BP#7: Police Officer Ignores Veil Of Ignorance

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Everyone wants to believe that when presented with a situation to exercise equality for all, that they would be able to act in such a way that race, color, gender, sexual orientation religion or economic status don’t matter. However, in this instance where a police officer confronted a black man walking “in the middle of the road,” he was acting in a way that treated this man unfairly possible because of his race, gender or appearance. According to Rawls, when determining how society ought to be run, we should use a “Veil of Ignorance” to shield us from recognizing the differences between us, such as race, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, religious affiliations, disability status, economic status, etc., that may cause us to be bias. We think that of all people, police officers should be the ones that should always be exercising this idea in order to treat everyone fairly. Sadly, in most cases, especially recently, they don’t. Rawls says that we should use the veil because when it is removed and we see things how they are, we might be the ones that are the least well off and would want to be treated fairly and with respect as those who are more well off. I doubt that if this police officer were walking down the street on a normal day and was stopped and treated with disrespect and humiliated as this man was, he would feel terrible.

It is hard to put yourself in others shoes and exercise empathy when we are surrounded by stereotypes and society norms that tell us how we should treat and act around certain people, but in this case, the officer should have treated this man differently. If the roles were reversed and it was the officer that was being treated this way, he would be horrified. The officer could have handled the situation much differently and in a more civilized manner but instead he exercised his “right” as a police officer to treat this man with disrespect because he know he could get away with it.

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