Category Archives: Animals

Now THAT Was Moral Luck…

"What the HELL do those idiots think they are doing with that poor kid???"

“What the HELL do those idiots think they are doing with that poor kid???”

Moral luck is the daily phenomenon where the exact same irresponsible  act by an individual can be regarded as cause for condemnation or even criminal penalties, or be shrugged off as a forgivable error in judgment and inconsequential based on turns of fate that the individual has no control over at all. You will see few better examples than this ridiculous story out of Cleveland. Parents visiting the Cleveland zoo dangled their 2-year-old son over the railing of the zoo’s cheetah exhibit,  then dropped the child, apparently accidentally, into the enclosure.The cheetahs wisely decided that the offspring of idiots might not be safe to eat, and made no effort to harm him. The boy’s father rescued the boy by jumping into the exhibit area and taking his son to safety. The boy was injured slightly, but it is likely that the incident will be  treated as an accident, with no consequences for the parents. If, however, the cheetahs had attacked and killed the toddler, the parents would have been prosecuted, and condemned across social media as contenders for worst parents of the year.

It was all up to the cheetahs.

That’s moral luck.

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Filed under Animals, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Family, Law & Law Enforcement, Religion and Philosophy

Ick, Not Ethics: The Incredible Head Transplant

OK, this looks unethical...

OK, this looks unethical…

I adore stories that clarify ethical distinctions, and this is the third one we’ve had recently. First we had the classic “Awww! Factor” case of the Down Syndrome cheerleader. Then, close on its heels, we got “Downton Abbey’s” finale, which illustrated the ethics fallacy of Consequentialism as deftly as any textbook.

Now we have the startling report of impending head transplants:

The world’s first attempt to transplant a human head will be launched this year at a surgical conference in the US. The move is a call to arms to get interested parties together to work towards the surgery.

The idea was first proposed in 2013 by Sergio Canavero of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group in Italy. He wants to use the surgery to extend the lives of people whose muscles and nerves have degenerated or whose organs are riddled with cancer. Now he claims the major hurdles, such as fusing the spinal cord and preventing the body’s immune system from rejecting the head, are surmountable, and the surgery could be ready as early as 2017.

Canavero plans to announce the project at the annual conference of the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons (AANOS) in Annapolis, Maryland, in June.

Predictably, this news prompted a wave of “Futurama” jokes and bad puns. It also prompted dozens of hysterical stories online and in print pronouncing the yet-to-be performed operation as “a terrible idea” and obviously unethical. A Daily Beast “expert” with the trust-inspiring name “Docbastard” condemned the practice with this wisdom:

That’s the funny thing about ethics—it may be impossible to say why something is wrong, but can be easy to see that it isn’t.

Yeah, that is funny. It is also false, and incredibly stupid. If one cannot say “why” something is wrong–you know, things like interracial marriage, interracial adoption, homosexuality, gay marriage, plastic surgery, income tax, integration, eating meat on a Friday…gee, let’s see how far back into cultural history we need to go to get the list up to a thousand! My guess: no further than 1900, if that far—there’s an excellent chance that it only seems wrong because 1) nobody’s bothered to analyze it thoroughly and objectively, and 2) the Ick Factor, which is when we mistake strangeness, shock and surprise, all visceral, emotional reactions, for ethics.

Let’s actually think about the “Doc’s” provocative questions about the theoretical procedure that he seems to think clinch the argument that head transplants are “easy” to identify as unethical. He writes, Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Bioethics, Ethics Dunces, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology

The Sixth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2014 (Part 4 of 4)

mamoru-samuragochi2

Outrageous Hoax Of The Year

Mamoru Samuragochi, the composer sometimes known as “The Japanese Beethoven” because he composed critically acclaimed works despite being deaf, was exposed as double fraud: he didn’t compose the works that made him Japan’s most popular classical composer, and he isn’t even really deaf!  Samuragochi hired a musical ghostwriter named Takashi Niigaki to compose more than twenty compositions for Samuragochi since 1996.

Funniest Outrageous Hoax

Fake Panda

This.

Unethical Artist Of The Year

Performance artist Maximo Caminero, who  walked into the Pérez Art Museum in Miami, entered a special exhibit of sixteen ancient Chinese vases painted over in bright colors by celebrated Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, picked up one of them, and immediately after a security guard instructed him not to touch the exhibit, allowed the vase to fall from his hands, shattering into bits. Caminero admitted that smashing the pottery, which was valued at a million dollars,  was intentional, and was his protest against in support of local artists like himself whose work is not exhibited at the museum while the art of international artists like Weiwei is.

Unethical Veterinarian Of The Year

Fort Worth, Texas veterinarian Lou Tierce lost his license for five years as a result of, among other transgressions, his telling the owners of a Leonburger (it’s a very big dog) that their pet was terminally ill and had to be euthanized, then secretly keeping the dog alive in a small cage so he could use Sid’s blood for transfusions to Dr. Tierce’s other canine patients. Eventually an assistant at the clinic blew the whistle and alerted Sid’s owners, who rescued their dog and sicced the law on the worst veterinarian since Dean Jones menaced Beethoven.

Unethical Doctor Of The Year

Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC’s medical expert, endangered the public by defying a voluntary quarantine for possible Ebola exposure,  because she just couldn’t bear to be without her favorite soup.

Scam of the Year

Jonathan-Gruber-1

The Affordable Care Act.

 Unethical Federal Agency Of The Year

The Secret Service. Lots of competition in this category: the Veterans Administration, the I.R.S., the CDC, the Justice Department, NSA…but when you essentially have one job to do and do it badly, sloppily carelessly and dangerously, there’s really not much more to say Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race, Rights, Sports, The Internet, U.S. Society, Unethical Tweet, Unethical Websites

The Sixth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2014 (Part 2)

Rice and Janay

Ethics Corrupter of the Year

(Awarded to the unethical public figure whose prominence, popularity and success most corrupts the public’s ethical values)

Janay Palmer Rice, beloved punching bag of NFL star Ray Rice, who was caught on camera smooching with her man shortly after being cold-cocked by him in a hotel elevator, married him, and has repeatedly defended her husband, prompting confused female pundits to defend her. She is not only the embodiment of Rationalization #42. The Hillary Inoculation, or “If he/she doesn’t care, why should anyone else?”, she is also a good bet to get some young women killed by giving them a role model who stands for standing by your abusive man with the hard right hook.

Double Standard Of The Year

In a year of double standards, the treatment of soccer star (and accused child abuser) Hope Solo by her sport, feminists, the media and the public takes the prize. The standard, as I understand it, is that big, strong female athletes can beat up smaller, weaker family members with impunity, and it’s no big deal, but when a male athlete does the same, he is scum. Got it.

Uncivil U.S. Official of the Year

Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and the top American diplomat in Europe, was caught saying in a viral Youtube video saying “Fuck the EU.”  Now that’s diplomatic. Of course, she wasn’t fired, because she works for the Obama Administration

The Jesse Jackson Award 

(For the Year’s Worst Amateur Diplomat)

mo_selfie_lg

First Lady Michelle Obama, who helped her husband make the U.S. look weak and ineffectual (he needs no help), by engaging in this ridiculous effort at hashtag diplomacy. Those kidnapped girls were never found, and Boko Haram, the Nigerian terrorist group that took them, I learned today, just killed a reported 2000 more victims. Time for another sad picture, Michelle!

Most Unethical Sports League

The NFL, last year’s winner, was even more unethical this year, with the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson fiascos, Commissioner Roger Goodell showing no innate instinct for right and wrong and both the league and its teams making up rules and policies according to talk show calls, polls and wet fingers in the air. Meanwhile, it’s still making billions paying young men to lobotomize themselves. What a great sport.

Sports Cheat of the Year

Alex Rodriguez, suspended Yankee star, had denied, denied, denied, threatened to sue Major League Baseball and the union, and insisted that he had not, as an investigation had determined, used performance enhancing drugs supplied by Biogenesis. Then, just as his season-long suspension was lifted, it was revealed that A-Rod had, under oath, admitted using steroids from 2010 to 2012.

Annual Sports Ethics Controversy That Gets Worse Every Year

Steroid cheats (like Rodriquez) and their fitness for admission to Baseball’s Hall of Fame

Unethical Lawyer of the Year

Michael Fine, the Ohio lawyer who allegedly hypnotized female clients in order to sexually molest them.  Runner Up Alexa Van Brunt. She didn’t do anything unethical; she just advocates ethics rules that would eliminate the core of legal ethics, proving that she doesn’t understand her own profession.

Unethical Judge of the Year

judge_mccree

Wade McCree, the handsome devil pictured above (he circulated this selfie), who, presiding over a felony child-support case, conducted a secret sexual relationship with the woman seeking support from the defendant. This was just the latest of his embarrassments.  Runner up: Texas District Judge Jeanine Howard, who handed down a stunningly lenient sentence of probation and 250 hours of community service at a rape crisis center for a man who confessed raping a 14-year old girl at her school.

 

Unethical National Broadcast Journalist Of The Year

CNN’s Carol Costello. She was biased, smug and incompetent all year long, but reached her nadir when she gleefully played a recording of Bristol Palin explaining to police how she had been assaulted, saying to her viewers, “You can thank me later.” She refused to apologize on the air, or to Palin. Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Jumbo, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Race, Sports

Palin’s Trap: Is Baiting Critics To Expose Their Double Standards And Hypocrisy Ethical?

1618609_10153003604393588_4015203188305261638_nWell, well, well!

It seems that Sarah Palin had a ready response to the critics, including PETA, who attacked her for her Facebook post featuring son Trig using the family dog as a stepping stool. She immediately posted a photo tweeted by darling of the left, gay comic Ellen DeGeneres. last summer. Amazingly, PETA, which made Ellen its 2009 Person of the Year, and the others who were horrified at Trig’s actions and his mother’s endorsement of them, didn’t find DeGeneres’s photo sinister in the least.

Imagine that!

I agree with those who believe that Palin set up her enemies for this smoking gun proof of their hypocrisy and double standards. Palin and Rush Limbaugh are more skilled at baiting liberals than any public figure since William F. Buckley.

Was it unethical for Palin to set this trap? Emphatically no, and not because Palin has been the victim of more vicious and unfair double-standard bias than any political figure within memory. Exposing hypocrites is a public service.

Well played, Sarah.

Next time, though, try to avoid having to step on the dog to make your point.

__________________________

Pointer: Althouse

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Filed under Animals, Arts & Entertainment, Government & Politics

Sarah Palin, The Animal Gene, and Some New Year’s Inspiration

Trig on dog

Gandhi famously said that the greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated. I’m not sure that’s true, but it certainly is true that respect for the lives and welfare of animals is a useful symptom to diagnose sound ethical values, and the tendency toward animal cruelty is signature significance for a human being that I would not turn my back to in the dark.

The issue is complicated by the divergence of humans into “animal people” and “non-animal people,” with the latter claiming, with some justification, that they are not cruel or callous toward animals, just willing to recognize that they are, well, animals. These are the people who cannot understand someone wanting to take a sick day to mourn the passing of a cat. On the other hand, they are also clear-eyed about those animal lovers who dress their parrots in elaborate costumes and who hold birthday parties for their dogs. Those who live in the country or on farms are an interesting case: they are not prone to sentimentalize of anthropomorphize animals like city folk. Dogs and cats sleep outdoors unless there’s a freeze on, and they have jobs to do. My wife’s sister sold the family horse to a dog food company, and the two didn’t speak for months.

Sarah Palin blundered into this divide this week when she posted pictures (above) of her son Trig standing on the family dog in an inspirational post about overcoming obstacles. Now she’s being attacked for promoting cruelty to animals. Some points on this:

1. Many are always looking for justification to vilify Palin. This time, she gave them legitimate ammunition.

2. The sequence looks staged to me: otherwise, why was anyone taking photos of this?

3. If so, then this just wasn’t an innocent but mistaken choice by a special needs child, but the directive of someone who should know better.

4. Of course one doesn’t ever sit or stand on a dog, or allow or encourage a child to do so, unless we’re talking about a very small child.

5. We don’t know that Palin didn’t admonish Trig after the fact, while saluting his ingenuity.

6. It was still an irresponsible choice for the point she was making.

7. Assuming the dog isn’t ill, drugged of dead, however, he doesn’t seem in distress. One thing about dogs: if you are hurting or ignoring them, they aren’t shy about letting you know.

8. Trig is developmentally disabled. Animals, particularly dogs, have incredible tolerance and intuitive kindness in such situations. That was the real lesson of the photos.

Now, to wipe those images out of your mind, here are a group of photos showing normal, non-celebrity, non-Palin, human beings here and elsewhere demonstrating the kind of kindness and compassion for animals that we all should aspire to. Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Around the World, Character, Childhood and children, Love

Unethical—But FUNNY!: The Under-Age Italian-Hungarian Fake Pandas

sad_panda_in_christmas_hat

[ Lots of ethics matters to write about, and little time to do it, as my wife keeps bugging me to help prepare the homestead for the holiday festivities, as brim as they are likely to be. Let’s see how much I can cover, and how many typos I’ll be able to avoid writing these posts in five minute increments. May your Dec. 24th be less stressful than mine is going to be!]

Because nothing says “Old Fashioned American Christmas” like an Italian circus fake panda story, Ethics Alarms offers this:

A circus in northern Italy charged a fee for children to have their photos taken with two rare pandas, or what the kids thought were pandas. Sharp-eyed Italian police, however, moved in and confiscated the beasts, which were really painted chow chow dogs.

Fake Panda

The owners have been charged with animal cruelty, and—get this—using false passports to import the dogs from Hungary, since they were six months younger than the documents. Charging the circus with fraud has somehow slipped the mind of the police, but I’m sure they’ll figure it out eventually.

Italian Merry Christmas

________________________

Pointer: Fark

Graphic: Deviant Art

 

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Filed under Animals, Around the World, Law & Law Enforcement