Tag Archives: coincidence

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/5/2018: Doppelgangers And Other Weirdness

Oh-oh! It’s a creepy morning…

1. If “there are no coincidences,” then what the hell does THIS mean? The ethics category, if there is one, would be “Nature Incompetence,” or perhaps “deity abuse of power.” Look at minor league baseball pitcher Brady Feigl:

Oh! I’m sorry! I meant “Look at these TWO minor league baseball pitchers who are both named Brady Feigl.” One is in the Texas Rangers system, and the other is in the Oakland A’s system.

A similar example of God fooling around for his own amusement and our confusion had historical significance.

This man is Will West, a convicted criminal who was sent to Leavenworth Prison in 1903…

 

…and this is William West, who was already being held there:

The fact that the two men were so facially similar helped convince American law enforcement to begin using fingerprints rather than facial measurements for identification.

2. Over-blown conservative news media controversy of the week: In “First Man,” Ryan Gosling plays Neil Armstrong. For some reason, director Damien Chazelle decided to omit the iconic moment when Armstrong planted the American flag on the Moon. The Horror. Fox News can’t stop talking about it. President Trump has declared that he’ll boycott the film. Morons. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/25/2017: NPR, Spin Cycle, A Mother Bugs A Classroom, and a Jumbo!

 

Good Morning, Black Saturday!

1 Self promotion Dept. I’m going to be back on NPR (WBUR, D.C.) in what I think is a live panel discussion (“Barbershop” is the show—I wonder what a ‘barbershop” is? ) hosted at 5: 30 pm, EST by the estimable Michel Martin. The topic is The Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck, though that’s not what they’ll be calling it.

2. “For every time, Spin Spin Spin, there is a season..” I may mention this New Republic article, or at least be ready to torch a fellow panelist who cites it favorably. The tortured reasoning of writer David Dayen led him to assert that the “sexual harassment crisis” resulted from ” a broken justice system.” Let me summarize it for you: men harass women in the workplace because it’s too hard to convict people and put them in jail. When did liberals start being the ones who want to dispense with civil rights protections and due process assurances in court?

“But we should identify the real culprit for this state of affairs: the long, slow abandonment of the rule of law in America. The reason adjudicating sexual misconduct claims has been left to the media and the crowd is that people have no expectation that the legal system will adjudicate those claims fairly. How can anyone blame them? They have witnessed endless instances of powerful people, mostly wealthy men, getting away with criminality and deception, in every context imaginable. When you don’t have a working justice system, you get a kind of vigilantism as a result. The problem isn’t the vigilantism—it’s the broken framework that leads desperate people to take matters into their own hands. That powerful people face little sanction for misbehavior is an old story, as true in gender as it is in class. But brazen impunity for the powerful is a hallmark of our era. The worst financial crisis in America in nearly a century led to practically no convictions for those whose actions facilitated the meltdown. The Catholic Church shuttled around sex-abusing priests for decades with little reckoning. Cops shoot black people and go back on the job….”

None of this has much to do with sexual harassment, which isn’t a crime, and the three examples cherry-picked by Dayen don’t support his stated argument. The Wall Street wheeler-dealers operated primarily within loopholes and gray areas in the laws and regulations. There were few convictions because it was hard to prove that laws were broken. When the molesting priests were identified, still living, and in the U.S., many were sent to prison. (That the Catholic Church behaved abysmally doesn’t show that the U.S. justice system is broken, obviously). And “Cops shoot black people and go back on the job” is deceitful, simple-minded agitprop. Colin Kaepernick, is that you?

The article is a desperate and clumsy attempt at ethics jujitsu, with the recent exposure of progressive hypocrites as sexual predators being flipped to pivot to the talking point that “everything is rigged against the poor, blacks and women.” What Dayen ends up arguing is that we need to make it easier to prove criminal guilt when we just know the defendants are bad dudes (white, male and rich) —shouldn’t that be enough?— and all the “beyond a reasonable doubt” stuff should be junked…except when black “non-violent drug offenders” are involved.

3.  It’s still illegal. Fark.com called this story “a woman being arrested for mothering while black.” Nice. David Dayen, is that you? Continue reading

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Ethics Quiz On A Story I’m Betting Is A Hoax: The “Identical Twins” Married Couple

I have now read three accounts in borderline news sources about a Mississippi married couple who went to a fertility clinic and discovered to their horror that they were “identical twins.” I’m assuming it is a fake news story, perhaps planted through collusion with the Trump campaign by Russian government operatives, and not just because identical twins cannot be different sexes. (Hey! Maybe one of them had  gender reassignment surgery! Now that would be a story!)

I suppose it’s possible; Robert Ripley found odder coincidences for decades, but never mind: let’s assume for the sake of ethics problem-solving practice that the story is true. (I’ll be stunned if it is.)

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

What is the couple’s most ethical course now that they know they are siblings, or is there one?

Key question: Is this ick rather than ethics?

Trap: I’m not asking what’s moral.

It’s all yours…

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Coincidence, Ethics Violation, Or A Playground Rhyme Come True: The Lawyer’s Burning Pants

I love this story!

 Miami defense lawyer’ Stephen Gutierrez shocked onlookers when his pants burst into flames mid-trial as he was addressing the  jury. Gutierrez was defending a client  accused of intentionally setting his car on fire in South Miami. Yes, it was an arson case. He had just begun his closing argument when smoke started billowing from his pants pocket.

By sheer coincidence I’m sure, the lawyer was arguing that the defendant’s car spontaneously combusted—just like the lawyer’s trousers!— and was not intentionally set on fire. Observers told police that Gutierrez had been fiddling in his pocket right before his pants ignited. He ran out of the courtroom, and the jurors were ushered out as well. After  Gutierrez returned unharmed, he told the judge that  it wasn’t a staged  demonstration gone horribly wrong, but just a coincidence. A faulty battery in his e-cigarette had caused the fire.

In an arson trial.

During closing argument.

Where the defense was “spontaneous combustion.”

Okay!

Jurors convicted Gutierrez’s client of second-degree arson anyway. Miami-Dade police and prosecutors are now investigating the episode, and Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman is deciding whether to hold him in contempt of court.

Comments: Continue reading

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OK, Voter ID Opponents, Here’s An Integrity Test: Is This A Smoking Gun Or An Amazing Coincidence?

Wow! Just a handful of fraudulent voters in the whole country for years, and one of them just happens to be captured for terrorism! What are the odds?

Wow! Just a handful of fraudulent voters in the whole country for years, and one of them just happens to be captured for terrorism! What are the odds?

Those opposing voter ID requirements as a thinly-veiled Republican effort to suppress black voting maintain that there is no need for identification at the polls because voter fraud doesn’t exist. Last week, discussing the controversy,  I flagged a New York Times editorial  titled, The Success of the Voter Fraud Myth.

It argued in part,

As study after study has shown, there is virtually no voter fraud anywhere in the country. The most comprehensive investigation to date found that out of one billion votes cast in all American elections between 2000 and 2014, there were 31 possible cases of impersonation fraud. Other violations — like absentee ballot fraud, multiple voting and registration fraud — are also exceedingly rare. So why do so many people continue to believe this falsehood?

Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, wrote in U.S. News & World Report in 2012  that voter fraud didn’t exist:

“Voter fraud would be a real problem if it actually happened. It’s a serious crime, and one that can undermine our democracy. Fortunately, it’s a crime we have largely figured out how to prevent.”

Huh.

Well then, what does this mean?

From King5 TV (NBC):

The Cascade Mall shooting suspect, Arcan Cetin, may face an additional investigation related to his voting record and citizenship status.

Federal sources confirm to KING 5 that Cetin was not a U.S. citizen, meaning legally he cannot vote. However, state records show Cetin registered to vote in 2014 and participated in three election cycles, including the May presidential primary.

Cetin, who immigrated to the United States from Turkey as a child, is considered a permanent resident or green card holder. While a permanent resident can apply for U.S. citizenship after a certain period of time, sources tell KING his status had not changed from green card holder to U.S. citizen.

While voters must attest to citizenship upon registering online or registering to vote at the Department of Licensing Office, Washington state doesn’t require proof of citizenship. Therefore elections officials say the state’s elections system operates, more or less, under an honor system.

“We don’t have a provision in state law that allows us either county elections officials or the Secretary of State’s office to verify someone’s citizenship,” explained Secretary of State Kim Wyman. “So, we’re in this place where we want to make sure we’re maintaining people’s confidence in the elections and the integrity of the process, but also that we’re giving this individual, like we would any voter, his due process. We’re moving forward, and that investigation is really coming out of the investigation from the shootings.”

The penalty for voting as a non U.S. citizen could result in five years of prison time or a $10,000, according to Secretary of State’s Office.

The options are: Continue reading

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CREW Gets Hoisted: For Ethics Watchdogs, Integrity’s a Bitch

CREW—Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington—is one of the most active and fairest of political watchdog groups. It has a definite liberal bias, for approximately twice as many Republicans as Democrats manage to attract CREW critiques, but that’s all right: plenty of elected officials from both parties have had their shady dealings exposed by the group, which is notable for its lack of sympathy for Washington’s traditional myths and excuses to allow guilt-free corruption.

An ethics watchdog, however, can never engage in the same conduct it criticizes in others. The reason for this is as much practical as ethical. A group that made a strong case that certain behavior shouldn’t be tolerated by the public in its elected champions doesn’t diminish the validity of its arguments by violating its own principles, but it does symbolically consent to accepting the same standard of review for its own actions that it demanded for its targets. This is what Will Shakespeare called being hoisted by your own petard—blowing yourself up with a bomb of your own construction.

As Shakespeare also noted, the previous quarry of the one who is thus hoisted just love to see this happen. It doesn’t really make what they did any less wrong or the ethics watchdog any less right to have condemned it, but when the critic gets caught doing something similar, it can make the conduct seem less wrong. This also will often guarantee that future criticism by the watchdog will be greeted with more suspicion than respect.

Salon has a posted a well-researched account of how CREW hoisted itself recently, and the prospects for the organization maintaining its previous level of respect and credibility are not good. Continue reading

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