Tag Archives: ignorance

Ethics Dunce: The Maryland State Bar Association

Do you know what legal ethics opinions are? Many lawyers don’t know, or barely pay attention to them, but the opinions are important. They are written when bar associations have to decide how to handle the gray areas of professional ethics, and believe me, there are more gray areas in legal ethics than the profession likes to admit. Some jurisdictions churn out lots of important and useful legal ethics opinions all year long; others barely bother with them. (Idaho simply stopped issuing such opinions decades ago.) Still, the LEOs, as they are called, are essential when one of the many legal ethics issues crop up that a jurisdiction’s rules themselves don’t cover.

Although bar associations do a terrible job making their legal ethics opinions’ availability known to the general public, LEOs have invaluable information to convey about how lawyers are ethically obligated to serve their clients. They are also essential if people like me are going to be able to remind Maryland’s lawyers about their ethical duties as part of continuing legal education seminars and expert opinions.

So why is it that Maryland, alone among the 51 U.S. jurisdictions, refuses to allow the public access to their legal ethics opinions? All right, neither does Arkansas, but nobody can read in ArkansasKIDDING!!! I’M KIDDING!

In order to find out what the Bar Association has decided regarding specific legal ethics conundrums, or whether the state has any position at all, one has to be a dues-paying member of the Maryland Bar. Never mind that Maryland lawyers, who, like most lawyers, often are subject to the ethics rules of other jurisdictions, can access neighboring bar association LEO’s with a couple of clicks on their computers. Never mind fairness or reciprocity.

Here’s how the question “Why do we hide our ethics opinions?” was answered by one Maryland lawyer online:

“Ethics opinions are MSBA work product: a benefit to members who pay their dues…An ethics opinion is a legal opinion about what it or is not permissible under the rules. If you want legal advice, pay for it. The “rules”, by the way, are published and are available to the public. As are the elements of negligence. Do you tell your clients for free how to prove their negligence cases?”

How’s that for a venal, snotty answer? In fact, there are no “hidden” laws or principles related to negligence, nor are the standards for what constitutes negligence and how it is proven in court only available for a fee. The legal ethics opinions, on the other hand, may be crucial to allowing non-lawyers  know when they are being victimized by unethical members of the Maryland bar. How convenient that the Bar hides these from the view of the group of citizens that have the most urgent need to know about them.

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, U.S. Society, Workplace

From The Ethics Alarms Cultural Illiteracy Files: “A Streetcar Naked Desire”

On Wheel of Fortune, an unfortunate contestant named Kevin was confronted with the board above, and had only to name the missing letter to collect his prize.

He guessed “K.”

1.  It is fair to say that he had never heard of the Tennessee Williams drama, easily one of the top ten plays in the classic American theatrical canon.

2. Does this amazing gap in Kevin’s basic education prove that American schools are failing our children and society? No. It shouldn’t fill us with confidence, either.

3. What else does this mean Kevin has never heard of? “Stella!!!”?  Brando? Elia Kazan? The House Un-American Activities Committee? Naming names? Guilt by association? “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers”? “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’?

4. What does it say about U.S. society that someone this ignorant of basic culture feels confident going on a nationally televised game show? I think it suggests that not only are too many people ignorant and uneducated, they don’t even know how ignorant and uneducated they are.  Worse yet, it may mean that such people don’t think that there is anything wrong with being ignorant and uneducated.

5. Though Kevin is being widely mocked on social media, I bet there are more adults who wouldn’t be able to solve the puzzle that we would like to think.

6. This is why I started a professional theater company dedicated to producing great American plays that theater companies didn’t produce any more. “A Streetcar Named Desire,” however, was on the list of plays so common, so frequently taught in schools and so well-known that we would never mount them.

Oops.

[I’m still sick, by the way, and have been sleeping most of the day. This story made me sicker.]

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, History, U.S. Society

The Destruction Of Doug Adler : Guerillas, Gorillas, ESPN And The First Niggardly Principle

The Niggardly Principles apply to situations where a hyper-sensitive and ignorant individual takes an innocent statement as a slur because the individual doesn’t understand its meaning or context.  These are all unforgivable scenarios that reward the foolish and punish the innocent (and articulate). They include the infamous episode in the District of Columbia government when a white executive was disciplined for using the word “niggardly,” ; the time the Los Angeles NAACP attacked Hallmark for an outer space themed “talking greeting card”  that mentioned “black holes,” which the hair-trigger offended (and science education-deprived) heard as “black ‘ho’s.”

Then there were the students at  at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania,  who demanded that the college rename “Lynch Memorial Hall,” named for Dr. Clyde A. Lynch, the LVC’s president during the Depression, because his name evoked lynchings to their tender ears. And who can forget, as much as one would like to, when ESPN suspended sportscaster Max Bretos after an Asian-American activist group complained that he had used the term “a chink in his armor” while talking about an NBA player of Chinese heritage ?

This story is worse than any of them.

ESPN sports announcer Doug Adler was calling an Australian Open tennis match last month between Venus Williams  and Stefanie Voegele when he said,”You see Venus move in and put the guerilla effect on. Charging.” “Guerilla tennis” is a recognized phrase that refers to aggressive tennis. It has nothing to do with Great Apes.

New York Times tennis writer Ben Rothenberg, however, cued by some Twitter social justice warriors, attacked Adler, tweeting himself,

“This is some appalling stuff. Horrifying that the Williams sisters remain subjected to it still in 2017.”

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Journalism & Media, Race, Social Media, U.S. Society

And Democrats Will Call This “Success.”

The GenForward poll, as reported by The Associated Press found that a majority of young adults, 57 %, regard Donald Trump as an illegitimate President. The number includes three-quarters of black respondents as well as large majorities of Hispanics and Asians.

President Trump is many things. Ethics Alarms began years ago documenting those aspects of his abilities, temperament, skills and character that made him, by the analysis here, an unqualified, undesirable President. One thing that he is not, however, is “illegitimate.” There is no basis whatsoever to consider him so. He was selected to run by the process put in place by the Republican Party, over a large number of experienced and accomplished politicians (and then there was Ben Carson.) He was extensively covered by a hostile press, that all but announced (and in the case of the New York Times, did announce) that it was dedicated to his defeat. His opponent was the allegedly unbeatable, anointed heir to Barack Obama and the previous Democratic President, her husband, both of whose policies were a matter of record. President Trump did not “buy the election,” as he spent about half what his opponent did. Illegal voters, to whatever extent they played a part in the election, probably did not vote for him.

Donald Trump was elected because the right number of voters chose him in the right combination of states, and under the rules in place since the U.S. Constitution was ratified, his was a legitimate election, and he is a legitimate President beyond question. There have been a few Presidents whose legitimacy could be challenged—John Quincy Adams, John Tyler, Rutherford B. Hayes—but not President Donald J. Trump.

So why does a majority of young Americans now regard the President of the United States as “illegitimate”? They believe this because a deliberate strategy has been followed by Democrats, progressives and the news media to make them believe that. They have been told that the Electoral College is undemocratic, as part of a two month long onslaught of propaganda to get a group of electors not chosen for the purpose to overturn the election results. Major figures in the Democratic leadership have declared the President “illegitimate,” without official rebuke. Most of the Congressional Black Caucus boycotted the Inauguration on that basis. Democrats have loudly claimed that an FBI conspiracy was afoot to wreck Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and then attributed her loss to Russian “interference.” Finally, Democrats have claimed that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to steal the election, essentially alleging treason. This last is the major artillery in the Delegitimize Trump battle plan, and it has always been intellectually dishonest, irresponsible, and reckless. Following on the theme, Democrats have even encouraged the use of the inflammatory term “the resistance” to sanctify those who claim the President is “illegitimate,” equating opposition to a duly, legally elected U.S. President with the underground French resistance to Nazi occupiers during World War II, a genuinely illegitimate government. This is indefensible and wrong. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, U.S. Society

I Can’t Resist: Another Restaurant Ethics Tale

I’m sitting here in my office waiting for an important call from a potential client, so I don’t want to start a major post (as in “Trump’s Wiretapping Accusation”), so I’ll just note this strange episode from last night.

It was along day for ProEthics, so Grace and I decided to order out from a terrific Mediterranean place that delivers. We love their fattoosh, which is a salad that includes little pieces of dried pita bread. That was an item in the order.

When everything arrived, the fattoosh was missing the little pita bits. Now, this had happened once before, but I didn’t bother to make a big deal out of it. Still, fattoosh without the pita isn’t fattoosh. Now it had happened  again, making it 40% of the times we had ordered the dish that it was incomplete. I decided to call up and complain.

The owner said that I was right, but that the selection in the menu doesn’t specifically list the pita as an ingredient. Sometimes, he said, people don’t know what fattoosh is, and complain that is does have the pita bits.

Yes, I said, but fattoosh without the pita is just a salad.  To wit:

Fattoush (Arabic: فتوش‎‎, also fattush, fatush, fattoosh, and fattouche) is a Levantine bread salad made from toasted or fried pieces of pita bread (khubz ‘arabi) combined with mixed greens and other vegetables, such as radishes and tomatoes.

“Right! Right!” he said, “But people who don’t know that complain. So sometimes we leave the pita out. Sometimes we put it in.”

“You do know that if the menu says fattoosh, and fattoosh means “salad with pieces of pita bread in it,” you don’t have to specify that the pita is included?” I queried.  ” The name says that it’s included. Are you telling me that if I want fattoosh, I have to make a point of saying that I really want fattoosh?”

That’s right, he said.

I could not make the man see that there was anything wrong with this.

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Shaun King: Activist Ignoramus

Deep thoughts from Shaun King…

Activists who have neither knowledge nor understanding of the government, the Constitution, civics and basic political realities should be accorded no respect, attention or influence. Since their pronouncements and assertions are based on bad information and misconceptions (and perhaps stupidity), who cares what they think about an issue? The news media should ignore them; politicians should ignore them; everyone should ignore them. Well, except to mock them. They deserved to be mocked.

This brings us to Shaun King, the Black Lives Matter activist and writer—and the fact that someone as ignorant as King can make a living as a writer is disturbing in itself.  He is on the staff of The New York Daily News as the “senior justice writer.” I’ll remind you of this later.

King just delivered his signature significance self-exposé via his favorite mode of communication, social media, in this case, Twitter. This means that many thousands of his followers, as well as the news media, now have incontrovertible evidence to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he knows less about the country he lives in and its government than we should expect from a 7th grader.

Behold!

Yesterday, King announced on Twitter what he called “serious but wild” questions. Sit down for this. I mean it.

His first:

1. Can the people of the United States somehow hold a vote now, or next year, to oust Donald Trump? Like a recall of some sort?

His second…

In laymen’s terms, what would it take for the USA to pass a Constitutional Amendment for a President Recall like CA has for a Governor?

Uh oh…I was afraid of this…

There goes the head…

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Kaboom!, The Internet

Unethical Website Of The Month: Reality Dive

The Pitbull is amused. He's a good sport.

The Pitbull is amused. He’s a good sport.

One should know that this is a really incompetent website. The title can be read multiple ways, one of which is self-indicting (and as it happens, accurate). The motto is just stupid: “The Truth As It Was Meant To be Heard.” Funny, I didn’t hear anything. And what I read wasn’t true.

I kept seeing a featured link to the Reality Dive’s slideshow, “The Most Incredibly Dangerous Dogs” on legitimate sites that should know better. Ethics Tip to these “sponsoring” sites: posting links to low-life outposts like Reality Dive undermines trust in your own site. You’re vouching for this crap.

I will remember.

Finally, I had to click. Sure enough, the title advertised was clickbait, aka a lie. The feature wasn’t even titled “The Most Incredibly Dangerous Dogs.” It was titled “Most Dangerous Dog Breeds” ( Most Dangerous Dog Breeds what?) The text of this mess indicated, if one thought about it, that the most dangerous dog breeds aren’t dangerous at all. Even that doesn’t plumb the sheer incompetence and misrepresentation on display in the slide show.

But first, a comment.  Many people, an amazing number, are stone ignorant about dogs. Never mind that dogs are all around us, work for us, play with amuse us, love us, help us, make us laugh and protect us, there are millions and millions of people who, out of phobias, traumas, negligent upbringing or just inattention, go through life regarding dogs as mysterious, sinister, untrustworthy, hairy noisy drooling things with sharp teeth to be feared and avoided. I feel sorry for them, but as with all ignorant people, I don’t feel too sorry. This condition is fixable, curable, but most of these dog-dummies choose instead to infect others with their malady, which is communicable. Worst of all are The Smugly Ignorant Who Think They Are Not, who actively work to create more people like them. I flagged one of the vile offspring of such Typhoid Marys of dog-hate in an earlier Unethical Website, Dogsbite.org.

Whether features like “Neat Pictures Of Dogs Pulled From The Internet With Meandering And Mostly False Text That Supposedly Explains Why They Are Dangerous But Doesn’t Because The Slideshow Was Created And Authored By a 16-Year-Old Intern From Madam Louisa’s Home For The Bewildered”—okay, that’s what it should have been called—are more or less ethical than the canine-breedists whose propaganda kills thousands of innocent animals every year is a good question. Reality Dives doesn’t care about dogs, one way or the other, just clicks. It assigned this feature to someone whom I seriously question whether he or she could tell a dog from writing desk. Nevertheless, these posts spread ignorance and fear, and set up people to think like the creators of Dogsbite.org.

Now let’s examine the slideshow a bit.

Numero Uno of the “dangerous breeds” is, you guessed it, the American Pit Bull Terrier. The writer  picked the most sinister picture he could find of the breed once called “The Nanny Dog” for its wonderful way with kids (still true, you know):

pitbull-1

 

I found the site he took it from: interestingly, it is a website that celebrates what great dogs these are. This picture on that site also could have been used, but that wouldn’t support the “narrative’: Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, The Internet, Unethical Websites