State University of New York Institute of Technology
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Our Rights..............

“Guest Commentary:  The Shut-up Switch” - Ethics Newsline – (3/5/2012) Global Ethics

This rather lengthy article highlights how technology can stimulate or limit communication.  At the heart of the story is a “cell-phone jamming gizmo” in which a Philadelphia transit bus operator used such a device to block cell phone conversations.  Doing so is illegal, but there is proposed legislation that would enable the government in certain instances to block internet and cell phones during events or circumstances of public rioting or other similar dangers.  This may be illegal and unethical on a private level as opponents claim it violates the 1st Amendment right to free speech, the when you weigh the good of the indiviual against the good of many it is a horse of a different color. 

The ethical consideration here is clear that the operator has no obligation or duty to block cell users.  His excuse was that he was attempting to stop rude behavior and loud talkers.   Clearly it is not his obligation to alter behavior and therefore he clearly violated some sort of statute.

Personal viewpoint:

The operator may have a better case to plead the elimination of distractions caused by the loud talking and that there is a potential for safety being jeopardized as a result.  Not likely though.

I also find it utterly rude and inconsiderate of people to take cell calls in a restaurant or public place, especially when the person must talk louder than a normal conversation level during the phone call.  Common courtesy (along with common sense) is fast becoming a thing of the past.  People may claim free speech, but it should not over-shadow others’ right to life, liberty, and happiness.  People should extend common courtesy to others and take the call outside away from others.  After all it was not all too long ago that cell phones didn’t exist and we all survived just fine.


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