Tales Of The Great Stupid: Clarence Darrow’s Worst Idea Takes Hold In New York City

America’s greatest trial lawyer, Clarence Darrow, defended guilty criminals in part because he believed that it was cruel and unjust to punish citizens who committed crimes, even violent ones. Darrow, a pioneering progressive, lectured, debated and wrote that people committed crimes because of conditions beyond their control: bad parents, stupidity, mental illness, no education, poverty. Since those who committed crimes literally couldn’t stop themselves, punishment was revenge without reason. Sending someone to jail, far from advancing civilized conduct, not only destroys the life of the perpetrator but also creates a false sense of accomplishment, ignoring the socioeconomic “root causes” of crime. Nobody born free, the lawyer fervently held, should lose his or her liberty because of bad genes or bad luck.

It was and is a batty theory, and until very recently, one wouldn’t find anyone advocating it who wasn’t lying, ignorant, or a criminal himself. No longer. Today Darrow’s worst idea is running amuck in several big cities in the grip of woke Democratic government, and where it stops, nobody knows.

Take New York City…please.

The Big Rotten Apple has decided not to prosecute “quality of life” offenses, from littering to public urination to jumping subway turnstiles, with the predictable result that the quality of life for law abiding New Yorkers has cratered. Last summer, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice crowed that “the number of New Yorkers held in New York City jails had shrunk by 27% in 10 weeks, bringing the city’s incarcerated population down to the lowest level since 1946.Wow! Isn’t that great? Of course, by some coincidence, murders and shootings were rising more quickly than ever before.

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Authentic Frontier Gibberish Kills: The Gun Policy Doubletalk Of Maya Wiley

“Authentic Frontier Gibberish,” or AFG, named in honor of Gabby Johnson of “Blazing Saddles” fame, is the public phenomenon of solemn and meaningful-sounding word clouds designed to make the naive and the barely educated (that is, most of society) feel certain that they are in the presence of superior intellect when in fact they are in the thrall of either con artists or morons.

Ethically, it falls somewhere under the categories of dishonesty, incompetence and disrespect, depending on the AFG culprit. It would be difficult to find a more blazing example than the “Gun Violence Prevention Policy” offered by Maya Wiley, the civil rights attorney and former de Blasio counsel who’s running for mayor along with approximately half the city. Gun-related violence has roughly doubled in New York City thanks to the weak law enforcement policies of her client, so Wiley is giving the same foolish voters who elected de Blasio twice a chance to emulate San Francisco and make the city even more dangerous and unlivable. At least I think that’s what she’s proposing. As with all “Authentic Frontier Gibberish,” it’s hard to tell, and that, of course, is the plan.

I’m going to stick with the summary, by your leave, but you can try to make sense out of the whole thing if you are a masochist or an optimist. One part of both that is frighteningly clear: Wiley pledges to “Reduce the NYPD budget by $1 billion and invest those funds directly into the communities most impacted by gun violence.” The second part of that sentence is classic AFG, since “invest those funds directly into the communities most impacted by gun violence” is meaningless, but the first part is called “Defunding the police.” Almost 10% of the NYPD’s operating budget was cut in the last budget cycle, and the result was a crime wave. Obviously the best plan is to cut more!

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Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: New York City Councilman Chaim Deutsch

crooked councilman

This guy is quite a piece of… work.

Chaim Deutsch, a New York City councilman representing Brooklyn pleaded guilty to federal tax evasion last week. He didn’t pay $82,000 in taxes and deducted fraudulent business expenses related to his real estate management company. For that, the Democrat could face up to a year in prison. He doesn’t have to resign though, due to a technicality.

Under the public officers law, Council members face automatic expulsion if they plead guilty to a felony or a crime related to their elected office. But Deutsch, in his plea deal, only pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, and it involved his personal finances. He doesn’t have to resign, and apparently he won’t.

Deutsch’s lawyer says his client’s guilty plea won’t interfere with his ability to carry out his Council duties. “He intends to fulfill the will of the voters and complete the term for which he was elected,” the mouthpiece says. I’m pretty sure the will of the voters has substantially changed, now that they know they voted for a crook. And a felon—which is what Deutsch is no matter what he pleaded to—can’t possibly ” carry out his Council duties.” Among those duties is maintaining the public’s trust. He is also likely to have his influence on the Council reduced to the vanishing point, as it plans on punishing Brooklyn’s finest if he refuses to resign. That’s certainly not in the interests of his constituents.

“New York City Council member Chaim Deutsch admitted today that he defrauded the I.R.S. in connection with his real estate business,” Audrey Strauss, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. “As an elected official and community leader, Deutsch had a particular responsibility to follow the law. Instead, over a multiyear period, Deutsch concealed his true business income to avoid paying his fair share of taxes.”

But Deutsch is determined to follow one law, at least: the one allowing him to stay in office until his term expires. He’s a stickler for that one.

The Andrew Yang Affair

Andrew Yang, as of this week the front-runner for mayor of New York City, did nothing unethical.

Well, allow me to modify that. Allowing yourself to be placed at the mercy of a stranger while being videoed is political incompetence. And his fake laugh was too convincing.

The video above, since the news media no longer allows the public to hear or read essential aspects of such stories because journalists regard themselves as public censors, is confusing, so here is what transpired.

The whole, unblurred, unbleeped video is on TikTok, and WordPress won’t let me embed TikTok. Someone the candidate to let him take a phone video as another stranger, a smiling and giddy black man, asks Yang whether a man, “while he’s fucking bitches, can he keep his Timbs on?.” — a reference to Timberland boots. Yang’s answer, under the circumstances, is pretty deft: “I think it’s purely up to your partner.”

Then the classy New Yorker asks Yang whether he “choke[s] bitches,” and Yang laughs—convincingly, I must say— and leaves.

Gotcha!

Yang’s polite engagement with the man after he used the word “bitches” and his apparently hardy laughter after the “choke bitches” line made him an inviting target of feminists and his rivals.

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Remembering Arturo Di Modica, The Artistic Ethics Train Wreck

Talented and bold artist? Shameless self-promoter? Hypocrite? Unethical jerk? Arturo Di Modica, the Sicilian-born sculptor who died earlier this year was all of these. He was also a one-man ethics train wreck.

In mid-December of 1989, the artist illegally dropped his “Charging Bull,” a 3.5 ton bronze sculpture (that’s a similar model he had mounted in China above), in Lower Manhattan one night in 1989. He claimed it was a gift to his adopted country, the United States, urging courage and defiance after its 1988 financial collapse. Maybe. Or he just wanted to grandstand and get publicity. Either way, you cannot put a giant statue in a public place without permission, permits, owning the property involved, little things like that.

This was a planned crime. Di Modica spent weeks prowling the Wall Street area after midnight, noting when and where police officers walked by. He had about forty accomplices waiting at around 1 a.m. when he loaded his sculpture onto a flatbed truck and drove to Broad Street, next to the Stock Exchange. But it was nearing Christmas, and the Stock Exchange had put up a huge Christmas tree where he had planned to drop “Charging Bull.”

So he put it under the tree.

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From “The Rest Of The Story Files,” The Resolution Of The Great Central Park Dog-Walking Controversy, And I Don’t Like It One Bit

Amy Cooper

You might have forgotten this ethics story from last May. That would be understandable. It was momentarily big news (though it should not have been), but it occurred on the same day Derek Chauvin put his knee on George Floyd’s neck, and the George Floyd Freak-out and The Great Stupid soon descended on the land.

The verdict here—you might want to review the post—was that the villain in the story, Amy Cooper, was indeed an asshole for calling the cops on a black bird-watcher in Central Park.She did it because he told her to leash her dog (as the rules required) and began filming her defiant reaction. The other Cooper, Bird-watcher Christian, posted the video, thus severely tearing the fabric of Amy’s life for a single incident of miserable conduct. (“Take that, bitch!”) She was fired and humiliated, and New York banned her from Central Park and tried to put her in jail. Amy is also probably tarred as a racist for life, though as I argued in the post, the fact that she mistreated a black man and attempted to use his race against him doesn’t prove she’s a racist. It just proves she’s an asshole.

Christian, who did his part to blow an ultimately minor dispute into a national controversy, ultimately had second thoughts, and to his credit decided not to pursue a legal vendetta against Amy. I don’t like his rationale for this, which consisted of two rationalizations that I detest: #38 B, Excessive Accountability, or “She’s Suffered Enough,” and the awful rationalization #22, Comparative Virtue, or “There are worse things.” He told a reporter that he felt the lack of D.C. statehood was more important than punishing Amy Cooper. Oh. If there’s one thing that makes me think about D.C. statehood, it’s a rude white dogwalker having an altercation with a black bird-watcher.

I would have had no problem with prosecuting Amy Cooper for making a false complaint to the police if that law were enforced in New York as a matter of course. It isn’t, however. NYC District Attorney Cyrus Vance decided to charge Amy because of the high profile nature of the case, and to grandstand for social justice warriors, using the Minnesota white cop’s knee on black neck narrative as an opportunity. The Ethics Alarms verdict is that this was an unfair and irresponsible reason to pile on Amy, not because she didn’t deserve to be charged, but because the motive behind her charging was unethical for a prosecutor, and indeed racially biased. Vance would not have charged a black Amy under the exact same circumstances.

Now you’re caught up, so this next development can be put in context: the criminal case against Cooper was dismissed a month ago. In part because Christian Cooper declined to support her prosecution, Amy Cooper cut a plea deal that stipulated that if she completed a “therapeutic program” including instruction “about racial biases,” all charges would be dropped. She did, and they were. Amy had faced up to a year in jail if convicted, so a metaphorical gun was at her head. Learn to love Big Brother, or else.

Yecchh.

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Unethical Quote Of The Week: Deyate Hagood’s Zoom High School Economics Class

“What that nigga want God? Word up, look out for the cops…Word up, two for fives over here baby. Word up, two for fives them niggas got garbage down the way, word up.”

—-Lyrics in “Cash Rules Everything Around Me,” performed by Wu-Tang Clan ,in one of two rap videos that formed the basis of an economics class taught by Deyate Hagood, a social studies teacher at A-TECH High School.

For the uneducated, “Two for fives” is a 90s’ term for crack cocaine sales, meaning “two vials for five dollars.”

When a Queens mom working at home heard this and another equally vulgar rap video taking up the bulk of her son’s Zoom economics class on “money, power and respect,” she snapped. The woman, whose name is being withheld because she fears retribution against her or her son, grabbed her son’s laptop and shouted at Deyate Hagood, the social studies teacher at A-TECH High School in Williamsburg, saying…

“You honestly ought to be motherfucking embarrassed. Disgusting! You have rap videos using N-words, talking about whores and bitches and selling drugs. I’m working from home, and this is what I’m hearing my kid in his senior year learning in class?”

Indeed it was. “I’ve had to watch my high-school senior spend an entire year at home in isolation while receiving a very limited education,” said the Queens mother, an executive assistant with a younger son in middle school. She told the New York Post that her 12th-grader did not have a book or syllabus for the economics class. Her son reported that Hagood usually showed videos. In the second rap video played that day in Hagood’s class, a prostitute in black lingerie “sings,”  “First you get the money. Then you get the muthafuckin’, power. After you get the fuckin’ power muthafuckas will respect you.”

Nice!

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Ethics Footnotes, 1/17/21:Well, I’M Reading, Anyway…

Boy, only diehards are on Ethics Alarms today, yesterday too. I don’t get it; it’s a long weekend, but so what? It’s not like everyone is traveling on long weekends while American are still trembling in terror over the Wuhan virus. Must ethics take a holiday? Apparently so...

1. How can anyone have sympathy for New Yorkers? The city is falling apart. Crime is up, the wealthy are fleeing, corporations are fleeing, the mayor has eliminated admission tests for much of the public school system and stated that his goal is to redistribute wealth, Times Square has returned to pre-Rudy squalor, and tourism was falling like a rock even before the pandemic. They voted for a confessed socialist as mayor (and for his communist, conflict-of-interest flaunting wife)—perhaps acceptable as a novelty—then re-elected him after a disastrous first term. Now, six months ahead of this year’s Democratic mayoral primary that will decide who the next mayor will be because the city’s minorities wouldn’t vote for a Republican if he was running against Nero, the natives are getting restless. Polls show that New Yorkers regard de Blasio’s pet issues of combating climate change and pollution on the bottom of their priority list, but only 56% of respondents said they hold a “very or somewhat unfavorable” view of the guy that was the architect of the city’s collapse. Why isn’t it more like 90%? I suppose for the same reason they elected him twice. In democracy, you get what you deserve. Civic literacy is the individual’s ethical responsibility, nobody else’s.

2. Now THIS is an incompetent elected official…Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) actually said in a video posted last week—I wouldn’t kid you!-–“This idea that saying that Pennsylvania was ‘rigged’ or that we were ‘trying to steal the election,’ that’s a lie. And you do not have the right, that is not protected speech.” Fetterman goes on to say that Twitter should have immediately removed any tweet from President Donald Trump that questioned the integrity of the election, and, in the immortal mark of someone who doesn’t know the First Amendment from a Yorkshire Terrier, compared Trump’s claims to “yelling fire in a crowded theater when there is none.”

This idiot is reportedly considering a run for the U.S. Senate in 2022.

To be fair, Fetterman’s view of the free speech,which is to say “there is none unless progressives approve,” appears to be on the way to becoming the predominant one in the Democratic Party.

Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos…

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Thursday Ethics Thirst-quencher, 8/20/2020: Actually, This Doesn’t Taste So Good….

I filled in a gap in my history knowledge today, one I’m embarrassed to have had for so long. I remember being creeped out the first time I heard John Hinckley crooning the song he dedicated to Jodie Foster on her answering machine at Yale. “Ohhh Jodie! Ohhh Jodie! My love will turn you on!” All these years, I thought Hinckley had composed that song in his sick infatuation. Today, almost 40 years later, I found out that he just ripped off a John Lennon song called “Oh Yoko,” which I heard for the first time on the Beatles Channel on Sirius-XM. Am I the only one who didn’t know that? My ignorance is my fault: I would no more listen to anything extolling Yoko than I would voluntarily groove on “William Shatner’s Greatest Hits.”

And what was it about  Beatles compositions that inspired aspiring killers?

1. Yes, this seems rather irresponsible...Here’s a trailer for an upcoming Netflix series:

Over at The American Conservative, columnist Rod Dreher is disgusted, with good reason. He writes in part,

“Twerking their way to stardom. Eleven years old….These are little girls, and this Netflix show has the acting like strippers as a way of finding their way to liberation. What is wrong with these Netflix people? Do they not have children? Do they think our daughters are only valuable insofar as they can cosplay as sluts who are sexually available to men? ….There is nothing politicians can do about this…I hope sometime this fall a Senate committee calls Netflix CEO Reed Hastings] to Capitol Hill and forces him to talk about how proud he is that he has 11 year olds twerking on his degenerate network.”

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Ethics Observations On The National Museum of African American History and Culture’s Retreat

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) endured only a day of searing criticism before it removed its racist chart on “whiteness” from  its website. The site replaced the graphic, which Ethics Alarms reproduced here and here and never wants to see again, with this statement:

At the National Museum of African American History and Culture, we believe that any productive conversation on race must start with honesty, respect for others, and an openness to ideas and information that provide new perspectives. In that context, we recently unveiled “Talking About Race,” an online portal providing research, studies, and other academic materials from the fields of history, education, psychology, and human development.Our goal in doing so was to contribute to a discussion on this vitally important subject that millions of Americans are grappling with. Since yesterday, certain content in the “Talking About Race” portal has been the subject of questions that we have taken seriously. We have listened to public sentiment and have removed a chart that does not contribute to the productive discussion we had intended. The site’s intent and purpose are to foster and cultivate conversations that are respectful and constructive and provide increased understanding. As an educational institution, we value meaningful dialogue and believe that we are stronger when we can pause, listen, and reflect—even when it challenges us to reconsider our approach. We hope that this portal will be an ever-evolving place that will continue to grow, develop, and ensure that we listen to one another in a spirit of civility and common cause.

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