Ethical Quote Of The Month: Jonathan Capehart…Big Whoop.

Hands up 3

“Now that black lives matter to everyone, it is imperative that we continue marching for and giving voice to those killed in racially charged incidents at the hands of police and others. But we must never allow ourselves to march under the banner of a false narrative on behalf of someone who would otherwise offend our sense of right and wrong. And when we discover that we have, we must acknowledge it, admit our error and keep on marching. That’s what I’ve done here.”

—— African-American Washington Post blogger and MSNBC contributor Jonathan Capehart in a Post column acknowledging that the “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” chant, hashtag, protest motto and refrain was based on the lies of Dorian Johnson.

This is unusual: a statement embodying ethical principles that arises entirely out of an unethical, unprofessional and untrustworthy world view.

It is a credit to Capehart that he has the integrity to openly admit he was wrong when the facts finally penetrated his biased, bigoted, unethically-motivated brain. He is certainly more admirable than the politicians and journalists of the left and the civil rights movement who still refuse to admit it, like Capehart’s MSNBC colleague and perpetually Angry Progressive Lawrence O’Donnell. It’s good that he apologized, in the sense that it’s better than if he didn’t, but if he were aligned with ethical advocates and advocates, his apology would be unnoticed among thousands of others. Capehart’s ability to process and admit what was, or should have been obvious months ago is not rescued from disgrace because others are even worse.

For the record, Ethics Alarms concluded that “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” was probably false on November 27, 2014. I don’t usually quote myself at length, but after I read Capehart’s much praised, “Well, gol-ly! Knock me over with a feather! Dorian Johnson was lying, and I used what he said to help the media, Al Sharpton and Eric Holder convince African-Americans that whites are out to kill unarmed black men! Ooopsie! My bad!” column, I gagged, and went back and read this:

How does the culture, the news media, the civil rights  industry, and politicians determined to benefit by making African-Americans suspicious, paranoid, racist and, of course, lifetime Democrats, make amends for this? How do they undo the damage to mutual trust and American society?

Obviously they don’t. They don’t even try. In fact, all indications are that they will refuse to acknowledge that the entire, national effort to portray the tragic confrontation between Michael Brown and Officer Wilson as a race-triggered execution was based on a lie that was presumed to be accurate despite much reason to doubt it.

The original claim that Brown was shot and killed after putting his hands in the air came from his friend and partner in crime, Dorian Johnson. Johnson, who already had a record of lying to police, was with Brown prior to the August 9 confrontation, and had joined him in the petty robbery that occurred just before Brown’s arrest. In his TV interviews  after the shooting, Johnson said that Wilson shot Brown in the back, causing him to turn around with his hands up, pleading, ‘I don’t have a gun, stop shooting!’ Before the grand jury, Johnson, who admitted that he hid during the incident and later ran home to change clothes so he wouldn’t be identified, even elaborated and provided minute details to his fabrication, stating under oath that the shot in his back caused Brown’s body to “do like a jerking movement, not to where it looked like he got hit in his back, but I knew, it maybe could have grazed him, but he definitely made a jerking movement.” The forensic evidence showed that Brown was not shot in the back.

Other witnesses concocted similar testimony demonizing Wilson after hearing the media’s credulous accounts based on Brown’ friend’s claims. One told the FBI that he saw Wilson shoot Brown in the back and then stand over his prone body to “finish him off.” In front of the grand jury, however, this witness acknowledged that he had not seen that part of the shooting. He explained that the false story he told the FBI was “based on me being where I’m from, and that can be the only assumption that I have.”

Sort of like Democrats have to believe such false narratives because the presence of deadly, virulent racism is core to the party’s appeal to African American voters…

Then, he admitted,  he changed his story to fit details of the autopsy once it was reported on TV.  “So it was after you learned that the things you said you saw couldn’t have happened that way, then you changed your story about what you seen?’ a prosecutor asked. “Yeah, to coincide with what really happened,” the witness replied.

Members of the community, activists, anti-police zealots and those who had observed how effective the Trayvon Martin hoodie symbolism had been in casting George Zimmerman as a racist killer (rather than as he was subsequently shown to be, an irresponsible, unbiased jerk) immediately seized on the gesture as a powerful protest symbol. Every time it was repeated in a protest or demonstration, it was Johnson’s lie multiplied, until the narrative that Officer Wilson shot an unarmed, unresisting teenaged black male who was pleading to live was imbedded in the American mind. Of course it was murder! Of course any system that does not immediately charge the rogue police officer with murder is corrupt and flawed.

I have had conversations with well-intentioned liberals in denial,who are obviously unable to think of what occurred in Ferguson any other way. Such frustrating conversations. As in the Martin case, they want the white shooter to be guilty of racism and brutality. The fact that no clear evidence will show that, as the grand jury found out, doesn’t dissuade them, even though they would nod vigorously if activists argued that prosecutors displayed racism by indicting any black suspect when eye-witness testimony was unreliable.

Oh, it is true that their confusion is compounded by not understanding what a grand jury does, or hearing references to the quote that a prosecutor can make a grand jury “indict a ham sandwich” (not recognizing that this was a criticism, or perhaps having no more regard for a young policeman’s life than they do a ham sandwich, because, you know, white cop), and that they have been conditioned to believe from their SDS veteran professors from the Sixties that police officers are not public servants but really diabolical agents of an overbearing state—not that they don’t want an overbearing state in most matters, just not where public safety…okay, it’s complicated!). Still, what most nourishes their fervor now—how I love being told that I am taking my cues from Fox News!—is the indelible image of young, frightened, unarmed Mike Brown, with his hands in the air.

How does Darren Wilson get his career, reputation and life back after a lie is promoted as fact by the media, and ruthlessly used by race-hucksters to destroy him while escalating racial distrust? How does the culture recover from this deep, self-inflicted wound?

It is not the criminal justice system that is so in need of repair, but our system of communicating important events to the public, so that bias doesn’t overwhelm truth, and we will be able to forge the right lessons from tragedies like Michael Browns death, not false lessons that leave us more ignorant, hateful, and afraid.

How was I able to write that four months ago, and Capehart is only capable of comprehending it now? It’s simple, really: I’m not an anti-white bigot, and he is.  I had no horse in this race: I was just trying to weigh the facts. I don’t have a stake, politically, racially or socially, in proving that Mike Brown was just an innocent kid hunted down and shot in the street like a dog, or proving that Office Wilson was a model police officer. Capehart didn’t pay attention to the evidence because it was a white Prosecuting Attorney who produced it, and a black—sorry, thug—who contradicted it, as a black Attorney General behaved and spoke as if he believed the thug.

Now Capehart is a believer, and why? He is a believer because the Justice Department run by that black Attorney General had to grudgingly admit that there were zero facts to support the lie that it desperately, urgently wanted to be true, so Darren Wilson could be crucified to expiate white America’s sins against the black man….and, not so incidentally, gin up black votes for the Democratic base.  Now Capehart trusts the facts, because a black AG, not a white one, endorses them.

Well, to hell with him, frankly. Why are anti-white racists with Capehart’s biases writing for the Washington Post? Must there be a black racist slot on the op-ed page now? I didn’t notice: did Obama’s EEOC pass that regulation? The New York Times has Charles Blow, and so the Post must have at least one too? Is there a black racist pundit arms race?

Who is going to apologize to Darren Wilson? Capehart didn’t do that; after all, Wilson is white. Capehart doesn’t care about whites, but wants to clear the record so future protests against police, Ferguson and white America aren’t weakened by reliance on a lie. Where are the apologies to Robert McCulloch, that presumptively racist Prosecuting Attorney who was able to avoid the lynch mob’s demands that Wilson be tried for murder by running a grand jury that got to see all the evidence for once, the scum. How dare he? Van Jones, who is treated as a respectable, rational pundit on CNN and ABC, told the latter that “If there had been a special prosecutor in Ferguson, we would have had a different result.” And we all know that a different result would be the right thing, meaneth Van. To my knowledge, Van hasn’t apologized either. I’ll lay odds that he won’t. Neither has the former governor of Massachusetts, prominently mentioned as a possible presidential candidate once Democrats finally admit that Hillary is hopeless: Deval Patrick told Meet the Press that he wanted to see Wilson indicted regardless of the facts. Nor Kasim Reed, Mayor of Atlanta, who told Meet the Press that justice meant trying Wilson for murder, based on seeing the case through the eyes of Brown’s parents, the individuals whose confirmation bias most powerfully compelled them to believe the self-serving lies of their baby boy’s pal.

Two police officers are dead, two more have been shot, uncounted whites have been targeted and beaten by angry blacks (the Justice Department hasn’t been interested in the racial implications of those attacks), Ferguson is in ruins, innocent businesses are destroyed, Darren Wilson is in hiding, and racial distrust across the U.S. is worse than it has been in decades, not entirely but substantially because people like Jonathan Capehart wanted to believe Dorian Johnson’s lie, because it fits their ideological, political, social and racial agenda. So they did.

Admitting a wrongdoing—not a mistake, but wrongdoing— is always commendable, but when it comes after such carnage, and so inexcusably late, my applause is going to not only be faint, but suffused with disgust.

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Graphic: Washington Post

 

Observations On The ACLU And “Grand Juror Doe’s” Power Play

Juror Doe now, but trying to become a household name...

Juror Doe now, but trying to become a household name…

In a move that tarnishes the reputation of the ALCU and reveals the deep ideological bias in its ranks, the Missouri chapter of the esteemed organization has encouraged a Ferguson grand juror to sue in order to end the lifetime ban on grand  jurors revealing what occurs during proceedings, allowing the juror to become a media star and, presumably, undermining the credibility of the deliberations that resulted in no indictment against Officer Wilson for his fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

Observations:

1. Grand jury proceedings have to be confidential, or the system will not work (yes, it worked as well as it possibly could have in Ferguson.) Secrecy prevents those who are being investigated from interfering with witnesses and otherwise tampering with and attempting to corrupt the investigation. It protects witnesses who might be reluctant to testify if they believed their comments would be made public. It decreases the likelihood that one who is about to be indicted by a grand jury will flee and thereby avoid being brought to trial on those charges. It also protects innocent individuals whose names may be implicated in a grand jury investigation but who will never be indicted.

2. The prohibition on participants in grand jury proceedings revealing what occurs there is not a restriction on free speech any more than a government employee being prohibited from revealing national security information. This is a necessary restriction based on due process and the functioning of the rule of law, and grand jurors agree to the prohibition as a condition of service.

3. The ACLU is grandstanding for its progressive, civil rights zealot fans and contributors. This is an irresponsible case: if it prevailed, the justice system would be thrown into chaos.

3. If even one grand jury is able to have the ban on secrecy lifted, every grand jury will labor under the fear of those involved that jurors will speak to the media and reveal harmful details. I will be shocked if the ACLU lawsuit succeeds. I think it is a frivolous suit, and a violation of legal ethics Rule 3.1 that prohibits such actions.

4. The grand juror who is seeking the lifting of the ban has arguably already revealed more than he is allowed to do legally under the law, which prohibits disclosing “matters occurring before the grand jury.”

5. The supposed explosive revelations the juror wants to expand upon are nothing at all, just ignorant and biased complaints that have already been thoroughly explored and debated by legal experts. The likes of progressive website Think Progress falsely represents the juror’s views as “significant” because progressives so, so desperately want to prove that Michael Brown was executed by a racist cop who was corruptly exonerated by a biased prosecutor. But as Gertrude Stein said of Oakland, there is no there there.

Here are Grand Juror Doe’s “concerns”: Continue reading

Eleven Ferguson Ethics Posts In One!

APTOPIX Police Shooting Missouri

There are too many ethics topics for me to cover adequately as it is. This is frustrating. That the Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck is generating ethics issues on a daily, even hourly basis creates a professional dilemma for me. I don’t want to appear obsessed with this mess; I’m not. I am really quite sick of it, and sick as well—and depressed—by the relentless stream of emotional, incompetent, and toxic opinions issuing from the news media, well-meaning but ignorant friends, and in some cases, professionals who appear overwhelmed by confirmation bias. One of my father’s favorite lines was “My mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with facts,” and I doubt that I have ever seen commentary on an event so dominated by that state of mind. Except, perhaps, the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman fiasco.

Allow me, then, to indulge in this compromise, while I wait for the entries in the Ethics Alarm contest to find the most unethical article, essay or blog post about Ferguson. Here are eleven points about the current Ethics Train Wreck that I would devote full posts to if I had the time and we lived in a Hell where Ferguson was the only thing going on. I may write full posts on a few of them yet, but meanwhile, here are shorter summaries that I hope you can use to enlighten some of your friends, relatives and associates afflicted with jerking knees….

1. We keep hearing that Officer Wilson is suspect and not credible because he expresses no remorse, and seems “cold.” This attitude projects the critics’ unjustified conclusions onto Brown, who doesn’t share them and shouldn’t. Why don’t interviewers point this out? If Brown was killed in self-defense, prompted by his own threats to the officer, Wilson shouldn’t be remorseful. Remorse means “deep regret or guilt for a wrong committed.” Wilson only did wrong if he shouldn’t have shot Brown, which is the assumption—an evidence-free assumption—of those who want him tried for murder. As for “cold”: Wilson’s whole life has been turned upside-down because a community and a substantial part of the nation have decided to make him pay the price for insensitive and poorly run police departments over decades and across the country. People are calling him a murderer based on political agendas. He’s supposed to respond to that warmly?

2. On ABC this morning, Jelani Cobb, a professor of African-American studies—and boy, are we learning a lot about the racist biases of that area of scholarship lately—pronounced the testimony of Wilson “fantastical” based on this statement: Continue reading

Verdict: The Grand Jury Process Was Fair and Just

abstract door grand jury room

The accusations and complaints about the Darren Wilson grand jury just don’t hold up.

Criminal law professor Paul Cassell consolidates several issues raised in the comments here and in the news media in his excellent analysis in the Volokh Conspiracy, here.

Among the criticisms he addresses…

1. Using a Grand Jury Deviated from Normal Process.
2. The Grand Jury Took Too Long.
3. The Grand Jury Got Too Much Evidence.
4. The Grand Jury Operated in Secret.
5. The Grand Jury Was Exposed to Pressure.
6. The Grand Jury Did Something That Grand Juries Ordinarily Don’t Do.
7. The Grand Jury Misunderstood the Standard of Proof.
8. Robert McCulloch was Biased and Should Have Recused Himself.
9. The Grand Jury Evidence Shouldn’t Be Released.

He also echoes my conclusion about many of the protesters, as he ends his piece with this: Continue reading

Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck Update: Unethical Prosecutors Edition

McCulloch: Mission Impossible

McCulloch: Mission Impossible

  • CNN’s Unethical Experts. Where does CNN find these people? Carol Costello interviewed two former prosecutors regarding the beginning of grand jury deliberations in Ferguson, both female; one white and blonde, one African American. (As soon as I retrieve the names of these disgraceful representatives of the legal profession, I’ll add them to the post.) The African American prosecutor made her position clear: since St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch has the authority to charge Officer Darren Williams without resorting to a grand jury, that’s what he should do. She termed his resort to a citizen panel to review the evidence a “punt.” Note that McCulloch’s critics have no idea what evidence is in his hands, so criticizing his decisions regarding it is by any measure irresponsible, unprofessional and unfair. She also  suggested that McCulloch was biased against African Americans because his father, a police officer, had been shot and killed by a black man. She presented no other evidence of racial bias. Then Costello went to the blonde ex-prosecutor, who a) agreed that using the grand jury was a “punt”—again without her personal knowledge of the evidence being considered; b) opined that the evidence was probably a mess, and was not clear enough or sufficient to conflict the officer of anything, so c) what should be done is appoint a special prosecutor as in the Trayvon Martin case. She noted that the Martin special prosecutor, Angela Corey, brought an indictment without using a grand jury, and that while the case may not have had enough evidence to sustain a conviction...“at least it calmed things down.”   

Continue reading