Unethical Quote of the Week: Ink Tank

“27. No matter how bad your day is going, somewhere in the world a fat man just dropped his ice cream.”

—- The website Ink Tank, in the process of listing “60 of the world’s happiest facts.”


dropped coneInk Tank’s list of “happiest facts” is a trivia-fest of cute, charming, or otherwise amusing factoids, some of dubious reliability ( 25. Rats giggle when you tickle them…), some of historic interest ( “7. On the day of his assassination, Martin Luther King Jr. had a pillow-fight in his motel room”), some with “Awwww!” value (“15. Otters hold hands when sleeping so they don’t drift away from each other”), some with really dubious reliability (“47. Cows produce the most milk when listening to the song “Everybody Hurts” by REM”), some that are older than Methuselah (“31. It takes seventeen muscles to smile and forty-three to frown”), some snarky (“30. The next Star Wars will not be directed by George Lucas.”), and some that are just plain stupid (“46. At the time of your birth, you were, for a few seconds, the youngest person on the planet”).  That’s all par for the course in these kinds of ubiquitous web lists.

#27., however, comes out of the blue like a drive-by shooting. What kind of person gets joy from the thought that somewhere in the world a stranger is suffering through one of life’s stinging tragedies, just as he is about to partake in one of life’s inimitable innocent pleasures? An ice cream cone! An iconic symbol of summer days, childhood, family excursions and fun! Taking the delicate, waffled cone in an eager hand, admiring the substance and swirl of the lovely confection, anticipating the bracing cold on the tongue and lips, the sweet creamy taste and then…plop!—all is ruined. I hate that! Who doesn’t hate that? When I worked for Baskin-Robins, we were told to always replace a fallen scoop of ice cream or a dropped cone gratis, whether the victim was 4 or 40. Since my ice cream shop days, I have bought replacement cones for other people’s children, because that stricken face of shock, hurt and disappointment the second the scoop hits the ground will haunt my nightmares if I don’t.

This monster, the author of the list, whoever he is, thinks the sudden loss of an ice cream cone by people he doesn’t even know is one of the happiest thoughts he can imagine. Forget about the Golden Rule, to which this position is a flagrant insult; never mind caring for others, compassion, empathy, sympathy and benevolence, which such an attitude explicitly mocks. What is this guy’s problem? Does he hate fat people? All fat people, random fat people? Winston Churchill and Herman Kahn and Santa Claus and Orson Welles? William Howard Taft and Oliver Hardy and Lou Costello…and anyone who has waistline similar to them, all over the world, whether or not they are saints, fathers, philanthropists, toy-makers, heart surgeons—anyone, regardless of accomplishment, achievement or verifiable proof of goodness and virtue, as long as they are chubby? What did any of those people do to him?

Yes, it is just a thought. Such a thought, however, rejects the very concept of ethics, which seeks better lives and happiness for all through the recognition of mutual respect, regard, and concern. Enjoyment of anyone’s misfortune is a regrettable uprising of an unethical instinct, Schadenfreude, a bane of human nature; glee at everyone’s tragedies is a symptom of encroaching evil; and happiness at the very thought of anyone’s ice cream cone disaster,  provided they are male and fat just adds misanthropy, prejudice and hate to the mix, revealing a heart as cold as a triple scoop of Rocky Road.

Update: (1/29/13) Well that didn’t take long!  Ink Tank removed that #27, and replaced it with a video having nothing to do with ice cream or fat guys. Good.

20 thoughts on “Unethical Quote of the Week: Ink Tank

  1. I think he tried to carry the quote: “Someone out there always has it worse” to an, according to him, humorous end.

    The quote, meant to help a person passively gain perspective on his/her various ‘plights’, was perverted in this instance by giving a person the role to actively find humor in another’s misery. Or perhaps this instance actually illuminates a possible flaw in the “Someone out there always has it worse” perspective.

  2. Now, THAT was a funny article/post! I thought it was from the Onion or the Daily Currant! The lines, “Taking the delicate, waffled cone in an eager hand, admiring the substance and swirl of the lovely confection, anticipating the bracing cold on the tongue and lips, the sweet creamy taste and then…plop!—all is ruined. I hate that! Who doesn’t hate that?” had me laughing.



  3. I dropped my ice cream in the sand at Atlantic City one summer, a seven-year-old chubby lost soul, until… I didn’t get another one cause this was my second ice cream drop, which makes me look silly but it’s really because of the way I licked an ice cream cone, you know, that spiral thing with the mathematical ratio??? And then… boom! Off she’d go, into the hot sand, melting sadly as I watched and thought to myself, shit, I ain’t getting a third, I know that! I remember sweating… and thinking… I’ve learned a lesson worth keeping.

    Cheers to Hoover wrote this, of which I am, understandably, in pretty much “f” word awe. I think it’s Jack.

    • As you might guess, Jeff, I have a similar traumatic memory, paired with another involving a double-decker BLT.

      The one time a little girl dropped her SECOND cone at Baskin Robbins was kind of funny, but we gave her the third—in a CUP— before the tears got very far.

  4. This is the flip side of the We Have to Ban all Fattening/Unhealthy Foods argument. While the food cops like to throw up supposed facts like”they’re fat because they can’t help eating that stuff, it’s addictive,” the truth is darker. They feel contempt for the obese, believing that they become overweight because they can’t or won’t understand the dangers of overeating (or eating the “wrong” foods). In short, obesity indicates a moral or intellectual failing. This has been borne out by public opinion polls on the subject. So, if a fat guy drops his ice cream, that’s just cosmic justice at work, and so it’s funny because, after all, the guy deserved it—in the benighted view of the guy who wrote the article and his fellow travelers, anyway.

    • Wow. So far is that attitude from my consciousness that this angle never occurred to me, but I bet you’re right. A fat guy has no right to enjoy an occasional ice cream, so this is happiness inducing as condign justice, proof of a just universe.

      What a jerk.

  5. All of this is vaguely amusing, but what bothers me is that the use of “someone is always worse off than I am” as a palliative for your own perrsonal trouble is all right. Someone is ALWAYS worse off than you are, but that should be used to make you feel better? This isn’t about fat people, kindness at Baskin Robbins, or BLTs… It’s about using the plight of others to make yourself feel better, and I think THAT’S unethical, and wrong. So you have financial troubles and someone else is dying of cancer: face your own problems in the real context of what they are, and DON’T let yourself feel better because someone else’s troubles are worse than your own. Address your problems, challenges, miseries in the best way you know how, and probably, if incrementally, you’ll feel better for doing so. Keep others in various (however trivial) forms of misery out of your decision-making and attitudinal formula. So there.

  6. Well, that one is gone now- so apparently people complained and the inktank listened. #27 is now a reference to a youtube video from the “What would you do” show featuring a guy helping an stranger with “car trouble.” The list is still 60 things, so apparently they had a substitute in the wings.

    • Hey! This may be the first time an Ethics Alarms critique actually provoked substantive action! True, it’s just one misguided item on a silly list, but I can build on that. My labors have not been in vane after all!

      • True- but if I remember your archives correctly haven’t you said that “What Would You Do” has an unethical premise? That is, lying to people to manipulate reactions for the sake of entertainment? I am now holding an image of some content-drone seeing your criticism and finding the most heartwarming thing he can think of that you ALSO dislike, just for spite. I’m probably giving him too much credit though… But hey, one step at a time.

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