Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 12/8/18: Last Weekend Before I Have To Decorate The %^&$! Christmas Tree Edition

Good morning!

1. How can this be? Based on the same documents, the President crowed that Mueller had nothin,’ and the mainstream Trump-hating media crowed that the walls were closing in. It’s a confirmation bias orgy! Charges aren’t evidence, and attempted contacts with a foreign power isn’t “collusion,” and we’ve already talked about the theory that paying off a floozy not to kiss and tell, which is 100% legal at all other times, is a stretch to call and election law violation when the rake is running for President. No such case has ever been brought; it’s dubious whether one would prevail; even if it did, this is a fining offense at most. [ For the record, this is the “resistance’s” Impeachment Plan K, in my view, one of the lamest.]

Both sides are jumping the gun. In the media’s case, it’s more fake new, future news and hype.

2. Stare decisis vs. the prohibition on double jeopardy. In Gamble v. US, just argued before the Supreme Court, the question is whether the federal government can try a citizen for the same crime a state court acquitted him of committing. I’ve always hated the rule that it can (the cops in the Rodney King case were jailed that way), because it seems clear to me that the Constitutional prohibition on double jeopardy (that’s the Fifth Amendment) was intended to prevent such trials. Still,  previous Supreme Court decisions have upheld the convictions.  In the current case, it appears from oral argument that a majority of the current justices agree with me, but are hesitant to so rule because of the doctrine of stare decisis,  which means respecting long-standing SCOTUS precedent.

A ruling to apply double jeopardy would be a ruling against stare decisis, meaning that Roe v. Wade might have less protection than many—including me–have thought. Stay tunes, and watch Justice Kavanaugh’s vote particularly.

3.  Is wanting to/needing to/ actually taking steps to changing one’s sex a mental disorder? There have been a lot of articles about this lately, especially in light of evidence that peer groups, the news media, LGBT advocacy and parents are making many young children want to change their sex before they even know what sex or gender is. The question is itself deceptive, because it pretends that “mental disorder” is anything but a label that can be used or removed with a change of attitude or political agendas. Vox writes,

Major medical organizations, like the American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association, say being transgender is not a mental disorder. The APA explained this in explicit terms when it stopped using the term “gender identity disorder” in favor of “gender dysphoria”: “Part of removing stigma is about choosing the right words. Replacing ‘disorder’ with ‘dysphoria’ in the diagnostic label is not only more appropriate and consistent with familiar clinical sexology terminology, it also removes the connotation that the patient is ‘disordered.’”

Well, “removing a stigma” is hardly a valid criteria for deciding whether something is a malady or not. What being transgender “is” can’t be changed by what we call it. Recently narcissism was removed from the mental disorder list—that doesn’t change the fact that narcissists see the world and themselves in a way that most people do not, and that this perspective causes them and the people around them a lot of trouble during their lives. The process worked in reverse with alcoholism, where being officially labelled a disease removed a stigma.

I once directed the comedy/drama “Nuts,” which opines that “insanity” is just a view of reality not shared by the majority. It was on this basis that the Soviet Union sent dissidents to mental hospitals. I don’t care what various associations or professionals call these minority positions: we know that they are using bias and political agendas to devise the label. This is one area where a phrase I despise, “It is what it is,” may be appropriate. Continue reading

Now THIS Is An Unethical Judge! (Plus An Important ProEthics Announcement…) [UPDATED!]

 

Judge Jack Robison,  a state district judge in Comal County, Texas, interrupted jury deliberations to announce that God had informed him that a woman accused of trafficking a teen girl for sex should be be found not guilty. Robisonapologized to jurors for the interruption, but explained “when God tells me I gotta do something, I gotta do it.”  To their credit, the jury found Gloria Romero-Perez guilty of  trafficking anyway.

Mysteriously, 12 perfect pillars of salt were later discovered outside the courthouse.

Kidding!

Judge Robison recused himself before the trial’s sentencing phase, for which he deserves some credit. Says a local news source,  “Robison’s actions could trigger an investigation from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.” COULD trigger? COULD TRIGGER??????

This, following the unethical sentencing performance by the judge in the Larry Nasser trial,  is the tipping point for me. Although I have an excellent and constantly updated judicial ethics seminar that I will customize for different jurisdictions (I will soon be adding, “Don’t take messages from God mid-trial to the Texas version, for example), I almost never have the opportunity to teach it. Judges, unlike lawyers, don’t have ethics requirements other that the local Codes of Judicial Conduct. They don’t have to take regular classes in judicial ethics either, and many of them—like,oh, just to pull a name out of the air, ROY MOORE–couldn’t tell a tenet of judicial ethics from a cross-eyed echidna.  Most judicial organizations don’t budget for ethics training.

Thus I am announcing, here and now, that henceforth my ethics training and consulting company ProEthics, LTD., will provide me, my judicial ethics course and the extensive materials it includes for any judicial group of any size anywhere in the country at no cost, save for my travel and, if necessary, lodging.

This will be offered as a public service throughout 2018, and we will evaluate the policy at the end of the year.

___________________________________

UPDATE: This, from the ABA…

Few federal judges face consequences as a result of misconduct complaints, and few of the complaints become public, according to a CNN analysis.

CNN reviewed nearly 5,000 judicial orders related to misconduct complaints and found that the documents “are remarkably short on details.” Since 2006, fewer than 10 cases a year were referred to a special committee for a closer investigation, and in six of the past 11 years no judges were sanctioned for misconduct. In some high-profile cases, judges facing misconduct complaints retire, putting an end to the investigation and preserving access to their pensions, the CNN investigation found…

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Headline Of The Month: ‘Vatican: The Body of Christ Is Not Gluten Free”‘

The original Ethics Alarms post, one of two this month implicitly critical of the Catholic Church, has spawned several remarkable and thoughtful discussions, as well as so many candidates for Comment of The Day that any choice among them is somewhat arbitrary. In the case of Ryan Harkins, I’m not even certain this is the best of his comments on the post, so many excellent ones did I have to choose from. Thus I urge readers to read the entire array, which, I regret to say, is impressive and educational even though it does not include my old friend Patrice, Catholic, theologian, and Church employee who has commented here frequently in the past.

I decided to pair two of Ryan’s comments, the first an overview providing context for my original post’s topic, the Church’s insistence that that the bread and wafers used in Communion include gluten. The second, a response to a series of queries from another commenter, delves into an eternal ethics debate topic, the nexus between God and ethics.

Here is Ryan Harkins’ Dual Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Headline Of The Month: “Vatican: The Body of Christ Is Not Gluten Free”

I.

Where to begin? The challenge of trying to explain some of the odder details of the Catholic faith is that many of those details don’t make sense without the context of the faith as a whole. So please forgive me if I seem to natter on about tangential matters.

So, let’s begin with a few definitions to make discussion a little easier. A Sacrament is a visible sign, established by Jesus himself, through which God conveys grace upon mankind. A Sacrament is composed of two parts, one spiritual and one material. The reason it possess both qualities is because Sacraments are designed for us, and a human person is a body/spirit composite. We are not purely material beings, nor are we ghosts in a shell. We are not a complete person without our bodies. Now, to have a sign that is purely spiritual would neglect the physical aspect of our existence. To have a sign that is purely physical would neglect the spiritual dimension of our existence.

The Eucharist is one of the Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church. Catholics really, truly believe Jesus was serious when he said repeatedly, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have eternal life.” When at the Last Supper, he blesses bread and wine and says, “Take this and eat. This is my body, given for you” and “This is the cup of my blood, which will be shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins”, Catholics believe that yes, Jesus truly held himself in his hands and gave himself to his apostles to consume. So the Eucharist is the Real Presence of Jesus, the fullness of his body, blood, soul, and divinity. When a priest says Mass and confects the Eucharist, Catholics believe that the bread and wine on the altar are transsubstantiated into Jesus. The accidents of bread and wine remain (so yes, consuming Jesus is problematic for anyone who has issues with the accidents of bread and wine), but the substance is entirely Jesus. The smallest drop from the chalice and the tiniest crumb of the loaf contains the fullness of Jesus.

Okay, so a Sacrament has a spiritual and a physical dimension, and the Eucharist obviously uses bread and wine for the physical dimension. Why bread and wine? In just reference to food and drink, we understand the Eucharist as a meal, and historically the greatest communal activity is the sharing together of a meal. In earliest Christianity, the Eucharistic celebration was in the context of the agape feasts, which eventually St. Paul instructed to tone down because people would become drunk and riotous at these feasts. The point, though, is that eating together is sign of communion (which is in part why the Eucharist is also called Communion). Jesus had prayed that “they may all be one, Father, as I am in you and you are in me,” and the Eucharist is the Sacrament Jesus instituted to make that possible. By consuming Jesus himself, we bring him into ourselves and are in turn incorporated into him. (You are what you eat, right?) Continue reading

Inexcusable Political Reporter Incompetence: “Inalienable Rights? What Inalienable Right?”

Quick, Will, Meredith: Who is this guy? Is he a} Harpo Marx b) Bruce Jenner or c) Thomas Jefferson?

Quick, Will, Meredith: Who is this guy? Is he a} Harpo Marx b) Bruce Jenner or c) Thomas Jefferson?

This isn’t about bias, although a good case could be made that bias is at the root of the problem. It is about supposedly experienced political reporters not knowing, understanding or respecting the Declaration of Independence.

Lat week, the Associated Press’s Will Weissert wrote AP’s report on Texas governor Rick Perry’s announcement of his candidacy for President, and included this:

“In a nod to the tea party, he said: ‘Our rights come from God, not from government.'”

This is ignorant, embarrassing, and wrong. He should be sent back to school, fired, or suspended, and so should the editor that let this pass. That our rights (our “inalienable rights”…ring any bells, Will?) come not from government but from God (“their Creator”…Will?), or, if you will, nature, innate humanity, the cosmos, or however you roll, is not the invention of the Tea Party, nor is citing the concept pandering to conservatives. Perry’s statement simply shows that he is familiar with and has proper reverence for the mission statement and founding document of the United States of America, as this AP reporter clearly does not.

Here, Will, you dolt, let me refresh your recollection:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

Got that? Your inexcusable, factually, legally and philosophically mistaken idea that governments grant rights is in direct contradiction with the basis of this nation’s founding, and the Constitution created to enable the mission as stated by Thomas Jefferson and the Continental Congress in 1776. The segments of the news media and the progressive community that make assertions like Weissert’s–call them the Ignorant Left—are arguing for a system in which government dictates what rights we have or don’t have—you know, like the King of England. This is specifically un-American, because it was the exact basis on which the United States declared that being part of the British Empire was intolerable.

Meredith Shiner at Yahoo Politics did the same thing in March, tweeting in reaction to Ted Cruz’s announcement of his candidacy:

“Bizarre to talk about how rights are God-made and not man-made in your speech announcing a POTUS bid? When Constitution was man-made?”

Bizarre, is it, Meredith? Do you live here? Did you attend college, or high school? The Constitution represents the human beings making up a democratic government securing  rights that every human being are born with and that may not be taken from him or her. Did you miss class that day when the Declaration of Independence was being taught? Or can you just not read?

Is it God that’s the hang up? I bet it is, since Democrats, progressives  and journalists (but I repeat myself) have utter contempt for religion and the concept of God. Well, you badly educated fraud of a “political analyst,” Thomas Jefferson was not exactly Martin Luther. This is why he used the term Creator. Creator—did you miss all of your English classes too? Creator can mean God, as well as designer, builder, designer, inventor, founder…but Jefferson was a terrific writer, and knew that words can mean different things to different people in the same context, so he used a word that also can suggest agency, a beginning, causation, determinant, a catalyst, genesis, inducement, instigation, origin, root or source. Jefferson was also a scientist, and understood more than most–certainty more than you—that we do not have all the answers. What he said, and what the Founders endorsed, and what the Constitution was written to execute and establish for all time, was that human beings have certain rights from the instant they are born, and that no government has to grant them or take them away.

Whatever their flaws, Ted Cruz and Rick Perry understand that, as anyone qualified to seek the Presidency must. Shiner and Weissert do not understand that, and thus are unqualified to vote, much less to be political reporters.

___________________

Pointer: Newsbusters

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Ohio Governor John Kasich

“[T]he most important thing is, what does the Lord want me to do with my life?”

Potential GOP Presidential candidate John Kasich, Governor of Ohio, explaining what considerations will determine whether or not he enters the race.

"Governor? It's for you."

“Governor? It’s for you.”

There is so much wrong with Kasich saying this that the only question now is whether it disqualifies him for elected office.

I guess that’s excessive, though. In a political culture in which Hillary Clinton is considered qualified to be President, almost no one can be truly disqualified. Anything goes, as long as you are wearing the right team colors.

If the Founders knew their democracy would come to this, I think they would have decided to just submit to King George’s tyranny.

Kasich is a skilled governor, just as he was an outstanding House member in a crowd of Republican embarrassments during the Bush years. Then he tried being a talking head for Fox, and had the integrity to quit in disgust. He seemed to have the qualities necessary to elevate the Republican presidential field.

Guess not:

1. He is pandering. The GOP evangelicals and religious right have a lot of power and influence, and they are the only ones who could possibly take Kasich’s statement seriously. “Ah!” they will say, or so Kasich’s shameless advisors have convinced him, “He’s one of us! He believes that weather disasters are visted upon us because of America’s sins! He believes that women belong barefoot and pregnant, that Adam was ducking dinosaurs, that school prayer will cure our ills…that good people ought to be able to shun and exclude the sinful by refusing to sell them services that they provide to everyone else, and that homos are the spawn of Satan.” The statement that Kasich is dictated to by God hints that he thinks a theocracy is hunky-dory. Hey, look at Iran!

2. He is lying. Or he is deranged.

3. The belief that God is likely to choose you as a leader of the most powerful nation on earth is so devoid of humility and so unfair to and disrespectful of the democratic process that it boggles the mind.

4. It avoids personal accountability.

5. The statement is a declaration of incompetence and fecklessness. What other decisions will President Kasich place in God’s hands, or blame on Him when they turn out to be duds?

6. Waiting for God to declare the right course is an intentional abdication of ethics for the moral direction on others, or, if you prefer, Others.

 God made you say that, John, so you would not be President. You have your answer.

Dummy.

 

Read more:

Ethics Alarms SPECIAL REPORT! Oxymoron Ethics: The Super Bowl Ads

super bowl ads

All Super Bowl commercials are unethical by definition: they aid, abet, reward and perpetuate the gruesome and deadly culture of pro football. I’ve written about that enough lately, however, so when I woke up with a leg cramp this morning at 4:46 AM, I decided to go online and watch the Super Bowl ads. Here is what I discovered:

1. Most Ethical Ad: Pampers

Yet another pro-birth ad during the Super Bowl! This one is especially well done, and for once babies aren’t used as mere adorable props to sell a product unrelated to babies. The spot shows a sonogram of a baby giving her first “hello” with a heartbeat playing in the background, and progresses to show the family’s “firsts” together, from ” first tears of joy” to “first first word.” The ad was especially welcome as a rebuttal to last week’s jaw-droppingly callous and absurd characterization of the abortion issue by MSNBC’s resident radical. Melissa Harris-Perry. She asked a guest,

“Are you at all distressed in the ways that I am about the idea that there is a separate interest between an individual and something that is happening in her body that cannot at that moment exist outside of her body? So, the idea, for example, that I would need a court’s permission for cancer treatment or the court’s permission for a surgery that would remove my hand. Like, if it’s my body, I guess I can’t understand why the state would have to give me permission.”

“Something that is happening” that “cannot exist outside her body”?  This is called “desperately stretching for a deceptive euphemism that avoids the central issue.” The Pampers ad focuses on that issue: more than one human life is involved here. Last year, Harris-Perry said,

“When does life begin? I submit the answer depends an awful lot on the feeling of the parents. A powerful feeling — but not science.”

That’s right: it’s a life if the parents think it is, otherwise it’s just like a tumor or a hand. I suspect that future generations will look back on such bizarre and intellectually dishonest arguments by the pro-abortion groups the way we regard the claims of slavery defenders who claimed that black’s weren’t really human. They will wonder how they managed to prevail in public opinion and policy so long using such obvious and vile nonsense.

One way they managed to prevail is that journalists went out of their way to avoid publicizing the aspect of the controversy that make abortion advocates squirm. For example, I reviewed six online ratings of the Super Bowl ads, and not one of them mentioned the Pampers spot, though commentary, ratings and videos of almost all the others were covered. Fascinating. Continue reading

Patch Motto Ethics, or WHO CARES???

Bear with me—this story has a point, and besides, it’s funny.

George S. Kaufman had the right idea.

Playwright George S. Kaufman  (“The Man Who Came To Dinner”, “You Can’t Take It With You”, and many more) was a panelist on  the long-forgotten early TV  program, “This is Show Business.” One of its features was to have a celebrity consult the panel members about a personal problem. On one show, singer Eddie Fisher ( father of Carrie) complained to the panel that some women refused to go out with him because of his youth. Kaufman replied with this immortal expression of complete disinterest:

“Mr. Fisher, on Mount Wilson there is a telescope that can magnify the most distant stars to twenty-four times the magnification of any previous telescope. This remarkable instrument was unsurpassed in the world of astronomy until the development and construction of the Mount Palomar telescope.  The Mount Palomar telescope is an even more remarkable instrument of magnification. Owing to advances and improvements in optical technology, it is capable of magnifying the stars to four times the magnification and resolution of the Mount Wilson telescope.

“Mr. Fisher, if you could somehow put the Mount Wilson telescope inside the Mount Palomar telescope, you still wouldn’t be able to see my interest in your problem.”

This is how I feel about the controversy over the removal of a reference to God on an Air Force unit’s patch, and it is how, I believe, everyone should feel, from the atheists who agitated for the patch to be changed, to the ridiculous Republican House members who are opposing the change. Continue reading