No, Your Dog’s Not A Racist

Since the culture is being bombarded with propaganda and indoctrination holding that racism—defined as broadly and inclusively (inclusive racism..HEY! I just made up an oxymoron!) as the totalitarian thought police choose in order to intimidate you—is the single most important malady in existence, and must be rooted out in all its forms, a newspaper editor didn’t laugh himself sick when an op-ed writer offered this insanity, opining not only that dogs could be racists, but that owners have a moral duty—moral duty, mind you—to break them of their racists ways. The author, Ryan Poe, begins,

Dogs are racists. OK, not all dogs. But some of them have been conditioned, usually through either a bad experience or lack of experience, to discriminate based on skin color. It’s horrible but true: man’s best friend isn’t always a best friend to all men. The good news is that your KKK-9 doesn’t have to stay racist: Bad conditioning can (and should be) reversed.

Let’s stop right there. Dogs don’t know what race is, so claiming that dogs can be racist is ridiculous on its face. They do not hold one race inferior to others. They do not hold racial stereotypes or assume negative character traits based on race. Racism is human behavior, not canine. Continue reading

Animal Treatment Ethics, Stowaway Raccoon Division: Should A Lawyer Face Professional Sanctions For This?

Controversial Cruelty to Animals Day at Ethics Alarms continues (I don’t plan these things) with this legal ethics story out of Florida. The video above is at the center of it.

Florida disciplinary authorities have opened an investigation into the professional fitness of a lawyer who forced a stowaway  racoon off of his boat a long way from shore,  and thought it was all amusing enough to post a video of the incident on Facebook. The bar’s assumption is that the animal drowned.  The lawyer is now subject to prosecution for a violation of Florida’s wildlife laws.

In Florida, as in every other U.S. jurisdiction, one of the kinds of unethical conduct that can result in bar discipline is committing “a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects,”  as stated by  Rule 8.4 (b) of the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct . Should the nautical lawyer’s conduct  qualify?

You may recall a far more egregious case of animal cruelty by a lawyer discussed here, where I questioned if a psychopath lawyer’s fatal attack on his girlfriend’s dog Snoopy really tells us anything about his trustworthiness as a lawyer. I wrote then,

Emotionally, I have no problem with seeing an animal abuser kicked out of my profession, but I don’t understand what values are being applied. Is it the commission of a crime? Most lawyer crimes don’t result in disbarment, if they don’t involve lying, cheating or stealing. …There is no basis on which to conclude that [Snoppy’s killer]  isn’t competent, zealous and trustworthy—just keep him away from pets.

Now, you may well ask, “Isn’t this at least “moral turpitude?” That’s the character flaw that will keep applicants for bar membership from getting a license due to character deficiency. There are two points related to that. First, moral turpitude might keep you out of the law at the outset, but it is not one of the official no-nos that will get you kicked out of it one you are a practicing lawyer.  The legal  definition of moral turpitude is an act or behavior that gravely violates the sentiment or accepted standard of the community. Brutalizing an animal would certainly qualify. The ABA, however, greatly narrowed the definition as it was applicable to legal discipline:

The 1983 Model Code (periodically amended by the ABA House of Delegates over the last 32 years) rejected the prohibition against “illegal conduct involving moral turpitude.” The ABA’s reason, which it included in a Comment to its Rule 8.4, was quite simple: “Moral turpitude,” the ABA advised, is a “concept can be construed to include offenses concerning some matters of personal morality, such as adultery and comparable offenses, that have no specific connection to fitness for the practice of law. Although a lawyer is personally answerable to the entire criminal law, a lawyer should be professionally answerable only for offenses that indicate lack of those characteristics relevant to law practice.” The American Law Institute’s Restatement of the Law Governing Lawyers § 5 (Third) (ALI 2000), agreed. It also concluded that “moral turpitude” is vague and may lead to discriminatory or otherwise inappropriate applications.”

This looks like an Ick Factor case to me. The abuse of poor Snoopy is so viscerally repulsive that the bar and the courts can’t keep their ethical priorities in order. It is also, as particularly ugly discipline cases often are, a matter of public relations and self-preservation for the legal profession. The bar association knows that not banning a lawyer like Pastor—one hopes there aren’t many–signals to the public that the bar welcomes brilliant advocates who may be monsters in their spare time. That is a dark and dangerous road the profession would rather avoid.

The lawyer in the Florida video also has some defenses the poodle-stomper did not.  Raccoons are wild animals, and cute as the are, they also bite. I wouldn’t want to be trapped on a boat in middle of the ocean with one, though I wouldn’t throw the critter overboard either, unless it was me or him. (My father had a home movie of me jumping out of a canoe and swimming to a lake’s shore when I saw a large spider in the vessel. Of course, I was only 15. All right, I was 26….) The raccoon may have also been a better swimmer than everyone assumes: unlike in the case of poor Snoopy, the lawyer wasn’t trying to kill the animal, just get it off the boat.

I do not, however, second the opinion of Law professor Dane Ciolino, writing on his Louisiana Legal Ethics blog, who says in discussing the case, “A Maryland lawyer was suspended for microwaving a cat. But a racoon? I think not.”

Wait—is the professor really saying that microwaving a live raccoon would not justify bar sanctions, but a cooking a cat does? That’s animal bigotry, but it is consistent with what I detected in the Snoopy case. If that lawyer had stomped to death a raccoon that wandered into the apartment, I doubt that he would have been disciplined.

Yet animal cruelty is animal cruelty. If gratuitously killing a dog or a cat shows that a lawyer is unfit to practice, so does unnecessarily killing a raccoon.


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Unethical Tweet Of The Week

My late master, Rugby.

I know this is too stupid to even comment on, but since my mind is still very much on my recently departed Jack Russell Terrier Rugby, and because this tweet really meets the definition of racist, unlike some other recent tweets being labelled as such, I won’t resist posting on it. I could resist, but I won’t.

Here’s the tweet:

What an idiot. Also…

  • Twitter hasn’t suspended the account.
  • Nobody who has actually owned a dog would ever analogize the relationship to slavery.
  • Nobody who thought for twenty seconds before tweeting this would make that analogy either.
  • What about all the African-Americans who own dogs? Oh, right: slavery was practiced by African tribes too. I guess that explains it.
  • Human Events Managing Editor Ian Miles Cheong tweeted back, “Listen, I just wanted to thank you for driving more people towards the right.Trump wouldn’t be president without people like you.”

All right, that’s enough stupidity for one day. Between the anti-manspreading chair and this, I’m way over my limit.

 

Rugby’s End

For the first time since my son was about to turn 9 almost 16 years ago, our home is without the extraordinary sweetness and aggressive unconditional love of Rugby, my son’s (but really the whole neighborhood’s) extraordinary Jack Russell Terrier.

He peacefully expired after an injection, as he was held tightly by my son Grant, whom he loved beyond explaining, wrapped in the tattered baby blanket that a toddling Grant himself once held for comfort, and that had lined Rugby’s dog bed in my son’s apartment.

In the end, these decisions always come down to ethical values. We received from our vet the not entirely unexpected news that our dog’s sudden lack of energy and stability as well as labored breathing was almost certainly caused by progressive heart failure. Dickens, his more flamboyant and occasionally diabolical predecessor of the same breed, had perished of the identical malady just short of 15 years of mischief. The first question— Is there anything you can do?— was met by an answer we have heard before in earlier animal companion tragedies: “Maybe, but even under the best circumstances, the time will be short.” Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/26/19: Preoccupied Edition

Good morning.

I’m somber these days. Our beloved Jack Russell, Rugby, now approaching 16, suddenly went from remarkably immune to aging to feeling his age, seemingly overnight. He doesn’t seem sick, and it’s true that he has bounced back before, but Rugby’s unalloyed joy at the prospect of a walk has always been a source of great entertainment in our home, and last night, literally for the first time, he was unenthusiastic, slow and grudging, so much so that I cut our excursion short.  14-15 is pretty much the expiration date for this hardy breed; based on Rugby’s predecessor, they go full-speed until they suddenly stop. I’m trying to find my way to rationally and compassionately prepare myself and my family for the inevitable, which we were able to ignore just a week ago. So far, I’m not finding it.

1. Gee, I wonder who’s censoring me now? The last couple days have witnessed another inexplicable drop in Ethics Alarms traffic, and I find myself wondering, especially in light of Project Veritas’s recording of the Google exec, wondering if another social media platform is out to bury Ethics Alarms.

The Google tape is alarming, and should alarm progressives and conservatives alike.

The target,  Google’s head of innovation, is spinning and rationalizaing—and, it seems, lying,  at Medium. she complaining that she was duped by Project Veritas (Yes, we all know that) deflecting the real issue by playing victim, claiming that  “an enormous collection of threatening calls, voicemails, text messages and emails, from people I’d never met” have been coming her way. That’s regrettable, but subsequent unethical conduct in response to one’s revelations of unethical conduct do not excuse the latter.

The victims of Project Veritas stings literally say the same thing every time. Here is Jen Gennai’s version:

[T]hese people lied about their true identities, filmed me without my consent, selectively edited and spliced the video to distort my words and the actions of my employer, and published it widely online.

Watch the video. (YouTube, which is owned by Google, took it down almost immediately, even though Democracy Dies In Darkness, or perhaps because it does). The statements that suggest something sinister are not “spliced,” and Gennai can’t explain what the words mean if they don’t mean what they sound like they mean, statements like… Continue reading

Unethical Pet Product Of The Year: The Canine Onesie

No, this isn’t a gag. I wish it were.

As frequent visitors here know, my family is very fond of dogs, both ours and everyone elses. One disturbing reality of the dog-owning world is how many people acquire dogs who don’t really understand anything about them, or, in many cases, even like them. The degree to which this manifests itself ranges from outright dog abuse, which is incomprehensible to me; neglect, which is cruel and irresponsible even when it is the result of financial problems or stupidity to lack of compassion and respect. In this category are those who buy dogs as fashion statements or home accessories, seldom paying sufficient attention to them or giving them the affection they want and need. The group also includes the Dog Dictator, who only will tolerate a pet that  will do tricks, come, stay, and lie down on command, but that will never be allowed to act like a dog. [Full disclosure: Our current dog and our previous one represent Jack Russell Terriers, which are going to act like not only dogs but a terrifyingly wilful, witty and sometimes diabolical dogs no matter what you do.] Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Respite, 5/22/2019: The Stupid Edition, With A Poll

Good afternoon, Music Lovers!

[Unrelated to the Stupid theme, but of interest: my mostly Democratic audience for today’s sexual harassment training  had no sympathy whatsoever with Joe Biden’s shameless groping, nor with his party’s hypocrisy in supporting him (so far.) Another interesting exchange—I was ready for the question—was when an attendee asked about “the current occupant in the White House” and his sexual harassing ways. “Has he harassed anyone while President?” I asked. She said, “Not that we know of.” Then I put up one of Uncle Joe’s groping photos. “How can a party that nominated someone who openly harasses women on camera challenge same but speculative conduct by the President?” I asked.

It’s also interesting that the un-American and unfair concept of presumed misconduct has so infected progressive thought where Donald Trump is involved. This was the answer I got repeatedly from one of our Self-Exiled Warriors of the Left before his exit: he knew that the President had colluded with the Russians and stolen the election because that’s just the kind of person he is.

What kind of governments oppress, accuse and punish people based on the kind of person they are?]

Stupid #1. In my back yard of  Richmond, Virginia, a woman left instructions in her will that Emma, a healthy Shih Tzu mix, be put down. The Chesterfield County Animal Services , where Emma was residing, appealed to the executor of the dead woman’s estate. “We did suggest they could sign the dog over on numerous occasions — because it’s a dog we could easily find a home for and re-home,” said Carrie Jones, manager of Chesterfield County Animal Services. Nope. Representatives took Emma in custody to be euthanized. The dog’s remains were cremated, and her ashes were placed in an urn to be returned to the “authorized representative of the estate.

There’s no excuse for this screaming example of human arrogance, narcissism, cruelty and idiocy. As a matter of public policy, testamentary wishes involving the killing of anything  should be declared unenforceable by law.

Trust the humans, Emma: they have decided that you’ll be happier dead.

Stupid #2: Boy, I don’t know if Kamala Harris is beatable in the Ethics Alarms contest to be the worst candidate for the Democratic nomination.

To begin the week,, Harris announced  her plan to close “the gender wage gap in the United States,” which is largely a fake talking point the Democrats have been flogging for decades. Her proposal would require that businesses submit  their payroll to the federal government, and if employees in the same position are not paid the same (absent legitimate reasons like seniority or merit, the company would face fines, including a fine of 1% of the company’s profits for every 1% of a “wage gap” that exists.—after expensive appeals, of course. Good plan!!!

But I digress. After Harris’s announcement,the Washington Free Beacon  investigated her own staff’s salaries and found the the median male salary disbursement was $34,999 and the median female salary was $32,999, a 6% gap.

How smart, responsible and competent would a candidate have to be to make certain that her own staff salaries showed nothing that could even be claimed to be a “gender gap”by grandstanding a proposal like hers?

Not very, but apparently Harris can’t even clear that low bar. Continue reading