Law Prof. Ethics Rule: Don’t Say Anything To A Student That You Wouldn’t Say Over An Open Mic…

Oops! Law professor Daniel Capra, an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School, responded to a student complaint that he spoke too quickly in his lectures and international students were having trouble keeping up with a foreign language. Capra dismissed the compliant and and dismissed the students’ problems following hm as “assumption of risk.” Then, after the student walked away, he said, “Fuck!”

His class was being recorded, and a nearby microphone was live. Of course, the episode is being given maximal attention, life today being what it is. Above the Law gleefully weighed in, so did Aditi Thakur, president of Columbia Law’s student senate, released a statement announcing that the student senate is “deeply alarmed” by Capra’s conduct. Gillian Lester, the dean of Columbia Law, said that she has told Capra that his “language, and the disrespectful attitude it conveyed, were unacceptable.” She also told students that she wanted to “express my own sorrow about this incident.” Sorrow!

Capra is also a professor at the Fordham University School of Law, so Matthew Diller, the dean there, had to pile on, saying, “His conduct was not consistent with his reputation as a teacher and scholar over many years or the spirit of inclusiveness and care for others that is at the heart of a Fordham education.”

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Gee, Could Massachusetts Democrats Come Up With A MORE Unethical Bill?

[You know,  writing this blog of late has made me feel like I’m Uma Thurman in “Kill Bill I,” fighting O-Ren Ishii’s (Lucy Liu) personal army, The Crazy 88’s. The ethics stories just get worse and worse, especially from the world of government and politics, and they keep on coming. The mission of this blog is to, in some small way, try to encourage ethical analysis and sensitivity in the culture of a nation uniquely dependent on it, and all I see is the ethics in our culture, especially in the professions (which exist to be trusted) and our institutions (all of them) deteriorating rapidly and seemingly deliberately. The effort feels hopeless. Maybe a better analogy than The Bride’s mass battle in “Kill Bill I” is Viking king Ragnar (Ernest Borgnine) fighting gleefully and futilely in a pit full of hungry wolves in “The Vikings.” After all, Uma wins her fight. But Ethics Alarms is not directed by Quentin Tarantino.

What prompts these musings? This item from the State of my birth: Massachusetts Democrats have offered a bill giving prison inmates reduced sentences when they donate their kidneys and bone marrow. State Reps. Carlos Gonzalez and Judith Garcia came up with this monstrosity, which aims to create “The Bone Marrow and Organ Donation Program” within the Massachusetts Department of Corrections. Prisoners would be able to shave between 60 days to a year off their sentences. 

Talk about killing bills—I’d love that bill as a hypothetical in an ethics class, though I would think it might be too easy for anyone old enough to vote. In The Guardian’s story, we read that the bill “has raised ethical concerns.” YA THINK??? Continue reading

Yet Another Explanation For The Tyre Nichols Police Attack That Doesn’t Involve “White Supremacy”…And It Is Very Much Based On Ethics

Radlye Balko made a cogent and well-supported case that the horrible beating death of young hands Tyre Nichols at the hands of five ‘elite” black Memphis cops was the result of cities creating unaccountable special urban law enforcement teams that are negligently supervised, trained and selected. Now comes iconoclast sportswriter, podcaster and pundit Jason Whitlock, a co-founder of “Outkick,” to offer a more explosive, and unwelcome explanation (in the woke community at least):

[T]he five police officers mimicked gang behavior and that the whole sad event is a byproduct of communities overrun with matriarchal values and controlled by single black mothers….the conversation we should be having in reaction to Tyre Nichols centers on the cost of destroying the black family.

Black urban areas are dominated by matriarchal rulership. It’s an utter failure and disaster. These areas all operate similar to Memphis. Crime is astronomical. Young men settle their differences with deadly violence. Academic performance hovers at record lows. Illegitimacy rates skyrocket.

Tyre Nichols was 29. The five police officers who participated in beating him to death range in age from 24 to 32. The behavior we witnessed from the officers resembles what happens when a group of Vice Lords catch a Gangster Disciple on their turf. The Disciple will flee. The Vice Lords will chase. Violence ensues.

My point is what we saw Friday night does not appear to be an outgrowth of bad policing. I’ve yet to see video evidence that depicts what caused the traffic stop and why Nichols had to be snatched from his car. It doesn’t feel like we’ve been shown the complete story. Something about the encounter feels far more personal than anything born of the frustration created by a resistant suspect. The use of pepper spray makes zero sense.

It feels like the outgrowth of a rotten culture, a culture where black men are canonized and celebrated for handling petty beefs and disrespect with lethal violence. That type of emotional violence is commonplace within zip codes dominated by the matriarchy.

Tyre Nichols cried out for his mama for a reason. I’m not saying that to belittle Nichols. I’m saying it’s a reflection of modern black culture, a culture that inappropriately places women at the top of the food chain. Mama is the ultimate authority and savior.

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At Last! A Persuasive Explanation For The Tyre Nichols Police Attack That Doesn’t Involve “White Supremacy”

Radley Balko, the former “Reason” investigative reporter who, as long as he isn’t discussing Donald Trump-related issues, is still a reliable, perceptive and ethical analyst, has a guest essay in the New York Times convincingly arguing that the tragedy was a predicable result of the ““elite” police team fad around the country. “Elite police teams” are, he explains, assembled for the broad purpose of fighting crime waves, and they intentionally operate with far more freedom and less oversight than police officers normally do.

The five officers who terrorized and eventually killed young Tyre Nichols were members of the 10-officer Memphis version of this phenomenon, and were collectively called “Scorpion.” Balko points out that the name is a tell: though the Memphis police force website emphasizes the importance of winning the community’s trust, the theory behind elite police teams is that they should inspire fear.

When I first learned that the Memphis police had shut down Scorpion in response to the Nichols tragedy, my initial reaction was that this was the Barn Door Fallacy, a rush to eliminate what was being blamed for a disastrous event without any evidence that doing so will have a beneficial effect, in order to be perceived as doing something. Balko makes a strong argument that these teams are ticking bombs:

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Comment Of The Day: “Weekend Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/28/23: ‘The Usual’”

So far, the threshold ethics question that should begin any ethical analysis has not been answered regarding the horrific beating of young Tyre Nichols after a traffic stop. Five police officers were involved. That questions is, “What’s going on here?”

Emily, in her Comment of the Day on Item #1 of the post, “Weekend Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/28/23: ‘The Usual’,” has some thoughts…


I’ve been thinking about this, and the ethical breakdown that led to it. Why did the ethics alarms not ring?

The tragic state of policing Jack mentioned is part of it. But what keeps coming to mind is something Jack has brought up many times regarding dog attacks: that when they’re part of a “pack,” even otherwise well-mannered dogs become dangerous as instincts take over.

Dogs are not the only animals that hunt or defend territory in packs. Continue reading

Still More Evidence That No One Who Cares About Individual Liberty, Freedom of Expression And The Increasing Threat Of Totalitarianism In The US Should Live In California Voluntarily…

With AB 2098, California’s legislature passed a bill that would punish doctors offering “false information” on the Wuhan virus and its offspring. It okayed direct government action to punish speech based on content, and was obviously unconstitutional. Naturally, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed it into law anyway: he doesn’t believe in the Bill of Rights, his party doesn’t, and apparently the California voters that keep voting for him and officials like Adam Schiff don’t either.  Their state has devolved into a kind of Bizarro World gradted to the rest of the country, a place that increasingly rejects the underlying values and principles the United States was built on, and increasingly, basic logic as well. Here’s a meme that appeared on Powerline’s always entertaining “The Week in Pictures,” which I heartily recommend:

That’s not even satire. It’s just true, and emblematic of how ethically inert the entire stat has become.

The new law prevents doctors from providing “treatment or advice” “to a patient” “related to COVID-19” when that treatment or advice includes (1) “false information” (2) “that is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus” (3) “contrary to the standard of care.”  Threatening disciplinary action (such as the loss of one’s license to practice) the law sends “a chilling message to physicians to toe the line.” in Prof. Turley’s words. Though a first year law student would quickly see the measure was unconstitutional, California has California-culture judges. In McDonald v. Lawson one of them held the law to be just fine. Now, however Judge William Shubb (E.D. Cal.) in Hoeg v. Newsom, another challenge to the law, has granting an injunction against its enforcement. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Jack Phillips (of Masterpiece Cakeshop):

It is a basic life skill: quit while you’re ahead.

In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission acted in the grip of anti-religious bias when it enforced an anti-discrimination law against baker Jack Phillips. He had famously refused to bake a wedding cake celebrating the wedding of same sex couple Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins in 2012. But that was just a technical victory for Baker; SCOTUS chose not to rule did not rule on the macro-controversies over whether a business can invoke religious objections to deny service to LGBTQ people, whether a cake is art or just a product offered by a public accommodation, or whether forcing a baker to create a cake for a gay wedding is compelled speech.

Sadly, annoyingly, unethically and stupidly, neither Baker nor the activists who are determined to bend him to their will had the sense to declare a truce.

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Alec Baldwin Should Have Watched More TV. Or He’s An Idiot. Or Both

An opinion piece by Farhad Manjoo in today’s New York Times begins,

Shortly after a prop gun Alec Baldwin was holding fired a bullet that killed a cinematographer and wounded a director on the set of the movie “Rust,” in October 2021, he told the police in New Mexico that he’d be willing to do whatever they requested, including sitting for an interview at the station. In an interrogation room later that afternoon, detectives began by informing Baldwin of his rights: He had the right to remain silent. Anything he said could be used against him in court. He was free to consult with an attorney; if he could not afford an attorney, one would be appointed for him. And he could stop the interrogation at any point he wished.“My only question is, am I being charged with something?” Baldwin asked.Not at all, the police said. Reading his rights, one detective told him, was “just a formality.”And so, without his attorney present, while the police recorded him, Baldwin talked. And talked. And talked. At that point, Baldwin knew only that the film’s director, Joel Souza, and its cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, had been injured; detectives would inform him at the end of the interrogation that Hutchins had died. Still, for about an hour, Baldwin not only answered detectives’ many questions about the shooting but also offered his own theories about the incident and suggested the next steps the police might pursue in their investigation.

He then says, “Defense lawyers I talked to said Baldwin’s case should serve as a reminder that if you are involved in a serious incident, it’s best not to talk to the police unless you have an attorney present.”

Gee, ya think? How could Baldwin have not known that? How could Manjoo have needed to ask defense lawyers to discover that? How could anyone not know that?

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More Ethics Emanations From The World Of Medicine: The Charles Cullen Story

Having spent a fair amount of time yesterday and today in a hospital, I was reminded of this post that had been stalled on the runway…

In November of last year, Netflix began running “The Good Nurse,” a disturbing movie based on the real story of Charles Cullen, a serial killer-nurse (played by Eddie Redmayne in the film), who murdered between 45 and over 400 patients at a series of hospitals and medical facilities in New jersey and Pennsylvania over a 16-year period. The film concentrates on the colleague who finally brought him down, Amy Loughren, a fellow nurse and freind (played by Jessica Chastain) who alerted the police after she became suspicious of Cullen’s links to patient deaths as well as his irregular computer accessing of medications.

The real horror of the film and the facts is that so many of the administrators of  the hospitals where Cullen committed his murders either strongly suspected that he was killing patients, were certain he was, or resorted to contrived ignorance to avoid discovering what was right in front of their staff’s eyes. At least 16 hospitals fired Cullen on various other grounds and gave him sufficiently ambiguous recommendations to allow him to find new employment where he could kill again. Law enforcement authorities were also alerted by hospital staff more than once, and let Cullen slip through their fingers. Continue reading