Moral Issues in Film: A Time to Kill
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
Professor Cheryl McKinley
February 15, 2015
A Time to Kill
The film “A Time to Kill” was released in 1996. The story is very intriguing and well-written. The movie is about racial inequality. Two white men, Billy and James, approached a 10 year old black girl named Tonya from the street, raped and nearly murdered her. Tonya’s family and community was devastated, especially her father, Carl Hailey (played by actor Samuel Jackson). Carl inquired about the case with a white local town lawyer, Jake Brigance (played by actor Matthew McConaughey). Brigance spoke of the possibility ...view middle of the document...
The story starts off with a situation that captures its audience’s attention. A 10 year old black girl is raped and nearly murdered by two white men in a community where blacks are not treated so equal. What happens next? What will her family do? The main cast of the films are faced with moral dilemmas that all affect their lives and the lives of those around them.
Carl Hailey faces an ethical dilemma. Should he leave it up to his local justice system to sentence the two suspects or take the law into his own hands? He approaches Jake Brigance, a white local lawyer, who spoke of the possibility that the suspects might walk. This factor might have convinced Carl Hailey to take the law into his own hands. He might have also been persuaded more by a logical fallacy, a hasty generalization. He might have thought that because a similar case in another town where suspects of raping a black girl walked away, the same outcome will result in his daughter’s case.
Carl Hailey takes the law into his own hands. He shot the two men in broad day light and accidentally injured the police escort. The way Carl Hailey was thinking can fall under the theory of utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is the principle of utility: Choose the course of action that will maximize happiness and minimize unhappiness for the greatest number of people (Rosenstand, p232, 2013). By taking the lives of those two men, he prevented the possibility of them being out in the streets, raping other children, and taking advantage of the justice system. According to David Hume, nothing is good or bad in itself, not even murder and that the goodness lies within the feelings toward the act (Rosenstand, p205, 2013). What we want to happen is morally right and Carl Hailey saw that avenging his daughter is what he wanted, morally right in his eyes.
Jake Brigance, a white local town lawyer, represented Carl Hailey in the murder case. Jake faced an ethical dilemma when approached by Carl Hailey. Carl Hailey had given Jake the impression that he was about to commit a crime. However, Brigance failed to report this to the local authorities. As a result, Carl went through with his plan and committed murder. Brigance...