Thursday, February 6, 2020
Okay so here’s an ethical dilemma for us all to chew on. Suppose there’s some superstar basketball player like LeBron James. And suppose, seated courtside in the prime seats, is a vicious heckler. And I mean this is the most foul-mouthed, offensive, sonuvabitch of a heckler anybody ever heard. Every time LeBron passes by, he spews venom. He talks about his mama.
So here’s my question: At what point would LeBron be justified going into the stands and throttling that person? But hold on before you answer. Suppose that heckler is a Down Syndrome person or maybe somebody who’s blind. Does that change your answer? Should it?
I know it’s hard to picture a Down Syndrome person or somebody who’s blind as a vicious courtside heckler. It’s like trying to picture someone who blind or a Down Syndrome person on a wanted poster. You just don’t ever see that kind of thing. But why not? It reminds me of that TV show that I never watch where the protagonist is a woman who is chief of police in Los Angeles. It makes me wonder why I can’t think of a real-life female chief of police. It’s not like women are inherently incapable of being chiefs of police. They just haven’t had the opportunity. They’ve been pressured to play a limited role. It’s the same way with blind people and especially Down Syndrome people. The only way Down Syndrome people are allowed to present themselves in public is as sweet and cute and lovable. They aren’t inherently incapable of being a vicious heckler or ending up on a wanted poster. They just haven’t had the opportunity. They’ve been pressured to play a limited role.
So imagine we live in a utopian society that so teeming with genuine equal opportunity that a blind person or a Down Syndrome person could end up on a wanted poster or heckling courtside as easily as anyone else. That brings us back to our ethical question: At what point would LeBron be justified going into the stands and throttling that person? Should he hold back just because the foul-mouthed asshole is crippled? Should he cut a crippled asshole any additional slack? If LeBron went into the stands and throttled a blind or Down Syndrome-having sonuvabitch, he’d probably be fined and suspended ten times harder than if he throttled a regular Joe. Is that fair? Isn’t throttling us without prejudice when we deserve it the proper way for him to show respect and solidarity for cripple equality? Or not?
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