The Progressives’ Attacks On Shelby County v. Holder: Unethical and Ominous

How DARE the Supreme Court not defer to Congressional judgment when it knows Congress is incapable of competent decision-making!

How DARE the Supreme Court not defer to Congressional judgment when it knows Congress is incapable of competent decision-making!

After reading more of the hysterical, sneering attacks on the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, I have concluded that I initially neglected to recognize the deep bias and contempt for basic rights that underlie them. The critics have no legitimate arguments to support allowing the current formula set out in the Voting Rights Act to continue, except that they believe trampling on innocent citizens’ rights is acceptable government practice if it makes the civil rights establishment happy, and allows the myth to be perpetuated that Republicans sit up late at night trying to figure out ways of stopping blacks from voting. “It may be unconstitutional, but it works!” is the best of their claims, a pure embrace of that hallmark of corrupted ethics, the ends justify the means. Note that this is also the justification being offered by the Obama Administration for drone strikes, PRISM, and tapping the phones of reporters. This isn’t an argument but a philosophy, and one that is offensive to core American values.

The Times, no longer the premiere news source in the country but certainly the premiere Democratic Party ally masquerading as a news source, clinched it for me. In its scathing editorial condemning the decision, the only arguments it could come up with were… Continue reading

Shelby County v. Holder: Inflammatory Rhetoric, Biased Reporting, Irresponsible Hyperbole


The Supreme Court rules that it's not 1965 any more. The Horror....

The Supreme Court rules that it’s not 1965 any more. The Horror….

Sometimes one would think that the left-tilted media and the race-grievance industry is conspiring to divide America. Sometimes, one would be right, and such a time was the disgraceful and misleading reporting of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, followed by apocalyptic and fear-mongering cries of outrage from Democrats, whose characterization of both the decision and its meaning were not just wrong, but dishonest and irresponsible.

The decision did not “gut” the 1965 Voting Rights Act as several news sources stated, nor strike at the “heart” of it, as the New York Times, editorializing in its headline, told readers (quoting Bill and Hillary Clinton), nor  did the Supreme Court “reset” the “voting rights fight,” as USA Today headlined the decision. There is no dispute, or “fight,” over whether minorities should have the right to vote (Really, really unethical headline, USA Today…)  Nor did the ruling “turn back the clock,” as multiple critics claimed. The latter was an especially Orwellian description, given that what the decision really did was insist that a clock that had been stopped for 40 years finally be set to reflect the passage of time. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Knight Warrior

Knight Warrior and Knight Maiden

Knight Warrior and Knight Maiden

Actually, his first mistake was probably revealing his secret identity, but that’s not today’s topic, which comes from the little explored realm of Ethics Alarms known as “Wacko Ethics.”

For there dwells Roger Hayhurst, also known as Knight Warrior, a self-proclaimed British superhero who began fighting minor crime and disturbances near his home in Swinton, Greater Manchester. Hayhurst wears a custom-made blue and black lycra costume and even had a sidekick, his 18-year-old fiancee Rebecca. She is called “Knight Maiden.” Now, however, Roger and Rebecca may be out of the superhero business, because some young toughs in Clifton beat the snot out him while he was “on patrol.”

“My face was all swollen,” Knight Warrior sniffed. Now he’s discouraged, and confesses, “I mainly dress up for charity appearances.” Rebecca, meanwhile, has turned in her tights. Continue reading

“The Good Wife” Ethics Addendum: Why Misrepresenting the Legal Profession’s Standards Does Real Harm

Sure, it was a comedy, but how many people believe that Jim Carrey's compulsively lying lawyer was not that far from the truth?

A comment from reader Penn on my post about “The Good Wife’s” recent misrepresentation of legal ethics standards got me thinking, and what it got me thinking was that I was too easy on the show.

Penn asked why I waste my time watching programs that raise my blood pressure, and there are two answers. The first is what I wrote back: it’s not a bad show; in the past it has been a very good one, even from the legal ethics perspective. I have used several scenarios from episodes in seminars.

The second answer, which I didn’t mention in my response to Penn, is the more important one, however. Good show or not, millions of Americans get their information about the legal profession from the portrayal of lawyers and law on TV and in movies. From these fictional sources, they think they know that most lawyers are liars, that they allow their clients to lie, that they put witnesses on the stand who they know will lie under oath. The public thinks that lawyers abuse the law, don’t earn their fees, don’t give a damn about their clients (unless they are sleeping with them), switch sides routinely and confuse juries to release serial killers on more victims. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Wall Street Journal Blogger James Taranto

Useful fact: Mitt Romney is running for President, and Maureen Dowd isn't. You can't use her to judge his ethics, just as you shouldn't use him to judge her hair.

Oh James, James. What am I going to do with you? For the third time this year you have barged into Ethics Dunce territory, surely a place one of the most consistently perceptive, witty and reasonable of conservative commentators never belongs.

But what is an ethicist to do when you attempt to trivialize an outrageously dishonest and misleading campaign ad by Mitt Romney, in which a statement by President Obama [ “Sen. McCain’s campaign actually said, and I quote: ‘If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose,’ “referring to the 2008 economy under Bush ] is edited to suggest something completely different [ “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose,” implying that “we’ means the Democrats] from what he was really saying, by showing that other politicians and New York Times columnists play the same unethical game? So what? How do the unethical journalistic practices of the Times columnists you deftly expose on a regular basis in any way make Romney’s ad less reprehensible? Continue reading

Major League Baseball, Forgivability, and List Ethics


Bleacher Reports is an enjoyable sports website, and it gives opportunities to aspiring writers and bloggers, some of whom are quite talented.  In addition to typical opinion pieces and reporting, the site has a fondness for lists, often trivial to the extreme, like “The 50 Ugliest Athletes of All Time.” The titles are all misnomers, because there is almost never any criteria given for the choices or their relative ranking. An accurate title would be, “The Fifty Athletes I Think Are The Ugliest.”  And of course, who cares? (Don Mossi, by the way, was the ugliest athlete ever, no matter what anybody says.)

A recent list, however did bother me. It is called “The Fifty Most Unforgivable Acts in Baseball History,“ and much of the problem with it lies in the title itself. If you are going to write about history, there is a duty perform diligent research, even for a silly online list. Misrepresentations online have a large probability of misleading people.  The title is a misrepresentation, like “The 50 Ugliest Athletes,” but unlike that list, there is some harm done. The list isn’t close to complete; it isn’t consistent; it isn’t well-researched. I’d bet that the author, Robert Knapel, wrote it off the top of his head.  Anyone who looked at the list and assumed, as the author represents, that these are truly the low points—“the dark side,” as the author puts it—of major league baseball would be seriously misinformed.

There are unequivocally, probably universally recognized incidents and events that are infinitely worse that most of the items on the list.  Just a  few samples: Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Unethical Blog Post of the Week: ‘But What About Caylee?”’

As comments, accusations and retorts featuring the Ethics Alarms All-Stars were flying around on the blog in reaction to the Casey Anthony verdict and my reaction to some of those reactions (here, here, here, and here), Lianne Best came through with an  especially measured take, one that was immediately cheered by other commenters.

There is nothing wrong with feeling deeply, and emotions are important; after all, Mr. Spock had limitations as a leader. When emotion rather than analysis drives public opinion, however, there is a risk of real harm: those attempting objective analysis may be vilified, marginalized or ignored, and rash, reckless decisions and consequences can result.  (I could, but won’t, argue that the 2008 presidential election was a classic case in point.)  Lianne cuts to the real issue deftly. Here is her Comment of the Day:

“I too often find myself embroiled in emotional opinion, with no basis in facts. It’s easy here: an adorable and completely innocent, dependent little girl was killed. Virtually every human, particularly parents, want to see that vindicated, justice found and brought. That somehow makes it better. But you know what? It doesn’t make it better to go racing off on just a blazing gut reaction, not when people’s lives are affected by our lack of thought and analysis. I was a juror in a kidnapping and murder trial. It was an immensely difficult two weeks, and the decision was agonizing. Luckily, it was also popular; it would have been awful to suffer through loud, manic public criticism of our reasoned decision on top of the process … loud, manic public criticism by people who weren’t there, who knew less (or at least differently) than we did. We have a jury system for a reason, 12 people found Casey Anthony not guilty (13 if you count the alternate juror) and we have to trust them.

“Personally, I appreciate Jack’s cooler head prevailing when my mother’s heart is shrieking.”

Marcia Clark, Exploiting the Anthony Verdict for Her Own Sake

Marcia Clark. OK, this really isn't Marcia, but the real picture of her doesn't look like her either.

Marcia Clark’s article on the Casey Anthony verdict is so tainted with obvious conflicts of interest that it should have been rejected by The Daily Beast…or rather would be rejected by any website more selective and less shameless than the Daily Beast. This would be any fair site that does not deal in over-the-top opinion as a matter of course.

Marcia, like her colleague Chris Darden, is a rather tragic figure these days. The former lead prosecutor in the O.J. case is struggling to make it as a pundit, freshly botoxed and rendered almost unrecognizable so as to be fetching in those close-ups. After she sold the inevitable cash-in book about the Trial of the Century, she has wandered in the C-List celebrity wilderness, and will soon join Newt Gingrich and William Shatner as a celebrity novelist. She will be remembered, quite correctly, as the prosecutor who botched the O.J. murder trial, even if we give Darden an assist for the gloves debacle. (Why cable news shows insist on recycling failures as experts is an enduring mystery, the mystery being “how can the producers look themselves in the mirror after choosing recognizable flops over less well-known but more accomplished authorities?”)

But Clark apparently saw an opportunity in the Casey Anthony verdict to rehabilitate her tarnished reputation, and grabbed it. The result is “Worse Than O.J.!”, a new low in self-serving analysis. Continue reading

Unethical Blog Post of the Week: “But What About Caylee?”

Sad but true: the trial's purpose was not to find justice for Caylee.

If I responded to even one out of a hundred ethically muddled, logically addled posts by the hoard of bloggers in cyberspace, I’d have time for nothing else. Now and then, however, I am directed to a post that typifies the kind of free-floating, fact-starved gut sentiment that rots public discourse in America and that helps keeps the public confused and panicked.

In this case, I was directed to the post by the blogger herself, who managed to annoy me by accusing my post on the Casey Anthony jury of being callous to the victim in the case, two-year old Callie. I re-read my post; there wasn’t anything callous toward the child in any way. Puzzled, I went to the blogger’s page, a blog by someone who calls herself wittybizgal, and called Wittybizgal. Sure enough, there it was: an anguished lament about the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial entitled, “But What About Callie?”

The post is frightening, because I am certain that this kind of non-reasoning is epidemic in the United States, nourished by touchy-feely bloggers, pundits and columnists and made possible by the ingrained habit of having opinions without knowledge. Since their opinions are not supported by facts or reasoning, they can’t be debated. If you aren’t persuaded, you’re just mean, that’s all. That’s no way to decide what is right and wrong, but it certainly a popular way. Here is wittybizgal’s argument, one fallacious step at a time: Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Find The Tell-Tale Mistake!

Unfortunately, James O'Keefe is no Nellie Bly

Kansas City Star reporter Mary Sanchez has posted an excellent column entitled “James O’Keefe and the Ethical Bankruptcy of ‘Gotcha’ Journalism.” Outside of an unfortunate final “Let’s see some genuine evidence that NPR’s coverage is biased” conclusion (you mean, other than its choice of stories, its lack of ideological balance, Nina Totenberg, its treatment of Juan Williams, and its institutionalized positions on issues like Palestine, gun control, abortion,  and illegal immigration?), she makes a strong case. But her piece is marred by a tell-tale gaffe that makes me doubt her own ethical orientation.

Your challenge in today’s Ethics Quiz: Find it! It occurs in this section: Continue reading