Ethics Note To CNN’s Don Lemon: “Beyond A Reasonable Doubt” Is A Stringent Standard And The Jury Knows Best…And I’m Withdrawing My Endorsement For President

Stop blaming the juries!

Stop blaming the juries!

Once again, a criminal trial with racial overtones has caused an outbreak of criticism over a jury verdict and the jury system, by those who have a professional obligation to know better.

This time, it’s the so-called “loud music case,” that just ended with the accused, Michael Dunn, convicted of four charges (three of attempted second-degree murder) with the fifth charge, first-degree murder, resulting in a jury stalemate. Dunn claimed that he acted in self-defense when he repeatedly fired a gun at an SUV containing four African-American teens in 2012, over an altercation regarding their playing music too loudly. One of those teens, unarmed 17-year-old Jordan Davis, was killed by his gunfire.

CNN news anchor Don Lemon, in a series of rants on his show and also on Twitter, announced to his audience that Dunn should be convicted of first degree murder, and that Lemon would be outraged if he was not. Continue reading

Unethical Quote of The Month: Martin Luther King III

“The vision preached by my father a half-century ago was that his four little children would no longer live in a nation where they would judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. However, sadly, the tears of Trayvon Martin’s mother and father remind us that, far too frequently, the color of one’s skin remains a license to profile, to arrest and to even murder with no regard for the content of one’s character.”

Martin Luther King III, the son of the martyred civil rights leader and humanist, speaking in front of the Lincoln memorial before thousands gathered on the National Mall  to commemorate the upcoming 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 March on Washington, and his iconic “I have a dream” speech.

The passage was despicable and inexcusable, an insult to his father’s legacy and all of the courageous and sincere Americans, black and white, who have worked hard and effectively this past half-century to make remarkable progress toward the society that Rev. King envisioned.

“The tears of Trayvon Martin’s mother”  have exactly nothing at all to do with racial profiling or a “license to murder.” King’s son, proving once again that greatness of character and mind is seldom passed on to succeeding generations, chose to engage in divisive, misleading and cheap rhetoric that undermine his father’s goal of bring the races together. In this he was certainly consistent with the motivations of the event’s organizers, prominent among them Al Sharpton, whose paycheck and existence on the national scene depends on furthering the illusion of widespread racial discord, prejudice and injustice.

Even allowing for the excesses of oratory, the younger King’s speech deliberately misrepresented the historical, legal and factual record, which is this: a mixed-race citizen was pre-judged to be guilty of racism and murder by the color of his skin, and then demonized in order to provide a rallying point for a race-based political agenda. The civil rights establishment, aided by a complicit media and irresponsible politicians, distorted the facts of a tragic encounter so effectively that most Africans-Americans believe the lies rather than the facts, and bullied a politicized prosecution into bringing a criminal case to trial it could only win by jury intimidation, for it did not have sufficient evidence. Against all odds, a courageous jury embodied the best of the American justice system by properly acquitting an unpopular defendant who could not be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, a standard that is crucial to maintaining racial justice in the courts. Despite this inspiring display of character, the organizers of today’s event, its supporters, and most of those in attendance, have chosen to judge those jurors as biased, comparing them to the bigoted jurors in the Emmett Till murder trial, based on the color of their skin.

How immensely hypocritical, destructive and sad.

Martin Luther King propelled the cause of racial harmony and justice forward on August 28, 1963.

Today his son made pushed that cause backward to-day in favor of hate, suspicion, and ignorance, 50 years later.

How Dangerous Lies Become Accepted Truth: D.C. Theater Embraces The False Emmett Till-Trayvon Martin Comparison

If we want it to be true, then it will be true...

If we want it to be true, then it will be true…

I awoke to find this in my Washington Post Style Section this morning, in the column devoted to notable events in D.C. theater. My personal Facebook page is fairly well linked to the Washington , D.C. theater community, so I decided to register my disgust there. I’m continuing it here, and in the interest of economy, will simply repeat what I just posted on Facebook.

I will just add this: I foolishly assumed that the irresponsible, and either ignorant or malign attempts to equate the killings of Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin were isolated examples of race-baiting excesses, and would be widely rejected and debunked by more responsible figures and authorities. Not only did this not happen, but that indefensible comparison, and the damaging falsehoods it is intended to plant, like a deadly virus,  in our national fabric, is beginning to take hold as truth.

Anyone, regardless of race and political or ideological belief should be able see how intolerable this is. Everyone has an obligation to do what they can to stop it.

Here is my Facebook post. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce, Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck Division (Yes, It’s Still Rolling!): Oprah Winfrey

oprah

Oprah, Sharpton…Sharpton, Oprah. At this point, not much difference. A lot less than between, say, Trayvon Martin and Emmett Till…

At this point, Oprah’s not just a passenger on the Train Wreck, but doing her best to be its engineer.

Last week, in an interview, Oprah thoroughly debased herself by opining, in defiance of history, facts and fairness, that the death of Trayvon Martin and the torture and lynching of Emmett Till  were equivalent episodes. “Let me just tell you: in my mind, same thing,” Winfrey said.  About the same time The New York Daily News ran this despicable inflammatory front page:

Daily News Emmett Till

I decided to let it go. I had already written about how untrue,  dishonest and intentionally divisive comparisons of the Martin case to Till were, and frankly, I would rather write about something other than the most revolting and damaging episode of society-wide race-baiting within my lifetime. I had already scolded Oprah for one race-related ethics foul this month, and she is only one among many offenders in these depressingly divisive times. (Full Disclosure: I was once employed as an ethics expert for a regular feature in “O” Magazine) Oprah, however, is making the rounds promoting “The Butler,” and she doubled down on this irresponsible position while talking to Anderson Cooper. From Mediaite: Continue reading

Ethics Hero Emeritus: Willie Reed ( 1937-2013)

Willie Reed

I began the day, to my surprise, with tears in my eyes from reading an obituary on the front page of today’s Washington Post.

The story announced the death of Willie Reed, who as an African American teenager in 1955, risked his life by testifying in a Mississippi court against the white men who had tortured and murdered Emmet Till, another black teenager, for the Jim Crow “crime” of allegedly whistling at a white woman.

The intensity of my emotional reaction surprised me. I think it was the product of being reminded of the horrific tragedy that befell Till and other black citizens at the height of segregation, and being slapped in the face with the reality, known to me but kept deep in the place in my brain where the ugliest things are sealed away to keep me from incurable despair, of the deranged hate that festered so long—and destroyed so many— in the country I love. I was also overcome with admiration and wonder at the almost unimaginable courage of Reed, who knew that by testifying in open court he was simultaneously  guaranteeing that he would be marked for Till’s fate for the rest of his life. Maybe most of all, I wept out of anger at my ignorance and the warped priorities of our culture and educational system, which ensures that we know the names and life stories of insignificant narcissists like Kim Kardashian, embarrassing political leaders like Michele Bachman, greedy athletes like Lance Armstrong, and cynical demagogues like Al Sharpton, but know nothing of the lives and deeds of unglamorous American heroes like Willis Reed. I consider myself an educated man, but I had never heard of him, which means I am not educated enough. I wish I could apologize to Reed. I wish I could shake his hand. I wish I could say, “thank you.” Continue reading

For Those Willing To See It, The Justice Department’s Conduct Regarding George Zimmerman Is Definitive Proof Of Corruption

When John Mitchell starts looking good, you know we have an Attorney General problem...

When John Mitchell starts looking good, you know we have an Attorney General problem…

President Obama and Eric Holder are feeling great pressure, says the Washington Post, to bring federal charges against George Zimmerman. All of the President’s most vocal supporters want a federal prosecution to address the “injustice” of the Florida jury’s acquittal of the man who shot Trayvon Martin. Yet informed observers, analysts, academics and attorneys both in and out of the Justice Department say that the likelihood of a conviction would be small or non-existent. A civil rights prosecution would have to prove racial animus and hatred on Zimmerman’s part, and there is just no evidence of that, as the trial just concluded shows.

There is no evidence of a civil rights violation. Since there is no evidence, there is no genuine issue or controversy. Unscrupulous organizations, self-interested activists and ignorant citizens, all apparently firmly in the political camp headed by President Obama and Attorney General Holder, his loyal lieutenant, are calling for a prosecution that will continue a vendetta-based persecution predicated on false assumptions and bias. And my question is… Continue reading

Unethical Blog Post of the Month (Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck Division): “The Wire” Creator David Simon

Well, that's one more show I won't be watching on Netflix...

Well, that’s one more show I won’t be watching on Netflix…

On his blog, the creator of the critically-praised HBO drama “The Wire” hit all the marks of Trayvon Martin derangement—misstatement of facts, ignorance of the law, presumption of guilt without proof, unreasoning fury, and appeal to violence. David Simon wrote, Continue reading

A Question For The Zimmerman Verdict Protesters: What Do You Think You’re Protesting?

justice-for-trayvon-martinThe protests of the George Zimmerman acquittal taking place around the country on campuses and cities has been largely peaceful, which is something, I guess.  Nonetheless, pointless and misguided protests are, in my view, unethical, as those of you who recall my posts about the Occupy movement will recall. They waste public resources, inconvenience bystanders, and risk violence, not to mention trivializing a key tool of democracy. If you are going to demonstrate, you are ethically obligated to have your facts and grievances straight and clear, and a practical objective in mind. By this measure, the post-verdict “Justice for Trayvon” protests fail.

What do protesters mean when they chant, “Justice for Trayvon,” now? What do they want, and why do they think it is reasonable to want it? I have listened to and read so many radio hosts, talking heads, experts, lawyers, activists, callers, friends and relatives on this story, and the truth is this: those who are angry about the verdict and want to sign petitions and carry placards about it cannot articulate a single legitimate reason that is supportable by fact or law. Not one.

I say this not because I am a “Zimmerman supporter.” I am not a Zimmerman supporter. Nor am I a  Trayvon Martin supporter, though I am sorrowful that his young life was cut short. This isn’t a team sport, and it certainly isn’t a game. Those who have used this sad tragedy to divide, polarize and demonize belong on a splintered spit in Hell. I have pleaded for an honest, rational, fair justification, other than raw emotion, for the indignation over this case, requiring only that the facts cited actually apply to what happened in Sanford, and not a litany of racism through the centurues. I haven’t received them, and that is because they don’t exist.

So I ask the protesters, both on the streets and campuses and the pundits, activists, columnists and elected officials:

What is it that you want, and why do you think this episode is the fair and rational place to make your stand? Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Incomplete Ethics Observations On George Zimmerman’s Acquittal”

The defendant found "not guilty" in "12 Angry Men" was also probably guilty...

The defendant found “not guilty” in “12 Angry Men” was also probably guilty…

Charles Green, a treasured commenter on this blog and wise man, manages to perfectly illustrate, in this comment on the post “Incomplete Ethics Observations On George Zimmerman’s Acquittal,” how completely confused and misguided the liberal establishment and the public generally has become regarding race and justice in this country, and how the Martin case has metastasized the problem.  I’ll let Charles have his say, and return at the end.

“This is the Red State revenge for the OJ verdict. Both were infuriatingly irksome to the opposing party; narrowly legal in the “letter not the spirit” sense of the law; and wildly at odds with decency.

“Jack, you really must stop this silly “if he was white” line of argument. There is no racial equivalency between minority and majority cultures, and in particular between black and white in this culture; you simply can’t substitute one variable for the other and expect logical connections to obtain. Continue reading

Incomplete Ethics Observations On George Zimmerman’s Acquittal

Just et me finish all this, and then I might be able to wade more deeply into the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman mess....

Just et me finish all this, and then I might be able to wade more deeply into the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman mess….

When my stomach is feeling less queasy, I will hope to set out to undertake the Augean task of assigning the various honors and indictments arising from the apparently concluded Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Ethics Trainwreck. For now, however, in the wake of the jury’s most proper acquittal,  here are some briefer observations:

  • There was no way that Zimmerman could have been fairly and properly found guilty based on the evidence presented, and the fact that 1) the case was brought to trial by prosecutors and 2) the judge allowed it to go to the jury after the prosecution had failed its burden of proof, showed unethical conduct by prosecutors and, quite possibly, bias by the judge.
  • The jury was heroic, unless they were truly ignorant of all the distracting and misleading efforts from the media to condemn Zimmerman based on a political agenda, rather than the facts of the actual case. They had reason to fear for their lives, and reason to believe that a not guilty verdict would spark violence. It would have been easy, if wrong, for them to manufacture reasonable doubt as a utilitarian compromise, to sacrifice Zimmerman’s life and a just verdict to the safety of others and themselves. Of course, if they really were as ignorant of current events and the case as jurors in such high-profile trials usually have to be to get through voir dire, then perhaps the jury wasn’t courageous. In that case, it was just a good jury that did its duty well, and that makes them heroes too. They honored the jury system and our democacy, despite all the efforts to pollute it, some from very high places indeed. Continue reading