Tag Archives: abuse of power

Ethics Dunce: Texas Elector Christopher Suprun

Shut up, Chris; shut up, Alexander.

Oh, shut up, Chris; you too,, Alexander.

Another faithless Texas elector has announced himself. This time, it’s Christopher Suprun, the latest previously anonymous figure to exploit the 2016 Presidential candidacy of Donald Trump for 15 minutes of fame. Let’s see: there was Trump’s former lawyer, who breached or nicked several legal ethics duties to get a column in the Huffington Post, Trump’s ghostwriter, and all of the women who never saw fit to complain of being sexually assaulted by the President Elect until their accusations could do maximum harm and spark maximum exposure. Now we have Suprun, who penned a self-righteous op-ed for the New York Times explaining why he feels he is entitled, all by himself, to ignore the will of the people and cast his vote as elector for someone other than the candidate Texas insisted he pledge to vote for: the winner of the most votes by participating Texas citizens in the November 12 election.

The measure of Suprun’s gravitas and qualifications to take this responsibility on himself is aptly illustrated by the first of his justifications for his untenable position: “Mr. Trump goes out of his way to attack the cast of “Saturday Night Live” for bias.” Naturally, he appeals to the authority of Alexander Hamilton, whose various employments in the post-election train wreck has convinced me that he, not Old Hickory, really should move off the currency and make way for someone with the right number of chromosomes. If I hear one more quote from Federalist Paper 68—which no one is 100% certain that Hamilton even wrote—I may strip off my clothes and run screaming Norse epithets into the night. Assuming, as most do, that the author was Hamilton, so what? The paper was written after the Constitutional Convention. Hamilton’s concept for that document and the structure of the government was rejected. He didn’t trust the public, or democracy, wanted George Washington to be king, and championed a system the resembled Great Britain’s. Using him to justify a concept of the Electoral College that has never been employed or accepted in the United States is a classic logical fallacy. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Leadership

Thanksgiving Ethics From The “Fear Of Being Shot Causes Broken Ethics Alarms” Files

Bridgeport, Connecticut police stopped cars on the day before Thanksgiving, and surprised the motorists by handing them turkeys rather than tickets.

Awww!

Too bad it’s per se unethical conduct, an abuse of power and position, and a dangerous precedent. This is unpleasant déjà vu, for I’ve written this post before, more than once, and as many times in this year than the previous seven years combined. It’s pretty obvious why. Police, who were being shot and ambushed all over the country last week, are desperate to endear themselves to citizens and validate their role as a beneficent force in the community, which needs no validation.

“It’s a way of giving back, reaching out to the community and making sure everyone has a meal for thanksgiving,” says Bridgeport Police Capt. Roderick Porter, not getting it at all. I wonder what would have happened if one of those turkey stops was a fleeing felon. Would objections have been raised if the white cops only stopped black motorists, to say “We like you! We really like you! Here’s a turkey!”

Here comes the déjà vu again: As I wrote about the ice cream caper, which was pretty much the same thing: Continue reading

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Four Unethical Dispatches From The 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck: #4

kill-trump-tweets

The last of our four unethical missives (the previous ones are here, here, and here) comes from the CEO of Grubhub. But first, consider the election night Facebook discourse above, by the chief executive of San Diego cybersecurity start-up PacketSled, Matt Harrigan. The key tweets are a bit hard to read. The top left one says he’s going to kill the President-Elect. The bottom left says he’s getting a sniper rifle.

He has been placed on leave by his board.

Good move.

GrubHub Inc. CEO Matt Maloney was a bit more genteel, writing to his employees The Day After:

SUBJECT: So… that happened… what’s next?

I’m still trying to reconcile my own worldview with the overwhelming message that was delivered last night. Clearly there are a lot of people angry and scared as the antithesis of every modern presidential candidate won and will be our next president.  While demeaning, insulting and ridiculing minorities, immigrants and the physically/mentally disabled worked for Mr. Trump, I want to be clear that this behavior – and these views, have no place at Grubhub. Had he worked here, many of his comments would have resulted in his immediate termination. 

We have worked for years cultivating a culture of support and inclusiveness. I firmly believe that we must bring together different perspectives to continue innovating – including all genders, races, ethnicities and sexual, cultural or ideological preferences. We are better, faster and stronger together.  Further I absolutely reject the nationalist, anti-immigrant and hateful politics of Donald Trump and will work to shield our community from this movement as best as I can.As we all try to understand what this vote means to us, I want to affirm to anyone on our team that is scared or feels personally exposed, that I and everyone else here at Grubhub will fight for your dignity and your right to make a better life for yourself and your family here in the United States. 

If you do not agree with this statement then please reply to this email with your resignation because you have no place here. We do not tolerate hateful attitudes on our team.I want to repeat what Hillary said this morning, that the new administration deserves our open minds and a chance to lead, but never stop believing that the fight for what’s right is worth it. 

Stay strong, Matt

The key text was this…

“I absolutely reject the nationalist, anti-immigrant and hateful politics of Donald Trump and will work to shield our community from this movement as best as I can….If you do not agree with this statement then please reply to this email with your resignation because you have no place here.”

There’s nothing wrong with nationalism, in moderation. Trump isn’t anti-immigrant, he’s anti-illegal immigrant. What constitutes the politics of Donald Trump and whether or not it is hateful is open to interpretation. Nonetheless, Maloney is clearly saying that his employees must agree with his partisan views (and selective sense of diversity or inclusion), or they forfeit their jobs.

After it was pointed out to Maloney that the e-mail demanded ideological conformity, was probably illegal under some state laws (like California) and was gallactically stupid, he tried to explain with a deceitful apology, writing in part, Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Facebook, Government & Politics, Workplace

Social Media Ethics: Speaking Of “Rigged” Elections….

social-media

Can someone give me a benign explanation for this?

From Zero Hedge:

“Does anyone else find it odd that ‘FBI Emails’ does not appear to be a hot topic, trending, big deal on any social media?”

Facebook… “Trending”…

 

Continue reading

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Unethical Quote Of The Week: Martina Navratilova

"Hey, Kershaw! Martina wants to know why you're afraid to give us your position on fracking!"

“Hey, Kershaw! Martina wants to know why you’re afraid to give us your position on fracking!”

“So many athletes are afraid to use their platform to do the right thing and speak what they feel, and that’s very depressing.”

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova to approving New York Times sports reporter Juliet Macur, as the former tennis great prepared for her keynote speech at a human rights event at the Department of State.

Wrong, Martina. There is no “platform.” You earned credibility and influence regarding social and political issues by intelligently and boldly standing up for your own rights and privileges, on issues that affected you directly and about which you had an important perspective and a legitimate reason to speak out. Female athletes. Discrimination. Gay rights. Feminism. You had credentials and authority in all of those areas, and using your status as a sports star to spark intelligent debate was responsible and fair.

Once you had established your credibility, analytical abilities and skill at articulating issues while taking informed positions on them, then you had earned added legitimacy separate from your athletic prowess and stardom. You’re a smart person: smart people’s informed opinions should be listened to and considered no matter what the topic. Many other athletes have expanded their legitimate authority and influence this way. Muhammad Ali. Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Ted Williams. Billy Jean King. Bill Bradley.

Athletic stardom, however, confers no more assumed expertise regarding issues unrelated to sports than being a paper-hanger or a busboy. The difference is that famous athletes, like famous singers and actors, are admired and idolized by many people, especially among the young, who are incapable of resisting the siren influence of their heroes. There is nothing good about this, and everything wrong about it. Tom Brady supports Donald Trump, and the only reasonable reaction to that is to conclude that Tim Brady is a moron. However, that’s not how blank-slate sports fans react to his endorsement. For too many of them, the sequence is pure cognitive dissonance: Continue reading

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Judicial Ethics Quiz: The Cranky Judge

Judge Clarke (L) and artist's representation (R)

Judge Clarke (L) and artist’s representation (R)

A three-judge panel in California found misconduct in Judge Edmund Clarke, Jr’s treatment of one or more jurors in a jury pool for a murder trial.

Your challengeGuess which of the incidents was found to be an abuse of judicial power and authority.

A. Judge Clarke also told a potential juror who wrote that she had only $25 in her checking account that “every one of these lawyers spent more than that on lunch today.” He excused the juror, and after she left, Clarke told everyone in the courtroom how much the juror had in her account. When a second potential juror disclosed he had only $33 in his checking account, Clarke again announced the amount and said that his savings put the other juror “in the shade with that big account.”

B. Judge Clarke reduced another juror to tears reprimanding her after she appeared to change a form to indicate that she did not speak English, which he found incredible. She said  had lived in the United States for 25 years. Clarke said,

“Most people that have been in this country for 10 years have picked up enough English. [Twenty] or so, they’re moving right along. And 25 years is—so you better have a different reason why you want to be excused than that.” 

After she began weeping loudly because, she said later, she was ashamed because she didn’t speak English, he dismissed her from the panel.

C. Finally, Judge Clarke became annoyed at a juror who had written on her hardship form, “Having Severe Anxiety!!” next to her drawing of a frowny  face. “I work as a waitress and make minimum wages, plus I’m planning a wedding in two months and all of these things, especially this courthouse are aggravating my anxiety terribly. On the verge of a meltdown!” Clarke  excused her from jury duty,  but when she added that the clerk who was checking in potential jurors was “really disrespectful” to everyone, he  told the woman that she could stay in the hallway and tell him more at the end of the day. When the dismissed juror insisted that she had to leave, he said,

“No, you’re staying. You’re staying You’re staying on. I’ve been a judge for seven years. No one’s ever complained about my clerk. But I’ll be happy to hear your complaint at the end of the day. So go to the hall and stay and come in, act like an adult and you can face her and tell me everything she did wrong.”

The woman did as she was ordered and apologized to Clarke after waiting for an hour court to be adjourned. The judge  asked her how she would have felt if he came to the restaurant where she worked and criticized her in front of everyone, saying, 

“If you came here thinking that this was going to be Disneyland and you were getting an E Ticket and have good time, I’m afraid you have no sense of what is going on in this building. Now, seven years ago the first clerk that was assigned to me, she’s still here. The only clerk I’ve ever had. One juror, in all that time, out of thousands, has ever complained about her. That’s you. You can leave now knowing that’s what you accomplished.”

D. All of the above.

Take the poll, and then go to the answers after the jump.

Continue reading

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More Unethical—But NICE!— Police Tricks

This nice officer appears to be lobotomized, which at least gives him an excuse for his conduct...

This nice Halifax, VA. officer appears to be lobotomized, which at least gives him an excuse for his conduct…

The politically-fanned hatred and distrust for police has seemingly caused the profession to lose its bearings entirely. We have the Ferguson Effect in major cities, where police avoid proactive law enforcement for fear of getting in any confrontations with  African Americans, and now the desperate efforts of police to be loved is starting to spawn the Police As Cuddly Do-Gooders movement.

This will not end well.

Last week on a hot Friday in Virginia, Halifax police pulled drivers over to—SURPRISE!— hand out ice cream instead of tickets, and captured some of the reactions on camera. Officer Brian Warner said his officers “just wanted to spread some summer sweetness in the community.” They had patrol cars  equipped with coolers of ice cream, and they stopped about 20 motorists, handing out cones instead of tickets after the drivers were convinced they were being stopped for infractions.

Awww!

Warner, I’m afraid, is an idiot. Stopping a car to do anything unrelated to police work is an abuse of power and authority, and unethical. It doesn’t matter if it’s a well-intentioned abuse of power, or a nice abuse of power. It’s wrong, and I would make the case that it’s also illegal, no matter how nice it is.

I’m glad I wasn’t caught on camera, because my message would have been this: Continue reading

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