Posted: June 6th, 2022
A rich businessman’s daughter, Patty, had the best of everything all her life. Her future would have included college, a good marriage to a successful young man, and a life of comparative luxury—except that she was kidnapped by a small band of radical extremists who sought to overthrow the government by terror, intimidation, and robbery. After being raped, beaten, and locked in a small, dark closet for many days, continually taunted and threatened, she was told that she must participate with the terrorist gang in a bank robbery; otherwise, she and her family would be killed. During the robbery, a bank guard was shot. Was her action immoral? What if she had killed the guard? What if the terrorists had kidnapped her mother or father, too, and told her if she didn’t cooperate, they would kill her parents immediately? What would you have done in her place? (Readers might recognize this dilemma as the Patty Hearst case. In 1974, the Symbionese Liberation Army, a terrorist group, kidnapped the daughter of Randolph Hearst, the tycoon of a large newspaper chain. Her subsequent capture, trial, conviction, and prison sentence have been portrayed in books and movies and provide ripe material for questions of free will and legal and moral culpability.)
You are working in internal affairs, and in the course of another investigation, you discover disturbing evidence regarding the police chief ’s son, who is also an officer in the department. Several informants have confided in you that this individual has roughed them up and taken their drugs, yet you find no record of arrest or the drugs being logged in the evidence room. When you write your report, your sergeant tears it up and tells you that there is not enough evidence to justify an investigation and for you to stick to what you are told to do. What would you do? What would you do if the chief calls you into his office the next day and offers you a transfer to a high-status position that will lead to a promotion?
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