Air Travel Ethics: When In Doubt, Play The Race Card.

Dr. Tisha Rowe, an African-American family physician from  Houston, was pulled off a recent American Airlines flight and required to cover herself with a blanket before being allowed back on the plane, which was traveling from Jamaica to Miami. You can see above what Dr. Rowe was wearing, thanks to her angry tweet about the episode.

I have no idea why this outfit was found so objectionable; I’ve seen much worse on many flights. On the other hand, a little taste and decorum while flying in close quarters with strangers is basic manners and civility.

Yesterday she said that she had been humiliated in front of her 8-year-old son, and asserted that racial bias was behind the incident. “Had they seen that same issue in a woman who was not a woman of color, they would not have felt empowered to take me off the plane,” Dr. Rowe said. “In pop culture, especially black women with a body like mine, they’re often portrayed as video vixens. So I’ve had to deal with those stereotypes my whole life.”

SHE looks like a “video vixen?” Okay! Whatever you say, doctor! Continue reading

The Shooting Of Justine Ruszczyk: How Mindless Tribalism Makes Justice Impossible

The shooter and the shot.

Former police officer Mohamed Noor  was sentenced last week to spend 12 and a half years in a Minnesota prison for shooting Justine Ruszczyk, an unarmed woman he killed while on patrol in 2017. I don’t see how anyone could read the facts of the case and not conclude that Noor was guilty of negligent homicide. I don’t see how anyone could rationally complain that his sentence was excessive, either.

 Ruszczyk, who was white—unfortunately this fact is relevant—and  soon to be married, called 911 twice to report what she thought was a sexual assault going on in the alley  behind her Minneapolis home. Officer Noor and his partner responded  to investigate.  Ruszczyk  came out to the darkened alley to meet them, presumably to explain what she heard or saw,  and was soon dead of a single shot, fired from the  open patrol car window by Noor.  At the trial,  Noor said he feared for his life when he  saw Ruszczyk approaching his cruiser and fired. “She could have had a weapon,” he said .

The reported crime, sexual assault, the officers were investigating  did not involve a weapon. If Noor’srationale was enough to justify shooting Janet Ruszczyk, presumably an officer could justify shooting anyone, at any time.

Prosecutors argued that Noor acted unreasonably by  firing at unknown  figure out his window without shouting a warning,  and that it amounted to third-degree murder.  Well, of course it did. He was convicted by a jury in April . Twelve years for recklessly killing an unarmed woman who was trying to be a responsible citizen is not an unreasonable sentence, and is within the sentencing guidelines for the crime.  Continue reading

And Championing Racial Double Standards Can Be Expensive As Well As Wrong: Ask Oberlin

Oberlin College deliberately set out to  destroy a local bakery for insisting that laws apply to black college students.  Now, in the case of Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College, a jury has awarded 11 million dollars in damages to the bakery owners, and punitive damages might up the award to over 30 million.

Good. Very good. Spectacularly good.

Ethics Alarms first wrote about this awful story here. A precis:

On November 9, 2016—probably not coincidentally the day after Donald Trump was elected, throwing ultra-liberal schools like Oberlin into a ludicrously extended period of irrational fear and loathing—Jonathan Aladin, Endia Lawrence and Cecelia Whettstone were caught stealing bottles of wine from Gibson’s Bakery, a small family-owned establishment with a contract with Oberlin . As they have been duly trained by our culture, the students played the race card, initially claiming the shop had racially profiled them, and that their only misdeed was presenting  fake IDs. When that wasn’t working, the three admitted their guilt and also signed statements that the store was innocent of any race-related bias. It also appears that the students punched and kicked the shopkeeper. … (Here is the police incident report.) 

The day after the arrests, hundreds of students protested outside the bakery, and Oberlin’s student senate published a resolution saying Gibson’s had “a history of racial profiling and discriminatory treatment.” The Oberlin police conducted an investigation into the arrests and found “a complete lack of evidence of racism.” Over a five-year period, the bakery had pursued charges against 40 shoplifters, and only six were African-American.

…The owner met with then-Oberlin President Marvin Krislov and Tita Reed, assistant to the president, and they  pressured him to drop criminal charges against the three students and any future student-thieves who were first time offenders. When he did not agree, the complaint alleges, the school made good on its threat and dropped its decade’s long contract with the bakery. …  Meredith Raimondo, vice president and dean of students, joined students and members of the school faculty in campus demonstrations against the bakery, distributing a flyer that accused Gibson’s Bakery of being a “RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION.”  A boycott of the business was organized, and according to the complaint, facilitated by the school. College tour guides reportedly informed prospective students that Gibson’s is racist. …

The Ethics Alarms post listed the probable factors at work: Continue reading

The Incredibly Stupid But Nonetheless Revealing Nancy Pelosi Video Ethics Train Wreck

Seldom does a news story I deem too predictable and silly to warrant posting about suddenly explode into a full-fledged ethics train wreck, but this time, it did. President Trump apparently couldn’t resist the irony of Speaker Pelosi calling for “an intervention” for him in one of her typical rambling, halting, disturbing performances, and tweeted “PELOSI STAMMERS THROUGH NEWS CONFERENCE” along with a video.

This was, of course, both juvenile, petty and typical conduct by the President. At this point, I don’t see how anyone can get upset about it, be surprised by it, or pretend to be outraged by it. Doing so is one more marker of Trump Derangement: yes, we KNOW you hate the man and can’t stand his manner, manners, and mannerisms. These were a matter of record years before he was elected. Anyone who voted for him knew the was part of the package. What possibly is accomplished by railing about it now?

“The man’s an asshole! No, really, look, he really, really is an asshole! Don’t you see? HE’S REALLY AN ASSHOLE!!!!” We see, for God’s sake. We’ve always seen. Shut up! [See: The Julie Principle.]

Now, if Donald Trump were 14, or not President of the United States and obligated to be a role model and epitome of dignity and rectitude, one could sympathize with this latest example of tit-for-tat payback. Pelosi accused him of a “cover-up” because he has chosen not to cooperate with Democrats looking for things—something, anything— to impeach him with. This is the three year old “we know you must have done something horrible because you are horrible,” guilty until proven innocent smear that the “resistance” has used from the moment Trump was elected to try to undermine his Presidency in an  undemocratic, slow-motion coup unlike anything the nation has endured before. Then she made her “intervention” comment. Of course the President resents it and is furious, and he has never denied that his personal ethics code demands that he strike back when he is attacked. No, it isn’t ethical, admirable or Presidential. But it’s him.

The Speaker was also crossing lines of decorum that shouldn’t be crossed, but that horse not only left the Democratic barn long ago, it has traveled cross-country, mated repeatedly, and has nasty, mean-spirited, hateful colts galloping all over the place. One of Trump’s gifts is making his enemies behave worse than he does, and the Democrats and the “resistance” have taken the bait and asked for more, the fools. All they had to do was to take the high road, speak respectfully but sadly about the President’s transgressions, stick to the facts, and refrain from name-calling and ad hominem attacks. Like the man on the ledge heeding “Jump!” chants, they chose to follow the worst of their supporters’ demands instead, proving, of course, that they were no better than the President, and, I would argue, worse. Continue reading

Easter Ethics Warm-Up, 4/21/19: As Ethics Lays Some Eggs…

Happy Easter!

1.  A cultural note: there is no discernible Easter programming anywhere on TV, cable or network. Oh, TCM is playing “Easter Parade” and “King of Kings” in prime time, but that’s it. ‘Twas not always thus.

2. Speaking of TCM…Bravo for the classic movie network’s teaming with Fandango to offer big screen presentations of John Wayne’s “True Grit” in May. They could have justifiably chosen many other Westerns equally worthy or more so, like “Shane” or “High Noon.” I like to think that choosing the Duke’s Oscar winning performance is an intentional rebuke to the recent attack on Wayne’s legacy by the social media mob, a true “Fill your hand, you son of a bitch!” to the cultural airbrushers and statue-topplers.

I’ll be there, cheering Rooster on.

3. Other than journalists, have any other professionals debased themselves and their professional integrity more flagrantly that lawyers and law professors in their determination to Get Trump? This article in Slate by a law professor argues that asking or telling one’s lawyer to do something that the lawyer refuses to do—like firing Robert Mueller—can be criminal obstruction of justice. By this theory, every time a client says that he wants the lawyer to assist in an illegal act, it’s a crime.  But that’s not how attorney-client relationships work. The attorney is obligated to say, when appropriate, “No, you can’t do that, and I won’t do that for you, and here’s why.” In the end, it is indistinguishable from the client asking the lawyer’s advice, because clients only have the power to order a lawyer to do a very limited number of things, like accepting a settlement.

The professor’s argument also assumes that Trump firing Mueller would be obstruction of justice. Not only is this unprovable—that would have to be his intent—the President had a perfectly good reason to fire the special counsel, just as he had good reason to fire James Comey. Mueller’s investigation had been tainted many ways, and since Trump knew he was innocent, he saw the exercise as a calculated scheme to make it impossible for him to do his job. Firing Mueller and ending the investigation  would have been really, really stupid politically, but it wouldn’t be obstruction.

This, however, is how desperate “the resistance” is to bootstrap some kind of impeachment theory. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/25/2019: Woke Up Really Sick Of Democratic Party BS This Morning. I’m Sure I’ll Get Over It…

Good Morning!

…as the Mueller report lets the sunshine in…

1. Thank goodness judges don’t bake cakes…the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility have issued Formal Opinion 485. It holds that judges who perform marriages, either as an obligation of their office or by choice, may not refuse to do so for same-sex couples. The opinion emphasizes that regardless of their backgrounds, personal views or philosophies, judges must follow the law and act impartially, free from bias or prejudice.

I’d say the opinion is unassailable for a judge who regularly performs marriages  as a mandatory part of his or her job. A judge who is not so required, presumably, can choose not to perform any marriages at all. I bet some judge will challenge the proposition, however, that a  religion-based refusal to perform an optional civil wedding is per se “bias or prejudice.” [Source: Legal Ethics in Motion]

2. Welcome to my world...This week I am doing several ethics programs, one of which (not in legal ethics) I have presented over many years. Last year, I was told that the 2 hour program I had been presenting to the group only needed to be 90 minutes, so the materials I prepared and submitted indeed covered that amount of time, as did my presentation.  This year, I again prepared for 90 minutes. Now, looking at the conference’s two-day program, I see that my seminar is listed in the program as two hours again. That’s a mistake, but it’s too late to correct it: the attendees plan on getting professional credit. So what is my most ethical response? I could…a) stretch the material to two hours, but that’s a 30 minute stretch. b) At my own expense, create an additional 30 minutes of material, copy the materials, distribute them, and never mention that the conference manager, my long-time contact, screwed up. c) Use this crisis as leverage to negotiate a supplement to my fee for the necessary upgrade. d) End after 90 minutes, tell the attendees why, and suggest that they take up the matter of the missing credit with the conference organizers. e) Do the upgrade, present it, and then bill the conference for my time. Continue reading

The “Dog Park Diane” Affair

This ridiculous story has apparently “gone viral” in some corners of social media, I suppose because it involves race (sort of), dogs, and sex.  I was blissfully unaware of the whole foofaraw until a friend sent me a link.

Here we go!

In Attleboro, Massachusetts, a dog identified as a pitbill mix belonging to African-American Franklin Baxley began doing what frisky dogs sometimes do to other dogs, human legs, and pillows, to a dog belonging to Grace Sandland, who apparently freaked out.  She demanded that he and his dog leave the park, and when Baxley refused, she called the police on her cell phone.

“Why are you calling the cops right now? Because I told you I wasn’t leaving the park?,” Baxley, 42, asks the unnamed woman in the video posted online. “Because my dog humped your dog?” Another women, identified as park staffer Carol Cobb, according to the Daily Mail. Cobb, took the side of the sexually assaulted dog;s owner, and is seen on the video telling Baxley that the pit bull’s  behavior was “inappropriate for the dog park.”

I swear, I’m not making this up.

Sandland told police that Baxley had “verbally assaulted” her, and that Baxley’s dog wouldn’t stop humping and assaulting her dog. Baxley said that he immediately pulled his dog off of hers, but Cobb said that his dog was breaking the rules: no humping permitted. Eventually an Attleboro police sergeant arrived to the scene. No charges were filed, but Baxley has been banned from the dog park.

But wait! There’s more!

Baxley claims that the incident was sparked by racial prejudice, and took to the news media and his Facebook page to make sure everybody knew it. “If I were not black, she would not have felt threatened by me talking to her and defying her orders for me to leave the park,” Baxley told the Daily Mail. “I am a responsible dog owner, and my dog is super friendly. Anyone who goes to that park regularly knows me and will attest to that fact. The dogs were living their best lives the whole time.” The news media quickly dubbed Sandland “Dog Park Diane,” emulating “BBQ Becky,” the sobriquet affixed to a white woman who called the police on a black family grilling ribs in a public park in California. Meanwhile, Baxley began a relentless attack on Sandland on Facebook, whipping the social media mob into a frenzy. The confrontation occurred five days ago, and Baxley is still writing about it, giving interviews, and doing everything he can to ensure that Sandland is labelled a racist for life.

What’s going on here? Continue reading