Evening Ethics Night-Cap, 1/18/2021: What A Terrible Bunch Of People!

nightcap

1. Wow. Now that’s a sex scandal even in France! Olivier Duhamel, a prominent French political scientist, radio show host and television commentator has quit his media and university posts after being accused of committing incest with his teenage stepson more than 30 years ago. His resignations included the Sciences Po university, where Duhamel, now 70, headed the body overseeing the renowned Paris institution. A book called “La Familia Grande,” just published and written by one of his stepchildren, revealed that Duhamel abused her twin brother beginning when he was 14. The brother told the news media, “I confirm that what my sister has written about the actions of Olivier Duhamel toward me is correct.”

Addressing her step-father directly in the book, Camille Kouchner wrote: “I am going to explain to you who sound off on the radio, you who offer the gift of your analysis to students, and strut about on TV stages. I am going to explain that you could, at least, have said sorry.”

Now there is a #MeToo-style incest movement in France, #Metooinceste, with over 20,000 tweets so far posted on accounts of people who say they had been sexually abused as children by adult family members.

2. This would be pretty embarrassing, if only the news media had the integrity to point it out. DC AG Karl Racine pronounced himself outraged that anyone would compare the Black Lives Matter riots to the Capitol riot. Last week, Racine called comparisons (accompanied by accusations of double standards and hypocrisy), “shocking and outrageous.”

Right. The BLM riots resulted in at least 8 dead, hundreds of wounded officers, and over $2 billion in damages. The D.C. installment of the riots attacked the White House and injured 150 officers. 60 members of the Secret Service’s Uniformed Division were injured holding off the mob while President Trump and his family were taken to a bunker. 65 Park Police officers were wounded and 11 had to be hospitalized, as compared to the January 6 toll of 60 Capitol Police and 58 D.C. cops injured.

One difference is that Democrats and the media accused police of violently assaulting “peaceful protesters” instead of condemning the BLM mob whose members threw bricks, bottles, fireworks, and bodily fluids at law enforcement officers. The BLM rioters set the White House gatehouse and the Church of the Presidents on fire. D.C. Democrats responded by demanding law enforcement leave and naming a plaza “Black Lives Matter.”

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From The “Scared Yet?” Files…Ethics Dunce: Cumulus Media; Ethics Hero: Mark Levin

zipping the lip

It’s interesting, isn’t it? The Washington Post, which has been suppressing news unfavorable to progressives and Democrats for years, delivered a thorough and competent report on conservative Cumulus Media muzzling its hosts regarding doubts about the legitimacy of the 2020 election.

The Post reports:

Cumulus Media, which employs some of the most popular right-leaning talk-radio hosts in the United States, has told its on-air personalities to stop suggesting that the election was stolen from President Trump — or else face termination.

“We need to help induce national calm NOW,” Brian Philips, executive vice president of content for Cumulus, wrote in an internal memo, which was first reported by Inside Music Media. Cumulus and its program syndication arm, Westwood One, “will not tolerate any suggestion that the election has not ended. The election has been resolved and there are no alternate acceptable ‘paths.’ ” The memo adds: “If you transgress this policy, you can expect to separate from the company immediately.

Some comments, in no particular order:

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Sunday Ethics Decorations, 12/20/20: I’m Sorry, This Stuff Is All Depressing

1. So it’s come to this...the #1 post on Ethics Alarms over the last 365 days is this one, which has been up for less than a month. The bulk of it isn’t even my work. I guess I should be writing a poetry review blog.

2. From the “What were they thinking?” files: David Werking, a Michigan man who was temporarily living in his parents’ home after a divorce, sued them for destroying his pornography collection of videos and magazines worth an estimated $29,000. US district judge Paul Maloney ruled that his parents had no right to throw out his collection. “There is no question that the destroyed property was David’s property,” Maloney said. “Defendants repeatedly admitted that they destroyed the property.”

Werking’s parents said they had a right, as his landlords, to toss out his collection. Where they got taht crackpot idea, I do not know. I would consider the lawyer who took their case unethical, and sanctionably so. Not many cases breach legal ethics Rule 3.1 prohibiting frivolous litigation, but this seems like one to me.

“Defendants do not cite to any statute or caselaw to support their assertion that landlords can destroy property that they dislike,” the judge said. I’m not surprised, since there are none.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/1/2020: Satchel Paige Edition

Satchel

Why Satchel Paige? The legendary Negro Leagues pitcher and member of baseball’s Hall of Fame once said, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?” Satchel wasn’t fooling: having played most of his career when blacks were blocked from the Major Leagues, Paige was still good enough at 42 to join the 1948 Cleveland Indians as a relief pitcher, and was effective enough to be contender for Rookie of the Year. Then he became the oldest pitcher to start a Major League game, shutting out the Boston Red Sox for three innings at the age of 59.

In my case, the answer to Paige’s question would be about 18, or perhaps 10. Surely not the age my arithmetic tells me, which is depressing and a little frightening. Every December first since 2009 has been a day with bad connotations: I found my father dead in his favorite chair that year, when I checked to see if he was going to have dinner with me as we had planned. This year there are two. Well, Dad soldiered on to have 19 more productive and mostly happy years after he reached my age, and he was being treated for cancer by than, and I’m not. There aren’t many ways I can top my father, but at least that’s gives me something to shoot for.

1. Wow. You don’t get to see such naked bias and hate just put out there in the media like this very often…Just think: a Washington Post editor okayed this article attacking the White House Christmas decorations and using them to excoriate Melania Trump for existing. How petty and ugly can a writer be and still get published? I guess it depends on whether or not your target is the Trumps.

The “money quote”: “[T]he defenders of Melania have always insisted on comparing her to her predecessor, Michelle Obama, and it became hard to believe that “elegant” was a code word for anything other than “White.” Melania is “elegant” because she represented a very specific kind of White femininity: silent, lovely, delicately fingering the ornaments that her staff had assembled.” The author is Monica Hesse, the Post’s gender writer. She is a biased, vicious, jerk. It is so obvious that Melania Trump could design Michelle Obama’s White House decorations and Michelle could secretly design the Trumps’, and Hesse would pronounce what she thought was Michelle’s inclusive and brilliant, and would condemn what she thought Melania created.

You know, pretty much the way her paper covered the Obama and Trump administrations.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/12/2020: The “I’m Sorry I Ignored Veteran’s Day But I Was Distracted By The Enemies Of The People” Edition

The reason for the choice of song will reveal itself at the end of the post…

1. No 2020 Election Train Wreck update this morning, because there are only a few items to report. One stinker from yesterday: the New York Times had an across-the-front page, “This is important!” headline that read, “ELECTION OFFICIALS NATIONWIDE FIND NO FRAUD.”

How did the Times’ ethics fall so far, so fast? That headline is pure propaganda, deceitful on its face. Do the editors think even the most partisan of their readers are that gullible?

2. Then there’s the Washington Post. I almost hate to post this after trying to talk commenter of the day Steve Witherspoon off the ledge in the previous Ethics Alarms entry. USPS whistleblower Richard Hopkins has demanded Tuesday that the false Washington Post story claiming he ‘recanted’ his sword statement regarding directions he was given by his Erie, PA postmaster to backdate ballots mailed after Election Day. He did not recant. In a video, the veteran says,

“My name is Richard Hopkins, I’m a postal employee who came out and whistleblew on the Erie, Pennsylvania postal service, postal office. I am right at this very moment looking at an article written by the Washington Post—it says that I fabricated the allegations of ballot tampering. I’m here to say that I did not recant my statements, that didn’t happen, that is not what happened. You will find out tomorrow, and I would like that the Washington Post recant their wonderful little article that they decided to throw out there, out at random.”

He has been placed on non-pay status by the Erie Post Office, which seems like a violation of whistle-blower laws to me, but I haven’t checked. GoFundMe, based on the Post story, erased the effort to provide him and his family financial support while he is being punished by the USPS.

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Personal Responsibility? What Personal Responsibility? The Washington Post Explains How Aspiring Supreme Court Justice George Floyd Was Destroyed by Systemic Racism

Screen shot of George Floyd mural

You think I’m kidding, don’t you? Sadly, I’m not.

Here’s a silver lining: thanks to the parade of bizarre and illogical demands and assertions during the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck and the concomitant “Great Stupid,” my head appears to be immune from explosions. (Is head immunity anything like herd immunity? A topic for another time…)

It is amazing—I would have once said head exploding—that anyone would attempt to sanctify a long-time criminal and blight on his community like George Floyd, much less get away  with it. Nonetheless, months after Floyd died after a  cruel and incompetent (but not racist) police officer put his knee on Floyd’s neck, the news media and Black Lives Matter flacks are successfully selling the tall tale that his life was a tragedy of unfulfilled potential because he had the misfortune to live in the United States of America.

[Quick review: Floyd moved to Minneapolis after being released from Texas prison for aggravated robbery. He went to jail 5 times and as a perusal of his record shows, he can be fairly described as a career criminal. Floyd was a habitual lawbreaker, involved in drug abuse, theft, criminal trespassing, and aggravated robbery, who once broke into a woman’s home and pointed a gun at her stomach while looking for drugs and money. He had probably taken an overdose of fentanyl and methamphetamine at the time of arrest, and it is quite likely that this, and not Derek Chauvin’s knee, is what killed him.]

I’m old enough, more’s the pity, to remember the Sixties fad of arguing that all criminals were victims of  their upbringing and a Hobbesian society for those who were not white and rich, and that it was heartless to punish those who were really society’s victims, not its predators. This was a very old progressive trope, notably championed by Clarence Darrow, who argued that there is no free will, and that criminals are doomed from birth, this making it an abuse of power for society to punish them. This logic was the epitome of bleeding heart liberalism, and helped make the word “liberal” a term of derision. I did not expect it to make a comeback.

Yes, I’m an idiot.

Now, however, in no less a legitimate forum than the Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa and Griff Witte make the argument that if the U.S wasn’t so racist, Floyd, despite all outward appearances, might have been a great American.

Read the thing, take a while to tape your skull back together, and then resume reading here. Watch out;  this is the third paragraph, and it comes up quick:

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From The “Nah, There’s No Mainstream Media Bias!” Files…White Male Conservative Smirk Bad, Black Female Democrat Smirk Good!

The definition of a “smirk”, I see as I peruse several dictionary definitions, is a condescending, smug, conceited or silly smile, universally regarded as obnoxious, rude and annoying. Thus the expression caught in an instant on the face of a teenage Catholic school student as a Native American activist intentionally confronted him, blocked his way and banged his drum within inches of his face was deemed by multiple commentators and pundits from progressive news organizations—that is to say, news organizations—to make the kid’s face “punchable.”

Examination of the video revealed that Nick Sandmann was not, in fact, smirking at all, but smiling awkwardly because human beings don’t have appropriate expressions pre-programmed for “old Indian jerk starts chanting and beating a drum in your face without any discernible reason when you have no clear avenue of escape.”

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Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/5/2020: Welcome To The No Nervous Breakdown Zone!

Apropos to this morning’s post: I just read a thread on Facebook entirely populated by people I knew, some of whom have befriended me. They are mostly lawyers, and after reading what was written, I could only comment that their conversation was deranged. I didn’t feel like arguing with people who could really write that if the Democrats didn’t win in November, Americans would lose their civil rights (when it is the ideological compatriots of these individuals who are stripping away the rights of free speech and association, championing race-based policies, and condemning the President for insisting that universities observe due process when a student is accused of sexual misconduct. How can they write that? What happened to them? Then there was the section of the thread in which they discussed that the President was certain to refuse to leave office if he is defeated, and my personal favorite, the assertion that those defending Kyle Rittenhouse are racists.

These are lawyers. They were taught about the requirement that every individual has a right to a fair trial, which means that he or she must not be pronounced guilty in the court of public opinion before all the facts are known, and proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. They should know, as I do, D.C. Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2 (b), which says, “A lawyer’s representation of a client, including representation by appointment, does not constitute an endorsement of the client’s political, economic, social, or moral views or activities.” Moreover, it is very likely that Rittenhouse, if he is ever tried, will be found not guilty. Did these deranged lawyer watch the video? I hope not, or they have really lost it. Rittenhouse acted in self-defense, and appears to be in the process of being railroaded by a racially biased justice system in Wisconsin, driven by the media and uninformed public opinion. I’ve seen the video. I’ve also been a prosecutor. I would not charge him, just as would not charge the officer who shot Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. I’ve also been a defense attorney, and  I would take on Rittenhouse’s defense confident that I had a winning case.

I also was struck by the snide comment about those who object to “Black Lives Matter” signs being obvious racists. I flagged that group as being a racist hate group when it first raised its ugly, divisive head, and damn right I object to seeing signs extolling a group responsible for riots, arson, and terrorizing diners in D.C. by demanding that they raise their fists.

Finally, these formerly rational professionals—who were once even as you or I! —-had the gall to talk about how Republicans and conservatives were promoting violence and a civil war. Yes, the end of the spectrum that includes the antifa, the rioters, and a party that has worked for four years to undermine our democratic processes, is really accusing others of seeking division and violence. This warrants FOUR standard Ethics alarms clips: This one,

…this one, of course,

…I have to use this one, though these people one were not morons…

And finally,

Get well quick, friends. Please. Continue reading

Monday Ethics Mixture, 8/17/2020: Let’s See What I Can Concoct Today…

1. Is this fair? Houston-based freelance photographer Bill Baptist shared a meme on his Facebook page that parodied the Biden-Harris campaign logo. It read, “Joe and the Hoe.”

Former WNBA star Sheryl Swopes saw Baptist’s post, shared it on her own timeline and demanded that the NBA to fire the photographer. So he was fired. Baptiste tried the inevitable grovel, writing,

“I deeply regret posting on my Facebook page a phrase that I saw and copied from others as a sample of some people’s reactions to Biden’s selection of Senator Harris as his choice for VP. The phrase I posted does not reflect my personal views at all. I should not have been so insensitive to post the statements by others. I sincerely apologize to all of those who have rightfully been offended and I have taken the post down from my FB page. It was a horrible mistake on my part.”

It didn’t save his job.

Observations:

  • Does sharing a tweet or a meme necessarily mean “I agree with this”? Can’t it mean, “Look at this”?
  • What kind of person actively seeks to have people fired for words or conduct that have nothing to do with their jobs? My answer: cruel people.
  • In this episode, Sheryl Swopes showed herself to be  a worse human being than the photographer.
  • Kamala Harris  exploited a sexual relationship with power-broker Willie Brown to advance in her career.  The meme could be considered legitimate satire if she were white. Is it illegitimate because she is sort of black?

2. And the Ed Wood Award goes to...The Orpheum Theater in Memphis. Ed Wood, bonkers director of such camp classics as “Plan Nine From Outer Space,” was creative, courageous, indefatigable, and passionate.  He was also completely incompetent, and not smart enough to realize it.  That brings us to the Orpheum, which installed a nine-hole miniature golf course on its stage to  create a revenue stream during the pandemic. Continue reading

OK, What’s Going On Here?

In the Washington Post yesterday, the Washington Post’s Sunday “Outlook” section included an op-ed in which  Lawrence Downes,  a former member of the New York Times editorial board, enthusiastically wrote about his new pastime:

[I have] right-wing culture war books from the Fox-News-angry-White-person’s superhero universe. Besides Hannity, I’ve got Lou Dobbs, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Rudy Giuliani and Bernie Kerik. The list is not comprehensive. It includes Karl Rove and Hugh Hewitt but not Newt Gingrich, Tucker Carlson or Donald Trump…The Fox folks seemed so bilious and out of place in that pleasant company, like toadstools among the daffodils. So I’d buy them up and take them home. Not for reading, which brought no pleasure, but for quarantine. The books are dispatches from a phony war, the one Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes helped gin up and got obscenely rich on. If you believe, as I do, that the plutocrat propagandists of Fox, talk radio and the GOP are lying liars who have vandalized our politics and country, then finding a Hannity or Ingraham book is like finding one of their bricks. The books piled up in my basement, out of circulation (which was the point) but always naggingly present, like asbestos. I wanted to be rid of them. And yet I paused, because even contemplating destroying books felt terrible…

I hit on the answer…. About once a week, I tear them into strips. I add them to the coffee grounds, potato and carrot peelings, onion and avocado skins, asparagus stubs, the papery bits of garlic, eggshells and dead flowers, and let the worms do the rest…

Turning propaganda into worm castings is not going to measurably reduce the amount of Fox News-iness in the environment. It is not strictly necessary. But if Hannity and company want to keep telling us that we are all at war, to keep stoking the flames and fanning the fear, then, for the good of this country, the people we love, the democracy we might lose and the world we want, so be it.

What’s going on here? Continue reading