Anyone who has seen “The Godfather” I or II has a sense of the mafia culture in Italy. That wasn’t fiction; indeed, it was probably understated, and is strong as ever. Now legislators are experimenting with a radical new approach to fighting organized crime in the country, a deep-rooted pathology that has persisted for centuries.The strategy is draconian: separating children from their mob families and moving them to a different part of Italy to end a generational cycle of crime. Families are the heart of organized crime: the “Godfather” films’ portrayal was absolutely accurate on that score.
Italian magistrate Roberto Di Bella began taking children away from their criminal families after seeing children as young as 11 or 12 serving as lookouts during murders, participating in drug deals and mob strategy sessions, and learning how to shoot an assault rifle. “Sons follow their fathers,” he told New York Times reporter Gaia Piani Giani. “The state can’t allow that children are educated to be criminals.”
Di Bella began taking children away from parents convicted of mob ties five years ago, separating about 40 boys and girls, ages 12 to 16, from their families. Sometimes the children’s mothers accompany them to the new locales. The rest of the embryonic mafiosi go into foster care.Di Bella says that none of the children he has taken away from their families have committed a crime since, and impressed with his results, Italy recently passed statutes that legalize the strategy as a way to destroy crime families.
Of course the program is controversial. Di Bella, however, believes that it is a utilitarian necessity. He told the Times that mafia fathers have written to him to thank him for for giving their children a chance at a normal life, their children have told him they feel liberated, and mothers ask if he will do it for their children.
Your Ethics Alarms Italian Ethics Quiz of the Day:
Is the policy of removing children from organized crime families ethical?
Boycotts are almost always unethical, but the vicious partisan tactic of boycotting businesses because they or their owners support or contributed to the duly elected President of the United States make usual boycotts seem saintly in comparison. Spite, vengeance, an attack on political speech and individual autonomy, call it what you will, there is no other side to this tactic. It is wrong. It undermines democracy. It punishes speech. It is the heating oil seller who tells Trump voters to freeze, and the yarn shop owner who tells Democrats to feed their knitting elsewhere, but on a grand, self-righteous, societally destructive scale.
#GrabYourWallet is a website whose operators aim to hurt, injure and punish not only business owners who dare to have a different political view than they, but also their businesses employees, families and customers. This is the invidious outfit that bullied Nordstrom into dropping Ivanka Trump’s fashion line, because we must punish a young woman for supporting her father, who half the country chose to be President. This in turn led Kelly Ann Conway, the President’s spokesperson who is as much in over her head as a he is, to fall into the trap of violating the law by using her position to promote a product, because she chose an inartful way of telling decent Americans to reject the boycott.
Let me be as clear as Ethics Alarms can be. Continue reading
Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Family, Government & Politics, Rights, The Internet, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society, Unethical Websites
Anne King of Washington County, Georgia, was furious at her former husband and called him out on Facebook.
Susan Hines, a friend of King’s, responded..
“POS — give me an hour and check your mailbox. I’ll be GLAD to pick up the slack.”
Unfortunately, King’s crummy father of an ex-husband is also an ignorant jerk with a badge. He is Captain Corey King of the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, and used his power in this small town to have both Anne her supportive friend arrested and tossed in jail for absolutely protected free speech on social media. First the captain filed a police report with his colleague, Washington County Sheriff’s Investigator Trey Burgamy. Then Washington County magistrate Ralph O. Todd issued a warrant requiring the two women to appear at a hearing. Officer King was the only witness, and afterwards Magistrate Todd issued warrant charging Anne King with criminal defamation:
“SUBJECT DID, WITHOUT A PRIVILEGE TO DO SO AND WITH INTENT TO DEFAME ANOTHER, COMMUNICATE FALSE MATTER WHICH TENDS TO EXPOSE ONE WHO IS ALIVE TO HATRED, CONTEMPT, OR RIDICULE, AND WHICH TENDS TO PROVOKE A BREACH OF THE PEACE, SPECIFICALLY, SUBJECT DID MAKE DEROGATORY AND DEGRADING COMMENTS DIRECTLY AT AND ABOUT COREY KING, FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING A BREACH OF THE PEACE.”
The Georgia law she was charged with was ruled unconstitutional decades ago, and is no longer on the books.
Details, details. Continue reading
Filed under Character, Citizenship, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Facebook, Family, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Rights
In a column today, Washington Post political columnist Chris Cillizza writes,
“The simple fact is that Trump has never had real friends in the sense you or I think of the term. The relationship world of Trump has long been split into two groups: (1) his family and (2) people who work for him. And people who work for you are rarely your actual friends.”
This was written in the context of an article titled “The very peculiar isolation of Donald Trump.”
What’s going on here? It is definitely one more “othering” exercise from the news media, part of a concerted effort to avoid “normalizing” this President so that tactics previously regarded as unthinkable, undemocratic and unAmerican will be accepted by the public when they are used against him. The message is that this President is strange, weird. He’s not like us. He’s a monster. Today, for example, MSNBC’s Katy Tur insinuated that the President might be planning to start murdering journalists, asking a guest.
“As we know, there’s, since 2000, been a couple dozen suspicious deaths of journalists in Russia who came out against the government there.Donald Trump has made no secret about going after journalists and his distaste for any news that doesn’t agree with him here. Do you find that this is a dangerous path he is heading down?”
I was struck by Cillizza’s column because the topic is one of several upon which I wrote my honors thesis in American government. (If you are in Cambridge, Mass., you can find a copy in Widener Library.) Cillizza’s statement made me realize, for the first time, really: “Ah! There’s at least one aspect of his personality that is typical of American Presidents!” I studied exactly that aspect of Presidential biographies to test my thesis that the U.S. Presidency attracted a specific character type, and the type was not “normal” by the public standards. Continue reading
Texas Monthly this month has a troubling profile of Edwin Debrow, who is 37 years old, has been behind bars since he was 12, and may have to stay there until he is 52. On September 21, 1991, Debrow shot a San Antonio school teacher named Curtis Edwards in the back of the head. Edwards’ body was found sprawled across the front seat of a taxi that he drove part-time at night. Edwin, police determined, had shot Edwards during an attempted robbery. Above is the photo of the 12-year-old in custody.
Texas law, you will not be surprised to learn, allows very harsh punishment for juvenile offenders.Other states will sometimes try 12-year-olds as adults. Last year’s documentary “Beware the Slenderman” tells the strange story of Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser, two 12-year-old Wisconsin girls who attempted to stab another 12-year old girl to death in 2014. Under Wisconsin law, Weier and Geyser will be tried as adults for attempted first-degree intentional homicide, and if convicted, they could be sentenced to up to 65 years in state prison.
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is this:
Is it ethical for society to punish children with such long prison sentences, no matter how serious the crime?