Tag Archives: Minnesota

Blue Monday Ethics Warm-Up, 5/7/2018: Fake Brain Death, Horrible History, Bad Bills And Worse Journalism

It’s Monday!

1  In thousands of little ways...Insidious, biased, deceitful, distorted and unfair information is fed to the public by the news media, unflagged or corrected by editors, presented as legitimate punditry and journalism either intentionally to warp public opinion for leftward political gain, or out of pure incompetence, depending on how much one accepts Hanlon’s Razor. The little ones, like the tiny repetitive concussions that over time give NFL players brain disease, may be more insidious than the whoppers.

Here is a typical example. Progressive op-ed writer David Leonhardt concludes his column about how Amazon is a dastardly monopoly endangering his beloved book stores by writing,

“Once the country emerges from the Trump presidency, I hope we will have a government that takes monopolies seriously.”

It takes magnificent gall to lay the power of Amazon at Trump’s doorstep. The internet giant built its virtual monopoly to its current power on Obama’s watch, with a Justice Department that looked the other way. Why? I wonder if it had anything to do with the massive co0ntributions Amazon magnate Jeff Bezos sent the Democrats’ way, or the fact that his newspaper, The Washington Post, was a reliable cheer-leader for Obama through is entire administration. Never mind: Leonhardt’s editors allow him to mislead readers into believing that Amazon is being allowed to do its worst because of Donald Trump.

Oh…did you notice the conflict of interest disclaimer pointing out the Post-Bezos-Amazon connection for those readers who might want to know that the Times’ rival for national newspaper primacy is owned by Amazon’s CEO? Neither did I. Maybe when the Times emerges from its fake news and blatant partisanship stage, it will start taking ethics seriously.

2.  Today’s Fox News incompetence note. I literally stopped on Fox News for 45 seconds this morning, and heard a lovely, buxom, Fox blonde clone report this story by saying, “the boy was brain dead for two months, then woke up.” [The original typo had “bot” instead of boy. A good time was had by all]

No, you idiot. He was not brain dead at all, because when you are brain dead, you’re dead, and you don’t wake up.  Doctors may have thought he was brain dead. He may have seemed to be brain dead. But he wasn’t brain dead.

Fake news, and stupid news.

Fox News.

3. The logic of Hollywood anti-gun zealots in a horror movie. A decent horror move could be made about the San Jose Mystery House, where Winchester rifle heir Sarah Winchester built a maze of rooms and stairways to keep her personal demons at bay. “Winchester” isn’t it, because its mission was to bludgeon audiences for two hours with perhaps the silliest anti-gun message ever devised. You see,  rumors persisted while Sarah was alive that she was building rooms for all the ghosts of victims of her father-in-law Oliver Winchester’s repeating rifle to reside. Thus workmen claimed the site was haunted. “Inspired by real events,” as the film says (the “real events” being the sensational tabloid tales), “Winchester” posits that the ghost of a Confederate soldier whose two brothers were killed in the Civil War has returned to get revenge. Sarah is racked with guilt, because, she says, the Rebel muskets were no match for the North’s repeating rifles, and “they never gave them a chance.”

Yup, those are the rules in war, all right: always give the soldiers trying to kill you a chance. Later, all the angry victims of the evil Winchester come out to glare: Native American, children, suicides, slaves. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/17/2017

1. If you haven’t yet read them, Steve-O-in NJ’s Comment of the Day on Chris’s brilliant Comment of the Day regarding ideological and partisan hate—plus Chris Bentley’s Comment of the Day on the same post, are all especially worth reading, not that all Comments of the Day by Ethics Alarms readers are not. I apologize for an unusually long intro to Steve’s post, but I had been holding on to a lot of related material from the day past on the topic, and it was either use them there or be redundant later. This meant putting Steve-O’s COTD after the jump, which is why I’m giving an extra plug to it now.

2. There were two significant criminal trial verdicts yesterday: the guilty verdict in the trial of  Michelle Carter, a Massachusetts woman charged with murder for using text messages to persuade her teenaged boyfriend to kill himself, and the acquittal of the Minnesota police officers who shot and killed black motorist Philandro Castile during a traffic stop. I’ll cover the Carter case later.

There were the obligatory riots after the verdict acquitting Jeronimo Yanez, the officer who fatally shot Castile in his car after he told the officer that he was carrying a legally registered firearm and then reached for his wallet to show the officer his license. This is just the latest cattle-car in the Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck, the familiar pattern of a badly-trained cop, a dubious police stop, poor judgment by a victim, and a needless death. I would compare it to the Tamir Rice shooting in Cleveland, where the officers involved weren’t even indicted.

Why in the world would a motorist tell a cop in that situation—Castile had been officially stopped for a broken tail light, but in reality because he was black, and the officers thought he resembled a suspect in a crime who was also black—that he had a gun? This could be interpreted as a threat, and obviously Yanez saw it as one. The verdict looks wrong at a gut level, but it is easy to see how the jurors were thinking: they placed themselves in the officer’s position. They would have been in fear of their lives, so they couldn’t find a way to pronounce Yanez a murderer for doing what they could see themselves doing under similar circumstances. This was a legitimate case for reasonable doubt under the law. Police officers, however, are supposed to be less likely to panic than a typical juror. Castile is dead because of incompetent police work, but the criminal laws don’t allow different standards to be applied  for different occupations, not should they. Continue reading

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Ethics Hero: Angela Martin, As St. Paul Strangers Prevent A Suicide

Angela Matin

Remember Raymond Zack?  In 2011, 50-year-old Raymond Zack waded into the surf at an Alameda, California beach and stood calmly in the 54-degree water, apparently waiting to die. His suicide took nearly an hour, but eventually he drowned, with no rescue attempts from any of the 75 San Franciscans, including firefighters, who gathered on the shore to watch the entire tragedy. I am so used to reading about bystanders allowing desperate people, sick, wounded or otherwise in peril, to perish because they “didn’t want to get involved” that a story like this one, the opposite of the Raymond Zack tragedy from St. Paul, Minnesota, comes as a shock.

How sad is that?

Motorist Angela Martin  saw a woman  climb onto a concrete wall and scale a chain-link fence above Interstate 94 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Martin could have continued driving, but she acted immediately, parking her car and calling 911. But she sensed there was no time to lose. Martin ran over to the woman, who  having climbed over chain-link fence was now clinging to it with her fingers above heavy highway traffic.

“ No, honey. Don’t do this,” she shouted. Martin told reporters that the distraught young woman kept repeating,  “My mom don’t love me. My mom don’t care for me.’”

“No, we love you, ” Martin told her. Martin reached through the links  and grabbed the woman’s shirt and  belt, just as the would-be suicide released her grip so she could fall to her death. Other motorists on the overpass saw the unfolding scene and came to Martin’s aid, and joined her in reaching through the fence to keep the woman from falling. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

Ethics Quote Of The Day: Ann Althouse

politifact_photos_Obama_speaking_in_Poland

Why is racial discord the problem of the summer 2016? If anyone has what it takes to unify the country over race it is Barack Obama, who is President right now and who had been President for 7 1/2 years. If it makes any sense to be deciding the current presidential election on this issue, if this longed-for capacity is something that can possibly exist, then Barack Obama would be doing it now and would have been doing it for years.

Before you push us to judge whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump would do better in bringing us together in racial harmony, Mr. Healy, please say a few words about why President Obama has failed. Of course, neither Clinton nor Trump inspires hope for a new opportunity at racial harmony. That’s what Obama did in 2008. He was ideal for that issue and we voted for the hope. Now, so many years later, things seem even worse. Can you analyze how that happened? Because that did happen. I don’t see how we can begin to think about what more Trump or Clinton could do unless we understand why President Obama failed.

—–Law professor Ann Althouse, on her blog, responding to an op-ed piece in the New York Times by Pat Healy bemoaning the inability of either Trump of Clinton to respond to the Dallas shootings in a manner that unifies rather than divides.

1. I admit it: sometimes I look for other commentators who have discerned what I have discerned and use their quotes to state what I would normally be writing myself. Althouse is a left-leaning eccentric moderate who is not overtly political, and who is skilled at overcoming her own biases. She voted for Obama (at least once), and she plies her craft as a law professor in Madison, Wisconsin, as progressive a community as there is. I have found Obama’s leadership ability and Presidential performance wanting in almost all respects since early in his administration and have explained my analysis here.  The price I pay for this is that those who are in denial over what should be obvious (though terribly disappointing and sad) feel that my consistent  criticism gives them the opportunity to mask their denial by  labeling me an Obama-hater, a partisan (as if I wouldn’t be equally critical of an incompetent Republican President with a flat learning curve) and even a racist. A quote like Althouse’s is not so much an appeal to authority—I disagree with Professor Althouse a lot, though not her dislike of men wearing shorts—but choosing to allow someone else to say well what I may not have said any better, and to prove that I’m not the only one coming to such conclusions.

2. The President’s comments on the shooting deaths of officer-involved deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile, in Falcon Heights, Minnesota were irresponsible, inflammatory, and typical of his approach to race relations from the very beginning, when he stuck his influential nose into a controversy between a competent white Cambridge police officer and a race-baiting black Harvard professor. Then, without knowing any of the underlying facts, he suggested that the white police officer was at fault and the black professor (a friend of his) was blameless. His remarks about the police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota issued from the same bias. I’ll just comment on the beginning of his statement, which is enough to make the point: Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race, U.S. Society

Update: CNN Is Doing It Again

I just had to flee my TV.

No longer funny. Deadly.

No longer funny. Deadly.

On CNN just now, “New Day” interrupted its coverage of the ambush and murder of five police officers last night to go to a Minnesota demonstration in response to the police shooting of Philando Castile . The girl friend and family of Castile were front and center; in the background, along with a throng of African-Americans (exclusively) we heard a woman weeping loudly and uncontrollably. (“Hey, Joe, see if you can make that sobbing as loud as possible. This is great!”)

The segment went on and on, longer, in fact, than any segment previously shown regarding the deaths of the Dallas police officers. We were told by the angry demonstrators that Castile was murdered (undetermined at this time, in fact), that “everything was on the video” (the video began after the shooting) and that local officials were incapable of fairly investigating. We were made to understand that the shooting was racially motivated (there is, at this time, no evidence to support this.) Typical of the whole scene was the statement made and supported by several individuals in the protest, that the coronor had ruled the death of Castile a “homicide,” so this means that the police officer must be charged with murder. Crowd: “Yes!”, “Uh-huh,” “That’s right!”  Interviewer Chris Cuomo: “____” This is how you make all of America more ignorant, CNN. “Homicide” means only that Castile died from being shot: he was killed; he did npt die of accidental or natural causes. It does not mean that he was illegally shot, or murdered. Cuomo had an obligation to correct them, and if he thought that it would be too “insensitive” to correct misinformation being broadcast to millions, then he shouldn’t do the interview, or is in the wrong profession.

I suppose that there is always the chance that Cuomo doesn’t know that homicide and murder are not synonymous. There is a lot he doesn’t know. Continue reading

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Broadcasting Poison: An Irresponsible News Media Warps Public Opinion And Politics On Cop Shootings

Wiat...how can this guy be a police shooting victim? I don't understand.

Wiat…how can this guy be a police shooting victim? I don’t understand.

There have been two disturbing police shootings of black men in recent days, both incidents partially recorded on cell phones.

In Falcon Heights, Minnesota, an officer fatally shot  32-year-old Philando Castile as he sat in a car with a woman and a child. A day earlier, 37-year-old Alton Sterling was shot and killed during a confrontation with two police officers outside a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, convenience store where he was CDs. Neither of these cases have been investigated yet; the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave. In both cases, however, the initial impressions of the incidents were those of relatives of the deceased: Castile’s wife and Sterling’s mother. Guess what they had to say about their deceased loved ones and the police who shot them

This is, as a judge would say in a trial, extremely prejudicial. The emotional and angry reactions of the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown seized and controlled the “narratives” in those two cases before the facts were confirmed and the fatal encounters clarified. Today, CNN presented Mrs. Castile, who  declared that placing the officer involved in her husband’s death on administrative leave with pay was proof of the low value placed on black lives. She, of course, knows what happened, and that her husband couldn’t possibly have been responsible in any way for his demise. The shooter should be punished now, by loss of his income, before any investigation has been undertaken or completed. He’s guilty—of racism, of murder. Continue reading

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The Catholic Church, Its Rapist Priest, And Shattered Trust

The graphic artist didn't place that halo over the rapist priest's head. The Vatican did.

The graphic artist didn’t place that halo over the rapist priest’s head. The Vatican did.

In the year after “Spotlight” focused renewed public attention on the Catholic Church’s horrific betrayal of its mission, its members and humanity by the enabling of child sexual predators within its ranks, how could the Church not realize that reinstating a convicted rapist priest, as it did this week, undermines all of its efforts to regain the trust and faith it had forfeited?

After months in which Pope Francis presumed to tell the governments of the world what its moral obligations were, how could he allow this to occur?

In short, how can a credible religion have broken ethics alarms? How can the Catholic Church preach morality while rejecting ethics?

Father Joseph Jeyapaul,  a Catholic priest from India, served in the Crookston, Minnesota diocese from 2004 to 2005. While he was there, he raped at least two adolescent girls. I say “at least” because he admitted to raping them to cop a plea. Who knows who else he may have assaulted?

After being charged with the crimes, including rape and forcing at least one of his victims to perform fellatio on him, Father Joseph  escaped to India, where an Interpol warrant got him extradited back to Minnesota.  There he confessed, and as part of a plea bargain, received an outrageously light sentence of a year and a day for pleading guilty to one count of molestation.

Don’t ask me to explain why any prosecutor whose law license wasn’t obtained by passing a quiz about “Law and Order” episodes would make such a deal. I assume that some kind of political pressure from the Church was involved, or that the prosecutors were Catholic, or that they had brain lesions or something. Frankly, I’d rather not talk about it.

Jeyapaul was suspended from the priesthood and served his time in Minnesota. The U.S. deported him back to India with a DO NOT RETURN TO SENDER label after his release last July.  Meanwhile, the Minnesota diocese had to pay millions in a civil lawsuit, during which we learned that the rapist priest had told one of his victims  in the confessional that she was at fault, and had made Jeyapaul “impure” by letting him abuse her.

Does the term “evil” come to mind, or would you call that too judgmental?

Now comes the amazing part. In February, the Vatican lifted  Jeyapaul‘s suspension and restored him to the priesthood. It then assigned him to a new parish in India, where he is now the diocesan head of its commission for education. 

I’m sure it’s also a great place to meet chicks.

Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Professions, Religion and Philosophy