As The Chauvin Jury Finds The Defendant Guilty As They Were Ordered To Do, The President And Rep. Waters Deny That They Said What They Said

But when Yogi Berra denied that he said what he said, it was funny..

In Minneapolis, the jury found Derek Chauvin guilty of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in his role in the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.

It would be a defensible verdict if he had received a fair trial, and the jury didn’t fear that they would spark national riots, property destruction and death if they found reasonable doubt. It would have been more defensible if the otherwise competent judge hadn’t botched his obligation to sequester the jury when another Minnesota police officer shot a black man, and riots did occur, with more on the horizon.

It is not a fair trial when a nationally known Congresswoman and the President of the United States publicly declare that, in the words of the Congresswoman, a defendant is “guilty, guilty guilty!”

So now, after polluting the trial and the verdict, both the President and the Congresswoman are engaging in a wretched display of “I didn’t really say what I obviously said and meant to say.”

Yogi Berra this ain’t.

First, here’s Maxine’s hilarious “translation” of what she meant when she told some potential rioters, ““We’ve got to stay in the streets, and we’ve got to demand justice,” Waters said. “I am hopeful that we will get a verdict that says, ‘guilty, guilty, guilty,’ and if we don’t, we cannot go away. We’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”

“I wanted to be there kind of as Auntie Maxine, to show them that not only do I love them and I support them, but they can count on me to be there with them at this terrible time in all of our lives,” Waters said in her own defense. But she is not their aunt. She is an elected official of the United States of America, and is sworn to uphold the Constitution, which means, among other things, not using her position to urge members of the public to break the law, and not using her influence to deny an American citizen a fair trial.

In another interview, she tried rationalizations instead of masquerade:

Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Jolt, 8/3/2018: A Lawyer Finds A New Way To Be Unethical, Verizon Makes Our Kids Obnoxious And Ignorant, And The Times Decides To Show Its Colors…

 

Good…afternoon.

Yes, I couldn’t get this up before noon again. Mornings have been crazy lately. And no, I’m not at the beach…I just WISH I was at the beach.

1. A legal ethics “Kaboom! From the New York Times account of the litigation surrounding New York Yankee great Thurmon Munson’s death when his private plane crashed in 1979:

James Wiles, one of FlightSafety International’s lawyers at the time, still contends there was no culpability in Munson’s death on the part of either company. But a trial, he said, was just too risky…. Wiles, who was present for all the depositions…said that when Yogi Berra testified, he put a box of 24 baseballs in front of him and requested he sign them. Berra, who was a Yankees coach when Munson died, grudgingly obliged, but at one point asked if Wiles was authorized to make such a demand.

“It’s my deposition,” Wiles said he told Berra.

My head exploded after reading that. There is no rule I can find that declares such a blatant professional abuse unethical, unless it is the deceitful “It’s my deposition” response, which is literally true but falsely implies that the lawyer has the power to force a witness in a deposition to do something completely unrelated to the case for the lawyer’s personal benefit. Rule or no rule, this was incredibly unethical, and a perfect example of how lawyers will come up with ways to be unethical that they can’t be sanctioned for.

2. More on the New York Times’ new editor: Yesterday, I covered the astounding—but maybe not so astounding—appointment of far-left journalist Sarah Jeong as its technology editor despite a huge archive of explicitly racist and sexist tweets. The Times’ defiant explanation, a rationalization, really, stated:

“We hired Sarah Jeong because of the exceptional work she has done … her journalism and the fact that she is a young Asian woman have made her a subject of frequent online harassment. For a period of time she responded to that harassment by imitating the rhetoric of her harassers. She regrets it, and The Times does not condone it.”

Jeong’s statement was simply dishonest:

“I engaged in what I thought of at the time as counter-trolling. While it was intended as satire, I deeply regret that I mimicked the language of my harassers. These comments were not aimed at a general audience, because general audiences do not engage in harassment campaigns. I can understand how hurtful these posts are out of context, and would not do it again.”

The issue is not whether she will “do it again”—presumably even the Times wouldn’t stand for that, but whether her many racist outbursts online do not raise the rebuttable presumption that she is, in fact, a racist. Nothing in her statement tells us that she doesn’t believe such things as “white men are fucking bullshit,” only that she didn’t aim these comments at the general public.

I find it hard to believe that the even Times is so stupid and arrogant that it will dig in its metaphorical heels and refuse to admit its gross mistake. As Glenn Reynolds writes today, Continue reading

Farewell To Yogi Berra (1925-2015)

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Whether celebrating the life of Yogi Berra has anything to do with ethics is debatable, I guess, but I feel ethically obligated to note his passing.

My father loved him: next to Ted Williams, who had the added enhancement of being a two war veteran and war hero, Yogi was Dad’s favorite athlete even though he hated the Yankees almost as much as I do. [ CORRECTION: I am reminded  by reader John Condray that Yogi was also a war hero, “serving on the LCSS (dubbed “Landing Craft, Suicide Squad” by sailors since they operated in harm’s way). He was at D-Day & the Anvil landings in southern France – where he was grazed by a bullet from a Nazi machine gun.” I’m sure Dad knew that, and I should have.]

Berra was a unique and successful baseball player, a Hall of Fame catcher, and that rarity, a completely benign and welcome presence, always. A poor kid from a St.Louis Italian-American ghetto, he managed to project himself as a nice guy who was grateful to be able to make a living playing a kids game, and who never felt superior to anyone. He was an 8th grade drop-out, and always happy to play the fool, but those who knew him realized quickly that Yogi Berra was as witty and savvy as he was modest. If anyone didn’t like Lawrence Peter Berra, he or she never had the guts to say so in public. He really appears to be just as nice, honest and modest a man as he seemed to be.

Maybe that’s what Yogi Berra’s life has to do with ethics. He had a successful and long lasting marriage to his wife Carmen, successfully raised a family, was in public life for six decades without saying a mean word against anyone, entertained and thrilled millions of baseball fans, was the epitome of a professional, and left the world richer for his being in it.

You don’t get much more ethical than that.

You can read more about Berra here and here; his statistics are here. As you may know, Berra’s talent for coming up with funny quotes, many of which were deceptively wise and showed a deft sense of internal irony and word play, became as celebrated as his baseball achievements. Today those quotes are everywhere, including some that he may not have said. As Yogi did say once, “Half the lies they tell about me aren’t true.”

Below are 25 of my personal favorites.  Some of them make me laugh every time I read them.

What a great life. Continue reading

My Mother’s Funeral and the Kindness of Strangers

Few things are sadder than a long life commemorated by a sparsely attended funeral. The sadness is based more on illusion than reality, I know: the best way to ensure a good crowd at your funeral is to die young. Still, no son or daughter wants to deliver a eulogy to an empty chapel, even if the attendance figures at a love one’s funeral often say little about the richness of the life being remembered.

Most of the mourners at my mother’s funeral yesterday afternoon at Arlington National Cemetery barely knew her. Many had never met her; I doubt that she would have been able to name half of them if she had encountered them on the street. Yet they came, in the middle of a workday, to make sure that my mother’s family, including my sister and me, did not have to endure the sadness of the empty chapel. It was an amazing group. Among those whose connection to my mother was solely that they knew me, there were several whom I had not seen or spoken with in years, and others whose presence immediately made me feel guilty for being out of touch with them for too long. There were colleagues from jobs I had left long ago, and old friends who had, through the relentless roadblocks that family, work and assorted crises and priorities of living, had receded into names on a Facebook list. A former fiancee…a cast member of a show I had directed long ago. They were all expending time, their most precious resource, to be kind.

I’ve been going to a lot of funerals lately, something I once avoided with a passion. I’m going to start going to a lot more, and not merely just because, to paraphrase a line from the last Indiana Jones movie, I’ve reached the time when life stops giving you things and starts taking them away. As Yogi Berra reputedly said, “You should always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise, they won’t come to yours.” I appreciate the joke, but I’m pretty sure what Yogi was talking about was The Golden Rule.

Jeter, Bob Sheppard, and Funeral Ethics

Bob Sheppard, the “Voice of God” who announced batters in games at Yankee Stadium from Joe DiMaggio to Mark Teixeira, died this month at the age of 99. Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter announced that henceforth he would be introduced by a tape recording of Sheppard’s distinctively cultured tones, and the tributes from former players and current team members were generous and loving.

But when Sheppard was finally laid to rest over the All Star Game break, no Yankee player, past or present, took the time to attend his funeral. The team itself sent appropriate representation, and General Manager Brian Cashman spoke. Still, some journalists, bloggers and New York sportswriters found fault with the complete absence of the Yankee players, considering Sheppard’s iconic stature and their stated admiration of the man. The Daily News’ Bill Madden called it a blatant lack of class.

Perhaps. I’d call it coldness and insincerity. Continue reading