Category Archives: Around the World

Is It Ethical For A Criminal Defendant To Take Acting Lessons Before Testifying?

Actors make great witnesses. Especially in movies...

Actors make great witnesses. Especially in movies…(and if you don’t know who this is and in what film classic, you have some cultural literacy to catch up on…)

This is a trial development I have never encountered before. Blogger Janni Allen, a former columnist for the South African Sunday Times, claims that a famous South African actor told her that he coached Oscar Pistorius before his histrionic testimony in court regarding the death of his girlfriend. Prosecutors have charged the famous “Blade Runner” with murder; he claims it was an accident. In his appearance on the stand, Pistorius wept and appeared overcome with grief and emotion.

For the sake of the discussion, let’s assume that Allen is correct, and that Pistorius took acting lessons. Is there anything unethical about a criminal defendant or anyone else who has to testify in court taking acting lessons in anticipation of the experience? Is there anything unethical about a lawyer directing a client or a witness to take acting lessons in advance of a court appearance?

I don’t think they are difficult questions. The answers are “No,” and “No.” Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Law & Law Enforcement

Comment of the Day: “An Unethical Website, Golden Rule Malpractice And The Worst Anti-Bullying Program Ever”

He chose his adversaries well.

He chose his adversaries well.

Debut commenter according2grayson submitted a heartfelt, extensive and thought-provoking reaction to the post about a Lincoln, Nebraska school’s  much-criticized anti-bullying advice and the website that spawned them. I’ll have some comments at the end; in the meantime, here is the Comment of the Day on the post, An Unethical Website, Golden Rule Malpractice And The Worst Anti-Bullying Program Ever:

The rule is “Do not attack” immediately “If I attack you.” You’re being asked to place yourself in the shoes of an attacker. NO ONE attacks without feeling angry, hurt, or victimized. Why do homophobes beat up gay kids? Fear that they might be gay too, or offense at people mocking their God. Fear of what’s different. No, fear isn’t always a rational response to something that might put us on a breathing tube. The word “phobia” by it’s definition means “irrational,” and this pertains to everything from Xenophobia to Homophobia to Genderphobia to Arachnophobia. I guarantee that a garden spider isn’t going to put anyone on a breathing tube, but how many people shriek when they see him anyway?

Now here’s the issue– if you lash out irrationally because you’re afraid of someone, and you punch them in the face– that person now has a very rational reason to punch you in the face. But, being an emotional creature and not understanding why your own initial attack was wrong, you’re not going to say “Well, I punched him…..” You’re going to say “Ow! My nose is bleeding, you little shit!”

 

Until someone does decide to turn the other cheek, it’s only going to keep going back and forth, if not escalating. That’s the entire purpose behind such things as the Golden Rule and Christ’s “Turn the Other Cheek” argument. Read Gandhi. Try to follow the rules of Satyagraha. These rules lead a nation to Freedom without bloodshed. No, it wasn’t a “perfect revolution.” Yes, there were years of hardship that followed. But if you want a perfectly demonized bully (aside from maybe Hitler) British Empire’s your best bet. And these tactics DID take them down.

You can argue that “kids aren’t ready for this.” But I’m sorry, I can only laugh at you for underestimating children. I was 12 years old when my older brother was killed in 9/11. I grew up involved in activism against the wars. I was shoved into lockers, thrown down stairs, beaten up, called a “terrorist” and a “traitor to my nation.” And that was just the latest permutation of bullying I had faced.

I was taught, however, that our duties were to “think globally, act locally” and “become the change we wished to see in the world.” I was told that I wanted to be a voice for a non-violent response to a terrible act– I HAD to learn to respond non-violently to children being children.
And you know what? It didn’t turn me submissive. It didn’t take away a single ounce of pride.

I knew that the assholes picking on me lacked fundamental understandings of most of the reasons -why- they claimed they were picking on me. I knew that if any of these rich kids with their Hallmark Card homes (and, yes, when you go to a private parochial school of 8 kids, you do pretty much know that) had stood so close to national tragedy as any of the family members I was working with– they wouldn’t have handled it. They already couldn’t handle adversity. The gay kids? The black kids? The poor kids? They beat them all up. If other people’s hardships were so terrifying, how would they react to their own?

I laughed at these kids. I went on to graduate third in my class, was the first accepted to college. By which point I’d already worked for 3-4 years with a twice Nobel Prize nominated organization. Already helped organize lobbying campaigns (including one to shut down GITMO with PT & Amnesty International, which Obama recalled the involved groups to respond to in his first press conference) I’d already been a founding member of the World Conference for Peace and shaken hands with one of the last of the habakusha, with a minister who trained under Desmond Tutu, with mothers from Israel and Palestine working side by side (minority though they’ll always be) to end conflict.

In college, when I came out as pansexual, no one batted an eye. Afterwards, when I lost weight and started performing with the NYC Rocky Horror Cast (to an audience of at least 200, weekly. Not factoring special performances at other venues and in NYC cultural events) started performing Off-Broadway, started working with NPR (where a workshop I head-lined along with a few other youths effects by 9/11 won 4 awards including Bronze for “Best Radio Doc of 2011″ from the Society of Professional Journalism) People FLOCKED. Not only was I a hot commodity professionally. But socially as well. I’ll refrain from speaking of my exploits, as this is a mature site– but, when my buddies and I play the “Cassanova” drinking game, I’m usually one of the first to lose, and I always do so in a single scene.

The only argument you can make against any of this is “your life’s not that great” and no, you’re right, it isn’t. I’ve faced many hardships including the death of my brother. Lost my job and apartment in a hurricane last year. But none of that had to do with my response to bullying. And while some of those events may have had me, at times, not in places where I was able to deal to the best of my ability it’s not MY ability in question

ANY child can learn to find personal pride in their own accomplishments, can learn not to take bullies seriously (BECAUSE THEY AREN’T) Can learn not to perpetuate cycles.

And in the end, years down the road, they’ll be getting Facebook requests from their former bullies with notes saying “I’m sorry.” It’s not delusion. I’ve lived it.

Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Gender and Sex, Religion and Philosophy, War and the Military

April 19, 1943: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

Warsaw uprising

A fortuitous confluence of events, dates and topics: following yesterday’s discussion of an absurd and passive application of a warped “love your enemy” approach to school bullying and the week’s earlier explication of the importance of using Nazi comparisons when they are appropriate as well as the problems arising from the rampant historical ignorance and apathy in the U.S, we arrive at April 19. I doubt that one citizen in a thousand could identify or explain the significance of today’s date in world history, but we all should; it is the essence of our duty to remember. For on this date in 1943, the residents of the Warsaw ghetto in Poland, realizing that they were in the process of being liquidated, fought back against their Nazi captors, and for almost a month, despite being outnumbered and outgunned, disrupted the extermination and, though they were ultimately defeated (most of the leaders committed suicide with cyanide as the Germans began to round them up), their courage sparked other uprisings in the ghettos in Bialystok and Minsk, and the Treblinka and Sobibor death camps.

The Germans had planned to begin the final elimination of the Warsaw Jews on the eve of Passover, so the anniversary of the beginning of the revolt is perfectly placed. Make sure you quiz the Palestinian cause fan in your life regarding the Warsaw ghetto revolt, and see if it rings any bells—it probably won’t. Learning the history may help you explain to them why the state of Israel will make no deals until the nation’s right to exist is acknowledged and unequivocal.

They, and you, can read about the Warsaw ghetto uprising here.

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Education, History, War and the Military

Now THIS Is A War On Women!

I wanna marry harry

Reality shows have now made parody impossible, because absolutely nothing is too exploitive, voyeuristic, disgusting, degrading or wrong to form the basis of a series, as long as people will watch it, and there is profit to be made. Nevertheless, in my continuing effort to at least chronicle the decline of decency and civilization without being able to stop it, Ethics Alarms will continue to throw ethics flags at the worst of the worst.

This brings us to the topic of  “I Wanna Marry ‘Harry’,” the latest offal in this genre from Fox. You may recall “Joe Millionaire,” though if you do, I have less respect for you, an earlier Fox reality dump in which a non-rich actor tricked gold-digging women into competing to win his love as he posed as a young tycoon. After the winner had fallen for “Joe” hard, he revealed that he was just a lovable working stiff—well, worse, really…an actor—and the audience got to see how the woman reacted. So many healthy relationships arise out of fraud and lies, after all. Well, that wasn’t despicable enough fr Fox, so now we have this: Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Character, Love, Romance and Relationships

Selfie Ethics: Yes, Big Papi Exploited The President

Ortiz-Obama-Selfie.jpg

I wrote about this ethical breach when Ellen DeGeneris did it at the Oscars. The short version is this:

“It’s unethical to pretend that a selfie is a spontaneous  gesture of fun and friendship when you have a commercial agreement in place to use the photograph in a way that promotes the cell phone manufacturer.”

This is exploitation for commercial gain, and it’s wrong. It’s wrong when the victims are movie stars, and it’s wrong when the exploited party is President of the United States. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Etiquette and manners, Marketing and Advertising, The Internet, U.S. Society, Unethical Tweet

Autonomy: The Ethics Alarm That Obamacare Should Be Setting Off, But Isn’t

fire_alarm

Autonomy. This is the ethical value, a sub-set of the “respect” section of the Josephson Institute’s Six Pillars of Character, that is suddenly absent from the value set of the New American Left. This is cause for concern to say the least, because autonomy is the very value that was the impetus for the nation’s founding, and that is at the core of the Bill of Rights as well as the “inalienable rights” that introduce Mr. Jefferson’s mission statement for our strange experiment in self-governance. Beginning back in Bill Clinton’s administration, advocates of a nationalized health care system, including President Clinton himself, began floating the historical and logical nonsense that Jefferson and the Founders would have enthusiastically supported national health care. This is, of course, a cynical lie if one is educated (as it was in Clinton’s case) or proof positive of complete unfamiliarity with, oh, everything about the Founders, their political philosophy, and political philosophy generally. Whatever the value of a national health care program, the idea that the government would presume to dictate how one managed something so personal and intimate as one’s own health would have horrified  every signer of the Declaration, from its author to Button Gwinett.

That Mr. Jefferson’s supposed followers—he is the Original Democrat, by most lights, would reach the point of maintaining that the public’s beliefs, opinions and attitudes must be bent to their will is a development that threatens the existence of United States society and culture as we know it. The recent flare in this emergency arrived via the mugging of Brandon Eich, ex-CEO of Mozilla, who was deemed by the liberal elite as unworthy of keeping his job (though Mozilla is an internet company and he is an innovator in the field) because he was not convinced of the rightness of same-sex marriage by the elite’s newly determined, and well past,  deadline—a deadline that such progressive icons as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton also missed, but never mind. Conformity to Progressive Truth has become the order of the day, and woe be to any good citizen who dares to oppose it. Does this sound like freedom to you? “Choice,” to use a popular rallying cry in the protest against the “War against Women?” It doesn’t sound like freedom to me. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Bioethics, Citizenship, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society

Unethical Quote of the Month: Jeb Bush

Well , there goes the "smart Bush" theory...

Well , there goes the “smart Bush” theory…

“Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love.”

—-Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, in comments about illegal immigration delivered at an event the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library,.

The statement by Jeb Bush has its sunny side, I suppose: with any luck, it should ensure that we don’t have a Bush-Clinton contest in 2016. Maybe that was Jeb’s intent. Otherwise, his comments are irresponsible attacks on the rule of law, common sense, fairness and national sovereignty.

The whole, mush-headed, contradictory, absurd quote:

“There are means by which we can control our border better than we have. And there should be penalties for breaking the law.But the way I look at this — and I’m going to say this, and it’ll be on tape and so be it. The way I look at this is someone who comes to our country because they couldn’t come legally, they come to our country because their families — the dad who loved their children — was worried that their children didn’t have food on the table. And they wanted to make sure their family was intact, and they crossed the border because they had no other means to work to be able to provide for their family. Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family. I honestly think that that is a different kind of crime that there should be a price paid, but it shouldn’t rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families.”

Seriously, Governor?

Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Citizenship, Family, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Love, U.S. Society

Ethics Quiz (Movie Division): “The Impossible,” Whitewashing, and Betrayal

"Bennett" and Belón

“Bennett” and Belón

I suppose some of you may have thought about this two years ago, when the Spanish film “The Impossible” was first released. I, however, take a while to catch up with my movie-viewing, and though the film was much praised by critics and got Naomi Watts an Academy Award nomination, I had not seen the film until recently. “The Impossible,” about as accurately as a motion picture can, tells the amazing story of how Spanish physician María Belón, her husband Enrique Álvarezs, and her three young sons miraculously  survived the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami when the family was on vacation in Thailand.

It is an engrossing, harrowing movie. I was surprised to find out, however that the family’s name wasn’t “Bennett,” and that they weren’t British, as the movie presented them. Apparently to maximize box office receipts, the film makers decided to take the heroic story of a real family and make the characters “more relatable” by recasting them as English-speaking Brits. There was a minor controversy about the film “whitewashing” the story*, but not much of that made it into the mainstream media. Belón, after all, is white. She was an active participant in the appropriation of story and that of her husband and sons, and they all profited from it, at least financially. Still, the movie’s point of view left a bad taste in the mouths of some international critics. Here is Australian critic Ruby Hamad:

“Based on the true story of a dark haired and darkish-skinned Spanish family, the filmmakers admitted to changing their nationality and casting lily-white actors in order to make the story ‘universal’. In other words, only white people can stand in for the human race as whole. For this reason, Thailand and its people are mere backdrops for the story of a Caucasian family who learn the hard way that even western privilege is no match for the brute force of mother nature.”

Your (two-year late) Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz, therefore, is:

Is “The Impossible” unethical”?

Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Character, Marketing and Advertising

Let’s Adopt Adam Weinstein’s Values And Arrest Adam Weinstein

For the dangerous crime of not agreeing with Adam Weinstein...

For the dangerous crime of not agreeing with Adam Weinstein…

In a jaw-dropping post on Gawker-–I would suspect link bait if this wasn’t a disturbing trend-– a supposedly (formerly?) reputable journalist argues that anyone who challenges global warming orthodoxy should be prosecuted as a criminal. Here is Adam Weinstein making a fool out of himself (actually, only a fool could write such crap), and doing it by quoting as an authority the absurd Prof Lawrence Torcello, whose earlier advocacy of punishing global warming skeptics I wrote about in this post. Weinstein:

Those denialists should face jail. They should face fines. They should face lawsuits from the classes of people whose lives and livelihoods are most threatened by denialist tactics. Let’s make a clear distinction here: I’m not talking about the man on the street who thinks Rush Limbaugh is right, and climate change is a socialist United Nations conspiracy foisted by a Muslim U.S. president on an unwitting public to erode its civil liberties. You all know that man. That man is an idiot. He is too stupid to do anything other than choke the earth’s atmosphere a little more with his Mr. Pibb burps and his F-150′s gassy exhaust. Few of us believers in climate change can do much more—or less—than he can.

Nor am I talking about simple skeptics, particularly the scientists who must constantly hypo-test our existing assumptions about the world in order to check their accuracy. That is part and parcel of the important public policy discussion about what we do next. But there is scientific skepticism… and there is a malicious, profiteering quietist agenda posturing as skepticism. There is uncertainty about whether man-made climate change can be stopped or reversed… and there is the body of purulent pundits, paid sponsors, and corporate grifters who exploit the smallest uncertainty at the edges of a settled science.

I’m talking about Rush and his multi-million-dollar ilk in the disinformation business. I’m talking about Americans for Prosperity and the businesses and billionaires who back its obfuscatory propaganda. I’m talking about public persons and organizations and corporations for whom denying a fundamental scientific fact is profitable, who encourage the acceleration of an anti-environment course of unregulated consumption and production that, frankly, will screw my son and your children and whatever progeny they manage to have.

Those malcontents must be punished and stopped.

Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Citizenship, Environment, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology

Annoyances For The Obsessing Traveling Ethicist

Hepburn

I just got home from another day trip, and am too weary to essay a significant post. Allow me, instead, to give readers a taste of what goes through one’s mind when you have begun to focus exclusively on ethics in preparation for a key, out-of-state presentation:

  • The incompetence of supposed professional broadcasters. Shortly before leaving for the airport on Sunday, I watched the local Fox affiliate report on the new Vogue cover, featuring Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. One of the two anchorwomen noted that there was a parody of the cover titled “Vague” featuring Kermit and Miss Piggy in the same poses. She pronounced it as “Vagg.” Her partner did not correct her. I think newsreaders should be able to read, don’t you?
  • Dishonesty in headlines. With the Kardashians still gnawing at my brain, I noticed an issue of “Star” in an airport magazine rack. The headline read, “Kardashians Cancelled!” Filled with momentary hope for civilization, I looked up the corresponding story in the rag. It stated that cable’s “Keeping Up With The Kardashians had been renewed, but that the family was worried that it might be cancelled next year. Yes, the headline was “X” and the story was “Not X.” I don’t care that the Star is just a glossy paper tabloid—how can anyone justifying this? Deceitful headlines are bad, but at least they are literally true, if misleading. Tabloid ethics are as low as ethics can be, but this flat-out false cover headline seems to have breached them… a neat trick.
  • More  incompetence of supposed professional broadcasters. CNN’s John Berman showed a clip of Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton with Jimmy Kimmel and said…”Next…what Jimmy Kimmel did with three generations of Clintons.

Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Etiquette and manners, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture, Professions