The headline says it all:
North Kansas City School District apologizes for taking away blind child’s cane
Well, maybe not all…
Eight-year-old Dakota Nafzinger, born blind, attends Gracemor Elementary School in Kansas City, Missouri.* Like many blind Americans, he uses a white cane to maneuver himself through life.
The school staff decided that the boy’s misbehavior on a school bus warranted punishment, so they took away his cane and
GAVE HIM A SWIMMING POOL NOODLE TO USE AS A SUBSTITUTE !!!!!!!!!!!!!
North Kansas City School District Spokeswoman Michelle Cronk explained that the staff was withing its rights to take away his cane, since it was given to him when he enrolled and thus it was school property. She might as well have said that the kid should feel lucky they gave him one of those neon colored floating pool noodles to use instead, rather than, say, a garden hose or a live anaconda. The cane was taken away because the child reportedly hit someone with it. I suppose if his seeing eye dog had bitten someone, they would have taken the dog away, shot it, and replaced it with a guinea pig or a stuffed animal. Continue reading
Hello, my name is Skug, and I’ll be your torturer today. Now, if you are innocent, please understand, on balance this works.
“I’m more concerned with bad guys who got out and released than I am with a few that, in fact, were innocent.”
—Former V.P. Dick Cheney, giving his reactions on “Meet the Press” regarding the Senate’s critique of the Bush Administration and the CIA’s interrogation methods.
I try to be fair to Dick Cheney, whose character has been distorted beyond all recognition by his partisan foes. Sunday, however, he was apparently attempting to validate all the most terrible things anyone has said about him, as well as providing future students of ethics real life examples of ethical fallacies.
The one quoted above is the pip: so much for the jurisprudential principle that “It is better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer.” Chuck Todd reminded Cheney that 25% of those detained were apparently innocent. The Cheney variation: “It is OK if some innocent persons are unjustly punished as long as the bad guys get what they deserve.”
It is hard to pick the most unethical assertion, however; there are so many horrible statements to choose from. Such as: Continue reading
While other Republicans are attacking the Senate report on torture as a political hit piece by Democrats—which, in part, it is, but that doesn’t diminish its significance—the one Senator who has experienced torture is supporting the report’s conclusions and criticism, saying…
I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners will produce more bad than good. Most of all, I know the use of torture compromises that which most distinguished us from our enemies.”
My position on this topic is unchanged from what I wrote in 2006, which you can read here.
There are times, not many, but a sufficient number to make my existence significantly grayer than I wish it to be, when I feel as if my professional endeavors have been in vain, and indeed, a waste of time. One such instance was the widespread defense of torture during the Bush administration. Another has been the reaction of some readers here to my post about Israel razing the homes of the families of presumed terrorists. I do not see how anyone who grasps the basic principles of ethics as they are explored and explicated on Ethics Alarms daily can pronounce such a policy as justified, justifiable, or anything other than unethical. If regular readers hear can come to a different conclusion, I am either not doing my job well, or the job itself is not worth doing.
Yesterday, Human Rights Watch called on Israel to stop razing the homes of Palestinians accused of attacking Israelis. The group called it a war crime, and I don’t like the concept of war crimes generally. The New York based organization’s argument, however, is irrefutable:
“Israel should impose an immediate moratorium on its policy of demolishing the family homes of Palestinians suspected of carrying out attacks on Israelis. The policy, which Israeli officials claim is a deterrent, deliberately and unlawfully punishes people not accused of any wrongdoing. When carried out in occupied territory, including east Jerusalem, it amounts to collective punishment, a war crime.”
Putting the war crime label aside, it is wrong enough that the act punishes those who have done nothing wrong other than be associated with a wrongdoer. There is no ethical system under which such an act is ethically defensible. It is an abuse of power. It fails any standard of Kantian ethics, using human beings as a means to an end, and proposing a standard that would, if universally adopted, send civilization into barbarism. It even fails extreme utilitarian ethics, for this means doesn’t even achieve a desirable end. The Israeli army believes that the razings do nothing to stem terrorist attacks, and there is no way that contention can be disproved. It is simply Old Testament justice of the most irrational and brutal kind. Continue reading
“Nothing personal, you understand. It’s just your dead son we’re angry at.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had vowed a harsh response to the recent terrorist attack on a synagogue in Israel by two Palestinians wielding meat cleavers and a pistol. Four rabbis and a policeman were killed in the attack. What does he consider “harsh”?
“I have ordered the destruction of the homes of the Palestinians who carried out this massacre and to speed up the demolitions of those who carried out previous attacks,” Netanyahu said.
Yeah, I’d call that harsh.
Hours after his announcement, Israeli forces razed the east Jerusalem apartment belonging to the parents of another terrorist youth, Abdelrahman Shaludi, who intentionally rammed his car into a crowd of pedestrians on October 22, killing a young woman and a baby. Shaludi was shot by police at the scene and later died.
There is no indication that Shaludi’s parents were complicit in the attack, except for, I suppose, spawning him.
Israel seems to think that’s justification enough.It had used house demolitions as draconian retaliation for years in the West Bank but ended the policy in 2005 after the army decided that the tactic had no apparent deterrent effect and made violence more likely rather than less. Hmmm…I wonder where the fact that the tactic is just indefensibly wrong figured in that calculation? It obviously isn’t on Israel’s ethical radar now, as the government has reinstituted the indefensible measure.
The Netanyahu government, says commentators, feels that it must show the Israeli public that it is punishing its enemies. But human rights groups are again condemning the practice, arguing that this is unjust collective punishment targeting not the perpetrators but their innocent families…which is exactly what it is. Continue reading
To take this quiz, you have to go to Netflix and watch “God Bless America,” a 2011 black comedy, written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwaite, that is a strange hybrid of “Network,” “Falling Down” and “Harold and Maude.” Unless, of course, yo9u have already seen it. (For a hint regarding its content and thrust, check the tags, as well as the clip above.)
And your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz question is...
Is this an ethical movie?
You might also want to read this related post, from The Ethics Scoreboard in 2004.