Ethics Hot Topics, 7/13/2021: A Date That Will Live In Ethics Infamy

1. Black Lives Matter…This is truly a date that will live in ethics infamy, or should: on July 13, 2013, the acquittal of George Zimmerman, accused of murdering Trayvon Martin in 2012, prompted Oakland, California resident Alicia Garza to post a message on Facebook containing the phrase “Black lives matter.” Garza said she felt “a deep sense of grief” after Zimmerman was acquitted (as he should have been and had to be based on the evidence.) She said she was further saddened that many people to blamed the victim, Martin, and not the “disease” of racism.

As has marked the soon to emerge Black Lives Matter movement, facts didn’t matter to Garza. Martin was the aggressor, and was the only one of the two parties involved who made race-related comments prior to the confrontation. Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defense, and the prosecution’s own investigator testified to that fact. Never mind: Patrice Cullors, a Los Angeles community organizer and friend of Garza’s, read her post and replied with the first instance of #BlackLivesMatter, which quickly “went viral.” Garza, Cullors and fellow activist Opal Tometi built a network of community organizers and racial justice activists using the clever but misleading name Black Lives Matter, and the phrase and the hashtag were used by grassroots activists and protests all across the country, many of them based on false narratives implying racism where no evidence of it existed, as in the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, George Floyd and others. It is now a powerful and profitable, if intellectually dishonest and divisive, force in American culture and politics. The damage the movement has already done is incalculable; the damage it will do is frighteningly uncertain.

I note that in the description of the movement on the allegedly objective History.com is that it is “simple and clear in its demand for Black dignity.” That’s laughable (but then, historians) since the name is anything but clear, and deliberately so. It stands as a false accusation against American society and non-black citizens that black lives do not matter to the rest of the population except the woke, and thus has spurred the attack on the nation’s legitimacy by purveyors of Critical Race Theory and the “1619 Project.” The seemingly benign slogan deftly avoids contradiction and makes dissent perilous (“What, you don’t think black lives matter, you racist?“) while being used to justify Marxism, censorship, reparations, race-based hiring, promotions and benefits, and other discriminatory activities and policies.

2. In a related July 13 note, this was also the date, in 2015, when Sandra Bland was found hanged in her cell. Bland’s name is also among those used as a BLM rallying cry, and like so many of the others, that is based on a presumption of racism and other facts unproven. On July 10, 2015, Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia pulled over 28-year-old Bland, an African American, for failing to signal a lane change. She refused to cooperate; he was unprofessional. The officer arrested her and took her to a nearby jail. Several days later, she was found dead, and an autopsy concluded she had hanged herself with a plastic bag.

Of course, Bland’s family and friends suspected that the official report of her suicide was a cover-up, because police are racists. But Bland was a police confrontation waiting to happen. She considered herself a Black Lives Matter activist, writing in one social media post, “In the news that we’ve seen as of late, you could stand there, surrender to the cops, and still be killed.” That’s ironic, because if she had just accepted the minor traffic stop without fighting with the officer, she might be alive today. Bland had at least ten previous traffic-related encounters with police in Illinois and Texas; she had been charged five times for driving without insurance, four times for speeding, and once each for driving while intoxicated and drug possession. Her last conviction was for shoplifting, and she owed $7,579 in unpaid fines at the time of her death. Encina was fired, and Bland’s family received the obligatory wrongful death settlement, in this case almost $2 million.

Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: CNN And Marc Lamont Hill

I nearly mentioned Marc Lamont Hill’s anti-Israel speech at the U.N. yesterday into this afternoon’s pot pouri, but ran out of space. It’s a good thing, because the story wasn’t over. CNN reacted to the speech late today by firing him as a regular contributor.

While condemning Israel and calling for strong international support of Palestinians and a new Palestine, he said in part,

“Contrary to western mythology, black resistance to American apartheid did not come purely through Ghandi and nonviolence. Rather, slave revolts and self-defense and tactics otherwise divergent from Dr. King or Mahatma Gandhi were equally important to preserving safety and attaining freedom. If we are to operate in true solidarity with the Palestinian people, we must allow the Palestinian people the same range of opportunity and political possibility. If we are standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people, we must recognize the right of an occupied people to defend itself. We must prioritize peace, but we must not romanticize or fetishize it. We must advocate and promote nonviolence at every opportunity, but we cannot endorse a narrow politics of respectability that shames Palestinians for resisting, for refusing to do nothing in the face of state violence and ethnic cleansing….We have an opportunity to not just offer solidarity in words but to commit to political action, grass-roots action, local action and international action that will give us what justice requires and that is a free Palestine from the river to the sea.

The last part was the tipping point, it seems: the phrase “from the river to the sea” has long been used by those who advocate wiping  Israel off the map. The Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center responded to Hill’s comments by calling them open support for the elimination of Israel. From Jewish Journal:

Sharon Nazarian, the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) senior vice president for international affairs, told the Journal in an email, “Those calling for ‘from the river to the sea’ are calling for an end to the State of Israel.”

“It is a shame that once again, this annual event at the United Nations does not promote constructive pathways to ‘Palestinian solidarity’ and a future of peace, but instead divisive and destructive action against Israel,” Nazarian said.

Similarly, Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal in an email, “Justice requires a ‘Free Palestine from the River to the Sea’? Marc Lamont Hill is a confirmed anti-Zionist ideologue. His extremist, anti-peace views merit coverage on CNN, not as a paid pundit but as a supreme propagandist unfettered by facts.”

Hill furiously argued on Twitter that he was being misinterpreted, but to no avail.  He is a Professor of Media Studies and Urban Education at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Hill would have had a stronger defense if he was not an open admirer of anti-Semite and routine Jew-hater Louis Farrakhan. I would have fired him years ago for being an outrageous race-baiter who sells anti-white bigotry and racial division on CNN using his  academic credentials as false authority. A typical moment: when a Baltimore Court correctly threw out the politically and racially motivated indictment against one of the officers involved in the Freddie Gray death, Hill tweeted, in defiance of the evidence and law, “The acquittal of the Baltimore Officer is yet another reminder that Black life isn’t worth much in this nation.”

Let’s ignore all of the many other good and long-standing reasons to fire Hill however, and pretend he had previously been responsible, fair, and professional. Or we could pretend he was a mongoose. No, let’s just stick with responsible, fair, and professional to keep it simple…

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Should Marc Lamont Hill have been fired for his speech at the United Nations?

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/6/2018: I See Unethical People…

Good morning, everyone!

1. Good, but better if it had happened six months ago. Ethically-challenged EPA chief Scott Pruitt finally “resigned” yesterday.  He was actually fired, and President Trump should have fired him as soon as it became clear that his pal couldn’t break himself of the bad habits he developed as a lawyer and a politician, including taking advantage of his position for personal gain. There were 14 separate investigations of Pruitt’s conduct, and his continued presence with Trump’s leave undermined the President’s pledge to “drain the swamp.” As several wags said with utter accuracy, Pruitt personified the swamp, but Trump does not place ethics or avoiding the appearance of impropriety high on his list of priorities, and never has. Pruitt’s conduct was also as stupid as it was wrong. He was a villain of the environmental Left, and had bullseyes and laser targets metaphorically covering his body. In such a situation, a prudent individual knows that he or she must be otherwise beyond reproach. Not Pruitt!

The National Review neatly summed up his demise:

“EPA administrator Scott Pruitt had enemies who were out to get him because he is a Republican, a conservative, a high-ranking member of the Trump administration, and an environmental deregulator. But it wasn’t liberals, the media, or deep staters who made him get large raises for his top aides, deny that he knew about it, and then admit that he did. It wasn’t they who made him have an aide find him a discount mattress, or run sirens so he could get to a French restaurant on time. The aides who told journalists, or congressional investigators, or both about Pruitt’s misbehavior weren’t all or even mostly liberals or deep staters. Several of them were conservative Trump supporters who were disturbed by Pruitt’s behavior and thought he was serving both the president and taxpayers poorly. Some of them had come with Pruitt from Oklahoma because they believed in him. The more they saw him in action in D.C., the less they did. Today it caught up with him.”

Good riddance.

2. Wait, haven’t we seen this movie before? Many commenters here expressed skepticism at the accusation that GOP Congressman Jim Jordan had turned a blind eye to sexual abuse  of student wrestlers when he was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State almost 40 years ago. Indeed the timing of the story looked like a political hit job, and it may be one whether the allegations are true or not. But now, as I noted in the first post about the controversy, the issue is Jordan’s denials. They rang false to my trained ear, and now there are four former wrestlers who say Jordan knew a team doctor was abusing the students.

It’s still their word against his, but it doesn’t matter. My position, as in the Harvey Weinstein mess, as in cases where fathers are molesting daughters, and in the Penn State scandal and so, so many others, is that those close to the situation either knew or should have known, and often deliberately avoid “knowing.”  Even if Jordan didn’t know, he should have and could have, and if he immediately accepted responsibility when the issue arose, he might have preserved some level of trustworthiness. He didn’t. They never do.

And we know how this movie ends. Continue reading

Remember These Names: The Freddie Gray Not Guilty Verdict Is Exposing Race-Baiters And Mob Justice Supporters

Angry-Mob

As almost every legal analyst without an ideological agenda has pointed out, officer Edward Nero was found not guilty in his trial for alleged crimes related to the death of Freddie Gray because there was no evidence to prove him guilty. The case shouldn’t have been brought at all; the prosecutor was unethical and conflicted.

Most critics of the responsible and just verdict  by the  Judge Barry G. Williams (who is black; did you know that?  Few news media reports pointed that fact out: it doesn’t fit the narrative of white justice failing black victims, I guess) didn’t read it, and don’t appear to care what it says. Judge Williams explained:

“Based on the evidence presented, this court finds that the state has not met its burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt all required elements of the crimes charged….It was [Officer] Miller who detained Mr. Gray, it was Miller who cuffed Mr. Gray, and it was Miller who walked Mr. Gray over to the area where the defendant met them. When the detention morphed into an arrest, [Officer Nero] was not present…This court does not find that a reasonable officer similarly situated to the defendant, at the point where there are people coming out on the street to observe and comment, would approach the lieutenant who just got out of the van to tell him to seat belt Mr. Gray or make an inquiry concerning the issue of whether or not Mr. Gray has been seat belted. There is no evidence that this was part of his training, and no evidence that a reasonable officer would do the same…The court is not satisfied that the state has shown that [Officer Nero] had a duty to seat belt Mr. Gray, and if there was a duty, that the defendant was aware of the duty.”

Did the officers, including Nero, endanger Gray through negligence? Baltimore has already paid a settlement of millions admitting that, true or not. Criminal convictions require intent. Mediaite legal writer Chris White correctly observes that a conviction based on the prosecution’s case against Nero that it was criminal for him not to intervene in another officer’s conduct  would essentially set a  precedent requiring all police officers to second-guess each other out of fear of being charged with crimes.

Never mind, though. The powerful progressive-black activist-biased news media alliance has determined that Nero should have been convicted, that a racist system is the reason he wasn’t, and that’s all there is to it:

  • Juliet Linderman’s Associated Press story  on Nero’s acquittal on all charges began:  “Prosecutors failed for the second time in their bid to hold Baltimore police accountable for the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.”

Foul. Nero wasn’t held legally accountable because there was no evidence that he was legally or factually accountable. The sentence drips with the assumption that Nero was accountable. As Tom Blumer noted. Linderman’s story also labelled Gray as black and the white officers accused in the case by their race, but omitted racial identification of the judge or the black officers charged. Hmmm...why would she do that? Why would her editors allow her to do that?

  • Whoopie Goldberg, on the IQ-lowering “let’s have ignorant female celebrities weigh in on serious topics” daytime show “The View,” sanctimoniously told an audience shocked at a verdict in a trial it knew nothing about, “This is the world we live in and this is going to happen. We’re going to have to deal with all of this.”

Deal with what, Whoopie? That the justice system still requires evidence before locking people up, even when a white police officer is accused in a black man’s death? Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Marc Lamont Hill

Marc Lamont Hill---biased journalist, honest man.

Marc Lamont Hill—biased journalist, honest man.

While much of the mainstream news media has been floating rationalizations and excuses for its failure to cover the Gosnell trial, a cynical process nicely dissected by James Taranto here, at least one liberal commentator has the integrity to admit the obvious. He is the Huffington Post’s Marc Lamont Hill, and on a live webcast, he said this:

“For what it’s worth, I do think that those of us on the left have made a decision not to cover this trial because we worry that it’ll compromise abortion rights. Whether you agree with abortion or not, I do think there’s a direct connection between the media’s failure to cover this and our own political commitments on the left. I think it’s a bad idea, I think it’s dangerous, but I think that’s the way it is.” Continue reading