End-Of-Week Ethics Inventory, 11/24/19: Really, Really Bad Mood Edition

Worst…Ethics Alarms…Week…Ever!

Or so it seems, anyway. Have people already started ignoring life for Thanksgiving? Or am I being punished for not being able to squeeze enough posts out while driving, flying, typing in crowds and moving in and out of various abodes while trying to work? To make it worse, there was a lot going on that required some time and solitude to research and analyze, and I just didn’t have it. I also managed to make myself sick. Tuesday and Wednesday had the worst non-holiday mid-week traffic of 2019, and Saturday had the lowest number of visits for that day in three years.

Well, as Andy Kinkaid, my late, cynic-philosopher college roommate, a ruined Vietnam veteran,  used to respond several times each day to every argument, disappointment, tragedy, catastrophe, and piece of bad news as he smiled and retreated to his darkened room to get stoned, “Fuck it, right?

1. Apparently there is a copyright battle over the obnoxious catch-phrase “OK, Boomer!,” the viral dismissive insult being hurled at Baby Boomers who dare to question the wisdom, passion, and hive-mind beliefs of Gen. Z-ers and Millenials. It looks like all such efforts to “own” the phrase are doomed, because it has rapidly become so ubiquitous as a put-down so quickly that nobody can prove it originated with them.

Has it occurred to any of the smug little snots brushing aside their elders that this is nothing but a personal ad hominem attack without substance, no more fair or valid, and just as rude and bigoted, as “Shut up, bitch,” “Go home to your mother, Pee-Wee,” or “Get a job, Pedro”? As a Baby Boomer, I think we ought to agree on a standard retort to “OK, Boomer” of equal substance and wit, and I hereby nominate “Keep flailing, Dumb-Ass!”

2. Speaking of Millennials, a New York Times social columnist informs me that they have decreed that on-line the term “OK” or “Okay” is now considered rude, and the proper term is “k-k,” which sound to me like a Klan chapter short of members, or someone with a stutter. Just because you want to create ugly and pointless new conventions to metaphorically mark your cyber-territory doesn’t mean I have to assent.

And no, I never have and never will use LOL or LMAO. They’ll have to shoot me first. Continue reading

The Garrett-Rudolph Attack: Yes, It’s Unethical For Even NFL Players To Try To Kill Each Other….

As if the game itself, legally played, weren’t enough to cause its players brain damage, in a Thursday Night televised pro football game this week Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett ripped the helmet off Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and clubbed him in the head with it. The league acted swiftly, suspending Garrett for the rest of this season, including the playoffs should the Browns make them, and reinstatement is by no means assured.

Good.

This is the longest suspension for an on-field incident in NFL history. I can find no fault with Garrett’s apology, Level One on the Apology Scale, issued before the sentence came down. He said, Continue reading

There Were Many Good And Ethical Reasons To Fire Don Cherry

Canadian hockey commentator controversies are not usually news stories in the U.S.–thank God—but yesterday was an exception. Broadcaster (and former NHL `player and coach—I remember him from his days coaching the Boston Bruins) Don Cherry, 85, who has the fame and following that few U.S. sportscasters ever attain (Howard Cosell, perhaps? Curt Gowdy? Vin Scully, maybe?) talked himself out of a job by using his “Coach’s Corner” segment on the “Hockey Night In Canada” TV broadcast to criticize Canadian who didn’t wear poppy pins to commemorate  the nation’s Remembrance Day, the counterpart to Memorial Day in the states. Veterans groups sell the pins, which signify recognition of the sacrifice of soldiers who died  in service of the nation.

In typical rambling fashion, Cheery had said,

“I live in Mississauga [Ontario]. Very few people wear the poppy. Downtown Toronto, forget it. Nobody wears the poppy. … Now you go to the small cities. You people … that come here, whatever it is — you love our way of life. You love our milk and honey. At least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada. These guys paid the biggest price for that.”

The presumed translation of the brief rant was that  Cherry was criticizing immigrants (“You people”…”who come here”) for being unpatriotic and too cheap to buy a pin as a gesture of thanks and respect to fallen soldiers. Social media and most of the Canadian sportswriting community immediately condemned the remarks, and called for Cherry’s dismissal. Continue reading

Is The DLA Piper Sexual Harassment Case The Legal Community’s Harvey Weinstein Scandal That I’ve Been Predicting? Sure Looks like It…

For almost two years, I’ve been telling my ethics training attendees at bar associations and law firms that their profession has a serious sexual harassment problem, that there are many Harvey Weinstein, Esq,s out there, and the arrival of a major big law firm scandal or ten is inevitable.

Earlier this month, I wrote about the emerging sexual harassment controversy at DLA Piper,  the largest law firm in the world. Vanina Guerrero, a junior partner at  Piper, alleged that Louis Lehot, a notable “rainmaking” partner of long-standing who  pursued her,  groped her, and then retaliated when she rejected his advances. I wrote in part,

The kind of harassment she alleges is not the kind of behavior that is a secret, whether it occurs in a law firm in Hollywood, on a morning news show, on a TV production set or in an opera company, just to name some familiar locales. She says that the partner who recruited her had groped or kissed her on four occasions, and through her attorney’s supplemental filing with the EEOC, that the partner “regularly throws temper tantrums in and out of the office,” and no one at the law firm has reined him in.

There is now more information regarding this story. None of it proves that Lehot was a sexual harasser taking advantage of his power in the law firm to intimidate and abuse women for his own enjoyment, or that DLA Piper’s management  enabled him by applying the King’s Pass, concomitantly creating a toxic culture at the firm, so everything still has to be followed by the magic qualifier, “alleged.” Still, the signs are ominous: Continue reading

The Houston Astros May Be Trailing In The World Series, But With Assistant General Manager Brandon Taubman They Have A World Champion Ethics Dunce…[UPDATED]

‘Why am I smiling! Because I love our closer! He’s got a great fastball, and a great left cross! Aw, lighten up!’

What an idiot.

What an ethically clueless idiot.

The prelude: Last season, the Houston Astros, now embroiled in a World Series with the underdog Washington Nationals, embarrassed themselves by violating the team’s own stated domestic abuse policy by trading for closer Roberto Osuna from the Toronto Blue Jays. The 23-year-old Osuna had just completed a 75-game suspension from MLB for allegedly beating up his wife. The Blue Jays had announced that he would not be a member of their team going forward, despite the fact that he was regarded as one of the best late-inning relievers in the game. Even though the Astros had previously announced a “no-tolerance” policy toward domestic abusers, the team enthusiastically proclaimed their acquisition of Osuna, saying, among other hypocritical  and self-contradictory blather, that the team was “confident that Osuna is remorseful, has willfully complied with all consequences related to his past behavior, has proactively engaged in counseling, and will fully comply with our zero tolerance policy related to abuse of any kind.” At the time, I partially translated the ridiculous double-talk thusly:

…In the interest of winning and because the ends justify the means, we are suspending our “zero-tolerance” policy regarding “abuse of any kind” to tolerate a player whom Major League Baseball has determined to be a very serious abuser. I don’t know how we’re going to tell another player who is credibly accused of less serious abuse that we won’t tolerate his presence on the team when we just voluntarily brought an abuser onto the team, but never mind: there’s a pennant to win. I’m pretending that Roberto has complied with all consequences related to his past behavior when he is currently pleading not guilty in his pending Canadian trial on battery charges, in the hope that most fans aren’t paying attention.Thank you.”

The Astros are NOT the favorite team of feminists, #MeToo advocates, or anyone who does not appreciate the King’s Pass being given to men who slap women around.

The latest episode:  From Sports Illustrated: Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 10/20/19: Ancient Icelanders And Others Behaving Badly

Good Morning!

1. Confession: I called a stranger an asshole on Facebook yesterday. I had patiently explained to a Facebook Borg-infected friend that no, the Justice Department report on Hillary’s email fiasco had not proven for all time that she hadn’t “done anything wrong,” quite the contrary. The report revealed that she was directly responsible for over 600 security breaches (after saying otherwise for more than a year). That means that she was reckless, incompetent, irresponsible and dishonest, and, since the applicable statute doesn’t require intent, could have been prosecuted. The report did find that there was no evidence that Clinton deliberately set out to endanger national security, which was never the issue.

Some clod following the thread wrote that you “could sure tell who follows Fox News talking points.” Well, I’m sick of that lazy deflection, and anyone who uses it, especially on me, is an asshole, and needs to be told.  maybe ist not too late to get treatment. It’s even more of an asshole thing to say than the reflex “But ….Trump!” retort.

2. Yes, this is unethical. Yes, it is newsworthy. No, it is receiving almost no national coverage outside of conservative news sources. Rep. Katie Hill, Vice Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, has been engaged in a three-way sexual relationship involving a  staffer and her husband. This would not matter to me, and should not matter to you, except that the woman involved is Hill’s subordinate. The workplace is not a dating bar or personal harem, not in the private sector, not in Congress. In addition, close personal relationships create conflicts of interest for the supervisor in any office. I would mention the inherent imbalance of power that makes it impossible for an employee to consent to a superior’s advances in such a situation, but of course Lee knows that, being an ardent #MeToo and Time’s Up! supporter.

The hypocrisy in the Democratic Party on this issue is wide, deep, and nauseating, except, I guess, to Democrats. Last week, discussing this issue with lawyers following my ethics seminar, a usually smart, fair, male attorney actually opined that Joe Biden’s serial non-consensual groping wasn’t really a problem because “he didn’t mean it to be sexual assault.” The lawyer really said this, though “I didn’t mean anything by it” has been the reflex excuse of every sexual harasser from Bill O’Reilly to Louis C.K.

3. Stipulated: President Trump’s harsh rhetoric in the aborted White House meeting with Democrats was one more stupid self-inflicted wound. Given the barrage of ad hominem attacks by the party that she leads, and the disrespect for the office that Pelosi herself has orchestrated (that mocking clap at the State of the Union speech alone was unforgivable), Trump was certainly provoked, but the President is not supposed to slide into the gutter just because his adversaries live there. It’s swell to be a “fighter”—Trump is probably correct that Mitt Romney would have been elected President in 2012 if he had a some Trump in him—but that doesn’t mean that gratuitous incivility and nastiness is a competent or responsible political strategy.

However, this image, part of a cartoon by Andy Marlette for the Pensacola News Journal earlier this year… Continue reading

Never Mind, Ms. Guerrero: Hillary Clinton Says You Should Just “Get Over It”

Vanina Guerrero, a junior partner at mega-law firm DLA Piper, has alleged that a rainmaking partner who recruited her to the firm pursued and groped her, and then retaliated when she rejected his advances.

“I experienced such horrific conduct at the hands of a senior male partner and deserve to openly litigate my claims,” she wrote in a letter. The problem is that she is bound by her agreement with the firm to submit the dispute to binding arbitration.

A “rainmaker,” eh? That rang a bell…YES! Here’s a post, “Tales Of The King’s Pass: The Rainmakers,” I wrote last year about the typical attitudes on major law firms when protecting female staff against sexually abusive partners who make a lot of money for the other lawyers. I wrote in part, in revulsion over an ABA Journal article about how a sensible firm with a harassing but lucrative partner had to “balance’ considerations…

[T]he consultant begins quoting another ethics-lite law firm consultant. Apparently they are all like this. He says that…

“…most firms tolerate rainmakers’ abusive behavior unless it threatens something essential in the firm’s culture. Peters says firms must draw a line when the “fabric of the firm” is at risk. “The firm must win. No one, not even a rainmaker, can be allowed to destroy the fabric of the firm.”

That’s the standard? Destroying the firm? I think what this Authentic Frontier Gibberish means is that when a rainmaker does so much internal damage to the organization that even all the money he or she brings in won’t make up for it, that abusive rainmaker has to go. Talk about a low bar! “We’ll let you get away with just about anything since you make us so much money, but just don’t destroy the firm.”

It sound like DLA Piper’s management read the ABA Journal’s “How to justify keeping harassers around when they make you a lot of money” guide. Guerrero says she reported the situation to Sang Kim, one of the leaders of DLA’s Northern California offices. He said that it sounded like a he-said, she-said situation, and she should “talk it out” with four senior partners, including the partner she accused. That’s a common dodge. Continue reading