Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Thoughts on Practical Ethics and Privilege

By Dan Randazzo

Last week, I surprised a burglar who had come into my house.

My spouse had just left the house. I was still home, as I was going to be working from home today. My spouse hadn’t locked the back door. I was sitting in my bedroom, when I heard footsteps on the stairs. I looked up, and then suddenly saw this large face peer into my room. I yelled, jumped out of the bed, and started to run after him. The burglar ran out of the house while I chased after him, yelling with some rather incoherent anger. At that moment, I didn't feel violated. Instead, I felt ANGRY; my thoughts followed the general theme that this is MY house, MY sanctuary, and how DARE you invite yourself in!

There's been a rash of burglaries in the neighborhood. It seems as if my area of Baltimore is being targeted by a group of people who are looking for houses where people are likely to have good “stuff,” and where people aren't likely to be home during the day.

I called my spouse immediately after I ensured that the person had left (as he admittedly had, and in a hurry), and she asked me if I was going to call the police. At this point, between the shock and adrenaline, I also felt an unusual constellation of ethical conundrums emerge.

For one, the man that I saw was definitely African-American. I questioned whether I should call the police with a very vague description of what was effectively a random African-American male. I truly didn't know anything else besides that. I definitely saw an African-American male who was wearing a grey t-shirt, dark boots, and dark gloves; that was the entirety of my memory of the person. I thought that if I told this description to the police, they might do exactly what they would up doing: canvassing the neighborhood, stopping anyone walking along who might fit this very vague description.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Rethinking Zero Tolerance Policies in Schools

NPR ran a story this morning (May 14) on Restorative Justice, the justice that actively promotes healing as a way to defuse potential conflict.  At the heart of the process in this case is the circle process, specifically a healing circle, in which the people in the dispute come together to explore the dispute, their anger, and their relationship.  As the teacher involved says "Conflict starts with  people exchanging words, so why can't they heal with people exchanging words."  

Listen to the students describe the importance of listening.

Here is the link to the full story -- 3:54; it's worth the time.