Unethical Artist Of The Year
Photographer Jill Greenberg, whose art requires parents to make their children cry. Runner-up: Peeping Tom photographer/artist Arne Svenson
False Allegation Of Anti-Gay Bigotry Of The Year
Kaitlyn Hunt’s parents, who spun a false tale of anti-gay prejudice to portray their sexual predator daughter as a victim after she was accused of statutory rape by the parents of her under-age target. Hunt’s parents even managed to suck the ACLU into their web and the liberal-leaning press portrayed her as a martyr to anti-gay bias. But Hunt’s lies ultimately caused her cover-story to unravel.
Unethical Hoax Of The Year
Oberlin students Dylan Bleier and Matt Alden, aided and abetted by Oberlin College and its president, Marvin Krislov. The two students, self-proclaimed progressives, posted a series of racist and anti-Semitic posters, graffiti and anonymous emails as “an experiment.” Krislov and Oberlin, after cancelling classes and engaging in campus-wide navel-gazing, continued to allow the media and the public believe that this was the work of racists on campus well after it had learned who the real miscreants were. Runner-up: The horrible Meg Lanker-Simons, former University of Wyoming student (now admitted to law school—I don’t want to talk about it) who threatened herself with rape and used the bogus threat to show that her campus was violent and sexist.
Most Unethical Use of Social Media
Dishonorable Mention: 1. Curtis Cearley. The director of technology services for the Fayette County (GA) school district lifted a vacation photo of a female student from her Facebook page, clearly intended only for friends, without her permission, and used the comely photo of her (in a bikini) for a Powerpoint presentation at a public forum on the risks of sharing potentially embarrassing personal information on social media. He also used her name at the forum, which was attended by parents, faculty and students who attended school with her. The forum was titled “Once It’s There, It’s There to Stay.” 2. Fun mom Judy Vigor, who hired two strippers for her 16-year-old son’s birthday party, took photos of the women doing what strippers do, including performing lap-dances for the guests, some of whom were as young as 14, and posted the photos on Facebook.
Social Media Bullies of the Year: Thousands of Twitter users, who decided to make a world-wide pariah of Justine Sacco for a Twitter joke misfire of ambiguous intent. As a result of being proclaimed a racist across the twitterverse, she lost her job and her good name, her career and reputation wrecked by strangers who know her only by 140 poorly-chosen keystrokes.
Shameless Bad Character Division
Biggest Jerk (defined as an individual who habitually places his personal need and ego gratification above the welfare of everyone and everything else): Former tennis star Jimmy Connors, who used his autobiography to get even with old flame Chris Evert, revealing that she had an abortion, a nasty betrayal of trust and confidence that he would profit from in book sales .
Asshole (defined as an individual who intentionally and maliciously causes pain and harm to others because he or she can, or for his own amusement): Elan Gale
Unethical Non Profit
Organizing For Action.
Hypocrites of the Year
Republicans and Democrats, a disgusting number of whom blithely flipped positions on privacy and government surveillance when the NSA’s over-reaching efforts were revealed by Edward Snowden.
Liar of the Year
President Obama. I hate to do it, but I really don’t see how the President avoids this dubious honor. Three of his whoppers were correctly listed by the Washington Post’s Fact Checker as among the columnist’s ten biggest lies of the year, and several others could have made the list as well. Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon never had such a dishonest year, and neither of them ever promised to be transparent and honest, like Obama did. Nobody would have believed them.
Unethical Apology of the Year
Ariel Castro. Part insincere apology, part excuse for the inexcusable, part rationalization for the unspeakable, the man who kidnapped, imprisoned, repeatedly and abused three young women for years until they were rescued from his Cleveland house of horrors provided one of the most chilling statements of this or any other year before he was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. In a triumph for human waste removal, that life proved mercifully brief.
Most Unethical Profession
National Politics. Breaking a four-year lock shared by journalists and educators, the political leaders of the U.S. of both parties disgraced themselves and dishonored the nation, democracy, and the legacy of the Founders in too may ways and on too many occasions to list.
Unethical Talk Show Host of the Year
CNN’s Piers Morgan. Morgan appointed himself the prime TV lobbyist for the Democratic gun control push in the post Sandy Hook orgy of guilt, blame and demonization. Instead of bringing much-needed clarity to the issues—as is his job—Morgan repeatedly fed his audience misinformation, sought out and subsequently berated dim-bulb gun advocates who would be the least effective and weakest foils possible, and set his own cause back by driving thoughtful and fair Americans, like me, into the camps of the opposition rather than appear to be associated with a pompous and abusive hysteric like him.
Unethical Cable TV Channel
The History Channel. Once an oasis of useful and dignified programming in the morass of reality shows, infomercials, gore and soap operas that constitutes cable TV, the History Channel is now dominated by pop-science features about conspiracy theories and end-of-days scenarios, reality shows that have nothing to do with history, and assorted junk. Its name is as big a fraud as Arts and Entertainment or The Learning Channel would be if they went by anything other than their initials. Following those rivals’ lead, the once respectable channel should be just THC, as in “This Horrid Crap.”
Unethical Column or Blog Post
“Possible ‘Cure’ for Down Syndrome Seems So Wrong.” Nice, sensitive Mary Fischer’s rationalization-besotted post epitomized what trendy, half-baked thinking can do: create an argument against doing something that is obviously right, and send yet another terrible idea into the internet to infect the confused and weak-minded. It’s impossible to pick a winner of category like this, but this is a worthy representative.
The Pazuzu Award
(Named for the demon that possessed Linda Blair in “The Exorcist” and made her say the nastiest things, the Pazuzu Award is bestowed on the prominent individual who denies responsibility for his or her actual words, claiming that they did not express what he or she really believes )
Reese Witherspoon. The adorable actress who is kept on a pristine pedestal by the celebrity press got a little sauced, saw her husband being arrested, and suddenly was wielding that tell-sign of a spoiled and entitled jerk, the “Do You Know Who I Am?” threat. Later, she blamed it all on Pazuzu, or whatever it was that made her inexplicably not “reflect who I am.” The fact is that celebrities who aren’t jerks never resort to DYKWIA, drunk or not. No, Reese, it was the real you.
Unethical Trend of the Year
Webshaming of restaurant customers by waiters and waitresses.
Worst Variation of the Unethical Trend of the Year
And that was the unethical year that was.
Here are Parts I and II, as well as the paltry Best of Ethics 2013.
May 2014 be better.
(But it’s not starting out that way.)