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