Hello Fellow Philosophers!
The inspiration for this post comes from a very weird source: a Russian serial. Unlike here in the US, most Russian movies that are made (and popularly watched) have multiple parts to them, usually running between 40 – 50 minutes per part, and consisting of anywhere from 4 to 24 parts. These are referred to as “serials” (or, at least, that is the translation from Russian), and are shown on TV.
In one of the ones that I finished just recently, there was an interesting moral dilemma that came up that I thought would be nice to post up here.
The movie was about female detective, Katie, who works for what you could call the town’s DA Office.
In one of her cases, she is looking for the killer of a known drunk recently released from prison. He had been released after serving time for an incident where his drunk driving had killed one of the village member’s daughters. The father, who I’ll call Joe for simplicity, had openly — and on multiple occasions — threatened to kill the drunk for what he did to his daughter, especially since the drunk was notorious for being drunk most of the time, and being careless in what he did.
As it turns out, the father did confront the drunk the same day he died, but was not able to kill him, shooting at a tree instead and leaving the drunk on his knees, crying. Not only that, but the killer, ultimately, turned out to be Joe’s wife, who was already dying of cancer, and had only a few weeks to live. Both Joe and his wife are elderly, and have emotionally suffered from the entire ordeal for all these years. The Drunk, fyi, was killed from short-range with a shotgun (in essence, the death was probably painful).
My question to you guys is this: if you were in Katie’s shoes, would you take Joe’s wife into custody for what she did, as the law would proscribe? Or would you knowingly destroy the evidence linking Joe’s wife to the murder, hence letting the only chance of convicting her slip away? And would the choice you make be morally justified? Or not justified? Why (or why not)?
There are definitely arguments that could be made from either side. I’m not sure of what side to take, however.
George (“The Meager Weakling”)
P.S. — Katie, in this case, chose the latter option, for which she was yelled at by her boss, yet not punished. It seems like the serial’s writers decided that in a conflict between law and compassion, compassion should win.