Category Archives: Love

Ten Ethics Musings On The “Unethical Photograph Of The Year” And The Daughters of Villi and Mary Kay

Here's my Jack Russell Rugby doing his imitation of the dog in "The Artist." It's a good antidote, at least for me, when I look at the Villi and Mary Kay family photo. Keeps the gorge down.

Here’s my Jack Russell Rugby doing his imitation of the dog in “The Artist.” It’s a good antidote, at least for me, when I look at the Villi and Mary Kay family photo. Keeps the gorge down.

I should have included these with original post, but the photo so nauseated me that I was barely capable of critical thought. I’m still nauseated, but better. So now I offer these ten question and thoughts:

1. Will this photo and its implication be used by cultural to excuse student-teacher sexual liaisons? They are grotesquely unethical when minors are involved, but professionally reprehensible even when the loving couple are college professor and student.

2. I presume it will. As I noted in the original post, this photo is a breeding ground for rationalizations, “No harm, no foul” among them, and of course, “It all worked out for the best.” This is like showing the modern China that arose out of Mao’s slaughter of millions with the face of the Great Leader superimposed over it all. It worked out so well! How can anyone argue with that?

3. Every time a grossly wrongful act creates some unanticipated good, consequentialism runs amuck. If Mary Kay  and Rape Victim Vili had produced children who had arms growing out of their mouths or who were drug-addicts and cat-burners, the same people who look at the photo now and say  “Awww!” would be pointing and crowing, “See?”

4. The proper comparison is a family created through incest. That taboo is so powerful still that a similar photo of Mom, Dad/Grandad and lovely Daughter–No, Sister! No, Daughter! No, Sister! (Sorry, I was having a “Chinatown” flashback) would not garner the kind of positive reaction too many are having to the Happy Fualaau. Continue reading

51 Comments

Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Love, Rights, Romance and Relationships

Unethical Photograph Of The Year

ABC_mary_kay_letourneau_fualaau_vili_fualaau

Mary Kay Letourneau Fualaau and Vili Fualaau are seen here with their two teenage daughters, Audrey and Georgia. Both are older now than when mom raped dad, who was a student in her 6th grade class. She was 34 and married with four kids. They have been married for 10 years now, and 20/20 will be doing a story on the couple.

I won’t be watching.

Here’s the Rationalization List. How many will be applied to this cheery photo?

I count 13.

________________
Pointer: Rhonda Hill

45 Comments

Filed under Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Family, Gender and Sex, Love, Romance and Relationships, U.S. Society

Well-Earned But Wrong: The Parody Website And The Attack On Memories Pizza

Memoriespizza

It is difficult to work up much sympathy for Memories Pizza, the Indiana pizza place that rushed to be known as the first business to announce that it plans on refusing to serve gay customers under the cover of Indiana’s new and poorly thought-out religious freedom law.  Oh, I agree that it was thoughtful of the owners to help show that the law, regardless of the neutral words used, was intended to be a rallying point for anti-gay advocates who want to fight back against what they see as a frightening cultural shift that they don’t understand and can’t accept, but the owners are still, to be blunt, morons.

Announcing that the law would allow them to refuse to cater a gay wedding, they injected their biases into a debate they were neither legally, ethically, morally or intellectually equipped to participate in. Crystal O’Connor, whose family owns the small-town pizzeria, spouted off  that “If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no,”  as the national debate over the law was heating up. Well, no, Crystal, you wouldn’t have to, and the law probably wouldn’t protect you if you did. Baking pizza is not the exercise of religion, and nothing in the Bible says “Thou shalt not send pizza to the reception of a wedding you disapprove of.

I just heard one of the law’s supporters from a “family values” group that spends much of its time, words and money attacking homosexuality swear to Chris Cuomo on CNN that the law has nothing whatsoever to do with Indiana embracing anti-gay bigots (and tricking them into thinking that stunts like Crystal’s are acceptable). “It’s about conscience, ” he intoned, without giggling. But the law says nothing about conscience either.It prevents the government from  substantially burdening the exercise of religion. Catering an event, religious or not, is not a religious act, nor is a wedding reception a religious ceremony. It is no more legitimate to say that your conscience forbids you from selling pizza to strangers than it is to say that your conscience forbids you from letting a transsexual into your cab. O’Connor, not surprisingly, doesn’t comprehend the law. Continue reading

61 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Law & Law Enforcement, Love, Rights, The Internet, U.S. Society, Unethical Websites

Remembering Another False “Memory”: The Rosenblats, Oprah, and the Holocaust Love Story

Herman and Roma

Herman and Roma

Somehow I missed this story, because if I had noticed it, I know I would have written about it. Maybe you missed it too.

Herman Rosenblat died on Feb. 5, and his death was noted in several publications, not for his life, which included surviving the Holocaust, but because of a charming story he told that turned out to false. He had written in a memoir about a mysterious young girl on the other side of the barbed wire fence who help kept him alive as a starving teenage inmate at Buchenwald. As recounted in another book:

“He saw her pull something from her pocket. An apple? She squinted, gauging the distance between them, swung her arm in a few practice throws, then hurled the apple with a force that surprised him. The fruit flew across most of the distance between them before it dropped to the ground, rolled under the fence and landed just inches beyond the wire on Herman’s side.”

Day after day, the same mysterious “angel,” as he thought of her, risked her life by throwing apples to him over the fence.

Twelve years after the war, he had a blind date in Coney Island. His date told him about her experiences in Europe during the war, and how she wondered what had become of a young boy she remembered throwing apples to in a German death camp.  Stunned, Herman said that he asked, “Did he wear rags on his feet instead of shoes?”  When she answered that he did, Herman exclaimed, ‘That boy was me!” They were married, and it was a loving union that lasted 56 years. Continue reading

32 Comments

Filed under Character, History, Love, Romance and Relationships

Rudy’s Heresy

Obama with-United-States-Flag

Hot on the heels of the Ethics Alarms Presidents Day celebration of the men who have held the office, which began with the premise that every one of them made a patriotic decision to attempt such a daunting job and deserves our respect and gratitude, comes Rudy Giuliani to accuse the current occupant of the office of not loving the United States of America. His accusation came not in a national address or an interview with CNN, mind you, but at a small, private dinner for nascent GOP Presidential hopeful Scott Walker. This sparked an over-the-top freakout by the mainstream media, which did everything from questioning Giuliani’s patriotism and sanity to accusing him of racism (but of course).

Then, because we all know Giuliani, who is neither a leader of the Republican Party nor currently an elected official, speaks for all Republicans, every Presidential contender had to answer the “when did you stop beating your wife” question of whether they also believed that the President didn’t “love” the U.S. Rudy was interviewed and re-interviewed to clarify his remarks, leading him to “explain” that he wasn’t impugning Obama’s patriotism, but would not apologize, and to speculate that Obama’s upbringing and past associations had produced a socialist/communist sensibility. Rudy also said that the President had rejected American “exceptionalism,” and that this was ominous.

Finally, in what was a foolish, unnecessary—but sadly typical for this President—“I am not a crook” moment, Obama felt it was necessary to rebut the former New York Mayor by declaring in a speech that he did love America.

Ick, yuck, uck, petooie, bleh, gag, yechhh.

What an ugly and destructive controversy.

Observations from the ethics perch: Continue reading

17 Comments

Filed under Character, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Love, Race, U.S. Society

Advice Malpractice: Good Advice Columnist, Bad Advice Columnist

"Go jump in a lake!"

“Go jump in a lake!”

I cannot imagine being so bereft of wisdom, friends and mentors that I would ever be moved to ask a stranger to advise me regarding an important decision based solely on a letter describing my problem. Nevertheless, a lot of poor souls apparently do, and because they do, many of them probably act on the advice they get from Beth, Abby, The Ethicist and the rest. This means that anyone with the ego and chutzpah to hold themselves out as qualified to give such advice is ethically obligated to be able to do a competent job at it, and at very least to “do no harm.” Yes, unlike the law, advice columnist is one of the professions where the traditional ethical mission of medicine is not just appropriate, but essential.

Most advice columnists in the media are not competent, and some are dangerously reckless. The worst thing an advice columnist can do is to use the trusting and needy stranger as a potential recruit to steer toward the columnist’s ideologically-driven goals. The question being asked by desperate advice seekers, after all, is not “What would you do?” but rather “What should I do?” If the columnist answers the question presuming that the advice-seeker does or should see the world as the advice columnist does, then doing harm is the likely result.

Carolyn Hax ( Washington Post) is a wonderful advice columnist, and Emily Yoffe (“Dear Prudence”) is the other kind. Two recent responses by them illustrate the distinction between competent, skilled and ethical advice, and advice column malpractice. Continue reading

20 Comments

Filed under Daily Life, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Love, Romance and Relationships, Workplace

Rape, Consent, and the Unconscious Lover

unconscious

Maybe Republicans should just keep their mouths shut whenever rape is being discussed. You know, just to be on the safe side.

Utah is considering legislation designed to protect the incapacitated from having to prove they did not consent to sex. The bill, an amended version of current law, was introduced after a 2013 case in which a man was charged with raping an unconscious neighbor on her porch. Republican state Representative Brian Greene prominently stepped into the Todd (“Legitimate Rape”) Akin Zone when he questioned the measure as too broad, saying,

“If an individual has sex with their wife while she is unconscious … a prosecutor could then charge that spouse with rape, theoretically. That makes sense in a first date scenario, but to me, not where people have a history of years of sexual activity.”

This, as you might imagine, ignited quite a bit of criticism. Greene appeared to be saying that it was okay to have sex with your spouse if he or she were unconscious. (He later issued a classic non-apology apology. I rate it a #7 on the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale) Continue reading

12 Comments

Filed under Family, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Love