They Seem Like Good Ideas…But Not Really. Clarence Darrow Knew Why.

I. The Daily Telegraph officially apologized “unreservedly” to Melania Trump and agreed to pay her “substantial damages” for an article it published last week. Mrs. Trump had sued the paper in British courts.

The paper said its Saturday Magazine cover story “The Mystery of Melania” this month contained false statements, as her lawsuit claimed. It wrote,

Following last Saturday’s (Jan 19) Telegraph magazine cover story “The mystery of Melania”, we have been asked to make clear that the article contained a number of false statements which we accept should not have been published. Mrs Trump’s father was not a fearsome presence and did not control the family.  Mrs Trump did not leave her Design and Architecture course at University relating to the completion of an exam, as alleged in the article, but rather because she wanted to pursue a successful career as a professional model. Mrs Trump was not struggling in her modelling career before she met Mr Trump, and she did not advance in her career due to the assistance of Mr Trump.

We accept that Mrs Trump was a successful professional model in her own right before she met her husband and obtained her own modelling work without his assistance. Mrs Trump met Mr Trump in 1998, not in 1996 as stated in the article. The article also wrongly claimed that Mrs Trump’s mother, father and sister relocated to New York in 2005 to live in buildings owned by Mr Trump.  They did not. The claim that Mrs Trump cried on election night is also false.

We apologise unreservedly to The First Lady and her family for any embarrassment caused by our publication of these allegations.  As a mark of our regret we have agreed to pay Mrs Trump substantial damages as well as her leg

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/29/2017: A Rude Librarian, Another Incoherent Knee, I Need To Start Listening To My Own Lectures, And Did YOU Know That “Green Eggs And Ham” Was Racist?

Good Morning!

1 In the middle of yesterday’s continuing legal education seminar on technology and legal ethics, I was telling the attendees about the dangers of all things Google. As I was explaining why lawyers should never, never do legal business on a gmail account, I added that they also have an obligation to tell their clients that there is not a sufficient expectation of privacy when they use gmail to communicate with their attorney. Then I literally froze and stared into space.

“I just realized that one of my recent consulting clients, a lawyer, has been sending all of his communications and documents to me using gmail,” I said. I had noticed it, but it still didn’t trigger the response that I have been teaching to others for at least three years.

As a wise man once said, “D’oh!”

2. In the “I can keep it up as long as they can” category: There is now a viral photo of some idiot taking a kneel  during Taps at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/26/17

Good Morning!

(My Dad was from Kentucky. He couldn’t stand Tom T. Hall…or Mitch McConnell)

1. I have been working on a legal ethics seminar for lawyers who represent seniors (I was told that the politically correct term among the groups was “older clients.” Older than what?) It is one of those areas of the law in which the usual ethics rules don’t work very well, or sometimes not at all. This anomaly requires a lawyer practicing in the field to be ready to embrace the Ethics Incompleteness Principle: to violate the letter of the professional ethics rules in the best interests of the client. For example, what does a lawyer do whose aging client lives with a son or daughter, and the lawyers sees signs of elder abuse? When the lawyer asks the client, he makes various excuses for his caretakers, and finally says that while he has been abused, it’s not serious and will only get worse if the lawyer says or does anything in response to it. Now what? The fact of the abuse, under the usual construction of the rules, is a confidence controlled by the client.

The emerging consensus is that the lawyer can ethically use the exception to confidentiality that allows an attorney to reveal a client confidence to prevent death or serious bodily injury to a “third party,” the client becoming “the third party” for his own protection.

2. A federal lawsuit was filed last week alleging that a Tennessee judge and sheriff violated inmates’ constitutional rights by instituting a program offering reduced jail time for criminals who agree to undergo vasectomies or get contraceptive implants. The suit claims the White County program amounted to “eugenics with a twist.” I don’t think it’s much of a twist; I’d say it’s eugenics, straight up. I’d assume CBS will love it: after all, eliminating criminal types is even better than eradicating Down Syndrome babies. Isn’t it?

3. Lots of people sent me this horrible story, about the cheerleader camp at a Denver area high school where young girls were being forced to do splits (it hurts me even thinking about doing splits) , with the camp’s instructor shown in a leaked video pushing down on the shoulders of a 13-year-old as she screamed for him to stop.

Boy, there is a lot of child abuse out there.

The Denver Board of Education said in a statement: “As the elected representatives for Denver Public Schools — and as the moms, dads and family members of D.P.S. students ourselves — we are deeply disturbed by the videos of cheer practices at East High School that came to our attention yesterday.”

Gee, it’s good to know that you are all disturbed that children are being tortured at schools that you are supposed to be overseeing.. This must mean you are competently doing your jobs. No, actually it doesn’t

“As the investigation continues,’’ it states, “our focus must be entirely on our students, families and educators.”

The school superintendent also said: “We have sent notification to our athletic directors emphasizing that D.P.S. does not allow the use of ‘forced splits’ or any other activity that puts a student’s physical or mental health at risk, or in which a student is forced to perform an exercise beyond the point at which they express their desire to stop.”

An Ethics Alarms note to that school system: Any athletic directors who have to be reminded that abusing children in their care, and continuing to make them perform painful acts after they have said that they don’t want to, is not something they should be doing shouldn’t be employed in the first place. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/23/17”

Like Baltimore removing its politically incorrect statues, here I am in the dead of night trying to catch up with the Ethics Alarms Comments of the Day.

By the way, of all the statues taken down and under attack, the one I can most sympathize with is that of Chief Justice Roger Taney. There is only one reason anyone remembers Taney, and only one thing a statute to him can symbolize: the Dred Scott decision, which he authored. Since it is, by acclamation, the single most disastrous Supreme Court decision in the nation’s history, having a statue of Taney standing in front of the Maryland state house is difficult to defend.

Taney is something of a tragic figure. The rest of his judicial career was distinguished, but that is a bit like saying that the rest of that performance of “Our American Cousin” was terrific. He actually thought the Dred Scott decision would avert a civil war by settling the slavery question once and for all. He was not an evil man, just a horribly misguided one.

There is a street named after Taney in Alexandria. Every time I pass the sign, I think, “This is weird.” Who defends the Dred Scott case? Who has defended it in the last 150 years?

But I digress.

Tippy Scales is an undercover journalist, registering his period disgust at the ethical collapse of his profession here because it is not safe to do so elsewhere. He filed this Comment of the Day two days ago, on the post, Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/23/17

(I’ve linked to the topics and posts he  has referred to within his post.)

Let’s review the past few days… Continue reading

Two Public School Educators Duke It Out In Class: What’s Going On Here?

Oops!

I’m sorry! Wrong video.

What I meant to put up was this…

This was a student cell phone video of the fight that broke out, in class, in front of students, at Stone Mountain Middle School in Atlanta, Georgia, last week. The combatants were a  teacher and a paraprofessional, both of whom have  been fired and arrested.

After the fight was finally broken up, students say school officials came into the classroom, went through their cell phones and made them delete any evidence of it.

“Nobody apologized they just came in and were like who videotaped this and stuff like that,” a student said.  “I think they were trying to push it under the rug so nobody would know about it and the school’s reputation wouldn’t be messed up.”

The school issued the usual statements—you can guess what it said, the usual boilerplate about such conduct being unacceptable and not comporting with the school system’s values. I don’t care what it said. Nobody is sure what the fight was about: I don’t care about that either.

What I want to know is the starting point for most ethics analysis: What’s going on here?…or in this case, what the HELL is going on here?

  • I’ve never heard of anything like this happening before. Has it happened before? How can it happen?

How can a school system employ one, never mind two, alleged educational professionals who would be any more likely to behave this way than they would wear an armadillo for a hat?

  • Can the reaching profession, especially in the public schools, nurture any worse professional standards? This is the fabled public school system that Betsy DeVos is called a menace for wanting to over-haul?

I know that it is only one incident, but just as the United Airlines abuse of a passenger it had no right to bump signals that the airline industry’s service standards are spiraling out of control, this horrific display in the Stone Mountain Middle School suggests a sick culture in and outside of education.

  • On my local news channel, they told us that the two pugilists were suspended but were still employed “pending an investigation,” which made me laugh out loud. How about watching the video? Nevertheless, there needs to be an investigation—of the school, the administration, recruitment and hiring practices, management and oversight, the culture of the school system, and more, like where do women in the teaching profession learn to throw punches like that?

Well, from teachers, parents and role models like them, I guess.

Dear Betsy DeVos: Can You Condemn This Pervasive Child Abuse And Anti-Gun Indoctrination In The Public Schools, Please? Thanks!

Caitlin Miller, 5, was playing with her best friends during recess at the Raeford, North Carolina school playground. Her two friends were pretending to be a king and queen, and Caitlin was in charge of protecting the kingdom. She picked up a small stick (above) and pretended to shoot imaginary intruders entering the kingdom.

The 5-year-old was sent to the principal’s office and suspended for one day for “turning a stick into a gun and threatening to shoot and kill other students,”  the school’s ridiculous assistant principal wrote in a note to Caitlin’s parents. Caitlin, says her mother, doesn’t understand why she was being punished. I don’t blame her. She may soon come to the conclusion that using one’s imagination is wrong, and that guns, even imaginary guns are evil. Or, in the alternative, she may decide that teachers and principals are fools, authority is abusive, and public school is a something to be feared and distrusted.

I would urge her toward the second conclusion rather than the  first.

The Hoke County School District issued a statement that “will not tolerate assaults, threats or harassment from any student.”

See what I mean, Caitlin? You didn’t do any of that, but you are being taught by lying, authoritarian jackasses. Continue reading

From The Ethics Alarms “What You Say Or Think In Private Is None Of Your Employer’s Business, Until It Isn’t Private Any More” Files: The Teachers’ Bar Game

teachers-at-a-bar

Akin to the Naked Teacher Principle is what this fiasco illustrates. If you allow conversations to make their way to the web and they insult or denigrate individuals who have to trust you or work with you in your employment, you cannot complain when your name is mud and your job is toast.

Some teachers and and staff employed by the Bangor Public Schools were relaxing at a local bar, and started playing a game  called “Fuck, Marry, or Kill.” The game challenges the players to name three celebrities they would marry, have intimate relations with or kill, but the educators decided to substitute students and other teachers for the celebrities.Some the students named as desired murder victims or sex partners were special needs students. What fun!

No ethics alarms sounded. Someone made a video, nobody grabbed the phone and stomped on , and the video ended up on YouTube.

Parents were not pleased. Continue reading