Comment Of The Day: “Ethics And The Death Of Jordan Neely”

There are strong indications that the race-hucksters are revving up to make Jordan Neely the next George Floyd in time to re-charge the batteries of racial distrust in time for the 2024 Presidential campaign, so further attention must be paid. This is true, unfortunately, before the investigation of the tragic incident has been completed. The Federalist warns that the death of the black homeless man at the hands of a white former Marine attempting to protect fellow passengers is being primed for exploitation:

Penny’s fate will, as Peachy Keenan wrote in The Federalist, be a test of whether young American men should dare to act courageously when others are in peril. But there’s even more at stake in this case. With Neely being anointed as the new George Floyd, the questions of whether Penny was right to restrain Neely or if he used inappropriate force to do so are merely sidebars to a broader narrative about American racism. Floyd’s death became a metaphor for a myth about systemic police racism. Floyd’s actions the night of his death, his criminal record, and the fact that his body was full of what might have been a lethal dose of fentanyl were dismissed as irrelevant. The only thing that mattered was that he was a black man and that the cop who had, in an act of undoubted callous brutality, snuffed out his life was white. In the name of a belief, however mistaken, that Floyd’s death was just one of countless incidents in which blacks were being slaughtered with impunity, millions took to the streets in “mostly peaceful” riots that shook the nation.

More than that, it set off a moral panic in virtually every sector of American life that elevated the woke catechism of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to a new secular religion — since accepted by the Biden administration as mandatory for every government agency and department — that treats color-blind policies and even the goal of equal opportunity as forms of racism that must be eradicated.

Read the whole thing…but first read Humble Talent’s Comment of the Day on the related Ethics Alarms post, “Ethics And The Death Of Jordan Neely”:

* * *

“It is true that Penny could not have known that history when he intervened; it is also relevant information now.”

I don’t know that this is right… There’s evidence that Neely was kind of known in the subway community – You ride the same car to and from work five days a week, 200 days a year, and you’ll probably eventually start to recognize a face or two, and the face of the lunatic getting violent, perhaps one famous for cracking the orbital bone of a 67 year old woman or trying to kidnap a 7 year old girl might be a face to remember. Penny might not have known about all 44 arrests, but I don’t think it’s impossible that he knew the guy was a violent problem.

This case is… sad. I don’t know that this is Neely’s fault, so much as I’m pretty convinced that fault, if we have to look at it that way, doesn’t lie with Penny. Neely was failed so many different ways – When it comes to mental health, you just cannot expect people to reason themselves to sanity. For the people that are able to, that great. For the people who think the oven is their shoe rack, their pristine house is covered in bugs, that their arm is not their arm, that their 80 pound frame is too fat, or whatever psychosis brings on to Neely’s position, there needs to be people in your life that care enough to help.

Where was his family? His friends? Why didn’t the justice system step in? Is there really an incarceration problem when a person with a rap sheet almost as tall as he is gets released after wrist slaps? Layers of community fabric failed to catch him, and so what? We’re going to blame the guy that was there at the end? This is like blaming the kicker who misses the 45 yard field goal in the last seconds of the game… Nothing, absolutely nothing, precluded the rest of the team from being up 40 points at that point and making that kick irrelevant. Neely had no team, and his family coming out of the woodwork now to talk about Penny… I mean, to an extent, they’re grieving, and I’ll forgive them their pain, but I have no idea why they’re being taken seriously. This is on them as much, if not more, than anyone else.

And why are we talking about this one? There have been more than 20 homicides in New York City’s subway systems over the last three years. This is a stat I didn’t know before Neely’s death. I didn’t know about a single case. I didn’t know a single name. It’s not that there wasn’t video, everyone has a studio in their pocket. It’s not that the deaths weren’t sensational, some of those fact patterns are horrifying. This was the first, of more than 20, to exhibit the right characteristics to make the left think that they may re-create the lightning in a bottle that was the Floyd protests. Not only is the killer white. Not only is the victim black. He was a marine. There was a chokehold. It’s right in time for protest season (summer).

10 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Ethics And The Death Of Jordan Neely”

  1. I think many (most?) families walk away from their severely mentally ill children/siblings as an ct of self-preservation. Taking care of a severely mentally ill person is expensive and emotionally draining, even for the families that can afford it and have the fortitude to continue doing so for decades. To a great extent, it’s a police problem that only the state can address by forcibly institutionalizing and medicating the severely mentally ill. Only the state has the requisite power. It’s a “pay me now or pay me later” thing for the state. This guy is the poster boy for the problem. His condition was clearly intractable and required extreme measures beyond his family’s capabilities. Any advocate for the mentally ill who insists on keeping the mentally ill out of institutions, unmedicated and on the street because they have a right to being all three is an ethics villain. We need insane asylums (not just colleges operating as asylums being run by the inmates).

  2. In order to live in a civilized society, citizens must agree to abide by a the rules of a social contract. No defecating in the streets. No fornicating in public. No random acts of aggression or violence. Things like that. Over the last few decades, a portion of the citizenry has decided to unilaterally rewrite the underlying rules of the social contract without any buy-in from the rest of the citizenry. What they don’t seem to understand is that this buy-in is necessary. If the vast majority of the citizenry does not agree on a new social contract, and the old contract is destroyed, then the civilization is destroyed. It reverts to fragmented tribal groups who refuse to cooperate with one another.

    The attempt to normalize random acts of violence and aggression will never be agreed to by the majority of the citizenry. Safety is one of the base blocks in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. If civilization cannot offer a baseline level of safety to its citizenry, then there is no reason to buy into it. The entire reason people form civilizations is to obtain a baseline level of safety. If a civilization does not offer a baseline level of safety, then what reason is there for people to subvert their own desires, customs, culture and beliefs to a larger group? Especially when that larger group also demands a large portion of the fruits of individual’s labor to be handed over to them to support that civilization.

    The civilization saboteurs can keep kicking the pillars out from under the civilization, but they will not be able to stop the collapse that occurs as a result. More riots may not have the effect they are hoping for.

  3. HT
    You so eloquently captured my position on this matter.

    If I understand the law, at least in Maryland, a family member can petition the court to have the state hold a mentally impaired person involuntarily. The state itself cannot involuntarily detain a mentally I’ll person until after a crime of significance that places the individual or others in danger. This is why the police have to release these people back to the streets. The only persons who have the legal ability to petition for involuntary detention are the family members. While it is true that caring for the mentally I’ll is costly for the family, the family does have the option to have the family member committed. Unfortunately, an advocate will be working to protect the rights of the mentally ill. If the advocate is successful, all the attempts to get help by the family are prevented.

    It seems to me that we need to have some type of team approach to helping the mentally disturbed instead of the players working to maximize their own interests. Right now, the police will tell you they have no power to hold the individual, the family says it cannot deal with the troubled member and the advocates all seem to believe the goal is to ensure the client is not institutionalized.

  4. Thanks HT, you also captured my thoughts/feelings on this matter as well. Nicely done.

    Jacks high-level high-quality reports with analysis attracts some terrific articulate insightful writers.
    Not you Doug and Amy–read and learn. Humility can be your new watchword and becoming less ill-mannered (Doug) would also serve you well.
    Very educational site.

  5. Great take, HT! People need to take more holistic perspectives on problems if they want effective solutions. As you say, every problem has a whole collection of events leading up to it, and sometimes the best way to solve the problem is at one or more of those points, rather than at the dramatic moment.

  6. The law in my state permits any officer authorized to make arrests, a licensed physician, a licensed psychologist, some PhD psychiatric nurses and a few categories of social worker to take a person into custody without a civil order or warrant if they reasonably believe that person has a mental illness or serious emotional disturbance, AND that the person poses an immediate substantial likelihood of serious harm because of the mental illness or serious emotional disturbance, and to detain the person “for immediate examination for certification of need for care and treatment.” Under the law, an “immediate substantial likelihood of serious harm” exists when a person has threatened or attempted suicide or serious self-harm, threatened or attempted homicide or other violent behavior, placed others in reasonable fear of violent behavior and serious physical harm, or is unable to avoid severe impairment or injury from specific risks, and “there is a substantial likelihood that such harm will occur unless the person is placed under involuntary treatment.”
    In practice, during most of my career, it meant that law enforcement would take these unfortunate people into custody, at the height of their acting-out, and transport them to a hospital to be examined by a physician. After the trip to the hospital and a calming wait of a few hours, the subjects were frequently able to convince the examining physician that they did not pose an immediate substantial likelihood of serious harm, and they would be released (per the law), perhaps with a sampling of new psych meds, to return to the community. Under this process, officers were sometimes reluctant to make the call on the “likelihood of serious harm” issue because it meant you had to transport the subject via police vehicle to a designated hospital about forty miles away, wait on the subject to be examined, and then, if the certificate of need was not issued, transport the subject back to the community and release him or her. This often tied the officer up for four hours or more out of the county, and often didn’t help the person or his or her situation.
    As a young deputy I once transported a seriously disturbed man for evaluation, duly waited on the results, and was surprised when the doctor declined to admit him. I expressed my surprise to the doctor, who said,” Well, he’s not so ill that I can admit him, but if he was already in, I wouldn’t let him out.” Psychiatrists, go figure.
    Since about 2005, my county, our principal city and a local mental health facility have jointly funded a mental health crisis response team (psychiatric nurses and psychologists, acting under the aegis of a psychiatrist) that will respond out into the community, upon request by law enforcement or emergency medical services, to evaluate apparently mentally ill subjects who are acting out, to determine if they met the “immediate substantial likelihood of serious harm” standard, and can issue the “certificate of need” on the spot. This allows the person to be immediately admitted for care and treatment at a mental health facility. There is periodic judicial review built into this process which includes legal representation for the subject involuntarily admitted, so that their legal rights are preserved.
    This system isn’t perfect, but it does often help keep potentially dangerous (to themselves or others) mentally ill people from wandering the streets with no intervention, evaluation or treatment, and meeting some tragic end.

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