Bioethics Blogs

Guest Post: Self defence and getting sacked

Written by Nick Shackel

Cardiff University

 

If you were attacked at a work party you would expect the person who attacked you to get sacked. In this case (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/11846084/London-Zoo-love-rivals-in-vicious-fight-over-llama-keeper.html) it seems to be the person attacked who got sacked, apparently because the boss doesn’t understand the right of self defence.

First of all, there are a number of oddities we need to put aside if we are not to get distracted. I shall not concern myself with any such issues, nor for that matter with the accuracy of the reporting. So allowing that there may be more to the story than we know, I shall address it as it appears in the report but call the women Ann and Beth and the manager Boss.

Ann punched Beth, Beth responded resulting in Ann being cut by Beth’s glass and Ann continued the assault. Ann was given a final warning whereas Beth was sacked. According to Boss, there was no evidence that Ann had punched Beth first whereas Beth had glassed Ann.

Let us take the last first: to be a glassing it is not sufficient that Beth hit Ann with her glass; it is necessary that she intentionally use the glass as a weapon. If, however, as she claimed, she instinctively defended herself when punched by Ann then the glass was not so used. Consequently Boss was simply wrong in her claim that Beth glassing Ann is indisputable. It all depends on Beth’s intention in doing whatever she did that resulted in Ann being cut by the glass.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.