Ethics Quote Of The Month (Yes, It’s More Impeachment Analysis, And I’m Sick Of It Too, But This Is Important): Professor Jonathan Turley

Shredding-the-Constitution

..Even with acquittal all but ensured, there was no room for constitutional niceties like free speech or due process. There was only one issue — the same one that has driven our media and politics for four years: Trump. Through that time, some of us have objected that extreme legal interpretations and biased coverage destroy our legal and journalistic values.

—-George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley, constitutional law expert, on the conduct of the Democrats before and during the just-completed second Trump impeachment trial.

This statement, as well as the rest of his article for The Hill yesterday, was not only astute (though Turley’s observations should have been obvious) but personally welcome, in part because it tracked exactly with what I have been writing here for four years, but  in no small part because I was almost finished with a post making the same points. For Turley to make them is, of course, better, since a lot more people, though not nearly enough, pay attention to what he says. It was especially welcome because not one but two friends (among others) had made fatuous and indefensible assertions about the impeachment in the past two days, inspiring me to start that now redundant post.

My theme was going to be about how their now completely unhinged, Ahab-like mania to destroy the former President had led them to deny the importance of what once were accepted by liberals and conservatives alike—but especially liberals before their rebranding as “progressives”—as crucial, indispensable, core American values relating to personal liberty and government interference with it. The rationalizations employed in this scary process are stunning.

Prime among them as been 2020’s rationalization of the year: “It isn’t what it is,” #64. As I noted in the previous post, a Facebook friend (whom I strongly suspect was one of the self-exiled progressive Ethics Alarms commenters) wrote on the platform to the usual acclaim of  “likes” and “loves” that the 57 Senators who voted for this corrupt impeachment were voting “for democracy.” They were in fact doing the opposite, and in many ways, as Turley’s article explains (though again, it should be obvious.) Then, in a discussion with a more rational friend, another lawyer, about how the House impeachment had deliberately bypassed due process, I was told that there is no right of due process in an impeachment proceeding, nor should the prohibition of ex post facto laws and bills of attainder apply. Here was a lawyer making technical arguments against ethics. “Legally, due process only applies to life, liberty, and property,” she lectured. “A job is none of those.”

I could rebut that, but the point is that both the Declaration and the Constitution mark out basic values of our society, not just laws, but ethical values. “Due process” means fairness, and this lawyer, an alleged progressive, was arguing that the government doesn’t have to be fair while depriving the public of an elected official and that elected official of his job, and that individual of his ability to seek that job or another one. This is what hate and arrogance have done to the Left.

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Here’s Another Unethical Trend To Dread As Progressives Grab The Reins: “Trauma-Informed Justice”

TIJ

Trauma-informed justice, also called “victim-centered” justice, is becoming the cool new thing as woke anti-civil rights activists seek to get around due process and the presumption of innocence when it suits their agenda. The technique involves an interview methodology where the police prioritize empathy for accusers, who are automatically presumed to be victims. The methodology is especially favored for allegations of sexual abuse and domestic violence, where the accusers are overwhelmingly female: this a “believe all victims as long as they are wo,men” anti-male approach that has its roots in the feminist movement. The methodology was refined by Russell Strand, U.S. Military Police School, who offered the Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI) as a way to question presumed victims without making them relive an assault.

The theory dictates that police conduct investigations following three principles:

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Ethics Train Wreck Déjà Vu In Kenosha

Now THIS is “blood on their hands!

Three people were shot overnight in Kenosha, Wisconsin in  the third straight night of “mostly peaceful protests,” aka “rioting and looting” in response to a police shooting which may have been completely justified. Two of last night’s shooting victims died. Meanwhile, the mobs damaged and burned buildings and businesses around the city. Here’s a car lot torched by the “peaceful protesters”:

As we have seen with the George Floyd mob rule and before that, the riots in Atlanta (over the similarly ambiguous Wendy’s shooting), Ferguson (Mike Brown) and Baltimore (Freddie Gray), this damage to innocent people and their businesses is being “justified”—in truth, nothing could justify it—as a reaction to racism and police brutality when neither have been demonstrated by an investigation. But as we have seen, Facts Don’t Matter, and due process for cops doesn’t exist. Eager to disrupt society and seize power as supine politicians snivel, opportunistic revolutionaries along with some well-meaning but misguided activists, are savaging a community and causing far more damage than the original incident, based on supposition, bias, and raw emotion.

Other than the rioters themselves, these are the responsible individuals and organizations: 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,

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Applying The Ethics Alarms 12 Question Protest Ethics Checklist To The George Floyd Freak-Out, And A Thirteenth Question

Of course, when a protest turns into violence, arson, rioting and looting, that protest has lost any claim to ethical legitimacy. Let’s (mostly)ignore that Woolly Mammoth in the room, however, to try to assess the George Floyd protests from as positive a perspective as possible.

Here’s the checklist:

1. Is this protest just and necessary?

Outside of the locale where the incident took place, the protests were neither just nor necessary. They were only necessary in Minneapolis if there was a real chance that the police involved would not be held accountable. There was no reason to assume that in the brief time before the mobs gathered and the chants began.

2. Is the primary motive for the protest unclear, personal, selfish, too broad, or narrow?

As in most such cases, the primary motive was and is incoherent. “Expressing outrage”  is by definition too broad to be productive. “Justice” does not mean what the protesters seem to think it does.

3. Is the means of protest appropriate to the objective?

No, if the objectives are a fair trial and due process under the criminal justice system, which it should be. If anything, the protests undermine those objectives.

4. Is there a significant chance that it will achieve an ethical objective or contribute to doing so? Continue reading

Saturday Morning Ethics, 5/30/2020: Burn, Baby, Burn Nostalgia

1. Bulletin for Gov. Walz: Derek Chauvin has civil rights too, you irresponsible fool. I have just watched Minnesota’s Governor repeatedly refer to George Floyd’s “murder.” An elected public official cannot and must not do that. If he wants to guarantee that a fair trial in the case becomes impossible, this is the way to do it. There has been no trial, and however horrible the video of Floyd’s  death may be, Chauvin and the other officers have the right to the presumption of innocence. Now a St. Paul’s mayor is at the podium calling for Chauvin to be held “accountable.” Well, he’s under arrest and will face trial, and for now, that’s about it.  All of this outrage porn and virtue-signaling now enables the rioters by pretending that there is anything productive to be done but to wait for the justice system to play out. Continue reading

What Is “Justice For George Floyd”?

There is no justice for George Floyd. The cries for such a result raise a straw man. Floyd is dead, and shouldn’t be dead. There is no remedy for that, and our system promises none. In the criminal justice system, the role of what would be the plaintiff in a civil proceeding is taken by the State, or “the People.” Justice is sought by society, to validate the system of the rule of law, and to ensure the safety and integrity of society and civilization.

Whether or not the officers responsible for George Floyd’s death—and absent the revelation of some  miraculous intervening cause that nobody suspected, like Floyd being bitten by an escaped  Black Mamba while the police officer was kneeling on his neck, there is no reasonable argument that the officers were not responsible for his death—are convicted and punished to anyone’s satisfaction is not the measure of “justice” in this case. The measure of justice is whether due process is followed, whether the officers are fairly tried and competently defended, whether their prosecution obeys the rules of evidence and follows the law in all other respects, whether a competent and fairly vetted jury evaluates the evidence presented and delivers a verdict consistent with that evidence, following a trial overseen by an impartial judge, who then declares a fair punishment in light of the verdict. That is all our system can achieve. Whether all citizens, or any citizens at all, like or approve of the final outcome is irrelevant, and has nothing whatsoever to do with “justice for George Floyd.” The system seeks justice in a broader sense. Continue reading

Mystery Solved! Now We Know What The ACLU Has Been Doing While State Governments Were infringing On Basic Civil Rights

It was rotting.

The non-profit organization that is supposedly dedicated to protecting the rights of all Americans against government incursions, as the Bill of Rights holds in both letter and spirit, made no effort to protect the citizens whose liberties have been arbitrarily manacled by power-mad governor and mayors, though the pandemic over-reach seemed to be a perfect battleground for the once non-partisan and idealistic group.

However, once Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos spearheaded a much-needed revision of Title IX designed to protect the due process rights of male students accused of sexual misconduct on campus, the ACLU sprung into action—to try to block her.

It is hard for me to imagine how any objective reader could  peruse the revised federal guidelines on how sexual assault allegations should be handled on college and K-12 campuses and conclude that they are hostile to the Bill of Rights in any way. Nevertheless, the  federal lawsuit filed yesterday, with the backing of the ACLU, claims  the changes would “inflict significant harm” on victims and “dramatically undermine” the civil rights of accusers—you know, those women who must be believed when they want men to be punished.

The suit was filed on behalf of four advocacy groups for such women, including Know Your IX and Girls for Gender Equity. The objective is to block the Education Department’s fixes, made necessary by the Obama Education Department’s unethical “Dear Colleague” letter that threatened universities with the loss of funds and other sanctions if they didn’t make it easier for women to get male students kicked out of school in she said/he said disputes.  The  reform regulations will go into effect by August 14 unless they are rejected by the courts.

The rules championed by DeVos  bolster  the due process rights of those accused of sexual assault and harassment, allowing for live hearings and cross-examinations.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland by the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York-based law firm Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, is Orwellian. “This new federal effort to weaken Title IX makes it more difficult for victims of sexual harassment or sexual assault to continue their educations and needlessly comes amid a global pandemic.”

What does the pandemic have to do with anything? I guess it’s because the ACLU had a retreat or something and decided that the Wuhan virus  suspended civil liberties. Says Yahoo!, Continue reading

The Education Department Finally Crushes The Obama-Mandated Campus Sexual Assault Kangaroo Courts, And Joe Biden Is Deliberately Trying To Make My Head Explode

Shut up, Tara, I’m talking about how victims of sexual casualty are being silenced here!

This one was so clear that the New York Times decided to play it straight. Let’s see if the Biden campaign makes them change the headline: DeVos’s Rules Bolster Rights of Students Accused of Sexual Misconduct. It begins:

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday issued final regulations on sexual misconduct in education, delivering colleges and schools firm new rules on how they must deal with one of the biggest issues that have roiled their campuses for decades.

The rules fulfill one of the Trump administration’s major policy goals for Title IX, the 48-year-old federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in programs that receive federal funding, bolstering due-process protections for accused students while relieving schools of some legal liabilities. But Ms. DeVos extended the reach of the law in other ways, establishing dating violence as a sexual misconduct category that must be addressed and mandating supportive measures for alleged victims of assault.

Title IX had become a flash point in recent years after sexual assault cases rocked high-profile universities like Stanford and Duke, and serial sex abuse by staff at the University of Southern California, Michigan State and Ohio State demonstrated how schools had failed to properly investigate complaints. But enforcement of the law has also grown contentious, especially since the Obama administration issued guidance documents in 2011 and 2014 that advised schools to ramp up investigations of misconduct and warned that their failure to do so could bring serious consequences. Critics said schools felt pressured to side with accusers without extending sufficient rights to the accused. And dozens of students have won court cases against their colleges for violating their rights under the Obama-era rules…

The new regulations adopt the Supreme Court’s definition of sexual harassment as “unwelcome conduct that is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive,” and they require colleges to hold live hearings during which accusers and accused can be cross-examined to challenge their credibility. The rules also limit the complaints that schools are obligated to investigate to only those filed through a formal process and brought to the attention of officials with the authority to take corrective action, not other authority figures like residential advisers.

Exactly. Ethics Alarms has covered many of these episodes, and pointed out the anti-due process aspects of the Education Department’s infamous “Dear Colleague” letter when it was issued. That sop to the militant feminist and anti-male wing of the Democratic Party threatened schools with adverse consequences if those accused of sexual harassment and assault were not presumed guilty, with their reputations and education at risk. The burden of proof was shifted on most campuses, with the accused, rather than the accuser, having the burden of proof. Continue reading