Ethics Warm-Up, 11/8/19: “People Who Need To Leave” Edition

1. Clean-up on the baseball aisle! Last April, I wrote a post urging Baltimore Orioles first-sacker Chris Davis to retire and save his desperate team some money, since it is clear that he can no longer play at a major league level despite being paid 23 million dollars in 2019, with a similar amount due him through 2022. At the time, Davis Davis was 0-for-23 with 13 strikeouts and  hitless in 44 at-bats since the previous season, when Davis batted .168, the worst in major league history for a regular, with a horrible .539 OPS (On base percentage plus slugging percentage), and a -2.5 WAR, meaning that the Orioles would have won 2.5 more games with a borderline major leaguer from the minors playing in his place.

Several readers have emailed me asking how things turned out for Davis, who did eventually get a hit, and who was still in the starting line-up frequently enough to hurt the team. The answer is that Davis was better than he was in 2018, but he was still horrible. He batted only .179, with a -1 WAR, and an OPS of  .601. He earned more than $418,000 per hit.

He’s earned almost 119 million dollars in his career, yet appears willing to continue to embarrass himself and hurt his team and team mates for three more sure-to-be-ugly seasons in order to collect another 69 million.

Yechhhh.

2. More on Joy Behar’s terrible, no good, very bad week: The highlight of Donald Trump Jr.’s visit to “The View” came after Behar recited the typical and overly-familiar talking points about Trump Sr.: “[President Trump] called some Mexicans rapists [Correction: He referred to illegal immigrants from Mexico as rapists who were rapists] , he attacked the handicapped, [No, Joy, he mocked a single handicapped reporter, and there is some evidence that he didn’t even do that], he bragged about it” [Huh?], and “We heard the ‘Access’ tape, where he bragged about grabbing women by their genitalia.” [No, he never said that he had personally grabbed any women “by the pussy.” Boy, am I sick of THIS narrative..] Rather than quibble with her, DJT Jr, had come armed and ready, and replied, “We’ve all done things that we regret, I mean, if we’re talking about bringing a discourse down, Joy, you’ve worn blackface.” Continue reading

The Black Jack O’ Lanterns

In Nyack, New York, a law firm purchased some designer black jack o’lanterns from “Bed, Bath, and Beyond” as office decorations. Some residents complained to a local TV channel and to the law firm, claiming that the decorations were “racist.”

The law firm, Feerick, Nugent, MacCartney, immediately removed them, and soon thereafter, the household accoutrements chain pulled the item from its inventory. Now the law firm is busy grovelling, especially after the local NAACP accused them of “extreme lack of sensitivity.”

I think he meant “a lack of extreme sensitivity.” Isn’t that more accurate?

“We understand that someone complained about them and so once we got word of that we immediately took them down,” said Mary Marzolla, a partner at the racist firm. “We represent people of all colors and faiths, and we would never do anything to exclude anyone from any community,” she added,

What? How do black painted or colored pumpkins exclude anyone from the community? Is she really saying that if an individual, no matter how foolish or addled, complains about anything, then the firm is ethically obligated take remedial action? Is that the standard?  Let’s test it: I’m complaining about the firm’s conduct in capitulating to an idiotic and manipulative claim of racism. OK, Feerick, Nugent, MacCartney, the ball’s in your court.

Satisfy me.

Is there no way in 2019 to tell a hypersensitive wacko, “I’m sorry, but you are a fool. There is nothing to be offended about. I do not have to cater to your paranoia or contrived sensitivities, and I will not.” Continue reading

Mrs. Q’s Corner… When Hate Doesn’t Come Home: Hate Crime Hoaxes and Amari Allen

by Frances Quaempts

“When I’m down and I feel like giving up…I whip my hair back and forth.”-Willow Smith

When I first learned of the latest hate crime hoax involving Amari Allen, a 12 year old African American preteen, I was watching the sometimes salacious national news show “Inside Edition” with my wife.  Allen appeared on screen as a brave victim who was seemingly attacked by three white boys because of her “nappy” hair.  Though something about the story just didn’t seem right, the part of me that knows what it’s like to have my hair ridiculed and touched without permission, won out. I decided to believe the narrative knowing there was potential for a hate hoax.

Confirmation bias for some people comes from a place of real experience.  I have no doubt that many black people, women in particular, felt the sting of bad memories when Allen’s story hit the screens.  Hate crime hoaxes are often initially believed because they sound plausible to those who have dealt with similar circumstances.  Even the awful Tawana Brawley gang rape hoax, where she claimed racist words were written on her body and was left for dead in a trash bag, could seem likely because of the harm violently racist whites caused  African Americans during slavery times and beyond.  Blacks and other people of color learn as kids to be on the look-out for racial denigration so the past isn’t repeated.

Author and university professor Wilfred Reilly published the book “Hate Crime Hoax: The Left’s Campaign to Sell a Fake Race War,” this year and has over forty four pages of notes related to such hoaxes.  Chapters in his book include discussions on fake religious, gender, and LGBT incidents, hoaxes related to bias against President Trump, white hoaxers, and of course college campus incidents.  Reilly notes that these false hate crimes perpetuate a vision of what he calls the “Continuing Oppression Narrative,” that keeps blacks and leftist race activists in a constant state of “doom laden” analysis. Continue reading

Once Again, The Unwarranted Presumption Of Racism

“What’s that kid doing up there?”

If something undesirable happens to an African American, the culture is pushing the norm that the misfortune ought to be presumed to be the result of racism until decisively proven otherwise. Similarly, if a white individual is responsible for a black citizen’s plight, deserved or not, the white individual’s motivations are also presumed to be based on racial animus.

Both presumptions are nothing less than sanctified bias and prejudice, as much so as racism itself.

A case study from Washington, D.C.:

About a hundred seventh and eighth-grade students from Shelton Intermediate School in Shelton, Connecticut were visiting the nation’s Capital last week. The group was supervised by twelve chaperones, and the itinerary included the usual museums, monuments and landmarks, including the newest attraction, the Smithsonian’s  African American Museum.

While touring the museum, a male student leaned over a balcony and drooled or spit down on the visitors below. His saliva struck one of them, and the victim was black.  As a result of the incident, the entire group was ejected from the museum. Continue reading

A Jury Gets An Unarmed Black Victim Cop Shooting Right, But The Reasons Why Are Significant

From the AP: “A white former Dallas police officer who said she fatally shot her unarmed, black neighbor after mistaking his apartment for her own was found guilty of murder on Tuesday. A jury reached the verdict in Amber Guyger’s high-profile trial for the killing of Botham Jean after six days of witness testimony but just a handful of hours of deliberation. Cheers erupted in the courthouse as the verdict was announced, and someone yelled “Thank you, Jesus!”

I am surprised at the murder verdict; I expected a manslaughter conviction, and thought that prosecutors may have over-charged.

Nonetheless, a guilty verdict was necessary. It must be remembered, however, that few of the factors typically present in cases where cops have been acquitted for shooting unarmed black citizens existed here. The victim, Botham Jean, did nothing to justify his shooting, indeed nothing to justify having a confrontation with police at all. He didn’t resist a lawful arrest or threaten the officer. Amber Guyger was absolutely and completely responsible for his death in every way. She may have thought her life was in danger, but she was ridiculously wrong, and even if Jean had threatened her, he had every right to do so. She was, to him, a home invader.

In such circumstances as these, none of the usual sympathy that juries have for police officers and their dangerous duties while protecting the public applies. Guyger wasn’t trying to protect the public; she wasn’t even on duty. A jury would naturally sympathize with the victim; if a confused cop could barge into his home and start shooting, it could happen to any juror. Did race play a part in the verdict? I hope not. Whatever the verdict was, there was no evidence to suggest that Jean was killed because of his race.

It will be interesting to see what sentence the jury recommends. I feel sorry for Guyger: she was badly trained, she may have been exhausted from an over-long shift, and there is no reason she wanted to kill Jean, or anyone. Yet with power comes responsibility, and with responsibility comes accountability.

I just re-read my post from a year ago about this case. You might want to read it again too. I’ve re-posted the whole essay below.

I could easily put this story in the Ethics Alarms Zugzwang file, because I see no analysis or result that won’t make the situation worse.

A white off-duty police officer named Amber R. Guyger  entered the apartment of  Botham Shem Jean, a 26 year old accountant, and fired her service weapon twice at him, killing the St. Lucia immigrant. She claims that she mistakenly entered the wrong apartment after returning home from her 14-hour shift and believed  Jean, who is black, was an intruder.

Indeed, her apartment was directly below his. She had inexplicably parked her car on the 4th floor, where Jean’s residence was, rather than the 3rd floor, where hers was. So far, there is no indication that the shooter and the victim knew each other. Guyger had a clean record. Other facts are in dispute. The officer told investigators the apartment door was  ajar and then fully opened when she inserted her computerized chip key. That seems possible but unlikely.  Lawyers for  Jean’s family say the door was closed. How could they possibly know that?  Guyger said in court documents that when she opened the door,  she saw shadows of someone she thought was a burglar, and shouted commands before shooting. Lawyers for Jean’s family have elicited testimony from neighbors that they heard someone banging on the door and shouting, “Let me in!” and “Open up!” before the gunshots.  Why would the officer do that if she didn’t know Jean, or if she thought it was her own apartment? They also said they then heard Jean, say, “Oh my God, why did you do that?”

Boy, that sounds like an awfully convenient exclamation to be remembering now, don’t you think? But who knows? Maybe it proves the two knew each other. (Why didn’t Jean say, “Who are you?”) Maybe it is another “Hands Up! Don’t shoot!” lie for cop-haters and race-baiters  to adopt as a rallying cry.

Surprise! Jean’s family is being represented by Benjamin Crump, the same lawyer who represented the relatives of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown and managed to manipulate media accounts and public opinion into the narrative that those shootings were motivated by racial hate. If nothing else, Crump is diligent and zealous in creating an atmosphere that maximizes the opportunity for civil damages whether they are warranted or not.

Crump is referring to Jean’s death as an assassination. Of course it is! After all, Guyger’s a white cop, and they live to oppress, brutalize and kill unarmed black men for no reason whatsoever, except to protect white power in a racist nation. Dallas’s black citizens and white activists do not believe the officer’s story, because they presume racism. (Similar impulse: progressives and feminist believe Brett Kavanugh’s accuser, because they want to,)  Protesters chanted and disrupted a City Council meeting last week. There have been escalating  threats against the police. Officers say they believe Officer Guyger’s version of events, as weird and inexplicable as they are. The same bias is at work: they want to believe her.

Things don’t work when they are hemmed in by biases and agendas like this. Let’s say that an investigation yields no clarification. An innocent man was shot in his own home by a police officer who lived beneath him for no discernible reason, and the cop’s only explanation is that she was tired, confused, and made a mistake. What is the ethical course at that point?

There are a few easy calls. The police department has civil liability, and it is high time to put the same kind of limitations on police shifts that airline pilots must abide by. The accident, if it was an accident, may have been caused by unethical working conditions. It would also be sensible for apartment and condo complexes to be required to make all floors recognizably distinct. I have tried to enter the wrong hotel room, apartment, condo unit and dorm room at various times, in addition to walking into ladies rooms and the occasional closet. Luckily, I don’t carry a gun. However, my own experiences make me at least willing to consider that this might have been nothing but a terrible, tragic accident.

Obviously, Officer Guyger’s career is over no matter what the truth is, and should be. Thus I agree with the argument that she should be suspended without pay or simply fired. Off-duty cops are required to carry guns, and once a cop makes this kind of “mistake,” she can’t be trusted. I wouldn’t want her wandering around my neighborhood.

Beyond that, however, what is Dallas supposed to do? The race hucksters want to protest and exacerbate racial divisions. Guyger will be painted as a cold-blooded racist killer, and typical of all police. Any result that doesn’t have her sentenced to prison for a long time will be condemned as proof that the white fix is in. The city has a duty to prevent riots and deaths, but not to squelch protests, no matter how cynical and unfair. Should it indict and try Guyger for murder rather than manslaughter, knowing that over-charging could result in an acquittal?  This was Baltimore’s approach in the Freddie Gray case, and now police passivity has made the city a runner-up to Chicago as U.S. Murder Central. What if the investigation suggests that this was indeed an accident, and no more? Is it fair to try Guyger at all, then? Will jury members concede that she has lost her occupation and her reputation, and that imprisoning her is cruel—that she has suffered enough? Or will Guyger really stand trial not as an individual, but as a symbol of all cops who shot unarmed black men and escaped accountability?

Not only do I see no satisfactory ethical outcome, I can’t even decide what an ethical outcome would be.

I do know this, however. Bias not only makes us stupid, it makes fairness, justice and law enforcement impossible.

 

The Most Important Question Raised By Another Fake Hate Crime Story: How Much Lousy, Irresponsible, Divisive, Biased Journalism Will The Public Tolerate And The News Media Refuse To Fix?

All over the major newspapers and news media last week was the ugly tale of another “hate crime.” 12-year-old Amari Allen, a black sixth-grader at a Christian, Northern Virginia private school, said that three white boys held her down and  cut off some of her dreadlocks.

The New York Times  and other news sources decided this was national news, just like a white Catholic school boy not having the right expression on his face when he was being harassed by a Native American activist.  More proof of racism in America! “They put me on the ground,” the girl recounted in an emotional phone interview”One of them put my hands behind my back. One put his hands over my mouth. One cut my hair. They were saying that my hair was ugly, that it was nappy.”  Why was this alleged episode of childhood bullying worthy of national attention? It was because Mike Pence’s wife Karen teaches at the school, theImmanuel Christian School in Springfield, about 15 minutes from my home.

This was cognitive dissonance manipulation. Pence’s wife teaches at a school where a black girl was racially harassed, thus the school is racially biased, thus Karen Pence is facilitating racism, thus her husband consorts with a racist, and it all leads back to that racist, President Trump. ( Big Lie #4)

With the same motivation,  the left wing websites enthusiastically promoted the story. Here’s the always shameless Daily Kos:

See the white supremacy hate crimes that Trump, Pence, and Republicans foster? The local NAACP immediately got into the act, talking about lawsuits.

Except that it didn’t happen. The Washington Post reported today that the girl has recanted, and her grandparents, who are raising her, have apologized.  Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: The “I Should Be At The Beach” Edition…

Good Morning!

Is everyone vacationing this week but me? I can detect such things from blog traffic—this week has been sparse. Unfortunately this is the legal ethics CLE busy season, so I have been furious preparing materials for three new three-hour programs: “The Legal Ethics Mine Field,” “Legal Ethics Squeeze,” and a new musical ethics seminar for the New Jersey Bar Association, “Ethics Blues,” with the talented Esther Covington. It features legal issues-stuffed parodies of such songs as “Copacabana,” “Sweet Caroline,” “Piano Man,” “You Made Me Love You,” “Isn’t It Romantic” and “Let it Be,” among others. I’ve been writing parody song lyrics since I was 9, and much as I enjoy it, it is mentally exhausting in a way nothing else is.

1.  The anti-Trump news media is all a twitter because former GOP Congressman Joe Walsh might challenge President Trump for the nomination. Joe Walsh!  He’s the only member of Congress ever designated a fick by Ethics Alarms, in this post, about how Walsh, a Tea Party fiscal responsibility hawk who once lectured Barack Obama about how he was placing a burden on the backs of Walsh’s children, owed  $117,437 in unpaid child support to his ex-wife and those already burdened, kids, three of them. For this and other transgressions he was defeated for re-election, and Joe’s now a talk show host, presumably with the same audience that took guidance from former radio bloviators Ollie North and Gordon Liddy.

2. On the innocent until proven guilty front…there has been a spate of defamation lawsuits lately in which priests accused of sexually molesting boys accuse the Catholic Church of ruining their reputations based on publicizing unsubstantiated accusations of pederasty.

A Fresno, California priest,  Craig Harrison, who is facing multiple allegations of sexual abuse, is suing an established  Catholic watchdog group Roman Catholic Faithful (RCF). seeking “unlimited” damages as a result of RCF President Stephen Brady’s “appearance at a press conference in Bakersfield” that addressed “allegations of sexual misconduct” made against Harrison. The lawsuit and summons were filed this month after the Bakersfield Police Department (BPD) concluded an investigation that it said  exonerated Harrison. Brady says that the lawsuit may be intended to discourage other ongoing RCF investigations. Continue reading