Tag Archives: fairness

Legal But Not Ethical: Sex With A Demented Spouse

Rayhons

In Iowa, a jury has found longtime Iowa state lawmaker Henry Rayhons not guilty of sexually abusing his wife by having sex with her at a nursing home. A doctor had told Rayhons that she had advanced Alzheimer’s disease. and was  no longer mentally capable of consenting to sex.

At the trial, Assistant Attorney General Tyler Buller told jurors  that Donna Rayhons’ Alzheimer’s disease had worsened in the months before last May’s alleged incident of unconsented sexual intercourse by her husband. She had washed her hands in dirty toilet water, Buller said, forgotten how to eat a hamburger and thought her first husband was still alive. Dr. John Brady later testified that Donna Rayhons had severe dementia, and thus any positive reaction to her husband’s physical advances could be termed a “primal response” at best. Brady testified that Donna Rayhons’ cognitive capacity had declined dramatically in the months leading up to the alleged offense. He explained that she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s based on several tests, including  a standard cognitive procedure in which patients are asked simple questions. By  May, Brady said, Donna Rayhons scored a zero on that test, and any score below eight indicates severe impairment, he said.

On his blog, the Volokh Conspiracy, Prof. Eugene Volokh makes a valiant effort to justify, excuse, or perhaps be compassionate regarding a man having sex with his wife after she has forgotten who he is or even what sex is. He argues, Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Love

Tsarnaev’s Irrelevant Finger And The End Of Capital Punishment

dzhokhar-tsarnaev finger

I’ve stated here several times that I am in favor of the death penalty when it can be shown beyond any doubt whatsoever that an individual committed a horrific, cruel, unequivocally inexcusable murder or murders, preferably murders. One of the two Boston Marathon bombers, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving one, clearly qualifies. Unfortunately, the public, the law and the legal profession are too confused to bring integrity to capital punishment, and I think, because of that, it can never be sufficiently fair and coherent to be ethical. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

When Do Private Text Messages Between Two Individuals Justify Punishment?

text

I’d like to say “never,” except that when especially offensive private text messages become public, they aren’t private any more. As with e-mails, any time you send a text message that you know will embarrass you if it falls into malign hands or is seen by righteous eyes, you have authored the means of your potential destruction.

That’s not right, but that’s the way of the world.

Thus a Washburn University Phi Delta Theta fraternity member posted a photo of a man with a topless woman in bed as part of a fraternity text exchange following a chain of crude text messages between frat members. These were obtained by The Topeka Capital-Journal on a slow news day—Wow! Stop the presses! College guys are crude!-–and before you could say “thought control,” the national Phi Delta Theta organization suspended the Topeka campus chapter.

“We are very concerned by the messages reviewed thus far. Phi Delta Theta is a values-based organization and any behavior or statement contrary to those values is subject to significant action,” Phi Delta Theta spokesman Sean Wagner said in a statement. Naturally, the chapter president then grovelled an apology. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Education, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, The Internet

Fugitive for 39 Years Turns Himself In For Free Health Care…Wait, WHAT??

"Oh, Mr. Moore? We have that bed you made 39 years ago. Now lie on it."

“Oh, Mr. Moore? We have that bed you made 39 years ago. Now lie on it.”

From NBC:

“…Clarence David Moore, 66, called the Franklin County (Kentucky)Sheriff’s Office on Monday and said he wanted to turn himself in, the sheriff’s office said. When deputies arrived, they found Moore — who’d been living in Frankfort since 2009 and had ID’d himself as Ronnie Dickinson — partially paralyzed and unable to walk because of a recent stroke. He was arrested and taken by ambulance to a hospital for examination before he was taken to the Franklin County Regional Jail.

“Sheriff Pat Melton told NBC station WLEX of Lexington on Tuesday that Moore said he’d escaped from the Henderson County, North Carolina, Prison Unit in the mid-1970s and has been on the lam for almost four decades. But as he got sicker, he couldn’t get medical coverage to pay for the complications of his stroke and other health problems, because he doesn’t have a valid Social Security number under his alias…Moore was arraigned Tuesday morning and waived extradition to North Carolina on a charge of being a fugitive from another state. He was being held without bond pending his being returned sometime this week….”

I hate to appear uncharitable, but I don’t understand this at all.

Moore chose to defy the justice system for 39 years, and now wants to get the benefit of it on his terms, when it’s useful and convenient to him?

He chose to avoid paying his debt to society. Society certainly has no debt to him. The ethical course is for the North Carolina’s governor to pardon Moore, and allow him to fend for himself, stroke or not. For taxpayers to have to foot the bill for a felon’s health care when he has shown nothing but utter contempt for the justice system is a travesty of justice, logic and ethics. If it’s compassion at issue, take the money that would have to be spent on Moore and use it to help an elderly law-abiding citizen who can’t pay his medical bills.

Or burn it.

Does the State have some subtle ethical obligation to the fugitive that I’m missing?

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement

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

“Ick Factor” At Its Worst: No, The Bystander Who Took The Video Of Walter Scott’s Shooting Isn’t “Cashing In”

Q. "Oh, ICK! Why would you take money for THAT?" A. Because it's valuable, they want it, and I own it, you idiot.

Q. “Oh, ICK! Why would you take money for THAT?”
A. Because it’s valuable, they want it, and I own it, you idiot.

Slate Magazine’s Josh Voorhees seems to think there is something unseemly about Feidin Santana, the bystander who recorded the film on his smartphone showing North Charleston police officer Michael T. Slager shooting and killing Walter Scott on April 4, seeking payment from news outlets who use his video.

In an article revealing that Santana’s lawyers are making the case that he is entitled to compensation, Voorhees writes, “While it may seem opportunistic to try to make money off a video of someone’s death…” and later,

“Regardless of how you feel about Santana trying to cash in, if nothing else it provides another incentive—albeit a less noble one—for bystanders to whip out their phones and start filming when they see a police confrontation.”

Let me be uncharacteristically blunt: anyone who sees anything unethical, unseemly, ignoble or opportunistic about Santana seeking fair payment for his property when it is being used by news outlets all over the country as if the video was shot by their own employees is either… Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Dunces, Journalism & Media, Rights

Once Again, We Are Reminded That Beauty Is Only Skin Deep. Do ESPN Viewers Care? Should They?

Let me tell you, it's quite a shock when Britt's head spins around and that forked tongue starts flecking...

Let me tell you, it’s quite a shock when Britt’s head spins around and that forked tongue starts flecking…

Anyone who spends much time watching TV knows that “lookism” is the way of the world in the broadcast news business. From Nora O’Donnell on ABC to Robin Meade on HLN to Erin Andrews and the bevy of Fox blondes, it is obvious that if you are female, talent as a reporter won’t get you as far as some beauty contest creds. Plain, even conventionally pretty women are  at a great competitive disadvantage in this field.

One of the more blatant beneficiaries of this bias, ESPN’s Brit McHenry, has just been outed on the web as an ugly human being in a flashy disguise. Her car was towed, and a camera caught the reporter taking out her frustration on the poor clerk who was tasked with collecting her fee.

“I’m in the news, sweetheart, I will fucking sue this place,” McHenry says as the video opens.“Yep, that’s all you care about, is just taking people’s money,” she continues. “With no education, no skillset, just wanted to clarify that. … Do you feel good about your job? So I could be a college dropout and do the same thing? Why, cause I have a brain and you don’t?…Maybe if I was missing some teeth they would hire me, huh? ‘Cause they look so stunning … ‘Cause I’m on television and you’re in a fucking trailer, honey.”

“Lose some weight, baby girl,” she taunted as she left.

Yecchh. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Workplace