This is a Nation’s Capital, drama my friends…an ugly ethics mess, in
Eating on a Metro train is a criminal violation in Washington, D.C., but the transit authority seems to think that enforcing laws is icky, or something, so Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik sent out an order on May 8, telling officers to “cease and desist from issuing criminal citations in the District of Columbia for fare evasion; eating; drinking; spitting, and playing musical instruments without headphones until further advised.”
Telling officers not to enforce laws is per se incompetent and irresponsible. If you want to repeal the law, fine. An unenforced law, however, is an invitation to chaos. If the directive to ignore it is secret, then the public that sees scofflaws unimpeded assumes that law enforcement isn’t doing its job. If the public knows that the law won’t be enforced as a policy, then it will begin engaging in the conduct the law was made to prevent.
This is idiotic.
Local author Natasha Tynes saw a Metro employee eating on a train, and reported the woman to transit officials by tweeting a photo of the woman, in uniform, eating on the Red Line. She also tweeted that when she confronted the woman for breaking Metro rules, the woman replied, “Worry about yourself.” “When you’re on your morning commute & see @wmata employee in UNIFORM eating on the train,” Tynes tweeted. “I thought we were not allowed to eat on the train. This is unacceptable.”
She’s right. It’s unacceptable. Telling Metro officials that they should not ticket violators of the law does not mean that Metro employees are free to violate the law. This is a predictable result of Pavlik’s unethical order. Tynes, however, was engaging in responsible citizenship.
In response to the tweet, the head of the MTA workers’ union stated that the employee had “done nothing wrong.”
This is ethics ignorance. There is a law against what the worker did, and the fact that violations (stupidly) weren’t being enforced doesn’t alter the wrongness of the conduct one iota. This is Ethics 101. Teach ethics in school!
Responding to Tynes’s tweet, transit officials asked her for more information and thanked her “for catching this and helping us make sure all Metro employees are held accountable.” Tynes provided further details, including the time, the train the employee was traveling on and direction that it was headed.
This was the correct and ethical response by both parties.
The Twitter mobs attacked, condemning Tynes for publicly shaming a black woman and trying to get her fired. This was even worse, she was lectured, because she was “of color” herself. Tynes apologized, saying she was “truly sorry” for the tweet, which she deleted. By early the next morning, her Twitter account had also been set to private and her website was down.
Ugh. The Twitter mob was wrong, as it often is. Race should have nothing to do with this. Black, white or mauve, the employee should have been pointed out exactly as Tynes did. The concept that “persons of color” should enable wrongful conduct by other “persons of color” is societal rot, unethical and indefensible.
Tynes’ grovelling to the bullying mob is also unethical. If you can’t stand up for society, law and civilization when you get pushback from the fools and barbarians, then shut up and let someone with a spine do the job.
This is another example where Nathan Brittles (John Wayne) and Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harman) are right when they say “Never apologize, it’s a sign of weakness.” (Much of the time they are wrong, though.) Her apology undermines society, represents capitulating to bad ethics and bad logic, is cowardly, and encourages these cyber-thugs to keep up their reign of terror.
And now the worst of all…
Rare Birds Books, the company that was going to distribute her book, announced
“[Tynes] did something truly horrible today in tweeting a picture of a metro worker eating her breakfast on the train this morning and drawing attention to her employer. Black women face a constant barrage of this kind of inappropriate behavior directed toward them and a constant policing of their bodies. We think this is unacceptable and have no desire to be involved with anyone who thinks it’s acceptable to jeopardize a person’s safety and employment in this way.”
There’s a nice warped argument for you: telling black women that they can’t break laws and rules is “policing their bodies.” One can only assume that the publishing company has no problem with requiring white Metro employees not to break their own rules, but believes special waivers are in order when one’s skin is darker. Meanwhile, civic responsibility is “something horrible.”
Next, the company that was publishing her latest book, “California Coldblood,” announced that it is postponing publication considering what to do, writing:
“We do not condone her actions and hope Natasha learns from this experience that black women feel the effects of systematic racism the most and that we have to be allies, not oppressors.”
Expecting black women to follow rules and laws is racism! Reporting black employees who flagrantly violate rules and laws, thus undermining system for all citizens, is racism! “Persons of color” must enable illegal or unethical conduct by other “Persons of color,” or they are oppressors.
(And incidentally, thank you, Barack Obama.)
I metaphorically throw up my hands. I don’t know how such toxic, destructive ideas slithered into our society, and I am at loss as to how to extract them like the societal termites and vermin they are.
I need a drink.
Facts: Washington Post