Category Archives: Law & Law Enforcement

Seven Ethics Observations On The Josh Duggar Child Molestation Revelations

19 kids

Yes, this is an Ethics Train Wreck.

First, some background:

“19 Kids and Counting” is another reality show featuring the exploitation of children for their parents fame and profit broadcast by the  cable channel TLC, the same shameless bunch that bought us “Jon and Kate Plus 8″ and the trashy Honey Boo-Boo Bunch.It began as “17 Kids and Counting,” became “18 Kids and Counting,” and but for this emerging fiasco, might have kept adding numbers, and little unpaid performers,  ad infinitum.  The show featured the godly, conservative, fertile Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their nine girls and ten boys, all of whose names begin with the letter “J.” Since the show began, three of the children have been married and several grandchildren have been born. The series began on September 29, 2008.  February 17, 2015 marked Season 10.

In response to emerging reports that oldest son Dugger son Josh, now 27, was once accused of molesting five underage girls as a teen, Josh Duggar, his wife Anna, and his parents Jim Bob and Michelle jointly explained the circumstances, which had not been revealed outside the family until now. “Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends,” Josh said  in a statement. “I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.”

Josh then resigned from his position at the Family Research Council.

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar had this to say about their son:

“Back 12 years ago our family went through one of the most difficult times of our lives. When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes, and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before. Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God. We pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family. We have challenges and struggles every day. It is one of the reasons we treasure our faith so much because God’s kindness and goodness and forgiveness are extended to us – even though we are so undeserving. We hope somehow the story of our journey – the good times and the difficult times – cause you to see the kindness of God and learn that He can bring you through anything.”

TLC cancelled the show. It said, on its Facebook page,

“Effective immediately, TLC has pulled all episodes of 19 Kids and Counting currently from the air. We are deeply saddened and troubled by this heartbreaking situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and victims at this difficult time”

Then GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee issued his own Facebook statement in support of Josh and the family:

“Janet and I want to affirm our support for the Duggar family. Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, ‘inexcusable,’ but that doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable.’ He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities. No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story. Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things. The reason that the law protects disclosure of many actions on the part of a minor is that the society has traditionally understood something that today’s blood-thirsty media does not understand—that being a minor means that one’s judgement is not mature. No one needs to defend Josh’s actions as a teenager, but the fact that he confessed his sins to those he harmed, sought help, and has gone forward to live a responsible and circumspect life as an adult is testament to his family’s authenticity and humility. Those who have enjoyed revealing this long ago sins in order to discredit the Duggar family have actually revealed their own insensitive bloodthirst, for there was no consideration of the fact that the victims wanted this to be left in the past and ultimately a judge had the information on file destroyed—not to protect Josh, but the innocent victims. Janet and I love Jim Bob and Michelle and their entire family. They are no more perfect a family than any family, but their Christian witness is not marred in our eyes because following Christ is not a declaration of our perfection, but of HIS perfection. It is precisely because we are all sinners that we need His grace and His forgiveness. We have been blessed to receive God’s love and we would do no less than to extend our love and support for our friends. In fact, it is such times as this, when real friends show up and stand up. Today, Janet and I want to show up and stand up for our friends. Let others run from them. We will run to them with our support.”

Observations: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Ethics Train Wrecks, Family, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Religion and Philosophy

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Quiz: The Worst Grandmother of the Year”

"If the only tool you have is a hammer, every kitten looks like a nail..."

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, every kitten looks like a nail…”

The Ethics Quiz concerning the grandmother who disciplined the children under her charge by killing a cat and her kittens with a hammer prompted a superb thread with many able participants. It also explored many rich ethics topics—child abuse, animal abuse,  property, child-rearing, discipline, punishment, law vs. ethics, and more. The entire thread is well worth reading, and it also generated a Comment of the Day that summarized and expanded on the themes and issues discussed. texagg04 has provided several COTD, but I don’t know if any have been better than this one. As a bonus, tex’s comment has persuaded me that I need to add another rationalization to the list. That should be up later today.

Congratulations and thanks to all the Ethics Alarms readers who weighed in so thoughtfully on this story. Tex’s honor here is in part yours as well.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Quiz: The Worst Grandmother of the Year:

Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, Quizzes, Rights, U.S. Society

KABOOM! The Michael Brown Memorial

Brown memorial

Normally, as is the usual Ethics Alarms tradition when a story causes my head to explode, I would begin with a graphic representing the moment when reading a news item about unethical conduct so shorted-out my cranial wiring that my skull did an imitation of Dante’s Peak. The cause of the eruption, in this case, is even more disgusting than some of those bloody pictures, so I’m posting a photo of that instead. Now, assuming you have an ethics compass that doesn’t spin wildly due to a manufacturing defect, your head has exploded too.

KABOOM!

I have to hand it to the good people of Ferguson, Missouri. They have officially disproved the chestnut, “You have a right to your opinion, but you don’t have a right to your own set of facts.” The late Michael Brown—I’m sure you’ve heard of him—is being honored with his own memorial in the town, like military heroes, local martyrs, long-time community leaders, and distinguished men and women born in communities and who honored them by their accomplishments. Apparently the city is under the misconception that Michael Brown fits one of these categories, despite conclusive evidence to the contrary certified by the U.S. Justice Department, which was desperate to prove that the Gentle Giant was a pure as the driven snow. Thus Ferguson is anointing Brown with icon status, poisoning the values and the culture of the city from the moment the memorial is dedicated.

How sad, how wrong, and how stupid. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, Race

Ethics Quiz: The Worst Grandmother of the Year

hammer71-year-old Josephine Bell told police officers responding to a call at her home that she had warned her grandchildren that if they did not clean their rooms, she would take their pets away.  They didn’t, she said, so she killed the children’s cat and four kittens with a hammer. The oldest child found the dead cat in the freezer, and called the police.

Granny was charged with a felony count of aggravated cruelty to animals, and is in custody at Madison County Jail on $15,000 bond.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz is…

What should be society’s response to conduct like this, and what should happen to Bell?

Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “What’s Going On Here?” Ten Ethics Observations On The Miami Beach Police Force Racist E-mails”

praise

Nothing makes me consider  shouting praise to the skies like the situation I just experienced. I find myself in a hotel, away from home, waking up feeling sick, having to prepare for a two hour ethics lecture to young lawyers and knowing that writing a new Ethics Alarms post will either make me frantic or result in a product even more riddled with typos than usual. And there it is! A worthy Comment of the Day, allowing me to present high quality ethics content that I don’t have to write myself, giving me time to work, get back home and think. (Unless I die first, because boy, do I feel lousy.)

The perfectly-timed COTD in question is by the commenter formerly known as  Penn, and involves a topic that I am speaking about this morning, e-mail. I don’t even mind that he doesn’t agree with the statements that sparked his comment: that police should be required under threat of dismissal to report racist -mails from colleagues, and that workplace e-mails have to be monitored by responsible supervisors. Here is SamePenn’s Comment of the Day on the post, “What’s Going On Here? Ten Ethics Observations On The Miami Beach Police Force Racist E-mails.”

And thank you, thank you, thank you! Continue reading

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights, Science & Technology, The Internet, Workplace

If You Are Going To Make Citizens United A Campaign Issue, You Are Ethically Obligated To Know What The Decision Actually Says

straw man

Here: read the damn thing.

There may have been other Supreme Court decisions that have been more shamefully misrepresented by pundits, activists and demagogues, but I can’t think of one.

The case is back in the news because Hillary Clinton, who  will try for a world record in cynical pandering to the least informed voters if she gets the Democratic nomination, told a group of her top fundraisers this week that if she is elected president, her nominees to the Supreme Court must share her belief that the Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision should be overturned, according to people who heard her remarks. In this she is echoing socialist candidate Bernie Sanders, who has said…

“If elected president, I will have a litmus test in terms of my nominee to be a Supreme Court justice. And that nominee will say that we are all going to overturn this disastrous Supreme Court decision on Citizens United because that decision is undermining American democracy. I do not believe that billionaires should be able to buy politicians.”*

The decision does not say that, or hold that, nor are the implications of the decision intended to allow that. Never mind. Bernie’s ideological leftist supporters don’t care what the decision really is about any more than Clinton does. It’s just a rallying cry against “the rich” and “big corporations.” The slogan is a positive litmus test result for ignorance, or, in Bernie’s case, the willingness to deceive. In Hillary’s case, it is just Hillary being Hillary, trying to keep Sanders from flanking her on the left. Do any of those who cheered her fatuous remarks about the decision know what the decision says? I’m dubious. I don’t even think that’s what they were cheering. They were cheering the symbolic use of the case as class warfare rather than the case itself. In fact, Hillary must be banking on nobody paying attention to the case for a very simple reason. Citizens United was about whether that government could ban a documentary that was critical of…Hillary Clinton!

That’s right, a presidential candidate is going to be on record that the films, books and other communications that criticize her should be illegal. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society

“What’s Going On Here?” Ten Ethics Observations On The Miami Beach Police Force Racist E-mails

Police games...

Police games…

Fred, my tireless and apparently sleepless issue scout, alerted me to this ugly story out of Florida:

MIAMI (AP) — A handful of Miami Beach police officers sent hundreds of racially offensive and pornographic emails and possibly jeopardized dozens of criminal cases in which they are witnesses, the department’s chief said Thursday. An internal investigation revealed that two of the 16 officers were high-ranking within the Miami Beach Police Department and were the main instigators, Chief Daniel Oates told reporters. One has retired, and the other was fired Thursday.Oates said the probe revealed about 230 emails demeaning to African-Americans and women or pornographic in nature. Many were depictions of crude racial jokes involving President Barack Obama or black celebrities such as golfer Tiger Woods. One shows a woman with a black eye and the caption, “Domestic violence. Because sometimes, you have to tell her more than once.”

One of the racially offensive emails depicted a board game called “Black Monopoly” in which every square says “go to jail.” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said about 540 cases in which the officers were witnesses are being reviewed to determine if they are tainted racially. Some charges could be dropped as a result or prisoners freed from jail

Fred comments, beginning with the favorite Ethics Alarms first step to ethics analysis:”What’s going on here? A widespread failure of leadership and personnel screening.”

That, for sure. Unfortunately, there is even more:

1. Number 2, after leadership, is training. It is mind-blowing that any police officers in the United States of America would not be aware of the degree to which such conduct jeopardizes community relations, trust and the effectiveness of the department, but I read about equally idiotic e-mail behavior from judges, lawyers, elected officials and business executives weekly. The message that this kind of thing is as destructive to the department and everyone in it, and won’t be tolerated even once, must be sent regularly, formally, and emphatically. Obviously, it wasn’t.

2. Do such e-mails prove that the Miami Beach police, or even the police officers involved, perform their jobs in a racist manner? The answers are 1) no, and 2) it doesn’t matter.

Once anything like this becomes public, trust is impossible for two reasons. First, it is more likely than not that someone who thinks e-mails like these are amusing does not sufficiently respect women and minorities, and second, it is beyond argument that their judgment is horrific. People who think it’s amusing to denigrate any group are not certain to be racist in their interactions with such groups, but given a choice, those groups would rather take their chances with someone else, and so would I. Meanwhile, people whose judgement is this horrific shouldn’t carry guns. Continue reading

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Filed under Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race, U.S. Society, Workplace