This Is Sexual Harassment, And Until Hollywood, The Media, And the Public Realize It, The Harvey Weinsteins (And Joe Bidens) Will Roam The Workplace Like The Buffalo Once Roamed The Plains

Frasier now and then. Psst! Brendan! You can’t ambush actresses with kisses any more! At least not unless you’re running for President as a Democrat…it’s complicated. Give me a call.

This drives me crazy. I’m preparing a sexual harassment training seminar for an association, and this story just went into the introduction.

A nice cheery puff piece is up at E!On-line. about reminiscences by actress Leslie Mann (make that feminist, woke, #Me too-supporting actress Leslie Mann)   about the time she shot a movie with actor and one-time stud-muffin Brendan Frasier. A sample:

“Every morning before work we were in the hair and makeup trailer getting ready. And he would come in and kiss me on the lips,” she tells host Busy Philippswith an ear-to-ear grin. “Just like, ‘Good morning!’ And kiss. You know, like he’s European or something.”

Leslie got used to those morning smooches—earlier in the clip, the actor cheekily notes that since her character was supposed to fall for Brendan’s onscreen, she just went ahead and “fell in love with him in real life”—so it was pretty jarring for her when the kisses stopped suddenly one day.

Frasier didn’t ask permission for these spontaneous kisses, which #MeToo emphatically calls sexual assault in principle, just not when they like the assaulter. It is sexual assault, just like this is… Continue reading

The Integrity Void That Is Joe Biden…and His Progressive Supporters

Since announcing his candidacy for the Presidency, Joe Biden has obliterated whatever small respect I had for him—it was small indeed—and established himself as the official expediency candidate of the Democratic Party.

There was a time in 2016 when I had resolved that if Biden threw his hat in the ring, I would hold my nose and vote for him. He was less offensive to my ethical values and priorities than Donald Trump— few would not be—and less cynical, manipulative and untrustworthy than Hillary Clinton (see interjected comment above.)

If he had been the Democratic nominee, would I have still concluded, as I did late in the campaign, that the Democratic Party was as unsupportable as an institution as Trump was as an individual, being so corrupt that it was increasingly willing to abandon core American rights and principles in its pursuit of power? I wonder. As it has turned out, I was more right than I knew. Now Joe is proving it, and leading Democrats to prove it as well.

Astoundingly, he is the runaway leader in all polls of the contenders for the nomination, though not all are really “contenders.” In part this is the predictable consequence of being Vice President for 8 years: the order of the top  candidates tracks almost exactly with the national awareness of who the candidates are, with the exception of Elizabeth Warren, and thank God for that. Most Americans still aren’t paying close attention to Presidential politics, meaning that they can’t pronounce Buttigieg, don’t know that he’s gay, couldn’t pick Amy  Klobuchar out of a line-up, and get Cory Booker confused with Cuba Gooding, Jr.

Another reason Biden may be ahead is that he’s the only recognizable candidate who  doesn’t sound like he’s running for President of Venezuela, although he has also made it crystal clear that if sounding like a socialist is what it tales to get the nomination, he’ll sound like a socialist.

In other words, Biden displays the exact opposite of what is arguably Donald Trump’s best trait. The President is consistent in presenting himself as who is is, and takes positions that many disagree with, perhaps violently. In contrast, if Joe Biden has any integrity at all at this point in his career, please point me to it.  More disturbingly, no progressive who supports Biden can plausibly regards integrity as an important ethical virtue (It may be the most important ethical virtue, especially for leaders.)

Listen to this classic late stage Trump Derangement rant that Joe was confronted with by a woman  at a campaign stop: Continue reading

The ABA Shuts Down Comments On The Articles In The ABA Journal

Now that’s ironic. Like so many other publications and websites that prefer one-way communications of ideas, the official publication of the American Bar Association has announced that it will no longer allow readers to comment on its content. Yes, a profession that is all about rights and advocacy finds advocacy in response to legal opinion and analysis too inconvenient to deal with, and its readers free expression of ideas too burdensome to countenance.

The ABA Journal’s announcement was filled with disingenuous statements and half truths as bullet-pointed reasons for the move:

  • The tone of the comments has become rancorous and uncivil, with substantive commentary being drowned out by partisanship and namecalling that violate the ABA Code of Conduct.”

Wait: how does “partisanship and namecalling” in the comment section of a website “violate the ABA Code of Conduct?”

What an embarrassing claim: the ABA doesn’t understand its own Model Rules! The word “partisanship” doesn’t appear anywhere in the rules, and the argument is hilarious anyway, since the ABA itself, an allegedly non-partisan non-profit, is extremely partisan, as a brief perusal of the various public positions it has taken on matters that really should be none of their business would make obvious. (Guess which party! Come on, guess!) Extreme namecalling under certain  circumstances during the practice of law may occasionally involve a sanctionable ethics breach for lawyers, but not for non-lawyers, retired lawyers and many other readers. The larger problem is this: the ABA Rules are just guidelines. They don’t officially apply to anybody, not even to ABA members. You can’t literally “violate” them, like they are rules or laws.

  • “Our existing commenting system is vulnerable to trolls.”

Then fix your system, but only after defining “trolls.” It is often a lawyer’s job to make trouble, stir the pot, and create productive friction.

  • “Moderating the comments has become an unsustainable burden on our staff.”

I guess the ABA Journal is incapable of running a website, then. Moderating comments, which as far as I can determine involves fewer comments per article than the typical Ethics Alarms post, cannot possibly be that difficult or time-consuming. It’s a staff-member, and not a highly paid one. This sounds like cover for a financial decision.

  • “We have fielded a number of complaints from members about individual comments and the tone of the comments as a whole.””

Oh! Complaints! Well, we all know how much lawyers hate complaints! (Who wrote this?)

  • “With our large social media presence, there are a number of platforms for readers to engage with and discuss our journalism.”

“Now, you  folks can’t eat here, but there are some real nice places down the road a piece…”

I would write a searing comment about this, but the ABA Journal won’t allow it…

Facebook And Instagram Leap Down The Slippery Slope To Thought-Policing

Facebook has banned right-wing activists Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Laura Loomer, Joseph Watson, white supremacist Paul Nehlen,  Jones’s company, Infowars, and  Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

And yes, it is unethical. And frightening. The irony is that Facebook says that the ideas promoted by these mostly fringe figures are “dangerous.” Nothing any of them say or write are anywhere nearly as dangerous as promoting censorship based on content and political viewpoint.

It doesn’t matter that all of the political and opinion figures Facebook banned from its two social media platforms are assholes, bigots and hate-mongers—I can’t say for sure that all of them are, since I only bump into any of them when I take a wrong turn on the Information Superhighway, as Al Gore liked to call it. I can say for sure that Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan meets that description, just as I can say for sure the media spin that he is “right wing” is ridiculous. If he’s so far right, why have so many members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including the only-recently resigned co-chair of the Democratic National Committee, met with him, posed with him, and generally given him legitimacy?  Barack Obama posed with him too, though that photo was stored in the media memory hole until he was safely elected President.

Oh, I get it: only conservatives spread hate, ergo Farrakhan must be a right winger.  I suspect that the real reason Farrakhan was on the initial list of banned users was so Facebook could claim, when challenged, that it wasn’t just banning  advocates for the far right.

Progressives and their allies need to get their stories straight.

Let me get back to the first sentence: for a major source of communication in our society to permanently censor anyone based purely on the ideas and opinions they advocate is unethical, and is a serious threat to freedom of expression in the United States. Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 4/25/19: Hypocrisy Edition

Having a delightful afternoon I hope?

1. “Ethics Bob” is back! After what I gather have been extensive world travels with his wife, Ethics Bob  reanimated his blog this week, and I am hoping that Bob, who kindly credited me with inspiring him to write his ethics book, and who teaches ethics himself, will begin commenting again on Ethics Alarms. He is that rarity around here, a committed liberal who plays fair in debates. Unfortunately, Bob’s return post is wrong—and I distinctly remember a lunch with Bob in which he insisted that Bill Clinton shouldn’t have been impeached—but that’s OK.  He’s ethical, thoughtful, and open-minded. Check in with him, and hope along with me that he starts checking in here.

2. How much hypocrisy can Democratic voters stand? In Virginia, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax has been hit with multiple allegations of rape and sexual assault. Despite the lip  service the national party has given to “believe all women,” and its position during the Kavanaugh hearings that accusations alone were enough to disqualify a judge for the Supreme Court,  Virginia  Democrats refused to join Republican efforts to sanction or remove Fairfax, who is black and the #2 official ins a state where #1 has admitted to wearing blackface. In order to show that they don’t approve of Fairfax (while not having the integrity to make him hew to the standards they have been advocating for years) the Democratic Party of Virginia rejected his $2,500 donation for the party’s Blue Commonwealth Gala in June.

“We were not comfortable accepting the Lieutenant Governor’s PAC’s contribution and we let his team know that when they reached out,” party spokesman Jake Rubenstein told the  The Washington Post .

“The Lt. Governor’s We Rise Together PAC was planning to have a group of African-American pastors and other supporters sit at his table,” Fairfax spokeswoman Lauren Burke told the Post. “He is innocent and has passed two polygraphs and repeatedly called for an investigation. DPVA has assumed he is guilty of a violent criminal act with no investigation or even a conversation to ascertain his version of events.”

But if the party believes Fairfax is guilty of violent crimes and #MeToo outrages, why is he still in office? Continue reading

The Brazen Dishonesty Of Move-On.Org

If you know the background, this is hilarious…but not surprising.

Move-On.org has been an ethics burr under my saddle since they first sullied the political scene with their emergence during the Clinton impeachment drama. The name of the organization stood for the proposition, an out-growth of the ethically corrupting Democratic defenses of President Clinton’s conduct, that we should all get along, that the President and the nation had suffered enough, it was all just a big misunderstanding over sex and “private personal conduct,” and in the interests of everyone, we should just “move on to pressing issues facing the country.’”

This was transparent and dishonest partisan garbage at the time, and I wrote about it extensively on the old Ethics Scoreboard (which will be back on-line as soon as I have the stomach to fight via-email with the cheap hosting site that refuses to allow any direct phone contact, and is improperly holding my website hostage.) The group’s underlying supposition was and is corrupt: yes, the President illegally used an intern as his sex toy in the White House, lied under oath in a court proceeding, and used his power to hide evidence and cover-up his acts, but we should just let that go because there are more important things to worry about. The “ethically corrupting Democratic defenses of President Clinton’s conduct’ that spawned the cynical Move-On efforts were 1) It’s just sex. 2) lying about sex under oath isn’t really lying, because “everybody does it” 3) the President using his power and position to get sexual favors from an intern and U.S. government employee is no big deal; and 4) Come on, lots of other Presidents did bad stuff. Continue reading

Unethical Proposal, But The Reaction Was Worth It…And Maybe That Was the Idea

“Mr Gallagher, are you that smart?”
“You’re damn right he is!”

Once again, President Trump brings us utilitarianism at its best and most brutal, and perhaps trolling at its most refined.

The White House apparently has discussed sending illegal immigrants  and dubious “migrants” to sanctuary cities. A Washington Post story described this as “targeting political foes” :

White House officials have tried to pressure U.S. immigration authorities to release detainees onto the streets of “sanctuary cities” to retaliate against President Trump’s political adversaries, according to Department of Homeland Security officials and email messages reviewed by The Washington Post.

Trump administration officials have proposed transporting detained immigrants to sanctuary cities at least twice in the past six months — once in November, as a migrant caravan approached the U.S. southern border, and again in February, amid a standoff with Democrats over funding for Trump’s border wall.

If true, and since the Post is reporting it, who knows if it is, the proposal is unethical, however diabolically amusing. The national government cannot and must not pick and choose among the states, cities and citizens: all must be treated equally, even those, like the sanctuary cities, that are asking to be slapped down. The idea is redolent of Chicago local politics. or the prime of Washington’s Mayor Barry, who somehow managed to see that the roads in Republican districts stayed snow-bound long after Barry-supporting districts got plowed.

However, nothing about the fact that the White House may have wanted to play games with illegal immigrants in the face of Democratic refusal to help him enforce our laws is either surprising or substantive. The reaction of the President’s foes, however, is useful intelligence. If this was ploy launched to make Democrats and others reveal their real attitudes and monumental hypocrisy, boy, did it work. Continue reading