Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 6/1/2019: Ethics Is Busting Out All Over! Mostly BAD Ethics…

Happy June!

1. Boycott/extortion update! Let’s see if Georgia has as much guts and principle as Alabama, and tells Disney to go fly a kite.

Hugh Culverhouse, Jr., the University of Alabama’s largest donor,  called for a boycott of Alabama , both the University and the state , because of Alabama’s defiant, anti-Roe  abortion ban, recently signed into law. The university’s law school was renamed Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law last September 2018 after the Florida businessman pledged  $26.5 million to the university. In response to Culverhouse’s boycott call, University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis St. John recommended to the Board of Trustees that it return the $21.5 million  the law school it has actually received from Culverhouse, and restore the name to “The University of Alabama School of Law.”

Good. That’s exactly how states should respond to attempted extortion by individuals and corporations to control their lawmaking and bend the state to their wills rather than the decisions of voters. The whole story is at TaxProf Blog.

2. Nah! A reverend like, say, Martin Luther King would never engage in the kinds of sordid acts his biographer claims! They are men of God!

Bobby J. Blackburn, the pastor of Elevate Church in Prestonsburg, Kentucky,  was arrested this week and  charged with the prohibited use of an electronic communication system to procure a minor to commit a sex act. Blackburn is also the owner of Giovanni’s, a pizza restaurant in Prestonsburg. A girl who worked there showed a police sergeant images of an iMessage conversation she had with Blackburn in which he asked the minor to engage in a “threesome” with him and another girl, also a minor. He also made other sexually explicit requests.

Rev. Bobby tried to weasel out of his mess by bringing a third young woman to the police station and having her claim that she sent the incriminating messages from his phone. It didn’t work: under questioning, she admitted that she was lying and that Blackburn ordered  her to make the false claim under threat of losing her job.

I hear he’s one heck of a pastor, though! Continue reading

The Ohio State Sexual Abuse Scandal: I Might Have Some Trenchant Ethics Observations On This Horrible Story If I Could Figure Out How The Heck It Could Happen.

I don’t understand this story at all.

Richard Strauss, a now-deceased doctor who worked at Ohio State University, sexually abused at least 177 male student athletes and probably more during his two decades at the institution. Yet the worst consequences he suffered  was a short suspension. When he retired, Ohio State gave him  an honorary title.

Many, many administrators, coaches and students  knew about the ongoing abuse, which included fondling athletes’ genitals, performing sex acts on them and making lewd comments during exams. According to an investigative report released last week, none of them took decisive action. Of the 177 victims, 153 were student athletes or students affiliated with athletic programs at Ohio State, including 48 members of the wrestling program, 16 from gymnastics, 15 from swimming and diving, 13 from soccer, 10 from lacrosse and seven each from hockey, track and field and baseball.

Some students told officials about Strauss, who killed himself in 2005 (GOOD), but the complaints were ignored. The  report on the  investigation,conducted by the Perkins Coie law firm  concludes that Strauss’s abuse was an “open secret” on campus and athletes came to accept it as a form of “hazing.”

I repeat: I do not understand this at all. Continue reading

Harvey, Lena And Hillary

Now that Hillary has become an embarrassment to the Democratic Party, the Times is practicing journalism again when the truth is ugly.

From yesterday’s New York Times follow-up on its initial Harvey Weinstein report documenting how his sexula predator ways were enabled and facilitated by  Hollywood stars, agents, prominent feminists and progressives and former victims, as Weinstein’s abuse and crimes continued:

Mr. Weinstein was a fund-raiser and informal adviser during Mrs. Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign, a guest in her hotel suite when she won and a host of an A-list victory party. He was an early backer of both her presidential bids.

Mr. Weinstein’s political activity — he provided consistent support for Mr. Obama as well — boosted his image as a man with friends in high places and close ties to the country’s leading female politician. It is not clear if rumors of his record of sexual misconduct had ever reached them.

But two prominent women said they warned Mrs. Clinton’s team. In 2016, Lena Dunham, the writer and actress, said she was troubled by the producer’s visible presence during Mrs. Clinton’s presidential run, hosting fund-raisers and appearing at campaign events. She had heard stories, both directly and secondhand from other actresses, about disturbing encounters with him, she said. So in March last year, Ms. Dunham, a vocal Clinton supporter, said she warned the campaign.

 “I just want you to let you know that Harvey’s a rapist and this is going to come out at some point,” Ms. Dunham said she told Kristina Schake, the campaign’s deputy communications director. She recalled adding, “I think it’s a really bad idea for him to host fund-raisers and be involved because it’s an open secret in Hollywood that he has a problem with sexual assault.”

Then, the “Girls” creator told the paper, she tried  one more time: Continue reading

When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring: A Coach With CTE Continues To Allow Young Players To Risk Brain Damage

…but he felt really guilty about it, so that’s OK.

The New York Times had a very strange sports story yesterday. Its subject was the late Don Horton, a prominent assistant coach at Boston College and North Carolina State for nearly 20 years who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease but was also experiencing symptoms linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated hits to the head strongly linked to football. The sensitive reporter, Bill Pennington asks,

“Was his deteriorating health, Horton wondered, a consequence of his many years as a football lineman?” Even worse, he worried, was he responsible for exposing hundreds of players to the kind of head trauma now impairing his life? After all, as he had recruited and encouraged scores of athletes to play major college football….There was only one way to be sure if he had C.T.E. His brain would have to be examined post-mortem, the only way to confirm the disease since there is no reliable test for the living. At first Horton balked, but as his cognitive difficulties intensified, he relented and even insisted that the findings of his brain examination be made public.”

The Times article makes this sound like a noble and brave resolution of his crisis of conscience. It was not, however. Having his brain dissected after his death was no sacrifice at all; Horton would be dead, of course.  In the meantime, Horton, despite his symptoms and his wife’s investigation into them, continued sending young men out to get their brains beat in.

We learn,

In 2009, seven years before Horton died, [Horton’s wife] called Chris Nowinski, a co-founder and the chief executive of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, and told him that she thought her husband had C.T.E. She also raised her suspicions with Horton’s doctors, but they said that, even if true, it would not change the course of his treatment.

Horton continued his duties at North Carolina State.

“He never missed a day of work and still produced great offensive linemen,” said Jason Swepson, an assistant coach at North Carolina State at the time. “You could see him struggling sometimes, but he never opened up about it because, I think, he didn’t want to feel like he was letting the group down.”

At home, however, Horton’s illness was leading to a variety of changes, physically and philosophically. His daughters, Libby, 14, and Hadley, 9, had begun playing soccer, but Horton pointedly refused to allow them to head the ball in games or in practices, aware that some studies had linked heading to brain injury.

“Don told them, ‘If I ever see you head the ball, I’ll run onto the field and yank you off myself,’” Maura said.

Although Horton kept his misgivings about football’s potential consequences within his household, he talked about it regularly.

“Don would ask, ‘Are we just carrying this cycle on?’” Maura Horton said. “That was a question I couldn’t answer. But it’s definitely the right question to ask.”

It’s not just the right question to ask, it was a question with an obvious answer, and both Hortons knew it. YES he was just carrying the cycle on. YES, he was continuing to coach college players when he had first-hand, personal knowledge of the horrible fate in store for some or many of them as a result, and said nothing.Was he responsible for exposing hundreds of players to the kind of head trauma now impairing his life?” If he refused to let his daughters head the ball while playing soccer, we know he was responsible, and so did Coach Horton. Was he in denial? Was he willing to let his player risk crippling cognitive impairment because he wouldn’t and couldn’t give up the only job he knew? Why does the Times suggest that there was any question about his culpability or breach of duty?

Continue reading

The Psychiatrists Board The 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck

It’s pretty simple. Professionals must be trusted, and when it becomes clear that members of a profession are allowing themselves to be influenced by emotion and partisan political bias, they cannot be. One of the most troubling results of the mass abandonment of fairness, prudence, proportion, fairness and common sense in the wake of the 2016 Presidential election has been the public meltdown of reserve and restraint by so many professionals, which will have long-term effects on their ability to serve the public in the future.

Journalists, as we have seen and continue to see, have completely abandoned their profession’s duties of competence, objectivity and independence to join the efforts on the Left to undermine President Trump and his administration. Educators and school administrators, whose roles in society should have no political component whatsoever, have done the same. Historians, whose profession requires careful and dispassionate analysis of past events with perspective and objectivity, chose this moment to try to influence history as it was being made, and to push it into directions they prefer as partisans, not professionals. Law professors and lawyers have debased themselves arguing for crackpot theories to justify undoing the election. Judges have embraced the opposite of a judicial process to halt a Presidential order their political allies find offensive: rather than evaluating the limited travel halt based on what it is, they have delayed it based on a presumed motive calculated from past comments made on the campaign trail.

Legal ethicists, as I discussed here,  abandoned legal ethics to make bogus, politically motivated charges against a Trump aide who is not practicing law, and whose conduct in question wouldn’t have breached professional standards if she had been. Last week, scientists demonstrated on the National Mall to argue for policies they say their research demands, though a preference for specific policy applications biases research and makes it untrustworthy. Great: climate scientists want draconian climate change policies? Good to know; now we also know that we can’t be sure their research results aren’t tainted by their bias….though coming up with a predictive climate change model that actually works would be nice. Even the linguists have succumbed to the epidemic.

Now a significant number of psychiatrists have joined their colleagues in other professions by behaving like partisan hacks. Continue reading

What Lawyers Can Teach Doctors About Ethics

So THAT'S why they wear masks!

So THAT’S why they wear masks!

Sandeep Jauhar is a cardiologist, the author of “Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician” and “Intern: A Doctor’s Initiation.”and a contributing op-ed writer for the New York Times. He recently penned a column for the paper that raised concerns about threats to doctor-patient confidentiality, specifically from the case, in Washington state, of Volk v. DeMeerleer.

Howard Ashby, a psychiatrist, was sued after his patient, Jan DeMeerleer, shot and killed an ex-girlfriend and her 9-year-old son before shooting himself.  The estate of the victims, Rebecca and Phillip Schiering sued Dr. Ashby, alleging that he breached a duty to warn DeMeerleer’s victims even though the killer had made no specific threats toward the Schierings during his treatment.  Last year, however,  that judgment was reversed by an appeals court, which held that doctors could be required to warn “all foreseeable victims” of their potentially dangerous patients in their care.

It’s a terrible decision, and Jauhar does a good job explaining why. Unfortunately, he also writes this..

“I once took care of a business executive in the emergency room who had hired call girls during a weekend drug binge. When he saw a police officer outside his room, he quietly handed me an envelope containing a large amount of white powder. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, so I discarded it. For the next several hours the patient eyed me suspiciously, probably wondering whether I had ratted him out. But it never occurred to me to do so.”

Well, it should have. Confidentiality is one thing, assisting in a crime is another. The Hippocratic Oath says“What I may see or hear in the course of treatment, I will keep to myself.” That only means, however, that doctors who learn about criminal activity a patient may be involved in is bound not to report it (lawyers have the same obligation).  Jauhar did more than not report criminal activity; he participated in it. He crossed the line by disposing of contraband. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce….And Hoping That A Jury Lets Everyone Know How BIG A Dunce: Heritage Park Care Center in Carbondale, Colorado.

hostage-negotiationA typical set up for “Scare Tactics”—the unethical hidden camera cable show that terrifies its victims for laughs  by placing them in fake but real-appearing horror movie or action movie scenarios—would be to stage an armed hostage situation that everyone but the butt of the joke knows is a sham. I keep waiting for one of the hapless innocents in these vicious stunts who think they are about to die to pull out a concealed weapon and blast an actor or five to oblivion. That might teach the producers that creating fake life and death situations for any reason is cruel, irresponsible, and stupid.

In the alternative, a victim could just sue the pants off the producers and the production company; that would work too. If there is any justice, that is what will happen to the Heritage Park Care Center in Carbondale, Colorado for  getting local police to pretend to play armed thugs taking over the facility and threatening the employees…in a drill that none of them knew was a drill.

Former employee Michelle Meeker has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Denver alleging that  an armed man confronted her last October at the  Center as  Meeker, a registered nurse, was tending to one of her long-term patients.  Another employee told her to investigate  a suspicious man sitting in the Center’s day room. When she did, the man then showed her a handgun he had in his waistband and ordered her into an another room. He told her in hushed tones that he was really a police officer, but Meeker, quite reasonably, was unsure that he was telling her the truth. Hysterical, she pleaded for her life.

At least she didn’t pull out a concealed but licensed Glock and blow him away.

Robert Baker, the executive director of the Center and one of the named defendants, explained that the facility routinely conducts safety, fire, and natural disaster drills for its residents. “Unfortunately, the training exercise alarmed some at our facility,” Baker said.

Yeah, imagine that. Continue reading