The Worst Timing Of Unethical Conduct Ever? African-American Mom Asks White Police Officer To Abuse Her Son

Fake Arrest

The African-American community needs to get its objectives and messages straight…quickly. That is, it needs to do this if it really knows what its objectives and intended messages are. This story should make everyone, including them wonder.

In  Columbus, Georgia, Chiquita Hill’s  10-year-old son, Sean,  was disrespectful to his teacher and repeatedly defiant in class. Sean’s mother was beside herself, and as I just heard her explain on HLN, was worried about what the child might be like when he reached puberty. Thus she devised the brilliant idea (yes, many people—cretins, but still—are saying that on social media) of “scaring her son straight” by calling 911 and having a police officer pretend to arrest him and take him to jail. Let me repeat that: there are people on social media saying this was a good idea.Many of these people have children themselves. Think about it.

Hill said her son didn’t believe she had called the cops on him—for the crime of talking back to his teacher— until Columbus police officers showed up at the door and put him in handcuffs, put him in the patrol car and pretended to take him to jail.  “It happened so quick he didn’t know what to do,” she told the media. “I don’t know what they said to him but he came running down the hill, gave me a big hug said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry!”

Then Chiquita posted the pictures of her son in handcuffs on Facebook, where it has gone viral and will last forever.

There is nothing ethical, civilized, justifiable, reasonable, rational or right about either the conduct of the mother, or the conduct of the police officers. In the context of speeches and protesters in Baltimore and elsewhere  proclaiming angrily that the police forces of  the United States are racist and determined to exterminate black males, the episode is also hypocritical on the part of both the police and the mother, while intentionally seeding the racial distrust both police and African Americans are supposed to be working together to defuse, not working together to create.

I assume that readers here have functioning ethics alarms so let’s do this as a game, shall we? Before you read further—no cheating now, this is an ethics blog–vote on how many ways this episode involved wrongful conduct. Then see how close you came by finishing the post.

Did you vote?

OK, here’s the tally:

1. This is child abuse by the mother.

2. It is also proof of parental incompetence.

3. The mother misused 911, a crime.

4. The mother lied to her son, quite apart from cruelly abusing him.

5. Naturally, there is no father in evidence. A mother this inept at parenting has no business being a mother, much less being a single mother.

6. When her son, who now may develop a lifelong distrust of police having been falsely arrested and abused by them as a 10-year-old, runs from cops when he is stopped for questioning or because he has a broken tail light and ends up shot to death because the officer is Michael Slager, Chiquita will be on the front lines, screaming about how police exceed their authority and target young black men. Her contribution to this deadly social concoction will be out of sight, mind, and media attention.

7. The police engaged in a false arrest. That is illegal, and another citizen, even a mother, cannot authorize it. (They should be disciplined. I’d fire them.)

8. The police abused the child. That is illegal, and another citizen, even a stupid, incompetent mother, cannot authorize it.

9. The police were not engaged in legitimate police activity, and wasting taxpayer money while other, legitimate duties languished. Fake arrests and child abuse are not part of their job responsibilities.

10. Child discipline is also not a task that can or should be delegated to police. As much as some citizens seem to think so, the government does not have a responsibility to do everything for you, like raising their children.

11. I see that a white officer is the one cuffing the kid. That’s the way to encourage racial trust, guys! Boy, some cops are stupid. Ethics chess, you fools, ethics chess! If you can’t see how that photo, which creative, caring Mom has posted on social media, and heaven knows who else with heaven knows what motives will appropriate for their own purposes, will come back to haunt you, your profession and, oh, let’s go for it and say the white race, you are too mentally and ethically challenged to be off a leash, much to less carry a gun.

12.  Parents posting photos of their children in a state of panic and distress is cruel, a violation of their privacy, and irresponsible. Sean will be dealing with that photo the rest of his life. I wonder how many jobs he’ll lose when potential employers seeing him being arrested as a pre-teen?

13. HLN and some other outlets are covering this as a light-hearted oddity, and quizzing viewers about whether they support the mother or not. This is irresponsible journalism, demonstrating the ethics vacuum at the heart of the profession. There is no question. This is wrong. Suggesting that it is anything else is as misleading and unethical as CNN asking the its audience if it was justifiable for someone to shoot up the Mohammed cartoon exhibition and competition in Garland, Texas.

That’s more than a dozen. I bet there are more, but the point is made, I hope. This incident was a shocking example of disgusting parenting and outrageous policing.

How did you do?

_______________________

Pointer: HLNSource and Graphic: WRBL

51 thoughts on “The Worst Timing Of Unethical Conduct Ever? African-American Mom Asks White Police Officer To Abuse Her Son

  1. She abused her son and jeopardised the trust between them to get praise from strangers on the internet. She knows morons online applaud this kind of crap so she got her ego boosted at the expense of her child. This is such an ugly, despicable trend. It makes me livid.

    • Yet, I doubt she did this for attention. She probably really thought it would help set her son right. It was just the worst wrong way should could have done so…

  2. What this mother will most likely find is that her son will be back to the same disrespectful behaviors by the end of the week. Unfortunately, the mother gave up any influence she may have had on her son by giving away her authority to the police. “Don’t make me call the police again because this time they are going to take you to jail for real” is all this mother can say when her son starts to act inappropriately again. Her son will find out pretty quickly that both his mom and the police were just bluffing in an attempt to scare him. And then hell will really break loose.

    • Yes, good point. She has exacerbated this problem tenfold, I’m sure. When he realises you can’t really be sent to gaol for backchatting a teacher what is she going to threaten him with next time?

    • “…Her son will be back to the same disrespectful behaviors by the end of the week.”

      I’ll take that bet and give you odds.

  3. Such ridiculous conduct from the Columbus, GA, police is unexpected. They are a CALEA and state accredited agency. I met several of their people at an accreditation conference in Atlanta a few years ago and was favorably impressed. I hope swift action is taken to prevent a recurrence of such unethical behavior. It certainly shows, as I have taught in police ethics classes, how easily any ethical lapse by anyone in an organization can have a ripple effect far beyond the agency and throughout a profession. Totally unacceptable.

    • Thanks, Jim…I was waiting for your assessment. It seems to me that the desire for community outreach can freeze police ethics alarms…this might have been seen as a good will gesture, but…wow. How wrong can you get.

    • I completely agree. This is a no brainer. Every cop has heard this, probably often, from a frustrated mom, “If you don’t behave this police officer is going to take you to jail.” The only response is some variation of “No, I am here to help you, not punish you, but you need to listen to your mom.”

      As well intentioned as it may be, it is unethical, unlawful and damaging.

  4. This brings me back to my school days where a “normal” school trip was to the County prison, where you would get photographed, fingerprinted, and temporarily put in a cell. I remember watching — absolutely terrified — but thankfully I wasn’t one of the ones chosen to go through that process. I seem to recall that the “bad” kids were chosen ….

    I wonder if my school still does this? I don’r remember what grade this happened in — 6th maybe?

    I DO remember my mother turning me over to a store manager for theft of a piece of candy when I was a toddler — it is one of my first memories. I think I was 3. It was traumatizing for me but my family still laughs about it.

    This is Smalltown USA 101 Jack. This woman is not an outlier and this has nothing to do with the Black community. Raising kids to be absolutely terrified of the Justice system and/or God still is considered normal parenting. Not for me.

      • Of course not. I’m merely objecting to your characterization of this behavior being limited to the Black Community. This is just Bad Parenting and it is pretty common.

        • Agree with Beth on this point: this woman was post-racial enough to trust white cops to collaborate with her on teaching the kid a lesson. You may not agree with the parenting (I don’t either), but I don’t think it’s a racial thing.

          • I don’t think Mike Brown’s shooting was a racial thing; nor Trayvon Martin’s, nor Eric Garner’s death, nor Freddie Gray’s. Reality has nothing to do with this issue. It’s all perception. The question is, will Sean hate and fear police, white police, or whites? Mom has given him a reason to.

            “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear…”

        • There was absolutely nothing in the post that suggested that the conduct was limited to the black community. It’s just an especially idiotic time for someone in the black community to do it.

  5. I’m not willing to be the contrarian here. But I will say, I don’t think it qualifies as the open and shut, no-brainer, horrific ethics violation you think it is.

    I won’t get into the merits of it now – let’s all wait a week and see what emerges – but I will note a difference of opinion.

    1. Apparently her facebook posting is getting thousands of likes. There’s a few thousand who don’t think it’s open and shut.

    2. Fox’s Boston affiliate has a piece with a man quoted as saying, “I had black cops arrest me when I was 15 and love them for it,” another commenter wrote. “I wouldn’t be who I am today. ”

    3. A&E’s 8-year running program Beyond Scared Straight takes (very young) teens to jail and has them confront – and I mean CONFRONT – yelling, swearing inmates telling them to straighten up. A few years older, yes; but also a lot more amped-up interaction. These programs have a lot of proponents.

    4. Here’s a case from 2010 where a FIVE-YEAR-OLD’s mom called her friend, a female cop, to “arrest” her son for playing with matches. Read the comments – half are in favor, half against. Hardly open and shut in the court of public opinion.

    My only point: this is not a no-brainer.

    Let’s see how it plays out…

    • It’s a no-brainer.
      1. “Scared Straight” programs are not arrests, and the kids don’t think they are actually being placed in jail. (I still think its child abuse).

      2. Those kids are not being put in the program for talking back to the teacher.

      3. Charles, I am right on the law and on police obligations. That isn’t subject to debate. Police officers cannot legally arrest or pretend to arrest someone. Ever. Without probably cause.

      4. The ends don’t justify the means. If a 15-year-old said, “My dad cut off my pinky to teach me a lesson, and I’m a better person for it today” would you similarly say pinky-amputation as parental disciple was open to debate? Because this is just as bad.

      5. Who cares whether the majority on Facebook likes her crime or not? It’s W-R-O-N-G. “Everybody does it” at its worst.

      6. And that last 2010—again, so what? That’s outrageous too. How is this a defense? Let’s defend school shootings by evoking Columbine…

      • Why does “scared straight” reach the level of child abuse? Assuming of course, there is no actual physical abuse.

        • Because traumatizing children and intentionally inflicting emotional distress on false pretenses is abusive. Handcuffing is physical abuse, false arrest is abuse, false imprisonment is abuse. All were present here.

          • The approach also empirically doesn’t work, based on the assorted research into the effectiveness of “scared straight” programs and other, similar approaches. In fact, they tend to have the *exact opposite* effect.

            This is (relatively) well-documented in the literature; see http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD002796/abstract;jsessionid=6347C63305F98277AE7BA5394359270C.f01t02 for a relatively thorough (if not terribly recent) review.

            • That’s really interesting data! A quote from the study you cite here:

              “Main results: The analysis show the intervention [scared straight types of programs] to be more harmful than doing nothing.”

              I would not have known that; thank you.

              • It’s a longstanding issue in the social sciences (and not just with “Scared Straight” programs). The most interesting data on the general subject, I think, comes from McCord’s followup on the Cambridge-Somerville Youth Study. The best overview of that particular saga I’ve found is in a rather dated (but still excellent) book called Non-Random Reflections on Health Services Research, specifically Chapter 6 (“Social Work: Beyond Control?”). The Nuffield Trust, which financed (or helped finance) the writing of the book, has made it available online at http://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/sites/files/nuffield/publication/non-random_reflections_on_health_service_research.pdf . The relevant chapter starts at p. 122 of the book (or p. 128 of the PDF).

                Actually, McCord’s entire career is a bit of a lesson in this (see her obituary at http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/01/nyregion/01mccord.html for a lay overview).

                For a more recent overview, I suggest either edition of Lilienfeld, Lynn, & Lohr’s Science and Pseudoscience in Clinical Psychology. Dawes’s House of Cards is also an excellent source, but is regrettably, if understandably, dated (it was published in 1996). Then again, the issue hasn’t really changed that much in the last… oh, forty tears or so? I mean, there have been developments, obviously, but the core problem remains the same…

                  • Not a problem. 🙂

                    Side-note regarding House of Cards, though: Dawes is the author, not part of the title. I apparently used an open-italics tag at the end of Science and Pseudoscience in Clinical Psychology‘s title instead of a closing tag, and thus the whole thing got italicized.

                    Good book, though, and available for cheap if you’re willing to buy a used copy. Science and Pseudoscience, on the other hand, is priced like a textbook (which kinda makes sense given that’s pretty much what it is).

  6. The African-American community needs to get its objectives and messages straight…quickly.

    Well, that is going to be a problem. Since the only qualification for inclusion in the black community is to be born black, and there is no process for drumming someone out, there is always going to be a very wide range of thought within that community. As this is a news item, I think it indicates that it is not a common occurrence, though I have heard of parents calling the police in to talk to (scare) kids before.

    I sympathize with the mother, though she has taken the wrong approach. For the truly defiant child, her hands are rather tied by the state. And I think as a consequence, the state will probably be in charge of that child, sooner rather than later.

    • I wondered about that part.

      The black community can’t claim monolithic interests and positions one minute and a 180 degree different argument the next. Does it hate and fear cops, or trust them? Are the police allies, or foes? Do they want only black cops policing blacks, or not? Is police abuse of young black men, or is it acceptable? If police can’t be trusted, why is a black mother allowing a cop to handcuff her innocent son and put him in the squad car. You don’t see inconsistency there?

      What I see is “we’re going to make this up as we go along, so pay attention, or else.”

      • The “black community” isn’t.

        It’s same as the “white community,” a whole diverse set of perspectives.

      • The black community can’t claim monolithic interests and positions one minute and a 180 degree different argument the next. Does it hate and fear cops, or trust them? Are the police allies, or foes? Do they want only black cops policing blacks, or not? Is police abuse of young black men, or is it acceptable? If police can’t be trusted, why is a black mother allowing a cop to handcuff her innocent son and put him in the squad car. You don’t see inconsistency there?

        Black people are individuals, not a monolith. While there may be a majority (or even supermajority) of thought on any given subject, just like in the white community, since black people are individuals, there will always be people who do not agree. I think that the point should be rather obvious, but it seems that this needs to be spelled out.

        There is no inconsistency. This individual mother may not believe that cops abuse black people, or she indeed may believe it, yet also believe that the alternative, her son getting kicked out of school, and becoming another statistic on the school to prison pipeline, is worse. I have no idea. But the point is that she no more represents the “black community” any more than a white person, chosen at random from the millions in this country, represents the “white community.” You would have to show a lot more statistical evidence than what I’ve seen to indicate that her actions represents prevailing black culture, rather than an isolated outlier.

        • When all individual incidents are thrown onto a canvas of a national culture and narrative, however, the fact of individuality is obliterated by the perception of culture. That’s why what you say is true, but also why this was ridiculously timed. The news cycle, internet and the social media makes every act more than local, creating a distorted picture that drives attitudes and policy. This morning, for example, I read a column somewhere today pointing out that Baltimore has one of the most successful and affluent black communities in the country. Is that the impression you’ve been given by the demonstrations in that city? The income disparity isn’t just between whites and black, but between blacks and blacks.

          Meanwhile, activists are making the assertion that all police forces are the same, and that the death of a black man in South Carolina stems from the same attitudes as the death of black man in Maryland. That’s also wrong.

  7. “Everyone does it” is indeed not a defense against a moral wrong. We’re agreed on that – no question.

    But “everyone does it” is absolutely a logical counter-example to the claim that a particular moral wrong is “obvious, no-brainer, etc.”

    If it WERE an obvious no-brainer, then why is it NOT obvious to significant chunks of people? And don’t tell me “because they’re all morally blind idiots,” that’s the worst form of moral argumentation (“because I said so, and I know better.”)

    I did not suggest the 2010 video was a “defense,” I said the comments were split – my point, again, was it was NOT a “no-brainer.”

    And I don’t know anyone who “defends” school shootings by evoking Columbine – that one IS a no-brainer, and the evidence is that no one disagrees with you (including me).

    I guess the question is: How can something be a “no-brainer” if half the brains disagree with you?

    • “If it WERE an obvious no-brainer, then why is it NOT obvious to significant chunks of people?”

      Easy: because a significant chunk of people have no brains, and certainly no ethics skills.

      I’m amazed you’d ask the question. A significant chunk believe in ghosts, ESP and demons. A significant chunk doesn’t believe in evolution. 40% of the public thinks “honest” describes Hillary Clinton! Ignorance is epidemic.

      • And you are digging yourself an uncharacteristic intellectual hole:
        “How can something be a “no-brainer” if half the brains disagree with you?”

        Would that apply to a resident of Nazi Germany who felt that genocide was monstrous and intolerable?
        Would that apply to a slavery opponent in, say, 1840, or someone who knew there were no witches in 1692 Salem? Just because a terrible, unsupportable, dangerous and epically stupid idea is popular doesn’t mean that it isn’t terrible, unsupportable, dangerous and epically stupid. Those who see the light can legitimately say “you’re missing something, and if you weren’t missing it, it would be obvious to you, too.” Emotion, bias, self interest, among other things, renders brains inoperable.

        • I’ll bet you if you’d done a poll of Germans in 1942 about whether genocide was “monstrous and intolerable,” you’d have had near unanimity that it was exactly those things. An unwillingness to face reality is not the same thing as disbelief in an ethical system.

          There were hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of slavery opponents in 1840, and not only in the North either – it was actively contested, including at the highest electoral levels.

          I don’t know about witches in Salem, but it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that many people had misgivings.

          The presence of evil doesn’t mean no one thought it evil – sometimes it just means we had cowed, cowardly, self-absorbed populations who didn’t have the moral courage to be outraged.

  8. I am sick of the schools using police and the courts to solve discipline problems in children. I know this wasn’t really an arrest, but at many schools, teachers have the campus resource officer write students disorderly conduct tickets for such behavior.

    I think the parents, police, teachers, school administrators, and the courts have lost sight that these are CHILDREN. When children get into a fight, it should not be treated as a felony assault case. When teenagers are mildly inappropriate, it shouldn’t be considered sexual harassment or assault. When children get out of line, it shouldn’t be treated as a disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace incident. Children are not capable of following the rules like adults are. That is why we have the dichotomy of children and adults.

    Parents and schools have stopped disciplining children because it is hard, thankless work. They are just too lazy or cowardly to do it, so they pawn it off on the police and the courts. There is no reason 6th grade locker searches should be done by police. There is no real reason to have police in the schools at all. They weren’t there when I was in school, and violent crime rates including school shootings were much higher then. Adults now worry about being ‘cool’ and ‘liked’ by kids. If they just concentrated on being parents and teachers, we wouldn’t have parents calling police to do stuff like this, you aren’t their friend, stop acting like you are.

    This post was a close call. I remember parents that would tell the police to hold their child overnight as a warning and I think that was good parenting. In those cases, however, the children were legitimately picked up by the police for wrongdoing. The police were willing to release the children to the parents with a warning (when they could have been charged), but they were afraid that it would send the message that the parents could and would get the kids out of any legal problem painlessly. The parents thought a little pain was in order. In this case, a parent and a teacher are incapable of getting a 10 year old to behave. That shows a lack of skill and resolve on the part of both.

    • That’s an interesting angle, Michael – two very different approaches to a somewhat similar situation; I like your way of distinguishing the two.

  9. Continuing that (very interesting) line of thought:

    If belief in evolution, ghosts etc. correlates strongly with ignorance about science – taught mainly in schools – then what is the correlate for moral ignorance? Must we be “educated” to have valid moral beliefs?

    It’s my experience that when you hear people say “because it’s just wrong, plain and simple,” you’re NOT talking about people with any formal moral education. You’re talking about people with strong groundings in shared community values, whether it’s small town, or strong religious communities, or cohesive neighborhoods, or homogeneous countries.

    This has very little to do with “brains.” (In fact, many of the people who agree with YOU on this issue also believe in ghosts, etc).

    I’m with David Hume on this one: not all moral sentiments are, or can be, grounded in rigorous cognitive brain-based argument. In fact, Hume would argue none of it is. It’s rooted in deep social beliefs, translated into deeply held personal beliefs. The brain is the captive of the passions, or something like that, he said.

    Which is all fine: until, that is, one set of deeply-held beliefs begins to insist that its and only its point of view is self-evident, a no-brainer, etc. And then, we get problems…

    I go back to square one: if half the people think A and half the people think B, then you only thing you can say for sure is that neither A nor B are self-evident.

    • Morality? I truly hope this case has nothing to do with morality and everything to do with both ethics and legality. Enough arguments have been had here to reinforce some distinction between the three.

      • Null, legal’s not much in debate here; but how do you see the ethics vs morals issue here? (I have to confess ignorance; I know it’s a subject much written about, and I am guilty of nonetheless mixing them up on occasion).

    • Morality just confuses the issue. This is law and ethics. In the case of the cop, the mother and the child, following the law alone—which requires knowing it, an ethical duty (citzenship, competence)—would prevent the incident all by itself. That which a cop cannot do—arrest without cause, assault and battery (using the cuffs), harm (inflicting emotional distress), false imprisonment, a tort (by taking the child in the car against his will)—cannot be consented to by a parent. She couldn’t give the cops permission to strike or shoot him, either. The cops abused their power and discretion, and they also should have known that. Anyone who says they agree with the mother and police can only do so out of legal ignorance, which is an unethical state for any citizen and obviously the police. By that analysis, the cops are the main culprits, since they could have short-cicuited the episode by simply saying, “No. We can’t do that ma’am, for many reasons.”

      I agree that too many Americans (and NFL fans) don’t recognize child abuse, or understand why it’s wrong to put children’s photos in embarrassing situations on the web. or realize that the police aren’t their own private grievance force, or that you don’t call 911 to report your kid for being rude in school. That’s tragic, but it can’t be justified, only, as you sagely pointed out in another thread, explained.

  10. So, should a cop have just shown up instead at the boy’s classroom door, interrupted the class (but with teacher’s prior knowledge that this was going to happen), and given a short, stern speech (at the kids’ level) about “disturbing the peace,” and about how the police “take care of” people who do that, no matter how young they are or where they’re doing the disturbing…while waving his handcuffs menacingly and glaring threateningly at the boy and maybe a couple other “trouble kids?” Are there programs like that? I mean, sort of proactive, scare-them-straight events?

    It’s been awhile since I have had a discussion with a teacher about this. But I sure do hope they have, someplace in their classroom or on their persons, a button to push to summon help and send out a distress alarm, like bank tellers have. I didn’t have such when I did some teaching (but at the lower elementary level, mostly, and in a fairly nice neighborhood, over 20 years ago), but it sure would have helped to put me more at ease, even if I was (evidently, luckily) big and scary and stern enough to any potential bad boys to deter them from being bad.

    I apologize, if what I am talking about above has been covered in the comments. I skimmed them more quickly than I usually skim.

  11. I see this incident in a different light. I have a sense it is because I do not live in the US and that I live in a place where, generally speaking, civil authority does not have at all the reach as does civil authority in the US.

    Colombia is making efforts to extend the reach of civil authority, and those billions of dollars given by the US exactly for that purpose (strengthening the weak state and giving it means to extend authority) are having effect. One sees much more evidence of presence of police, soldiers, etc.

    But still, and specifically where I live, there is NO police authority or presence in any way comparable to the intense level of police presence and activity as in the US. I have seen numerous incidents—for example an argument in traffic leading to someone pulling out and wielding a machete—that would have escalated to a Swat team’s appearance, helicopters circling, all sorts of drama, and certainly an arrest, confiscation of vehicles, etc. But instead a policeman, always very young, intervenes and mediates some immediate justice which in the one case I witnessed was to tell one party he has to pay for some small damage the other party had done. It was solved with 15,000 pesos changing hands ($6.00) I was of course scandalised by this and couldn’t believe how lax it was taken. Brandishing a weapon, obstructing an intersection, threatening. In the US this would have led to some years of legal troubles for the accused.

    Then I read some accounts from London written 150 years ago. At that time, on the streets there was a good deal of insecurity. But there was a debate about how to deal with it and some argued that increasing police power and the extension of civil authority was not the answer. The argument was that, yes, ok, every once in a while someone will get stabbed or robbed, but what will be lost when civil authority has been handed over far too much civil authority.

    It made me reanalyse the overall situation. There is an advantage in being able to make a call and summon the full weight of the police state, to set vehicles, helicopters and weapons in motion to oppose an evil. But on the other hand something is lost, too. People no longer have to deal with each other and work out their problems. All power is handed over to the state. I noticed this very often when I did live in the states. It seemed rather crazy.

    In a far simpler and a semi-rural world—say the US 50-80 years ago—it would have been a normal thing to have colluded with a friendly policeman to give a scare to a rebellious youngster. In a small, more closely-knit community a mini-moral lesson would have been enacted, a sort of civic theatre with a moral lesson. And in fact this did happen in a semi-rural place and based only on the photo of the mother and her boy (stronger evidence if taken after-the-fact) (http://www.wrbl.com/story/28947158/columbus-mom-has-10-year-old-son-arrested) I see next to no malice, meanness, cruelty or dysfunction there.

    On one level the mother of this child had his best interests in mind. I don’t think she could be said to have done this to achieve sociopathic pleasure.

    Therefor, and not only to be difficult and to take a contrary stance, I would say that how one related and interprets this event, and how one assigns ethical valuation, is very much dependent not on an abstract universal but in something far more intimate and location-specific.

    I would turn the mirror around, in fact, and ask In what sort of a world do we live when tremendous power is given over to the state to arbitrate so many areas of our relationships. I could say more on the theme but of course ( :::blushes:::) my posts are too long as it is.

    • I think this is astute and valid, and was the analysis I would have made had the episode not been so full of black and white ethics breaches. The law literally prevents us from getting to this point. It does speak both to a tendency to look to the state for solutions to private problems, and it also refers us back to an earlier time when such casual, community involvement with the friendly cop on the beat was part of American life that nobody saw as sinister, because it wasn’t. But we have been told that police have it in for young black men, so the latter is impossible: that ship has sailed. And the former is sinister already.

      So in part I took the easier path, as both participants should have. You just can’t and shouldn’t do this, for more than a dozen reasons where one would be enough.

  12. “…how one relates [to] and interprets this event, and how one assigns ethical valuation, is very much dependent not on an abstract universal but in something far more intimate and location-specific.”

    That, it seems to me, is the no-brainer.

    It doesn’t lessen the morality of the view to say it isn’t universal; it just recognizes that some moral rules are anchored in place, time and custom.

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