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This Exchange simulates the original Couples Coping Support Group. It is designed to help persons with concerns in their relationships, family, marriage, seperation, divorce, etc.Offering a wide range of real world, personal experiences, information, knowledge, suggestions, & views from real people.
Moral Dilemma
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blossom_dearie posted:
I hope you all don't mind this long question, because I can't think of where else to turn with this.

Background: I have been married for 4.5 years. DH is the eldest of four, and we socialize with his siblings a lot - hanging out at each others' houses, going to dinner / shopping / activities etc.

My sister-in-law's husband (who I'll call A) has been a police officer for about 1.5 years. On Xmas day, I was conversing with A and my 2 SIL's (one of whom is A's wife), when he started to brag about regularly engaging in police brutality ... basically, "roughing up" people upon arrest, and related an incident when they had someone on the ground and were beating him up, when A looked up and realized that there were "eyes on us" from the adjacent apartment buiding, so he and his colleagues "had to get out of there fast". Both SILs seemed to think this was fine, even laudable, because "they're criminals so they deserve it". I was shocked, but did not react, because I tend to be very careful about voicing opinions in front of my in-laws,

Having a friend who is a Legal-Aid lawyer, I was well aware that corruption is pervasive in my city's police force, and am not naive enough to have believed that A was untainted by it. But now that I know for a fact that he does this on a regular basis (and he implied that most of his colleagues do as well), I don't feel that it would be right to look away and pretend I don't know. To me, the fact that they have been entrusted with upholding the law, and instead use this power to hurt people, is simply unconscionable. In fact, if I thought there was any point, I would report him, but I know it would be useless because this problem is systemic and also I don't have any proof of what was said.

I discussed this with DH. DH and I are very different in this regard - although he is a kind person, he, and all his family, are not very introspective people, and in fact don't seem to spend much time thinking about absract concepts like morality or human rights. I on the other hand have very strong beliefs and don't feel that one can just ignore human rights abuses without becoming culpable oneself. When I married DH, I did worry that this would cause problems in the future, but I naively thought I could avoid problems just by avoiding serious discussions with his family.

I now feel I can no longer socialize with A. I am worried that this will cause problems between me and DH. DH appears to want to write the whole thing off as "the system is corrupt". He seems to actually agree on how wrong this, but would prefer to look away because it is just easier. I tried asking him where he felt the line was - for example, if A were a Nazi would he look away? And how different is this, really? But he still feels that he should continue to be friendly towards A as he is his sister's husband.

I don't know how I can respect DH if I see him laughing and joking with this man. If A were a family member of mine, I would tell him in no uncertain terms that I believe he should be in jail, and I would no longer have anything to do with him. But since he is in DH's family, I feel that I somewhat have to defer to DH's opinion. So we have agreed that I will keep silent as to my reasons, DH will be supportive of my no longer visiting A and SIL's home, and on social occasions I will be polite but not friendly. However DH will likely continue to be friendly with A, and that is a problem for me. I know that not everyone will understand, but I feel strongly about my principles, and I believe that anyone who looks away from an injustice is ultimately also responsible.

To summarize, my questions are:
1) How do I deal with the fact that DH and I have this huge difference in our moral compasses?
2) How do I act towards A on social occasions without making it obvious to everyone that there is an issue? And if it is noticed and I am asked, what do I say?
Reply
 
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fcl responded:
I had a situation that was similar as far as feelings went but quite different in reality. My SIL's husband used to be a rampant supporter of the "Front National" here in France. The extreme right. A party based almost entirely on racial hate. Immigrants (legal or otherwise) out and all that kind of stuff. He used to go on and on during family meals. I'm a foreigner here. I don't look like one (because I'm European too) but that doesn't mean that I am not one. I used to have to sit through his tirades at family meals. The funny thing is that nobody ever thiought that his speeches would make me uncomfortable, upset me, INSULT me...

Just want to say that I know how hard it is to be in the same room as someone who so offends you.

OK, now to your questions.
I cannot answer your first question because I have never been in that situation. My partner was polite to him for the sake of the rest of the family but did NOT like him.

Question N? 2, keep out of his way at these events. There is no point in letting him spoil things for you. Ask your husband to ensure that you are placed at table far enough away to not be able to hear him and so not be tempted to tell him w<hat you REALLY think of him. From my experience, nobody notices ... or at least, if anyone did (and as I was pretty short and clipped with him so I should think they did ) nobody said anything. However, if you are asked just tell the person that you do not subscribe to his moral values and ... walk ... away. Do not sit around to discuss it. Walking away ends the conversation and the person will realize that you do not wish to discuss the matter.

I wish I could be of more help. All I can say is that mine grew up a little and these days he is no longer a card-carrying member of the FN. I can cope with his political view these days and we can actually have an interesting discussion I'm sorry to say that it's unlikely this will happen to yours.

Best wishes.
There's nothing inherently dirty about sex, but if you try real hard and use your imagination you can overcome that.
 
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3point14 responded:
What you are doing is letting your morality, which is a good thing, get in the way of your relationships, which is a bad thing. I personally feel that until you are ready to actively fight the entire system, until you are ready to stage protests and be at town meeting and be an active participant in cleaning up the corruption, you're ultimately doing the "good" version of what he's doing and taking out your frustrations with a system on an individual.

I'm not saying he beats bad guys for good reasons, but based on my (admittedly limited) firsthand knowledge of cops, a lot of the reasons they get to be so out of control is because they are always forced into staring at the abyss of human nature.

Again, I don't disagree with morality, and I'm not saying to be a good German and don't ask where those trains are going. But I guess what I'm saying is that you hate a system more than a guy, and your husband is totally blameless in this. I mean, yeah you have a differing of opinion, but unless he's actively goading this guy, he does not have any responsibility for what comes out of his mouth, It's frustrating that he doesn't see things from your perspective, but he is entitled to his own, especially if it keeps the peace.

...he is a kind person, he, and all his family, are not very introspective people, and in fact don't seem to spend much time thinking about absract concepts like morality or human rights...
I had two problems reading this. 1. This guy isn't like, blood family. So I mean, it's technically not appropriate to lump your DH in with A, I'd hate to think that I was in the same category of woman as some of the ladies my cousins have brought around, and 2. it's unfair (in my opinion) to paint an entire group of people as unconcerned with human rights merely because you haven't heard them discuss it. I think it could just be one of those incredibly personal opinions that doesn't always come up over the dining room table, know what I mean? Maybe everyone's wincing at what he's saying, but they're also doing the polite thing, or just don't want to get in trouble...


You've already said that you'd be polite, and I think that should be sufficient. Maybe lightly interject with "Hey, no more war stories" or "Jeez, I'm trying to eat!" next time he goes very in-depth. Even excuse yourself from the table, and if it's remarked upon say something like "Ugh, hearing about all that makes me nauseas".


Best of luck, and hey, at least the holidays are over
...oh, you know me...I love the universe, I love all the listeners, watch it! Here's fifty-thousand watts of goodwill! (thepixies bam!thwok)
 
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Spankyrae responded:
Wow this would be so hard for me to deal with as well. I personally feel like we have a moral obligation to each other, because we are all connected to one another. If it were me, I would consider it a civic/moral duty to report what you have heard. I don't know if you are beyond the decision of if you should or not, or what your options are in doing so anonymously. The chance of the system looking away if a report of this comes along is pretty likely, but at least if something more concrete comes along later, there should be a report already on file that will help back up the evidence of brutality.

Ok, aside from that, I can also understand why you would feel some incompatibility between your husband & yourself. I also, would want to be compatible on this level with my mate. I guess this is something you may have to decide is a dealbreaker... but do know that just because he is not the type to take a stand doesn't mean he has no passion or heart for humanity.

As for how to interact with the relative... also tough, but just because he is involved in brutality does not mean he is undeserving of compassion either, just like the criminals. So I would not be rude to him, as hard as it may be. You can strongly dislike someone or their actions but still be polite and loving, which is what I'd do. I myself would also pray for him, if you are so inclined.
 
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GuardSquealer responded:
Seems your brother-in-law doesn't quite get it. I see this frequently at my work also. We are here to enforce the rules and regulations, not hand out the punishment. The punishment for the inmates is being in prison. They aren't subject to us handing out additional punishment. For whatever reason.

And obviously police officers are not also the judge and jury. I am sure it isn't an easy job. And it probably isn't easy when someone is trying to fight you, to not give them a little extra. Especially when your life may be on the line. But that isn't an option. My guess is he is young, and he may be bragging a little bit also. Makes a some what ho-hum job seem a lot more exciting when you enhance the stories somewhat. If not hopefully he figures it out, before he gets caught up in something and winds up in trouble.

Now as far as your moral dilema. Like someone else said you have to decide if this is a deal breaker for you. If it is then you might have to walk away. Otherwise you pretty much need to just except it and take it for what it is worth. You can't expect your husband to cut families ties for something like this. There will always be some sort of difference of opinions between individuals some are bigger than others. You have to decide what you can accept and what you cannot.

I would probably just be nice to the brother in law at social occasions and if he starts to do the bragging thing again. I would express that I find it offensive and walk away. I don't find a problem with telling him you think it is wrong. He knows it is also. But he is choosing to ignore that fact. They teach them the right way at the academy. That I am sure of.
 
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deadmanwalking57 responded:
You should protest, but its difficult.You might get some officers to start cleaning up their act with a couple simple statements or questions.

Ask this guy if he has ever heard of cel phones with video, or hand held video cameras with zoom lenses.

These guys are just asking to be filmed and reported to the news media, and off to jail they go with the same scum they are beating up. Ask him if he and his fellow officers really think they will get away with this forever. Ask him how he will feel if he loses his job for police brutality, and what it will do to his wife and kids when he is in jail. Ask him if he wants his friends on the force to go to jail over such stupidity. Ask him if he thinks such brutality might inspire these real criminals to shoot some random police officer in revenge, and would he feel at all responsible. If not ask, ask him why not.

I've not been in your situation, so I can't say if I would have the nerve. But I would see this side of it. I'm sure you don't wish for harm to come to him, but what would it do to his family if he were the random cop killed ?

Police should seek to inspire strength and respect. If the world devolves into anarchy, there will be far more criminals willing to kill people than there will be police willing to help, especially if the police are seen as bullies first, protectors of the law abiding last, if at all.

Has it occured to any police in your area that by being violent to offenders, they may inspire greater violence by the criminals on their victims ? The police may make crime worse with their behavior.

I don't believe in coddling criminals. A re-usable rope is far cheaper a solution to crime than a massive prison and guards and their salaries. Some people can be reformed, some not. But what if criminals take over the police. Seems like you have that now.
 
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blossom_dearie responded:
I want to thank you all for your responses. I was really pleasantly surprised to see such thoughtful and thought-provoking replies.

I think I am now leaning more towards the compassionate angle ... since my BIL is quite young, and new to the force, perhaps he is not a lost cause quite yet. So maybe if I voice my opinion when this comes up again, and get him to think about his actions, it could do some good. Perhaps it won't, but it's worth trying, I think, before cutting him off completely. So I will proceed with my polite-but-not friendly behaviour, and wait for this to come up again, at which point I will protest. If he disagrees with me, then I will probably cut him off at that point, but at least then he will know the reason.

Thank you everyone. You all seem like really wonderful people, to take time out of your day to help strangers with their problems.
 
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3point14 replied to blossom_dearie's response:
Thanks for comin' back and letting us into your life a lil'. Feel free to post any time, of course!!
...oh, you know me...I love the universe, I love all the listeners, watch it! Here's fifty-thousand watts of goodwill! (thepixies bam!thwok)


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