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
Tag Archives: moral luck
Just months after suburban Maryland parents Danielle and Alexander Meitiv were cited by Montgomery County’s Child Protective Services for “unsubstantiated neglect” for allowing their children Rafi, 10, and Dvora, 6, to walk home from a park close to home, the defiant parents let their kids to do it again. Again, someone called 911 (anonymously), and again the children were picked up by police.
This time, the police took the Meitiv children to Child Protective Services headquarters and for some reason didn’t tell the parents, who, naturally enough, freaked out. Five and a half hours later the agitated children and frantic parents were reunited. You can read about the initial incident from the mother’s perspective here; and obviously Lenore Skanazy is in full battle array on her “Free Range Kids Blog.” Columnists everywhere are rushing to their keyboards to write columns like this one, by the Washington Post’s Petula Devorak, titled “Why Are We Criminalizing Childhood Independence?”
The ethics of this issue are more complicated than simplistic “We used to walk around freely all the time when we were kids and it was more dangerous then than now” reminiscences are equipped to explore.
Analyzing this ethics conflict (“when two or more ethical principles are in opposition”) screams out for the useful starting point for ethics analysis:
What’s going on here?
Before I answer, let’s get a couple of ethics verdicts out of the way: Continue reading
If some of your PBS watching friends are unclear on those essential ethics analysis tools, the concepts of moral luck and consequentialism, the season finale of “Downton Abbey”( which you can view here) provided a wonderful example of both in action.
Now, settle down, because this takes some table-setting: Continue reading
CBS informs us that in Wassila, Alaska, where you know who dwells, a 4-year-old boy was shot in the leg Saturday on a public sidewalkwhen his mother’s .357-caliber handgun fell out of its holster, struck the pavement on its hammer and fired.
No one has been charged, we are told.
Well, that’s cretinous, and as a society, our law enforcement has to send more responsible messages than that.
Again, as I noted here and here and here, all since the dawn of 2015, the fact that the child or an innocent bystander wasn’t killed by this reckless and stupid gunowner was pure chance, moral luck. As far as her conduct goes, there is no difference. She is the equivalent of a drunk and speeding driver. This isn’t an accident that “can happen to anyone.” This can happen to idiotic gun owners who don’t know basic gun safety and allow guns to be in the close vicinity of children. Why was her holster unfastened? Why did the gun have a bullet in the chamber? Why wasn’t she aware that what she was doing might make the gun fall? Why did she feel she had to carry a cannon of a hand-gun with her on a weekend outing to beautiful downtown Wasilla?
Charge her, prosecute her, throw her in jail, take away her gun privileges, and have child protection services investigate the home.
This has got to stop.
[But don’t call her a gun owner. She isn’t a real gun owner. Real gun owners don’t act like this. To call her a gun owner gives her dignity that she doesn’t deserve, and promotes bigotry against true gun owners, who by definition are responsible, peaceful, and observe gun safety principles at all times. If you don’t believe me, just ask the President. He understands. This is how he thinks, after all.]
This time the locale was Elmo, Missouri, and it was a five-year old pulling the trigger. The victim was a 9-month-old boy, but it’s basically the same tragic, stupid story….just like in the Idaho Walmart, where the two-year-old shot his mother, or the Albuquerque motel room where another toddler shot both of his parents, who were just lucky and lived. (They have been charged with child abuse. Good.) A gun owner negligently, recklessly, criminally leaves a firearm, loaded, where young children are and a tragedy results.
Alexis Widerholt, the mother of the children, called 911, and when emergency crews arrived they found that her the baby had been shot in the skull with a .22-caliber magnum revolver.
Somebody has to go to jail for this, maybe several people. Authorities say the gun belongs to a relative, but not the mother. If she knew the gun was in the house, she’s accountable. Anyone responsible for putting the loaded gun where a kid might find it is accountable. Charge them with manslaughter, convict them, send them away. Unless the mother didn’t know about the gun (she originally told the police it was a paint gun, either out of panic, confusion, or ignorance), she needs to lose the right to parent them, at least for a while. Continue reading
“A toddler reaching for an iPod in his mother’s purse grabbed a loaded gun instead before shooting both his parents in an Albuquerque motel room on Saturday, according to news reports. Police said the bullet hit the father in the buttock and the mother, who is eight months pregnant, in her right shoulder, but did not strike a 2-year-old child who was also in the room, according to Fox News.”
Gee, I guess Monique Villescas and John Reynolds, the lucky parents in this near tragedy, were so amused at the death of Veronica Jean Rutledge at the hands of her toddler that they just couldn’t resist trying the old “let’s leave a loaded gun where a small child can reach it” trick themselves. Or, I suppose, they might just be irresponsible fools.
1. Two of these incidents in a little more than a month ?! What are the odds that Rutledge and these boobs were the only Americans leaving loaded guns within the reach of young children? Continue reading
“I think that’s the real hypocrisy, is that people on our side, which include a lot of people who made mistakes growing up, admit their mistakes but now still want to put people in jail for that. Had he been caught at Andover, he’d have never been governor, he’d probably never have a chance to run for the presidency.”
—Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky), in reaction to Jeb Bush’s admission that he smoked marijuana heavily as a student. Bush currently opposes the legalization of medical marijuana.
Oh, great: Rand Paul is 16 years old.
The chip off the old libertarian block Ron Paul (who would legalize heroin, ecstasy, LSD, you name it) now proves that he has no idea what hypocrisy is. It is troubling: Senator Paul is an MD, and can be an articulate and powerful speaker; he can take bold strategic political steps that his Republican colleagues are too timid to try, like correctly charging Hillary Clinton with complicity in her husband’s sexual predation, but he repeatedly conveys the impression that he’s just not all that bright. This quote is a sterling example. Continue reading