No story is too stupid for Ethics Alarms!
I’m so proud.
In Round Rock, Texas, Brandon Vezmar took a woman out for a pizza and to see “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2” , but she texted throughout the film and then left him sitting alone. He texted her, demanding that she refund the cost of the pizza and the ticket, but she says she refused because “he took me out on a date.”. Now Brandon has filed a claim for $17.31 in small claims court.
1. Brandon’s law suit can be translated as: “Look at me! I’m a big jerk!” I cannot imagine that he will be more successful finding dates in the future. And no wonder she abandoned him.
2. The lawsuit is an abuse of process. He will be lucky if he doesn’t get a dressing down from the judge.
3. Of course he should have let the incident go. This is custom, not contract. The date stunk. That’s a risk you take.
4. The woman, who remains un-named, is a rude jerk as well. She could and should have apologized quickly enough that Big Jerk didn’t have time to complain.
5. There is so much wrong with any two people who can’t locate the social skills and common sense to resolve a matter like this without resorting to the legal system, that it is a near certainty that they will engage in far worse conduct, doing real harm, in the future.
Pointer: Tim Levier
Portrait of a justice-involved individual…
As it attempts to bolster its political support by sucking up to convicted criminals and their families, the Obama administration has been incrementally making it more difficult to distinguish felons from law-abiding citizens, arguing that once they have paid their debt to society, maybe they are no different. HUD, carrying out the Obama administration’s new theory that felons are just plain folks, has decreed that landlords risk federal investigations if they reject rental applicants based on the applicant’s undisputed criminal record in newly-released guidelines.
The Justice Department and the Department of Education are now using a euphemism to make convicts and those with rap sheets sound like they have a hobby: the new cover-phrase is “justice-involved individuals.” (Hillary Clinton is apparently a justice-involved individual.)
The problem with all of this is that being convicted of a felony is not like catching a cold, and often provides a strong clue that the individual involved is not quite as trustworthy as the boy scout or girl scout next door. Take, for example, this story:
From the ABA Journal:
A woman with a history of financial crimes in multiple states got a job as an office manager and bookkeeper for a North Carolina law firm, after a background check failed to pick up her earlier convictions under a different name.
That resulted in a loss of more than $150,000 to the firm, Yow, Fox & Mannen, District Attorney Ben David of New Hanover County told the Port City Daily. The firm’s now-former employee, Felicia Menge Kelley, 44, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of embezzlement and was sentenced to a prison term of between 82 and 111 months, the newspaper reports. She will also be required to pay over $145,000 in restitution.
Kelley, who has previously worked for other law firms in the Jacksonville area, was convicted earlier under the name of Felicia Dawn Menge…
But I’m sure she’s just an exception to the rule…and gives a bad name to decent, hard-working, justice-involved individuals. It’s not like they are criminals or something.
More Bizarro World reasoning from the Obama Administration…
The disparate impact doctrine is unfair and illogical, as well as destructive. It has been used to invalidate exams for professional advancement that result in a racial imbalance in police force brass, for example, even when no actual discriminatory practices have been identified. It has been used to eliminate school discipline for classroom disruptions, because more black students than white students are being suspended, even though no bias has been shown in enforcement. Disparate impact has allowed incompetent teachers to keep teaching, and recently, its has become an rationale for not imprisoning convicted felons, because the current prison population is disproportionately black.
The Obama administration, being addicted to a race-biased view of American society in which all, or almost all, problems within the black community are ascribed to forces outside that community’s control, now has decreed that landlords risk federal investigations if they reject rental applicants based on the applicant’s undisputed criminal record. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s newly-released guidelines state…
“The Fair Housing Act prohibits both intentional housing discrimination and housing practices that have an unjustified discriminatory effect because of race, national origin, or other protected characteristics. Because of widespread racial and ethnic disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system, criminal history-based restrictions on access to housing are likely disproportionately to burden African-Americans and Hispanics. While the Act does not prohibit housing providers from appropriately considering criminal history information when making housing decisions, arbitrary and overbroad criminal history-related bans are likely to lack a legally sufficient justification.”
Sinister as this is, I’m sure it is sincere. The Obama Administration, obviously programed by the man who bears its name, is consumed by a bias in favor of non-whites, based on the assumption that they are inevitably victimized in U.S. society. Disparate impact could be properly used as a clue to uncovering actual bias and discrimination, but the presumption that disparate impact must be based on bias is itself a bias, and leads to intrusive and unfair regulations and Big Brother-style “Be Careful! We’re Watching!” warnings like this one. Continue reading
In other words, be just like Cleveland, Ohio.
When I read that Cleveland was trying to bill the family $500 for the fatally wounded Tamir Rice to be carried by an ambulance after an incompetent police officer shot the 12-year-old boy as he played with a toy gun in a city park, I began a mental countdown. How long would it be before a public outcry forced the Cleveland municipal government to cover the bill and apologize? It took about a day.
It doesn’t matter how one regards Rice’s death: a racist murder by a cop, excused by the justice system ( black activists, anti-polce race-hucksters and too many journalists and pundits), blatant incompetence on the part of many adults and institutions, leading to the negligent, tragic death of an innocent child (Ethics Alarms), or something in between. The incident was a massive humiliation for Cleveland, its leadership and the police, justifying all of the anger and raw emotion in its aftermath. Tamir and his family were undeniably victims, and the city was the entity that harmed them. If there is a single individual on the city payroll who is incapable of immediately recognizing the grotesque insult of billing the family for removing the body of the dead child killed by city police, then the city itself is untrustworthy and dysfunctional. As it happens, many city employees must have been aware of the disgusting bill, and every one of them should have been smart enough to know that this was one expense the city had to eat or else. Now we know how and why Tamir died. Incompetent people are running the city, and incompetent people are dangerous.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson apologized at a news conference yesterday, and said that the city would pay whatever wasn’t covered by Medicaid. “It was mistake in terms of us not flagging it, but it was not a mistake in terms of the legal process,” Jackson said. This logic echoes the rationalizations for the conduct of “The Worst Aunt Ever,” who sued her 12-year-old nephew to get insurance covered damages. Continue reading
Maybe I’m just in a bad mood, but “Ethics Dunce” doesn’t quite do the conduct of these Halloween 2015 miscreants.
Tell me again why we bother with this holiday that was once supposed to be the one day a year the evil spirits come out to play. Every year it is clearer that Halloween and its related activities is a festival for assholes. For example..
Robert Ledrew of Blackwood, New Jersey
There has never been a confirmed case of a child being injured by poisoned or otherwise tampered with Halloween treats. The one case, a murder, that caused a long-running panic was the father who poisoned his own son’s candy to collect on his life insurance. I guess Robert Ledrew felt that a new generation of kids needed to be convinced that adults are lurking psychopaths, so he posted images of needle-filled candy bars to his Facebook page and reported to the police. Later he explained that he was trying to teach children to be check their candy. I saw the photos as CNN reported the candy as a real attack on children, with no skepticism whatsoever. The tone was, “Oh, no, not this again! How horrible.” I turned to my wife and said, “This is a hoax. It’s always a hoax. Why doesn’t CNN know that?”
Ledrow was later arrested and charged with making a false police report.
Happy Halloween, Fort Bragg!
A yet unnamed soldier attempted to enter Fort Bragg on Friday night dressed as a suicide bomber, complete with a fake vest of explosives. Understandably, there was”an emergency response.” Continue reading
An ethicist’s pet peeve: People who misuse formal ethics rules to justify unethical or stupid behavior because they never thought about what why the rule exists.
This happens a lot. My favorite example was the famous athlete enmeshed in a scandal. Ay a press conference, he said that he couldn’t answer specific questions because of “atttorney-client privilege,” and not one of the reporters had the education to say, “Huh? You’re the client! The attorney-client privilege prevents your lawyer from revealing what you told him. It doesn’t stop you from revealing anything, you cretin.” In my seminars, when an attendee cites a professional ethics rule as the reason why he shouldn’t do something, I often ask, “And why is that a rule? What’s wrong with what it forbids?” Often, disturbingly often, the individual has no idea.
The New York Times today featured another example: medical providers and others not even subject to the law using HIPAA to avoid giving out information they could and should give out, in mots cases misinterpreting the law to do so. Among the examples in the Times story:
- A retirement home refusing to tell friends of a resident that the resident had died (only health care providers, health insurers, clearinghouses that manage and store health data, and their business associates are covered by The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. a.k.a. HIPAA)
- A hospital that refused to accept information about a patient’s allergies from the patient’s daughter (Wow: hospitals can receive medical information; HIPAA restricts the ways they can disclose it)
- Another relative of a patient reprimanded by hospital staff for talking about her loved one’s medical problems in the cafeteria, because, she was told, it was a HIPAA violation.
- A minister told a church staff not to announce the names of ailing church members because it was would violate HIPAA (That’s right: he really thought it was against the law to tell congregation that someone was sick.)
- Some providers cite HIPAA to block patients from seeing their own records.
This is why morality alone doesn’t make people ethical, especially if they aren’t very bright. Continue reading
The picture above shows Denis Cuspert, a German rapper and the enterprising creator of the T-shirt he is holding in the shot on the left. The photo on the right shows Denis in his current incarnation, Abu Talha Al-Almani. He formally joined the Islamic State sometime in April 2014. It is believed that he has become the Islamic State’s chief propagandist in the German language, inspiring disillusioned young Germans to become jihadists. In November 2014, he appeared in an Islamic State video holding a severed head.
I saw the photo above online this morning, and it reminded me that I have never made an important point about bias explicit here. Bias causes a lot of problems, in society and in the life of individuals, but those who furiously condemn bias and demand that we should eradicate it from human nature are reckless and ignorant, and often dishonest as well. Bias is a crucial evolutionary feature that allows human beings to avoid making the same mistake twice, or a hundred times. It is linked to trust, and leads to wariness. Without the ability to form biases, every one of us would be fatally naive, and a victim waiting to be harmed. Continue reading