I know we just had an Ethics Quiz, but this is too good to pass up.
San Francisco police officer Gared Hansen has filed a lawsuit against the city. He says he was unfairly suspended because in his non-uniformed down-time, he is an artist with an unusual passion. He photographs nearly-naked women dressed, made-up, or painted to evoke mythical creatures. You know, like this:
..or, if you prefer, this:
So here is your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz for this Sunday:
Is such a hobby engaged in by one of its number sufficiently damaging to the credibility, dignity and image of the SF police force that it is reasonable for the officer to be disciplined? In short, should there be a corollary to “The Naked Teacher Principle” called the “Cop Who Paints Weird Naked Women Principle”?
I am very confident of my answer, which is “Absolutely not!” This is art, beyond any question. If this is pornography, Reubens paintings are pornography, and Reubens was no pornographer. Yes, the photos are kinky; yes, they are bizarre (though not terribly); sure, some people under the age of 90 might be offended by them. So what? Punishing Hansen is an abuse of power, enforcing conformity where it doesn’t belong, and disrespectful of his autonomy as a citizen, employee and human being. The police department has no right to dictate the off-duty artistic pursuits of its officers unless such art somehow legitimately undermined the public trust of interfered with the officer’s ability to do his job. How could Hansen’s photography possibly do either?
It can’t. Gared is the victim here.
A “Cop Who Paints Weird Naked Women Principle”?
Facts and Graphics: Daily Mail
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