As An Ethics Alarms Public Service, Here’s Another Reminder Of What A Phony, Dishonest, Brain-Dead “Factcheck” Site Snopes Is

Judge websites, social media platforms and your friends who rely on this flagrantly unethical site  as authority accordingly.

For some reason there has been an outbreak of tips to Ethics Alarms involving the usual Snopes stunts, including its factchecking  the conservative satire site, the Babylon Bee. Reader Pennagain reminded me of this classic though, which nicely sums up Snopes in a concise, stinky package.

The Snopes question it supposedly examined (but didn’t) in a 2018 “FactCheck” has resurfaced because there is a new podcast about the Banks tragedy. (I can tell when Banks’ story is attracting attention again when the EA post about Wanetta Gibson starts picking up traffic.)

Here’s the rest of that “factcheck”:

Snopes pulls this bait and switch trick a lot. The answer to linkbait question ‘Was Banks wrongly convicted of rape?” is  “Yes”, and any assertion to that effect isn’t “mostly true,” it’s absolutely, 100% true. Beneath the question that heads the “inquiry,” Snopes significantly rephrases the “claim” which it then “debunks” by giving us the breathless revelations that Gibson didn’t recant ON Facebook, she contacted Banks through Facebook and then confessed in person, and that Banks “only” served 5 years and two months, not “six.” Continue reading

Wanetta Gibson, The Limits Of Forgiveness, And The Most Unethical Facebook Friend Request Ever

"Come on. Let's hang out. I'm more mature now."

“Come on. Let’s hang out. I’m more mature now.”

Brian Banks, the once-promising high school athlete whose life was upended by a classmate’s false rape accusation that sent him to prison for five years, is now  back on his feet, working for the National Football League, and, by the evidence of his recent profile in the New York Daily News, impressively beyond anger and bitterness. He does tell a stunning story, however, of a day in 2011 when he received an unexpected Facebook friend request from Wanetta Gibson, the woman who, for no apparent reason, did this terrible thing to him. Banks says that she wrote…

“I was hoping we could let bygones be bygones. I was immature back in the day, but I’m much more mature now. Let’s hang out. I’d love to see you. I’ve seen your picture on Facebook. You look real good. I would love to hook up.”

I’ve been trying to think up a fanciful equivalent for this “I know I tried to wreck your life, now will you please let me back into it?” request. Would it be John Hinckley Jr. asking President Ronald Reagan for a job? Edward Snowden replying to an NSA RFP? Maybe V. Stiviano asking Donald Sterling for a job recommendation? I’m not sure any of them would be as bad. “Let bygones be bygones.” Among other things, what an insult this is. How stupid does Gibson think her victim is?

Then there is this chilling statement: I was immature back in the day, but I’m much more mature now.” Translation:  “Yes, now I’m a fully mature vicious sociopath. Don’t you want to renew our relationship?”

These are the situations where someone inevitably argues that Americans believe in redemption, and when I inevitably respond, “You are out of your friggin’ mind.” Some people, not many, but some, are bad to the bone, and the social pressure to forgive the worst of the worst—Did you read the words “I’m sorry” anywhere in that request?—is a trap, set up by those who won’t have to live with the consequences of another betrayal of trust.

Banks, of course, rejected Gibson’s overtures.

Two years later, she recanted her withdrawal of her rape accusation.

Comment of The Day (Public Service Message Division): “Wanetta Gibson Is Even Worse Than We Thought”

Wait a second...I'm getting my rifle...

Wait a second…I’m getting my rifle…

We haven’t had one of these in a while, and I’m feeling like having a good fish-shoot in the ol’ barrel, so here we go….

Apparently there has been another development in the Wanetta Gibson saga—I know this because the last post about this horrible woman is suddenly getting traffic again—and this has moved one Terrance Skerrette—I sure hope there’s just one— to enter one of those periodic comments I receive here that serves as a public service announcement for the ethically-challenged. You know the kind—Saturday Night Live parodies of such spots used to be a staple:

“Hello. I’m Jack Marshall, and this is Terrance. Terrance was raised in an environment that left him with an inability to understand ethics. That’s right–he will go through life justifying horrendous conduct by using rationalizations, hideous logic, and warped values. Will you help Terrance? No, he can’t be helped by treatment, but perhaps, if you give generously, we can provide him with a comfortable shack in the forest and plenty of food, so he can live comfortably without infecting anyone else with his hopeless ethical ignorance and dangerous excuses for terrible conduct. Please send your generous contributions to “Help Terrance,” care of Ethics Alarms. Thank you. Terrance would thank you too, but he probably thinks you are evil.”

Continue reading

Wanetta Gibson Is Even Worse Than We Thought

How do you treat a monster like Wanetta?

How do you treat a monster like Wanetta?

Of Wanetta Gibson, the woman who sent innocent high school football star Brian Banks to prison for five years for a rape he didn’t commit, collected $750,000 by continuing her lie in a lawsuit against the high school where she and Banks were both students, and then sought forgiveness from him in prison while refusing to exonerate him to prosecutors because she didn’t want to give back the money, I wrote:

“There are not sufficient laws, nor words in the dictionary, nor public shaming, shunning and condemnation to do justice to the likes of Wanetta Gibson. She ruined a young man’s life and stole $1.5 million in the process. She can recant, apologize, say that she found God, weep, express regret and anything else, and it should not insulate her from societal rejection. No one should hire her. No bank should give her a loan or a credit card. No taxpayer should have to contribute to her health insurance or food stamps. No one should befriend her. Absolutely no one should forgive her, consort with her or trust her. The kind of organized hatred that was manufactured against George Zimmerman is appropriate in her case. The Golden Rule? If I behaved like Wanetta Gibson, I would deserve everything I have described, and more.”

And you know what? I think I was too easy on her. Continue reading

Brian Banks’ Lawyer’s Dilemma: The Ethics of Counselling An Innocent Client To Plead Guilty

Would Wanetta have eventually admitted her lie if Brian Banks had been sentenced to 40 years? Would you bet your life on it?

The understandable uproar over Brian Bank’s five year imprisonment for a rape he never committed has focused public attention on the wrenching situation where a criminal defense attorney feels he must counsel an innocent client to plead guilty (or no contest, in Banks’ case) when the only alternative appears to be conviction at trial and a harsher sentence.  Banks’ attorney persuaded him that five years for a crime he didn’t commit was preferable to a maximum of 40 years if he was found guilty.  Was that bad advice? Was it unethical advice? Continue reading

Condemning Wanetta Gibson

There’s no treatment harsh enough for Wanetta Gibson

Hardly a week goes by when I don’t receive a nasty and haughty message attacking me for harshly judging the unethical conduct of another. “Who are you to judge?,” the critic will write. “Are you so perfect? Have you never made a mistake? How can you know what was going on in that person’s life, or how bad she (or he) feels? What right do you have to find fault with someone else?” My answer, if I bother to send one, seldom varies. I tell these correspondents that all of us have a duty to judge others so that we are qualified to judge ourselves, to make certain that societal standards are carefully considered and vetted, and to identify conduct that we believe is destructive to society. Refusing to judge others makes it easy for the predators around us to take advantage of our ethical laziness, and people get hurt as a result.

And in those dark moments late at night, after a difficult day when my confidence is at low ebb, as I begin to doubt the purpose of my life and question my own values, I think about people like the horrible Wanetta Gibson.

From the New York Daily News: Continue reading