Y’all, this is a “dead serious” post, so if that’s not where your head is at, this is one to skip.
So – we got a call from the FBI yesterday. Seriously. Seems that one of the websites that I created a while back, for no other purpose than the positive sharing of useful information – nothing negative – got perused by someone who’s about to go to trial charged in a really notorious murder from a few years back. I’m not going to be more specific than that, just for the protection of everyone involved, but if you’ve even lightly followed the news for the past few years, you’d know which murder I’m referring to.
Apparently this person is mounting an insanity defense, and the prosecution is trying to prove forethought and planning. And, knowing what pages this person was looking at, I know for a fact that he/she had to be planning. There’s no other reason for this person to be surfing this information.
So, knowing this, I know that something I created – that information I gathered and shared – was used by someone planning a nefarious murder. Something I created had a direct effect on the planning and possibly the actions of this person. In some small way, I feel a bit responsible.
Knowing these two things – that this person was definitely planning, and that my created resource was utilized – provided us with extra incentive to help out the prosecution, beyond just civic duty. However, this particular case had another ethical and moral issue for us to wrangle with. See, this is a death penalty case.
My husband and I are deeply opposed to the death penalty. Both of us have thought long and hard on this one, and have discussed it extensively. If either of us is horribly murdered – or both, I suppose – we don’t want the death penalty for our killer. I won’t trouble you with our reasoning. That’s not the point of this post. The point is, that by helping out where we felt obligated to help out, we are aiding people seeking the death of another person.
I guess that ultimately there was no question about whether or not we were going to help out. We sent along the data they asked for. I imagine (hope) that our response is going to become a court document in this case, and that’s why we specifically included a paragraph concerning our ethical opposition to what the prosecution is aiming for.
Still, this has brought up a lot of heavy ethical issues. Lots to think about here. Real life ethics are seldom black and white, are they? Wish my parents had prepared me better for that. Oh well, I’m sure I wouldn’t be who I am if I hadn’t been raised to be such an idealist.