‘Wait…Pulling A Patient’s Tooth While Hoverboarding? Was That Wrong?’

For some reasons, all of the dentist ethics stories I come across are really weird. So is this one.

In Anchorage, Alaska, dentist Seth Lookhart extracted a sedated Veronica Wilhelm’s tooth in July 2016 ….while riding a hoverboard. This was prosecuted as an “unlawful dental act” that “does not conform to minimum professional standards of dentistry.”

Yes, that sounds fair.

I would have said “allegedly,” except that Dr. Lookhart filmed himself while he performed this stunt (which his unconscious patient had not consented to) and texted the video to at least eight people. In the text messages, Lookhart referred to his actions as a “new standard of care.”

Yes, he’s a fun dentist.

He’s also a crooked dentist when he isn’t on his hoverboard. Lockhart was  charged with theft and engaging in a “scheme to defraud” Medicaid,  fraudulently billing at least $1.8 million to Medicaid and stealing over $250,000 from business partners.

Last week he was convicted of all charges. Veronica Wilhelm testified against Lookhart in December, saying, “What you did was outrageous, narcissistic and crazy.” Paul Stockler, the dentist’s attorney, said in court, “I want you to know that as his lawyer, I apologize for what he did on that hoverboard.”

See what I mean? Weird. What a strange ethics alarm to be missing:  “things it’s unethical to do on a hoverboard.”

Oh—-The Alaska Dental Board has suspended Lookhart’s dental license. It would have been weird if it didn’t.

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Sources: NBC 1, 2.

The Last Ethics Warm-Up of 2019…And I Finally Figured Out How To Get Ethics Alarms Links On Facebook

Ethical New Year!

1. Boy, am I slow. You can link to an Ethics Alarms article by using the Twitter link that every post has. This link works on Facebook, where EA has been banned with no explanation: I just tested it. So an interested reader clicks on that link, and is taken to a tweet that contains the Ethics Alarms link.

From now on, all posts will include the Twitter link to the post at the end.

2. Don Imus. The infamous “I-man,” Don Imus, died last week. He was one more example of the inherently unfair standard that shadows “shock jocks,” who are paid to be improvisational, outrageous, irreverent, and brave, but if they make one miscalculation and go too far (and what “too far” is changes quickly), their careers can end overnight. So it was that Imus and his on-air acolytes made demeaning and racially inflammatory comments mocking a college women’s basketball team, and Imus never recovered. That was even before social media mobs had reached their current strength. Imus was on AM radio and simulcast on TV; no shock jocks dare to do his act under such conditions now.  They wouldn’t last a week. From his Times obituary: Continue reading

“Nah, There’s No Mainstream Media Bias!” As Chuck Todd Drops The Mask [Corrected!]

[Notice of a material correction: I have corrected this post, which incorrectly stated that the words of a letter approvingly quoted by Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” were his own words. I won’t list all the sources that confused me on this point, but I primarily blame Newsbusters for a misleading headline, “Todd Bashes Christians in MTP Rant Against Misinformation, Trump.”  Todd let a year-old letter to the Times do his ranting for him, which is a craven technique, but he did not himself “rant.” He just read a letter bashing religion as “fairy tales,” and used it in a manner that indicated that he agreed with it.

If I had been more careful reading this and similar accounts, this wouldn’t have happened. In the end, it’s my fault. However, my assessment of Todd’s intent is unchanged.

Thanks to Arthur in Maine for flagging my error.]

***

To be fair, it never was much of a mask anyway.

On “Meet the Press” today, host Chuck Todd apparently snapped, or perhaps let a letter snap for him. He dredged up a year-old letter to the Times that read,

“Why do good people support Trump? It’s because people have been trained from childhood to believe in fairy tales. This set their minds up to accept things that make them feel good. The more fairy tales and lies he tells the better they feel. Show me a person who believes in Noah’s ark, and I will show you a Trump voter.”

“Look, this gets at something,” Todd told his guest, the Times’ anti-Trump editor , Dean Baquet, “that my executive producer likes to say, voters want to be lied to sometimes. They don’t always love being told hard truths.”

Why in the world would Todd pick this faith-mocking letter to make that point? It’s a cowardly smear by proxy. He can advance the writer’s position, but if he’s criticized for it, he can always say “It wasn’t me, it was him!”

Todd and his colleagues never accept this excuse when someone they want to get retweets an inflammatory statement, though. This was exactly like a retweet….an endorsement.

You see, for all the abuse heaped on Hillary Clinton for her “deplorables” gaffe, calling anyone who supported Donald Trump over the virtuous and brilliant Hillary Clinton  a racist, a fool, and an idiot, Democrats, the “resistance,” and journalists believed it then, and they believe it now.  Chuck Todd adds the detail implied by the letter: if good people support President Trump—we know why the bad people support him—it’s because they were turned into idiots by religion! After all, the elite and educated know that religion is a crock, God is a crock, the Bible is a crock. Never mind all the “diversity” lip service. If you’re religious, you’re a dope, and you’re the problem. That’s what he thinks. That’s what most of them think. Continue reading

“Miracle On 34th Street,”An Ethics Companion, Continued….Chapter 2: The Story Unfolds…

The Introduction is here.

Chapter I is here.

Let’s get this out of the way up front: Kris is not really Santa Clause. The sooner you understand that, the more sense the movie will make.

Now onward:

2. The bad mother and the sneaky lawyer.

While Kris is enjoying his starring role in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, we meet Susan Walker, Doris’s young daughter, and Attorney Fred Gailey,  who lives in the apartment next door. Susan has been raised  to be a joyless little cynic, the victim of an arrogant and misguided single mother who needed to read more Bruno Bettelheim ( except that Bruno didn’t write The Uses of Enchantment  until 1976).  Doris, as we soon surmise, has allowed a bad marriage to make her suspicious of dreams, hope, and wonder, and she is passing her own disappointment in life off to her daughter at the tender age of nine. Nice.

Lots of parents do this, I suppose, but that doesn’t mitigate how cruel and damaging it is. I remember how horrified I was at Susan’s brainwashing when I first saw the film at about the same age as Natalie Wood was in the movie. My parents, particularly my mother, surrounded my sister and I with fantasy and whimsy. They went to elaborate measures to make Santa Claus seem real, and the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. At one point my sister, having read a story about a lollypop tree, planted a lollypop stick in the back yard. My mother pooh-poohed the idea, telling my sister that this was just a fantastic story she was believing, and that she was  going to disappointed.  Then, three days later, my father exclaimed as he looked out the kitchen window,  “I don’t believe it! Look at that!” And there, about four feet height and covered with lolly pops of all  the colors of the rainbow, was the lollypop tree.

My sister and I weren’t idiots; we knew that our parents had made the tree. But we played along, and the lesson was taught.  Life is more fun and bearable if you believe in the unbelievable, and are open to a little magic in the world. Our parents gave my sister and me a gift that made us love music, literature, humor, mystery, and surprises. Doris Walker, out of ignorance, grief or anger, was an incompetent and selfish parent. ” We should be realistic  and completely truthful with our children  and not have them growing up believing in  a lot of legends and myths like Santa Claus, for example,” she says.

And your authority for this proposition is what, Doris? Generations of children have grown to healthy, happy maturity being raised on myths, legends and fairy tales, and you, with your invaluable perspective as a department store employee, are confident in your certitude that their parents were wrong, and you are right. Wow. Continue reading

In The Baseball Dead Of Winter, An Old And Unresolved Ethics Problem Glows Bright

From left to right: MLB, players, and the union.

…as Major League Baseball ignores it, as usual.

Ethics alarms test: Scott Boras, lawyer and player agent, represents two Washington Nationals free agents in their prime. One is Stephen Strasburg, one of the best and most sought after starting pitchers in the game. He was seeking, on the advice of his agent, a long-term contract of more than 30 million dollars a year. Another is Anthony Rendon, third-baseman, and the Nationals’ best player in 2019, their championship year. He also is seeking a salary of at least 30 million per year, over many years. He is a fan favorite in Washington, D.C., and obviously enjoys playing there. Contrary to popular belief, however, Major League baseball teams do not have endless supplies of money, though they have a lot. Mike Rizzo, Washington Nationals general manager, told the sports media and Washington fans that the team could not afford to sign both Strasberg and Rendon at the rates they were demanding and the marketplace dictated.

Is there a problem, and if so, what is it?

You shouldn’t need much time to answer, but then again, thousands of baseball sportswriters and the entire baseball establishment havn’t figured this out over many years, do I’ll give you a “Jeopardy!” period of reflection:

OK, contestants,what’s your answer? Continue reading

A University Demonizes Diversity Of Thought

The headline in the New York Times last month read, “Indiana University Admits That Professor’s Views Are Vile, And That It Can’t Fire Him.” Nice. First, another party can’t “admit” someone else’s opinions are vile, as if there is a universal standard for “vile.”  Second, the headline assumes that the professor is the villain in this controversy, but then, that’s the Times for you: taking sides instead of reporting the facts.

I apologize for missing this chapter in the ongoing effort to intimidate and persecute anyone whose views do not align neatly with the mandated progressive orthodoxy.  The Times piece in question is dated November 23; not only was that my wedding anniversary, but I was also on an ethics training road trip without a functioning laptop. (I have one now.) I’m pretty sure I would have perceived the need for Ethics Alarms to bring some fairness to the assault on Professor Eric Rasmusen, though, as you will see, he is very capable of defending himself, if he could get a fair hearing (or reading).

The reason he can’t is because the news media has already decided that he should be shunned, as students try to run him out of academia and the marketplace of ideas.

To be clear, Professor Rasmusen is the victim of unethical conduct here, not the perpetrator of it. His “crime,” and it is not supposed to be a crime in the United States or academia, is asserting non-conforming views on his personal blog.  The news media framed the story to undermine Rasmusen by stating as fact that he “used his social media accounts to denigrate women, people of color and gay men.” That is a false and unfair characterization, Rasmusen uses his blog and social media accounts to cover a wide range of topics, often brilliantly, from the perspective of a Christian conservative. Continue reading

Now THIS Is An Unprofessional Lawyer!

And juuuuust a bit uncivil, I’d say. I  may be wrong…

In a motion to dismiss an insurance law suit, Allstate’s lawyers revealed this remarkable conduct on the part of plaintiff’s attorney Christopher Hook in his communications during the case. According to the declaration of those attorneys in their motion, Hook said or wrote…

  • “Fuck you crooks. Eat a bowl of dicks.” (Declaration of Peter H. Klee, Ex. 1, p. 5)
  • “I’m going to let the long dick of the law fuck Allstate for all of us.” (Id., p. 7)
  • “Hey Klee you Cumstain the demand is now 302 million. Pay up fuckface.” (Id., p. 8)
  • “Peter when you are done felating your copy boy tell Allstate the demand is now 305 million.” (Id., p. 9)
  • “[Other Sheppard Mullin attorneys] may not be too smart but at least they have some fucking dignity and honor unlike you two limp dick mother fuckers.” (Id., p. 10)
  • “What is Wright going to do when he finds out Allstate is using people who are borderline retarded to adjust complex claims. That’s what I’m going to do. Demand increases tomorrow.” (Klee Decl., Ex. 1, p. 11)
  • “Anytime now faggot.” (Id., p. 13)
  • “I want my clients’ money gay boys.”

Continue reading