Gaddafi’s death raises ethical questions


Col. Gaddafi’s death is welcome news; the world is rid of an erratic terrorist and tyrant. But the manner of his demise also raises ethical issues:

—The US aided the forces that overthrew him did so under questionable circumstances when the Obama administration did not get Congressional approval.

Seldom do the ends justify the means. The president should have done it right, by getting Congressional approval.

(See my comments about this: https://arthurdobrin.wordpress.com/2011/05/25/obama-ignores-war-powers-resolution—a-serious-breach-of-trust)

—Apparently Gaddafi could have been caught. Instead, justice was meted out on the spot by shooting him dead. While this satisfies one sense of justice (bad people meet a bad end), it undermines the longer-term commitment to establishing a democratic system that must include fair trials.

Bringing even the worst of people to face a judge helps ensure fair trials for everyone. The world would have been better served with justice being carried out under the rule of law, not the rule of the gun.

(See my thoughts about a similar but not identical situation: https://arthurdobrin.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/bin-laden-was-unarmed—did-it-matter-morally/

—A grisly photo of his corpse was reprinted in newspapers throughout the world.

Once there was an understanding in the media not to publish grisly pictures. Media standards are racing to the bottom where they join the lowest common denominator on the Internet.

The media should give the public the news that helps them make informed decisions, not news that panders to their basest desires.

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