Tag Archives: “Laws are for the little people”

The Most Unethical Sentencing Fallacy Of All: Lavinia Woodward Gets “The King’s Pass”

Oxford University student Lavinia Woodward, 24,  punched and stabbed her boyfriend in a drunken rage, then hurled a jam jar, a glass and a laptop at him. This, in the U.S., would be called a criminal assault, and maybe even attempted murder.  Ah, but British Judge Ian Pringle knows better. He agrees these acts would normally mean a prison term, but Lavinia is a star student, and wants to be a surgeon. He hinted that he would spare her prison time so that her “extraordinary” talent would not be wasted. As poor Lavinia’s barrister, James Sturman, argued, his client’s dreams of becoming a surgeon would be “almost impossible” if she had to serve time.

Well, we certainly mustn’t jeopardize a violent felon’s dreams.

This kind of reasoning is infused with The King’s Pass, also known as The Star Syndrome, the rationalization making the perverse unethical argument that the more talented, prominent, useful and important to society a miscreant is, the less he or she should be accountable for misconduct that nets lesser lights serious and devastating consequences:

11. The King’s Pass, The Star Syndrome, or “What Will We Do Without Him?”

One will often hear unethical behavior excused because the person involved is so important, so accomplished, and has done such great things for so many people that we should look the other way, just this once. This is a terribly dangerous mindset, because celebrities and powerful public figures come to depend on it. Their achievements, in their own minds and those of their supporters and fans, have earned them a more lenient ethical standard. This pass for bad behavior is as insidious as it is pervasive, and should be recognized and rejected whenever it raises its slimy head.  In fact, the more respectable and accomplished an individual is, the more damage he or she can do through unethical conduct, because such individuals engender great trust. Thus the corrupting influence on the individual of The King’s Pass leads to the corruption of others.

Judge Pringle is taking the King’s Pass/Star Syndrome to a new low: he’s arguing that Lavinia should receive special treatment based on how valuable to society she might be, given enough immunity from the consequences of her own conduct.  Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Law & Law Enforcement

Ethics Dunce: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin

 

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has pledged “not participate personally and substantially in any matter that has a direct and predictable effect on the financial interests” of his financial holdings, without obtaining an official waiver for doing so. He also had advance notice of how a Trump administration figure could breach ethics rules when Kellyanne Conway, in the course of criticizing organized boycotts of First Daughter Ivanka Trump’s merchandise line, blurted out  “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff!” during an interview on “Fox & Friends.”  The Office of Government Ethics and members of   the House Oversight Committee urged disciplinary action for Conway’s clear, if probably inadvertent, ethics violation. (None occurred. It should have.)

Never mind. During a C-Span broadcast interview last week, Secretary Mnuchin was asked for a movie recommendation (this was a set-up, but an easy one to duck), and said,

“I’m not allowed to promote anything that I’m involved in. So I just want to have the legal disclosure, you’ve asked me the question, and I am not promoting any product. But you should send all your kids to ‘Lego Batman.’ “

HAHAHAHAHA!!! ‘I’m not supposed to do this because it’s unethical, but I’ll do it anyway, because ethics rules are silly, the President doesn’t care about them, and besides, Kellyanne got away with it, and so will I!’ Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Popular Culture

To Place The Recent Comey Letter And Hillary Clinton’s Character In Proper Perspective, Recall This Post From January, 2016

no-reflection

It was an Unethical Quote of the Month, and a Kaboom, as it blew the top of my head straight off. Significantly, none of the Hillary defenders among the  regular commentators tried to spin it, and in just ten months, it has been buried by so many other smoking guns and examples of signature significance regarding this woman’s unshakable conviction that normal rules of conduct don’t, and shouldn’t, apply to her. Indeed I had forgotten it myself. Its last sentence was,

“I really don’t know how supporters of Hillary Clinton can look at themselves in the mirror. I really don’t.”

That statement is easily twice as true now as it was then. Here is the post, titled, Unethical Quote Of The Month: Hillary Clinton (And By The Way, KABOOM!)…..

“I was surprised that he used personal email account if he is at State.”

Hillary Clinton, responding to a 2011 e-mail sent by senior aides  about a dispatch from John Godfrey, a State Department employee.

This wasn’t the most explosive of the Clinton e-mails revealed today by the court-ordered State Department release, but it’s the one that made my head explode. How long did Hillary claim that her using a private e-mail sever for official communications was “permitted,” that she did nothing wrong, that no State Department procedures or policies dictated otherwise, four years after she expressed surprise at the irregularity of Godfrey’s conduct? Hillary wasn’t just careless or clueless—she knew all along that using a personal e-mail account was wrong and risky. Why else would she be “surprised”? Who is surprised at employees doing what is allowed and appropriate?

My head didn’t explode because I was shocked that Hillary has been lying all along. I always assume she’s lying. It exploded because her brazen hypocrisy is mind-blowing. This is worse than her saying that victims of sexual abuse have a right to be believed. This is like Bill Clinton saying that the victims of sexual abuse have a right to be believed.

Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Quotes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Kaboom!, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, The Internet

Good: Hope Solo Finally Loses The Protection Of The Star Syndrome; Bad: U.S. Soccer Still Doesn’t Get It; Good: Hope Provides Rationalization #59

Solo loses

The Star Syndrome, a.k.a “The King’s Pass,” #11 on the Ethics Alarms Rationalization List, is the ethics bane of organizations generally and sports especially. It is one of the major catalysts of cultural corruption, whether the “star” is Bill Clinton, Lance Armstrong, Manny Ramirez, O.J. Simpson, Roget Ailes,  Brian Williams, George S. Patton, or Werner Von Braun. To refresh your memory…

11. The King’s Pass, The Star Syndrome, or “What Will We Do Without Him?”

One will often hear unethical behavior excused because the person involved is so important, so accomplished, and has done such great things for so many people that we should look the other way, just this once. This is a terribly dangerous mindset, because celebrities and powerful public figures come to depend on it. Their achievements, in their own minds and those of their supporters and fans, have earned them a more lenient ethical standard. This pass for bad behavior is as insidious as it is pervasive, and should be recognized and rejected whenever it raises its slimy head.  In fact, the more respectable and accomplished an individual is, the more damage he or she can do through unethical conduct, because such individuals engender great trust.

Thus the corrupting influence on the individual of The King’s Pass leads to the corruption of others, through…

11. (a) “I deserve this!” or “Just this once!”

Especially common to the hero, the leader, the founder, the admired and the justly acclaimed is the variation on the Kings Pass that causes individuals who know better to convince themselves that their years of public service, virtue and sacrifice for the good of others entitle them to just a little unethical indulgence that would be impermissible if engaged in by a lesser accomplished individual. When caught and threatened with consequences, the practitioner of this rationalization will be indignant and wounded, saying, “With everything I’ve done, and all the good I’ve accomplished for others, you would hold this against me?” The correct answer to this is “We are very grateful for your past service, but yes.

There are few more striking examples of this phenomenon than women’s soccer star Hope Solo. The New York Times neatly summarizes her last decade of dubious conduct (I’m being diplomatic): Continue reading

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Why Dan Pabon’s DUI Stop Matters To Everyone, And Why He Must Resign

Pabon Apology

Colorado Rep. Dan Pabon (D. North Denver) was considered a rising political star. Among his well-publicized public policy triumphs was to  help pass a law forcing convicted drunk drivers to appear before a DUI victim-impact panel.

Then Pabon himself was pulled over in his vehicle on St. Patrick’s Day evening for driving under the influence of alcohol. Instead of Pabon accepting his fate as an honest lawyer and elected official should, the video of the stop shows the legislator trying to persuade the officer who stopped him not to make the  arrest. He tells the officer that he is a state representative who is driving a car without his legislative plates. He asks the officer to call a supervisor or the city attorney so they can direct the officer to give him mulligan. When Officer Brian Bienemann explains that he cannot let Pabon off and indeed would be subject to discipline if he did,  Pabon pleads,  “Is there any way we can avoid this possibility? This is going to change my life.”

After Pabon pleaded guilty and gave an emotional apology (above) to the public and the legislature, saying  “I have taken full responsibility. I have done everything above board,” the editors of The Denver Post begged to disagree. They called for his resignation in an edotorial. They were correct, but they weren’t clear enough about why.

The Post was upset that Pabon didn’t specifically apologize for trying to use abuse his position and power to avoid legal accountability for a serious violation of the law, even after the video of the stop was leaked to the news media. Of course he didn’t. Like most current elected officials, he didn’t see anything wrong with that. Don’t they deserve special consideration and privileges?

There can be no sufficient apology for what Pabon did. Elected officials and other government personnel must not view themselves as deserving special immunity from the laws and regulations they impose on society. Pabon’s attitude and attempt to play the “Do you know who I am?” card is poison to democracy, and exactly the kind of “fix” Donald Trump’s speech last night correctly condemned.

The public sees a Secretary of State expose sensitive information to discovery by the enemies of the United States, and not only is she not punished, she is selected to run for President. The public sees HUD Secretary Julian Castro blatantly violate the Hatch Act, combining an official appearance with campaigning for Clinton, and  then learns that the President will not discipline Castro in any way. Casrto is also considered a “rising political star.” A nation in which individuals who break the law are still considered “rising stars” and prospects for national leadership has its values in a tangle. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership