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Comment of the Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/13/17: Rushing In Panic Around My Boston Hotel Room Because I Didn’t Get My Wake-Up Call Edition”

“Man! I am BORED out of my GOURD!”

As one might expect, abortion is one of the topics that can be relied upon to spark a lively discussion every time it is raised on Ethics Alarms. This is because abortion is a true ethics dilemma, where valid ethical considerations point in opposite directions. In addition, this ethics dilemma cannot easily be solved by balancing, because determining which of the ethical values involved, personal autonomy and the primacy of human life, should hold the superior priority involves resolving conflicting definitions.Complicating things further is the fact that the three main ethics systems—reciprocity, Kantian ethics, and Utilitarianism— reach disparate conclusions.

The subject of this intense and extensive comment by Zoltar Speaks! is another commenters assertion that the unborn do not qualify as “persons” within the protection of the law because they do not, as far as we know, have self awareness and are incapable of thought. I personally detest this argument, but I’ll leave the exposition to Zoltar. He got extra credit for beginning with the trademark quote that Ethics Alarms uses to designate a “Popeye.

Here is the Zoltar Speaks! Comment of the Day on the post, Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/13/17: Rushing In Panic Around My Boston Hotel Room Because I Didn’t Get My Wake-Up Call Edition:

 

“I ain’t gonna take it, ’cause I can’t take no more!”

My understanding from your comments is that you don’t agree with a lot of what abortion activists use as arguments. However, you’re regurgitating intentionally modified long standing definitions to fit an agenda instead of using the definitions as they are. You are not parsing the words of an existing definition, you are not simply misunderstanding an existing definition, you are literally adding things to the definition of “person” that do not exist in the definition.

You are saying that a person is not a person until they can think and feel, and that is by definition false (see below.)

You say that “intelligent, informed pro-choice advocates” talk about thinking and feeling is when a person becomes a person.  I don’t care who presents that as an argument, it’s false. It is literally uninformed, and since you used it in this way it is literally showing a low level of intelligence. It’s bastardizing the English language into agenda-driven rhetoric:

Bastardizing: corrupt or debase (something such as a language or art form), typically by adding new elements.

I looked up as many definitions for the word “person”  as I could find and I found an obvious common thread: Person: A human being regarded as an individual. A human individual. A human being. A human being as distinguished from an animal or a thing. An individual human. The common thread is human and individual. Tthere is nothing in any definition I could find that could be construed as holding that a person is only a person if he or she can think and feel.

 Human Being, furthermore, is a man, woman, or child of the species Homo sapiens, distinguished from other animals by superior mental development, power of articulate speech, and upright stance. Is an unborn child a human being? Yes. Continue reading

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Filed under Bioethics, Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, language, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, The Popeye

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/13/17: Rushing In Panic Around My Boston Hotel Room Because I Didn’t Get My Wake-Up Call Edition

It’s not a good morning…

(Gotta start teaching the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct in an hour, so this has to be quick. Sorry!)

1 Apparently Breitbart, aka Steve Bannon, has sent two investigative reporters to Alabama to discredit the stories of the four women who say Roy Moore courted them when they were in braces and poodle skirts. See, ethical news sources would be doing what we call “finding out if there’s anything the Washington Post missed.” Breitbart is trying to dig up dirt on four women who just responded to the Washington Post reporters’ questions. How do we know this? Well, 1) the untrustworthy hard-right website has been defending Moore and attacking the Post since the story broke; 2) it is appealing to its core group, made up of alt-right creeps and, you know, morons, by saying this is what they are doing; 3) it has already filed a story claiming that the ex-14-year-old who says 32-year-old Moore fondled her was contradicted in some aspects of her story by her mother. Then there’s 4), which is that the site is so slimy it makes eels gag.

Oh…Ann Coulter tweeted yesterday that it doesn’t matter if Moore is a theocrat, it doesn’t matter if the man who calls gays sub-human perverts is, in fact, a pervert himself; it doesn’t matter that he was kicked  off the bench twice as a judge for ignoring the law….what matters is that he’ll vote for Trump’s wall in the Senate. Get help, Ann.

2. On the other end of the ideological divide where it is just as scary, Media Matters is promoting a sponsor boycott of Sean Hannity to drive the conservative pundit off the air as punishment for saying nice things about Moore.  It has already bullied coffee-machiine maker Keurig into pulling its ads, and that has prompted, in turn, a call by Hannity to boycott Keurig. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights, Sports

The Tragedy Of Shahid and Aasia, Or “Murder Isn’t For Idiots”

From Pakistan comes this story, which alternatively sounds like a Coen Brothers black comedy or that lost Shakespeare tragedy, “Shahid and Aasia.”

Aasia Bibi, 21, lived in the small village of Alipur. She was in love with a young man, Shahid Lashari, but her Muslim parents forced her to marry another man of their choosing. After the marriage, Aasia continued to see her lover secretly, and they decided on a desperate plot. Shaid procured some poison, and the bride put it her husband’s milk.

Unexpectedly, he refused to drink it. Maybe it tasted funny: this is what any good “How to Poison Your Spouse” book would have explained. Milk is a really bad drink to poison. Then Aasia left the poisoned milk lying around, and her enterprising mother-in-law used  it to make a traditional yogurt-based drink and served it to 27 members of her extended family.

Wait: how much milk did Aasia expect her husband to drink?  Was she married to the Pakistani Paul Bunyan? Assuming he wasn’t twenty feet tall like Paul, the term “overkill” comes to mind, and appropriately so, for “Oopsie!” does not begin to express the magnitude of her mistake. All of 27 people who drank the yogurt—see, yogurt always tastes like its poisoned— passed out and were rushed to the hospital.  Seventeen of them died. Aasia’s husband, however, remains hale and hearty.

Observations:

1 I liked “Romeo and Juliet” better.

2. Moral luck is a bitch. Still, if you poison food and leave it around, you are asking for random bad things to happen. Usually it isn’t this many or this bad, but you never know. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Law & Law Enforcement, Love, Religion and Philosophy, Romance and Relationships

Harvard Rejects A Convicted Child Killer: What’s Going On Here?

I have few answers, only questions and observations, regarding this story.

Michelle Jones, a Ph.D. candidate at N.Y.U., was released from prison in August after serving 20 years in an Indiana prison for the murder of her 4-year-old son. She very nearly was accepted into Harvard’s graduate program. In a sympathetic story in the New York Times, we learn that she rejected at the last minute.

Jones,  45, became a published scholar of American history while she was serving her time and led a team of inmates that  produced what was judged to be the Indiana Historical Society’s best research project last year.Jones also wrote several dance compositions and historical plays, one of which is slated to open at an Indianapolis theater in December.

Jones was chosen to be one of  18 successful applicants to Harvard University’s history graduate program. However, Harvard’s administration overturned Jones’s admission after some professors raised concerns that she had minimized the murder of her son in the application process. I wouldn’t be surprised; it’s an ugly story.

After. Jones got pregnant at 14, her mother beat her in the stomach with a 2×4. In a statement accompanying her Harvard application, Jones said she suffered a breakdown after years of abandonment and domestic violence, causing her to abuse her own son, Brandon Sims. The boy died in 1992, and his body was never found.  Jones admitted that she had secretly buried him, never notifying the police or Brandon’s father that he had died. At her murder trial,. Jones’ friend testified that she confessed to beating Brandon then leaving him alone for days in their apartment, until he died. Sentenced to 50 years in prison, Jones was released thirty years early based on her good behavior and scholarship.

John Stauffer, one of the two American studies professors who flagged and objected to Jones’ admission, said, “We didn’t have some preconceived idea about crucifying Michelle. But frankly, we knew that anyone could just punch her crime into Google, and Fox News would probably say that P.C. liberal Harvard gave 200 grand of funding to a child murderer, who also happened to be a minority. I mean, c’mon.” Apparently the Harvard leadership agreed. E-mails and interviews show that Harvard’s president, Drew Faust, its provost, and the deans of the graduate school vetoed the positive disposition of Jones’ application over fears of criticism by rejected applicants, conservative news outlets and parents.

Observations and Questions: Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Race

From The Ethics Alarms “Law vs Ethics” Files: The Deadly Hexes Of Sally Quinn

In a newly published memoir, Sally Quinn, the famous journalist who married iconic Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and became a D.C. society matron, then a religion columnist, reveals a lief-long obsession with mysticism and the occult. Ouija boards, pentagrams, witchcraft, charms, spells, seances, messages from the dead (like Ben), voodoo, the whole thing: Quinn writes that she has had an  “epiphany” revealing that “believing in magic is as legitimate as any religion or faith.”

I’ll buy that. I wouldn’t say that the next step is an application to Hogwarts, however.

So these are the people who presume to tell Americans what to think, eh? Good to know.

But I digress. In a recent Washingtonian Magazine profile contrived to puff the release of  “Finding Magic,” Bradlee’s widow says that she not only believes in hexes, she’s used them. And they work!

She reveals that, in her less mellow days, she put hexes on three people who promptly wound up having their lives ruined, or ended.

The first, cast in 1969, was spurred by old-fashioned jealousy. Some exotic beauty at a Halloween party inspired lust in Quinn’s beau at the time—and then killed herself just days after Sally cast her spell.

Her second victim was Clay Felker, the longtime editor of New York magazine who oversaw a brutal profile of Quinn in 1973, just before her catastrophic debut on the CBS Morning News. Quinn hexed Felker not long after flaming out at CBS and returning to Washington. “Some time afterward, Rupert Murdoch bought New York magazine in a hostile takeover, and Felker was out,” she writes. “Clay never recovered professionally. Worse, he got cancer, which ultimately caused his death.”

Target number three: a shady psychic who, the autumn after Quinn Bradlee was born, ran afoul of Sally’s maternal instincts. The woman dropped dead before year’s end.

This raises a classic ethics question that I nearly posed today as an Ethics Quiz. I didn’t, because I know the answer and have no doubts about it. (If it’s an ethics quiz, I at least have doubts.) The question would have been:

Ethically rather than legally, is there any difference between Sally Quinn and a murderer?

The answer is no.

I’d say that the first two victims make her the ethical equivalent of someone who is guilty of manslaughter, and the last one, after her first two hexes led to her targets’ deaths, was, again ethically rather than legally, premeditated murder.

Sally says that after the psychic dropped dead, she swore off her Death Hex. That’s admirable. The fact remains, however, the while believing an instrumentality would lead to harm when employed against specific individuals, she employed it, got her desired results, and believed that she was the cause of their subsequent deaths. She also doesn’t express any remorse or regret. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy

Boy, I Bet That Cruel, Xenophobic, Trump Administration Will Deport This Poor Kid…

None of my captions for this photo of Oliver Funes-Machado are in good taste. Pass.

I don’t know about you, but I’m thoroughly sick of the daily media stories about the hardship of illegal immigrant families being “torn apart” when a parenty finally is held accountable for breaching our borders and breaking U.S. laws. Here is a refreshing story about a likely deportation that everyone can get behind.

I hope.

ICE officials in North Carolina confirmed that Oliver Funes-Machado is an illegal immigrant, and I bet the news media makes sure the “illegal” is included when reporting on his case, if they do.  The 18-year old has been charged with cutting off his mother’s head with a butcher knife.

This is unethical, by the way.

Originally from Honduras, Oliver is accused of repeatedly stabbing his 35-year-old mother before beheading her. He then walked outside, holding her head in one hand and the knife in the other, as he waited for Franklin County deputies to arrive. He  called 911 to report the crime, just like a good citizen should .

Well, that’s a mitigation, I guess.

The teen told the 911 dispatcher that he killed his mother “because I felt like it.”

I don’t think Honduras is sending us their best people.

I’m sure he is a Dreamer, but I still think he should be deported.

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Filed under Childhood and children, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Family, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

Ethics Quiz: Punishing The 12-Year-Old Killer

debrow

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?

Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Family, History, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society