Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

Is “F-Bomb Princesses For Feminism” The Most Unethical Ad Ever?

Pretty close, I’d say.

Here are my Top Ten ways it is unethical:

1. It’s full of lies. Women do NOT make only 77% of what men do in the same jobs. The fact that President Obama blithely quoted this infamous canard doesn’t make it any more respectable. This is the smoking gun of  feminist activist hackery.

2. A close second is the completely unreliable “1 in 5 women will be raped or sexually assaulted in their lifetimes.” Yes, what President Obama did to a stranger after voting can add to that stat…or not, depending on what the woman being polled chooses to call “sexual assault.”

3. The stat about women who were A students earning as much as men who were C students is similarly bogus. The study apparently being fucking referred to was about high school grades, not college grades. It was also widely distorted in the media, which claimed that the finding was that “high-achieving female students still won’t earn as much as male counterparts who didn’t work quite as hard” [TIME], which explains nothing about what jobs we are talking about, or career choices. More female attorneys, for example, go into family law; more male attorneys go into tort litigation.  Trial lawyers are famously non-academic–they are combative, aggressive and street smart, and the good ones become millionaires. What does this prove about gender discrimination? Not one thing.

The University of Miami study, published recently in the Eastern Economic Journal, show that a one-point increase in high school GPA raises annual earnings in adulthood by around 12 percent for men and 14 percent for women. It was not directed at gender bias issues at all, nor did it prove any.

4. Apart from substance, the ad is one more coarse and cheap bit of sensationalism employing assaultive vulgarity to get attention.  This is cultural rot, nothing more. Gutter language doesn’t illuminate or explicate, and used as it is here, it doesn’t even convey genuine passion or emotion. This is the pseudo kiddie-porn equivalent of  TV ads for Go Daddy.com featuring a busty actress making sexual innuendos to attract attention to a product having nothing to do with busty actresses. An ad currently running for a cable show has the host talking about the time he “got crabs” but how he’s going to go to an “orgy” anyway. HA! A crab orgy, get it! See, he made you think he was talking about sex, isn’t that clever? In a 7 PM commercial? No, it’s not clever. Just cheap and tawdry, like having a lot of little girls yelling “fuck” at you.

5. This isn’t even a genuine ad promoting feminist objectives. This is an ad exploiting feminists themes to sell T-Shirts. Continue reading

9 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, Marketing and Advertising, The Internet

Ethics, Fish, “The Twilight Zone” and Renee Zellweger’s New Face

Rene 1

Reene Zellweger, the squinty-eyed, chipmunk-cheeked actress who achieved fame in such films as “Jerry Maguire” and “Bridget Jones’ Diary,” emerged from a period of relative seclusion this week looking like someone else entirely. The consensus was that the 45-year-old had undergone radical cosmetic surgery—not the face destroying kind that actresses like Meg Ryan or Priscilla Presley inflicted on themselves, but the “I don’t care if my mother won’t recognize me, at least I don’t look old” kind. When an actor or an actress does this, since their faces are their trademarks, it is bound to make an impression, and it has.

It is a tragic spectacle illustrating the degree to which American culture elevates looks above accomplishments, individuality, integrity and character, especially for women. Zellweger, whom I foolishly assumed was immune to this sickness since she was so unconventional looking, is obviously a victim, but now she is part of a cultural contagion. A fish doesn’t know that it is in water, and culture is like that water, completely constraining our attitudes, culture and choices without our knowledge or control. When celebrities, who have influence far beyond what their wisdom, virtues and value should rightfully support, and who are seen as being experts in the matter of appearance, send the message to the young and contemporaries that even the forfeiture of one’s identity is a fair price to pay to avoid the signs of natural aging, that pollutes our water.

And poisons the other fish. Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Gender and Sex, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

Pop Song Ethics Flashback: “Why Do They Always Say “No?” by Lawrence Cook and The Jim Dandies

It probably isn’t the winner in the Ethics Alarms quest to identify the most unethical pop songs, but the 1949 ditty “Why Do They Always Say No?” is one of the most instructive nominations. The fascinating and essential feature of ethics is that our understanding of right and wrong evolves, changing and advancing with wisdom, cultural debate and reflection. This song is a tuneful reminder, arriving at our attention just as the culture, especially on campus, is struggling over exactly the dilemma the song celebrated. In 1949, however, literally no one thought about romantic or sexual gamesmanship as an ethical issue, or at least not a momentous one.

Have a listen (It’s on the B side of the record pictured, and starts playing at the halfway mark):

The lyrics are credited to Harry Pease, Frank Davis, Ed G. Nelson and Billy Glason. Only the latter has much of a footprint on Google, and none of them rate a Wikipedia entry. I doubt that it took four guys to write this song: It’s not exactly “A Day in the Life.” Glason (b. 1904) was probably the author. He shows up in the Encyclopedia of Vaudeville as a “singing comedian,” known for devising new punchlines for ancient  jokes, such as

Q: “Who was that lady I saw you with last night at that sidewalk cafe?”

A: “That was no sidewalk cafe! That was our furniture!”

Pease, Davis, and Nelson were all musicians, though it’s also hard to imagine that the elemental tune required three collaborators. The lyrics are more disturbing read than heard:

Why do they always say no
When they know they mean yes all the time
You ask a girlie for a kiss or two
She’ll let you know that’s something I don’t do
How can they tell such a lie
And still look you straight in the eye
Whenever they say no to you go right ahead
Cause it’s 10 to 1 that they mean yes instead
Oh, why do they always say no
When you know they mean yes all the time

Why do they always say no
When you know they mean yes all the time
You start to love them and they pout and fret
Down in their hearts they want all they can get
What keeps them acting that way
They don’t mean a word that they say
A girl that said she’d never marry me
She’s the mother of my happy family
Why do they always say no
You know they mean yes all the time

Why do they always say no
When you know they mean yes all the time
You ask your girlie for a kiss or two
She’s lets you know that’s something I don’t do
How can they tell such a lie
And still look you straight in the eye
Whenever they say no to you go right ahead
Cause it’s 10 to 1 that they mean yes instead
Oh, why do they always say no
When you know they mean yes all the time

You know they mean yes all the time.

“You know they mean yes all the time.”

Sure you do.

_________________________

Special thanks to my volunteer scout Fred, whose wife found this piece of musical ethics archeology.

 

3 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Education, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, Popular Culture, Romance and Relationships, U.S. Society

Pop Song Ethics, Part II (The Dark Side)

We are coming up on the anniversary of my post asking for nominations for the most ethical pop songs from past decades. Both here and in my office mail box, I received excellent suggestion—so many, that I have not been able to find the time to finish the project. However, I am determined to have the final list ready by the anniversary date, November 14, 2014.

So there is still time to get your nominations in. Meanwhile, as I was driving home from a Virginia Beach ethics seminar and keeping myself occupied during the three hour drive with the Sirius-XM 50s-60’s-70’s and 80’s stations, I heard this song, by Leslie Gore, from 1964:

With the domestic abuser ethics issue still percolating in my fevered brain, it occurred to me, as it had not before, what a vile message the song sent to teenaged girls. “What else can” Leslie do about her abusive boyfriend? Dump him, that’s what. I wonder if Janay Rice knows this song.

Or sang it. Continue reading

32 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Love, Romance and Relationships, U.S. Society

CNN’s Smoking Gun Ebola Gag

Ebola joke

The photo above was deemed so cute and hilarious that CNN’s “New Day” senior producer John Griffin tweeted it to the world. CNN brass, at least those among them who are not demented nor insane, immediately ordered it taken down, but of course it was too late.

We now we know. We’ve known for a long time, those of us who were paying attention at least, but now we know for certain. The photo is smoking gun evidence of a tragic fact with frightening implications for all of us. Broadcast journalism, the occupation that Edward R. Murrow believed would transform and enrich America by creating a better educated, more knowledgeable, more civically literate and involved public, can no longer claim to be a profession, a pursuit dedicated to the public good. It is nothing more than entertainment, and not very professional or sophisticated entertainment at that. Continue reading

24 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Health and Medicine, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture

Jack Ohman’s Cartoon and Desperate Obama Defense Derangement

Ebola cartoon

This cartoon, which should cause editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman to hang his head in shame, has made me realize that there is an odd and pervasive parallel today with the familiar Clinton Derangement Syndrome and Bush Derangement Syndrome of yore, which caused the mouth-foaming political opponents of these polarizing Presidents to make ridiculous claims undermining the many more legitimate criticisms available to them. In the case of Barack Obama, it is Desperate Obama Defense Derangement (DODD) that we are seeing. So horrible is the prospect of having to admit that this President is an unequivocal, incompetent flop by almost every measure imaginable that disappointed, panicked partisans in the media, the President’s party and bitterly disappointed hope-and-changers are resorting to obvious rationalizations, absurd analogies and insane arguments to avoid facing the miserable, depressing truth.

This cartoon can stand as a graphic symbol of the malady. In order to preemptively duck accountability when yet another government agency, in this case the CDC, proves inept and another national policy–the measures designed to keep Ebola out of the U.S— proves ill-thought out and poorly managed like so many other agencies and national policies under this administration’s stewardship, DODD sufferers like Ohman and the sad Democrats posting it on Facebook are making the argument that Ebola is no big deal.

You know, like AIDS was no big deal. When the Reagan administration was being justly criticized for its tardy and in inadequate response to AIDS, I don’t recall any cartoonists listing the stats for all of the other causes of death to ridicule gays, humanitarians and sane people who were saying that this was a national crisis. But then, there aren’t very many conservative cartoonists, for which, in that instance, at least, we can be grateful.

Look at Ohman’s cartoon, and try to translate it into a coherent statement that makes any sense at all: Continue reading

19 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media

“CSI” Ethics: Now THAT Was An Unethical Fictional Lawyer…

CSIWow. That was one unethical lawyer on CBS’s “CSI” last night, and I mean even before we found out that he had stolen a vile of an Ebola-like virus and used it to murder a doctor, almost setting off a viral epidemic in Las Vegas. (Gee, I wonder where the writers got the idea for that story? See, we don’t have to argue about politicians causing panic over Ebola: the entertainment media is way, way ahead of them.) Among the lawyer’s ethical transgressions:

1. He set out to use his law degree to gain access, through employment, to a company he blamed for allowing a deadly virus to wipe out his family in South America. Needless to say, this is a blatant conflict of interest, indeed, the worst one for a lawyer I have ever heard of in fact or fiction. He wanted to represent a corporate client so he could destroy it.  This is a clear breach of Model Rule 1.7:

(b), a lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest. A concurrent conflict of interest exists if:

(2) there is a significant risk that the representation of one or more clients will be materially limited by… a personal interest of the lawyer.

Now, that conflict could be waived if the client were fully informed of the fact that its lawyer wanted to destroy it, and the client didn’t mind. That seems unlikely to me.

2. When it looked like his murder was going to set off a deadly epidemic, the lawyer decided to let CSI know that his client the biotech firm had lied about none of its supply of the virus being missing. He knew it was missing, because he had stolen it. The failure of a lawyer to remedy a client’s lie to police about a crime isn’t unethical in a criminal defense setting, but it is unethical if the lawyer would be aiding in another crime by doing so, which was the case here. Moreover, he is involved in the crime, unknown to his client. This would be a disqualifying conflict even if the one described above didn’t exist.

3, He also has an obligation under the ethics rules (Model Rule 1.4) to inform his client about matters relevant to the representation that the client needs to know, like “By the way, about that missing vial of deadly hemorrhagic virus you don’t want to tell the police about? I took it.”

4. THEN, he surreptitiously taped an employee and representative of the company who thought he was also representing her (if he wasn’t, he has an ethical obligation to make that clear—it’s called a “corporate Miranda warning.”) While it is legal in Nevada to secretly tape a conversation you are participating in, it is virtually never ethical for  a lawyer to do this with a client (That’s misrepresentation, violating Rule 8.4 in Nevada) , who is assured that her communications with her lawyer will be privileged, and held in strictest confidence under the attorney-client relationship.

5. Now, if the reason for the lawyer making the recording and handing it over to Ted Danson had been what CSI first assumed it was—that he was trying to save lives in imminent danger and deemed the revelation of a client confidence the only way to prevent it—he would have some support in the ethics rules, for there is an exception to the duty of confidentiality that can justify that.*  That wasn’t his motive, however, at least not all of it. He was also trying to make sure that the company—his client, which he was trying to destroy in revenge for his family’s deaths—was blamed for the virus that he had released. He had no justification for violating Rule 1.6, which says that a lawyer must keep client confidences.

6. Also, since he was representing both the employee he secretly taped and the company itself, he would have been obligated to report what she told him—evidence of a crime implicating the company–to his corporate client before reporting it to authorities, so the corporate client could report the lost vial itself, or at least have that option. If the attorney was going to exercise the “death or serious bodily injury” exception, he needed to tell the client that, too.

Yes, this was a very unethical lawyer.

Then there was that killing part…

* There was no reason to make the recording at all. This was a lame plot manipulation by “CSI.” Danson and his team used the biological residue on the recorder to prove that the same person who made the recording also stole the vial. But the lawyer could have just told the police about what his client admitted regarding the missing vial. No recording was necessary.

3 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Bioethics, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Professions