Ethics is doing the right thing, having morals and living by what’s the right way, whatever that may be. Ethical principles are premised on the notion that right is always right and wrong is always wrong, nothing more or less. It’s often said that the number one profession that demands the highest ethical standards are those of law enforcement. Ethical dilemmas are incidents that causes us to question how we should react based on our beliefs. A simple decision that’s needs to be made between right and wrong.
In my lifetime I’ve experienced many ethical dilemmas, so I know that there is no such thing as an ethical dilemma that only affects one person. I also know that some, more than others, ethical dilemmas that’s are easier to resolve. The easiest ones are the ones in which we can make decisions on the spot. For example, if a cashier gives me too much change, I can immediately make a decision to either return the money or keep it. Morally and rightfully so, I would return the money because that could affect me and the cashier.
Now, It’s undeniable that there’s an understandably huge degree of expectations placed upon police officers, or a law enforcement, and rightly so. Every day, we read, hear, and watch stories of officers who do wrong knowingly and hide behind their badge. From things such as theft, excessive use of force, misuse of public office, abuse of authority, racial profiling, and even simple things like speeding, are all examples of unethical behavior. The public has entrusted those that serve under law enforcement to serve and protect them, but now so more now than ever, that trust has been broken. An Ethical dilemma is an ongoing theme that seems to appear in many mainstream products but it’s hardly ever approached hastily.
One of these products is the 2011 movie “Unthinkable” which was never released in the theaters. It’s psychological thriller centered around a black-ops interrogator and an FBI agent who press a suspect terrorist into divulging the location of three nuclear weapons set to detonate in the U.S. A little insight on the movie is the story begins when an American, identifying himself as Steven Arthur Younger sends out a video in which he claims to have placed three nuclear weapons in three U.S. cities. The authorities quickly catch the wanted terrorist, but only because Younger, for reasons unexplained, wants to be caught. The government calls in the local Los Angeles FBI anti-terrorist unit, led by Agent Brody to supervise the questioning. But they also summon a mysterious figure known only as ‘H’ (Samuel L. Jackson)—one of those independent contractor types who says he’s not affiliated with any government agency because he “doesn’t exist”—to conduct the interrogation, meanwhile,
Younger hasn’t even announced his demands yet. When ‘H’ walks into the room, most of the military and FBI honchos have never seen him before. He’s dressed plainly in civilian clothes, and he’s escorted by CIA operative Thompson (Stephen Root), who had been keeping ‘H’ in hiding because he has “enemies”. Everyone but a few select players are asked to leave the Top Secret location, and the remainder quickly begin to question the methods of this ‘H’ figure. He begins his interrogation by chopping off one of Younger’s fingers with a small fire ax, and from there, moves on to various forms of torture that the others continuously try to prevent.
Younger eventually reveals his rather American-favored demands: he wants no more U.S. funding of rebel regimes, and he wants to bring home the troops from all Muslim nations. Agent Brody refuses to take part in the torture at first, but as the deadline to Younger’s deadline approaches, the situation becomes desperate and she second-guesses her convictions. The directors lay out a complicated moral scenario, which, despite ending on an unsatisfying dramatic note, one can’t help questioning what they believe to be right. Should ‘H’ have been allowed to do whatever’s necessary to find the bombs? Should one life be sacrificed for millions? Does ‘H’ have a point when he suggests that evil should be fought with evil, and if so, what’s the limit that we can use and remain? Then again, why deny it? We’re human. Though these questions are never answered in any satisfying way, it’s more important that as the plot plays out, the story remains focused on the morality of it all, ethical and moral behaviors. These characters display ethical decision making that goes against law enforcement protocol.
I personally face these ethical behaviors in my line of work. I work in the mental health field so I’m faced with adversity on the daily. Many of my clients don’t have the right mental state of mind and don’t have the family to support them so as a legal representative I have to have their best interest. Although some of my clients are not always honest and lie about their diagnoses, it’s up to me to determine if, when, what, and how can I help them. Daily life can be challenging to deal with when difficult people, problems, and struggles can arise at any given time. Surely without the proper training, the ability to think and have support a person can literally go insane thinking about these problems and how to deal with them. With this rather large problem to handle, it is important to understand the decision-making process and how to apply it to everyday life situations.
There’s six stages to the decision-making process which include defining and analyzing the problem, generating possible solutions, analyzing the solutions, selecting the best solutions and planning the next course of action. The best and easiest of these steps, for me, would be analysis and defining the problem. Even if the outcome of this method stands tall against any attempt to its eradication, the importance of Unthinkable is to showcase how the ethical stance of western democracies buckles and breaks when confronted with the facts of a growing need for security brought along by the narrative of the “war on terror”. Even if this film cannot bring to an end the diffusion of such practices, at least it can be used to present awareness to defuse incendiary discourses that advocates for such.
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