Calling This Lawyer Unethical And Incompetent Doesn’t Quite Capture His Basic Problem: He’s An Idiot

Defending his client of rape charges, Tennessee criminal defense lawyer Steve Farese told the jury during his closing argument,

“People can be very good at lying. Women can be especially good at it because they’re the weaker sex and we … and we want to protect them and not have anybody take advantage of them at least I do.”

Head-exploding  fact #1: The jury Ferese was appealing to by emphasizing the inherent dishonest nature of  “the weaker sex”  was made up of eleven  women and three men.

Head-exploding  fact #2: The jury still acquitted Ferese’s client.

That doesn’t make his argument ethical. The statement appealing to anti-women bias was a direct ethics violation, a breach of  Tennessee Rule of Professional 8.4 (d) forbidding lawyers from engaging in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, which deliberately appealing to anti-woman bias clearly is. For the future, the episode also raises questions about whether such a closing would breach the new ABA rule 8.4 g,  yet to be adopted in Tennessee or any state, which states that it is unethical for a lawyer to

“engage in conduct that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law.”

The ABA notes specify that “This paragraph  does not preclude legitimate advice or advocacy consistent with these Rules.”

I am certain Ferese’s statement would breach 8.4 (g), not that it isn’t unethical anyway.

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Dead President Ethics: The Post Mortem Odyssey Of James K. Polk

James K. Polk is one of my favorite Presidents, in part because he has never received his due for being spectacularly effective, if unwavering ruthless in achieving his goals. By the standards of fulfilling his own stated objectives, a President can’t be more successful than Polk. He pledged to expand U.S. territory to the West, Southwest and North, and did so, then served only one term, as he had promised. Polk also wrote a fascinating diary, essentially an autobiography.

His relative obscurity arises in part because he was a one term President, but primarily because he existed in the shadow of his fellow Tennessean, Andrew Jackson, who was more flamboyant, more influential on more political fronts, and had far more than four years in the spotlight. He was also much taller. Poor Polk lived just three months after leaving office, dying of cholera in 1849, in Nashville. Tennessee. The laws of the time held that those who died of that dread disease be buried within 24 hours to prevent epidemics, so the former President of the United States was  laid to rest in a mass grave less than a year after leaving the White House.

A year later, Polk was removed from the mass grave and buried on the grounds of his Nashville home, Polk Place, in accordance with the will he drew up five months before his death. Polk, a lawyer, stipulated that his body and that of his wife be buried there, and that after his death and his wife’s, the property should be held in trust by the state, which would be bound allow a blood relative to live there. Unfortunately for the dead Polks, the ex-President made a tyro’s drafting gaffe. After Polk’s widow Sarah died in 1891, a court voided the terms of the will because it violated the common-law Rule Against Perpetuities: a property owner can’t bequeath property to unborn future generations. So Polk Place was sold to private interests, eventually razed, and today there is a boutique hotel on the property. On Sept. 19, 1893, Polk’s body and Sarah’s were moved again, to the Nashville grounds of the Capitol.

On a small patch of grass within a stone’s thrwo of the Capitol, the Polks’ grave is lies in a modest but attractive classical monument framed by Greek columns, with an inscription declaring  that Polk “planted the laws of the American union on the shores of the Pacific.” It was designed by William Strickland, the architect who also designed the Capitol itself and George Washington’s sarcophagus at Mount Vernon in Virginia. But Polk’s Jackson problem continues: his gravesite is dwarfed by a nearby equestrian statue of Old Hickory, and tourists virtually ignore it. And while Jackson’s grave at the Hermitage, his family plantation, is a major tourist draw in Nashville, Polk remains—that is Polk’s remains remain—an afterthought. When President Trump visited Nashville last month, he laid a wreath on Jackson’s tomb, and saluted him in a speech. As for the perpetually dissed 11th President, the campaign jeer of the Whig Party running against the first Dark Horse candidate in 1844 apparently remains appropriate: “Who is Polk?”
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Unethical Protest, Unethical Protesters, Just Desserts

protest-immigrant

Last week’s “A Day Without Immigrants” protest could be the example in the dictionary to illustrate “unethical protest,” or perhaps “stupid protest.”  The stunt of immigrants not coming to work to protest policies aimed at illegal immigrants and terrorists was a non sequitur, proving nothing, saying nothing. Nobody wants to stop immigration, nobody has an objection to legal immigrants, and the danger of the U.S. not having sufficient legal immigrants is precisely none. According to the Ethics Alarms Protest Check List, “A Day Without Immigrants”  was an epic, embarrassing, dud. If my immigrant employees used this jaw-droppingly dumb protest  to justify not coming to work, I would do exactly what Bradley Coatings, Incorporated  in Nolensville, Tennessee did.

I’d fire them all. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: The Joy of Knitting Proprietor Elizabeth Poe

poe

Once more, we see the disturbing trend of hyper-partisan business owners attempting to divide the nation into politically exclusive camps, with progressive and conservative bars, restaurants, supermarkets, hardwear stores, pet shops and, in this case, yarn shops. This is madness, and indefensible ethically, especially in a pluralistic democracy. It is also pure bigotry, attributing negative character traits to individuals based on one characteristic alone. Banning customers because they have a political view is no less hateful, and no less offensive to the nation’s ideals, than banning them because they are black.

Elizabeth Poe, owner of a small yarn store, The Joy of Knitting, in Franklin, Tennessee, doesn’t comprehend that, so she proudly posted this  unethical announcement  on Facebook, telling potential customers who participated in the Women’s March last week,

“…if you want yarn for any project for the women’s movement that you please shop for yarn elsewhere…The vulgarity, vile and evilness of this movement is absolutely despicable. That kind of behavior is unacceptable and is not welcomed at The Joy of Knitting. I will never need that kind of business to remain open. Two wrongs will never ever make it right. As the owner of this business and a Christian, I have a duty to my customers and my community to promote values of mutual respect, love, compassion, understanding, and integrity. The women’s movement is counterproductive to unity of family, friends, community, and nation.”

Whereas shunning fellow citizens because they advocate different policies and positions than you do is a wonderful way to “promote values of mutual respect, love, compassion, understanding, and integrity, unity of family, friends, community, and nation.” Continue reading

Behold..THE DUMBEST ETHICS STORY EVER TOLD!!!

peetoy

Are you ready?

James and Isabelle Lassiter, who hail from Texas, were visiting Murfressboro, Tennessee and stopped into a Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse recently with their children. Apparently the sense of humor at hibachi restaurants has declined precipitously since the last time I ate at one, for I am told that the gag the Lassiters endured is now common fare. One of the Wasabi chefs held up a plastic toy depicting a little boy, and when the boy-toy dropped his shorts, he squirted water in a long, thin stream, as if urinating. The children were delighted! They were especially delighted when the stream hit their mom in the face.

Isabelle Lassiter was not delighted. In fact, she and her husband called the police, and accused the chef of sexual assault. “It peed on me…basically, out of his… wee wee area,” Isabelle explained, delicately.”It really didn’t have a wiener, but you got the point.” Investigators, who briefly took the toy into custody, indeed noted that the toy wasn’t anatomically correct. An officer wrote, “I observed the toy to have no penis and just a hole for the water to shoot out.”

PLEASE don’t tell me that if the toy did have a plastic penis, the claim of “sexual assault” would have been taken more seriously.

The Lassiters agree that this detail should not matter. “Just because somebody cut off a piece of plastic…doesn’t change the fact that you’re getting peed on,” said James Lassiter. “It was a sexual style assault on my wife.”

This is not a hoax. I wish it was a hoax. Reading about it has temporarily disrupted my capability to organize my thoughts, so I’ll just note the following in no particular order:

1. It was not sexual assault, by any stretch of the imagination. Nobody “peed on” Mrs. Lassiter. The cook squirted water on her, using a juvenile, risqué version of a squirt gun.

2. If Isabelle thought even  for a second that the stream of liquid was urine, she has a cognitive problem. Isabelle, pay attention: plastic figures do not urinate. They are toys. They have no bladder or kidneys. Even if the liquid comes from the toy’s “wee wee area,” it can’t possibly be urine.

3. Calling the police was beyond an over-reaction; it was truly idiotic, and it should be punishable. I’m trying to think of any reason not to have an ordinance that declares a spurious and wasteful call for police a misdemeanor carrying a hundred-dollar fine. Of course, such an offense should only be declared in extreme circumstances…like this, for example.

4. The manager of Wasabi did issue an apology to the couple, but claims he has never had any complaints about the toy in the past. “The kids like it, they think it’s a water gun, kind of like a water gun you know,” said Mr. Huang. Ah! The old “if kids think it’s funny, it’s ethical” standard. This standard is not reliable. The Lassiter kids might well have also found it hilarious if the chef hit their surprised mother with a cream pie, a pillow, or a dead cat. Continue reading

Ethics Alarm: In Memphis, Facts Are Now Racist

Infamy. I hope.

Infamy. I hope.

This truly upsetting story is in part about headlines, and I had a hard time deciding on one for the post. It makes my head explode—I am trying out a new Swiffer now—but it really shouldn’t have exploded, considering recent developments. I could name Commercial Appeal’s editor Louis Graham (left) an Ethics Dunce, which he certainly is (in addition to being a fool, a coward, and a disgrace to journalism), but that doesn’t do him justice. I thought about making his editorial apologizing for stating facts in a headline as an Unethical Quote of the Month, but this was worse than a bad quote. This was surrender.

The Memphis, Tennessee newspaper the Commercial Appeal, a Gannett publication, headlined its front page story about the attack on police in Dallas “Gunman targeted whites.” Here it is:

memphiscom headline

Indeed, African-American gunman Micah Xavier Johnson specifically said that his objective was to  kill white police officers. Nonetheless, protestors attacking the paper for publishing a “racist’ headline gathered outside the paper’s office in downtown Memphis last week. Black Lives Matter signs were in evidence.

Commercial Appeal editor Louis Graham met with protesters, and apologized with a front page editorial titled “We got it wrong.” He wrote in part… Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Therapist Biases And Ethics Confusion

(Boy, does this freak disgust me...)

(Boy, does this freak disgust me or what...)

The Tennessee Senate’s Senate Health and Welfare Committee members have overwhelmingly approved a proposed bill that seeks to protect  therapists from 2014 changes in the American Counseling Association’s Code of Ethics. The Code decrees that “counselors refrain from referring prospective and current clients based solely on the counselor’s personally held values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors.” The bill, however, will allow practitioners to refuse to accept a patient without legal or professional penalties as long as they refer the individual  to another qualified professional.

The Tennessee Association for Marriage and Family Therapists opposes the legislation, saying “This bill is in direct opposition to the ethical code of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy and potentially harmful to clients,” the group said in a statement. “Our mandate to do no harm to the consumer, we believe, would be violated.” A therapist who testified before the committee opined that “they can keep their belief system and still offer good counseling but not based on their religious beliefs.” Others have objected to a legislative body dictating professional ethics.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz today is…

Is the proposed bill reasonable and ethical, or just a way to allow bigoted counselors to discriminate?

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Now A Judge Is Punishing Innocent Citizens Because He Doesn’t Like Gay Marriage

atherton

Meet Hamilton County (Tennessee) Chancellor Jeffrey Atherton, a local judge who is throwing a high-profile tantrum to show that he doesn’t agree with the U. S. Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision. Atherton denied a divorce petition last week, but not really because of the case at hand.. After hearing from seven witnesses and going through 77 exhibits, he rejected the requested divorce by Thomas Bumgardner and his wife, Pamela, stating that the Supreme Court’s ruling declaring gay marriages a right destroyed Tennessee’s ability to determine what constitutes marriage or divorce.

No, it doesn’t make sense.

 

Atherton said the Supreme Court must clarify “when a marriage is no longer a marriage”  and until it does, Tennessee courts are unable to handle  marriage and divorce litigation.  “The conclusion reached by this Court is that Tennesseans have been deemed by the U.S. Supreme Court to be incompetent to define and address such keystone/central institutions such as marriage, and, thereby, at minimum, contested divorces,” Atherton wrote.

 Or the short version: “I am an asshole with power!”
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Unethical Quote Of The Month: Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee

Rhodes-College

“As a leading scholar and author in the areas of race, class, gender, culture, and the South, Dr. Zandria Robinson’s comments are sometimes provocative, controversial, and debatable. Dr. Robinson was hired for a faculty position in the Rhodes Anthropology & Sociology Department that calls for expertise in particular areas, specifically gender studies and social movements. Her expertise in these areas, her extensive understanding of the complex problems of race in American society, her deep roots in the Memphis area, and many years of successful teaching experience, made her an attractive candidate for the position.”

Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, announcing that it has hired racist Zandria Robinson as a member of the faculty. Robinson had been kicked off the faculty of neighboring University of Memphis after repeatedly condemning whites, writing that “whiteness is most certainly and inevitably terror, ”  and tweeting that she did not want her daughter to attend a university with “snotty privileged white'”students.”

Yes, racists are attractive candidates to mold young minds, aren’t they?

Two simple words suffice to describe the ethical, indeed mandatory response to this: WALK OUT. No white student should debase herself or himself by paying a cent of tuition to an institution with this total absence of respect and regard for them as human beings. No black student whose conscience and sense of decency hasn’t been thoroughly rotted through by being taught and indoctrinated by mentors and teachers like Robinson should remain either. This isn’t diversity, and it isn’t academic freedom. It is an endorsement of racism.

Yes, the college is literally saying that racist sentiments demonstrate extensive understanding of the complex problems of race in American society. No, they don’t. They demonstrate bigotry, hate and ignorance. Robinson is as much a component of America’s race relations dysfunction as Al Sharpton and Dylan Roof. Her brand of anti-white brainwashing is the cultural poison that persuades weak-willed, insecure dupes like Rachel Dolezal decide that she is ashamed of her family, her heritage, and her physical body. No responsible school of any size or mission should allow someone like Robinson to come in contact with students, much less teach them, except perhaps in an interactive exhibit called “This is Black Racism. Ugly, Isn’t It?”

Rhodes isn’t a responsible school, though, or a competent one. It is deluded. Here is the rest of its jaw dropping announcement of its new, white-hating scholar:

When Dr. Robinson was previously at Rhodes during the 2008-2009 academic year, she was well received by students who appreciated her ability to challenge them to think about society with fresh eyes.
There’s nothing fresh about bigotry. What’s fresh, I guess, is arrogant and pampered African American scholars who think that they can express exactly the kind of generalized, stereotyped hatred of a race that white racists spewed for centuries, and be rewarded for it.

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How Can Schools Teach Students About Citizenship And Rights When They Don’t Know What Rights Students Have?

Sorry about this, Tiffany, but your school definitely can't suspend ME...

Sorry about this, Tiffany, but your school definitely can’t suspend ME…

Today’s example of totalitarian school tactics committed by administrators who should be attending classes rather than overseeing them comes to us from Memphis, Tennessee. Highland Oaks Middle School suspended three students for posting a teacher’s mugshot on Instagram. Eighth grade teacher Tiffany Jackson had been arrested for driving with a suspended license, and a student discovered her mugshot online. He posted it,  and many more students re-posted the picture.

How could students posting public information on their own Instagram accounts be grounds for punishing them?  It isn’t. The school has no right to do this, and suspending students for such protected conduct just serves to intimidate them  and other students from exercising their rights as citizens.

That, of course, is the idea.

I agree that it wasn’t kind or fair of the students to set out to embarrass a teacher, but that’s a matter for discussion—education, perhaps— not discipline.

There has been a disturbing amount of deliberate or ignorant trampling on student speech lately, notably the University of Oklahoma expelling students for a constitutionally-protected racist chant, but also in high schools across the country where personal social media posts have been and are being treated as grounds for discipline. This is not to be tolerated from educational institutions in a democracy. Schools are fond of n0-tolerance: I can’t think of any conduct that should be less tolerated than teachers and administrators trying to control legal conduct and protected speech by students that occur off school grounds. We need to raise citizens who understand and respect individual rights, not burgeoning fascists who think that authority can and should shut down speech and conduct it doesn’t like.

At Highland Oaks Middle School, administrators eventually overturned the suspensions. I don’t care: fire them.

For this has to stop.

Meanwhile, welcome to the Streisand Effect, Ms. Jackson! Thanks to your employers trying to cover-up your offense by muzzling your students, everyone is seeing your mugshot. Just trying to do my part to discourage this blatant abuse of power….

_________________________

Pointer: Res Ipsa Loquitur

Facts: WNC Action 5