Ethics Quiz: The World’s Cutest Water-skier

waterskiing baby

Keith St. Onge and his wife are professional barefoot water skiers and co-owners of the World Barefoot Center in Winter Haven, Florida. Last week, they had their six-month old daughter Zyla strap on little tiny skis and finally attempt what her parents had spent weeks training her for–water-skiing. She did it, too, for 686 feet across Lake Silver.  The proud parents filmed her feat and posted the video on YouTube (of course).

The Washington Post notes that many are criticizing the St. Onges for the stunt, claiming child endangerment.  Papa St. Onge defended the unusual pre-toddler (the girl can’t walk yet) activity, saying, “People don’t realize that it was done properly. It was planned and she was ready for it.”

Hmmmm…

Your strange Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Is this ethical parenting?

Continue reading

Would Gun Rights Advocates Support “Jamie’s Law”?

shot by kid

I’m proposing a new gun control law that would be named after Jamie Gilt, who this week was accidentally shot in the back by her 4-year-old son, who was seated in the back seat of her truck at the time. The child had picked up a .45 handgun that she had left on the floor of the vehicle. “Jamie’s Law” would ban gun ownership for life if an adult leaves a firearm, loaded, within the reach of a child below a certain age. Personally, I’d be fine if the cut-off was 18, but just to keep the law as close to Jamie’s situation as possible, let’s say 10 or under. Would that be unreasonable?

We could make the law really specific to Jamie, who is an idiot, by banning gun ownership by anyone who leaves guns lying around for kids to play with AND maintains a Facebook page called “Jamie Gilt for Gun Sense,“…well, with their name, not Jamie’s. Yes, Jamie—did I mention that she is an idiot?—did this while promoting responsible gun ownership. I wonder what she would consider irresponsible gun ownership. Maybe giving a child a loaded gun to suck on, instead of a pacifier.

I’m not too fond of the million or so anti-gun types who went on the page to insult and berate Jamie, who is in the hospital. (I see that the page has been taken down since last night.) I’m sure she feels bad enough already, in part because she was shot and also because she will be the face of foolish gun owners for the foreseeable future. What she should feel is lucky. The only difference between Jamie and Veronica Jean Rutledge, shot dead in a Walmart by her two-year-old in 2014, is moral luck. Actually, what Gilt did was more reckless that the conduct that killed Rutledge: Gilt was driving, and Rutledge at least had her gun in her purse, not in plain view. Both Rutledge and Gilt were lucky their children weren’t killed.

What do you think about Jamie’s Law?

Maybe gun owners who do this should be banned from having custody of children, too.

(Of course, it goes without saying that they would be presumed innocent until proven Gilty….)*

_______________________

*I’m sorry, I really am, but there’s a place in Hell for people who pass up set-ups like this.

Anti-Gun Zealots Must Reconcile Their Rhetoric With This, Or Concede That Their Adversaries, And All Citizens, Have A Right To Protect Themselves

In Macon, Georgia, a coordinated mob of teens attacked a Walmart like a scene out of “Dawn of the Dead.” Surveillance cameras revealed this:

The Macon Telegraph reports that a group of about 50 teens swarmed the store and began destroying property, apparently for the fun of it. A customer in a motorized scooter was pulled from his seat and dragged on the floor, police say.  17-year-old Kharron Nathan Green entered the store at about 2 a.m. last Sunday morning and flashed “gang signs.” At his signal, a group of about 50 people, apparently teens or a bit older, charged into the store. They departed when police arrived. Green, was the only one arrested, not because he was the ringleader, but because he is an idiot. He returned to the scene of the crime to fetch a dropped phone.

That nobody was seriously hurt or killed is moral luck, nothing more.

Is it relevant that all of the teens appear to be black? Sure it is, though many news outlets—like the Macon Telegraph, in fact— didn’t think so, because that creates inconvenient implications. For one thing, it was very relevant to any police officer trying to deal with the onslaught, as having to shoot one of the mob if he was aggressive would have the cop branded as a racist killer  and possibly railroaded into a murder trial by the Georgia equivalent of Marilyn Mosby. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Keith Hartley, Cubs Fan

The one-handed foul ball catch made by Chicago Cubs fan Keith Hartley was all over the web and cable TV yesterday. If you missed it, here it is:

Nice catch. Of course, it interfered with the ball in play, keeping Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from making the catch. In most circumstances, Hartley would have been thrown out of the game.

That’s the least that should have been done to him. He endangered his son—twice.

How quickly people forget that a fan in Boston is still recovering from a near fatal encounter with a shard from a broken bat that sailed into the stands during a game at Fenway Park, causing many baseball-hating pundits to call for netting to protect fans at field level. (This is how the Barn Door Fallacy works, after all.) I hate the idea of the netting, but there is no question that the seats near the action can be perilous. I once had access to season tickets by the visiting team on-deck circle at Baltimore’s old Memorial Stadium, and foul balls were whizzing by my head several times a game. I’m talking about line drives, not pop-ups, like the one Hartley caught.

To be blunt, his baby could have been killed. Continue reading

Now THAT Was Moral Luck…

"What the HELL do those idiots think they are doing with that poor kid???"

“What the HELL do those idiots think they are doing with that poor kid???”

Moral luck is the daily phenomenon where the exact same irresponsible  act by an individual can be regarded as cause for condemnation or even criminal penalties, or be shrugged off as a forgivable error in judgment and inconsequential based on turns of fate that the individual has no control over at all. You will see few better examples than this ridiculous story out of Cleveland. Parents visiting the Cleveland zoo dangled their 2-year-old son over the railing of the zoo’s cheetah exhibit,  then dropped the child, apparently accidentally, into the enclosure.The cheetahs wisely decided that the offspring of idiots might not be safe to eat, and made no effort to harm him. The boy’s father rescued the boy by jumping into the exhibit area and taking his son to safety. The boy was injured slightly, but it is likely that the incident will be  treated as an accident, with no consequences for the parents. If, however, the cheetahs had attacked and killed the toddler, the parents would have been prosecuted, and condemned across social media as contenders for worst parents of the year.

It was all up to the cheetahs.

That’s moral luck.

AGAIN: Irresponsible Gun Owners Must Be Charged

"...but since this is a .357 magnum, the most powerful handgun on Earth, and will blow your head clean OFF.... I think I'll go shopping with my little boy with this in the holster, unfastened, and bullet in the chamber!"

“…but since this is a .357 magnum, the most powerful handgun on Earth, and will blow your head clean OFF…. I think I’ll go shopping with my little boy with this in the holster, unfastened, and bullet in the chamber!”

CBS informs us that in Wassila, Alaska, where you know who dwells, a 4-year-old boy was shot in the leg Saturday on a public sidewalkwhen his mother’s .357-caliber handgun fell out of its holster, struck the pavement on its hammer and fired.

No one has been charged, we are told.

Well, that’s cretinous, and as a society, our law enforcement has to send more responsible messages than that.

Again, as I noted here and here and here, all since the dawn of 2015, the fact that the child or an innocent bystander wasn’t killed by this reckless and stupid gunowner was pure chance, moral luck. As far as her conduct goes, there is no difference. She is the equivalent of a drunk and speeding driver. This isn’t an accident that “can happen to anyone.” This can happen to idiotic gun owners who don’t know basic gun safety and allow guns to be in the close vicinity of children. Why was her holster unfastened? Why did the gun have a bullet in the chamber? Why wasn’t she aware that what she was doing might make the gun fall? Why did she feel she had to carry a cannon of a hand-gun with her on a weekend outing to beautiful downtown Wasilla?

Charge her, prosecute her, throw her in jail, take away her gun privileges, and have child protection services investigate the home.

This has got to stop.

[But don’t call her a gun owner. She isn’t a real gun owner. Real gun owners don’t act like this. To call her a gun owner gives her dignity that she doesn’t deserve, and promotes bigotry against true gun owners, who by definition are responsible, peaceful, and observe gun safety principles at all times. If you don’t believe me, just ask the President. He understands. This is how he thinks, after all.]

One More Time As A Child Finds A Gun And Kills: Prosecute the Parents

DSC_1306

This time the locale was Elmo, Missouri, and it was a five-year old pulling the trigger. The victim was a 9-month-old boy, but it’s basically the same tragic, stupid story….just like in the Idaho Walmart, where the two-year-old shot his mother, or the Albuquerque motel room where another toddler shot both of his parents, who were just lucky and lived. (They have been charged with child abuse. Good.) A gun owner negligently, recklessly, criminally leaves a firearm, loaded, where  young children are and a tragedy results.

Alexis Widerholt, the mother of the children, called 911, and when emergency crews arrived they found that her the baby had been shot in the skull with a .22-caliber magnum revolver.

Somebody has to go to jail for this, maybe several people. Authorities say the gun belongs to a relative, but not the mother. If she knew the gun was in the house, she’s accountable. Anyone responsible for putting the loaded gun where a kid might find it is accountable. Charge them with manslaughter, convict them, send them away. Unless the mother didn’t know about the gun (she originally told the police it was a paint gun, either out of panic, confusion, or ignorance), she needs to lose the right to parent them, at least for a while. Continue reading

Wait–What Idiot Thought We Wanted A Sequel To The Idaho Walmart Shooting?

Does this graphic look familiar? It should: I used it only a month ago, and for the exact same reason.

Does this graphic look familiar? It should: I used it only a month ago, and for the exact same reason.

From the Washington Post:

“A toddler reaching for an iPod in his mother’s purse grabbed a loaded gun instead before shooting both his parents in an Albuquerque motel room on Saturday, according to news reports. Police said the bullet hit the father in the buttock and the mother, who is eight months pregnant, in her right shoulder, but did not strike a 2-year-old child who was also in the room, according to Fox News.”

Gee, I guess Monique Villescas and John Reynolds, the lucky parents in this near tragedy, were so amused at the death of Veronica Jean Rutledge at the hands of her toddler that they just couldn’t resist trying the old “let’s leave a loaded gun where a small child can reach it” trick themselves. Or, I suppose, they might just be irresponsible fools.

Observations:

1. Two of these incidents in a little more than a month ?! What are the odds that Rutledge and these boobs were the only Americans leaving loaded guns within the reach of young children? Continue reading

Irresponsible Gun Ownership and Consequences

smoking-gun

Here we go again:

A 15-year-old boy  shot and killed his younger brother during a game of “cops and robbers” using what they thought was an unloaded handgun. The boy called police to their home in Eagan, Minnesota, and told them he had shot his brother, who was pronounced dead at the scene. Though police said the facts would be presented to the Dakota County Attorney’s Office for review, but no one is in custody and no charges are expected.

Investigators say the boys found their father’s 9mm handgun, which had been hidden unloaded, with a magazine holding cartridges nearby. At some point, the handgun was loaded by one of the boys, and assuming it had been unloaded, the brothers  began to chase each other in a game of “cops and robbers.” police said. The 15-year-old unintentionally fired,  striking his brother in the chest.

The father should be arrested and charged with negligent homicide. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Hard Lesson Of The Walmart Tragedy: Bad Ethics Kills”

First The Washington Post suggests that my commentary on the tragic shooting death of Veronica Jean Rutledge by her two-year old son in an Idaho Walmart as using “the accident as an excuse to grandstand on gun rights,” then the website Raw Story writes that my post is a talking point for both sides in the gun rights debate.”  Neither is true; neither is remotely true. The post wasn’t even about guns: the topic is accountability for reckless and irresponsible conduct by parents and their consequences. Do journalists even read the stuff they link to?

The comments to the post, however, are another matter. Naturally some of them opine on gun policy, and an interesting query arrived from a reader in India, who wrote:

Hello all… I’m from India and we don’t have such gun laws here.. but it looks like, the only news that I see concerning America are “school shootings” and “accidental ones” every week. I have nothing against America and I love your country .. but owning a gun, seems to be a sign of insecurity to me. and I repeat, the only news I see is a regular pattern: “kid goes on shooting spree” or “kid accidentally discharges weapon”.. Don’t you see what’s happening b’coz of these Gun laws ? anybody can be careless about anything… nobody is perfect. I’m only airing my views about this.

This prompted an excellent Second Amendment explanation from 2014 New Prolific Commenter of the Year joed68. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “Hard Lesson Of The Walmart Tragedy: Bad Ethics Kills”: Continue reading