Why are some people forgiven while others are not? After listening to the story of William Cimillo and his joyride in a New York City bus down to Florida, which would technically be classified as grand larceny, and how the court chose not to punish him, this question formed in my mind. What was it about Cimillo that made him forgivable?
This also drew in a question of ethics. Principles of ethics typically rely on equality, common good, or virtue, so at first glance it seemed unethical to forgive someone while not forgiving others. It looked as though there was a massive failure in making ethical decisions. However, within the fairness and justice approach there was a reference to Aristotle’s idea that equals should be treated equally.
The idea that Cimillo is not an equal to another hypothetical man who could have stolen a bus seems unfair, especially having grown up in a country that put the idea “all men are created equally” into their doctrine. The word that stood out was “created.” This bridged the gap that I had felt was there because although all men are born with a certain set of rights, through life experiences men can make more of and for themselves. Cimillo was a good, hardworking, family man. He wasn’t planning on selling the bus for profit. He wasn’t smuggling drugs or kidnapping anyone He showed up to work one day and made a very weird and spontaneous choice people across the country were fascinated with. This distinction separates him from what most would think of as a criminal.
This idea of fairness and justice and treating equals equally seemed the most fitting for my paper simply given it appeared to be the most logical connection I could make within the framework for ethical decision-making given the uniqueness of Cimillo’s story.