Ethics Dunce: Fashion Model Melissa Stetten

Hideous.

We have covered this territory before: the unethical conduct of the cruel and arrogant conversant or correspondent who publicizes private communication over the internet in order to embarrass someone whose only offense was social awkwardness or a moment of bad judgment, and whose biggest mistake was trusting a heartless jerk.  It is the Golden Rule breach of breaches, and is social misconduct that shows a serious deficit in kindness, fairness and decency.

Model Melissa Stetten, however, takes the cake, except that models aren’t allowed to have cake. Flying in First Class  from New York to Los Angeles, Stetten found herself next to actor Brian Presley, who was apparently rendered weak-kneed and stupid in the proximity of such beauty, plus he was a little drunk. His flirtatious chit-chat was both awkward and  pompous, so Stetten, who, like most models, undoubtedly has the conversational skills of Dorothy Parker, decided to  live-tweet their conversation to her 30,000 followers.

Brian Presley, naturally, was humilated. His wife was probably furious with him. His fans now know him as a dork who trots out the lamest pick-up lines ever devised. He also, apparently, was in the midst of an alcoholic relapse, so naturally Stetten mocked him for that too in her tweets. (Her entire performance is available on the web; I’m not going to circulate it. Unlike the New York Timse, jI don’t believe that just because I have access to information  I should magnify the harm it can do by helping to circulate it.)

Stetten’s justification for this miserable act was that Presley, a married man with a family, was an adulterer, which is utter rot. I think flirting with other women is dangerous if you are a married man (in fact, I know it is), and wives are consistently opposed to ut, but flirting without more is not infidelity, and in this case, there was apparently nothing else. Presley didn’t ask for a phone number or propose a rendezvous. It the model was so offended by the attentions of a married man, she had an ethical and effective response available: tell him to cut out the sweet talk, and leave her alone. Instead she decided to make sport of him. Despicable. (Apparently some even doubt that the encounter took place, meaning that Stetten made it all up; she has a record of telling whoppers. Sending a fake Twitter feed to humiliate Presley—now that would really be despicable.)

Brian Presley, one hopes, at least learned some valuable lessons, the prime one being as old as Athens.

“Beauty is only skin deep.”

__________________________________________________________________

Pointer: Instapundit

Facts: The Frisky 

Source: The Daily Mail

Graphic: enStarz

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at  jamproethics@verizon.net.

21 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Romance and Relationships, The Internet

21 responses to “Ethics Dunce: Fashion Model Melissa Stetten

  1. Dude he lied to her about being married and hid his ring! Then tried to say it never happened. He was begging for everything that came his way!

    • So every time you lie to someone, it is appropriate for her to humiliate you by broadcasting your lie to the world? He pretended to be single to chat up a pretty girl on a long airplane flight. It’s not especially admirable, but it isn’t worthy of international humiliation. She wasn’t deceived, was she? If she wants to call him a jerk to his face, good. Telling everybody he’s a jerk because of one bad moment is gratuitous cruelty.

      And don’t call me “dude” if you want to post comments here.

      • tgt

        I can’t agree with you Jack. A famous person hitting on someone in public is not akin to a private conversation. If, instead of being snarky, Miss Stetten had been tweeting about how great it was that Brian Pressley was hitting on her, I don’t think you would have had the same response. You seem to be upset by the snark, not the release of information.

        Also, I absolutely consider it fair game to tweet about a married person hitting on you. I agree that flirting is generally harmless, but lying about your marriage status and taking off your ring during the flirtation is evidence of intent to do more than flirt.

        Again, I’m assuming this is true. If it was all made up, I’m pretty sure we’d agree on the ethics issue.

  2. Which follows with an earlier contention of mine which some readers seemed to find despicable.

  3. Curmudgeon

    I’d never heard of her before — is she somebody famous? Anyway, leaving aside the ethics of either party: I looked up the young lady model’s picture, and discovered that my 44-yr-old daughter makes the model look downright homely! (Maybe because Daddy’s litttle girl is not so gaunt and starved looking.)

    • She’s famous NOW, for about another minute. Her victim is a bit more famous.

      • Curmudgeon

        Off the subject, beg pardon, BUT: why does our culture demand that fashion models look like escapees from Dachau?

        • Ah, but beautiful escapees from Dachau!

          • Curmudgeon

            Perhaps it’s in the eyes of the beholder. But when I see one of these skin-and-bones, half-starved looking fashion models, it does not inspire aesthetic feelings in appreciation of beauty, nor even gross lustful feelings. No, it inspires pitying, paternal feelings of “Quick! Somebody feed this poor child before she collapses!”

            • tgt

              You should be careful on actions taken by those feelings. I had a significant other who was very thin (5’6″, 90-95 lbs), but ate like a horse on a rabbit’s feeding schedule (constantly). Being thin doesn’t necessarly mean being unhealthy. She just had a metabolism that was brutal.

  4. I was just wondering: is the argument here that Pressley’s behavior wasn’t wrong enough to warrant public knowledge, or that no wrong action that’s done in limited company should be made known publicly?

    • What???? a) He did nothing wrong, but even if he did, b) international broadcast, shaming and ridicule of anyone based on a private communication, no matter how badly someone behaves, is per se wrong—unfair, cruel, and lacking in proportion and empathy, and 3) this was the close equivalent of taping or videotaping without permission. “Do you mind if I live tweet everything you do and say with snotty commentary?”

      Gee, I wonder what’s the matter with this. Please read the Golden Rule again. That governs such situations strictly. Frankly, I’m amazed at the question.

      • Frankly, I’m amazed at the one-sided outrage. You’re always saying on this blog that public scrutiny of personal conduct is thoroughly warranted in the case of politicians, yet here you’re saying that public broadcast of private communication is per se wrong. I see a double standard in that. Are the two situations different in your mind because politicians are deliberately seeking the public trust? If that’s it, it bears noting that Pressley, as an actor, probably strives to be in the public spotlight, even if not in their trust. He ought to know well enough to moderate his behavior accordingly. This wasn’t an intimate moment of weakness; it was a random attractive woman on an airplane. And it wasn’t a particularly innocent misstep. As tgt said above, his actions suggested intentions that reached beyond harmless flirting. He was doing something wrong, if only in his mind.

        Let’s be clear about this: I don’t care for how Stetten handled this situation. I’m sure that I would have criticized her for it if I knew her personally. The narcissism on display through her tweeting the conversation matches or exceeds Pressley’s evident narcissism in the content of the tweets. My issue here is that there are some inconsistencies and open questions that bear being worked out.

        I saw some of the tweets. Stetten only used Pressley’s first name until a follower went out of his way to find an imdb page that seemed to match the information and tweeted it to her for confirmation that it was him. Would Stetten’s actions have been equally wrong if she had kept the subject semi-anonymous and not provided this confirmation, which could well have been a thoughtless response to a direct inquiry, and thus an innocent mistake?

        Is Stetten wrong because she expressed her indignation, or because it was read widely? Many people don’t think of Twitter as a form of public broadcast so much as a way of communicating briefly with their friends. Would Stetten have been equally wrong if she had simply gone to a party later and told the story of the creepy actor guy named Brian who kept hitting on her on a flight? If she was, say, a stand-up comedian, would it be wrong of her to use the experience as a topic of observational humor while on tour? What if the story had gone viral in some less direct means? This is all relevant because it helps to clarify whether your criticism is directed at the act or the outcome.

        The same hypotheticals cut against your claim that live-tweeting is close to videotaping without permission. If a person simply has a good memory and recalls a conversation in detail later, with commentary, is that an invasion of privacy? You can’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy when you’re carelessly directing your words and behavior at somebody you don’t know. If someone makes your conversation known to a wider audience, it’s not an invasion of privacy but a betrayal of trust. But there’s something to be said for the foolishness of trusting someone to conceal your infidelities when you’ve never met them before and just happen to think they’re kind of hot.

        I’m familiar with the golden rule, Jack. It’s tough to say how I’d want to be treated in the same situation, though, because I don’t tend to boastfully hit on girls who don’t return my advances and keep turning their attention back to their smartphones, and I’m not married. But I expect that if I did something that implied infidelity, I wouldn’t want anyone to know about it. I don’t think that’s how the golden rule is supposed to be a tool for getting me out of having to account for my actions.

        • Account for what actions? Flirting and boasting to one person? A jerk is accountable to the person he behaves as a jerk toward, and anyone else his conduct affects. 1) She could have stopped the conversation. It’s easy. Say “I don’t want to talk to you.” If the conversation continued, it was her choice. This is entrapment after that point. 2) She deceived him. You do see what’s wrong with that, yes? 3)Her humiliation of him was so far out of proportion to his jerky conduct that he qualifies as a complete victim.

          This is awful conduct, like the woman who sent the e-mail from a guy who dumped her around the net, like the Harvard student who sent a personal e-mail from another student discussing the possibility of racial differences in intelligence to the whole campus, like the producer who put an angry phone call from Chevy Chase on the net to make him look like a jerk. All terrible. Nobody deserves to be exposed to the world on the basis of their worst moments of poor judgment, unless they actually hurt someone or do harm.

          Unless you think its appropriate for everyone you act like a jerk to to make sure that millions of people have all the details, then you should understand why the Golden Rule designates the model as the miscreant here. The harm she did was wildly out of proportion to whatever harm he did. She could have mitigated it, as kind and considerate people do. She, instead, magnified it, as mean-spirited, nasty, unethical people do.

          • tgt

            Account for what actions? Flirting and boasting to one person?

            How do you continue to insist that a married man who lies about his wife and then takes off his ring was just flirting?

            A jerk is accountable to the person he behaves as a jerk toward, and anyone else his conduct affects.

            And anyone else his conduct could affect. If one of my aunts invites me over for dinner so she can ridicule me for being an athiest, is it improper to tell other people in my family? Absolutely not. This is a C-list star. The proper people to tell is the general public.

            Heck, half your site is about bringing unethical people’s conduct to light. The guy who sued his rescuer. He’s only accountable to the one person, right? It would be wrong to bring his actions to a larger audience, right?

            1) She could have stopped the conversation. It’s easy. Say “I don’t want to talk to you.” If the conversation continued, it was her choice. This is entrapment after that point.

            Blame the victim much? It’s her fault that the guy hit on her. She could have made him stop at any time…while seated next to him on a plane. If she was welcoming the advances, it would be entrapment. Failing to shut someone up is not entrapment.

            2) She deceived him. You do see what’s wrong with that, yes?

            What deception? The only thing I see is that she didn’t call him an ass to his face. That’s about it.

            3)Her humiliation of him was so far out of proportion to his jerky conduct that he qualifies as a complete victim.

            He humiliated himself. She spread this public communication, in context, to more people. You know, exactly what you do. The people you talk about are not victims.

            This is awful conduct, like the woman who sent the e-mail from a guy who dumped her around the net

            Private person. Comparison fails.

            like the Harvard student who sent a personal e-mail from another student discussing the possibility of racial differences in intelligence to the whole campus

            Out of context, comparison fails.

            like the producer who put an angry phone call from Chevy Chase on the net to make him look like a jerk.

            Out of context, comparison fails.

            All terrible. Nobody deserves to be exposed to the world on the basis of their worst moments of poor judgment, unless they actually hurt someone or do harm.

            So, if she had slept with him, then she could publicize it? The attempt is good enough for me.

            Unless you think its appropriate for everyone you act like a jerk to to make sure that millions of people have all the details, then you should understand why the Golden Rule designates the model as the miscreant here. The harm she did was wildly out of proportion to whatever harm he did. She could have mitigated it, as kind and considerate people do. She, instead, magnified it, as mean-spirited, nasty, unethical people do.

            Translation: She could have pretended that a married, supposedly recovering aloholic in the public eye didn’t hit on her and wasn’t drinking. She could have kept facts that bear on the general public’s understanding of a public figure to herself. If she was in a position of trust (like a secret service agent), this would be the right action, but for anyone else, I find your desired behavior unethical, not ethical.

            I’m not saying that making fun of someone’s falling off the wagon was right, but telling the public that a public figure is lying about being sober? That’s not exactly doing great harm.

      • tgt

        Taping and videotaping without permission in public are both legal. I’d also say they are both proper.

        I can’t believe that you think that attempting to commit adultery is not wrong.

        • Of course it’s wrong. Flirting isn’t wrong. “Lust in one’s heart” isn’t wrong. There’s no objective proof that he was attempting to commit adultery. At worst he was attempting to attempt it. Even if he was, if he didn’t DO anything, he didn’t harm anyone. He didn’t. I can’t believe you think its Ok to decide that someone you barely know deserves to be humiliated nation wide for making flirtatious small-talk..

          • tgt

            Lying about his wife. Taking off his ring mid flirt. That’s not enough evidence for you that he was attempting to commit adultery?

            So attempts don’t matter? If I see you on the street, pull out a gun, and shoot at your face screaming “Die, Jack, Die!”, but my gun jams, I clearly have done nothing wrong, right? No harm, no foul.

            Presley is a star and puts himself out there as a happily married, sober, family man. He’s not. He’s lying to the public and Stetten was in position to call him on it. If you lie to the public, you absolutely do deserve to be found out. Presley can only blame himself for his situation.

  5. TheDocIzzin

    What she did to Presley was mild compared to the scathing, libelous words she used in her now deleted blog post about her ex-boyfriend the “shock jock.” I believe the girl has serious issues to work out & puts all of her negativity & anger into her use of media (twitter/blogs/etc.) to deliberately hurt others because she hurts. She may get a few more minutes of pseudo-fame but just as they all are, she’ll be used & abused by anyone & everyone in “show business” then will be wholly ignored & any future publicity stunts will heinously backfire. She is typical of women her age & seeks to use anyone she can to further herself & I’m sorry to be so honest but I don’t see why, beyond her painfully thin, anorexic (she had bragged about her anorexia in former Twitter posts) body as to why she is a model. She has an average, milquetoast sort of face & is destined to become little more than a “has-been” & if she has no real career aspirations, she will wind up being little more than a trailer park dwelling, multi-divorced shut in. I find her to be a sad mix of a self-entitled “look at meeeee-look at meeeee” sort & one who has a deep rooted schadenfreude which was borne of a turbulent childhood.

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