Category Archives: Health and Medicine

Henry Rollins Shows Us How To Apologize

MeaCulpaWriter, thinker, and philosopher  Henry Rollins wrote one of those columns that you should put aside for a weekend and think about for a while for the L.A. Weekly, essentially condemning Robin Williams for taking his own life. Reading it, I knew that he would regret it pretty quickly. It was obviously fueled by emotion and anger, and I’m familiar with that feeling. It was how I felt when John Belushi died, and it was how I felt when Philip Seymour Hoffman died—so much so that I had written one of those be-sure-to-think-about-it-over-the-weekend-posts when that great actor died, and fortunately trashed it. But I’ve had exactly the same thoughts that Rollins expressed so powerfully—he expresses everything powerfully—and I know I’ll have them again. He wrote:

“Almost 40,000 people a year kill themselves in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In my opinion, that is 40,000 people who blew it. Fuck suicide. Life isn’t anything but what you make it. For all the people who walked from the grocery store back to their house, only to be met by a robber who shot them in the head for nothing — you gotta hang in there. I have life by the neck and drag it along. Rarely does it move fast enough. Raw Power forever.”

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media

Ice Bucket Challenge Ethics

Ice Bucket Challenge

The “Ice Bucket Challenge” is a silly, brilliant fund-raising device that has simultaneously increased public awareness of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, brought over 14 million more dollars of donated funds into the ALS Association than last year for research, and provided some priceless YouTube fare, ranging from celebrity drenchings to this…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4qADFNsDxE

Entertainment! Celebrities! Medical research! Charity! Public Education! How could there be anything unethical about such a phenomenon? Well, ethics often throw cold water on all manner of activities human beings crave, so it should not be too great a surprise that the “Ice Bucket Challenge” has generated quite a few ethics-based objections. Let’s examine the potential, alleged and actual ethical flaws of the current fad, and rate them on an Ethics Foul Scale from zero (No ethical concerns at all) to ten ( Very Unethical).

1. It’s dangerous.

Anything can be dangerous if you are not sufficiently careful, and the Ice Bucket Challenge had its consequentialist moment when four firefighters were injured, one very seriously, trying to help the marching band at Campbellsville University get dumped with ice water this week. Two firefighters were in the bucket of their truck’s ladder preparing to douse the students using a firehose when a surge of electricity jumped from nearby power lines and electrucuted them and two colleagues. This was just a freak accident, however. Unlike the so-called Facebook Fire Challenge, the ALS fundraisng stunt shouldn’t be perilous to anyone, as long as practitioners don’t get too grandiose or creative.

Ethics Foul Score:

0

2. It wastes water.

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Bioethics, Charity, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising, Philanthropy, Popular Culture, Public Service, Research and Scholarship, The Internet, Uncategorized

Undermining Addiction Treatment For A Petty News Story: The Ethics Bankruptcy Of CBS and Dean Kendrick

"Here you go, Dean. Now: what did Robin Williams share at your AA meeting?"

“Here you go, Dean. Now: what did Robin Williams share at your AA meeting?”

 Alcoholism is a national scourge that destroys lives, families and businesses, and  often kills both sufferers and those they interact with. It it is incurable. One of the few effective methods of keeping alcoholism under control is the Twelve Step program developed by Bill Wilson in the 1930s, and taught by the organization he founded, Alcoholics Anonymous. Millions of Americans attend AA meetings every day, including many who are very close to me.

Dean Kendrick works for CBS affiliate KPIX-5 in San Francisco, and he’s apparently an Alcoholic Anonymous member. This means that 1) we shouldn’t know he’s a member, and 2) especially that he shouldn’t be revealing, especially on television, that anybody else is a member, and 3) he absolutely should not be revealing what someone said or how they acted at a meeting he attended, and 4) this even applies to Robin Williams, dead celebrity that he is. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media

Comment of the Day: “Why Fox News’ Robin Williams Gaffe Matters”

Chris Marchener had several excellent posts today, but I am re-posting this one as the Comment of the Day for several reasons. It was in response to another commenter’s opinion that Fox News anchor Shepard Smith was not inaccurate to call Robin Williams a coward for succumbing to his suicidal urges. To the contrary, Smith was wrong, and his statement was cruel and irresponsible. Suicide arising out of mental illness runs—indeed, gallops—in my family: a great-uncle and three cousins killed themselves, and I knew the cousins and their battles with mental illness well. Sadly, much of the public is unschooled in what mental illness does and how and why it so often leads to suicide. Chris’s explanation of why Smith was exposing his ignorance may help enlighten some of the many who need enlightening. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “Why Fox News’ Robin Williams Gaffe Matters.”

It is quite easy to play armchair quarterback when you are not cursed with an affliction that renders you powerless to find comfort. You said “It’s borne of being unwilling to face the hard truths, make the hard changes, take the big risks needed to alter one’s own circumstances.” That perspective is fine when you are talking about behavioral sociopathy but when the chemistry in the brain is altered the individual has very little or any control over the outcome. I’ll bet that Robin Williams did more to face his demons than most anyone else would who do not also suffer from a chemical disorder of the brain. Unless you have some personal insight into his medical history a blanket claim of being a coward is unjust.

At this time, there is no prosthesis for remedying the destructive processes of mental illness other than using drugs to alter the brain chemistry. Unlike a prosthetic limb there is no guarantee that the medication will work as desired. Furthermore, as my wife and I have found out the hard way, long term use of anti-seizure and anti-depressives can have a high rate of mortality from the medications themselves.

Calling someone a coward after the fact is not merely unnecessary and hurtful it turns some people away from acknowledging the need for help. All reports show that he did seek help and did his best to confront his problems head on. Despite that he succumbed.

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Comment of the Day, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media

“The Strain” Ethics: Feminism, Sophie’s Choices and Moral Cowardice

The-Strain-Vampires

The FX cable networks ultra-creepy, disturbing and often disgusting series “The Strain” has begun raising ethics issues, as good science fiction (this is a horror-science fiction hybrid) is wont to do. The last episode, “It’s Not For Everyone” provided its characters with one ethical dilemma after another. [SPOILER ALERT!!] Arguably, all of them were botched. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Family, Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine, Leadership, Popular Culture

Ethics Dunce….And Hoping That A Jury Lets Everyone Know How BIG A Dunce: Heritage Park Care Center in Carbondale, Colorado.

hostage-negotiationA typical set up for “Scare Tactics”—the unethical hidden camera cable show that terrifies its victims for laughs  by placing them in fake but real-appearing horror movie or action movie scenarios—would be to stage an armed hostage situation that everyone but the butt of the joke knows is a sham. I keep waiting for one of the hapless innocents in these vicious stunts who think they are about to die to pull out a concealed weapon and blast an actor or five to oblivion. That might teach the producers that creating fake life and death situations for any reason is cruel, irresponsible, and stupid.

In the alternative, a victim could just sue the pants off the producers and the production company; that would work too. If there is any justice, that is what will happen to the Heritage Park Care Center in Carbondale, Colorado for  getting local police to pretend to play armed thugs taking over the facility and threatening the employees…in a drill that none of them knew was a drill.

Former employee Michelle Meeker has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Denver alleging that  an armed man confronted her last October at the  Center as  Meeker, a registered nurse, was tending to one of her long-term patients.  Another employee told her to investigate  a suspicious man sitting in the Center’s day room. When she did, the man then showed her a handgun he had in his waistband and ordered her into an another room. He told her in hushed tones that he was really a police officer, but Meeker, quite reasonably, was unsure that he was telling her the truth. Hysterical, she pleaded for her life.

At least she didn’t pull out a concealed but licensed Glock and blow him away.

Robert Baker, the executive director of the Center and one of the named defendants, explained that the facility routinely conducts safety, fire, and natural disaster drills for its residents. “Unfortunately, the training exercise alarmed some at our facility,” Baker said.

Yeah, imagine that. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Dunces, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Workplace

More Bad Law Ethics: Integrity Test Coming For The Judiciary On Obamacare

"Dear Courts: We intend this mess to be a big, perfect, beautiful palace. Please let us know when its finished.       Your Friend, Congress"

“Dear Courts: We intend this mess to be a big, perfect, beautiful palace. Please let us know when its finished.
Your Friend, Congress.”

In a recent post, I explained how the incompetent drafting and reckless manner in which the Affordable Care Act was passed has corrupted every branch of the government as well as damaged our system and the public’s faith in it. Affordable Care Act supporters continue to desperately try to excuse, fix, and rationalize this disgracefully bad law. Next up is an integrity test for the judiciary, as the legal argument against the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit’s decision in Halbig v. Burwell becomes untenable.

If the two judges on the three judge panel were correct, and it appears they were, then a drafting miscalculation in the ACA has rendered the health care overhaul unworkable, meaning that it can’t be fixed, constitutionally at least, by Executive Orders, waivers, delays or lies, like so much else connected to the legislation. It will have to be addressed the old-fashioned—as in “according to the Constitution”—way, or not fixed at all. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions