Tag Archives: risk aversion

Kids On Leashes: Final Hypotheticals

kids on leashes2

Not to beat a dead dog, but while conversing about this surprisingly contentious issue (here, and here) on Facebook with the ever-thoughtful and provocative Lianne Best (Ethics Alarms congratulations go to Lianne for being honored by NARAL as an Outstanding Advocate For Choice), I realized that I should have posed one more hypothetical for the enthusiastic child-leashers to chew on, to wit:

“Have you ever seen anyone in public with both a kid and a dog on leashes simultaneously?”

Would you do that? And if you wouldn’t, why would having a child on a leash without the dog be any better?

To which Lianne countered with an even better hypothetical:

“How about a parent walking in public with the child on a leash but the dog walking along without one?”

____________________

Spark: Lianne Best

Graphic: Baby Cottage Gifts

 

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Filed under Animals, Childhood and children, Family, Quizzes, U.S. Society

On Liberals, Dignity, Dogs, Signature Significance and Toddlers On Leashes

But they LIKE it!

But they LIKE it!

The damndest essays ignite furious debates here. I raised CNN’s mid-day quiz about parents walking children on a leash-–did I mention it featured a video of one mother dragging her prone harnessed child through a store like the kid was a sack of potatoes? I should have—-primarily because 1) it reminded me of “The Simpsons,” 2) because I was struck by the fact that ethics was never brought into a conversation that I would deem as concerning an ethics issue, and 3) because it was notable that CNN wasn’t talking about sunken Malaysian airplanes.

Still, I have been enlightened by the unexpectedly lively discussion, if not encouraged. In particular, this never struck me as an ideological issue, but it certainly seems to be one. Upon reflection, I should have predicted it, though this is not flattering to liberals.

I’ll return to this in a bit.

The defenses of the demeaning practice have been mostly pragmatic, which involves a utilitarian argument: “It works, and the ethical violations either don’t exist, or are too small to care about.” The most annoying defense so far has required  intentionally taking a statement in my post literally that also has an important figurative message, as well as misstating even the literal meaning, all to make it easier to dismiss the intended point. That’s some kind of record for straw men. Or would that be straw dogs? No, I think that’s something else.

The phrase in question was “whether it was fair, kind, respectful or right to treat your child like a cocker spaniel…” To make it easier to attack, my critic has changed that to “…to treat your child in a manner associated with the treatment of dogs.” Sneaky. It is true that dogs are typically kept on a leash, but that is only half the message, as fair readers will acknowledge. The term “treated him-her-them like a dogs/dogs” means, and has meant for a very long time, treating a human being in an inhuman, demeaning, humiliating, unkind, unfair fashion showing a lack of respect and making the human being in question miserable. The description has been used to describe both treatment that is seen in the treatment of actual dogs—such as substandard living conditions, lack of autonomy, domineering oversight, feeding of food not fit for human consumption, and in this case, use of a leash in public, as well as used to describe treatment that would never be literally possible with real dogs, such as too many typing assignments, refusal to give credit or bonuses for effective research, not allowing a family member a sufficient allowance, forcing a child to dress in old, outdated or unattractive clothes, etc. In the current case, both meanings apply, and focusing on just one is intentionally misrepresenting the issue.

As to whether the use of leashes on human children is demeaning, try this thought experiment: Would any white nanny dare to walk in public with two black children on a leash? How about the mother in a mixed marriage, in which the mother is blonde and the children are black? Would not the imagery of whites leashing blacks be inherently distasteful, regardless of the age of the African-Americans involved? Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Childhood and children, Citizenship, Government & Politics, Race, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society

Child Care Ethics And Leashes For Toddlers: CNN and Its Viewers Flunk An Ethics Alarm Test

Kids on leashes

It is constantly amazing to me that journalists so seldom identify obvious and critical ethics issues in the topics and events they cover. The rest is mixed emotions: this absence of ethics awareness is a serious culture-wide problem; then again, were this not so, I’d probably be in a different, and less stimulating profession.

Today I sat down to lunch as CNN engaged in a breathless discussion of whether using leashes on toddlers and even older children was a good idea, as it is either a growing trend among parents, or CNN was having a slow news day. The phone lines were open, and many viewers weighed in, with the primary camps expressing the following positions:

1. “If it makes children safer, then there is no reason not to do it. Safety is everything. Kids have been killed running into the street.  A leash will prevent that.”

2. “This shows the decline of child-rearing skills in the United States. If you can’t control your kid better than this, you are the problem.”

If the question of whether it was fair, kind, respectful or right to treat  your child like a cocker spaniel occurred to anybody in this discussion (I know the CNN staff never considered it), I saw and heard no evidence of this. Yet that is the central question, and it is an interesting one to consider. The fact that matters of human dignity, responsibility, respect, fairness, autonomy, kindness, proportion and prudence need to be balanced to answer the question at hand never came into the discussion, and those debating the issue demonstrated neither awareness of the competing ethical values, nor the ability to know how to employ them. Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Ethics Dunces, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

The Glenwood Gardens Incident: A Duty To Rescue, Policy Or Not

"Here at Glenwood Gardens, our residents understand that our crack staff will allow them to die on the floor without lifting a finger."

“Here at Glenwood Gardens, our residents understand that our crack staff will allow them to die on the floor without us lifting a finger.”

Once again, we consider the ethical duties of someone placed by fate and circumstance in a position to give life-saving service…and who refuses to do so.

Lorraine Bayless,  87 year-old resident of Glenwood Gardens, a Bakersfield, California senior living facility, collapsed on the dining room floor, not breathing, her life obviously in danger.  A Glenwood Gardens staff member who identified herself as a nurse called 911, and this exchange ensued…

911 Dispatcher: “This woman’s not breathing enough. She’s gonna die if we don’t get this started. Do you understand?”

Nurse: “I understand. I am a nurse. But I cannot have our other citizens, who don’t know CPR, do it … ”

Dispatcher: “Is there anyone that works there that’s willing to do it?”

Nurse: “We can’t do that.”

Dispatcher: “Are we just gonna let this lady die?”

Nurse: “Well that’s why we’re calling 911.”

Dispatcher: “Is there anyone that’s willing to help this lady and not let her die?”

Nurse: “Um, not at this time.”

The 87-year-old was declared dead at the hospital. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society, Workplace

Dog Racism Update: A Definitive Defense of Pit Bulls

Nanny dog1

Ethics Alarms has discussed the unfairness, bigotry and ignorance behind the vilification of pit bulls and related breeds on many occasions: here, here, here , here, and here. Now Joshua Holland has written an excellent primer in Salon for the pit bull-phobics to chew on, and he did a superb job of debunking the illusion that this is a monstrous breed rather than what it really is, an uncommonly delightful one.

Among the highlights…

  • “Pit bulls are the dog of choice for irresponsible breeders, dog-fighters, people who want a tough-looking dog to tie up in their yard and those who refuse to have their male dogs… 86% of fatal canine attacks involve an unneutered male, according to the American Humane Society.”
  • “A 2009 study in the Journal of Forensic Science, found that the owners of vicious dogs, regardless of the breed, had “significantly more criminal behaviors than other dog owners”…According to the ASPCA, “Pit Bulls often attract the worst kind of dog owners.”
  • “We have tragically betrayed our children’s beloved nanny-dogs, raising them irresponsibly, training them to be aggressive and then turning them into pariahs when they behave as any dog would in similar circumstances.” Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Research and Scholarship

Irresponsible School, Cowardly Teacher, Betrayed Students: the Palm Beach Classroom Attack Incident

Donald Charbonneau, a teacher at a Palm Beach, Florida middle school, watched as one of his students, a 13-year-old boy, Adrian Thompson, attacked classmate Joshua Poole, who was sitting at his desk. Thompson hit Poole several times, and threw him to the floor. Rather than intervening is the fight, Charbonneau left the room to get assistance. Poole says he now suffers from headaches and blurred vision from the prolonged attack, which was longer that it would have been had the teacher stopped the fight.

The school district released a statement explaining that the teacher was following a school policy dictating that staff can only intervene after undergoing “special training” on how to properly deal with such incidents.

Got it.

The policy is an irresponsible legal risk-reduction maneuver that places students at risk and turns teachers into spineless, equally irresponsible weenies. Continue reading

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Filed under Daily Life, Education, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Professions, U.S. Society

More Unethical Anti-Dog Slander by The Daily Beast

It is odd that a news website called “The Daily Beast” is engaging in an ongoing effort to misinform and frighten the public regarding dogs. Someone—publisher Tina Brown perhaps?—in The Daily Beast’s lair must have been badly frightened by a puppy at some point in his or her life, leading to an irrational fear of dogs and mind-blowing ignorance regarding them. Earlier this year, the site published two unhinged calls for the eradication of  anything resembling a pit bull by a writer whose pet was attacked by one. At the moment, The Daily Beast features a gallery with the ominous title “39 Most Dangerous Dog Breeds” that had to be assembled by some one who has seldom seen a real dog, much less owned one. On the home page, the feature is placed under the heading, “Beware of the Dog.”

The criteria for the ranking is completely mysterious—several of the breeds listed, for example, have exactly one attack attached to them. The gallery itself is riddled with errors and is actually quite funny, if one knows anything about dogs at all. In addition to being careless and incompetent, the feature is dishonest, and seems to be calculated to make people irrationally frightened of dogs, when in fact the relationship between human and canines is one of life’s great and fortunate pleasures. Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Daily Life, Family, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement