Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/21/2021: Fake News, Fake Religion, Fake Competence…And Maybe Fake Accusations, Not That It Seems To Matter

Tonight, starting at 6 pm, EST, I’ll be facilitating a three hours CLE seminar via (yecchh) Zoom for the D.C. Bar. You can use the credits for other bars’ mandatory ethics requirements, so if you need them, I’d love to have you in the group. It’s all interactive, of course. I’ve been doing a year end legal ethics wrap-up, usually a re-boot of a seminar I present earlier in the year, for, oh, almost 20 years now. It’s not too late to register. The information is here, along with a promotional video I made a few months ago. They say video takes away 15 pounds of hair…

On the Christmas movie front: one Christmas movie that needs no ethics critique is 1947’s “The Bishop’s Wife,” an inexplicably under-seen classic film starring Cary Grant (as a very un-Clarence-like angel), Loretta Young and David Niven. It is as good as any of the Christmas classics and better than most, with a religious undertone that is missing from most of the others. In its time, “The Bishop’s Wife” was nominated for several Oscars, including Best Picture. Grant’s performance is especially deft, as he walks an extremely thin line, both in the plot and in his interpretation of the character. I was wondering last night why it hasn’t been remade, but it was: there is a 1996 musicalized version directed by Penny Marshall with Denzel Washington replacing Grant, Courtney Vance taking over for Niven, and Whitney Houston as a singing version of Loretta Young’s character. Justifiable remakes of classic films have to have a “why,” and this one’s justification was apparently that every classic with white stars has to be remade with black ones, or something. The reason I had never heard of it is that the film was generally regarded as inferior to the original, but I am going to have to track it down now and see for myself.

1. Believe all women/accusers/”survivors”… And if a career and a life is ruined unjustly, well, you gotta break some eggs to make an omelette, right? Chris Noth of “Law and Order,” “Sex in the City” and “The Good Wife” fame is now out of a job, having been fired from his supporting role on the CBS/Universal series “The Equalizer.” The reason: a Hollywood Reporter story revealed allegations of sexual assault against Noth by two as yet un-named women, one who says Noth sexually assaulted her in 2004 in Los Angeles, and another who alleges he assaulted her in his New York apartment in 2015.

Jeez, you’d think he had been nominated for the Supreme Court or something. Noth has denied the accusations, but never mind: they are enough, before any investigation, any trial, even any identification of the accusers, to get him “cancelled.”

Seems unfair, somehow….

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Here’s Another Unethical Trend To Dread As Progressives Grab The Reins: “Trauma-Informed Justice”

TIJ

Trauma-informed justice, also called “victim-centered” justice, is becoming the cool new thing as woke anti-civil rights activists seek to get around due process and the presumption of innocence when it suits their agenda. The technique involves an interview methodology where the police prioritize empathy for accusers, who are automatically presumed to be victims. The methodology is especially favored for allegations of sexual abuse and domestic violence, where the accusers are overwhelmingly female: this a “believe all victims as long as they are wo,men” anti-male approach that has its roots in the feminist movement. The methodology was refined by Russell Strand, U.S. Military Police School, who offered the Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI) as a way to question presumed victims without making them relive an assault.

The theory dictates that police conduct investigations following three principles:

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/23/2020: Stimulating! [Updated]

149326-The-Day-Before-Christmas-Eve

1. President Trump says will veto the so-called “stimulus bill.” He should. A nice, articulate Presidential veto statement about what’s wrong with a pork-loaded goody bag that will increase the National Debt even deeper into the red zone would be nice, but he hasn’t come up with more than a couple a nice, articulate statements in four years, so I rate the likelihood as slim.

But there is no downside at all of a Trump veto, even if Mitch McConnell gets the Senate to over-ride it. As Ethics Alarms commenter Humble Talent pointed out two days ago, the thing is a monstrosity and wildly irresponsible, never mind that virtually none of the elected representatives who voted for it knew what they were voting for.

Meanwhile, let’s give an Ethics Hero call-out to Rand Paul, who anyone could have predicted would have a head explosion over this bill, and he did not disappoint. Senator Paul excoriated his fellow Republican senators who voted for the multitrillion-dollar relief package and omnibus spending bills, saying that they abandoned their “soul” and their “fiscal integrity” for political expediency. Paul called the bill an example of the fantasy that “government can spend whatever it wants without the need to tax.” How can anyone seriously dispute his logic when he said,

“If free money was the answer … if money really did grow on trees, why not give more free money? Why not give it out all the time? Why stop at $600 a person? Why not $1,000? Why not $2,000? Maybe these new Free-Money Republicans should join the Everybody-Gets-A-Guaranteed-Income Caucus? Why not $20,000 a year for everybody, why not $30,000? If we can print out money with impunity, why not do it?”

In addition to Paul, only Republicans Rick Scott (FL), Marsha Blackburn (TN), Mike Lee (UT), Ron Johnson (WI) and Ted Cruz (TX) had the courage and integrity to vote “NO.”

Yahoo News, incidentally, really and truly has a story up titled, “Did Congress get it right with the new coronavirus stimulus?” It really does. Note that it doesn’t begin to cover all the junk that’s stuffed in the bill, because the reporter obviously hasn’t read the whole bill either.

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From The #BelieveAllWomen Files: Professor Parisi’s Nightmare

University of Minnesota law professor Francesco Parisi has won a defamation judgment of nearly $1.2 million against former girlfriend Morgan Wright over her false accusation of rape that appears to have been in retaliation for a romance gone sour.

His apparently unbalanced accuser was Morgan Wright, a woman who  told people that she a degree from the Juilliard School of Music and a Master of Art degree in educational psychology when she had neither, according to the judge’s decision. She also signed emails “Dr. Wright,” though she was not a doctor. The old rule “Never sleep with anyone crazier than you are” comes to mind.

In addition to  rape, Wright also accused Parisi of sexual crimes against others and of attempting  to run her down with his black Jeep on three occasions, the last after he had sold the car.

“The preponderance of the evidence clearly shows that Wright created a destructive fiction,” Judge Daniel Moreno wrote. “Wright publicized allegations without regard for their truth or effect: that Parisi raped her, that he had sex with underage girls after giving them alcohol, that his daughter accused him of raping her, and that he was HIV positive. She spread these defamatory statements to Parisi’s employer (the University of Minnesota), to the Minnesota Department of Health, and most importantly to the police.”

Oddly, if Parisi had been running for President against Donald Trump instead of being just a law professor, these accusations might not have hampered his career advancement  at all! Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “OK, I Give Up: What IS This?”

Believe it or not, one of the main reasons I write Ethics Alarms is to learn things, and the things I learn sometimes come from researching an issue, and sometimes come from you.

Since a prime starting point for ethical analysis of an event or someone’s conduct is  answering the question, “What’s going on here?”, Joe Biden’s statement that if you believe Tara Reade, the ex-Biden staffer (who Joe says he doesn’t recall) now accusing him of sexual harassment, assault and indeed rape, you shouldn’t vote for him genuinely puzzled me, and I asked for assistance in figuring out what Joe was doing.

In a neat, concise, Comment of the Day, Rich in CT answered my question. I had never heard of the phenomenon he identified, being constitutionally resistant to economic theory from childhood. Above is a video that further elaborates on the topic, the Pareto Optimality or Pareto Efficiency, “a situation that cannot be modified so as to make any one individual or preference criterion better off without making at least one individual or preference criterion worse off.”

Got it. Now I know what that is. Thanks, Rich.

Here is Rich in Ct’s Comment of the Day on the post, “OK, I Give Up: What IS This?”: Continue reading

The Breathtaking Hypocrisy of #MeToo

If Joe Biden actually retains sufficient marbles to acquire the democratic nomination for President, a proposition appearing increasingly dicey, we can be sure that the #MeToo movement, feminists and the refrain “believe all women” will pass through even more hypocrisy than the self-righteous trio has already, which is, when you think about it, astounding.  One would have thought that the longest-running of the alliance, the feminists, had already, as Will Parker sang in “Oklahoma!,” “gone about as fer as they can go” when they continued to cheer Bill Clinton after (and during) Monica Madness, and go on to anoint his enabler, Hillary Clinton, as the Coming Thing.

As I tried to point out on NPR in 2018, getting me blackballed for daring to explain a real phenomenon that could be used to benefit a President my hostess hates, whether or not sexual harassment or sexual assault is “unwelcome” and whether a particular woman should be believed often—let’s make that too often—depends on whether the man being accused is someone the Left doesn’t like or not. Unfortunately, this pervasive hypocrisy has undermined the credibility of such accusations, allowing the real predators who #Me Too should be squeezing out from under their rocks into the daylight to benefit from public cynicism.

This brings us back to Joe Biden, and his outspoken and none-too bright fan girl feminist, Alyssa Milano. She’s the washed-up  TV star on the left above, not letting men regard her as a sex object. Continue reading

#MeToo Ethics: Prosecuting To Stigmatize The Accused

It’s not just the impeachment..apparently prosecutors are beginning to adopt the Democratic Party’s theory that it is appropriate to force a trial when there is no chance at conviction just to stigmatize the accused. This is a clear breach of prosecutor ethics, but ethics schmethics, the ends justify the means, right?

The area in which this despicable strategy is surfacing is—and this should be no surprise—the realm of #Me Too. In Maine,  Natasha Irving , who is the top prosecutor for Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc and Waldo counties,  wants to reform how the legal system prosecutes sexual assault cases, believing all women so those who come forward know they’ll be “supported.” This means, according to  Irving, that prosecutors shouldn’t decline to prosecute a sexual assault case just because they “think it’s too hard to prove.”

“Individually, I think that response is very damaging to a survivor,” she says. “If they weren’t believed initially, they don’t have faith that they’re going to be believed if they come forward again. Or that they somehow will be put on trial for what happened instead of the perpetrator. There’s a lot of shame and blame that the victims often carry.”

Yes, that’s a problem. A greater problem is prosecutors bring cases to trial when the don’t have enough evidence to prove the defendant guilty. Then they are just counting on an incompetent jury, which isn’t that much of a longshot. The attitude Irving is endorsing is how black men end up in prison for murders they didn’t commit. Continue reading

Post Thanksgiving Ethics Hangover,11/29/2019: The Toilet Bowl, Mr. Peanut, And Other Embarrassments

This is always one of the strangest days of the year.

Especially strange for me: I keeled over right at the start of Thanksgiving dinner for no discernible reason. One minute I was sipping a beer and feeling oddly light-headed, and the next my son was lifting me off the floor. It must have been spectacular, because it scared the hell out of everyone but my son’s girlfriend, who assumed I was staging a gag. (She got to know me fast…) I’m sorry I missed the excitement.

Today I’ve been feeling out of it, but I can’t tell whether the cause is the fainting spell, L-Tryptophan, or something else (it has been a rough week). My wife has been following me around like a bloodhound, expecting me to go down for the count.

I’ll be seeing my doctor first thing Monday. But enough about me:

1. Tit for Tat. Three women,  Jana Solis, Natalie Sept and Nicole Vogel, accused Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, of making unwanted sexual advances toward them years ago, right after he testified as a star witness at the impeachment proceedings against President Trump. Sondland appeared before Congress and gave what was  viewed by many as damaging testimony about the President’s dealings with Ukraine and the alleged “quid pro quo.”  The timing of the accusations is suspicious, and the Left has no one to blame but itself as its weaponized “believe all women” nonsense circles around like the deadly torpedo in “The Hunt for the Red October.” This was begun by Anita Hill, escalated by Cristina Blasey Ford, and soon such convenient accusations will have no power whatsoever.

Good.

2.Please remember: Hillary Cinton is (at least) as rotten a human being as Donald Trump, just a different kind of rotten human being. Journalist Ronan Farrow told the Financial Times  that Hillary Clinton cut him off him when she discovered he was investigating sexual assault allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey  Weinstein. Weinstein donated tens of thousands of dollars to groups supporting Clinton’s candidacy during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to Federal Election Committee data.

Though Clinton had appointed Farrow as her special adviser on global youth issues in 2011 when she was Secretary of State and he had worked with Clinton “for years,” she quickly distanced herself from him and cancelled an interview after she learned that he  was looking into Weinstein’s harassment and sexual abuse.

“It’s remarkable how quickly even people with a long relationship with you will turn if you threaten the centers of power or the sources of funding around them,” Farrow said. “Ultimately, there are a lot of people out there who operate in that way. They’re beholden to powerful interests and if you go up against those interests, you become radioactive very quickly.”

It’s not remarkable. What’s remarkable is that so many women still get misty over the fact that this cynical hypocrite who pretended to be a feminist champion while allying herself with people like Bill Clinton and Harvey Weinstein was deservedly defeated in the 2016 election. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 5/4/2019: No Trump, No “Resistance.” Enjoy!

Good Morning!

This song, the only “hit” (kind of) by “The Carpenters” sung by Karen’s brother Richard, matches my conflicted mood today. Richard’s teasing and criticism played a part in killing his sister, who possessed one of the most wonderful voices of any popular female vocalist in U.S. history, but who was doomed by anorexia. I am also both perplexed and amused that someone with a lisp would choose a song that repeats “Saturday” as his break-out solo. I wonder if Karen teased him about that?

1.  More on high-testosterone competitors in women’s sports. As I recently wrote here, I am floating in an uncharted sea of uncertainty on this issue, especially regarding Caster Semenya, the intersex South African track star. I do know, however, that I applaud her defiance of the recent court order dictating that she will have to take testosterone-lowing medication if she wants to compete. After a race this week, which she won, as usual, Semenya was asked if she would take the drug. Her answer:  “Hell no.”

Athletic organizations are treading through a mine field here. If they regard taking performance enhancing drugs as cheating, as they should, demanding that certain competitors with natural physical and genetic advantages should take performance-handicapping drugs seems like a double standard.

2. Stop making me defend Woody Allen! I have been unable to watch an Allen movie, even old favorites like “Bananas,” “What’s Up. Tiger Lilly?,” and “Annie Hall,” without gagging since the comic/director cheated on Mia Farrow with her adopted teen-aged daughter, to whom he was a virtual father, and then married her. Thus I have watched none of his films at all. I didn’t need to make a judgment about his daughter’s claims that he sexually molested her, which Allen denies, and since I have no more evidence than the she said/he said (and my certainty that Allen is a certifiable creep), I can’t. However, once Dylan Farrow and her vengeful mother Mia renewed their accusations against Allen while #MeToo was raging,  virtually all of Hollywood turned on Woody, even actors who had worked with him well after Dylan first made her claims. What changed? Nothing, really, except that now they are afraid of social media retribution, so they are pretending to be horrified at what didn’t bother them previously and assuming Woody’s guilt because “believe all women” is the “woke” place to be.

Well, Woody is a creature of Hollywood: this is unethical and unfair, but as Hymen Roth would tell him, “This is the life you have chosen.” Translation: if you voluntarily spend your career in (and benefiting from, and contributing too) an ethically warped culture, don’t expect a lot of sympathy when it turns on you.

This is more troubling: apparently Woody has a completed manuscript of his memoirs, which would have once sparked a publishers auction and an eventual multi-million dollar advance. Now, however, no publisher will pay a cent for it, because “while he remains a significant cultural figure, the commercial risks of releasing a memoir by him were too daunting.”

That means that the publishers are afraid of boycotts. How courageous. Allen is a significant cultural figure as well as a talented humorist. His memoirs have cultural importance, and they belong in the historical record, loathsome as find the man. Easily as loathsome are William Jefferson Clinton and his wife, yet both of them managed to score 7 figure book advances for memoirs they didn’t even write themselves.

Essentially what is happening to Woody is human statue-toppling. He is being erased from the culture despite never having been charged with or tried for a crime (unlike Bill Cosby and O.J. Simpson) because it is a sign of virtue among sufficient numbers of people with social media access to assume he is guilty. The boycott and progressive bully culture is a direct threat to basic freedoms. I’d regain some respect for Woody Allen if he would say so. Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 4/25/19: Hypocrisy Edition

Having a delightful afternoon I hope?

1. “Ethics Bob” is back! After what I gather have been extensive world travels with his wife, Ethics Bob  reanimated his blog this week, and I am hoping that Bob, who kindly credited me with inspiring him to write his ethics book, and who teaches ethics himself, will begin commenting again on Ethics Alarms. He is that rarity around here, a committed liberal who plays fair in debates. Unfortunately, Bob’s return post is wrong—and I distinctly remember a lunch with Bob in which he insisted that Bill Clinton shouldn’t have been impeached—but that’s OK.  He’s ethical, thoughtful, and open-minded. Check in with him, and hope along with me that he starts checking in here.

2. How much hypocrisy can Democratic voters stand? In Virginia, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax has been hit with multiple allegations of rape and sexual assault. Despite the lip  service the national party has given to “believe all women,” and its position during the Kavanaugh hearings that accusations alone were enough to disqualify a judge for the Supreme Court,  Virginia  Democrats refused to join Republican efforts to sanction or remove Fairfax, who is black and the #2 official ins a state where #1 has admitted to wearing blackface. In order to show that they don’t approve of Fairfax (while not having the integrity to make him hew to the standards they have been advocating for years) the Democratic Party of Virginia rejected his $2,500 donation for the party’s Blue Commonwealth Gala in June.

“We were not comfortable accepting the Lieutenant Governor’s PAC’s contribution and we let his team know that when they reached out,” party spokesman Jake Rubenstein told the  The Washington Post .

“The Lt. Governor’s We Rise Together PAC was planning to have a group of African-American pastors and other supporters sit at his table,” Fairfax spokeswoman Lauren Burke told the Post. “He is innocent and has passed two polygraphs and repeatedly called for an investigation. DPVA has assumed he is guilty of a violent criminal act with no investigation or even a conversation to ascertain his version of events.”

But if the party believes Fairfax is guilty of violent crimes and #MeToo outrages, why is he still in office? Continue reading