If Progressives Agree With Hate Speech, It Isn’t Hate Speech Any More…Do I Have That Straight?

Clarence Darrow said, in his famous closing argument that saved Dr. Ossian Sweet and his family from a murder conviction,

“I am the last one to come here to stir up race hatred, or any other hatred. I do not believe in the law of hate. I may not be true to my ideals always, but I believe in the law of love, and I believe you can do nothing with hatred.”

Darrow was a progressive, you know, and sometimes a radical one. He was, after all, a great admirer of John Brown. A constant theme in his work, however, both in court and in his many debates and essays, was avoiding hatred, and seeking love. In another of his famous trial, in which he saved thrill-killer Nathan Leopold and Dickie Loeb from the gallows, he concluded his closing argument for mercy this way:

If I should succeed in saving these boys’ lives and do nothing for the progress of the law, I should feel sad, indeed. If I can succeed, my greatest reward and my greatest hope will be that I have done something for the tens of thousands of other boys, or the countless unfortunates who must tread the same road in blind childhood that these poor boys have trod, that I have done something to help human understanding, to temper justice with mercy, to overcome hate with love.

I was reading last night of the aspiration of the old Persian poet, Omar Khayyam. It appealed to me as the highest that can vision. I wish it was in my heart, and I wish it was in the hearts of all:

“So I be written in the Book of Love,
Do not care about that Book above.
Erase my name or write it as you will,
So I be written in the Book of Love.

But at some point, and relatively recently, wielding hate as a weapon has become a fetish of the Left that once styled itself in Darrow’s tradition. Even though today’s progressives and Democrats loudly deplore what they call “hate speech,” even to the point of insisting that speech they disapprove of is unprotected by the First Amendment, they are willing and eager to not only deploy the rhetoric of hate but to encourage hate in furtherance of their own agenda.

This is undeniable; mine is an objective observation. Donald Trump was defeated by four years of carefully cultivated (but still reckless and destructive) hate. (Not surprisingly, his supporters—and Trump himself—hated right back. Hate is like that.) As the year closed and a new one dawned, Lefist allies like Twitter, Facebook and the Big Tech companies escalated their campaign to silence opinions that their highly selective and biased definitions of “hate” required, while allowing other, equally inflammatory opinions from those with whom the metaphorically traveled ideologically (or who were the enemies of their enemies, as the saying goes.) As the New York Post said of Twitter, “All the evidence suggests Twitter doesn’t police according to any neutral standards, but with an eye on what bothers its woke workforce.”

On January 19, the latest entry in the category of approved woke bigotry and hate arrived. HarperCollins released “I Hate Men,” a recent French sensation by Pauline Harmange and translated by Natasha Lehrer. Gushes the Amazon blurb,

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Clarence Darrow’s Reflections On His 61st Birthday

picture-of-a-birthday-cake-with-lots-of-candles

On April 18, 1918, a group of Clarence Darrow’s friends and admirers gave him a testimonial dinner in celebration of his 61st birthday. Why 61? I have no idea. Today I hit the life milestone that my father refereed to as “entering the yellow zone,” and I admit, I’m a bit shaken by this development. In my head, I am forever 18. I don’t want to face the fact that I am running out of time to do so many of the things I should have done and wanted to do.

I decided to again read Darrow’s speech, apparently extemporaneous for the most part, on his thoughts at reaching the age of 61, which in 1918 was actuarially older than I am now. It’s pure Darrow, with many of the themes he echoed in his courtroom oratory, along with musings about ethics, God and the cosmos, and some heavy self-deception. Darrow said, for example, that he was “inherently modest.” Right. Maybe it was a laugh line.

Darrow mind fascinates me, as frequent readers here know. I enjoy his thoughts about age and life, and hope you will too.

Now here’s Darrow…

I have always yearned for peace, but have lived a life of war. I do not know why, excepting that it is the law of my being. I have lived a life in front trenches, looking for trouble.

If I had known just what I was to run into here I would have worn a gas mask. A man is never painted as he is. One is either better or worse than the picture that is drawn. This is the first time that I have felt that I was worse. No one ever gave me a dinner like this before, and I really do not know how my friends happened to take into their heads to do it this time. I am sure it has been pleasant, although in spots more or less embarrassing; still on the whole I prefer the embarrassments incident to this dinner, rather than the ones I often get.

Like most others who reach the modest age of sixty-one, I have hardly noticed it. Still this morning for the first time in more than twenty yeas I felt a twinge of rheumatism, a gentle reminder on this birthday that I am no longer a “spring chicken.” On the whole the years have passed rapidly. Some of them, it is true, have dragged, but mainly they have hurried as if anxious to finish the job as soon as they possibly could. So quickly have they sped that I hardly realize that so many have been checked off, in fact I have scarcely thought about it as they went by.

I have been congratulated a good many times today, no doubt on the fact that I am so nearly done with it all. One scarcely feels as they go along that they are getting–well older. Of course I know my intellect is just as good as it ever was; I am sure of that. Everyone tells me that I am looking younger. I had my hair cut about a month ago; a friend remarked, “It makes you look ten years younger,” so I had it cut again. Perhaps I shall keep on getting it cut. Of course, one more or less doubts the truthfulness of thee old friends, when they say you are getting younger, but at the same time you try to believe them and do not contradict.

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The Great Ethics Train Wreck Of 1910

On this date, October 1, 110 years ago,  a massive explosion destroyed the Los Angeles Times building in the city’s downtown area, killing 21 employees and injuring many more. This obviously unethical act—though in the over-heated labor environment of the times, union activists would secretly defend it—set off a series of events in one of the great ethics train wrecks in U.S. history.

The explosion was a message to Los Angeles Times publisher Harrison Otis, a powerful opponent of the burgeoning labor movement in general and unions in particular. Determined to exploit the tragedy to turn public opinion against organized labor, he hired the nation’s most famous private detective, William J. Burns, to crack the case while his paper supplied an avalanche of anti-labor editorials and slanted news stories.  Otis, the leader of the Merchants and Manufacturing Association, a powerful group of business owners with extensive political connections, seemed less interested in justice for the dead than a decisive knock-out of the union movement itself.

Burns’ investigation led to the Bridge and Structural Iron Workers Union and their treasurer, John J. McNamara. Burns got a confession out of  a sketchy character named Ortie McManigal who had allegedly been the intermediary between McNamara and two bomb experts, and personally arrested John McNamara and his brother James in Indiana. Then Burns supervised the kidnapping and transportation of the brothers to California, where they could be prosecuted.

Convinced that the the McNamara brothers were being framed—some labor supporters even suspected that Otis had bombed his own building—Samuel Gompers and Eugene V. Debs pressured Clarence Darrow, then the premier labor lawyer in the U.S.,  to take on the McNamaras’ defense. Darrow had been ill and seeking to retire, but a recent stock market crash had left him broke as well. He agreed to take the case for the then unprecedented sum of $50,000 (about $1,368,000 today). The unions literally had children collecting nickels and pennies to build the defense fund.

The unions were Darrow’s clients under the existing legal ethics rules, but the brothers were also his clients, and their lives were at stake. This became a serious conflict when Darrow learned, within minutes of meeting with the McNamaras, that they were guilty.

Gompers had told him that the brothers had to be acquitted or the entire labor movement might be destroyed forever. The clients paying his fee, therefore, demanded a plea of “not guilty.” Darrow, however, became convinced that only a guilty plea would save the brothers from execution. Meanwhile, he knew that there was no way the McNamaras could get a fair trial. The Times was poisoning the jury pool daily. The prosecution was engaging in outrageous tactics, like bugging Darrow’s offices in L.A. They even had Darrow followed, and got incriminating photographs of the lawyer leaving the apartment of his long-time, off-and-on mistress, a female journalist covering the trial. Then they used the photos to try to force Darrow to withdraw from the case, threatening to show them to his wife, Ruby.

“Go ahead,” he said. “She knows all about Mary.” Darrow’s hands were hardly clean either: his agents had located the supply of dynamite in Indiana that the fatal charge had been taken from, and he hired a lawyer to hide the evidence in a safe. Continue reading

From The Ethics Alarms Archives: “The Forgotten Meaning of Labor Day”

The 1894 Pullman strike

It may be hard for Americans to get inspired to celebrate Labor Day for what it is supposed to honor, especially with teachers unions working to keep America locked down and students barely educated in pursuit of a partisan political agenda, and pro athlete unions bullying sports leagues into ruining their product by turning them into political propaganda vehicles, and the postal workers union partisan bias eroding trust in the upcoming election. Nonetheless, there is a good reason to celebrate Labor Day.

This Ethics Alarms post from 2012 explains what that reason is.

Labor Day commemorates one of the great ethical victories of American society, and not one in a hundred Americans know it. Labor Day marks the end of summer, and a time for retail store sales, and the last chance to get away to Disney World, but few of us think about the real meaning of the word “labor” in the name, and how it is meant to honor brave, dedicated men and women who fought, sometimes literally, the forces of greed, political influence, wealth and privilege in this country to ensure a measure of safety, consideration, fairness and justice for the hardest working among us.

Today labor unions are controversial, and with good reason. Many of them have been run as criminal enterprises, with deep connections to organized crime; many operate in a blatantly coercive and undemocratic fashion. Union demands and strong-arm tactics, while providing security and good wages to members, have crippled some American industries, and limited jobs as well. Today the unions  get publicity when one of them tries to protect a member who should be punished, as when the baseball players’ union fights suspensions for player insubordination or even drug use, or when school districts are afraid to fire incompetent teachers because of union power, or when the members of public unions protest cutbacks in benefits that their private sector counterparts would be grateful for. It is true that today’s unions often embody longshoreman philosopher Eric Hoffer’s observation that  “Every great cause begins as a movement, degenerates into a business and ends up as a racket.” *

That not what Labor Day honors, however. It is celebrating the original labor movement that began at the end of the 19th century, and that eventually rescued the United States from an industrial and manufacturing system that was cruel, exploitive, deadly and feudal. Why the elementary schools teach nothing about this inspiring and important movement, I do not know. I suspect that the story of the American labor movement was deemed politically dangerous to teach during the various Red Scares, and fell out of the curriculum, never to return. Whatever the reason, it is disgraceful, for the achievements of the labor movement are every bit as important and inspiring as those of the civil rights movement and the achievements of our armed forces in the protection of liberty abroad. Continue reading

In Defense Of The Terrorist: Clarence Darrow Eulogy For John Brown

In the ongoing debate here regarding what constitutes a great American—sparked by reader valkygrrl’s guest post on the topic as well as the President’s recent remarks at Mount Rushmore, the question of whether abolitionist John Brown belongs has been the most contentious. I don’t believe that one can ethically assign a murderer and law-breaker (and unraveling fanatic) like Brown to the “great American” category,  but a figure unquestionably smarter than I whom I believe unquestionably was  one of the greatest Americans did, and his argument deserves attention and thought. That figure is Clarence Darrow.

Brown was much admired by Darrow’s iconoclast father, Amirus Darrow, and his mother was an anti-slavery activist, turning the Darrow home into a stop on the Underground Railroad.  Born in 1857, Darrow was too young to remember the pre-Civil War period, and Brown was hanged in 1859. Nonetheless, the admiration for Brown was passed on from father to son, and there are moments in Darrow’s career where his actions seemed consistent with Brown’s philosophy of the ends justifying the means when the stakes were important enough, notably the conduct that almost got him disbarred and imprisoned for jury tampering. (Darrow was guilty, but was acquitted because he had a great defense attorney—Clarence Darrow.)

John Brown was a hero of Darrow’s , who didn’t have many: the abolitionist, Voltaire, and his friend and mentor John Peter Altgeld were about it, as far as I can tell. Periodically, on the anniversary of Brown’s birthday (May 8), Darrow would give a speech eulogizing Brown to a progressive group. Its final sentence is the most quoted:

The radical of today is the conservative of tomorrow, and other martyrs take up the work through other nights, and the dumb and stupid world plants its weary feet upon the slippery sand, soaked by their blood, and the world moves on.

Incredibly, Darrow’s John Brown Eulogy is impossible to find on the web now; I have no idea why. (Enter that sentence in Google, and what pops up is…me!) Thus I am  reproducing Darrow’s speech here, for two purposes: first, to let you consider Clarence Darrow ‘s argument for why we should honor John Brown, and second, to have an online home for it.

It is not the whole speech, but my own shortened and edited version. I am still hunting for the whole document in a form I can post (I have it in several books), and when I find it, I’ll substitute the complete version for this: Continue reading

And Today’s “Madness! Madness!” Item Of The Day: “The Unintentional Racism Found In Traffic Signals”

I didn’t make that title up. “The Unintentional Racism Found in Chex Mix,” I made up. Not  the other one.

You can read the article here.

The writer, David Kaufman, says in the article that he is black, so I’ll take his word for it. I’m not going to fisk or rebut the piece, any more than you would take the time fir rebut my Chex Mix conspiracy theory, if I really wrote it down. Both articles inhabit the special category  of “res ipsa loquitur” reserved for things that, without further analysis or explication, prove that their creator is mentally ill, or, in the alternative, trying, for whatever reason, to make people believe waht isn’t so, or, possibly engaging in satire. When you  read the article, the latter possibility is quicklyerases, and so is the second. The author is serious. He is deranged.

Here’s one section, just to illustrate:

“And there you have it: The government-approved origins of the “little White men” telling us to cross the street at corners across New York….I am now convinced that technology and necessity, rather than some anti-Black conspiracy, propelled the shift from verbal crosswalk cues to a lunar-white Walking Person. But my heart still sinks at the specter of teaching my sons to ask a White man for permission to do — well, anything. Because so much of the world already insists that we do.”

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#MeToo Ethics: No, Complimenting Someone’s Appearance Isn’t Sexual Harrassment

(Though it can be.)

The Economist surveyed five different countries, asking respondents what kind of  conduct they viewed as sexual harassment.

Some examples (such as requesting a sexual favor) were obviously inappropriate, and were classified as such across all countries. Asked if a compliment on a woman’s appearance  could be classified as sexual harassment,  U.S. were a different matter. roughly a third of those under 30 in the U.S. answered, “Yes.”

Here’s the survey….

Thus we see how #MeToo propaganda has succeeded in convincing a large proportion of Americans that the simple act of engaging in the long-standing, traditional  social balm of being nice should be avoided and even punished. For them, an innocent compliment must be regarded with suspicion. Since whether an arguable sexually inspired comment  makes the recipient “uncomfortable” and is therefore “unwelcome” is the necessary predicate to a sexual harassment complaint and law suit. Continue reading

Why Did A Judge Let A Man Who Was Trying To Kill His Wife Get Off With A Tough, “Now, Now, Don’t Try To Poison Your Wife Again!” [Updated]

[Notice of corrections: This post had way too many typos, and I apologize profusely. Thanks to Crella for alerting me. I think I got all of them.]

I have a theory.

I wish I didn’t.

Therese Kozlowski got a videotape of her husband Brian poisoning her coffee with sleeping pills. Even with this evidence, the poisoner received a sentence of just 60 days in jail, which he will be allowed to serve on the weekends. The prosecutor called the sentence “a slap in the face” of the victim. Oh, it’s much worse than that.

It all started after Therese said she wanted a divorce. Then she noticed that she was feeling drowsy and tired on mornings when Brian made the coffee. She narrowly avoided an accident when she fell asleep while driving to work. So she secretly installed a small video camera by the coffee machine, and sure enough, Brian was putting the equivalent of eight sleeping pills in the morning java.

“Brian’s continuous, methodical, and calculated plot to poison me included a complete disregard for human life, including his own daughter [she also drank some of the spiked coffee], along with hundreds of other drivers who he put at risk every day for weeks,” Therese Kozlowski said in court. “I believe this was attempted murder. Once Brian realized he lost me and there was no getting me to stay in this unhealthy marriage, his goal was to eliminate me.”

This convinced Macomb County (Michigan) Circuit Court Judge Antonio Viviano , he said, to give Brian jail time instead of merely probation, which was his initial instinct. Continue reading

Open Forum…Again!

We have to stop not meeting like this…

You will note that the big hand is on the 6 and little one is on 5, as for some reason I am too tired to recall, my ethics day this day, June 20, 2019, begins with a 6:30 am bar association production meeting for a legal ethics video, and continues unbroken until 9 pm, when I will complete a three hour ethics seminar on the ethics of Clarence Darrow, with the estimable Darrow interpreter, Paul Morella. That’s about 15 straight hours. Who says ethics isn’t in demand?

So once again, I must ask the commentariat here to keep the fire burning and the discussion flowing. Anything goes, as long as it it is on topic and civil.

Maybe you will want to ponder this case, long regarded as Darrow’s ugliest, which I will be discussing today, among others:

Good luck, everyone. I will self -destruct in about 15 hours…

Jake Stein’s Tears

Legendary D.C. lawyer Jake Stein died last week at 94. He was that rarity in Washington and among lawyers, a universally respected attorney who had made few enemies and had few detractors. He was also long regarded as the sage of the profession in D.C., whose thoughtful and erudite essays that closed the bar associations’ monthly magazine, Washington Lawyer, were perhaps the most-read features of the publication.

I was reminded in his New York Times obituary that Stein represented Kenneth W. Parkinson, a former lawyer for President Nixon’s re-election committee, when he was charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice in the Watergate scandal. Parkinson was the only indicted Watergate figure who was acquitted, and Stein’s skillful defense was considered to be the reason.  His closing argument was made unusually dramatic by Stein weeping as he described Parkinson as a pawn of “confessed perjurers,” and pleaded for the jury to consider his client’s character and the wounds the unjust prosecution had inflicted on it. “Doesn’t a lifetime, where you built it up grain by grain, weigh against that?” Stein asked plaintively.

I wonder: were Stein’s tears real, and does it matter? Continue reading