Ruby Tuesday Ethics Round-Up, 1/21/2020: The Boy Scouts Are Going Down, Curtis Flowers Is Getting Out, And David Hogg Is Still An Ignorant Yutz

Good morning, everybody!

Good morning, Mick!

It’s disturbing how things get planted in my head: I couldn’t get the Rolling Stones out of it after someone commented, in reaction to an observation that we had another anti-Trump freakout looming when Justice Ginsberg dies, to the effect that she was the Keith Richards of the Supreme Court. Okay, but she has to leave us sometime,  as do we all, and I would bet that she cannot last another four years. I don’t even like to think about how low Democrats, the “resistance” and the news media will go to try to block the confirmation of a conservative replacement, or the hysteria that will follow.

1. The Lesson: organizations tend to act to protect themselves, not the victims of their misconduct. The Boy Scouts of America may face bankruptcy as lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by leaders and volunteers proliferate. The crisis is greatly aggravated by the loosening statutes of limitations across the country. The District of Columbia  eliminated the statute of limitations that restricted  the time for sexual abuse survivors to pursue civil litigation,  and created a two-year window for survivors under the age of 40 to file suit regardless of the date of the incident.  Accordingly,  Abused in Scouting filed suit in Washington, D.C., on behalf of eight men who say they were victimized as boys by Scout leaders and volunteers. The same process is going on in California, where similar suits are underway by 14 plaintiffs. California’s Assembly Bill 218 just kicked in on January 1, like D.C.’s law allowing victims of child sexual assault to file suit until age 40 and opening a three-year window for those abused as children to sue for past incidents.  Many more states have or soon will follow suit.

This appears to be ready to follow the awful path of the Catholic Church’s child molestation scandal, with similar evidence of cover-ups. The BSOA are a lot smaller than the Church, but they also have far less money to pay in multi-million dollar court settlements. It didn’t take a lot of imagination to see this coming, and the Scouts were already in trouble, with a blurring mission, falling membership and gender issues.

The Boy Scouts saved my father’s life, as I’ve related on Ethics Alarms elsewhere. I’m glad he didn’t live to see this. Continue reading

The Terrifying And Unethical Dissent Of Judge Staton In “Juliana vs. the United States”

This is why all Americans should be grateful for President Trump’s judicial nominees.

In 2015, a group of 21 children (<cough> I’m sure this was the children’s idea, aren’t you? Sure you are) filed  a lawsuit that came to be known as Juliana vs. the United States. This pure abuse of the legal system to engage in climate change hysteria  grandstanding asserted that the government  was violating their constitutional rights by not sufficiently addressing the climate  change crisis. The case should have been thrown out years ago, but last week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals finally did it.

Well, good. The fact that it took this long was a disgrace, and the result of “Think of the children!” pandering. The 9th Circuit being the residue of judicial activism and liberal bias that it has long been, however, it couldn’t restrain itself from writing, “The panel reluctantly concluded that the plaintiffs’ case must be made to the political branches or to the electorate at large,.”

panel concluded. Whoever one the three judge decided that the word “reluctantly” belonged there should be forceably retired.  “The panel reluctantly concluded that the United States Constitution does not permit courts to dictate national policy, nor citizens, especially those without voting privileges, to bypass our system of governance because they disagree with its policies” is what that word is telling us, and a judge who regrets how the separation of powers operates to that extent does not belong on the bench. Maybe they belong in President Elizabeth Warren’s cabinet, as she announced this week that she would eliminate student loan debt “on day one.” Lord, this woman is a shameless liar!

But I digress. Sorry. Warren’s name is becoming like “Niagara Falls” to me in the old vaudeville skit….

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/8/2020: War, Defamation, Bias, Abortion…What Fun.

ARRGH!

Another day, another “crisis”…

Current reports indicate that Iran regards its casualty free missile strikes last night as a sufficient “tat” for the killing of their master terrorist “tit.” If so, the “ARRGH! WORLD WAR III!!” anti-Trump hysterics were, as usual, wrong, and just embarrassed us, nothing more.. Meanwhile, Iran is refusing to hand over the black box of the Ukrainian airliner that just coincidentally crashed right around the time the missiles were flying. The fact that so many Democrats have allowed their brains and loyalty to rot to the extent that they defend  this awful place in order to attack their own nation’s President is all we need to know about the trustworthiness of their party.

1. Wrapping up the Golden Globes’ ethics issues…Michelle Williams is getting predictable hosannas from her acceptance speech at the Goldden Globes, in which she thanked abortion for her success. She said she wanted a life “carved by my own hand” and “wouldn’t have been able to do this without employing a woman’s right to choose.” The New York Times called these words “potent.” I call them deceitful. I’ll praise an equivalent speech when the woman has the integrity and courage to thank the human being who involuntarily gave up his or her chance to carve out a life with their own hand. The use of “choice” as euphemism for “I get to kill someone who stands in my way” is self-deception.

2. Thinking about Trump’s threat...The President backed down from his threat to target Iranian cultural cites in retaliation for any attacks on Americans after being informed that this would be a war crime under international law. I confess, I did not know this was prohibited, and I am not certain what to think about that. I knew the destruction of ancient architecture and important cultural cites became an issue for the Allies in World War II, but this has yet to make sense to me. The whole concept of the “nice” war is ethically incoherent. The idea of war must be to win as quickly as possible, minimizing deaths and chaos on both sides, especially one’s own. If the prospect of losing a nation’s treasured cultural structures is a deterrent to war, then to say that has no “military value” is simply not true. If you can’t tolerate risking your cultural treasures, don’t get into wars.

The values involved in this controversy are also incoherent. In “The Monument Men,” George Clooney’s sort-of accurate account of the special forces whose job was to track down and rescue great artworks stolen by the Nazis, the question is asked repeatedly, “Was retrieving this painting or statue worth sacrificing a human life?” I have no problem voting “Sure!” If the question is changed to refer to a thousand lives, or 10,000, I’m not so sure. Continue reading

Poll: “Unafraid and Unashamed”

Artist Julian Raven (that’s him on the right above) wants to force the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery to include his “Unafraid and Unashamed,” which you can see above. On the artist’s website  can be found links to his Supreme Court petition and  other documents related to his Free Speech suit “to force the gallery to add a portrait of President Trump to its collection of images of people of remarkable character and achievement.” Raven notes that the gallery has displayed artwork from Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign since 2009, and in his 39-page filing with SCOTUS, argues that gallery’s refusal to hang his portrait is based on an anti-Trump bias.

Raven’s crusade has been treated as an oddball saga and a joke, as in a  profile in the Washingtonian Magazine.

Some conservative writers are taking his cause seriously, however. Here’s Lawrence Jarvik:

Raven’s challenge dramatizes how national cultural institutions established to serve all the American people, such as the Smithsonian, have been hijacked by dangerously partisan factions which seek to exclude, marginalize and erase  “Others.”

As his brief demonstrates, the Smithsonian had accepted campaign posters for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, in addition to huge oversized paintings of Bill Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama. It had a special exhibition for the Obama Inauguration, and maintains a sort of shrine to the Obamas to this day. 

Raven’s case likewise provides evidence that decision-making at the Smithsonian is arbitrary and unfair. He was never provided a written decision on his application. Instead, he received only a phone call from the director, which from his account sounded conclusory, partisan, and unfair.

As he points out, as an American citizen—Raven is entitled to due process. Yet, to this date, he has no idea as to how his work was evaluated, nor what rubric was applied to his submission…versus that used for pictures of Obamas or Clintons.

Although “Unafraid and Unashamed” may not be the most beautiful portrait ever painted, Raven’s legal brief makes clear that the official criterion for display by the National Portrait Gallery is historical significance. No reasonable person could deny that Donald Trump’s election in 2016 had historical significance.

That’s true. It is also likely, certain, even, that the selection criteria used at the Smithsonian, as in every other art museum, is subjective and thus certain to be biased in one respect or another. Since the question involves pro-Trump art, and it would be hard to find an artist or significant arbiter of the arts in Washington, D.C. or anywhere else who doesn’t loathe President Trump, the issue of bias is not an insignificant one. Continue reading

“Side hustle?” SIDE HUSTLE? 

Apparently Democrats think this is me

 “The Side Hustle is Increasingly a Fact of American Life” says the New York Times,  and progressives want to restrict them.  Of course, being a versatile guy who can do a lot of things people will pay to have done, I resent the “hustle” term, which makes me sound like “Seinfeld'”s Kramer with a law degree….and that, making what people like me do sound cheesy and even a little bit shady, is the idea. Legislators and Presidential candidates—guess which party!– have expressed great concerns about the so-called “gig economy,’ arguing that it is proof of  unhealthy capitalism.  (Amusingly, this is exactly what Elizabeth Warren did when she was litigating appeals while serving as a Harvard law professor, but that’s different.) The data does not support the latest argument for controlling your life and mine, however.

A recent poll of those who have more than one way of making money shows that 33% of them take on more than one paying job because they have to, while 48% so it because they want to.

Naturally, those who want to must be stifled for the greater good, and need to get with the program. California’s recently passed Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), set to take effect on January 1, 2020,  will make it illegal for contractors who reside in California to create more than 35 pieces of content in a year for a single company, unless the business hires them as an employee. Continue reading

Eureka! Here’s One Way To Guarantee Diversity In College Admissions: Eliminate Objective Standards

Oh, it can’t be you! It’s always the test.

A group of students, advocacy groups and a primarily black and Hispanic California school district filed suit against the University of California last week,  alleging that  the SAT and ACT college admission tests discriminate  against black and Hispanic students and demanding that the school stop using standardized test scores in its admissions process.

The theory that the tests are biased against poor and mainly black and Hispanic students concludes that the system illegally discriminates against applicants on the basis of their race, wealth or disabilities, thus denying them equal protection under the California Constitution. This battle has been fought before, of course. There was a time, decades ago, when foes of standardized testing could point to test questions referring to yachting and Western philosophers, baking in a bias that handicapped students fromracial and ethnic  sub-cultures in America. Those prejudicial questions have been purged, but the long-time disparity between the test scores of white and Asian applicants on one side and black and Hispanic students on the other continues. Continue reading

Spurious And Vindictive Litigation Ethics: An Update On The Ethics Alarms Defamation Lawsuit

As I predicted yesterday, upon being informed that the plaintiff’s motion to reconsider the rejection of his appeal of the trail court’s rejection of his defamation suit had also been rejected, the now-banned Ethics Alarms commenter filed a petition for “futhur Appellate review” with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

The argument presented is an extension of his appellate brief, which erroneously relied on Milkovich v. Lorain Journal Co., 497 U.S. 1 (1990), a Supreme Court case that is not germane to this one. The plaintiff isn’t a lawyer, though he is inexplicably confident of his legal analysis skills, which is unfortunate for both of us, as well as the poor judges and clerks in Massachusetts who have to waste their time and the State’s money dealing with these flawed motions and appeals.

The reason there was no defamation and could be no defamation is that my opinions of the plaintiff and his motives, harshly expressed as they may have been, were based entirely on what he had written on the blog and an email to me that I quoted, as well as the plaintiff’s own blog, to which I included a link. The core of defamation, be it libel or slander, is alluding falsely to or asserting some undisclosed event or conduct that a reader or a listener has no way of knowing whether it is in fact true or not. That was indeed the situation in Millkovitch, where  a newspaper columnist’s account of a brawl at a high school wrestling match reported that one of the teams’ wrestling coach, Millkovitch, had incited the riot and lied about it. Continue reading