Back in September, Marc wrote about Dutch adolescent Laura Dekker, who at 14 wanted to sail around the world. Marc, along with a Dutch court, found himself asking “How young is too young to sail around the world?”
The Dutch court says 14. They ruled today that Laura does not yet have sufficient experience for the voyage. In his original post, Marc wrote:
These age thresholds are based on determinations of the physical, psychological and decision making capabilities of individuals at various ages
In this case, the judges appeared to rely more on preparation, rather than individual capabilities:
Judges said they were confident that Laura was emotionally ready for the trip, but questioned the safety precautions and her ability to continue her schooling while at sea. They said, however, her sailing skills were not in question.
What do you think, Marc? Were the judges right or wrong?
Kierkegaard can help you get through tough times.
We’ve addressed the issue of punishment and imprisonment numerous times, for example here. The focus, however, has tended to be on punishment and the old or terminally ill. The Washington Post has an article today on the Supreme Court’s decision to consider the constitutionality of sending youth to prison for life. Huge moral questions here about the age at which humans become morally responsible (we’ve addressed this in the past too). The Supreme Court has already ruled that kids cannot get the death penalty. Is a life sentence much different? What do you think? Assuming life sentences are justified, how old is old enough to be sentenced to life in prison?
Is the NBA’s age requirement justifiable?
Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights, has an interesting op-ed in the New York Times arguing that the National Basketball Association should repeal its 2005 rule prohibiting players from entering the league unless they are 19 years old and a year removed from high school. The NBA’s age eligibility requirements have been the subject of much controversy considering some of the sport’s biggest stars went to the league directly out of high school.
Are these restrictions justifiable? Read more
Slate, always ready and able to discuss the public philosophy issues of the day, asks what’s on everyone’s mind: is it ok to like Chris Brown’s music?
Anti-Terrorism and you
Look around. See anything suspicious? The Los Angeles Police Department’s new “iWatch” initiative would like to know.
The iWatch program is part of an effort by law enforcement officials to use the public itself as an anti-terrorism tool. Police can’t be everywhere, but we can cover missing ground by alerting citizens to the dangers of terrorism and its indicators. What should we look for? According to the iWatch website, we should report suspicious bags or packages left behind, vehicles parked near important buildings, unusual smells, people asking questions about security, building blueprints, or travel schedules, people drawing or measuring important buildings, or people purchasing potentially dangerous supplies.
Among “important places to watch” are government buildings, religious buildings, parks, sports or entertainment venues, tall buildings, mass-gatherings, schools, hotels, theaters, malls, bridges, and public transport.
Following Colin’s post, worth noting that South Carolina governor Mark Sanford has written about Rand in the latest issue of Newsweek.
Sam Anderson discusses Ayn Rand (and Anne Heller’s new book – Ayn Rand and the World She Made) in New York Magazine. His decisive, psychoanalytical dismissal:
After reading the details of Rand’s early life, I find it hard to think of Objectivism as very objective at all—it looks more like a rational program retrofitted to a lifelong temperament, a fantasy world created to cancel the nightmare of a terrifying childhood. This is the comedy, the tragedy, and the power of Rand: She built a glorious imaginary empire on that nuclear-grade temperament, then devoted every ounce of her will and intelligence to proving it was all pure reason.
Or, Where’s the Beef?
The Atlantic reports on the Baltimore school district’s decision to not serve students meat on Mondays. Doing so, the school district claims, teaches students lessons about the value of vegetables, grains, etc while also saving the school district a modest amount in food costs.
Predictably, the national meat lobby is outraged. They’ve gone on a national media blitz to make the false claim that students who aren’t served meat (apparently at every single meal) are getting insufficient protein. One industry spokesperson made the astonishing claim that 75% of children in the US are not getting sufficient protein. Of course, these claims are false — Americans eat far too much meat, and it’s slowly killing us. The situation resembles the tobacco industry’s increasingly farcical claims that tobacco does not cause caner, with the key difference being that some meat is certainly neutral/good for children.
The moral issue is this: at what point does it become morally reprehensible for an industry (meaning, individuals working in that industry) to make claims that are becoming increasingly disproven?
One theory might be to say that when there is no meaningful scientific doubt that a product is a health risk that does not come from industry-produced or funded research, it might be time to reconsider a career in corporate PR. But the case of Meatless Mondays is a bit more subtle — of course meat is not all bad, but, equally, it’s clearly good for students to learn about non-meat alternatives. In this case, the industry might well have acted morally by simply pointing out the benefits of meat generally rather than appearing comically out of touch by argueing that one single instance of vegetarian lasanga would be the end of meat in America.
In short, why not just tell the truth?
Michael Gerson in today’s Washington Post on how Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel brings moral clarity to public life.