Category Archives: Race

Ethics Quiz: Once Again, Bystander Ethics, The Duty To Rescue, And The Imperiled Child

clarkkentThe free-range kids debate already raised this issue, and now my colleague and friend Michael Messer, the talented and versatile musician/singer/ actor who teams with me in the ProEthics musical legal ethics programs Ethics Rock, Ethics Rock Extreme, and Ethics Jamboree, just posted about his traumatic experience on Facebook, writing,

“I’m standing in Central Park and witnessed a tourist father grab his (approx 5 year old) child by the arm and shake him… The. open palm smack his child in the head. Hard. Twice. I screamed to him, from about 50 feet, where I witnessed it: “HEY!!! YOU DON’T HIT HIM” he looked up, startled to be called out, and waved me off to mind my business. “YOU DO NOT HIT A CHILD IN THE HEAD”, I repeated, at the top of my lungs, hoping to attract attention. The kid cried and then got himself together and went off to play. No one else in Sheeps Meadow saw or took notice. For about 5 minutes after I kept my eyes on him so he knew he was now being watched. What is the role of a bystander in this situation?”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz for the day is…

What is the role of a bystander in this situation?

The answer is simple, really—its that oft-repeated Ethics Alarms mantra, “FIX THE PROBLEM,” at least as much as you can. Do something. Mike did the right thing, from a distance: show the abuser he’s being observed, protest, shame him. If one can, if one has the ability, the skill and the timely reaction and the child looks to be in genuine danger, intervene physically.

The latter course, however, carries risks, and also may be precluded by the natural reflex most humans have when they observe something unexpected and shocking. I discussed this issue when Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary was being pilloried in some publications for not immediately charging into the Penn State showers and stopping sexual predator Jerry Sandusky from sexually abusing a boy: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Citizenship, Race, U.S. Society

Maybe The Best Reason To Remember April 15…Number 42

jackie-robinson

A lot has happened on April 15.

Leonardo De Vinci was born…Abraham Lincoln died…Apollo 13 had the accident that almost destroyed it, but that triggered one of the great triumphs of the space program…Lee surrendered, ending the Civil WarThe Beatles disbanded…I didn’t get my taxes in on time….

I would argue however, and will, that as culturally important as any of these events was that sixty-eight years ago, in 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first black man to play major league baseball in the modern era. This represented a cultural change that allowed the United States to take a giant step forward toward healing the self-inflicted and almost fatal wound of slavery, and it took a man of surpassing courage and character to do it. (Two men, really: the other was Dodgers GM Branch Rickey.)

Today all MLB players will wear Robinson’s number 42 to honor him. If you haven’t seen the movie “42, or if your children haven’t seen it, this is a good day to get a sense of what Jackie went through as he broke the color line.  You can check out Robinson’s baseball stats here,  and learn about the civil rights work he did after his playing career, in the too-short life that was left to him here. He’s in the Ethics Alarms Heroes Hall of Honor, of course, and his entry there has more about his life as well as some good links.

The main thing is, remember him.

Many years ago, I had a conversation with a close friend—smart, accomplished, engaged, educated, about 26 years old at the time. She had no idea who Jackie Robinson was. Nobody, then, now or ever, should reach adulthood in the United States without knowing and understanding what Robinson did, and our nation’s debt to him. There is an ethical  duty to remember, and to respect.

Thank you, Mr. Robinson.

Thank you.

 

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Heroes, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “Rationalization #30 (“It’s a bad law/stupid rule”) Chronicles: Vijay Chokalingam’s Affirmative Action Fraud”

On the bright side, Dr. Nick improves the diversity of the medical profession...

On the bright side, Dr. Nick improves the diversity of the medical profession…

Joed68 comes through with his second Comment of the Day, this one in reaction to the post here on Mindy Kaling’s brother and his proud confession that he gamed an affirmative action program to gain admission to medical school years ago.

Allowing skin color to enable a less deserving applicant to vault over a more deserving one in college is one thing—still ethically dubious, but defensible in the abstract—and letting low-lights into elite training for professions with life and death responsibilities is another. The only explanations I can mount for those who indignantly defend affirmative action in the latter (such as CNN’s Jeff Young, quoted in the post) is that they are in thrall of the ends justifies the means mentality currently infecting much of Progressive World, or they don’t know how difficult it is to become a doctor. The first malady is beyond remedy; joed68’s submission addresses the second.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post “Rationalization #30 (“It’s a bad law/stupid rule”) Chronicles: Vijay Chokalingam’s Affirmative Action Fraud”:

Continue reading

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Education, Professions, Race

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…

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

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Unethical Websites

Rationalization #30 (“It’s a bad law/stupid rule”) Chronicles: Vijay Chokalingam’s Affirmative Action Fraud

Affirmative Action

Actress Mindy Kaling, whom you might know from the sitcom she created and now stars in called “The Mindy Project,” has a brother who has exploited both his relationship to his famous sister and an ethically indefensible fraud to gain some momentary fame and perhaps a book deal. Vijay Chokalingam has revealed that 17 years ago he gained acceptance to St. Louis University’s School of Medicine by falsely representing himself as an African-American.

On his new website, Almost Black, Chokalingam explains,

In my junior year of college, I realized that I didn’t have the grades or test scores to get into medical school, at least not as an Indian-American. Still, I was determined to become a doctor and I knew that admission standards for certain minorities under affirmative action were, let’s say… less stringent? So, I shaved my head, trimmed my long Indian eyelashes, and applied to medical school as a black man. My change in appearance was so startling that my own fraternity brothers didn’t recognize me at first. I even joined the Organization of Black Students and started using my embarrassing middle name that I had hidden from all of my friends since I was a 9 years old.

Vijay the Indian-American frat boy become Jojo the African American Affirmative Action applicant to medical school….I became a serious contender at some of the greatest medical schools in America, including Harvard, Wash U, UPenn, Case Western, and Columbia. In all, I interviewed at eleven prestigious medical schools in 9 major cities across America, while posing a black man.

Continue reading

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Filed under U.S. Society, Education, Professions, Health and Medicine, Race, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee

CNN: “How Is The North Charleston Shooting Different From Ferguson?” KABOOM!

HeadExplode3

My answer:

“In North Charleston the officer executed a fleeing man, while in Ferguson an officer used appropriate force to defend himself, but CNN represented the story as an officer executing a fleeing man anyway.”

I literally just saw this minutes ago, so I can’t provide a link, and because smug, biased, despicable-beyond-words CNN morning anchor Carol Costello caused my head to explode with her commentary, the accuracy of my quotes may be a little off.

My brains hit the ceiling the second Costello said, “Unlike the shooting of Mike Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer, the shooting of Walter Scott in North Charleston was captured on video. Witnesses in the Ferguson case disagreed about key facts in the shooting, and about whether Brown’s hands were up or not.”

Disgusting journalism, and close to pure evil. How long did Carol labor over that deceitful phrasing? Though Mike Brown’s shooting has been decisively shown by the credible eye-witness testimony and forensic evidence to have been consistent with the police officer’s account, and though the witnesses claiming that Brown was surrendering have been shown to be following the lead of CNN guest Dorian Johnson, who lied about what happened and set off the nationwide “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” protest theme, Costello and CNN are deliberately linked the two incidents, suggesting in tone and context that had there been a video, Darren Wilson might have been shown to be an executioner too. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Race

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Kentucky Guard Andrew Harrison

“Fuck that nigger.”

—-Kentucky guard Andrew Harrison, muttering behind his hand into a live microphone after answering a post-Final Four game news conference question about Wisconsin player Frank Kaminsky, whose heroics had contributed greatly to Kentucky’s 71-64 defeat by the Badgers,  ruining  the Wildcats’ undefeated season and the favored Kentucky’s hopes of another NCAA basketball tournament championship.

Stay classy, Andrew.

Stay classy, Andrew.

We are constantly told how college sports builds character, sportsmanship and life skills, and that the experience itself is a valuable education that will serve students well in their future careers.

Sure.

Harrison later said, in multiple tweets apologizing on Twitter, that his remark was a misunderstood “poor choice of words”—well, except for the word “that”—and that he really admired and respected his rival. Harrison did not explain why his admiration and respect did not extend to shaking hands with the team that had just beaten his, as NCAA practice dictates.

If, by some chance, Harrison does not succeed in his imminent NBA career (that will prevent him from actually getting a degree) or does not make enough millions before flopping that he has to support himself with less lucrative pursuits, his lack of basic manners, civility and judgment will prove to be quite a handicap, I imagine. Too bad he didn’t learn any  of that in college.

But I look forward to having it explained to me once again why a black man calling a white one a “nigger” following a vulgarity should be excused as simply a charming cultural expression of respect that one can only appreciate in the context of the larger African-American experience, while a white man saying the same about a black player would become an instant national pariah and risk having his house burned down.

Side note: It took me 15 minutes and visits to six web sites before I could find out exactly what it was that Harrison said.  Most sources vaguely reported that he had uttered “an expletive and a slur,” or plunged readers into a game of “Hangman” with the statement being reported as “_ _ _ _ that _ _ _ _ _ _.” The Washington Post settled on “[Expletive] that [N-word].” Which expletive??? This is ridiculous, and as inexcusably bad journalism as refusing to show the Charlie Hebdo cartoons that caused the Paris massacre.  The story is about what Harrison said, and it is impossible to inform readers about the incident without saying exactly what was said.

 

 

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Filed under Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Etiquette and manners, Race, Sports