[ Again I am awash in Comments of the Day. There’s no question about it: the comments here are getting better, and more commenters are participating. There are also more comments being made to posts than ever before. 2017, despite a 10% drop in traffic from 2016, set a record for comments. This blog was always designed to be an interactive online colloquy on ethics. More views, links and shares would be nice, but I’ll take more and better comments over volume any day. You all are doing a terrific job. I may have to make “Comment of the Day” a daily rather than an occasional feature. That would be progress.]
The latest Ethics Quiz was about this week’s “NCIS” episode in which the federal agency’s director got all misty eyed and proud to learn that his daughter had accepted the blame (and the charges) for her friend’s shoplifting because her friend was 18 (and a habitual shoplifter) and the offense would end her dream of college. Ethics Alarms readers were asked whether this was a responsible ethics message for Mark Harmon’s long-running procedural to send, especially to any children watching.
The quiz attracted uniformly excellent responses (my take is here).
Here is Greg’s Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Quiz: “NCIS” Ethics:
I would say that the daughter acted foolishly and the father acted unethically.
The father has a duty to teach and protect his children, which he utterly failed to fulfill in this case. His daughter is showing disastrously poor judgment, placing her future seriously at risk, and he needed to set her straight. He should have lectured her on the enduring truth of the adage, “Lie down with dogs, rise up with fleas.” She should not be spending any time at all with an incorrigible thief. This other girl is big trouble. She has already gotten the daughter arrested once and if the daughter continues to hang out with her, the odds are high that she will do it again. The lesson that the daughter should have learned from this incident is that she needs to shun the company of this supposed friend. Instead, the incident has bound them together even more closely.
The father should have explained all of this. He should also have made his daughter understand that this other girl is utterly untrustworthy and not a true friend at all. Whose idea was it that the daughter should take the fall for this crime? The daughter’s or the other girl’s? No decent person would allow a friend to take the fall for a crime, much less ask her to do so. The shoplifter Is a liar and manipulator, like all inveterate criminals and addicts. The daughter needs to learn to recognize these traits and to avoid people who exhibit them. In her innocence and immaturity, the daughter is unaware of the danger. It was absolutely imperative for the father to make her understand it, for her own protection, but instead he smiled approvingly and encouraged her to continue a foolish and self-destructive connection with an immoral and dangerous person.
To those commenters who suggest that the thief would benefit in the long run from being forced to suffer the consequences of her latest theft, I say, “Who cares?” Maybe she would and maybe she wouldn’t. She’s already been caught and punished several times, and she continues to steal. Criminals and addicts often need to take many hard blows over a period of many years before they learn that they need to change. Many of them never learn. They just keep falling without ever hitting bottom and starting to climb back up. None of that is the father’s concern. His obligation is to try to save his daughter from being dragged down, too.