Lunchtime Ethics Appetizer, 6/3/2019: Self-Censorship, Trump’s Ridiculous Jumbo, Turley On Mueller, And A College Ranking Scandal [Updated]

Bon Appettit!

1. To self-censor or not to self-censor. Right after expressing here my dilemma about whether to risk political and partisan backlash by raising current, important and legitimate legal ethics issues from the Mueller investigation, there were a flurry of articles and podcasts about the dangers of self-censorship in a climate where Americans are being systematically intimidated from opposing the Woke Collective. This is a classic ethical dilemma, with ethical considerations like integrity, duty, citizenship, honesty and responsibility, are opposed by non-ethical considerations, like keeping one’s job, paying the bills, and not being cast as a pariah in one’s profession.

I was also reminded of my problem by Instapundit referencing today an old  Washington Post article about Mao’s mass murders. My company lost a lucrative sexual harassment training deal after two Chinese nationals (that I did npt know were in the audience) too offense at a tangential comment about Mao’s exterminations dwarfing those of Hitler and Stalin  (but not Darth Vader). Both contacted me and demanded apologies, claiming that it was Western propaganda and that the Great Leader had “only” executed millions out of necessity. I refused (I know I have mentioned this before here) and said I was sincerely sorry they had been subjected to cultural influences that had warped their ethics, and that if I had been aware that this was a sensitve topic to anyone in the audience, I would have omitted the reference. Having spoken the truth, however, I was not going to deny or apologize for it.

“Why didn’t you just apologize?” my client asked. And I was reminded of the moment in “1776” when a royalist in the Continental Congress asks Jefferson why he called King George “a tyrant” in the Declaration. “Because he is a tyrant,” Jefferson answers.

I’m an ethicist, I said. I’m not going to whitewash the massacre of 45-60 million people because someone is offended by the truth.

That was the end of that contract…

2. The President issues a Jumbo. Why does he do things like this? I have no idea. It si the political equivalent of pushing a pie into his own face. In an interview with the British tabloid, The Sun tabloid, Trump responded to a query about his reaction to  Megan Markle’s statement  that he is a “misogynist” and her suggestion that “she’d move to Canada if you got elected; turned out she moved here.” He said, “Well, a lot of people are moving here, so what can I say. No, I didn’t know that she was nasty.”

Of course Trump was attacked for saying that to a British newspaper—it was racist, it was an insult, the usual. Of course the President shouldn’t stoop to personal swipes at anyone; on the other hand, that’s what he does when he is attacked himself.  “Tit for Tat” and “doing unto others as they did to you” are part of Trump’s “ethics.” Can’t we stipulate this by now? Can’t TRUMP stipulate it at this point?

Then he tweeted, “I never called Meghan Markle ‘nasty.’ Made up by the Fake News Media, and they got caught cold! Will @CNN, @nytimes and others apologize? Doubt it!” He did this knowing that the Sun had his statement recorded, and sure enough, the paper  released the audiotape.

See, the idea behind Jimmy Durante saying “Elephant? What elephant?” when caught stealing the biggest pachyderm in the world in a musical comedy is that it’s obviously desperate and ridiculous, and intended to be funny.

This is just self-destructive, disturbing, and really, really stupid.

3. Jonathan Turley on Mueller. The George Washington Law prof has consistently been a voice of reason and objectivity reagarding the Mueller investigation. He has recently written two excellent columns on Mueller’s public statement, here, and here.

Greg should send them to his ex-friend.

4. Why is this more damaging to a school than, say, falsely instructing students about justice, the right to representation, and due process?

From TaxProf Blog: “University Of Oklahoma Inflated Its Alumni Giving Data For 20 Years, U.S. News Strips Its #127 Ranking”

The University of Oklahoma admitted to  U.S. News that it had inflated its alumni giving data since 1999, which affects its placement in the National Universities, Best Value Schools, Top Public Schools, Best Colleges for Veterans and A-Plus Schools for B Students rankings and lists. For the 2019 Best Colleges rankings, the University of Oklahoma originally reported its two-year alumni giving rate at 14 percent. The school informed U.S. News the correct value is 9.7 percent. The average alumni giving rate has a weight of 5 percent in the Best Colleges ranking methodology.

And now,

A former OU student has filed a class action lawsuit against the University of Oklahoma as a result of the university being stripped of its U.S. News & World Report ranking. [Gretzer v. Oklahoma, No. 19-490 (W.D. OK May 28, 2019]

The lawsuit, which was filed May 28 on behalf of former OU student Elani Gretzer and all OU undergraduate students since 1999, alleges the university broke contract by providing false alumni giving data to U.S. News & World Report, inflating its ranking in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” ranking as a result.

The lawsuit alleges the U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the Price College of Business was a “material factor” in Gretzer’s decision to enroll at OU. … The suit is also filed on behalf of an estimated minimum of 350,000 people — all OU students who have enrolled since 1999, the year in which OU has admitted it began providing false information to U.S. News & World Report.

Morgan Cloud (Emory) & George Shepherd (Emory), Law Deans In Jail, 77 Mo. L. Rev. 931 (2012):

A most unlikely collection of suspects — law schools, their deans, U.S. News & World Report and its employees — may have committed felonies by publishing false information as part of U.S. News’ ranking of law schools. The possible federal felonies include mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, racketeering, and making false statements. Employees of law schools and U.S. News who committed these crimes can be punished as individuals, and under federal law the schools and U.S. News would likely be criminally liable for their agents’ crimes.

Some law schools and their deans submitted false information about the schools’ expenditures and their students’ undergraduate grades and LSAT scores. Others submitted information that may have been literally true but was misleading. Examples include misleading statistics about recent graduates’ employment rates and students’ undergraduate grades and LSAT scores.

U.S. News itself may have committed mail and wire fraud. It has republished, and sold for profit, data submitted by law schools without verifying the data’s accuracy, despite being aware that at least some schools were submitting false and misleading data. U.S. News refused to correct incorrect data and rankings errors and continued to sell that information even after individual schools confessed that they had submitted false information. In addition, U.S. News marketed its surveys and rankings as valid although they were riddled with fundamental methodological errors.

One question: why isn’t Harvard’s ranking being lowered? I suspect that it’s because maleducating students and systematically undermining American values and civil rights isn’t included in the criteria.

It should be.

Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/29/2019: ‘It Depends On What The Meaning Of _____ Is’ Edition” [Item #1]

One of the many things I deeply resent about the “resistance”/Democratic Party/ progressive/mainstream media assault on the President, elections, our democracy and the connective tissue that has held the United States together—aside from such minor inconveniences as the likely permanent damage it has done to society and the viability of the American experiment—is how it has rendered so many familial, personal and professional relationships unsustainable after one party or the other has fallen prey to Stage 5 Trump Derangement.

Commenter Greg has chronicled an experience that too many will find familiar. Here is his Comment of the Day on #1 in the post, “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/29/2019: “It Depends On What The Meaning Of _____ Is” Edition.”

I’m not on Facebook, so I can’t unfriend anybody. But inspired by Jack, I finally did block a (former) friend from texting me today after the following exchange, which is in tone exactly like all of the other text conversations that I have endured with him for over three years:

Former Friend: https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1133766034874404864. Compare what Barr said and what Mueller said:

BARR: “[Mueller] made it very clear that was not his position. He was not saying that but for the OLC opinion he would have found a crime.”

MUELLER: “If we had confidence POTUS clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

According to Barr, Mueller didn’t find that Trump committed crimes and the OLC didn’t have anything to do with it. But Mueller says Trump committed crimes and he would have charged him if not for the OLC opinion. So Mueller contradicted both of Barr’s LIES today. Barr lied and dropped the charges and let Trump go. We gotta impeach both these criminals.

Me: There’s no inconsistency between what Mueller said and what Barr said. There is a continuum:

1. Clearly did not commit a crime.
2. Probably did not commit a crime.
3. 50/50 whether he committed a crime.
4. Probably committed a crime.
5. Clearly (i.e., beyond a reasonable doubt) committed a crime. This is the only circumstance under which a crime would be charged.

Mueller said the evidence was not sufficient to establish #1 and he did not comment on whether it established #2 through #5. Barr said the evidence was not sufficient to establish #5 and he did not comment on whether it established #1 through #4. Mueller didn’t say that Trump committed crimes and he certainly didn’t charge him with any crimes.

Former Friend: Bullshit. Barr said the barrier to charging a president was NOT a factor in failing to bring a case against Trump. Mueller said today that is the only reason why they didn’t charge Trump. A LIE.

Me: No. Barr didn’t say that the barrier to charging a president wasn’t a factor in Mueller’s decision. He said that it wasn’t a factor in his own (and Rosenstein’s) decision. Barr and Rosenstein decided not to consider whether or not a president could be charged with a crime under any circumstances because they had determined that the evidence did not establish #5. Mueller decided not to consider whether or not the evidence established #5 because he had determined that a president could not be charged under any circumstances. There’s no inconsistency.

Former Friend: Read the fucking transcript.

Me: I read the transcript and I read the Mueller report and I read Barr’s letter. Barr’s letter said: “Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense. Our determination was made without regard to, and is not based on, the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president.” That means that they determined that there was no proof of #5 even aside from the barrier to charging a president.

The Mueller report says, “We considered whether to evaluate the conduct we investigated under the Justice Manual standards governing prosecution and declination decisions, but we determined not to apply an approach that could potentially result in a judgment that the President committed crimes.” That means they did not make any determination about whether or not the evidence established #5. They said they decided not to make that evaluation because the “threshold step” had not been satisfied. The “threshold step” was a determination of whether the president could be charged with a crime. Because they determined that the answer was no, they did not move to the second step, which would have been evaluating whether the evidence was sufficient to establish #5. That means they decided not to make a determination one way or the other about #5 because of the barrier to charging a president.

That’s what Mueller said today, too. “We concluded that we would not reach a determination one way or the other about whether the President committed a crime…. We will not comment on any other conclusions or hypotheticals about the President.” This is exactly the same as the report. They are not expressing any opinion about #2, #3, #4 or #5 and they refuse to speculate.

Former Friend: You are so full of shit. You just sit there and repeat Trump’s talking points over and over again. Evidence doesn’t matter to you at all.

Me: [block]

Continue reading

Another Mass Shooting, More Reminders Of Why The Anti-Gun Left Cannot Be Trusted

When there was a mass- shooting in Virginia Beach last week, I wondered if this time the determined gun-grabbers would pretty much leave it alone. After all, it was carried out with hand-guns, legally purchased. The perpetrator had no criminal record or psychiatric issues. None of the so-called “sensible gun regulations” that we are lectured about constantly would have stopped him.

My curiosity was quickly slaked when the sad, openly partisan shell of Dan Rather, who was once respected when he was able to pretend that he was an ethical, objective  journalist before the mask dropped, appeared  on “CNN Tonight,”  to accuse Second Amendment-respecting members of Congress who do not rush to disarm law-abiding Americans in the wake of every shooting as “bought and paid for by the gun lobby.” This, of course, is the present disgraceful ideological certitude of the Left: no one of good faith and virtuous objectives can possibly disagree with progressive cant, so dissenters must be evil or corrupt. But, to take an example I am extremely familiar with, if the trial lawyers spend millions to support mostly Democratic legislators who refuse to accept “sensible” reforms to the current civil justice system that makes plaintiffs’ attorneys millionaires, the representatives who vote their way have just been persuaded by the innate rightness of their arguments. The same is true of Democratic support of illegal immigration, abortion, climate change policies, legalizing pot, and on and on—but according to Rather, only gun supporting Congress members are “bought and paid for.”

Boy, do I feel like a chump! Here I am, thinking I was a non-gun owning ethicist who has studied our history, the law, the court cases and the statistics, and thought about the issue a great deal over many years.  I’ve concluded, without anyone paying me a cent, that the Second Amendment is the bulwark of the Bill of Rights, and one of an essential and indispensable defense against the desires of power-seeking politicians to reduce individual liberty in the U.S. to advance an agenda of suffocating government control. What’s the matter with me?

Then came another of the Democratic Presidential candidates, this time the slippery Cory Booker, who also addressed my internal curiosity. Continue reading

Martin Luther King Was A Depraved Sexual Predator. Now What, Statue-Topplers? [UPDATED]

I’m glad—thrilled may be a better word—that we now have strong evidence that Martin Luther King was not merely an unfaithful husband and compulsive dog (we already knew that, and so did J. Edgar Hoover), but that he was far, far worse. Of course, this doesn’t change in any way my assessment of King’s important contributions to civil rights, human rights, the culture and the nation. I just love to see people who have adopted an impossible and unethical standard for other important historical figures in order to preen, grandstand and mold history to their liking and purpose, to be hoisted—HARD–by their own petard.

King biographer David Garrow  unearthed previously classified FBI documents showing that King was a bad guy in private by any measure, even using a Donald Trump or a Bill Clinton standard.

For those whose view of candidate Trump was permanently lowered by his being caught on video crudely boosting about “grabbing women by the pussy,” William Sullivan, assistant director of the FBI, wrote in a 1964 memo among many recently released that King joked to his friends that “he had started the ‘International Association for the Advancement of Pussy-Eaters’.” There is  an incident recorded by FBI agents and held in a vault under court seal at the US National Archives showing that King  “looked on, laughed and offered advice” while a friend who was also a Baptist minister raped a woman described as one of his “parishioners”.

Believe it or not, that story gets worse. The FBI reported that King joined Logan Kearse, the pastor of Baltimore’s Cornerstone Baptist church, who had arrived in Washington with what the FBI summary describes as “several women ‘parishioners’ of his church” in an orgy in Kearse’s hotel room at the Willard Hotel. The FBI, having neen tipped off about the visit and that King would be involved, bugged the room.

The civil rights icon and his reverend friend  “discussed which women among the parishioners would be suitable for natural and unnatural sex acts.” One of the women protested, so Kearse  raped her as King watched. Continue reading

Lunchtime Ethics Warm-Up, 5/30/2019: Bye! Go For It! And Who Cares?

A yucky ethics meal.

(Sorry)

1. Why is this worthy of being published? Here’s a long Washington Post writer whine that he ““doesn’t recognize”the U.S. any more, and wants to run off and hide someplace better. Why is this any more useful and enlightening  than the rant of some wacko who has decided that human beings have been replaced by pod people, or that we’re really all lying dormant in a Matrix-like sleep? The article is just free-flowing Left-wing bitching and Trump hate that could have been written by any one of thousands of resistance fanatics in the last three years.

Why should anyone care or be enlightened that Ted Gap, whoever he is, regards the U.S. as a viper pit of  “xenophobia” (aka “enforcing the law and protecting the borders”), “its saber-rattling” (aka “foreign affairs”), “its theocratic leanings” (known as “religion”), “its denial of facts and science” (code for “not being willing to spend trillions and send the standard of  living and the economy backwards based on unconfirmed theories and projections”), “its tribalism” (I suspect Ted means the “tribes” he doesn’t personally favor), and “its petty and boorish president” (so if Ted’s candidate loses an election, it means that it’s not the U.S. any more. Got it. Typical “resistance” member.) Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: The Studio Theater, Washington, D.C.

The Studio’s Mead Theatre in D.C. was about to open “FBI Lovebirds: UnderCovers,” with Dean Cain and Kristy Swanson (once Superman and the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer respectively) as disgraced FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. The dialogue came straight from the pair’s texts, which, as we all know, revealed both their romantic (and unethical) affair while strongly suggesting “deep state” plans to prevent Donald Trump’s rise to the Presidency

The team behind the project, Unreported Story Society, had rented out the Mead, one of the spaces in D.C.’s very rich and very successful—and very liberal, like most theaters—Studio Theatre.  Yesterday, however, the production announced in an email alert that Studio  has canceled its contract to host the performance. Here is Studio’s statement:

“Studio Theatre has cancelled its contract with third-party rental client Unreported Story Society. Media reports have made us aware of undisclosed details about the event and have generated open and violent threats against the theater and event participants. Studio has an institutional responsibility to consider the safety of our staff, patrons, community, event organizers and attendees. These concerns must be paramount.”

Right. I don’t buy  the explanation, I don’t believe it, and I don’t respect it.

Those “undisclosed details” were that the same conservative activists behind the anti-abortion documentary “Gosnell,” which was screened at the White House, were behind the production. “FBI Lovebirds: Undercovers,” was to be directed by Phelim McAleer, a conservative artist who has co-written and produced  political films about abortion, fracking and environmentalism with his wife, Ann McElhinney.

“We are going to show the mainstream media and Hollywood that they can no longer push the Russia collusion hoax and force them to acknowledge how the Deep State, DC Swamp tried to destroy the Trump candidacy and presidency,” reads the crowdfunding page named after “Unreported Story Society,” the production company that McAleer set up to mount the show.

Once the Studio became aware that the play would be anti-“resistance” and pro-Trump, although it apparently is fact, not fiction since the dialogue is entirely from the actual texts, it became unpalatable. I assume that Studio got complaints from its board, donors and overwhelmingly Democratic subscribers because the play had a conservative tilt.

Can’t have that!

If there were, in fact, real threats made (personally, this sounds to my ear like a cover story to avoid saying that the play was cancelled once the Studio found out that Unreported Story Society were actually a cadre of evil Trump supporters), then that means the threats came from the Left, just like threats keep conservative views from being aired on so many college campuses. If theaters are going to bow to the heckler’s veto and efforts at content censorship via threats, then free expression as well as art is endangered.

I do not believe that if this was a progressive-agenda friendly production, like, say, the NYC “Julius Caesar” production that depicted the staged and bloody assassination of a Trump clone, the Studio would have been so eager to cave., but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the Studio is just run by weenies—there are a lot of them in the theater world, and courage is not in abundant supply. In ethical theater, you do what you have to to protect the production, but you make sure the show, any show, goes on.

If this were the late American Century Theater, I would have insisted as artistic director on the show going up, threats or not.  Anyone who knows me knows that’s true. Our theater also produced—and I directed— works from all ends of the political spectrum, including socialist agitprop. If theater won’t stand up for its controversial and politically unpopular works, then it will devolve into “The Lion King,” Shakespeare revivals and fluff.

Come to think of t, that’s pretty much where live theater is now.

Robert Mueller’s Bizarre And Unethical Public Statement

There have already been comments on Ethics Alarms regarding Robert Mueller’s surprise public statement to, I assumed, clarify some things being muddled in the political grandstanding and media mush. Frankly, I am not certian what  he thought he was doing, but my suspicions aren’t pretty. The statement was either unethical, or incoherent. Just so we are on the same page, here is the full statement. I’ll be back at the end… Continue reading