Remember this post about the woman who called the cops on a bird-watcher who told her to leash her dog?
At the end of May, right before a vicious Minneapolis cop (but not necessarily a racist one) knelt on Georg Floyd’s neck and set off a series of events that are too insane and serious to describe in a long introductory clause, the pundits and social media were buzzing about Cooper vs Cooper, the confrontation in Central Park that prompted Amy Cooper to dial 911 and say that “an African American man” was threatening her life. Christian Cooper, the black bird-watcher, videoed the whole exchange, posted it, and Amy was quickly relegated to Cancelled For Racism Hell, losing her dog, her job, and maybe getting banned from Central Park.
I assumed that Amy’s public shaming had been truncated by the George Floyd Freakout, but no: yesterday we learned that New York City District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has charged her with falsely reporting the confrontation, a misdemeanor. She was ordered to appear in court on Oct. 14.
No doubt, the charge is justified. It was a false report. It was not a report that threatened the other Cooper with imminent death by cop, as he suggested to Don Lemon on CNN, unless he was planning on grabbing a cop’s taser and trying to shoot him with it or something crazy like that, just to name a wild hypothetical.
Still, the timing is troubling. Now that White Lives Don’t Matter and any offense to African Americans is considered a perpetuation of institutional racism, Vance decided that a prosecution was in order when all indications had been that the matter was considered closed.
As we have discussed, “she’s suffered enough” is not favored on Ethics Alarms as a rationalization for not enforcing the law. However, seeking to curry favor with the predominant zeitgeist is also an unethical justification for piling on. Nobody was harmed in this ugly but ultimately minor episode. Both parties contributed to its escalation. To me, Vance’s sudden interest in making sure his constituents know he threw the book at that racist white lady reeks of grandstanding and virtue-signaling, as well as cruelty.
Moreover, I’d say Amy Cooper has not merely suffered enough for her outburst of white arrogance and her abuse of 911. In losing her job, her dog and her reputation as a trivial dispute in the park was blown up into a national outrage, she has already suffered too much.
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…