monger’s banishment.

I also had been warning lawyers in my ethics seminars to eschew Twitter at all costs, since, I said with my tongue only slightly piercing my cheek, using it lowered the average lawyer’s IQ by between 15 to 25 points. (I estimated this on the evidence of poor former Harvard Law icon Larry Tribe, whose conspiracy theory tweets and ethics rules beaches on the platform raise the rebuttable presumption that he has entered the Biden Zone…not that this obvious decline has stopped the Washington Post and New York Times from publishing his increasingly over-heated and badly-reasoned op-eds.)

I decided that I should take my own advice and leave Twitter. Besides, my involvement with Twitter in the end consisted solely of issuing links to Ethics Alarms posts, which elicited virtually no traffic or retweets at all. (Except for you, Opal!)

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From Great Britain, A “Laws Are For The Little People” Scandal, And From The Prime Minister, A Terrible Apology

Boris Johnson, Great Britain’s eerily Trump-like Prime Minister, was caught behaving like Nancy Pelosi, California Governor Gavin Newsom, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Dr. Deborah Birx, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, John Kerry, former Governor Andrew Cuomo, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, just-exited NYC mayor Bill de Blasio,  and others in the U.S. who have violated the restrictions they placed on the public’s liberty and right to the pursuit of happiness in their embrace, at least officially, of Wuhan virus panic.

Three days ago, an email “emerged,” as they like to say now, showing the PM’s  private secretary inviting people to a lawn party at 10 Downing Street while the rest of the country was under a strict pandemic lockdown. The cheery missive concluded, “bring your own booze!” Continue reading

P.M. Ethics Dispatches, 1/11/2022

We have to keep baseball ethics alive even if baseball itself is in a state of suspension: the owner and players are, for the first time in decades, arguing about how to divide up their billions, everything from roster size to minimum salaries are on the table, and as of now, the two sides aren’t even talking with the season just a couple of months away. One of the issues to be settled is whether the National League will finally capitulate and adopt the designated hitter rule, which was accepted in the American League on this date in 1973, a day which many traditionalist fans then and now regard as an unforgivable scar on the integrity of the game. Baseball has always been celebrated for its equity and balance: as it was envisioned, every player on the field had to both hit and play defense. The DH, which is a batter who never uses a glove, also allowed the pitcher to be a defense-only specialist, never picking up a bat which, advocates of the new rule argued, was a result much to be wished, since the vast majority of hurlers are only slightly better at hitting the ball than your fat old uncle Curt who played semi-pro ball in his twenties. All these decades years later, the National League and its fans have stubbornly maintained that the DH was a vile, utilitarian gimmick spurred by non-ethical considerations, mainly greed. When the rule was adopted, American League attendance lagged behind the NL, which also was winning most of the All Star games, in part because that league had embraced black stars far more rapidly than “the junior league.” The DH, the theory went, would make games more exciting, with more offense, while eliminating all the .168 batters in the ninth spot in every line-up.

I had a letter published in Sports Illustrated in 1973 explaining why I opposed the DH as a Boston Red Sox fan. Since then, I have grudgingly come to accept the benefits of the rule: it gave the Sox David Ortiz, allowed Carl Yastrzemski to play a few more years, and let American League fans see such all-time greats as Hank Aaron at the plate after they could no longer play the field. It was a breach of the game’s integrity, but it worked.

1. At least that’s fixed. The Supreme Court issued a corrected transcript of the oral arguments in the Biden vaccine mandate case, and it now accurately records Justice Gorsuch as saying he believes the seasonal flu kills “hundreds…thousands of people every year.” The original version wrongly quoted him as saying hundreds of thousands, which allowed those desperately trying to defend the outrageously wrong assertions by Justice Sotomayor regarding the Wuhan virus to point to Gorsuch and claim, “See? Conservatives are just as bad!” Prime among these was the steadily deteriorating Elie Mystal at “The Nation,” who, typically for him, refused to accept the correction. Sotomayor is one of the all-time worst Supreme Court justices, though she will be valuable as a constant reminder of the perils of affirmative action. Her jurisprudence makes the much maligned Clarence Thomas look like Louis Brandeis by comparison. Continue reading

On Transgender Competitors Being Permitted In Women’s Sports: Is It Possible To Be More Ethically And Logically Muddled Than This?

I doubt it. I doubt if anything can be more ethically and logically muddled than the article —actually two articles—about another biological male crushing female competitors in a women’s sports competition. Right at the start, the USA Today piece sets a new absurd bar for “It isn’t what it is” rhetoric. The article begins, “The sentiment is universal: Everyone agrees that Andraya Yearwood should be allowed to compete in her chosen races as a girl.”

Wait: the same article in its headline says that Yearwood’s eligibility is a matter of “controversy.” If there is controversy, then obviously the sentiment isn’t “universal.” Normally, a statement that self-evidently contradictory would make me stop reading because the writer is an idiot, but I read this junk so you won’t have to.

The next sentence is just as bad:

After all, she identifies as a girl, trains alongside fellow females and plans to eventually undergo hormone therapy to complete a transition from her male birth gender to female.

“After all’? None of that is convincing proof that a biological male should be competing against women. Then Cam Smith—that’s the name of the idiot, whom USA Today entrusts with High School sports stories—gets the Triple Crown, or a hat trick, or whatever you call three brain-melting statements in a row: Continue reading

Responsibility For The January 6 Capitol Riot, Part I

It is certainly appropriate to analyze and carefully consider the context and causes of the January 6 riot. Doing so, however, does not require the extended hyping, spin and deceit that we have been subjected to by Democrats, Trump-o-phobics and the news media for a full year, culminating in a contrived “anniversary” today. Over the past year, we have heard absurd comparisons of the one day riot to the bombings of September 11, 2001, Pearl Harbor, and maybe Darth Vader’s destruction of Alderaan—I don’t know, I didn’t read every hysterical screed on the topic.

Today’s retrospective overkill in the New York Times, for example, occupies four full pages in the A Section, with seven of the 24 containing at least one riot-related article. Pearl Harbor brought the U.S. into World War II, crippled the Pacific fleet and cost almost 3000 lives. 9/11 ushered in a new era of struggles against Muslim terrorists, also took 3000 lives, and profoundly affected the economy, privacy, civil liberties and politics. And January 6? It provided Democrats with a useful narrative to use to try to neutralize Donald Trump, and opened a new door to criminalizing the Right. The riot never threatened to overturn the election results at any point. It never even delayed the Congressional certification of those results, nor could it.

The motivation behind this orgy of narrative framing is clear: Democrats, progressives and the media are terrified that they are headed for an epic (and oh-so-richly deserved) wipe-out in the 2022 mid-term elections, and the only weapons they appear to have in their arsenal are fear-centered: fear of the end of “democracy” (meaning Democratic Party rule), fear of Trump, and fear of “the deplorables,” with fear of climate change thrown in for variety. It is a massive, shameless, relentless, desperate propaganda effort, divisive, dishonest, thoroughly despicable, and, of course, unethical.

Nonetheless, it would be helpful to examine the reasons the January 6 riot occurred, and I find it incredible that I haven’t seen a single balanced and ethically objective analysis anywhere. Typical of what I have seen is yesterday’s op-ed by The New republic’s contributing editor Osita Nwanvetu. The Times headlined it using a rare form of dishonesty, advancing a lie by denying the lie: “Trump Isn’t The Only One To Blame.” Trump certainly shares a large portion of responsibility for the riot, but since he neither led the mob to the Capitol nor participated in the riot himself, he obviously wasn’t the “only one to blame.” But the politicians and “journalists” who are terrified of him have worked tirelessly to embed that false impression.

Who and what are “to blame” for the ugly events of a year ago? Who isn’t at fault? Here is the Ethics Alarms list. If you know of another equally non-partisan and unbiased analysis, please let me know. I haven’t seen it.

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Dusky Ethics, 1/5/2022: Of Capitol Punishment And Other Things

Yesterday was the anniversary of one of The Boston Strangler’s more audacious murders: Albert DeSalvo (right, above) raped and strangled Mary Sullivan in her Boston apartment, then left a card reading “Happy New Year” leaning against her foot. She was the 13th and last victim of the maniac who terrified the Boston area between 1962 and 1964. I had a near meeting with DeSalvo: in 1964, he knocked on the door of my family’s neighbors, the Morelands, one afternoon. I saw him; of course, I didn’t know who he was or why he was there. It turned out that he had the wrong address, and went to the street parallel to ours in Arlington, Mass. and murdered the woman who lived at the same house number.

DeSalvo was a serial maniac. In the late 1950s, he knocked on the doors of young women’s apartments, claiming to represent a modeling agency and telling them he needed to take their measurements. Then he fondled the women as he used his tape measure. Police called him “Measuring Man.” Next he broke into hundreds of apartments in New England, tying up the women and sexually assaulting them. He always wore green handyman clothes and became known as the “Green Man.” But “The Boston Strangler” was the name that stuck. DeSalvo avoided execution or even the full life sentence F. Lee Bailey negotiated for him. He was stabbed to death by an  inmate at Walpole State Prison after less  than a decade behind bars.

Richard Ramirez, aka.”The Night Stalker,” was, amazingly, worse than DeSalvo; last night I watched a documentary about his reign of terror in the ’80s. A Satanist, Ramirez murdered at least 15 people, committed burglaries and rapes, and sexually molested children. He remained defiant throughout his trial, and though he was sentenced to death, California’s endless appeals system kept him alive, at great taxpayer expense, long enough to perish of cancer after less than twenty years in prison.

Both DeSalvo and Ramirez are excellent examples of the kind of anti-social predators who warrant society having and using a death penalty to establish the ultimate punishment for those who have unequivocally forfeited their right to exist in civilized society. For people like them, capitol punishment is ethical. Allowing them to live on society’s dime is unethical, as well as unjust.

1. To lighten the mood, consider this public service spot by Hawaii’s Department of Health. “Keiki” is Hawaiian for “child.”

Yes, this is the level of awareness so many of our state bureaucracies exhibit. The thing was actually greenlighted. After it had been viewed many times, the video was pulled. “As soon as I saw it this morning, I thought, ‘Hey guys, let’s pull this,’ ” Brooks Baehr of Hawaii’s DOH told reporters. “The intentions were noble, but it was clearly not our best work.”

Boy, I hope it wasn’t their best work. With thinking like this going on in our health departments, no wonder the pandemic is still with us. Continue reading

NBC Asks “Why Should Americans Trust The CDC?” And The CDC Director’s Answer Proves That They Shouldn’t

Thanks, Rochelle Walenski!

Apparently in the strange grip of a sudden compulsion to practice journalism, NBC’s Peter Alexander pressed CDC Director Walensky this week about the agency’s two years of contradictory explanations, directives and advice regarding the pandemic in its various forms. “Why should Americans trust the CDC?” he asked her.

Well obviously they can’t and shouldn’t, since the number of times what the CDC said one day was reversed another is beyond counting. The agency’s advice is untrustworthy, its messages are untrustworthy, its protocols and standards are untrustworthy and its leadership is untrustworthy. The question should be easy to answer for anyone who understands what “trust” means, and the answer is “They shouldn’t.”

Here was how Walensky replied:

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Mid-Day Ethics Break, 12/29/21: Alexa Goes Rogue

I think I’m going to feature “Jingle Bells” here every day until New Years. Here’s a version by that infamous slavery fan, Nat King Cole:

December 29 is one of the bad ethics dates: the U.S. Cavalry massacred 146 Sioux men, women and children at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota on this date in 1890. Seven Hundred and twenty years earlier, four knights murdered Archbishop Thomas Becket as he knelt in prayer in Canterbury Cathedral in England. According to legend, King Henry II of England never directly ordered the assassination, but expressed his desire to see someone ‘”rid” him of the “troublesome priest” to no one in particular, in an infamous outburst that was interpreted by the knights as an expression of royal will. In ethics, that episode is often used to demonstrate how leaders do not have to expressly order misconduct by subordinates to be responsible for it.

1. I promise: my last “I told you so” of the year. I’m sorry, but I occasionally have to yield to the urge to myself on the back for Ethics Alarms being ahead of the pack, as it often is. “West Side Story” is officially a bomb, despite progressive film reviewers calling it brilliant and the Oscars lining up to give it awards. What a surprise—Hispanic audiences didn’t want to watch self-conscious woke pandering in self-consciously sensitive new screenplay by Tony Kushner, English-speaking audiences didn’t want to sit through long, un-subtitled Spanish language dialogue Spielberg put in because, he said, he wanted to treat the two languages as “equal”—which they are not, in this country, and nobody needed to see a new version of a musical that wasn’t especially popular even back when normal people liked musicals. The New Yorker has an excellent review that covers most of the problem. Two years ago, I wrote,

There is going to be a new film version of “West Side Story,” apparently to have one that doesn’t involve casting Russian-Americans (Natalie Wood) and Greek-Americans (George Chakiris) as Puerto Ricans. Of course, it’s OK for a white character to undergo a gender and nationality change because shut-up. This is, I believe, a doomed project, much as the remakes of “Ben-Hur” and “The Ten Commandments” were doomed. Remaking a film that won ten Oscars is a fool’s errand. So is making any movie musical in an era when the genre is seen as silly and nerdy by a large proportion of the movie-going audience, especially one that requires watching ballet-dancing street gangs without giggling. Steven Spielberg, who accepted this challenge, must have lost his mind. Ah, but apparently wokeness, not art or profit, is the main goal.

Not for the first time, people could have saved a lot of money and embarrassment if they just read Ethics Alarms….

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Ethics Dunce: Jared Schmeck [Updated]

That’s nice…embarrassing the President of the United States while he’s engaged in a non-partisan Christmas-related appearance. How clever. How brave.

What an asshole.

As you can see above, President Biden and the First Lady were set up by (allegedly) a father participating in the annual White House NORAD Santa-tracking call, who ended his conversation with POTUS with the “Let’s Go Brandon,” the code for “Fuck Joe Biden.”  After the caller, identified as “Jared from Oregon,” but later revealed to be Jared Schmeck, wished the President and Jill Biden a merry Christmas and added, “…and let’s go Brandon!” Poor clueless Joe responded “Let’s go Brandon, I agree!”

Hilarity and ridicule quickly followed in conservative media- and social medialand.

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