The Worst Timing Of Unethical Conduct Ever? African-American Mom Asks White Police Officer To Abuse Her Son

Fake Arrest

The African-American community needs to get its objectives and messages straight…quickly. That is, it needs to do this if it really knows what its objectives and intended messages are. This story should make everyone, including them wonder.

In  Columbus, Georgia, Chiquita Hill’s  10-year-old son, Sean,  was disrespectful to his teacher and repeatedly defiant in class. Sean’s mother was beside herself, and as I just heard her explain on HLN, was worried about what the child might be like when he reached puberty. Thus she devised the brilliant idea (yes, many people—cretins, but still—are saying that on social media) of “scaring her son straight” by calling 911 and having a police officer pretend to arrest him and take him to jail. Let me repeat that: there are people on social media saying this was a good idea.Many of these people have children themselves. Think about it.

Hill said her son didn’t believe she had called the cops on him—for the crime of talking back to his teacher— until Columbus police officers showed up at the door and put him in handcuffs, put him in the patrol car and pretended to take him to jail.  “It happened so quick he didn’t know what to do,” she told the media. “I don’t know what they said to him but he came running down the hill, gave me a big hug said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry!”

Then Chiquita posted the pictures of her son in handcuffs on Facebook, where it has gone viral and will last forever.

There is nothing ethical, civilized, justifiable, reasonable, rational or right about either the conduct of the mother, or the conduct of the police officers. In the context of speeches and protesters in Baltimore and elsewhere  proclaiming angrily that the police forces of  the United States are racist and determined to exterminate black males, the episode is also hypocritical on the part of both the police and the mother, while intentionally seeding the racial distrust both police and African Americans are supposed to be working together to defuse, not working together to create.

I assume that readers here have functioning ethics alarms so let’s do this as a game, shall we? Before you read further—no cheating now, this is an ethics blog–vote on how many ways this episode involved wrongful conduct. Then see how close you came by finishing the post.

Did you vote?

OK, here’s the tally: Continue reading

Jumbo! The Substitute Teacher’s Defense


Presenting the first Jumbo* of 2015, and it’s a lulu.

A jury convicted Sheila Kearns, a former substitute teacher in Columbus, Ohio, of four felony counts of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles. For some inexplicable reason—she reportedly told a colleague that “those kids see worse” at home— had shown the film “The ABCs of Death” during five periods of a Spanish class at East High School  in April 2013.The movie consists of 26 chapters, each representing a graphic death and representing a letter of the alphabet:  “E is for Exterminate,” “L is for Libido,” ”O is for Orgasm,” “T is for Toilet,” and so on. You know, perfect classroom fare.

Kearns earned her Jumbo for swearing in court that she had no idea what the movie—titled “The ABCs of Death,” remember—was about.  Her attorney said she never would have knowingly showed it. One of her students. however, testified that Kearns watched the 129-minute movie, which presumably would have given her a pretty good idea that it was about, uh, death. And ABC’s….

After watching the movie the jury became convinced, its foreman told reporters, that Kearns might not have been aware of the movie’s content the first time she showed it, but she would have figured it out by by the second, third, fourth and fifth showings.

Can’t slip anything by these twelve!

*Jumbo: a Jumbo is a special Ethics Alarms award for conduct that emulates the gag from the Broadway musical and film “Jumbo,” in which Jimmy Durante, as a circus clown trying to steal an elephant, is caught red-handed by a sheriff, and asked, “Where are you going with that elephant?” “Elephant? What elephant?,” Jimmy replied.


Facts: Seattle PI

Celebrate Columbus Day, Honor Columbus

Today is Columbus Day, not that one would know it to read the typical paper or to watch most newscasts. The Italian explorer’s reputation and legacy have been relentlessly eroded over the years by temporal chauvinists who apply spurious social and historical hindsight to justify unfair criticism of civilization’s heroes. Christopher Columbus deserves the honor this holiday bestowed on him.  He was a visionary and an explorer who, like all transformative figures, possessed the courage and imagination to challenge conventional wisdom and seek new horizons of achievement.

Holding Columbus responsible for the predation of the Spanish and the devastation of native populations that were among the unanticipated consequences of his achievement is the equivalent of blaming Steve Jobs for technology’s elimination of occupations and the fact that our children are fat and have the attention span of mayflies. And of course, anyone who believes that the Stone Age populations of the Americas would have continued to prosper in Avatar bliss without Columbus’s intrusion is ignorant of both human nature and world history. Continue reading