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Author Topic: Police and Professor: who had moral high ground?  (Read 2288 times)

Offline coberst

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Police and Professor: who had moral high ground?
« on: 25/07/2009 14:35:39 »
Police and Professor: who had moral high ground?

Can both simultaneously occupy the moral high ground?

The NYTimes published a news article that ignited “a national discussion about race and law enforcement unfolded after the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard’s prominent scholar of African-American history. Professor Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct July 16 at his home in Cambridge, Mass., as the police investigated a report of a possible break-in there. The charge was later dropped, and the Cambridge Police Department said the incident was “regrettable and unfortunate.”  President Obama said the police officer had acted stupidly.

Are experiences, meaning, and comprehension pertinent to the facts?

Did the police officer and the professor “see” the same thing?

The police officer saw himself once again going into a dangerous situation in order to preserve law and order; in this dangerous situation he saw a potentially dangerous black man giving him a hard time just like so many others have done.

The well respected university professor saw a police officer harassing him because he is a black man; just as many police officers constantly harass him and all black men because almost all Irish police officers harbor racial hatred for all African Americans.

I claim that both the policeman and the professor had made moral decisions of the highest meaning.  Both made decisions affecting the interrelationships of the community in its widest variables.
 
The Scientific Method seeks to bracket [fence out] meaningfulness.  The scientific method hates bias and bias is one form of meaning.  Bias causes the individual to often distort “truth”.  In the lab bias is the enemy, i.e. meaning is the enemy.

Religion seeks to bracket the word “morality”, i.e. to create a fence protecting the “word” from outside influence.  Religion seeks to bracket human critical thought.  I was raised as a Catholic and went to Catholic schools and was taught by nuns.  I learned quickly that to “entertain” impure thoughts (thoughts about sex) or questions about my religion were sinful and had to be confessed to a priest in the confessional.

What is meaning?

Meaning is not a thing: meaning is a creatures’ association with an object.

Meaning and epistemology (what can we know and how can we know it) go together like a “horse and carriage”.  Epistemology is about comprehension and comprehension is about meaning.

Comprehension can be usefully thought of as being hierarchical and formed like a pyramid.  At the base is awareness followed by consciousness.  Awareness is the beginning of comprehension; it begins with preconceptual and unconscious happenings in our brain.  Consciousness adds to awareness the focus of our attention on this object that results from awareness.  We are aware of much and we are conscious of little.  When I walk in the woods I am aware of much and become quickly terrified by the consciousness of a shape that makes me think bear.

Knowing follows consciousness on this pyramid.  Knowing is followed by understanding.   Understanding is at the pinnacle of the pyramid of comprehension.

Meaning follows comprehension side by side.  Meaning begins with awareness and grows with consciousness and knowing.  At the pinnacle of the pyramid is the creation of new meaning through the process of our understanding, which organizes into a gestalt that which is known.  The understanding at the pinnacle of comprehension is that rare moment of eureka when all becomes clear after a great struggle to understand a complex matter.  Understanding is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle where our knowledge are the pieces of the puzzle.


 

paul.fr

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Police and Professor: who had moral high ground?
« Reply #1 on: 25/07/2009 15:12:56 »
I hate it when people say things such as "..a national discussion", " the nation mourned". How can they speak for all? Why are we being asked to guess and read a piece from the NYT when you can read first hand the arresting officers own words in his report? As for Obama, he changed his position yesterday.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Police and Professor: who had moral high ground?
« Reply #2 on: 25/07/2009 18:21:08 »
"The police officer saw himself once again going into a dangerous situation in order to preserve law and order; in this dangerous situation he saw a potentially dangerous black man giving him a hard time just like so many others have done. "
Why did the policeman see this? If the guy had been white would he have "seen" the same thing?
If not then it's prejudice on the officer's part and that's not the moral high ground.
 

paul.fr

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Offline AllenG

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Police and Professor: who had moral high ground?
« Reply #4 on: 25/07/2009 18:57:57 »
I believe the whole thing boils down to a battle of egos.
I think there is some shame on both of their houses.
 

Offline graham.d

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Police and Professor: who had moral high ground?
« Reply #5 on: 25/07/2009 19:54:24 »
The issues are one's of prejudice. Prejudice is often an unfair judgement but it is not always based on any lack of reasoning or intelligence. The human mind makes decisions on the basis of past experiences and also of received data, not necessarily factual, from many sources. This is helpful in survival situations and is ingrained into the human psyche. Regrettably the policeman's experiences would have led him to believe that a black man in these circumstances is more likely to be an intruder. I would guess that statistics would back this up, though, even if this were not the case, he may have had enough anecdotal information, true or false, that he would reach this conclusion anyway.

I am unsure of your point, Coberst. The policeman was wrong in his judgement but, perhaps, understanably so. This has nothing to do with scientific methods. He had a bias, but this was not a controlled experiment.
 

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Police and Professor: who had moral high ground?
« Reply #5 on: 25/07/2009 19:54:24 »

 

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