Tag Archives: police

Ethics Quiz: A Police Hypothetical From, Of All Places, “Diagnosis Murder”

Hallmark has launched an all-mystery channel, moving into the territory NBC’s Cloo cable channel abandoned when it went belly-up in February. (The name should have doomed it anyway.) The mainstays of the new channel are a fleet of “Murder She Wrote” rip-offs starring a string of female C-list stars TV and has-beens: Allison Sweeney, Candace Cameron Bure, Kelly Martin and Courtney Thorne-Smith so far. The flagship show is the real McCoy, Jessica Fletcher herself. Take it from me: there is no current scripted drama as trite, predictable or badly acted or written than “Murder, She Wrote”—the closest in years would be Debra Messing’s  idiotic “The Mysteries of Laura,” but that was officially a “comedy.”

Another mainstay on the channel is “Diagnosis, Murder,” which is marginally less terrible than watching in Angela Lansbury collect a check for doing the same thing over and over, in part because I am entertained by Dick Van Dyke doing anything.  ( “Diagnosis, Murder” was a drama, yet still about ten times funnier than “The Mysteries of Laura.” ) Still, I don’t expect thought-provoking episodes on the Mystery channel.

Two nights ago, I was surprised. The episode showed Dr. Dick’s police detective son (played by Van Dyke’s real son Barry, who sounds just like Dad) chasing a perp he had stopped while the man was roughing up a woman in  the park. Barry was chasing him on foot, gun drawn, and in the shadows (it was evening), the suspect quickly turned, stopped and pulled something metallic from his pocket. The officer fired, killing him. Barry’s troubled partner shows up (he had been backing up Barry) and checks the scene as police sirens are heard. He finds a flashlight, not a gun, right by the unarmed deceased man, and Barry says, mournfully, “I though the had a gun” His partner (played by Joe Penny) pulls a revolver out of his  own pocket, wipes it, and places it in the dead man’s hand as he pockets the flashlight. “Don’t worry,” he tells distraught Barry, contemplating his career going down the drain, “It’s clean,” meaning “It can’t be traced.”

The police arrive, and Joe quickly tells them that it was a good shooting, that the victim was armed. Barry knows that his partner has strikes against him already for substance abuse, and to rat him out about the flashlight would end his career for certain, and maybe Barry’s as well. He doesn’t say anything, thus becoming complicit in the cover-up.

Tough one! Continue reading

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Ethics Hero: Lindsey Bittorf

I regard people who contribute kidneys to near strangers as residing in a special category of Ethics Hero, in the exemplary ethics category….maybe the exemplary exemplary ethics category.  Considering Don Bedwell, the first individual I learned about who  engaged in this extraordinary act of sacrifice, kindness, and compassion,  I began my 2005 post, “There are special and rare people whose ethical instincts are so pure and keen that they can make the rest of us feel inadequate.”  Bedwell, a traveling businessman, donated his kidney to a waitress who often served him at his favorite Cleveland restaurant when he was passing through the city on business. The second altruistic organ donor was East Haven, Connecticut  Mayor April Capone Almon, who gifted one of her kidneys  to a desperate constituent she barely knew.

Wisconsin police officer Lindsey Bittorf is the most recent example of this special breed of ethics hero.  She saw a Facebook post from a local mother pleading for someone to rescue might  her  8-year-old son, Jackson Arneson, who needed a kidney. The boy’s family and friends had been tested and none were a match. Bittorf didn’t know the child or the family, but got herself tested on a whim. Doctors told her she was an unusually good match,considering that she was not related to the boy.

Last week, Bittorf  rang the doorbell at Jackson’s home to surprise his family with the good news,  ABC News reported. Jackson could have one of her healthy kidneys.The police officer told Jackson’s mom, Kristi Goll, that it was an “early Mother’s Day gift.”  That’s a bit better than flowers, you’ll have to admit. Continue reading

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From The “A Nation Of Assholes” Files, An Ethics Dunce: Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q

Unless someone figures out how to blame this incident on President Trump, I am gradually coming to the conclusion that my conviction that electing him would cause the United States to become a nation of assholes was mistaken, because the culture was  on a water slide toward that result already.

A member of the Raleigh Police Protective Association (RPPA) reported on the group’s Facebook page that the staff, including the manager, of Raleigh’s Smithfield’s Chicken & Barbeque on Jones Sausage Rd.  sang “Fuck Tha Police” a while a number of officers of the Raleigh Police Department were dining at the restaurant.  The hip-hop classic…yes, a song called “Fuck the Police” is considered a classic, which explains why I have no interest in hip-hop, except as a corrosive force in our culture, and especially the black culture—includes the trenchant and moving  chorus, evocative of Sondheim at his lyrical peak,

Fuck Tha Police
Fuck Tha Police
Fuck Tha Police
Fuck Tha Police

And I thought regular singing waiters were annoying… Continue reading

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Ethics Dunces: The Catlettsburg (KY) Police Department

punisher-logo2

This story does not fill one with trust and respect for the judgment of our warriors in blue.

The Catlettsburg, Kentucky, Police Department placed large decals on its police vehicles that show the comic book character “The Punisher’sskull logo emblazoned with the “Blue Lives Matter” slogan. Behold:

punisher-logo

The city council and mayor approved the design and decals, which were funded by local taxpayers.

Morons.

The Punisher is a Marvel Comics anti-hero who is a murderous vigilante.  He summarily executes bad guys. From Wikipedia (which apparently they don’t get in Kentucky)…

The Punisher (Frank Castle) is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character… is a vigilante who employs murder, kidnapping, extortion, coercion, threats of violence, and torture in his war on crime.

Exactly the image that police departments want to convey to the public!

The Punisher’s  logo has become a symbol of “Blue Lives Matter,” featured on merchandise and Facebook posts supporting police officers against the “forces of evil,”  as in those who view the police as enemies of minorities and justice.  “American Sniper,” the 2015  film based on Navy SEAL  Chris Kyle’s life, popularized the Punisher comics, which Kyle admired. Catlettsburg Police Chief Cameron Logan thought it was just  a “warrior logo,” and didn’t know it was associated with the vicious and lawless comic book character, even though the comic itself was featured in the film. He knows now, though.

“We’re getting so many calls, and they’re saying that the Punisher logo [means] we’re out to kill people, and that’s not the meaning behind that,” Logan says. “That didn’t cross my mind.”

Wait…mind?

The logo is a death’s head! What do you think a death’s head means?

Now that his police have removed the car decals, the Chief say he regrets using the image, calling it an oversight, and  promises that in the future he’d do “a little more research” …before emblazoning death symbols associated with lawless killing on his vehicles.

That’s nice.

 

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Is This A Lie, False Assertion, Mistake, Sarcasm, Jumbo, Or A Statement Requiring Investigation? The Case Of The Runaway Pants

Where did his pants go, and how?

Where did his pants go, and how?

The statement in question: “They took off running by themselves without me,”  when “they” refers to the speaker’s pants.

It is perhaps germane to the matter that the speaker, 52-year-old Charles William Raulerson, was naked and blasting music from his vehicle in a car wash parking lot. When confronted by police and asked about the reason for the conspicuous absence of his pants, Raulerson allegedly uttered his remarkable explanation. Police ultimately felt it necessary to tase him.

Today I returned to this offering by the most prolific of my crack ethics issues scouts, Fred, after four plus hours with The Ethical Arts Players, in which I expounded on the best ways for an organization to develop a culture that discourages sexual harassment. I was grateful for something completely different, though I will note that if Mr. Raulerson were inside the car wash and a manager there, this episode might qualify as creating a hostile work environment.

Fred suggested that “My pants took off running by themselves without me” is “a lie that is obvious and absurd.” In truth, it is not.

It does not qualify as a Jumbo, because the statement, unlike “Elephant? What Elephant?” does not deny what is undeniable. If his pants were in plain view, immediately disproving Charles’ statement, then it would be a Jumbo. (If, upon having the pointed out, he responded, “Oh! The devils! I hadn’t noticed! They came back!”, we would be returned to square one.)

Nor is the statement a lie. It just isn’t. We cannot say with certainty that it is a lie until we know that Charles doesn’t believe that his pants ran off, and is deliberately trying to deceive. That would make it a lie, but we simply don’t know that. The fact that he’s in public without pants creates a rebuttable presumption that he might, for example, be hallucinating, and really believes that his pants ran away like the dish ran away with the spoon. (Is that nursery rhyme a lie?) Continue reading

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Ethics Quiz Follow-Up (And An Ugly One): The Congressional Art Competition Winner’s Painting [UPDATED]

clay-painting-back

Well now we have a definitive answer to the Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz that asked whether  it was responsible, fair, and ethical for Congressman Lacy Clay (D-Mo) to have the painting above displayed in the U.S. Capitol, and we don’t even have to use the ethics decision-making process I included in the post. (I note ruefully that readers were challenged to use the method to reach a conclusion, and none did.)

We don’t have to use it, because we now know some things we didn’t know at first, or at least I didn’t. Based on news reports when I first posted, I assumed that the work by high school senior David Pulphus was chosen by a designated committee, and that Clay was bound by the terms of the contest to hang the winning painting in the Capitol. That would have made the treatment of the obviously inflammatory artwork, which depicts the false Black Lives Matter narrative that Mike Brown was gunned down in Ferguson by a racist cop without cause, an ethics conflict, pitting the First Amendment and the obligation to fulfill  a commitment against the inclusion of racially divisive art in the Capitol, which is irresponsible.  Now we know, however, that Clay himself helped choose the painting, and that he did so despite the fact that the painting directly violated the rules of the contest, and thus was ineligible:

“While it is not the intent to censor any artwork, we do wish to avoid artwork that is  potentially inappropriate for display in this highly travelled area leading to the Capitol.Artwork must adhere to the policy of the House Office Building Commission. In accordance with this policy, exhibits depicting subjects of contemporary political controversy or a sensationalistic or gruesome nature are not allowed. It is necessary that all artwork be reviewed by the panel chaired by the Architect of the Capitol and any portion not in consonance with the Commission’s policy will be omitted from the exhibit. If an entrant is unsure  about whether a piece of artwork is acceptable, he or she should contact the staff of his or her  Member of  Congress; the congressional staff can speak with personnel who can determine whether the artwork would be accepted.”

The painting is beyond question  “depicting subjects of contemporary political controversy or a sensationalist or gruesome nature.” In allowing the painting to be entered, participating in selecting it, seeing that it was chosen as the winner, and hanging such an inflammatory work in the Capitol, Rep. Clay was… Continue reading

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Ethics Quiz And Analysis Exercise : The Congressional Art Competition Winner’s Painting

ferguson-painting

The painting above, by high school senior David Pulphus, is now hanging in the U.S. Capitol complex, its award for being selected as the first place prize-winner in Missouri Democrat Rep. Lacy Clay’s annual Congressional Art Competition last May.  It is not clear whether Clay personally selected “Untitled #1” as the winner or had a part in the section, but the African American congressman  praised the work according to a press release:

His visually stunning acrylic painting on canvas entitled, “Untitled #1” will be displayed at the U.S. Capitol Complex.  Pulphus will travel to Washington, DC, courtesy of Southwest Airlines, to unveil his winning entry.  The painting portrays a colorful landscape of symbolic characters representing social injustice, the tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri and the lingering elements of inequality in modern American society….

In his remarks to the overflow crowd of young artists, parents and teachers who gathered at Webster University’s new downtown St. Louis campus in the historic Arcade Building, Congressman Clay said, “Tonight, we are celebrating our sixteenth year of recognizing outstanding young artistic talent. As you can see from the artwork on display here, the level of talent is truly impressive. Your work is inspiring, and I encourage all of you to continue to develop your creative abilities.”

Your first Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of 2017 is to answer this question:

Was it responsible, fair, and ethical for Congressman Clay to have this painting displayed in the U.S. Capitol?

I think it is a tough question. In fact, it’s an excellent opportunity to begin the year by practicing and applying one of the ethics decision-making processes, like this one from the Josephson Institute,  in the Tools section: Continue reading

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