Friday Ethics Footnotes, 7/31/2020: 1619, Dumber Lawyers, And Trader Joe’s Stands Up For “Trader Ming’s”

1. Psst! This doesn’t send a message that is complimentary to minorities...The California Supreme Court, which oversees the state bar, agreed to lower the passing score for the exam. The objective is to raise the number of black and Hispanic lawyers. 40 % of California’s population is white, and 60% are not. But 68% of California lawyers are white, according to a new report by the State Bar of California.

Well, so what? Maybe more whites want to be lawyers; whatever the reason, lowering the standards for getting a license seems like a poor way to improve the situation, since it promises to add more dim attorneys. Why do all professions have to have identical demographics to the population at large?

“There is absolutely no evidence that shows having a higher score makes for better lawyers,” said UCLA School of Law Dean Jennifer L. Mnookin. “There is significant evidence that it reduces the diversity of the bar.” Yeah, I’m pretty sure letting people get law licenses by playing beanbag would also lead to a more diverse bar. There is no way to determine whether having higher scores on the bar exam correlates with being a “better lawyer,” but I guarantee not being able to pass the bar exam correlates with being significantly slower on the uptake that a lawyer who can.  Mnookin is saying that intelligence and critical thinking skills don’t factor in the practice of law. What an interesting thing for a law dean to say. Do you think she really believes that?

No one has been able to show that the bar exams anywhere have a racial bias, but since other explanations for comparatively low passing rates among African-Americans are not politically palatable, the George Floyd Freakout has led to this. California will now have dumber lawyers of all colors. Progress! Continue reading

Tuesday Dusk Ethics Musings, 7/28/2020: Bitch, Bitch, Bitch

I had a friend who was sure the lyrics were about “ducks in the wind.” Dust, ducks, dusk…whatever. Never liked the song, but it suits my mood after today’s farewell to an old friend, maybe the sweetest person I’ve ever known or ever could know, at Arlington. Here were old friends, many who hadn’t seen each other in many years, standing around, six or more feet apart, trying to talk through masks and to recognize each other.

This is no way to live.

1. I have to say this: At a time when Gilbert and Sullivan is being “cancelled” by the sick combination of hyper-sensitivity to fantasy gender stereotypes and the ignorant belief that “The Mikado” is racist—morons!—I should not be forced to listen to Lifelight’s badly set, forced, incompetent parody of “The Major General’s Song.” I could write better lyrics than that, yes, even about vegetable meat substitutes, with half my brain tied behind my back. There’s no excuse for such lazy, lousy writing, especially for compensation. Was the writer the company CEO’s 12-year-old niece?  Gilbert and Sullivan were geniuses; their work shouldn’t be desecrated like that.

2. Shut up, David. David Price, who couldn’t be bothered to play baseball and help relieve the public’s stress for a paltry 10 million dollars, is home and sniping at Major League Baseball for not shutting down after 14 members of the Florida Marlins tested positive for the Wuhan virus. Well, some of his colleagues need their salaries, unlike Price, who has a 150 million or so in the bank unless he has a gambling habit, and baseball, to its credit, is determined to gut it out, much as it did during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. Good. Thank-you.

3.  How can anyone take an award seriously that does something like this? On the other  hand, it’s comforting that after all these years, the Kennedys are still hyper-partisan, hypocritical, and silly. 2020’s Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Awards, which supposedly honors “changemakers” who are advancing human rights, equality and justice, have been awarded to, among others, Dr. Fauci and Colin Kaepernick. The Kennedys’ game could not be more transparent if they admitted it. Kaepernick, whose questionable contribution  to human rights has been kneeling where he shouldn’t and cashing in with Nike, but he’s a walking Black Lives Matter ad, and so it’s a poke in the President’s eye. As for Fauci, the message is that he’s brilliant, so Trump is the reason why the pandemic has raged.

Here are some recent award winners: Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Nancy Pelosi. Continue reading

Update: The Answer To Question 13 [Updated Again!]

The above is Reddit’s new policy. It is one more example of unthinking and unethical “answers” to systemic racism.

On June 17, in this post, I concluded with a proposed answer to my Question 13, “What is the “systemic reform regarding race in America” that the George Floyd protests purport to be seeking?” That answer:

…special accommodations and benefits for African Americans in all things. Affirmative action in employment, promotions, salaries and school admissions; preference in grading, contracting and hiring; elimination of any standards that African Americans continue to lag in meeting. Reparations, of course; race-based leniency in law-enforcement and sentencing; plus  culture wide discrimination in favor of blacks and against whites in all things, all instituted by the intimidation, punishment and “cancelling” of anyone who dissents.

The accuracy of my prognostication has become apparent within a little more than two weeks. As Jeff Goldlum says ruefully in “Jurassic Park” as the T-Rex escapes,

Though the text of the “What We Believe” section of the Black Lives Matter site is so expansively vague and utopian that it could, literally, mean anything, in the rush to satisfy the explicit and implicit threats levied by spokespersons for the “movement” and the reality of the mobs, the woke, the cowardly, the terrified and the foolish have laid the following at the feet of the champions of “systemic race reform”

  • Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced plans to “correct inequalities in healthcare coverage in the state” by  expanding health care coverage to every black Kentuckian. Of course, state benefits distributed on the basis of race are per se unconstitutional, but his announcement was widely praised.

This was among the priorities he priorities he said all Kentuckians should support on moral grounds as part of his responce to the fatal shooting of a black woman during a botched house search by Louisville police, though there was and is no evidence that the accident was triggered by race or racism.

  • Students at the University of Washington and elsewhere demanded that professors to grade black students’ finals with more leniency. Students started a petition on Change.org that asks for professors to “give Black students a break!

Over 60, 000 have signed the petition. Such a policy, which some professors have implemented, endorses openly race-based grading.

  • Following through on The University of California Board of Regents vote to restore affirmative action to the admissions process, though granting preferential treatment to applicants based on their race or gender in public education or employment has been outlawed in California since 1996, the California legislature has voted to strike these words from the state constitution: “The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.”

The debate made it clear that the intent of the amendment is to permit discrimination on the basis of race and color. It is in open defiance of basic civil rights and equal protection under the law.

UPDATE: This is as good as a place to mention his as anywhere. Don Lemon, CNN’s second dimmest anchor, recommended that it would be salutary to add Barack Obama, “front and center,” to Mt. Rushmore. The justification would be that he’s black.

  • Nikole Hannah-Jones, the avowed Marxist who was allowed to inflict her false history “1619” project on Times readers, schools and the nation, as given a platform again (in the Times Magazine) to call for reparations. Five days later, last Sunday, the paper itself devoted a its opinion section to  “The Economy We Need” (“The America We Need” online)  a series of articles by Leftist members of the Times Op-Ed staff and academics advocating reparations for African Americans, usually while not using those words. The section was headlined throughout in inch-high red block letters.

Among the most prominent articles: “Banks Should Face History and Cancel Black Debt Now. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Reflections, 6/28/2020: For The Defense….

Greetings from the Ethics Alarms bunker…

1. I’m current reflecting on a personal and professional ethics conflict. A colleague and long-time professional competitor—I would never call him a friend—has been ousted from his leadership position in the very successful organization he founded as a result of unproven allegations of sexual harassment and assault. It was a “believe all victims” situation, as well as what feels like a successful coordinated effort to “get” someone who had accumulated a lot of enemies, resentment and envy in a notoriously nasty industry once his power was waning.

On one hand, I feel like I should reach out to him and offer my guidance and support (as an ethicist and sexual harassment trainer, not a lawyer, and gratis, of course). On the other, I am pretty certain that he is guilty of at least some of what has been alleged, based on confidential accounts I have recently heard from reliable sources. Ethically, however, his ousting (it appears that he was given the option of “retiring”) lacked due process and fairness, and the organization was guided by public relations motives rather than legal or ethical ones.

Whose side should I be on?

2. Stop making me defend Facebook! As if there wasn’t enough to worry about, the aggressive pandering mode of corporations right now is being exploited by would-be censors of political speech. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced updated election policies and stricter “hate speech” rules in response to employee protests and pressure from activists, whose transparent objective is to silence or constrict any political views antithetical progressive positions and goals. In a message last week, Zuckerberg  outlined plans to police disinformation relating to voting and elections, to flag certain content that risked triggering violence (I wonder what  that standard is like today?) and concluded,

Continue reading

Wednesday Ethics Jolts, 6/17/2020: I Think We Have Our Answer To Question 13….

Look out!

It’s Wednesday, Wednesday got me thinking about the Wednesday Addams, which got me thinking about Charles Addams, which reminded me of that Addams cartoon…

Yes, this is how my mind works, as if you didn’t know…

1. “You know: literate morons.” The National Book Critics Circle (NBCC), of all people, decided to give us an example of where the George Floyd Freakout can lead. The president of the NBCC drafted the obligatory institutional pander affirming Black Lives Matter and circulated it to the board for its approval. One contrarian and sane board member, a board president named Carlin Romano, said he disagreed with much of the letter, didn’t want to “distract the great majority of the Board from its mission,” but couldn’t resist explicating his objections, including describing the systemic racism premise as “absolute nonsense.” He did not, he wrote, believe that the publishing business operated with “the full benefits of white supremacy and institutional racism” and that “white gatekeeping had been working to stifle black voices at every level of our industry.” Such claims, he wrote, amounted to “calumnies on multiple generations of white publishers and editors” who had fought to publish authors of color. “I resent the idea that whites in the book publishing and literary world are an oppositional force that needs to be assigned to reeducation camps.”

In her reply,the current president told Romano that she’d always appreciate his perspective. It “shines unlike anyone else’s,” she wrote, adding, “your objections are all valid, of course.”

As a result of her respectful acceptance of a reasoned dissent, more than half of the 24-member board of NBCC  resigned, including, of course, all of its non-white members. The president resigned too. Romano has not. In response to another member’s accusation that his criticism had displayed ” racism and anti-blackness,” he countered, “It did nothing of the sort. I’m not racist and I’m not anti-black. Quite the contrary. I just don’t check my mind at the door when people used to operating in echo chambers make false claims.”

Ethics Hero.

2.  Pandering BLM Groveler of the Year? I’m pretty sure nobody will be able to top NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. After dismissing Colin Kaepernick and his fellow NFL kneelers as a distraction to the game and an annoyance to fans, he is now not only encouraging the players to demonstrate on the field for “racial justice,”—if he thinks such workplace stunts will stop with mere kneeling, he really is a dolt—he is now encouraging NFL teams to sign Kaepernick, who hasn’t played  for three years. He hasn’t been signed because the distractions his political grandstanding carried with him couldn’t begin to be justified by his declining quarterbacking skills, and that’s the case now more than ever. Does Goodell really think capitulating to the mob will keep him and his league safe? Is someone holding his family at gunpoint somewhere, or is he really this ignorant?

3. Wait, why haven’t I read all of this before? On Medium, Gavrillo David argues that there may be enough evidence to insulate Derek Chauvin from a murder conviction. he cites six facts in support of his theory: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/6/2020: Question, Questions…

Good morning?

1. Is this is a Catch 22 or what? In order to start using Adobe Acrobat in the Creative Cloud “suite,” you must agree to Adobe’ s new Terms of Use. However, a user can’t  read the Terms of Use until after he or she agrees to the Terms of Use.  Among the provisions in those terms is this…

14.1 Process. If you have any concern or dispute, you agree to first try to resolve the dispute informally by contacting us. If a dispute is not resolved within 30 days of receipt by us, any resulting legal actions must be resolved through final and binding arbitration, including any question of whether arbitration is required, except that you may assert claims in small claims court if your claims qualify. Claims related to the Terms, Services, or Software are permanently barred if not brought within one year of the event resulting in the claim.

That’s right: you have to agree not to sue  them.

Rob  Beschizza posted a video online showing him futilely  clicking the “Terms of Use” link only to be prevented from reading them because he hadn’t agreed to the Terms of Use.  As he points out, almost nobody—yes, not even lawyers—reads these fine print, intentionally verbose and obscure conditions before they agree to  terms of use, but that’s the users’  fault. Being forced to agree to terms before it is possible to read them is another kettle of fish. That’s con-man stuff. That makes it an invalid contract.

Of course, a company that tries this stunt assumes that when it produces a lawyer-signed statement reminding  dissatisfied customers of the terms they signed, that will be sufficient to discourage any further action.

2. In a mass shooting any excuse for this? Watch this video of an arrest by Canadian police in Lethbridge, Alberta:

A  young woman  dressed as an Empire Storm Trooper and carrying a plastic “blaster” on May the Fourth (…”be with you!”) to promote her employer’s cafe was surrounded by four officers, guns drawn, then tackled—bloodying her nose—cuffed and arrested. Lethbridge Police Inspector Jason Walper said  his department received  two 911 calls regarding  someone brandishing a weapon.

Apparently there really are people, at least in Canada, who have never seen “Star Wars.” But what are the odds that none of the four police were aware that this was a costume? Surely the rational approach to the silly situation would be to ask the woman to  take off her helmet and explain what she was doing before they attacked her. If the girl had been black, and this had occurred in the U.S., the NAACP would be demanding an investigation.

Canadians are trying to mitigate the stupidity here by noting that everyone is traumatized by the nation’s  mass shooting last month that left 22 dead. And, I suppose, a Storm Trooper outfit could have been a diabolical hit man’s clever disguise. I suppose.

Only 22? Heck, in the U.S., that’s chicken feed! Continue reading

Giving Shutdown Aid To Illegal Aliens Is Unethical, And There Are No Valid Arguments That It isn’t

Pop quiz: List the ways the above is dishonest and deceitful.

There are some progressive agenda items that are either dishonest or so dumb they defy belief. Open borders is in that category; ignoring immigration laws by letting anyone who slips through our porous security to stay here as long as they don’t kill or rape someone is there too; so is giving these individuals drivers licenses, and rewarding their children for the parents’ lawbreaking. All the arguments for these intellectually indefensible positions are either extreme rationalizations, based on emotion over reality+ or cynical deceptions used to disguise the real objectives.

Yet however unethical the arguments for letting illegal immigrants enter our country and stay here, the position that we should give them financial aid during the pandemic crisis and resulting economic shut-down is worse.

Of course California likes the idea; there are few terrible policy idea that the Golden State doesn’t like.

Last week Governor Gavin Newsom announced he is working on a plan with the state legislature to provide economic relief for illegal immigrants in California. “Californians care deeply about undocumented residents in this state,” Newsom said.

Ooooh, they care! Let’s see if they care when the money going to people who have no justification for being here comes out of citizens’ pockets. Is “undocumented” the deceptive euphemism of choice in California? Interesting. “Migrant” is sneakier, and of course there is the media’s favorite Orwellian “immigrants” to mean “illegal immigrants.”

Yes, it’s true: I am no longer interested in being nice or diplomatic about this destructive idea and the liars, knaves and fools who support it. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/13/2020: The Muppets And The Sausage King, Covidiots In A Drive-By, And Trump Still Isn’t Hitler

Good morning!

The nice thing about a miserable rainy day like the one we’re getting in Alexandria is that it makes one glad to be stuck at home…

1. Book reviews I didn’t finish reading…In fact, I never got past the first sentence of the review of “Hitler’s First 100 Days” by Peter Fritzke. The title of the review is “How Hitler Transformed a Democracy Into a Tyranny,” so I suspected this would be in the metaphorical wind” the review begins, “How does the rise of Hitler look since the rise of Donald Trump?”

The Times book reviewer is an Oxford professor of history.  This is a particularly asinine opening for a book review now, when the President is being regularly criticized for not being autocratic enough. One would think that of all the Big Lies the news media has been broadcasting since November 2016, “Trump is Hitler” would have  revealed itself as the most contrived. The “resistance,” however, is at war with reality as well as democracy.

I’ve got the online version of the review right here—let me skim it quickly to see if the actual book contains any discussion of the Trump administration at all. Let’s see…apparently not, which isn’t surprising since this is a book entirely about Germany. Nonetheless, the reviewer—what happened to the British?—makes this observation toward the end:

“This use of theatrical choruses was innovative 90 years ago, but making such agitprop sound snappy to a contemporary ear is tricky. As Fritzsche describes a rally where the speaker railed against the Weimar system and its politicians, he translates the audience’s chorus as “Hang them up! Bust their ass!” The pre-echo of “Lock her up!” is audible.”

Audible to you, perhaps, you jackass. First, the use of crowd chants in political rallies and during speeches was ancient and a standard device when the Nazis employed it. Second, there is no similarity at all between the ominous Nazi chant and “Lock her up!” The Nazis were advocating executing and beating up those who opposed them, and they did just that.  “Lock her up!,” while still ugly, was a direct reference to that fact that Hillary Clinton had deliberately broken national security policies for her own benefit, and was counting on, as usual, skating clear of punishment—which, in fact, is exactly what happened. Continue reading

Sunday Morning Alarms, 4/5/2020: After The First Two Items, You Won’t Want To Read Any More And Will Just Go Back To Bed…

….like I did…

1. KABOOM! Pennsylvanian Anita Shaffer, 19, decided to flee her York County home  a week ago for a mental health drive.  On her way back home, two Pennsylvania State Police officers stopped her about her car’s faulty tail-light. While talking with the officers,  Shaffer told them that she was just “going for a drive.” In response, they wrote her a ticket for more than $202.25 for violating the Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home order.

That’s the citation above. It says Shaffer “failed to abide by the order of the governor and secretary of health issued to control the spread of a communicable disease, requiring the closure of all non-life-sustaining businesses as of 20:00 hours on March 19, 2020. To wit, defendant states that she was ‘going for a drive’ after this violation was in effect,”

State police spokesman Ryan Tarkowski explained the ticket, saying, “Troopers have been encouraged to use contacts with the public as opportunities to reinforce the necessity to abide by stay-at-home orders.”

And how, exactly, does ticketing an individual who is engaged in conduct that cannot possibly infect anyone  accomplish  that?

Well, Tarkowski blathered,  being a soulless bureaucrat incapable of admitting that THE STATE is full of it in this case, “Troopers maintain discretion to warn or issue citations and the decision is specific to the facts and circumstances of a particular encounter.”

Fine. These facts do not justify a ticket by any stretch of the imagination. The officers’ discretion shows they are not qualified to wield the power they have. Indeed, the citation magnifies the extreme arbitrariness of such orders, and their danger when those charged with enforcing them have the judgment of Gestapo officers.

I’m surprised the cops didn’t slap her around a little, shoot her in the kneecap or even rape her, you know, to show the defiant prole who’s boss and not to ever, ever defy Big Brother.

Tarkowski also said Shaffer’s citation is the only one issued for violating the stay-at-home order. It’s good that the police picked a representative one to symbolize the Pennsyvania message to it’s citizens, which is apparently, “You will do as you are told, underlings.”

Well, not to be crude, but screw that.

Shaffer told reporters  she was within her rights to operate her car, and plans on challenging the citation.  Good. And again I ask, where is our vaunted American Civil Liberty Union on this issue? For three years, we have been hearing false cries of outrage about how the President is an autocrat just waiting to crush our civil rights, and now, when the civil rights of citizens are being ignored by tin pot governors all over the country, the ACLU just shrugs and sighs in its bunker, “It’s for the greater good.”

Oh..there was nothing wrong with her tail light. Continue reading

When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring (Or Were Never Installed): The Covidiots

Once again, one has to ask:

What’s the matter with these people?

The Beach

California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a shelter in place order for the Golden State’s  nearly 40 million residents to stay at home from March 20 to the foreseeable future. California is third among the states in number of Wuhan virus cases. So, naturally, people went to enjoy themselves at the beaches, hiking trails and parks.

The Hosts

New Jersey police arrested  Eliyohu Zaks last week after a neighbor notified law enforcement that a large crowd had been observed at his home. It was a wedding. Police dispersed the crowd of at least fifty and charged Zaks with “maintaining a public nuisance.”  Earlier in the week, police broke up two other weddings in the same neighborhood, and the day before, a fourth homeowner, Shaul Kuperwasser, was also charged with “maintaining a public nuisance” by hosting more than fifty friends at his residence.

This is something of an epidemic of its own. “The Lakewood Police is asking that its citizens be responsible and obey the directives set forth by the State of New Jersey for the safety and health of all,” local law enforcement said in a statement. “Those that choose not to will be subject to criminal prosecution.” Continue reading