Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/5/2018: Doppelgangers And Other Weirdness

Oh-oh! It’s a creepy morning…

1. If “there are no coincidences,” then what the hell does THIS mean? The ethics category, if there is one, would be “Nature Incompetence,” or perhaps “deity abuse of power.” Look at minor league baseball pitcher Brady Feigl:

Oh! I’m sorry! I meant “Look at these TWO minor league baseball pitchers who are both named Brady Feigl.” One is in the Texas Rangers system, and the other is in the Oakland A’s system.

A similar example of God fooling around for his own amusement and our confusion had historical significance.

This man is Will West, a convicted criminal who was sent to Leavenworth Prison in 1903…

 

…and this is William West, who was already being held there:

The fact that the two men were so facially similar helped convince American law enforcement to begin using fingerprints rather than facial measurements for identification.

2. Over-blown conservative news media controversy of the week: In “First Man,” Ryan Gosling plays Neil Armstrong. For some reason, director Damien Chazelle decided to omit the iconic moment when Armstrong planted the American flag on the Moon. The Horror. Fox News can’t stop talking about it. President Trump has declared that he’ll boycott the film. Morons. Continue reading

Saturday Afternoon (Because I Was Up At 5 AM Writing About CNN’s Unethical “Town Hall”) Ethics Warm-Up, 2/24/18: Generic Packaging Scams, Goodbye Molly, Polls, And Welcome Student Commenters!

Good Afternoon!

1 The kids are all right! Ethics Alarms has recently been graced with comments by some intrepid and articulate high school students on the guns and schools issue. I salute all of them, as well as the teachers who sent them our way. Some of the students also encountered the tough debate style and sharp rhetoric that our regulars also engage in. One of the students who found himself in a particularly spirited exchange, mostly with me, just sent me a long, self-flagellating and abject apology. My response in part..

Relax. Apology accepted, and I am grateful for it, and admire you for writing it. But you impressed me in many ways. I wish I could meet you.

When I was growing up, there was no internet. I just managed to earn as reputation as a clown, a master of sarcasm and insults, and someone who would never back down from an argument the old-fashioned way—by talking. I made a million gaffes along the way. I made an ass of myself. I hurt people. I also scared some people, but eventually I learned some boundaries. Meanwhile, the skills I acquired being a jerk sometimes have served me well, in college, in law school, in management, in theater, in ethics. (I’m still a jerk sometimes. You have to keep that edge.)

You are welcome to comment on Ethics Alarms any time, my friend. Just remember we’re all human beings, nobody hates anyone, and no mistake is final.

I do hope that any time young readers who identify themselves as such come here to argue, Ethics Alarms commenters will keep in mind that the best result, no matter what they might say while testing the waters here, is to keep them coming back.

2. Packaging designed to make you feel stupid…I’d do a whole essay on this again, but there have been a lot of “yelling at clouds” posts lately. The common practice of generics intentionally imitating the packaging of the original product they derive from is per se unethical. (I’m sure I have written about this before, but cannot find it. I know I criticized the practice of cheap kids animated videos of  stories like “Beauty and the Beast” copying the artwork and color scheme of the corresponding Disney version to fool inattentive purchasers.) My wife just got caught by a CVS scam—the company is a long-time offender—that fooled her into buying for my use an inferior knock-off of Pepcid A-C which I need because the Parkland shooting deception and agitprop is giving me ulcers. It is intentionally packaged with a red fez-shaped cap to look sufficiently like the good stuff to deceive consumers.

See?

Of course, as with the video, it isn’t exactly like the original: the shade of red is different, the cap shape isn’t quite the same, giving them plausible deniability.

There should be some kind of law or regulation to discourage this. I’m going to go into the store and complain to some nice clerk or manager, who will shrug and say she’s sorry, which is to say that, once more,  I will be yelling at clouds . Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/29/2017: Daring The Alt-Right

GOOD Morning, Everyone!

1 Ethics Alarms Holiday Challenge! report: You did not disappoint  me. I have not read all the comments in detail yet, but the various evisceration of NBC’s jaw-droppingly stupid call for an end to freedom of speech produced at least five strong Comment of the Day candidates. I won’t re-post all of them, because Noah’s inept screed doesn’t warrant that much space, frankly. Good job!

On a related administrative note, I’m really going to try to get all the Ethics Alarms Best and Worst completed this year (having fallen short the last two), and would appreciate nominations in all categories. (Some examples are here and here, but don’t feel constrained. New categories are welcome.)

Use this post, please, or e-mail me at jamproethics@verizon.net.

2. Doesn’t help…President Trump couldn’t resist tweeting this:

‘In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record,’ he tweeted from Mar-a-Lago Thursday night, where it is currently a balmy 78 degrees Fahrenheit Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!’ 

Ugh.

  • These are the tweets that try men’s souls. It’s just never a good thing for the leader of the country to broadcast his ignorance and deficits of critical thought.
  • It would be a bit less annoying—but still unpresidential and self-destructive,  if the President were satirizing the climate change chorus, which despite the fact that the science they claim to revere so much says its nonsense to do so, still cite individual weather events as “proof” of global warming, most recently the 2017 hurricane season. Or if he were trolling his foes, which he is often masterful at doing, trying to lure them into hypocrisy. Predictably, journalists took the bait anyway, with many suddenly becoming sticklers for the key distinction between  climate change, and weather after years and years of intentionally blurring in in their interviews and reporting. Sadly, there is no reason to believe the President was doing anything but trumpeting his own scientific illiteracy.
  • I wonder what the President’s approval ratings would be if he had never sent a tweet after taking the oath of office?

Continue reading

Reminder: Hateful Racist Mass Murderers Have The Same Rights You Do

Dylann Roof, the white supremacist sentenced to death after killing nine black church members as an attempt to start a race war, asked a court to replace his appointed appellate lawyers because they “are my political and biological enemies.” The Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied his request.

Roof’s pro se motion stated that his lawyers, Alexandra Yates and Sapna Mirchandani, “are Jewish and Indian, respectively. It is therefore quite literally impossible that they and I could have the same interests relating to my case.”  Roof had difficulties on the same basis with his court-appointed lawyer, David Bruck, during his trial. The murderer wrote  in his motion that Bruck is Jewish and “his ethnicity was a constant source of conflict even with my constant efforts to look past it.”

I have been shocked at the reaction of the legal profession, the news media and the public to the 4th Circuit’s ruling. It really does appear that all the education in the world, ethics rules, principles and the Constitution will still be steamrolled by hate and emotion, even when crucial, indeed existential values for our society are at stake. My trust and respect for all professions—all of them—have been grievously reduced by their conduct and ethics blindness over that past several months. No wonder the First Amendment is under attack. No wonder our institutions are being weakened to the point of collapse.

The public literally  not understand the principle I am going to explain now. Apparently naively, I thought lawyers, judges and law professors did. In the interest of clarity, I am going to do this in short, straightforward segments.

I. The Court’s ruling is not just wrong, but frighteningly wrong.

Roof, like all citizens accused of a crime, has a right to a competent, zealous legal defense. A  competent, zealous legal defense requires that the defendant be able to participate fully in that defense. If a defendant does not or cannot trust his lawyers, he cannot be assured of a competent, zealous legal defense.

II. A client has to trust his lawyer.

It doesn’t matter why a client doesn’t trust his lawyer, and the lawyer need not agree that the lack of trust is warranted. The question is whether a lawyer who is not trusted by his client can do an adequate job representing him. The answer is no. The Sixth Amendment, which guarantees a fair trial and legal representation in criminal cases, is not there for the lawyers, or courts, or government. It exits to protect the accused—all accused.

In a famous medical ethics case, an elderly Korean man in a hospital wanted his doctors, specialists in his malady, replaced because they were Japanese-Americans, and as a survivor of the horrors Japan inflicted on Korea, he was convinced that they would kill him. The hospital ethics committee held that he was an irrational bigot, and that he either had to accept the qualified physicians despite their race, or get out. The AMA disagreed. It said that the patient’s welfare is paramount in medical ethics, and a patient who does not trust his doctors—the reason doesn’t matter—will have his welfare and health endangered as a result.

The same principle should apply to Roof. A client who does not trust his lawyer will not, for example, be candid with him, or trust him to keep confidences.

Under the circumstances Roof described, the lawyers have an ethical obligation to withdraw. Two rules are involved:

Client-Lawyer Relationship
Rule 1.7 Conflict Of Interest: Current Clients

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b), a lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest. A concurrent conflict of interest exists if:

(1) the representation of one client will be directly adverse to another client; or

(2) there is a significant risk that the representation of one or more clients will be materially limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client, a former client or a third person or by a personal interest of the lawyer.

(b) Notwithstanding the existence of a concurrent conflict of interest under paragraph (a), a lawyer may represent a client if:

(1) the lawyer reasonably believes that the lawyer will be able to provide competent and diligent representation to each affected client;

(2) the representation is not prohibited by law;

(3) the representation does not involve the assertion of a claim by one client against another client represented by the lawyer in the same litigation or other proceeding before a tribunal; and

(4) each affected client gives informed consent, confirmed in writing. Continue reading

Ethics Dilemma: What Do You Do With Steve King?

Steve King

Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) is an infamous loose cannon, as well as being Cro-Magnon in his politics. He is prone to misstatements, colorful hyperbole and utter nonsense. There are head-scratching lists all over the web of his “greatest hits.”  Once, for example, he suggested that “For every time we give amnesty to an illegal immigrant, we would just deport a liberal.” OK, that was tongue in cheek (I hope), if hardly helpful to the cause of mutual respect and comity, but this probably wasn’t:

“If there is a sexual predator out there who has impregnated a young girl. Say a thirteen year old girl; and it happens in America more times than you and I would like to think. That sexual predator could pick that girl up off the playground at the middle school and haul her across the state line and force her to get an abortion to irradiate the evidence of his crime and bring her back and drop her off at the swing set and that’s not against the law in the United States of America.”

Actually, that would violate a number of laws, but never mind: Rep. King is an ultra-conservative idiot, and “the Julie Principle” applies: fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly.” If the good people of Iowa want someone like this to be one of their voices in the House, so be it, but don’t expect me to eat as much corn as I might otherwise.  Unfortunately, though, elected officials whose minds and tongues are not well connected to each other and who lack ethics alarms as well eventually get themselves into real trouble, unless they are nominated as the Republican candidate for President, like Steve King’s favorite orange tycoon.

The cock finally crowed for Steve King this week when, appearing on MSNBC  (which loves to book really stupid Republicans and conservatives because it makes all Republicans and conservatives look as stupid as MSNBC’s audience thinks they are) leftist pundit Charles Pierce engaged in typical ageist, racist-baiting that good progressives think is perfectly fine. He sneered about “old white people” controlling the  GOP and said that Republican convention was filled with “loud, unhappy, dissatisfied white people.”

Naturally, Steve King saw this as his signal to embrace white supremacy, saying..

“This whole ‘white people’ business, though, does get a little tired, Charlie. I mean, I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out, where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about? Where did any other sub-group of people contribute to civilization?”

Excellent timing, Congressman! Here is the nation on the verge of racial conflict, with police being targeting for death and afraid to police, while the black community is being convinced that a white justice system is biased against them, and you start talking like a Grand Dragon on national TV. Continue reading

Anti-Trump Sunday Concludes With An Ethics Quote Of The Day: President Ronald Reagan

Portrait Of Ronald Reagan

“Those of us in public life can only resent the use of our names by those who seek political recognition for the repugnant doctrines of hate they espouse. The politics of racial hatred and religious bigotry practiced by the Klan and others have no place in this country, and are destructive of the values for which America has always stood.”

—President Ronald Reagan in 1984, after learning that the KKK had endorsed him.

The contrast between this and the disgraceful, dishonest, weak and waffling response by Donald Trump Sunday when asked about his endorsements from the KKK and David Dukes is stark and illuminating.

__________________

Pointer: Instapundit (Ed Driscoll)

More “Anti-Trump Sunday”… A New Ethics Alarms Feature: “Unethical Donald Trump Quote Of The Day”

Trump can't say if anything's "wrong" with these people because he's never met them....

Trump can’t say if anything’s “wrong” with these people because he’s never met them….

Trump is averaging at least one outrageous, unethical statement a day. Either they show incompetence, or they are irresponsible, or they are uncivil, or they are lies, or they show disrespect for the office he is seeking, U.S. citizens and the nation, or all of these.

It’s rather hard to quote The Donald, since he rambles, free associates, and generally talks like someone who is tripping. In this case, one must look at the entire exchange holistically.

CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Trump this morning if he would disavow the endorsement of white supremacist and former KKK leader David Duke,or that of “other white supremacists.”

Trump claimed that he has been living in a cave (Everyone has heard of Duke): “I don’t know anything about David Duke. I don’t know anything about what you are even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So, I don’t know. I mean, did he endorse me or what’s going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke, I know nothing about white supremacists. And so, you are asking me a question that I’m supposed to be talking about people that I know nothing about.”

Tapper obviously didn’t believe that Trump knows nothing about white supremacists, nor do I.  He asked again: “Would you just say, unequivocally, you condemn them and you don’t want their support?” Continue reading