Today’s Dispatch From “The Great Stupid”: The Chivalry Assignment (Corrected)

Chivalry

At Lubbock, Texas’s Shallowater High School, a “chivalry” assignment given to female students required girls to “dress in a feminine manner,” lower their heads and curtsy to please men, “walk behind men daintily as if their feet were bound,” and “not complain or whine.” The boys were told to dress in jackets and ties, pick up any object dropped by “the ladies” and to hold doors open, among other things.

The alleged purpose of the assignment was to “demonstrate to the school how the code of chivalry and standards set in the medieval concept of courtly love carries over into the modern day.” An assignment sheet included a set of “rules” with a line for an “adult witness signature” next to each:

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Pre-Weekend Ethics Prep, 3/5/2021: Obama Disses Pete, John Defends The Redcoats, Harvard Beats Crump, And Zoom Strikes Again

Massacre-jpg

1. Today this post, from two years ago, is suddenly getting a lot of views. The reason: there was a resolution of the long-shot law suit by the descendants of two slaves in photographs owned by Harvard University. The slave’s descendant, Tamara Lanier, had employed Benjamin Crump, legal race-hustler without peer, to sue on the Hail Mary theory that

“the images are the “spoils of theft,” because as slaves Renty and Delia were unable to give consent to being photographed., and that Harvard is illegally profiting from the images by using them for “advertising and commercial purposes.” By keeping the photos, the lawsuit claims, Harvard has perpetuated the hallmarks of slavery that prevented African-Americans from holding, conveying or inheriting personal property.”

Sure, Ben….from the post:

“Harvard and other universities set themselves up for this by caving to historical airbrushing demands by the students they have helped indoctrinate, such as when Georgetown University established a policy giving an edge  in admissions to descendants of slaves who were sold to fund the school. I would say they have this coming and let them sleep on the bed of nails their laziness and cowardice have made, but therein lies a real danger. Harvard, which of late has been devising and defending one bad progressive idea after another (like discriminating against Asian Americans as Harvard’s own way of helping African Americans get admitted to the college), might just decide to be woke rather than responsible, and let Mrs. Lanier take the photos, thus setting a precedent with endless potential to cause havoc.”

Justice Camille F. Sarrouf of Middlesex County Superior Court this week acknowledged that the daguerreotypes had been taken under “horrific circumstances” but said that if the enslaved subjects, Renty and Delia, did not own the images when they were made in 1850, then their descendant who brought the lawsuit, Tamara Lanier, did not own them either.

Duh.

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Regarding Governor Cuomo’s Apology…

Schodengers douchbag

[I’ve been looking for a chance to use this expression for a while. It derives from the quantum mechanics paradox called Schrödinger’s Cat in which a hypothetical cat in a closed box may be considered simultaneously both alive and dead as a result of being linked to a contingent subatomic event that may or may not occur. I’ve really never understood the cat, but Schrödinger’s Douchebag I get.]

He was cornered, so the Governor of New York, already being buffeted by one serious scandal, decided to try to talk his way out of another one. Two staffers have gone on the record to accuse him of sexual harassment, and one of them related two instance of sexual assault (a kiss and a stroke on the legs). The Gov’s initial vague denials didn’t work, so yesterday the falling Democratic star tried a sort-of apology. Here is the statement:

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In Which I Am Admonished For A Slur, And Am Unapologetic

Former US senator John Edwards speaks 30

An episode today raised echos of a couple of Ethics Alarms topics this week, such as incivility and the use of uncomplimentary words.

Today’s presentation of the musical legal ethics seminar “Ethics Rock 2021” began with my partner Mike Messer singing “Ethics Man,” a parody of Billy Joel’s classic “Piano Man.” It was about the tenth version of that wonderfully adaptable song that I have written. This was today’s chorus (it’s usually a sing-along, but not on Zoom):

Sing us the Rules, you’re the ethics man!
Sing us the Rules today!
We’re stuck in an ethics dilemma here
And it’s your job to show us the way!

I had returned an old verse to this installment because I felt the issue of character and the fitness to practice law was an especially relevant topic. The verse was first written shortly after the John Edwards scandal was exposed.. Edwards, as you may know, never faced any professional discipline from the North Carolina bar despite what I have been told were thousands of complaints, though none were related to his legal practice…

Now John, he was running for President
While running around on his wife
And he fathered a daughter and lied like a rotter
Constructing the scam of his life.
But some lawyers say, “Hey, all that’s personal!
He isn’t unworthy of trust!
Like that guy with the huge student loan he owes
So his bar application’s a bust.”

The last part was a reference to Robert Bowman, a hard-working, honorable law grad denied membership in the New York bar for years because his student loan debt had ballooned due to no fault of his own. (He was eventually admitted.) Bowman was found to lack the character to practice law, while Edwards was (and is) still officially a lawyer in “good standing.” This is a sore point for me; I have said many times that I wouldn’t trust Edwards to mail my water bill, and for the profession to assert that he has the “moral character” to practice law is not just a double standard but a ridiculous one.

Somewhere in my riff on Edwards versus Bowman I used the term “scumbag” to describe the former Senator, and quickly got a message from one of the participants claiming that it was “inappropriate” to refer to Edwards with that slur.

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No, Civility Is Not “Bullshit”

civility2

I’ve been tempted for some time to challenge Ann Althouse’s “civility bullshit” argument, which she has proclaimed for years and even has a tag on her blog for it. Her claim that civility is bullshit is bullshit, and obviously so: she runs a civil blog, and if she really thought civility was bullshit, she wouldn’t. Today she used her argument again, this time in the fisking of a rationalization-filled Karen Tumulty defense of Neera Tanden in the Washington Post. Althouse writes,

I’ve been writing under the tag “civility bullshit” for years. It represents my longstanding opinion that calls for civility are always bullshit. Certainly in the area of politics, calls for civility always come out when the incivility is hurting your people. When somebody is deploying incivility effectively for your side, you hold your tongue and enjoy the damage. 

That’s a shockingly bad argument for a lawyer, never mind a law professor. Saying that many people cynically use complaints about civility to silence dissent doesn’t mean that civility itself is an invalid value. One could say the same about lying, or adultery. Althouse is complaining about hypocrisy.

Furthermore, I don’t comprehend how anyone could have observed the last four years and not admit that civility is crucial. That was at the core of my warning in 2015 that electing a President like Donald Trump would turn the country into a nation of assholes. The President is always a powerful role model, and it was clear that a President Trump, given his habits and proclivities (and lack of self-control), would do terrible harm to civility in American society, and as the many follow-up pieces here track, he did.

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Ethics Observations On Neera Tanden’s Chickens Coming Home To Roost [Corrected]

Chickens attack

On December 1, 2020, you were able to read here that not-quite-elected-yet President Biden had signaled that he intended to nominate Neera Tanden as his Director of the Office of Management and Budget. That’s an important position that heads a supposedly non-partisan department, and Biden knew that she was about as far from non-partisan as they come:

Tanden was one of numerous Democrats to join the plot in 2016 to encourage electors in the Electoral College to ignore their states’ votes and refuse to elect Trump as President. Tanden endorsed fanatic NeverTrump lawyer Richard Painter’s argument that Trump’s violations of the Emolument Clause disqualified him from being President.Tanden also spread the false but effective conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton lost because of Russian interference, claiming the “Russians did enough damage to affect more than 70k votes in 3 states.” Four days after the 2016 election, Tanden began implying that Russian hackers changed the vote totals.

“This,” I wrote, “is the nominee by an apparent President-elect whose allies are attacking Trump for challenging the current vote totals in court, rather than through rumors and contrived fantasy.”

Biden did in fact nominate Tardren, which rendered this pledge, the cynical, “I’m lying and there’s not a thing you can do about it!” tweet, null and void, as several other Presidential actions have:

Biden tweet4

Tanden is the president of The Center for American Progress, which is one of those public policy research institutes that lies to you in the first sentence of its description, saying it is “non-partisan.” It is a far-left advocacy organization, and if you could find a single Republican on its staff, I’d be gobsmacked. Tanden, however, the organization’s president, doesn’t even pretend to be non-partisan, being addicted to tweeting insults to the non-Democrats only, including Senators. But really, what’s the risk? After all, are Democrats in the Senate going to care that Biden’s nomination of a hyper-partisan to head OMB proves what a joke his pledge to end divisiveness is?

Doh! Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) said Friday he will not support Neera Tanden’s nomination for director of the Office of Management and Budget, citing her “overtly partisan statements.” Now THAT’s an understatement. Tanden deleted more than 1,000 insulting tweets ahead of her nomination, but the internet is forever, so Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) read some of the juicy ones on the Senate floor. “You wrote that Susan Collins is ‘the worst,’ that Tom Cotton is a fraud, that vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz, you called Leader McConnell ‘Moscow Mitch’ and Voldemort,” Portman said.

Manchin said in a statement that should doom Tanden, since the Democrats can’t afford any defections in the evenly divided Senate,

“I have carefully reviewed Neera Tanden’s public statements and tweets that were personally directed towards my colleagues on both sides of the aisle from Senator Sanders to Senator McConnell and others. I believe her overtly partisan statements will have a toxic and detrimental impact on the important working relationship between members of Congress and the next director of the Office of Management and Budget. For this reason, I cannot support her nomination.”

Observations:

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Ethics Observations On The Annoying Case Of The Lingering Christmas Decorations

Xmas lights-letter

Full disclosure: The Marshall Christmas tree is still up, though absent an unforeseen intervening event, today will be its last.

Long Island resident Sara Pascucci received a typed, anonymous letter a week ago reading: “Take your Christmas lights down! Its Valentines Day!!!!!!”

Her relatively elaborate decorations can be seen above, along with the obnoxious missive. As the Washington Post tells the story, Pascucci was especially upset by the letter because she had lost both her father and aunt in January “to” the Wuhan virus. We now know (or should know) that they may have died of something else entirely but with the virus rather than from or of the virus and would still be listed as pandemic casualties because the idea is to keep the public as terrified and malleable as possible. This is irrelevant to the story, but it drives me crazy. What the father and aunt died of is also irrelevant to the story, and in fact I don’t see any justification for including the information at all except as more pandemic-panic propaganda, which has been the news media’s mission for a year. If Pascucci’s father had died of complications following a stroke and her aunt was 105 and had died of an allergic reaction to peanut oil, do you really think that would have been included in the story?

But I digress…

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From The Ethics Alarms Signature Significance Files: Andrea Mitchell’s Idiotic Tweet

Mtchell tweet

No Andrea, you arrogant, incompetent, disrespectful partisan fool: it’s Shakespeare, from one of the Bard’s most famous and best known tragedies, “MacBeth,” and perhaps the best known speech from that play, by MacBeth, in Act 5 Scene 5.

There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/10/2021: Happy Birthday, Jimmy! [UPDATED!]

Jimmy Durante was born on this day in 1893 (“The Snozzola” died 87 years later, in 1980. He’s a semi-regular around here, because it’s Jimmy’s famous line from “Jumbo” (1935) (“Elephant? What elephant?”) that describes the Ethics Alarms offense of resolutely refusing to admit an ethic breach that cannot be denied.

My father was a lifetime admirer of Jimmy, and eventually I joined him: we had all of his albums, and as a stage director I often played his renditions of a ballad (like “I’ll Be Seeing You”) for singers to demonstrate the importance of phrasing and expression, both of which Durante excelled at despite having a distinctive but hardly euphonious voice. He also impressed me with his professionalism. When my father was handling marketing for a Boston banking association, he helped arrange for his organization to be one of the sponsors of Jimmy’s show, which came to the Prudential Center in Boston. The Snozz was over 70 then, but he always seemed ageless, and his energy in person was even more impressive than it was on TV (in fact, Durante had learned to tone down his enthusiasm on the small screen, because it became exhausting to watch). He made his entrance in the stage show rushing on from the wings while singing and flinging his fedora to the back of the stage, where it landed neatly on the head of his band’s bald drummer. My father managed to get our family backstage (though Jimmy was not available because he had a charity appearance right after the show) and I talked to the drummer. I asked him how often Jimmy landed the hat on his head. He replied, “He’s never missed.” He went on to say that his boss rehearsed that bit for hours every week and before every show. It was a split second grace note, but Jimmy insisted on doing it perfectly.

Durante had a stroke after a show when he was almost 80, and never fully recovered. My father, who was uncomfortable expressing emotion face to face but wrote beautiful and touching letters (I hated getting them because they always made me cry; still do), wrote Jimmy, who was then bedridden, a letter thanking him his long entertainment career and explained what his work had meant to Dad. Jimmy’s wife Margie wrote back to say she had read the letter to Jimmy, and he had mouthed the words “Thank you.”

1. Politicizing everything. UCLA’s star gymnast Nia Dennis is getting accolades for turning her floor routine into an ” exuberant and powerful celebration” of black culture. Says Slate, “This routine has everything. Dennis pays tribute to Colin Kaepernick (she kneels!), Tommie Smith and John Carlos (she raises a fist!), and Kamala Harris (like a soror, she strolls and she steps!).” That’s funny: the only way I would recognize a reference to Harris would be if Nia cackled and blathered nonsense. The routine is more dance than gymnastics, but it’s a diabolical gimmick (don’t blame Nia: she has a woke choreographer, Bjoya Das). Any judge that doesn’t give the routine the highest marks knows he or she will be cancelled as a virulent racist.

2. Then there’s the Jeep ad…I’m not going to bother with surveying the ethically dubious Super Bowl ads this year, since they all are unethical for supporting the NFL’s ongoing negligent homicide, but I can’t let Bruce Springsteen’s obnoxious Jeep ad pass. Here it is:

[Whoa! That video was pulled from YouTube shortly after I posted it! I also can’t find a link that has it.]

“To The ReUnited States Of America.” Right. Springsteen is hardly an honest advocate for “the middle,” as a vocal Democrat and anti-Trump shill. The country is supposedly “re-united” because a Democrat is President. The entire theme of the ad is a cynical exercise in Rationalization #64, “It isn’t what it is.” Donald Trump was “divisive” because Democrats decided to paint him as such. Enforcing immigration laws shouldn’t be divisive. Withdrawing from an unapproved treaty with no actual impact shouldn’t be divisive. Calling the biased news media what it is shouldn’t be divisive. Now, calling half the country racists , Nazis and morons IS divisive, and the party that just won control of Congress and the White House has been doing that for four years. Surveys show that that half of the country is more angry, alienated and distrustful than ever, and for some very good reasons, like the current unconstitutional impeachment trial. Got it, Bruce: when Republicans win a national election it’s divisive,and when Democrats win one, it’s unifying.

Update: Apparently Jeep has received so many complaints about Bruce that they decided it was a major gaffe. How can this happen? It happens when the entire company and its ad agency is so overloaded with Democrats and progressives that they can’t see what’s right in front of them.

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Cancelled For A Single Word

And spoken outside his home, to friends.

Country music superstar Morgan Wallen was suspended indefinitely by his record label and removed from hundreds of radio stations across the country yesterday. The reason? He was captured on camera saying “nigger.” TMZ posted a video this week showing Wallen loudly returning home with friends. A neighbor started recording the scene and the video included Wallen using the word. If you can tell the context of his words, please explain it to me. Was “nigger” meant as an insult, or was it used playfully? Was the target white or black? There is no evidence that he “hurled” the word, because that suggest that it was hurled at someone.

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