The Ethics Incompleteness Theory, The Bigot Doctor,”The Hader Gotcha,” And The Apology Scale

Yes, she actually has both arms. She’s also photogenic: the Democrats should nominate her for Congress.

I christened the Hader Gotcha last year after several athletes were forced to apologize for youthful social media comments that suggested a bigoted or insensitive state of mind. The ethics Alarms position on people looking through old social media posts to embarrass public figures and force them to grovel apologies to which ever group their comments offended was summarized in this post in the moderate, calm manner for which I am justly praised:

As I have written here before, searching for lingering social media idiocy that an athlete authored before he could drink or vote is despicable conduct, as is anyone making an issue of  what the deep Twitter dives expose. First, what a baseball player said or thought—they are often not the same thing—in the past has nothing to do with his job, which is playing baseball and not making social policy, and second, nothing anybody says or even does before their brain has matured should be held against them in adulthood, unless it is criminal, and even then the law urges us to be forgiving. I know that a lot of social justice warriors think that any racist, sexist or homophobic comments made post birth should be treated a crimes, but they are anti-democratic nuts, and hostile to free thought and speech, so to hell with them.

That post was largely ignored, because too many readers here still fail to grasp that ethics issues arising in baseball often, indeed usually, have broader wisdom to convey. Since I wrote it, the employment of the Hader Gotcha has been expanded outside the realm of sports, most notably the recent example of Kevin Hart, the popular comic who was attacked the very day he was designated as the host of the upcoming Oscars. Hart was forced to withdraw because a Hader Gotcah exposed old anti-gay tweets. This time, however, I agreed that the tweets mandated his withdrawal, writing, Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, December 19, 2018: Facebook’s Lies, Hillary’s Letter, Harvard’s Defenders, And Kavanaugh’s Victory

Good Morning!

1. Open Forum today! As soon as this post is up, I’ll open a forum for readers here to raise their own suggestions for ethics topics and to offer their commentary without me getting in the way. The last one was a spectacular success, attracting over a hundred comments, generating many fascinating threads, and producing three Comments of the Day so far. Just keep the topics on ethics, don’t get distracted by tangents and bickering, and keep it civil.

The immediate motivation for today’s forum is that I have to prepare for and deliver an annual end of year ethics CLE seminar at the D.C. bar. If you’re in the vicinity and need the credits, or just want a lively ethics workout, come on by and say hello. Here are the details:

Date: December 19, 2018

Event start time :1:30 PMEvent end time:4:45 PM

Venue:D.C. Bar: 901 4th ST NW, Washington, DC 20001-2776

Credit: 3.0 Ethics Credit Hours, including 3 hours of professionalism for those states with such requirement.

Description: Widespread discord in our current culture places unusual stress on professional ethics, and unfortunately, the legal profession is not immune. The past year saw many legal professionals, including famous names in the law, make questionable decisions and breach legal ethics standards, providing both cautionary tales and fodder for analysis. This challenging and interactive class will explore important developments and looming perils that every lawyer should be ready to face.

Topics include:

• Direct adversity vs. “general adversity,” and whether it matters
• Sexual harassment as a legal ethics problem, and the profession’s vulnerability to “The King’s Pass”
• Defying a client for the client’s own good
• Fees, referrals and gaming the rules for fun and profit
• Professional responsibility vs. legal ethics
• The increasing threat to law firm independence and integrity
• The technology ethics earthquake

..and more!

Faculty: Jack Marshall, Pro Ethics Ltd.
Fee: $89 D.C. Bar Communities Members; $99 D.C. Bar Members; $109 Government Attorneys; $129 Others

2. Meanwhile, here are Facebook’s “standards”… As Ethics Alarms posts continue to be blocked on Facebook in various ways, including by “community standards” that for some reason reject the ethics of “Miracle on 34th Street,” the social media behemoth’s own standards are coming into focus: From CNBC: Continue reading

How Can Anyone Honestly Defend Harvard’s Discriminatory Admissions Practices? Especially Harvard?

The federal trial that began last week in  Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, featuring  America’s oldest college being accused of discriminating against Asian-American applicants should, if there is justice in the world, both finally kill the lingering bigotry of college affirmative action policies and expose the U.S.’s most prestigious educational institution, and the ideological philosophy that has captured it, as the hypocritical and fraudulent entity that it is.  Does Harvard discriminate on the basis of race? Why yes, it does. There is no valid argument that it does not. Evidence shows that the college ties itself into logical knots concocting ways to justify not admitting Asian-American applicant who would sail into freshman classes were not their race used to undermine their candidacy. The plaintiffs cite reports that Harvard itself conducted  in 2013. The reports, by Harvard’s Office of Institutional Research, found that being Asian-American was negatively associated with being admitted. Harvard claims that it must consider race in order to have a “diverse” student body, which is important, it says, to the quality of education one can obtain there. “Diversity,” however is and has always been a rationalization for discrimination. No matter how affirmative action is framed, the fact is that it is a zero-sum game: for each individual whose race benefits their quest for admission, there is another individual whose race is used as a justification to reject him or her. There is no way of getting around this inconvenient fact, yet Harvard and other elite institutions persist in denying it.  Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: Through The Teeth Of The Storm Edition

Good Morning!

Just flew to Florida on pressing business. Ethics knows no obstacles…

1. From the  “The Ends Justify The Means” Files, Democratic section: Led by Sen. Cory Booker, Democrats are releasing confidential documents willy-nilly, in breach of Senate rules.  The Washington Post calls this “civil disobedience.” Elected officials aren’t allowed to engage in civil disobedience, because their duties include maintaining civil order and the Rule of Law. This isn’t civil disobedience. This is Democrat Senators violating rules when they think it’s to their advantage to do so. Chuch Schumer, whose reputation and level of public trust should be in freefall for anyone paying attention, tweeted,

“I stand w/ Judiciary Committee Democrats who are well within their rights to release these very important documents that a former Kavanaugh deputy designed as “committee confidential.”

This is apparently another convenient Democratic Party rule change: restrictions don’t count if Democrats don’t like the official who has the power to issue them.

2. This is  pure bigotry and discrimination. Why isn’t that obvious? Why isn’t the news media pointing it out? From the LA Times:

Twentieth Century Fox was just days away from locking picture on “The Predator” when an urgent note came in: Delete the scene featuring Steven Wilder Striegel. Striegel, 47, didn’t have a big role in his longtime friend Shane Black’s reboot of the sci-fi thriller — just a three-page scene shared with actress Olivia Munn.But last month, Munn learned that Striegel is a registered sex offender who pleaded guilty in 2010 after facing allegations that he attempted to lure a 14-year-old female into a sexual relationship via the internet. When Munn shared the information with Fox on Aug. 15, studio executives quickly decided to excise him from the movie.

This reminds me of the scene in “Ship of Fools” when a passenger is exiled from the captain’s table on a German ship because a Nazi complains that he is Jewish. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The Red Hen

Believe it or not, I had not heard about a Lexington, Virginia restaurant kicking out Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her family who were there to enjoy a meal when I wrote, a couple of hours ago, in part…

The virtue signaling fad is officially dangerous… since sanctuary cities are applauded for defying law enforcement, and more and more private establishments are basing their service on the political view of potential customers…This will spread, and we will have a completely dysfunctional society if and when it does. It is the natural progression of the divisive strategies and rhetoric employed by “the resistance” and the news media, and is undiluted cultural poison.

Here’s the story: Stephanie Wilkinson, the owner of the bucolic rural Virginia restaurant, was called at home and told the President’s spokeswoman was dining there with a group. Asked what the staff should do, she somehow couldn’t think of the correct and ethical answer, which is “Give her and her group the same hospitality and excellent service we strive to give all our customers. We don’t discriminate.” Instead, she drove to the establishment and told Sanders to leave. Sanders tweeted,

“Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left. Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so.”

For her part, the owner told the Washington Post that she would do it again, because “there are moments in time when people need to live their convictions. This appeared to be one.”

Sanders is right, and Hutchinson is despicable, un-American, unethical, and wrong.

Other notes: Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Outgoing Harvard President Drew Faust

…unless your racial origins would cause an imbalance in our carefully constructed palette of backgrounds, abilities and hues…

Asian-American groups  filed a federal lawsuit challenging Harvard University’s affirmative action policies as discriminatory, and the Justice Department backs of plaintiffs who say the university is discriminating against Asian-American applicants. (I wrote about the lawsuit here.) Of course they are discriminatory. In its quest for “diversity,” Harvard and other schools have penalized Asian-Americans, who confound Charles Murray-haters and racial-privilege mongers by being disproportionately excellent in academics. On a level playing field, in a purely merit-based admission system, they would dominate elite institutions, with numbers far beyond what demographics alone would predict. Can’t have that!  (This the leftist reaction, and they run U.S. education. My reaction: what an inspiring American success story!) Thus Harvard and other schools have used de facto quotas to reject Asian Americans who would have been admitted easily if they were a different color.

Outgoing Harvard President Drew Faust, a feminist proto-totalitarian who has shown an eagerness to stomp on basic human rights like speech, due process and association during her disastrous tenure,  sent the campus a message this week attacking the law suit. Here it is:

Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

In the weeks and months ahead, a lawsuit aimed to compromise Harvard’s ability to compose a diverse student body will move forward in the courts and in the media. As the case proceeds, an organization called Students for Fair Admissions—formed in part to oppose Harvard’s commitment to diversity—will seek to paint an unfamiliar and inaccurate image of our community and our admissions processes, including by raising allegations of discrimination against Asian-American applicants to Harvard College. These claims will rely on misleading, selectively presented data taken out of context.  Their intent is to question the integrity of the undergraduate admissions process and to advance a divisive agenda. Please see here for more information about the case.

Year after year, Harvard brings together a community that is the most varied and diverse that any of us is likely ever to encounter. Harvard students benefit from working and living alongside people of different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives as they prepare for the complex world that awaits them and their considerable talents.

I have affirmed in the past, and do so again today, that Harvard will vigorously defend its longstanding values and the processes by which it seeks to create a diverse educational community. We will stand behind an approach that has been held up as legal and fair by the Supreme Court, one that relies on broad and extensive outreach to exceptional students in order to attract excellence from all backgrounds.

As this case generates widespread attention and comment, Harvard will react swiftly and thoughtfully to defend diversity as the source of our strength and our excellence—and to affirm the integrity of our admissions process. A diverse student body enables us to enrich, to educate, and to challenge one another. As a university community, we are bound across differences by a shared commitment to learning, to pursuing truth, and to embracing the rigor and respect of argument and evidence. We never give up on the promise of a world made better by an assumption revisited, an understanding expanded, or a truth questioned—again and again and again.

Last month, I presided over our Commencement Exercises for a final time and reveled in the accomplishments of our graduates and alumni, and in the joy and pride of the faculty who educated them, the staff who enabled their manifold successes, and the family members who helped nurture them and their aspirations. Tercentenary Theatre was filled with individuals from the widest range of backgrounds and life experiences. It was a powerful reminder that the heart of this extraordinary institution is its people.

Now, we have an opportunity to stand together and to defend the ideals and the people that make our community so extraordinary. I am committed to ensuring that veritas will prevail.

Sincerely,

Drew Faust

Such transparent deceit is seldom trumpeted so loudly. Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up, Memorial Day, 5/28/18: Things That Don’t Mix

1. Let’s start with some non-traditional casting hypocrisy.

  • Example A: In “The Gentleman Caller,” an Off-Broadway drama by Phillip Dawkins, an imagined romantic interlude between famously gay Fifties playwrights Tennessee Williams and William Inge has been cast with a Hispanic, and Hispanic-looking, actor as the very un-Hispanic Williams, and an Asian-American actor as the quite Caucasian Inge. This is self-indulgent grandstanding by the director that doesn’t serve the play—that’s the director’s duty, to serve the play—and the playwright was a fool to allow it. If the drama was just about two gay playwrights, it wouldn’t matter who was cast to portray them, or what the actors looked like. The identity of the writers is important to this  drama, however. You don’t cast a short, bald man as Abraham Lincoln, and you don’t cast a fat, flat-chested woman as Marilyn Monroe unless you are actively trying to sabotage the play. The New York Times critic didn’t have the integrity to point out the reverse-whitewashing casting-–mustn’t criticize fellow social justice warriors, you know!—but the stunt is both incompetent and discriminatory.

If a director cast an Irish-American and an Italian-American as James Baldwin and Richard Wright in a similar play, he would be excoriated, and rightly so.

  • Example B. Jim Parsons, best known as aging nerd Sheldon in “Big Bang Theory” and now starring on Broadway in the ensemble revival of “The Boys in the Band,” told the New York Times in an interview that the producer insisted that everyone in the cast be gay. Nice. Gay actors have been insisting forever that their sexuality was no bar to their playing straight characters—this is true, if they are any good as actors—but apparently reverse discrimination is fine.  It’s not fine. It’s bigotry.

When my late, lamented theater company revived that play almost 20 years ago, the director, John Moran, himself gay, insisted that the sexual orientation of the actors who auditioned would play no part in his casting decisions, and it did not. I think most of the all-male cast was not gay, but all of them were (and are) excellent.

One of my favorite Clarence Darrow quotes is, “I’m for the underdog. He needs friends a damn sight more than the other fellow. The best fun in life is to fight for the underdog…If the underdog got on top he would probably be just as rotten as the upper dog, but in the meantime I am for him.”

Things that don’t mix: Anti-discrimination rhetoric and discrimination

2. Another “good illegal immigrant” story. Guatemalan woman Gomez Gonzalez was shot to death in a border incident as she tried to enter the U.S. illegally. The episode is under investigation, and the facts are murky: the border patrol claims that she was in a crowd of people trying to cross the border illegally that became threatening and violent.  Here is how CNN begins its account of the controversy:

“Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez traveled 1,500 miles to the United States, hoping to find a job and a better future. Shortly after she set foot in Texas, a Border Patrol agent shot and killed her.”

No bias there! It is absolutely irrelevant to the legal and ethical issues here why Gonzalez was entering the country illegally. She did not deserve to be shot under any circumstances, and she was no more justified in violating our immigration laws whether her objective was to find a “better future” or to open a meth lab. The news media insists on sentimentalizing what is a black and white issue of sovereignty, law-breaking and enforcement, with the intent of confusing the public and demonizing opponents of illegal immigration.

Things that don’t mix: Lawbreaking and status as a virtuous martyr

Continue reading