I was sent this horrifying story under the heading of “Ethics Train Wreck,” and a better description of it there could not be. It is the tale of the twin teenaged heirs to the massive Doris Duke fortune,Patrick and Georgia Inman, their miserable upbringing and the continuing instability of their lives, soon to be dominated by lawsuits and litigation. The twins have been alternately spoiled, neglected, and abused, and are desperately seeking some direction in their lives before their mega-trust funds kick in—if they can survive that long. Moreover, their existence is almost sure to get worse before it gets better, if it ever does.
Consider, for example, this ominous passage, late in the piece, referring to the plans of their inept mother, Daisha:
The kids need to figure out what comes next for them – how they can start creating a life for themselves, and connect with others. Daisha has devised what she thinks is a terrific idea for an appropriate new set of playmates: She’s working on getting the twins together with Michael Jackson’s kids, with whom she thinks they’d have tons in common. “Wouldn’t that be historic? The Jacksons and the Dukes, two of the most famous names, together?” Daisha asks. Continue reading
I’m sure PETA thinks this is fair; I’m not sure that I do.
No goldfish for you!
Tammy Brown,47, a disabled Moon Lake, Florida woman trying to make ends meet on her $508-a-month government check, argued that she was not able to afford veterinary care for Harley, her 14-year-old dog who had a painful ear infection as well as skin problems, periodic tumors, heartworms and ear mites. Because she did not get treatment for Harley, however—the fact that she tried to treat the dog’s problems with over the counter ointments wasn’t enough to mollify the judge— Brown was convicted of felony animal cruelty. She spent more than a month in jail awaiting sentencing, and then received six months of house arrest, 300 hours of community service, three years of probation, and $1,000 in court costs. Circuit Judge William Webb also commanded, “I don’t want you to own any animals. Not even a goldfish!” (Hartley had been euthanized.)
Apparently Harley’s physical condition was shockingly poor, so much so that jurors found photos hard to look at. An Animal Services officer testified that Harley couldn’t stand up without support. The prosecutor wanted Brown imprisoned.
Has society become so animal-sensitive that it has lost its priorities? Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz is this: Assuming that Harley’s lack of treatment was due to lack of resources and neglect rather than malice…
Was Tammy Brown’s sentence fair, or was it excessive and cruel? Continue reading
(This is my favorite judge picture, and I like to use it every year)
Kimberly Lightsey, 30, was being sentenced on four counts of child abuse for leaving her four children, ages 2 to 11 at the time, at a hotel while she went out to play. She had an arrangement with another mother in the hotel to watch the children, but that woman also was partying hard, it seems—so hard that she forgot what room Lightsey’s children were in. Meantime, one of Lightsey’s children, who was confined to a wheelchair, rolled out into the hallway and fell over.
Prosecutors asked for a 32-month jail sentence, but Judge Ernest Jones Jr. offered Kimberly a chance to avoid jail time. He would give her two years of house arrest and 13 years of probation, provided this aspiring Mother of the Year agreed not to have any more kids during that period.
She took the deal, but now The American Civil Liberties Union and her lawyer are wondering if the sentence is legal. My guess: it’s not, but that isn’t the issue. Let’s say this is within a judge’s power, and the sentence is legal. Your Ethics Alarms Quiz Question, the first of the new year, is this:
The tragic life of J. Paul Getty III, grandson of the late oil tycoon who long held the title “The World’s Richest Man,” is testimony to the truth that wealth is no match for a family culture devoid of ethics.
Getty III, known to his friends as Paul, died last week at the age of 54. He had been confined to a wheelchair-bound for 30 years, after a drug overdose caused a stroke that left him paralyzed, mute and mostly blind. His father, J. Paul Getty II, who had little contact with his son after divorcing his mother when Paul was a child, refused to help him with any of his inherited billions, declaring that his son had earned his misfortune with his irresponsible ways. In truth, few sons have been given more reason to doubt their self-worth based on their callous treatment by their father figures. Continue reading