Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/27/18: It’s Video Thursday!

Happy inevitably confusing and disorienting period between Christmas and New Years!

1.. Is this a racially problematic TV ad, or an encouraging one that signals progress?

For me, the commercial raises the question: Have we reached a point when depicting an entire black family acting as moronic as white people are routinely depicted on TV is permissible and white people are allowed to laugh at it?

It made me uncomfortable. Am I alone?

2. Charley Parkhurst. The New York Times project to catch up on all the significant and remarkable women who never received the recognition of an obituary in its pages has been fascinating, and there has been no more interesting entry than this month’s remembrance of Charley Parkhurst, 1812-1879. Parkhurst was a famous driver of six-horse stagecoaches during California’s Gold Rush, a challenging job requiring strength, skill, and unusual honesty. Parkhurst was described as “short and stocky,” a hard-living whiskey drinker, cigar smoker and tobacco chewer, who wore  a patch  over the empty eye-socket where a horse had kicked out the eyeball. Charley was also universally regarded as male until a doctor discovered, post mortem, that she wasn’t. At a time when a women’s options  were severely limited, Parkhurst decided at a young age to live as a man, and was mighty good at it. She even registered to vote in 1868, and some give her the distinction as the first woman to vote in a Presidential election, though there is scant proof of it.

Looking at and thinking about a women “identifying a male” in a different cultural context is fascinating. Was Charley a woman, a male, trans, gay, a fraud, a hero (a heroine?), or just an opportunist and a gutsy realist who did what she wanted to do the only way it was possible for her to do it?

And does it matter? Should it matter?

We are told that Charley also was a lumberjack for a time. I wonder what she would have thought of the Monty Python song?

3. An Althouse quote: Continue reading

The Michael Slager Trial: When The Ethical Course Is To Not Exercise a Right

shooting_of_walter_scott

Michael Slager is the white North Charleston police officer who stopped African American Walter Scott for a taillight violation on April 4, 2015, and in the ensuing events, ended up fatally shooting Scott as he fled the scene, in the back, as recorded on a cell phone video. Of all the many police-involved shootings, this is the least equivocal. Slager is guilty of murder of one kind or another: in South Carolina, there is only one kind, and  mitigating circumstances are reflected in the sentence. He could receive life in prison, or much less time.

But every criminal defendant has the right to be tried by a jury of his peers before the law finds him guilty, and Slager is taking full advantage of the right. In doing so, he is forgoing his last clear chance at redemption. The former officer—he has already been fired for the episode and not just put on paid leave, as is usually the case—is understandably trying to avoid a conviction and jail time, even though, should he be acquitted by some miracle or act of mass hypnosis, it would be certain to provoke even more anger and distrust in the black community, and, I would hope, among non-African Americans as well. A justice system that finds, no matter how it reaches such a conclusion, that an officer who shoots a fleeing man dead like Slager did is not guilty needs to be blown up and seeded with salt. When Slager’s first lawyer saw the video, he quit.

Do you think an acquittal is impossible? Don’t. All that is needed is a jury full of people who “think,” and I use the word generously, like the signers of this petition. I’m pretty sure that there are more than twelve of them available. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Unethical Website Of The Month: Michael T. Slager Support Fund”

Now, let's not jump to conclusions...

Now, let’s not jump to conclusions…

UPDATE (MAY 3): I have been convinced that the original post that generated this Comment of the Day went too far. Asking for support for Slager’s defense cannot be unethical: Slager has a right to a defense, and the best one available. My thoughts on that issue, in relation to the Freddie Gray cops, are here. I still think it is obvious that the individual who posted the appeal is doing so for unethical reasons, and is likely a racist, an apologist for a bad cop, and an idiot. But the appeal itself is not unethical, hence the website was not unethical to post it.

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How can a website dedicated to paying for the defense of fired police officer Michael T. Slager be unethical, when every citizen is guaranteed the right to a defense before a jury of his peers? I thought I made my ethical objections to the site clear when I wrote:

Slager deserves a fair trial and will get one, but anyone whose immediate reaction to seeing the horrific video is sympathy for this killer cop needs psychiatric treatment, and quickly.

I also made it clear—I thought–that the text of the appeal betrayed a strange and ugly urge to shield Slager from the consequences of his conduct, which was per se, on its face, undeniably illegal under the laws of every state in the land, including South Carolina. He shot a fleeing man in the back; he cannot claim self-defense. Deadly force is forbidden in such situations. Unless Slager noticed that victim Walter Scott had death-ray shooting eyes in the back of his head, Scott’s death is a homicide, and it’s an open and shut case. The only remaining question is what level of homicide.

The appeal said that the poster supported Slager. Wrong. We should not support police officers who shoot citizens in the back. It attempted to minimize Slager’s offense by calling it a “mis-step.” Intentionally shooting someone illegally is not a mis-step. It’s murder. Then the appeal reminded us that Slager has a family, and didn’t do anything bad before he shot a man to death. Well, “first offense” is not a big mitigating factor when it comes to executing people.

However, I appreciate Ethics Alarms newcomer Gustav Bjornstrand‘s comment, though I don’t think this is the best context for it. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post “Unethical Website Of The Month: Michael T. Slager Support Fund.” I’ll be back at the end.

I venture to say that to offer support to Slager is certainly ethical, in and of itself. That is, if one believed that he or anyone deserves monetary support in order to raise a defence. It is conceivable that even someone who was certain he had committed a crime would choose still to aid him in getting good representation. It is unethical, I suggest, for anyone to assume that Slager is guilty of murder before a court decides the issue. It is possible, even if improbable, that there were circumstances prior to Slager firing that may shed light on his decision to fire. Additionally, there are a few other factors that need to be taken into consideration: Continue reading

Slager’s Lawyer Unethically Throws Him Under The Bus (Not That He Doesn’t Belong There)

Professional Tip: Lawyers, it's unethical to do this to your clients!

Professional Tip: Lawyers, it’s unethical to do this to your clients!

When a lawyer believes that representing a client is something that he or she cannot do effectively, either because of a deep personal bias against the client, another conflict of interest, a reasonable belief that the client is untrustworthy or unmanageable, or some other good reason, his duty is to withdraw from the representation. Believing or even knowing that the client is guilty is not a good reason. Guilty clients have rights, the system demands a competent defense, and sometimes—rarely, but it happens—a lawyer can be surprised to find out that his “guilty” client isn’t guilty after all.

Withdrawal from a representation is appropriate and allowed in the circumstances defined by ABA Rule 1.16: Continue reading

Unethical Website Of The Month: Michael T. Slager Support Fund

Or maybe the century.

I guess it might be a parody.

I hope it’s a parody.

UPDATE (MAY 3): I have been convinced that this post went too far. Asking for support for Slager’s defense cannot be unethical: Slager has a right to a defense, and the best one available. My thoughts on that issue, in relation to the Freddie Gray cops, are here. I still think it is obvious that the individual who posted the appeal is doing so for unethical reasons, and is likely a racist, an apologist for a bad cop, and an idiot. But the appeal itself is not unethical, hence the website was not unethical to post it.

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On Indiegogo, a competitor of GoFundMe, some deranged individuals have actually—can I be really writing this?put up a website seeking funds to defend Michael T. Slager, who is, on the video above, shooting Walter Scott in the back as he fled, apparently executing him with multiple shots, handcuffing his motionless body, and then planting a stun gun beside him. Slager deserves a fair trial and will get one, but anyone whose immediate reaction to seeing the horrific video is sympathy for this killer cop needs psychiatric treatment, and quickly.

The text of the appeal is similarly jaw-dropping:

We’re campaigning to show our Support for Officer Michael T. Slager!

Why in the world would anyone want to support a man who has committed a murder and fanned the flames of distrust and racial discord in the process?

We believe in all of our LEOs and want to publicly support them!

Do you believe in video technology? Do you even support murderous law enforcement officers?Apparently so.

Although he may have made mis-steps in judgement he was protecting the community.

Calling shooting an unarmed fleeing man a misstep in judgement is like calling Jeffrey Daumer a bad chef. A white officer hooting a defenseless and fleeing black man endangers the community, by straining the bonds of trust that hold it together.

Michael is a former Coast Guardsman with two stepchildren and a wife who is expecting a child, served for more than five years with the department without being disciplined.

So what? Does this any of this earn him special immunity from the requirements of decency, justice, and respect for human life?

Please help in any way you can.

Why? Why should anyone want anything other than for this disgrace of a cop to be tried, convicted, and locked up for the rest of his life?

He has served five years with the department without being disciplined.

Oh. Well, that changes everything! He should be able to shoot anyone he decides to shoot, then.

Eight people have contributed to this nauseating appeal.

Is “F-Bomb Princesses For Feminism” The Most Unethical Ad Ever?

Pretty close, I’d say.

Here are my Top Ten ways it is unethical:

1. It’s full of lies. Women do NOT make only 77% of what men do in the same jobs. The fact that President Obama blithely quoted this infamous canard doesn’t make it any more respectable. This is the smoking gun of  feminist activist hackery.

2. A close second is the completely unreliable “1 in 5 women will be raped or sexually assaulted in their lifetimes.” Yes, what President Obama did to a stranger after voting can add to that stat…or not, depending on what the woman being polled chooses to call “sexual assault.”

3. The stat about women who were A students earning as much as men who were C students is similarly bogus. The study apparently being fucking referred to was about high school grades, not college grades. It was also widely distorted in the media, which claimed that the finding was that “high-achieving female students still won’t earn as much as male counterparts who didn’t work quite as hard” [TIME], which explains nothing about what jobs we are talking about, or career choices. More female attorneys, for example, go into family law; more male attorneys go into tort litigation.  Trial lawyers are famously non-academic–they are combative, aggressive and street smart, and the good ones become millionaires. What does this prove about gender discrimination? Not one thing.

The University of Miami study, published recently in the Eastern Economic Journal, show that a one-point increase in high school GPA raises annual earnings in adulthood by around 12 percent for men and 14 percent for women. It was not directed at gender bias issues at all, nor did it prove any.

4. Apart from substance, the ad is one more coarse and cheap bit of sensationalism employing assaultive vulgarity to get attention.  This is cultural rot, nothing more. Gutter language doesn’t illuminate or explicate, and used as it is here, it doesn’t even convey genuine passion or emotion. This is the pseudo kiddie-porn equivalent of  TV ads for Go Daddy.com featuring a busty actress making sexual innuendos to attract attention to a product having nothing to do with busty actresses. An ad currently running for a cable show has the host talking about the time he “got crabs” but how he’s going to go to an “orgy” anyway. HA! A crab orgy, get it! See, he made you think he was talking about sex, isn’t that clever? In a 7 PM commercial? No, it’s not clever. Just cheap and tawdry, like having a lot of little girls yelling “fuck” at you.

5. This isn’t even a genuine ad promoting feminist objectives. This is an ad exploiting feminists themes to sell T-Shirts. Continue reading

Consenting To Be Beaten

Bought and paid for.

Ethics Alarms has frequently used the analogy of a drunk paid by cruel bar patrons to dance for their entertainment as an example of how using money to persuade a desperate, impaired or foolish individual to allow himself to endure humiliation or harm is still unethical and cruel, despite the supposed “consent” of the victim. PETA’s attempt to pay Nadya Suleman, a.k.a. “Octomom” was recently cited in this context in the post about painting homes as billboards. Now, from St. Petersburg, Florida comes an even more horrible example. Shefights.net, a locally operated website that sells videos (for up to $900) of scantily clad or semi-nude women beating up men, has been paying homeless men, drug addicts and street alcoholics $50 for submitting to  12-minute videotaped beatings by attractive females. Continue reading