Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/18/2017: Welcome To My World! Special Legal Follies Edition

Good Morning!

1  Oh, let’s begin the day with Roy Moore, the former Alabama judge and present wacko whom Alabama Republicans voted to represent the GOP in the 2018 U.S. Senate election, thus proving that there are a lot of deplorables in the state. As was completely predictable given his record, Moore recently told his drooling followers (after being introduced by Abraham Hamilton, Alexander Lincoln being unavailable),

“Somebody should be talking to the Supreme Court of the United States and say, ‘What gives them a right to declare that two men can get married?. . . Tell the Congress: Impeach these justices that put themselves above the Constitution. They’re judicial supremists and they should be taken off the bench.”

Comments Jonathan Turley,

So Moore believes that he should not have been removed from the bench for putting his personal religious beliefs above the Constitution, but justices should be removed if they interpretation the Constitution in a way that contradicts his religious beliefs.  This, he insisted, would ‘solve the problem….such a view would violate not just fundamental principles of judicial review but it would violate the impeachment clause.  As the last lead counsel in a judicial impeachment case (in defense of Judge Thomas Porteous), Moore’s view is deeply troubling.  As I have previously written, the Good Behavior Clause of Article III was designed to protect the independence of the judiciary and insulate it from political pressures.  It was meant as a guarantee of life tenure against precisely the type of threat that Moore is endorsing. 

But it’s pointless to make genuine legal and historical arguments against someone like Moore. He’s a theocrat, a fanatic, a bigot and a demagogue. The Republican Party should endorse his opposition and campaign against Moore. This fiasco is their fault, and someone like Moore should be kept out Congress at all costs.

2. Now to someone who is, incredible as it seems, somewhat less ridiculous, this gentleman, Christopher Wilson…

 

No, that’s not a botched tattoo on his forehead: the blurry words are “fuck” and “sluts”, making the whole, eloquent message, “I’m a porn star. I fuck teen sluts.” This roughly translates into  “Look at me! I’m an idiot!”  The newspapers that refused to print the blurred words (the police had the mugshot altered) that are essential to the story, meanwhile, are telling us, “We don’t understand our profession.” The story is incomprehensible if the actual words aren’t clear, literally or figuratively.  Fox News and the NY Post, for example, say, “The Cincinnati man has the words “I’m a pornstar” tattooed on his forehead” and “another vulgar message” tattooed below.” Since the issue is whether the message on his FACE is going to prejudice the jury in his trial for sexual assault, this is juvenile coverage omitting key information to avoid “giving offense.”

Ethics Alarms to the news media: Grow up.

Turley (again…he loves the tattoo stories) writes,

“The court will be left with a question of whether the tattoo is too prejudicial or whether it is unavoidable as a personal choice of the defendant….Yet, these tattoos contain an admission to the crime at issue in the trial.  In the end, a judge could legitimately conclude that this falls into the category as bad choices bringing even worse consequences.”

What? First, the defendant is not charged with fucking teen sluts while acting as a porn star. That conduct could well be consensual and legal.  Turley is also wrong that the judge could “legitimately” allow the jury to see his message. In both cases involving a defendant’s prejudicial tattoos, the judges agreed that they had to be made invisible, in one case using make-up… Continue reading

Remember The Guy Who Wanted To Get The Giant “Murder” He Had Tattooed On His Own Neck Removed Because It Would Prejudice The Jury In His Murder Trial? That Was NOTHING. What Does A Criminal Defendant Do Who Looks Like THIS???

Caius Veiovis

The charming face above belongs to Caius Veiovis, 33, an artist, one might say, who uses his face as his canvas, but who also is charged in Massachusetts with kidnapping, torturing and murdering three men. Now, we are told, his defense attorney is arguing that someone who not only looks like demon from hell but clearly wanted to represent himself to the world this way cannot get a fair trial because, biased fools that jurors are, they might hold Veiovis’s looks against him.

I think it’s fair to say that mad wag Caius finally provides the reductio ad absurdum of the issue I raised here in April, as Kansas murder defendant Jeffrey Chapman petitioned to have the court allow him to remove the giant tattoo that spells out the word  MURDER he  intentionally had inked around his neck, also to avoid prejudice by the jury. He was allowed to do so, citing as precedent the case of this guy,

murderers tattoos2

…who made the state pay to have a Hollywood make-up artist cover up his tattoos even though the idiot had them put on him while he was awaiting trial.
Continue reading

Comments of the Day: “Irresponsible and Incompetent —and Jaw-Droppingly Stupid— School Administration Decision Of The Decade: ‘Hey! Let’s Have A Yearbook Salute To Seniors Who Have Kids Before They Graduate!’”

A banned teen mom yearbook photo from 2013

A banned teen mom yearbook photo from 2013

In dual (but not dueling) Comments of the Day on the same post, Chris Marchener ably carries on the ethical discussion of why it is irresponsible for teens to have children while in school and unmarried, while the Curmudgeon himself, Rick Jones, takes up my challenge and proves that some progressives understand that glamorizing self-destructive behavior is neither compassionate nor wise. Here are Chis and Rick, in that order, both delivering Comments of the Day on the post Irresponsible and Incompetent —and Jaw-Droppingly Stupid— School Administration Decision Of The Decade: “Hey! Let’s Have A Yearbook Salute To Seniors Who Have Kids Before They Graduate!”

Chris:

I cannot agree that it takes heroic courage to raise a child as a teenager but I will agree that the child made the ethical choice to treat the developing fetus as a living human being. Upon birth the child could be given up for adoption. That too is a choice.

The fact is that the act of having a child without the personal resources to care for and raise the child imposes costs not only on the child but on society at large. I will admit there are no absolutes in describing the behavioral motivations of the young mother but much has been written on the subject such that many of these young girls are using the child as a surrogate for the unconditional love that they never received themselves. To that end the baby is merely an object to satisfy a need of the teenage mother. For these mothers keeping the child not heroic it is selfish. Glorifying the (poor) choice made reinforces the belief in others that having a baby as a teen is no big deal and may actually elevate their social status.

Who exactly is taking care of the child when the teenage mother is still in school? An extended family member? Maybe. What costs are being imposed on the family member that must now care for the child because you are in school? If paid daycare is the choice who pays for that? Who pays to clothe and feed the child? Not the young mother as she has no resources. Where is the father to pay for these costs? Oh I forgot we no longer have fathers we have “baby daddies” – those irresponsible young men that make their rounds inseminating as many girls as possible to prove their manhood because they never learned from a real father what it means to be a man.

Neither the pregnant teen nor the inseminating male have the resources to pay for the food shelter and medical care for themselves or their offspring as a result of their CHOICES, which is why our social services programs costs have exploded in the last 50 years. We cannot remind young people of the negative effects of a sexual choice if we eliminate the negative effects. We have no problem stigmatizing other behavioral choices. Smokers are social pariahs. The government banned us from seeing images of people using tobacco in publications so that children would not see smoking as a glamorous lifestyle and start the habit. We have a war on obesity in which we make the overweight person feel unattractive, unwanted and a blight on a healthy society. Why? Because the claim is that both of these behaviors impose third party health care costs. So, to all those not wanting to create a stigma for unwed teen moms do you feel as strongly about the stigma we attach to those behaviors or physical characteristics?

In the past, carrying the stigma of being an unwed mother prevented both the births of children that suckle on the teat of society’s resources, and the desire for abortions because the child – I reinforce the word child – did not make the very bad choice to engage in sex until they were socially and economically responsible enough to raise the child.

I would never stigmatize the child for being born to any single person because they were not consulted beforehand. I can, however, choose to find irresponsible sexual behavior among teens to be blight on our society.

The most important thing a female can do to empower herself to achieve future success is to make good choices about her own sexual habits early on. This probably means telling her suitors to keep it in their own pants.

Now Rick:

Continue reading

Irresponsible and Incompetent —and Jaw-Droppingly Stupid— School Administration Decision Of The Decade: “Hey! Let’s Have A Yearbook Salute To Seniors Who Have Kids Before They Graduate!”

teen-parents yearbook

I love the way the news media describes stories like this, with disturbing little mini-news flashes buried within. The depressing story of the Mesa High School Yearbook’s adorable feature on its graduating, unwed parents gave us many examples.

  • “Mesa yearbook photos of teen parents anger some”–wait, you mean everyone with half a brain isn’t horrified by this? At least The Arizona Republic was one of the “some,” writing in an editorial “that featuring pregnant teens in a two-page spread of photos glamorizing a life-altering mistake risks normalizing dysfunction.” Uh, yeah, I would think that would be obvious to more than “some.” News Flash! It isn’t.
  • “A representative for the district did suggest that parenting isn’t a valuable accomplishment for high schoolers,” writes ThinkProgress. He suggests it? Statistics tell us that those teen parents are more likely to drop school, more likely to be unemployed, and more likely to require government hand-outs to survive. Out-of-wedlock births increased from 7.7 percent in 1965 to more than 40 percent in 2012, including 72 percent of black babies, with teen pregnancies leading the way. The reason this has happened, and few can dispute this, is society’s elimination of all significant opprobrium or disapproval of the act of pre-marital sex, teen sex, and, therefore, teenage motherhood. Helping the social pathology take root, and it is one that has disproportionately crippled the prospects of minorities, are various toxic role models: TV characters, like Murphy Brown; movie stars, singers, TV kid show stars (Britney Spears little sister), even a proud, unmarried, pregnant Congresswoman, Rep. Linda Sanchez, who uttered this fatuous justification: We’ve evolved as a society so much. The reality of single working moms is such a powerful reality!

Democrats must be so proud. Continue reading

Ethics Musings On The Guy With “MURDER” Tattooed On His Neck….

 

Hey! Cool tattoo, dude! Just don't get caught actually murdering someo...oh. Bummer.

Hey! Cool tattoo, dude! Just don’t get caught actually murdering someo…oh. Bummer.

Jeffrey Chapman, who is soon to stand trial for first degree murder in Great Bend, Kansas, wants to remove the giant tattoo that spells out the word  MURDER around his neck, believing that it will prejudice the jury against him.

Ya think?

The judge will allow Chapman to have the tattoo removed before the trial, it appears. There is precedent for this: in Florida, in 2010, a neo-Nazi charged with hate crimes was permitted to have the hate-related tattoos on his face and neck, including a swastika, covered up by a professional make-up artist. It was paid for by the state, naturally.

Observations:

  • I suppose this is the necessary and fair decision by the judge. Lawyer-pundit Alan Dershowitz made some interesting points regarding the Florida case, however, suggesting that the swastika and other tattoos were an extension of tattooed defendant John Allan Ditullio’s character, and covering them could be construed as misleading the jury. “He is alleged to have attacked people on the basis of sex orientation and race. The court has the chance to make its rulings based on whether the tattoos are relevant to the case,” Dershowitz said. “It depends on what the prosecution is trying to prove. If they are saying his Nazi ideology drove him, then you could argue that seeing the tattoos is relevant.” Dershowitz noted that his tattoos were obviously the way he chooses to present himself publicly. “It’s not like the swastika was on his rear end,” he said.

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Did Amy Winehouse Cheat the World?

 

A mark of failure, or betrayal?

I appreciated Amy Winehouse’s talent rather than enjoyed it. Nevertheless, her death-–many have said her completely predictable death—of a drug overdose at 27 once again causes me to ponder the recklessness with which gifted artists who can give so much to the world throw their lives away.

As an ethicist who never hesitates to hold individuals ethically responsible for conduct that harms others, I have not completely worked out in my own mind how to characterize the many artists and performers whose self-engineered destruction have robbed the world of laughter, enlightenment, and joy. Every time I watch John Belushi in “Animal House” or an old Saturday Night Live clip, I get angry at him—I admit it. I know Belushi didn’t want to die young any more than I wanted him to die young, but he treated his life as if it was disposable and without value, when it really was of extraordinary value. When Belushi sacrificed it in a stupid drug binge, it was more than a tragedy for his friends, lovers, colleagues and family; it was a tragedy for the art and history of comedy. Much the same can be said of Amy Winehouse—and James Dean, Jimi Hendrix, Billy Holiday, Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, River Phoenix, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis. Continue reading