Tag Archives: ” it’s not the worst thing”

Introducing Rationalization #63. Irrelevant Civility and #64 A. Bluto’s Mistake

The most infuriating comment threads on Ethics Alarms are those in which one or more intelligent readers are desperately tying to dispute the indisputable ethics breach, and finding no substantive ethical argument because there are none, desperately throw one rationalization after another against the metaphorical wall to see if they’ll stick. They don’t of, course.

Occasionally, however, there is a benefit to the exercise: in their furious effort to find an legitimate argument while hunting through the rationalization dumpster, one of the protesters uncovers one that the Ethics Alarms Rationalization List had thus far missed. So it is with one of the most rationalization-choked exchanges ever to break-out on this site, the debate over the cast of “Hamilton” crossing multiple ethics lines, thick red ones, to exploit the  opportunity for political grandstanding occasioned by Vice-President Elect Mike Peck engaging in the benign and supportive act of attending their show. (The posts on this episode are here and here.) Not only was a new rationalization revealed#63, Irrelevant Civility or “But I was nice about it!”—but my thinking about that one revealed that I had also missed another one, distinct but related, #63A, Bluto’s Mistake or “I said I was sorry!”

The total number of rationalizations on the list now stands at 80.

Rationalization 63. Irrelevant Civility or “But I was nice about it!” Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Etiquette and manners

Ethics Quote of the Week: Popehat’s Ken White

ionesco-rhinoceros

“[L]ying about Trump’s legal affairs doesn’t help. It helps promote lying, not Clinton (or anyone else.) This week social media is full of a narrative that the mainstream media is “ignoring” that Trump is on trial for rape and racketeering in December. That’s dishonest…Trump is historically awful. That’s not a reason to promote narratives that damage us as a nation. Lying about the nature of allegations, and treating allegations as presumptively true, damage us as a nation. “

—-Attorney/blogger Ken White, explaining the “rape trial” and “racketeering charges” against Donald Trump that Clinton supporters have been citing on-line and off as an “It’s not the worst thing!” rationalization (#22) to deflect criticism of Hillary Clinton

On Popehat, where he reigns supreme, former prosecutor and current lawyer Ken White has posted an essay called  “The Facts About A Couple of Pending Lawsuits Against Donald Trump,”  a blessed service to all of us who want to make the social media defenders of Hillary Clinton stop trying to corrupt everyone else with spin, lies and rationalizations.

Three main talking points of distraction and disinformation have been issued to followers by the panicked Clinton campaign to spread hither and yon. (Like Ken, I know that Trump must lose, but I want Clinton’s victory to be as unpleasant and marginal as possible.) The first and most insulting is the tried and true “vast conspiracy” against little ol’ Hillary, mostly because she’s a woman. The second is the lie that she’s no more dishonest than other politicians. (This one infuriates me, as it is demonstrably false, and attempts to set the standard for acceptable, institutionalized trustworthiness for U.S. public servants to Hillary’s miserable level for all time. This is, perhaps, the greatest long-term danger she poses to the nation.)

The third is the “how can anyone care about those stupid e-mails when Trump has a rape trial in December?” smear. I’ve been bouncing around Facebook trying to explain why this argument makes my friends look like idiots, but they, like the townspeople in Ionesco’s allegorical comedy “Rhinoceros” who start sprouting horns, pawing the ground and grunting, seem to have collectively given in to mindless conformity.

Ken explains why the third talking point is irresponsible: at this point, there are only allegations. “The fact that I hate Donald Trump does not mean that the allegation is or is not true,” he says.

The “rape trial” is a particularly misleading situation. Ken: Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Social Media

Doesn’t Islam Endorse Sportsmanship? Even In The Olympics?

At the Rio de Janeiro Olympics today, Egyptian Olympic judo fighter Islam El Shehaby refused to shake the hand of his Israeli opponent Or Sasson.

After Sasson defeated El Shehaby he put out his hand, which is customary in judo. Competitors are expected to either shake hands or bow at the beginning and end of matches. El Shehaby, however, insulted his opponent by rejecting the gesture and backing away, shaking his head. The referee called him to returnto the mat to bow, and he gave a perfunctory nod. Then he walked off.

Ah, that glorious Olympic spirit! Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Religion and Philosophy, Sports

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Washington Post Sports Columnist Norman Chad On “March Madness”

printable-march-madness-bracket

“People often ask me, “Why do you ignore college basketball?” Really? That’s like asking a vegan, “Why do you ignore cattle farms?…Why wouldn’t I ignore college basketball? They just round up the usual suspects every year, and, believe you me, these people are awfully suspect. The game is rotten at its core; it’s only cheating if you get caught, and if you get caught, you’re only liable if you’re losing.”

—- Sports columnist Norman Chad, on why he doesn’t follow the NCAA basketball tournament.

To which I reply, “Exactly.”

As Chad notes in his column, big-time college basketball is pure dribbling corruption. The players are exploited and tossed aside, few of them graduating and most leaving with little real education. The athletic programs warp school priorities and eat up institution resources that should be devoted to the curriculum,  the typically coaches are paid more than any three faculty members combined, and they teach their charges that cheating pays. Continues Chad in his inimitable style:

But the players don’t bother me – they are like cattle, used for two percent milk and tenderloins until their services are exhausted. It’s the coaches that bother me – the See No Evil Hear No Evil Do No Evil Block/Charge No Evil shim sham flimflam riffraff sitting on the bench in those fine suits with their fat wallets.

Jim Boeheim? A bum. John Calipari? Bum. Rick Pitino? Bum. Roy Williams? Bum. If these fellas are earning big paychecks from institutions of higher learning, institutions of higher learning must be in a different business than they once were.

Boeheim and Co. run the whole shooting match, and no matter what they do, you can’t run ‘em out of town unless they miss March Madness three straight times. Which brings us to Larry Brown. He’s at his third college coaching stop – UCLA, Kansas and now SMU – and he’s three-for-three for NCAA infractions. If there were a Recruiting Violators Anonymous program, he’d be John Calipari’s sponsor!

Bingo. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Education, Ethics Train Wrecks, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Sports, U.S. Society

Update On “The Worst Aunt Ever” Debate

Auntie Maim and Nephew Maimer...

Auntie Maim and Nephew Maimer…

Remember the Ethics Alarms post about the favorite aunt who sued her 12-year old nephew for damages based on her injury when he jumped into her arms at his birthday party when he was 8? Remember the indignant plaintiffs lawyer who couldn’t get his mind around the fact that normal people don’t (ande shouldn’t) always see right and wrong like lawyers do, or that “it’s done all the time” (that is, The Golden Rationalization, #1 on the Rationalizations list, “Everybody does it”) and “there are worse lawsuits” ( or the worst of all rationalizations, #22, “Comparative Virtue” or “Its not the worst thing”) are not sufficient ethical defenses of a woman who voluntarily traumatizes a child who trusts her and who just lost his mother?

The Weekly Standard looks at the episode from some different angles, and writer Charlotte Allen does an excellent job providing a balanced analysis of the case (which I am now using in my ethics seminars to explain to lawyers how legal ethics alone is often not enough to make lawyers ethical). I am awash with regret that I didn’t think of the gag  “Auntie Maim” in the original post, which admittedly went a bit overboard in its condemnation as it was. Mostly, however, I am gratified that I was quoted in the piece after a well-handled interview with Charlotte, and indeed that she used my perspective to sum up the significance of the episode.

You can read it all here.

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Family, Law & Law Enforcement, Love, Professions, Rights

More Nascent Totalitarianism In Middle School And College

voting

Does anybody care except the occasional blog? More specifically, has any Presidential candidate condemned these incidents?

At Everett Middle School in the Mission District in San Francisco:

Principal Lena Van Haren decided to withhold the results of the school’s Oct. 9 student council election for more than a week, because she felt the results weren’t diverse enough. She said that the school community needed to figure out how to have a more representative government. There were no Latino or black candidates chosen for the top four spots.“This is complex, but as a parent and a principal, I truly believe it behooves us to be thoughtful about our next steps here so that we can have a diverse student council that is truly representative of all voices at Everett,” she told parents in an e-mail Thursday.

They reacted furiously, indignantly and correctly, accusing her of tampering with a fair and free election. Her response was unethical, dishonest, rationalized, and idiotic.

“We paused to have a conversation. [You withheld the results.] I never, ever said we wouldn’t share the results or they weren’t good enough. [If they were good enough, why the need for a “conversation”?] This is middle school. It’s not a presidential election. [ It was supposedly an election for the student leadership of the school, and thus as close to a Presidential election as a middle school gets. What’s your point, that its OK to manipulate elections for lesser offices?] It was not about hurting democracy or putting diversity over democracy. [ Funny, it sure looked like that’s exactly what it was about.]

Then she said that she wanted to wait until there was a plan created with student input to increase diversity among student leaders, perhaps by adding positions.

The students apparently paid no attention to race and ethnicity in their voting. That’s the objective, isn’t it? The principal want to perpetuate group identification and divisions, even if the students have educated themselves to understand that neither should matter. Adding positions to make it easier to have token “diversity” makes a sham out of any election. What other brilliant solutions does this principal have? Special representatives of every race and ethnic group? Quotas? Giving minority groups bonus votes? Forcing minorities to run for the council? Forcing whites not to?

Schools have elections to teach them about democracy. This principal is teaching them that democracy and the will of voters must meet progressive agendas, or it is “wrong.” She’s also teaching them to lie. Withholding results sent a message that the students had done something wrong by not considering race and ethnicity as qualifications for office that should take precedence over skill and demonstrated ability. Her denials were obvious and made no sense.

This how the extreme leftist educational establishment indoctrinates students to progressively weaken our democracy. Responsible parents should not accept [Correction note: The “not” was inadvertently omitted in the initial post.]such transparently dishonest excuses for it. If this could happen, the entire school and school system needs to be overhauled.

At Wesleyan University… Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Race, U.S. Society

My Reply To Eric Turkewitz’s Criticism Regarding “The Worst Aunt Ever”

This guy would have given The Bad Aunt the right advice...

This guy would have given The Bad Aunt the right advice…

Eric Turkewitz is a New York trial attorney, by all accounts a terrific lawyer, by the evidence of his writing an ethical and astute one, in our brief encounters a very nice guy, and the proprietor of “The New York Personal Injury Law Blog.” In a recent post, he defends the decision of Jennifer Connell to sue her young nephew for a four-year old injury she received when he hugged her too enthusiastically at her birthday party. He notes, correctly, that the decision to sue was based on the client accepting a “bad call” by her lawyer. He also includes a lot of information not mentioned in the early posts on the matter, including mine. Still, he defends Connell. He also specifically criticizes my post. Eric writes,

And this is from Jack Marshall, who says he actually teaches ethics and has a blog called Ethics Alarms (coded “no follow“):

“What’s going on is that Aunt Jennifer is pure hellspawn, a mysteriously animated pile of human excrement that embodies the worst of humanity.”

This is what happens when people elect to post stuff on the web based on an initial news report that was, shall we say, very selective on what it chose to report. This site is getting quite a bit of traffic, most likely from many who never knew it existed. So let me answer a question some of you may have: Yes, I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of lawsuits, and they weren’t nearly as benign as this run-of-the-mill kind: On Suing and Being Sued.

Yes, I “actually teach ethics,” and I could, in fact, teach Eric some things that he would find useful and enlightening. I’m not going to get in a pissing match with him, in part because, as I learned from another tiff four years ago (in which I was wrong, and duly apologized), he has some very, very nasty pals, and I don’t want to throw blood in the water. This is, however, an excellent example of how lawyers often end up seeing the world, and in fact I may use his post, unattributed, in seminars to show where legal ethics and ethics diverge. It is wise for lawyers to be atuned to both.

Here was the response I made to Eric on his blog: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Family, Law & Law Enforcement, Love, Professions