Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/16/2020: For Some Unexplained Reason, Police Officers Are Feeling Unappreciated

1. Even humor sites have to do better than this...FARK is an amusing news aggregator that headlines links to interesting stories from around the web with facetious comments, puns and snark, most of the time avoiding gratuitous political slant, This headline, however, was an outright deception:  Sure the police might have some bad apples, but a review of 2,400 cases only found misconduct 54% of the time.

If you read the story, you will find that those were not just cases, but cases in which innocent people had been convicted of crimes. A study showing 54% of all cases showing police misconduct would be a damning result, but if someone is wrongly convicted of a crime, there is likely to be misconduct somewhere in the process. For those cases, 54% strikes me as low. Moreover, while the headline implies that all of the misconduct found in the study was attributable to police, that’s not true either. The study found that in  the cases studied, 54% showed misconduct by police or prosecutors.

FARK’s headline was just gratuitous and unjust police-bashing. Not funny.

2. For the record…it’s 5:58 am, and I’m still furious over the cretinous response from the Boston sportswriter I discussed in item #4 of last night’s late warm-up. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/20/2018: Government Shutdown Edition

Good Morning.

1 Just how stupid is the public? Charades like the latest government shut-downs provide an excellent opportunity to find out. As regular readers here know, I am particularly annoyed when elected officials and journalists set out to make the public more ignorant or devoid of critical-thinking skills than they already are by making dumb arguments using logical fallacies, rationalizations or deceit. Both parties benefit from civically ignorant citizens, but the nation suffers. This time, it’s the Democrats who are banking on the public being too gullible and stupid to function. Here was the message I received from the Democratic National Committee—which, I will add, keeps sending me this crap despite my repeated efforts to unsubscribe from their daily dishonest shilling .It’s illegal to do this, but as the Democratic Party is proving with this latest drama, law-breaking is of minimal consequence to them when it suits their agenda:

It’s official — Republicans have shut down the federal government. They control the White House and both chambers of Congress, and under their watch, they haven’t been able to govern and keep the lights on. If they’re not capable of doing the job they were elected to do, we know plenty of Democrats running across the country who are up to the task.

How stupid, biased and dishonest to you have to be to swallow this lie? The shutdown was, beyond argument, engineered by Democrats, who have been threatening it for a long time. The argument is also dumb, indeed backwards. The government shut down because the Republicans couldn’t pass a spending bill without Democratic votes: they need a total of 60 “yeas” in the Senate. All but five Democrats, including Bernie, voted for shutting down the government. All but three Republicans, the trio of iconoclasts Graham, Flake and Paul, voted to keep it open, and the DNC calls that the Republicans shutting down the government.

Aren’t even Democrats offended at that degree of dishonesty and cynicism? Isn’t that classic Orwell: “War is Peace,” and “The Measure Republicans Voted For Is the Measure Republicans Opposed“? How can anyone trust a party that issues official communications like this? That is a party that will lie to your face, or assume that you have been so corrupted that you will lie on its behalf.

Moreover, the statement above might as well be written by the Republican National Committee, with the message being, “Since Democrats won’t cooperate to keep the government running and will sacrifice the welfare of citizens for non-citizens, we obviously need more Republicans in the Senate.” That message is factual. Continue reading

A Halloween Costume Shuts Down A School

Gas mask

Colorado’s Pueblo County High School went into lockdown for almost two hours because students and teachers freaked out over a female student wearing a trench coat and gas mask as a Halloween costume.The student was searched by authorities and not found to be  carrying any weapons, and told staff at the school that her outfit was a Halloween costume, admittedly a bit early.

Alarmed students told teachers, teachers and administrators dragged the girl into the office to be interrogated.  District 70 Superintendent Ed Smith said, “They reported immediately to a teacher what was happening…we could react quickly because of those students. When being questioned, the student said it was nothing more than a Halloween prank, but again, because of the world we live in now, we take all those kinds of things very seriously.”

Believe it or not, a SWAT team was called in and swept the school to ensure it was safe, because terrorists always signal their intent by wearing gas masks and trench coats.

The student is  facing expulsion.

Rueful observations: Continue reading

Judge Ken Anderson: A Judge With An Ethical Obligation To Resign

Ken Anderson

Regret isn’t enough.

Ken Anderson has been a Williamson County (Texas) district judge since 2002, but in 1987  he was the district attorney who prosecuted Michael Morton for fatally beating his wife to death. Morton was convicted and served 25 years in prison before DNA tests proved he was innocent. (This is yet another triumph of The Innocence Project.) Another man has been arrested for the murder of Morton’s wife Christine, as well as a second woman he allegedly killed in similar fashion while Morton was behind bars.

Last week, a five day hearing examined Judge Anderson regarding his conduct in the case, in a special court of inquiry to determine whether he engaged in criminal wrongdoing as well as unethical prosecution. Among the questions raised was why Anderson never divulged to Morton’s defense team a police report that Morton’s neighbors had said that they saw a suspicious man walking into the woods behind the Morton home shortly before the murder, and why Morton’s three-year-old son’s statement that “a monster,” not his father, beat the child’s mother to death was similarly withheld. On the stand enduring five hours of questioning, a tearful Anderson could only say that he didn’t remember not turning over the evidence to the defense, while defense attorneys adamantly insisted that they never received it. The hearing also revealed that Anderson kept his lead investigator from testifying at trial, when his testimony would have ensured that the child’s statement and the report about the stranger were raised in court, as well as allowing defense attorneys to cross-examine the investigator regarding his peculiar theory of the case.The theory, which was subsequently endorsed by DA Anderson, was that Morton become homicidal after his wife fell asleep when he sought to have sex with her, and donned his scuba wet suit so his son wouldn’t know it was him beating her to death. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce Déjà Vu: Drew Curtis’s Fark

"Ma'am, your teenage son was raped by this woman, Isn't that great?"

“Ma’am, your teenage son was raped by this woman, Isn’t that great?”

Once again, one of my favorite news aggregation websites, the prolific and often hilarious Fark, is laughing at child rape. Its comment on the story from Nehalem, Oragon about the arrest of a 31-year-old model for sex crimes involving at least three under-age boys—15 and 16 years old—was this…

“…niiiice”

Not funny. An adult woman using—that’s the correct word, using—teenage boys as her personal sexual aids isn’t niiice—it’s criiiiminal. In October, I gave Fark an ethics dunce cap for an earlier wink-wink-nudge-nudge comment about a teacher who added statutory rape to her duties, and that was surely worse; after all, she was a teacher, and violating the trust of the school, the parents, the students and the community to get herself laid. Nonetheless, the conduct of model Anna Walsh was neither harmless nor trivial. I know: Fark’s official stance is sophomoric; I get that. I also get that sophomores, and other morons, have staked out the position that any male child who has obtained a sufficient level of sexual maturity to be used as a human dildo by a “hot” woman is a lucky dog. Well, that spectacularly stupid and unethical position does a great deal to help sexual predators like Walsh victimize children, who are misled into feeling that something must be wrong with them if they really don’t want be used.

Since the site is a repeat offender, I’m sure Fark’s wags intend to keep doing this. So I guess Ethics Alarms will have to keep reminding everyone what irresponsible ethics dunces their warped sense of appropriate treatment of young boys shows them to be.

“Duuuunce”

____________________________

Spark: Fark

Facts, Graphic: KATU

Were The Marlins Right To Suspend Ozzie Guillen for Loving Fidel Castro?

And imagine...Media Matters had NOTHING to do with it!

‘”I love Fidel Castro,’ blurts Ozzie Guillen, the new manager of the Miami Marlins, in his Jupiter, Fla., spring-training office before an early-March team workout.”

And with that spontaneous utterance, quoted in a Time magazine feature, Guillen, who was hired during baseball’s off-season to lead the long-languishing Miami baseball franchise to elusive community popularity and on-the-field success, suddenly found himself at the epicenter of a career-threatening controversy. Cuban groups in the Miami area were horrified, and demanded that Guillen be fired. Guillen immediately went on an apology tour, arguing that he had “mistranslated in his head from Spanish to English,” and that he emphatically did not “love” the Cuban dictator, but in fact hated him. Even though he said he loved him. That’s some bad translating.

“I feel like I betrayed my Latin community,” Guillen said to one Miami group, according to ESPN’s translation of his comments in Spanish. “I am here to say I am sorry with my heart in my hands and I want to say I’m sorry to all those people who are hurt indirectly or directly. I’m sorry for what I said and for putting people in a position they don’t need to be in. And for all the Cuban families, I’m sorry. I hope that when I get out of here, they will understand who Ozzie Guillen is. How I feel for them. And how I feel about the Fidel Castro dictatorship. I’m here to face you, person to person. It’s going to be a very difficult time for me.”

He got that right. Today the Marlins suspended their manager for five games, saying in a statement, Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Day: Drew Curtis’ Fark

Mitt Romney is not a player.

“The stupid tax just doubled.'”

Drew Curtis’ Fark, in a typically perceptive jibe, at the announcement by Powerball officials that in order to increase the attractiveness of the multi-state super-lottery, it will be raising the levels of jackpots, lowering the odds against winning, and to make more money, doubling the cost of a ticket.

Fark. com was a guilty pleasure before I started an ethics blog, but is now a daily assignment, as Drew Curtis’s clever link collection where he simultaneously uncovers interesting news items and attaches one-line jokes to them has proven to be a rich source of ethics stories.

The various lotteries are all unethical, as state governments too cowardly to pass taxes on those who can afford it duck their duties by enticing the desperate, the poor, the  gambling addicted, and, as Fark correctly notes, the stupid, to spend money they should be saving or spending on necessities. Their foolish objective, nourished by state promotions, is to buy a remote chance at a life-changing stroke of luck—which, statistics say, is more likely to ruin their lives than to fix them. The original argument for these cynical and degrading devices was that they would balance state budgets and improve the schools. You can see how well that is working out.

So, times being tough, the biggest government pocket-picking scheme of them all,  Powerball,  is trying to suck in more people who shouldn’t be playing and who are grossly irresponsible to waste their money, while charging them more to do it. It’s unfair to have a tax on being stupid—being stupid in the 21st Century costs too much already.

But Fark is right. That’s exactly what Powerball is.