Ethical Implications of Victim Blaming in Cases of Police Brutality

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STUDENT VOICES 

By Emily Jenab, M.A.

Another black man has been shot and, subsequently, another case of character assassination post-death has begun.  Alfred Okwera Olango, 38, was killed as he pulled out “a three inch long vape” and allegedly pointed it at the police of El Cajun, California. The shooting of Olango, an “emotionally disturbed” man who was shot after his sister called 911 for help, has already resulted in justifications of why he deserved to die. Yes, he was holding a vape, but why did it look like a gun? Why was he standing like that? Why did he hold his vaporizer between his hands? Efforts to legitimize another murder, and state implicated violence, will be taken. The cycle repeats and ethical and emotional discussions surrounding these murders, along with the issues embedded in police systems, will continue to be ignored.

Respectability politics are pertinent for people of color, and for marginalized persons, the respectability of their very identity is questioned when they are victims of police misconducts. There is, for our cultural purposes, no “good” black man; if he is unarmed, as Eric Garner was, he still deserves to die and his murderer will not be charged. If he is armed in an open carry state, as Philando Castle was, it is asked why he even had a gun, or what he was doing prior to being pulled over. These men – employed, fathers, worthwhile members of their communities – are reduced to “thugs” in the wake of their deaths. As the horrific deaths play across screens, the feeling of inequality and shame arises in some while others choose to dehumanize and delegitimize the lives of victims. Even one’s commitment to serve his or her country is ignored, like the case of Anthony Hill, a veteran of the US Air forces who was killed in Georgia. There is no shield from pervasive racism, even serving our country, something that is normally highly venerated.

Perhaps “bad cops” and those who support them unwaveringly are engaging in some form of culturally disseminated ‘gaslighting’. The methods behind this tactic, normally perpetrated by domestic abusers, can be used to warp reality for the masses. As Shea Emma Fett notes, “every time an obvious hate crime is portrayed as an isolated case of mental illness, this is gaslighting. The media is saying to you, ‘What you know to be true is not true’.” The media, police departments and their ardent supporters present the same message: a victim of police violence becomes a criminal; a father becomes a criminal, a teenager becomes a man and a boy like Tamir Rice, barely 12, becomes a threat.

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Welcome Fall 2016 Master’s Students!

The Ethics and Society blog is delighted to welcome the following candidates to Fordham University’s Master of Arts in Ethics and Society:

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Kelly Collins

Kelly Collins graduated in 2011 with a BS in Philosophy and Political Science from Florida State University.  After moving to New York City shortly after graduation, she began working as a legal assistant in a well-known international law firm.  While pursuing her MA in Ethics and Society, Kelly hopes to utilize real-world skills to analyze and reflect upon today’s moral dilemmas.

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Tim Colvin

Tim Colvin is currently a senior at Fordham University from Kings Park, New York. He is a dual major in Political Science and Classical Civilization with a minor in Philosophy. Tim is interested in attending law school and hopes to apply a background in ethics in practice after completing the MA in Ethics and Society.

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Donald Trump, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace Ethics

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STUDENT VOICES

By Emily Jenab

Donald Trump is the physical manifestation of a unique brand of modern racism that has been festering within the Republican Party for years – cumulating, now, in their very own monster. He is the screaming id of our nation; a leader who has cemented himself through an explicitly discriminatory campaign, that at all at once is anti-women, anti-Hispanic, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim.

Trump promises to make America great again, cognizant, of course, of the fact that for many years our country was only great for white, able-bodied, cis men. He is a palpably scary force in that he provides a sense of legitimacy to the darkest corners of our society. He seems to revel in the production of it all: removing people of color from his rallies, and calling for the “good old dayswhen punches could be thrown, continuously turning to incendiary tactics.

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Study shows that marijuana has a significant role in relieving PTSD symptoms in combat veterans, more research on the way

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STUDENT VOICES

By: Kyle Pritz

The scantiness of marijuana research in the United States of America shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The lack of research is tremendous. However, with new decriminalizing laws budding up, the role of marijuana usage in the symptomatic relief of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic disorders is receiving uncustomary attention in the United States.

In a study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs in 2014, two American psychologists based at SUNY Albany, Jamie Bolles and Mitchell Earleywine, investigated the relationship between marijuana, expectancies, and post-traumatic stress symptoms. Using an online questionnaire and maintaining anonymity to enhance the response rate, Earleywine & Bolles surveyed more than 650 combat-exposed, male veterans who used marijuana at least once per week.

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Is there an ethics code for storytelling?: the phenomenon of Humans of New York

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STUDENT VOICES

By: Emily Jenab

Humans of New York has become inescapable. Photographer Brandon Stanton is singlehandedly telling multiple stories: effectively creating empathy in the cold, often isolating experience of New York; unearthing the humanity in the overlooked. It is noble work that has reached millions.

I have often found myself consumed by the stories and photographs of the ignored, not to mention pleased with his work in Iran and Pakistan, defying stereotypes with each humanizing tale posted. His work seems to be the modern-day activism that we have come to love: a way of creating connections to faces on our screens in a globalized world.

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Can wars ever be just or are wars merely justifiable?: The conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Photo via freedigitalphotos.net.
Photo via freedigitalphotos.net.

STUDENT VOICES

By: Louise Boshab

The concepts of justice and injustice are not effective in defining war in an objective manner but on the other hand easily bring on a subjective understanding of war among populations, which will then influence either their opposition or their support of war (Gaoshan 280).

In a lecture at the Carnegie Council, David Rodin of the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law, and Armed Conflict addresses the issue of the ethics of war and conflict, and caused me to reflect upon what makes a war just. I will explore the ideas of justified and unjustified wars discussed in Rodin’s talk through the example of the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. One of the initial reasons behind the intermittent conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo taking place since 1997 has to do with the status of the Banyarwanda—Congolese people of Rwandan descent—and of the Congolese Tutsi within Congolese society. The strong anti-Rwandan feelings that existed before the war only grew worse.

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Deterrence or Disarmament?: The Ethics of Nuclear Warfare

Corroral Missile in front of the Center Exchange. Photo via NYPL Digital Archives.
Corroral Missile in front of the Center Exchange, 1957.                                          Photo via NYPL Digital Archives.

STUDENT VOICES

By: Kayla Giampaolo

On July 16, 1945 at 5:29 a.m., a 30,000 foot mass of smoke rose in New Mexico’s desert: the first atomic bomb had just been successfully tested. At the time, most people were unaware that the course of warfare and ultimately the world was about to change irrevocably. Since that eerie summer morning, nine nations have developed the intelligence to create and possess nuclear weapons (Granoff, 2000, p. 1414). The United States is one of these nuclear superpowers, making the ethical issues associated with these weapons critical and relevant.

Is using a nuclear weapon morally permissible under some circumstances? Is it ethical to implement nuclear deterrence (threatening to use atomic weapons) as a self-defense strategy?

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