Category Archives: Law & Law Enforcement

Comment Of The Day: “Comment Of The Day: “The Popeye,” From The Ethics Alarms Ethics Estoppel Files: … And My Epiphany About Investigative Reporting'”

 

Arthur in Maine, who has kindly featured me on his radio show and actually given me sufficient time to explain things without being cut off, submitted the following discourse focusing on my embarrassingly slow-to-form realization that all investigative reporting into political matters had to be considered as manipulated to serve some political agenda by the news organization.

I’ll have some observations at the end, but first, here is AIM’s Comment of the Day on Comment Of The Day: ‘“The Popeye,” From The Ethics Alarms Ethics Estoppel Files: I Can Say The Republican Party Is Rotting…”, And My Epiphany About Investigative Reporting:

…Why are any of you – including Jack – surprised? Media is, first and foremost, a BUSINESS. It doesn’t sell news – it provides news as a mechanism for generating advertising (in the case of NPR, underwriting and/or listener) support.

The United States is one of the only so-called free nations that embraces the concept of objective media. In fact, the whole concept started in this nation – with Joseph Pulitzer (recognize the name?). In other words, the concept of objective media is an American conceit.

Pulitzer’s drive towards so-called “objective” media certainly raised standards, but it wasn’t due to the noble idea that newspapers – pretty much the only game in town at his time – should be objective. Pulitzer was the visionary who recognized that the way news was being reported was scaring off the advertisers, and the advertisers were way more important than the folks who plunked down a penny or two to buy a copy at the news stand.

American media at the dawn of the 20th century wasn’t dissimilar to the way it is today – and much like it has ALWAYS been in nations in which the media isn’t state-controlled. It’s rambunctious. It’s partisan. It wears its beliefs on its sleeve – both with regard to what it covers and the way it covers it. Continue reading

65 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Business & Commercial, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Public Service

Unethical Quote Of The Month, And A Bonus Kaboom: The New York Times Editors

“But if your man is really innocent, what’s the worry?”

The New York Times in an editorial, “Fox News v. Robert Mueller”

Yes, the New York Times really printed that, under its banner.

Well,

KABOOM!

There goes my head.

As much as I have learned to distrust the objectivity and motives of the New York Times, I did not expect the traditionally liberal paper to make a sinister argument typically associated with totalitarian regimes. This is nothing but a  rephrasing of the traditional “nothing to hide” rationalization for obtrusive state surveillance, as well as illegal police searches and abusive prosecutorial methods.

“If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear” is such a cliché of oppressive state action that it has its own Wikipedia entry. It is often attributed to Joseph Goebbels or “1984,” though there is no documentation for either. It was uttered by villain Pius Thicknesse in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”:

“As your new Minister for Magic, I promise to restore this temple of tolerance to its former glory. Therefore, beginning today, each employee will submit themselves… for evaluation. But know this: you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide.”

In the film version of the novel, the actor (Guy Henry) playing Pius was cast to evoke Goebbels. (above).

Progressive writer Upton Sinclair used an inverted version in 1918 in “The Profits of Religion: An Essay in Economic Interpretation” (1918):

“Not merely was my own mail opened, but the mail of all my relatives and friends—people residing in places as far apart as California and Florida. I recall the bland smile of a government official to whom I complained about this matter: ‘If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.'”

The statement adopted by the Times editors as well as the attitude behind constitute a rejection of democratic values and an endorsement of state sponsored fear and subjugation of individual rights. “It you are innocent, why worry?” literally stands for the proposition that one is guilty until proven innocent, which is an accurate description of the position of the Times, the mainstream media and “the resistance” regarding the baseless allegation of  “collusion” with Russia to steal the election from Hillary Clinton. In the context of the editorial, which dismisses legitimate questions about the objectivity and conflicts of interest among Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, the argument is especially disingenuous. If one is innocent, one shouldn’t worry if a biased team of lawyers is trying to find a way to make you look guilty? Continue reading

23 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Kaboom!, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

Gender Bias And Legal Careers

Studies show that although women have been entering the law in equal numbers to men for more than a decade, they make up just 23 percent of partners and 19 percent of equity partners. Why do so many women  leave the legal profession at what should be the height of their careers? Last month, more than 160 lawyers gathered at Harvard Law School in November for the ABA National Summit on Achieving Long-Term Careers for Women in Law to identify answers and plot a course to change the trends.

Sharon Rowen, a lawyer from Atlanta,  said her research showed three reasons women leave the practice of law: work/life balance, unconscious bias, and the pay gap. I wish I could have attended the discussion. I hope someone pointed out that seeking work/life balance is the major reason for the pay gap, and that it is not unreasonable to view that as a trade-off that is both fair and reasonable.  Rowan’s list also leaves off conscious bias that pervades society and clients regarding female lawyers, as well as law firm partners.

Iris Bohnet, professor of public policy at Harvard Kennedy School, said some women suffer from “success fatigue,” and leave “because of a work culture that forces them to minimize important parts of their lives.” They ask themselves, “Can I bring my whole self to work?” and “Is this a place where I can thrive?” What she is saying is that a lot of women don’t find the law enjoyable, and that its stresses, patterns and requirements are more accommodating to men than women. In other words, law isn’t fun for a lot of women, while men, because of the nature of males, are more tolerant of it than women tend to be. I wonder if any panelist had the guts to come right out and say that? I doubt it. I bet most of them would deny it, because it’s politically incorrect to admit any gender differences, unless they involve female superiority.
Continue reading

53 Comments

Filed under Family, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, U.S. Society, Workplace

Ethics Dunce: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

“Well, that’s good enough, some one has accused him. Get the stake and start the fire…”

This latest grandstanding, dishonest, transparent and irresponsible stunt by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who led the metaphorical lynch mob to force Al Franken to resign from his elected Senate seat, is almost too stupid to bother with. Almost. Unfortunately, some people respect Senators, and think they know something. Thus she is making many members of the public more ignorant than they already are. You know how I hate that. So now she is making me repeat myself. I apologize. I bore myself sometimes. But I have no choice.

“President Trump has committed assault, according to these women, and those are very credible allegations of misconduct and criminal activity, and he should be fully investigated and he should resign,” Gillibrand told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview.
This woman is regarded as a serious contender for the 2020 Presidential nomination. Yes, Democrats are that desperate.a) No, you witch-hunting disgrace for a public servant, President Trump has NOT committed sexual assault, just as Clarence Thomas and Al Franken did not commit sexual harassment. Some women say he did, and that is called an allegation and an unsubstantiated accusation, since the President denies it. It is a lie to say, on TV or anywhere, “President Trump has committed assault.” You have no way of knowing that.

b) “According to these women” does not make what they say true. It simply does not. You—did I mention that you are a witch-hunting disgrace?—showed your respect for fairness when you championed the vendetta of “Mattress Girl,” aka Emma Sulkowiczs, as she pursued a cruel vendetta against a Columbia University student whom she accused of rape and then stalked him all over campus as “performance art.” Eventually an investigation showed no evidence that there was a rape, and Columbia had to pay a financial settlement to her victim for permitting her to proclaim him as a rapist, aided by you, who brought her as a guest to the State of the Union. Columbia doesn’t believe Sulkowiczs was raped, and her accusation has been thoroughly discredited. You believed her, just as you believe Franken’s and Trump’s accusers, because you are a sexist, anti-male bigot who believes women should be able to destroy lives and careers with mere accusations.

c). “He should be fully investigated and he should resign,” apparently regardless of what the investigation shows. This is a Senator who doesn’t believe in due process or fairness.

Now comes the repetitious part.

The Trump situation is not like Franken’s. Franken was elected by voters who did not know about any of the allegations that surfaced last month. That at least makes resignation plausibly just. However, nothing has been added to the allegations against Trump that voters heard about ad nauseum in the last months of the campaign. He was elected anyway, just as Bill Clinton was elected despite his known infidelities, Ted Kennedy was elected despite causing a girl to drown, and if he’s elected, just as Roy Moore will have won his seat with voters knowing that he has been credibly accused of being a pervert. When that happens, no one can argue that an elected official should resign because of conduct known to the voters who elected him. This is no more nor less than attempting to overturn a lawful election, admittedly a near full time pursuit for Democrats where President Trump is concerned.

Now I’m going to re-publish what I wrote here just three days ago. Will somebody please read it to the Senator, please? It involves Gillebrand’s theory…

Very interesting theory, but you overlook one very important point! Is stupid. Is most stupid theory I ever heard!” –Sidney Wang (Peter Sellers) in “Murder by Death.” by Neil Simon

That theory, which I have now heard others raise, and that I sniffed out a few days ago, is  the Democrat/progressive fantasy that if they make every member of Congress who has been accused of sexual misconduct resign, they have a new and powerful means to try to force President Trump out of office.

They need a new and powerful theory, because the Emoluments Claus (Santa’s inscrutable younger brother) is a non-starter, the 25th Amendment doesn’t apply, the Russian investigation is not finding any high crimes and misdemeanors (just sleazy Trump team members), the “obstruction of justice” theory is risible, and a desperate and thin impeachment resolution put forth by the Congressional Black Caucus just lost 368-58. This one is that if they establish that allegations of past sexual misconduct without due process, admission of guilt or evidence mandates high elected officials resigning (as Bill Clinton did not, but he’s going to be retroactively forced to resign in an alternate universe, or something, thus cleansing Democrats, feminists and the complicit news media of their cynical hypocrisy and altering the present by changing the past, like in “The Terminator” or “Back to the Future”), President Trump will be forced to resign because of the Access Hollywood tape and  his alleged accusers.

Not that this is more ridiculous than many of the other ways the Democrats and “the resistance” have plotted to overturn the election results they promised to respect when they assumed they would win, but it’s still indefensible. Voters decided, wrongly or not, that they didn’t care about this, all of which they knew about before they elected Trump. None of the alleged misconduct occurred while the President was in office (unlike in the cases of Clinton, Franken, Conyers, Packwood and Franks) nor are they only recently disclosed allegations of pre-election misconduct that were not known to voters before the official in question was elected (as in the cases of Franken and Clinton). None of the elected officials who have resigned are analogous to the President.

Are journalists, pundits and the Democratic plotters really so dim that they can’t see this, or are they just trying to bluff through—again—an intellectually dishonest anti-Trump theory? I guess Hanlon’s Razor applies: stupidity over malice.

I know I have mentioned this already here and there, but please etch it on your brain so you can tell your Facebook friends who espouse the “If Franken must go, so must Trump” theory that they are embarrassing themselves, because they are.

The Democrats have a duly elected Representative from Florida, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, in fact, by the name of Alcee Hastings.  He’s been representing  Florida’s 20th congressional district, serving in Congress since 1993,—that’s 24 years. He was elected after he was impeached as a Federal judge by the Democrat majority U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 413–3, and then convicted by the Senate, becoming only the sixth Federal judge to be so removed from office. Knowing all of this, the 2oth elected him to Congress. He is the Democratic Roy Moore, except that Moore just defied the law, while Hastings broke it to line his own pockets, as a federal judge. (Hasting was acquitted in his trial, because co-conspirator, William Borders, refused to testify, going to jail instead. (Then President Clinton pardoned Borders. Isn’t this a nice story?)

If you don’t think a judge taking bribes is more serious by far than imposing a sloppy kiss on an unconsenting colleague as Franken was accused of, you have some strange values or you are Kirsten Gillibrand.  Why, then, is nobody calling for Hastings’ resignation? It is because his misconduct was known by voters when he ran the first time, and every time since, exactly as the allegations against Trump were known a year ago.

She doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Anyone who echoes her is making a fool of themselves.

12 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Rights, Romance and Relationships

Yes, Catherine Gregory Should Be Fired

Jonathan Turley is fascinated with the issue of whether  faculty members and employees generally should lose their jobs over controversial conduct outside of the workplace, particularly when it involves political speech. “There remains an uncertain line in what language is protected for teachers in their private lives,” the George Washington law professor writes. As I’ve discussed here before, I don’t think it’s nearly as uncertain as Turley does. When a faculty member’s conduct or statements on social media make an objective observer think, “No competent, professional institution would hire someone like this,” it’s bye-bye and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Even Turley seems to waver in this ridiculous case.

Conservative commentator Lucian Wintrich was about to speak on the topic “It’s OK to Be White”—I LOVE that topic!— at the University of Connecticut when a protestor grabbed his notes. He in turn tussled with her, causing a near riot, and campus police arrested him.  The protestor was Catherine Gregory, associate director of career services  at Quinebaug Valley Community College.

Today the University came to its senses (or realized public opinion wasn’t going to allow it to get away with its attempt at liberal fascism) and dropped the charges against Wintrich  while charging Gregory.

What should happen to Gregory?

Gregory’s lawyer, Jon Schoenhorn argues that his client was justified in her actions because Wintrich’s views constitute “hate speech” and his actions “are beyond the First Amendment” in their insults to minorities. This is obviously nonsense, and I would argue it even qualifies as a frivolous and dishonest defense, an ethical violation. Unless the man is complete nitwit, he must know that there is no excluded variety of speech called “hate speech” that the First Amendment doesn’t protect. He’s lying, or he’s too incompetent to be a lawyer. Continue reading

34 Comments

Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Race, Workplace

Comment Of The Day #4: “Back To The Bigoted Baker: It’s Complicated…More Than I Thought”

Ryan Harkins’ Comment of the Day, the fourth on the post about the Great Cake Controversy ,responds to #3, by Extradimensional Cephalopod.

The four COTD’s cover a great deal of legal and ethical territory and if not the full spectrum of positions on this difficult topic. Ryan’s three predecessors can be read here:

After you read #4, I’ll ask you which of the COTDs come closest to your own opinion. If the answer is “none of them,” by all means try for #5!

Here is  Ryan Harkins’ Comment of the Day on the post Back To The Bigoted Baker: It’s Complicated…More Than I Thought:

EC,

I hate to answer for the baker, so I hope you don’ mind if I respond with how I would answer.

What if I walked into the shop and asked for a wedding cake for no reason at all? Nobody’s getting married; I just want the cake. Is it against his religion to make that style of cake for anything other than weddings?

It would not be against my religion, no.

One thing I want to point out about your line of inquiry here is that you are divorcing the mechanical action of making a cake from the purpose of making a cake. A cake is a cake, and apart from any purpose, it remains a cake with no further meaning than a configuration of confectionery molecules. But the purpose for making the cake defines the context. If you wanted me to bake you a cake so you could bury it in your backyard, I wouldn’t have any religious objections to that, but I would certainly object to having the fruits of my labor just thrown away. Just as I would object if you wanted me to write you a book so could use the pages of the book as toilet paper.

The purpose of making a wedding cake is for it to be displayed and consumed at a wedding. If you aren’t going to use the cake for a wedding, ontologically speaking, could it even be a wedding cake?

Do I have to show him a marriage license?

I wouldn’t require that. My general standpoint would be to take people at their word. That being said, if I knew you and you were known for pranks, were opposed to marriage in general, and nothing I knew about your recent activities hinted at a wedding, I might want some actual proof that a wedding was occurring.

I’m an atheist; will he refuse to acknowledge my marriage because you can’t have marriage without a god? Does only the Christian deity count for a “real” marriage?

Since I’m Catholic, I’ll just toss out what the Catholic Church teaches about marriage. Marriage is universal. Historically, marriage permeates pretty much every culture. Marriage is an institution that has, for the most part, united a man and his wife to the children they bear together. Marriage does not require a profession of faith, because it is a foundational institution of mankind. That is why eating, drinking, and shelter don’t require a profession of faith. They are also foundational aspects of the human condition. So, there is no objection to two atheists marrying.

Where the religious context comes into view is with the nature of that marriage. Catholics profess that Jesus elevated the institution of marriage to a sacrament. This means that a valid marriage between baptized individuals cannot be dissolved save by the death of one of the two parties. But that does not mean every marriage is sacramental. If one of the two parties is not baptized, the marriage is still a valid marriage, but it is not a sacramental marriage. Thus it could be dissolved, and either party would be free to re-marry.

A funny oddity of terminology crops up in Catholic teaching. Since a valid, sacramental marriage cannot be dissolved, but since parties can licitly separate for serious reasons (abuse, abandonment, adultery, addiction), a Catholic can be married and divorced at the same time…

I would argue that the artistic quality of the cake has nothing to do with who is getting married, or if there’s even a marriage at all–at least, as far as religion is concerned.

I agree with you to a certain extent, here. The artistic quality is its own concern. It is the teleological purpose of the cake that is the true contention. So that raises a question: if I bake a cake that I do not intend to be used at a wedding, but looks just like a cake that I do intend to be used at a wedding, is it a wedding cake? To use some technical terms, there is the essence of a thing, and there are the accidents of a thing. The essence of a thing is what is essential to a thing being that thing; accidents are just features that particular thing has that are not essential to a thing being that thing. The essence of a chair is something to sit on. Accidents of a chair are having one leg, or three, or four, having a back, not having a back, etc. So what is the essence of a wedding cake, and what are the accidents of a wedding cake? I think the only essential difference between a wedding cake and a non-wedding cake is the intent for which the cake is made. The only part I waffle on is the cake-topper…

On a separate note, I assert that religion ultimately must be subordinate to the law of the land.

I’m uncomfortable with how you phrase this, so let me toss out what I think about this, and let me know if it does or doesn’t conform with what you’re thinking. Continue reading

36 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Religion and Philosophy, Rights, Romance and Relationships, U.S. Society

Observations On The Acquittal Of Police Officer Philip “Mitch” Brailsford For The Fatal Shooting Of Daniel Shaver

  • What a terrifying video. I am literally shaking.

I wasn’t at the trial, but I will break my usual rule by saying that this jury, which acquitted the officer of murder charges,  does not deserve the benefit of the doubt, because there is no doubt. I cannot see any path by which the actions of the officer in shooting Shaver can be called reasonable, or anything but murder.

  • Brailsford said he thought Shaver might have been reaching for a weapon. If he wasn’t lying, and I’ll assume he wasn’t, then he was paranoid, and so devoid of normal senses of perception that the police force was negligent all owing him to carry a gun, or to be on the force at all.

Still shaking…

  • How could it have not been clear that Shaver was terrified? Or that he was not desperately trying to follow the officer’s instructions?

Are officers in Mesa trained to talk like that? I assume that they are trained NOT to talk like that, which can only be expected to escalate panic and anxiety and cause the situation to go out of control.

  • Michael Piccarreta, Brailsford’s attorney, convinced jurors that his client acted as reasonably, as a police officer, considering the totality of circumstances. That means that Brailsford acted like any reasonable officer would have when he  fire his AR-15 at a terrified young man crawling toward him as  he had directed. The officer had been called because someone had been reported as pointing a rifle outside of hotel window. Obviously, Shaver had no rifle on him.

Piccarreta did one hell of a good job.

Still shaking… Continue reading

60 Comments

Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, Race