Ethics Dunce: District Attorney Craig Northcutt

How long will it take our communities to exile social Neanderthals like Craig Northcutt to jobs where their bigotry and un-American values can only harm the people foolish enough to voluntarily associate with them?

Northcutt is the Coffee County (Tennessee) District Attorney, and a 2018 videotape reveals him saying such things as,

  • Regarding the Supreme Court decision declaring it unconstitutional to prevent gay couples from marrying: “Five people in black dresses rule us — it just takes five votes, it doesn’t take all nine.”

That statement is per se moronic, as well as irresponsible.. A ruling by any judicial panel is just as binding and has exactly as much force in law regardless of the vote. Northcutt is encouraging defiance of the law.

  • “DAs have what’s called prosecutorial discretion. Y’all need to know who your DA is. Y’all give us a lot of authority whether you know it or not, We can choose to prosecute anything, we can choose not to prosecute anything, up to and including murder. It’s our choice, unfettered. So, to deal with that, you elect a good Christian man as DA, and you’ll make sure at least [Christians] don’t get prosecuted criminally.”

Translation: “I’m biased, prejudiced, conflicted, and incapable of enforcing the law fairly and objectively., and don’t even want to, or know why I should” Continue reading

Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/2/2019: Dark Thoughts And Good Reasons For Them

Looking forward to the ethical week ahead, certain that I’ll be disappointed, and bitterly, based on last week…

<Sigh>

1. The Ethicist’s Dilemma. I’m preparing for a couple of legal ethics CLE seminars for government lawyers, and raised  an ethical dilemma facing me to my sister. The last time I included government lawyer ethics issues related to the multiple controversies in the Mueller investigation, the FISA process, and the Michael Cohen clown act, I received several critical evaluations that were entirely partisan and political. And, in the session itself, there were a couple of participants obviously set at “hair-trigger” to register accusations and objections that any criticism–based on pure legal ethics analysis on my part—that found fault with the lawyers involved revealed me as a dreaded “Trump supporter.” I asked my sister, who is a retired government lawyer with extensive Justice Department experience, if I should nonetheless cover such issues as Robert Mueller flagrantly violating Rule 3.8 of the D.C, Rules with his public statement last week,  or what a White House Counsel’s ethical obligations are regarding communications from the President (since the “who is the client?” complexities of that role continue to confound legal ethics experts, my position is that the WHC has an ethical obligation to make it crystal clear to any President when he is covered by attorney-client privilege and when he is not, to cite one example.)

Her depressing advice: Don’t touch any of it. People, even lawyers, are not capable of keeping their emotions and political passions under control these days, she said. No matter how accurate and fair your analysis is, she emphasized, you risk allowing these hot-button issues to derail the seminar and even harm your professional reputation.

Yet I believe that I have an obligation to cover these issues. I also have a lifetime bias for doing what people tell me will be disastrous when I am convinced that it is the right thing to do. Then my father’s voice comes out of the mists of time, reciting his favorite fake obituary, a ditty about sailing:

This is a story of John O’Day
Who died maintaining his right of way
He was right, dead right, as he sailed along
But he’s just as dead as if he were wrong.
I’m thinking.

Continue reading

Quick Facebook Ban Update…

Facebook continues to reject any links to Ethics Alarms posts, although one occasionally and randomly slips through apparently. I have never received any explanation for this, though some posts do get the “community standards” excuse. If Ethics Alarms violates “community standards,” it is only because the blog refuses to enable knee-jerk “resistance” plots and narratives, or engage in the Left’s mass denial that the mainstream media has become a propaganda organ and cannot be trusted.

Efforts to contact Facebook and acquire any information or response have been futile. The consequences of this action by Facebook are tangible. Posts before this action would be routinely shared on Facebook between 20 and thousands of times. It has hurt blog traffic, and conceivably my business, ProEthics, which benefits from my visibility.

Today I was made aware of the Trump Administration’s Tech Bias Sharing Tool, which is collecting accounts of censorship and other content-based abuse by social media and the large tech companies. I just posted the whole story, as only I can.

Let’s see if anything happens.

Comment Of The Day: Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 2/25/ 2019: Martina Navratilova A Gender Bigot?…WHAT’S HAPPENING?????

I love it when a reader comes up with a superlative comment on an older post. It’s gratifying that such posts are still being read, and it also leads to diversity of subject matter.  Pennagain dived back into the gender issues in sports, which began here with commentary on the the still roiling controversy over whether it is fair to allow trans males, or women transitioning to men, to compete against unaltered, biological women. That led to a comment about gays in sports, and that to Pennagain’s astute Comment of the Day on the post “Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 2/25/ 2019: Martina Navratilova A Gender Bigot? The Founding Fathers Nazis? Art Galleries Discriminating Against The Blind? WHAT’S HAPPENING?????”

Of course it’s complex. One of the reasons for that complexity is that the syllogisms are the wrong way round. Taking your two examples, I would say that there are more gay men in figure skating than in, say, speed skating because gay men with grace, as well as the will to undergo the training and discipline it takes to compete at top levels, do better than those without; the same as in ballet. Canada’s unquestionably non-gay Elvis Stojko is a good mirror example: Stojko won three World championships and two Olympic silver medals without exhibiting any particular grace at all; instead, he was the first person to land a quadruple-double jump combination. And a couple of dozen other major wins. That’s because figure skating has that “figure” side that concentrations on strength and precision. Either “side” can overwhelm the other (the “artisitic” side often does so in women’s figure skating), but muscle and a sense of timing can be acquired. Grace, ease and smoothness of movement can also be acquired (usually starting at a very early age) but since we have labeled them “feminine,” and feminine is equated with gay, and gay continues to be seen as undesirable — non-gay boys are not going to be encouraged to participate.

On the other hand, gay men with the sought-after qualities (1) have become more acceptable, even admired as those who stand as champions for their school, state or country (2) non-gay boys are more frequently discouraged by themselves or others to enter the sport because of continuing stigma (3) thus there are more openings for gay men …. of a particular body type: slender, strong, graceful and unashamed of it. Continue reading

Bias, Spite And Agendas: So Much For The Best Picture Oscar Having Anything To Do With Picking The Best Picture

Apparently Queen Anne was not sufficiently woke.

For the first time in a decade, I may be tempted to watch the Academy Awards broadcast this year just to witness the certain fiasco in store. After severing its bond of good faith with half of America by going full “resistance” the last two years, and alienating another large chunk with #MeToo posturing and hypocrisy, then capitulating to affirmative action cant by seeking “diversity” in its designations of excellence, the once-popular national celebration of the American institution of Hollywood is unraveling in rancor and political correctness. This year it will have no host, because no one is willing to suffer the Hader gotchas and social media bullying that such a role will now necessarily entail. The Academy has split its membership with the decision to relegate the less glamorous awards to commercial breaks this year—less glamorous, perhaps, but in essential areas like film editing and cinematography. Actor Seth Rogen summed up the logic of this decision neatly by tweeting, “What better way to celebrate achievements in film than to not publicly honor the people whose job it is to literally film things.”

Then again, why pay any attention to awards that are decided with logic and reasoning like those exposed by the New York Times’ recent anonymous chat with 20 Oscar voters? Any illusions that actual merit and excellence drives Oscar honors were shattered by admissions like these… Continue reading

Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/4/19: Super Bowl Hangover Edition

(Nice job, Gladys. Thanks)

New Rule:

I’m not saying “Good Morning!” until I can do it without coughing.

1. Is this hypocritical…or maybe just greed? Cardi B—if you don’t know who the singer is, then you are just hopelessly out of step— Cardi B refused to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show out of support for former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Then she showed up on the broadcast in a Pepsi ad.

Of course, the half-time gig doesn’t pay, and Pepsi does, but if you are boycotting the Super Bowl, how can you justify appearing in a Super Bowl ad? Well, performers tend not to be deep thinkers…

2. The Washington Post Super Bowl commercial…

Yes, the Post spent an estimated ten million dollars for pro-news media propaganda. Desperate and self-indicting, in my view. The best way for the Post and other mainstream news media to convince the public that they are trustworthy is for them to do their jobs ethically, and they obviously do not. This self-glorifying ad comes one week after the Post led the media attack on a 16-year old Catholic school student without checking the veracity of a deceptively edited videotape or talking with the student involved. The Post was indulging its anti-Trump bias by casting a kid wearing a MAGA hat as a racist. How did this disgusting and unethical performance embody the platitudes Tom Hanks mouthed in the ad—“There’s someone to gather the facts. To bring you the story. No matter the cost. Because knowing empowers us. Knowing helps us decide. Knowing keeps us free”? How about the Post actually doing those things, rather than spending millions to convince people that they are, when the evidence says otherwise?

Just as the ad was running yesterday, we learned of a 2004 sexual assault allegation against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax that the Post decided at the time wasn’t credible enough to report on.  Why? Well, theories abound. Maybe it wasn’t credible, but then, I thought the idea was to believe all women. How could it have been less credible than some of the accusations against Brett Kavanagh that the Post reported when it was trying to sink his nomination? Does the fact that Fairfax is a Democrat have anything to do with the Post’s “objective news judgment”? Might not Virginia voters have wanted to make up their own minds about the allegations, when Fairfax was running for Lt. Governor?

Tell us again about how “democracy dies in darkness,” Tom. Continue reading

Oh, No! Ebonics Again!

A court reporter in Philadelphia heard a witness say, “He don’t be in that neighborhood,” but transcribed it as, “We going to be in this neighborhood.” Yes, that’s the opposite the opposite of what the speaker meant, and  a soon-to-be published study finds that Philadelphia court reporters often make errors transcribing sentences that are spoken in what the New York Times and some linguists call “African-American English.” I call it bad English, and once again the claim is being made that it’s everyone else’s fault when people can’t talk.

Here’s a jaw-dropping statement from the Times article: “Decades of research has shown that the way some black people talk could play a role in their ability to secure things like employment or housing. The new study, scheduled for publication in June in the linguistic journal Language, provides insight on how using black dialect could also impact African-Americans in courtrooms.” Ya think? I confess when I hear anyone, black or white, express themselves with a sentence like “He don’t be in that neighborhood,” I tend to think that

  • Such an individual is not well-educated
  • Such an individual is not well-read
  • Such an individual is unlikely to think very clearly
  • Such individuals may not be very bright, not necessarily because he or she speaks in such a manner, but that because they lack the common sense to know that doing so will not leave a positive impression.

In short, it is not my fault if someone else can’t speak clearly, and claiming that a grammatical and syntactical dogs breakfast like “He don’t be in that neighborhood” is acceptable because a lot of people talk that way is a rationalization. More Bizarro World reasoning from scholars,

“People who speak African-American English are stigmatized for so doing,” said Taylor Jones, a doctoral student in linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the study’s authors. Mr. Jones added that there was nothing improper or broken about the dialect that some African-Americans inherited over generations, but negative stereotypes have influenced the way people hear or perceive it.

“If you’re taught that these people speak incorrectly, then it’s very easy to say, ‘Well, they don’t make any sense; what they’re saying is wrong,’” Mr. Jones said.

Those who argue that “He don’t be in that neighborhood” isn’t incorrect are essentially pointing us toward a cultural Babel where anyone can make up and adopt whatever dialect they choose, and insist that everyone else acceptand decypher it. That’s no way to run a business, a nation, or society. Clarity in language is essential, and must not be shrugged off as one more matter of personal choice. We have to communicate, after all. Continue reading