Tag Archives: the homeless

Ethics Observations On The Homeless Hero

Perhaps you have seen this video:

Apparently both the Brooklyn attacker and the man who took him down were homeless.

Observations:

  • I thought the “knock-out game” was 1) over with and 2) an urban myth. This sure looks like the “game” to me.

I can’t find a single report that notes that, however.

  • I also can’t find the name of the man who tackled the assailant and held him until police arrived.

Why hasn’t such a good citizen been recognized?

  • Many of the headlines on this story are like CBS’s, which reads, “Homeless Good Samaritan Saves 2 Elderly Women Attacked By Homeless Man.” That’s fake news. Can’t these hacks get any story right? Watch the video. Yes, the man attacks the the attacker of the two women, but the bad homeless man was trying to leave. The damage to the women he punched was done. By no interpretation of that video can it be said that the “good Samaritan” saved  the victims. Indeed, he didn’t interact with them at all.

The video accompanies the headline, and yet the headline is still false!

Tell me again, ye Defenders of the News Media, why we are supposed to trust these irresponsible, undependable, incompetent hacks, much less respect them.

  • Would you do what the Good Samaritan did here? If not, why not?

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Filed under Character, Ethics Heroes, Journalism & Media

An Ethics Hero Epic: Johnny Bobbitt, Jr, Kate McClure, And Americans

Kate, Johnny, and Kate’s boyfriend. I bet you can tell which is which…

I learned about this story days ago, and got so distracted by all the nauseating ethics news that I neglected to write it up. I apologize. This kind of story should always be the top priority.

Kate McClure of Bordentown, New Jersey, was driving through Philadelphia to visit a friend when her car ran out of gas in a tough section of the city. McClure pulled over, got out of her vehicle and began to walk to the nearest gas station. But Johnny Bobbitt, Jr, an ex-Marine who lives on the streets, saw her plight and immediately took charge. The neighborhood was a dangerous place for a woman to walk alone, he told her, and suggested that she get back in her car, lock the doors, and leave matters to him.

A few minutes later, Bobbitt was back with a full gas can, and gave Kate  20 dollars, the only money he had to his name,  to make sure she could get home safely.

McClure said she did not have money to pay Bobbitt back that night, but she returned several times to the spot where he sits, offering him a few dollars and useful items.. Then McClure started a GoFundMe for her rescuer. She wrote,

I would like to get him first and last month’s rent at an apartment, a reliable vehicle, and 4-6 months worth of expenses. He is very interested in finding a job, and I believe that with a place to be able to clean up every night and get a good night’s rest, his life can get back to being normal.

So far, her campaign has attracted donations totalling almost $380,000 for Bobbitt.

The veteran has been homeless for over a year because of real problems. He has battled drugs, bad choices and probably emotional issues as well. I hope this story has a happy ending. So far so good, though. Johnny demonstrated exemplary ethics, sacrificing his own well-being for a stranger. Kate demonstrated genuine gratitude, empathy and concern, and took affirmative action to try to pay him back. And the American public, as it usually does, showed that when sufficiently alert, it knows how to reward good and selfless deeds.

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, U.S. Society, War and the Military

Ethics Hero: Minu Pauline And Her Curbside Fridge

free food

Ethical people will come up with the damnedest ways to do good things.

After watching the poor and homeless rummage through the dumpster outside of the restaurant she owns in Kochi, India, Minu Pauline thought about how she could facilitate access to the perfectly edible food that her establishment had to dispose of on a regular basis. So when she opened a second restaurant, it included a fully functional refrigerator on the sdiewalk out front.  She stocks it with leftover food from her restaurant, and invites others to do likewise.  Now her customers and residents of the community leave their leftovers and excess food, marked with the date, in the curbside fridge too.The homeless and the poor can take whatever they need 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without having to beg.

Pauline calls the refrigerator  nanma maram, which means “tree of goodness” or “virtue tree.” The name is particularly apt, for she is providing dignity and kindness, as well as charity.

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Pointer: Fred

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Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes

News From The “Pay It Forward” Front: Neal Shytles

Neal-Shytles-buys-goodies

At the beginning of this month, Ethics Alarms honored Ashley McLemore of Norfolk, Virginia, who answered the ad placed by a homeless man, Neal Shytles who wanted to spend Thanksgiving with a family. He spent the day with hers, and for Christmas, Shytles devised a way to help others like himself in need of holiday kindness.

Neal resolved to make goodie bags for the hundreds of men who always assemble for dinner at his local mission, creating a Facebook page to collect Walmart gift cards to purchase socks, gloves, hand warmers and candy. His efforts raised more than a thousand dollars that was matched by the local TV station that first broadcast the story of Ashley McLemore’s kindness.   Then WTKR took Neal to Walmart, where he filled four carts, and its staff helped him  assemble the gifts  into dozens of brown paper bags.

Thanks, Neal. I needed this story.

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes

Ethics Hero: Ashley McLemore

Neal Shytles and Ashley McLemoreIt is important to keep in mind that there are an awful lot of good people in this world.

From the Washington Post:

“It started with the loneliest of pleas: “Large, 54 y.o. Christian, homeless male is looking for a person, family or couple to share Thanksgiving day with,” Neal Shytles wrote in an online ad. Last year he spent the holiday at a shelter, and although probably 200 other men were there eating turkey, “you sit down, you eat, you get up and leave,” he said. “Every day of the year is pretty much lonely for me, but Thanksgiving, Christmas is the worst time to be alone.”

So when a stranger, Ashley McLemore, offered to take him to her family’s home in Newport News for the holiday, he burst into tears. She did, too.

But that was just the beginning. His story resonated with people in Norfolk, where he has been staying at Union Mission Ministries, across Virginia and as far away as Europe and the South Pacific.”

Read what happened next here. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Love

Ethics Quiz: The 90-year-old Scofflaw Humanitarian vs. The Heartless Mayor Who Isn’t Really

Seiler

[Fred, one of my two regular ethics issue scouts (Alexander Cheezem is the other, and what I would do without their assistance, I do not know: thank you, thank you, thank you, guys!), flagged this classic ethics conflict several weeks ago.]

Some sources reported that a “90-year-old man was arrested for feeding the homeless.” This set off typical fact-free indignation on the social media and talk shows, not to mention the angry e-mails from around the world: Charity illegal???  A kind old man arrested just for trying to help the poor! Cruelty!!! ARGGGHHH!!!

Naturally, this was not what really happened.

For 23 years, since he was 67, 90–year-old Arnold Abbott and his non-profit organization, Love Thy Neighbor, have provided food for the homeless at a public beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Wednesday of every week at 5:30 p.m. This year, on October 21, the City of Fort Lauderdale Commission passed an ordinance that banned such food distributions in public. The ordinance required that organizations distributing food outdoors would have to provide portable toilets for use by workers and those being fed. It’s a health and safety regulation, for the benefit of homeless and vulerable. A few days after the ordinance took effect, on a Wednesday, at a bit after 5:30 PM, Abbott  was approached by police officers and cited for violating the ordinance. He was not arrested. He was told that he must appear in court.

After Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler was called everything from a monster to a Republican (he’s a Democrat), someone finally asked him what the ordinance was all about and questioned his police department’s treatment of the kindly senior. “We hope he feeds, ” Seilor said. “He has a very valuable role in the community. All we’re saying is he can feed the next block over. He can feed at the church. We want them to be in safe secure settings. We wanted them to be in a sanitary matter. We them to have facilities available before and after.” That seems reasonable.

Seiler has also offered an explanation for the ordinance, which was backed by the Chamber of Commerce, that sounds more, well, Republican, saying that  providing the homeless food in public only enables homelessness, and that Fort Lauderdale wants the homeless to use government and church services. “If you are going to simply feed them outdoors to get them from breakfast to lunch to dinner, all you are doing is enabling the cycle of homelessness,” Seiler says. Well, that’s debatable, but it isn’t unreasonable.

Still,  it’s hard to teach old humanitarians new tricks, and Arnold is defiant. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity, Quizzes, U.S. Society

Clever! But Wrong: “Hoodies For Hobos”

Homeless advertisng

“Team ADD -A-BALL is proud to announce our new outreach program ‘Hoodies for Hobo’s’. All profits from sweatshirt and t-shirt sales go towards outfitting Seattle’s street people with some fresh gear. I will post a pic of every new bum we spruce up. Thanks everyone.”

—-Add-a-Ball owner Brad Johnsen, on his company’s Facebook page.

Yes, Brad, who casually refers to his walking billboards as “bums,” has what he sees as a perfect plan. Profits profits from all  T-shirt and apparel sales at Johnsen’s Seattle arcade will be used to outfit the city’s homeless “with some fresh gear,” all sporting the arcade’s name and logo. Everybody wins! He gets publicity and good will for this—wink, wink—“charity,” the homeless get spiffy new clothes, and he gets really cheap advertising.

So what if he robs the objects of his charity of their dignity, exploits them, and dehumanizes them into the equivalents of car bumpers? Hey, no plan is perfect! To his credit, sort of, Johnsen’s comments don’t exactly leave much room for doubts about his compassion and motives. “If it also encourages people to go play pinball and get drunk—all the better,” he says.

If he was interested in anything other than the cheap publicity…like, say, the welfare of the homeless, Johnsen would hand out clothes without the logo. I’m sure he wouldn’t understand why I say that. Or why paying the “bums’ who choose to wear the ones that advertise his business would be the ethical course, since it would compensate the homeless for their service and give them a sense of self-worth, rather than making them, in effect, unpaid sandwich-board wearers for the privilege of wearing a lousy hoodie.

I wonder how many people see nothing unethical Johnsen’s scheme. I’m a little afraid to find out.

[Addendum (4 PM 4/10/14): I should have mentioned in the original post that Kant would have agreed with me. This is a Categorical Imperative situation, using human beings as a means rather than an end: “Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end.”  The fact that the cynical ploy can be represented as a one that aims at clothing the homeless makes the label a little shaky, and I admit that the “Ick Factor” looms large here.]

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Pointer:  Drudge

Facts: Vocative

 

 

 

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Marketing and Advertising