Ethics Quiz: The Syracuse Kiss Cam Ban

Kiss cam

The Syracuse University Carrier Dome kiss cam was taken out of service over the weekend and was not in operation during  the Syracuse-Central Michigan University football game, apparently because a letter to the editor  on Syracuse.com expressed the opinion that it encouraged sexual assault. So-called kiss cams are a tradition in some stadiums in which the scoreboard camera pans the crowd and picks out a couple who find themselves being displayed over or under a banner that encourages/demands that they kiss as the crowd roars. Typically, they do, laugh, and life goes on.

Yes, it’s stupid.

Letter writer Steve Port described watching two kiss cam scenes in which women didn’t seem to want to be kissed, but nearby men kissed them anyway as the crowd cheered.  He said such a practice condones and encourages “sexual assault and a sense of male entitlement, at best. And they are an actual instance of assault, at worst…No one has the right to forcefully touch someone be it a hug, a kiss or a violent rape.”

Well, I certainly agree that rape cam is a bad idea.

Port argued that “the Syracuse University student government, the chancellor, the athletic director, etc. review what happened last weekend and seriously consider the ramifications of what they are encouraging.” Spooked by the letter and the online response to it, the Syracuse administration discontinued the gimmick. One letter is all it took. “We are taking the time to assess the concerns expressed in the letter to the editor. We discussed this with POMCO, the sponsor, and they supported that approach,” Sue Edson, executive senior associate athletics director for communications, said in an email.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Is the kiss cam a provocation to sexual assault and a sense of male entitlement and therefore unethical?

My view? Panning the crowd and putting people up on the Jumbotron because they are old, sexy, cute, funny looking or picking their noses is unethical. Still, it’s a public event and on TV, so there is unavoidable implied consent to be filmed, videoed, put on TV or the Jumbotron, and the people who make the decisions who to show cannot be trusted to use taste or compassion. If it bothers you, don’t go, wear a mask, or be absolutely still. For better or worse, it’s part of the package.

The kiss cam is just an especially obnoxious part of this stadium culture. Where it is used, it is treated as a tradition. One accepts being subjected to a tradition by submitting to it with one’s attendance. As such, it is no different from standing under mistletoe or going to a New Years Eve party…indeed, it is exactly like those events. Do mistletoe and New Years condone and encourage “sexual assault and a sense of male entitlement”? Well, I’m sure Steve Port thinks so, but his mind has been infected by little worms carrying the political correctness hypersensitivity mindset.

If a man in any of these situations kisses a women without her consent by look or word, he’s a jackass, and technically engaging in assault. A woman who allows him to do it is either consenting, or needs to learn a right hook. The fact that the scoreboard camera, or the hanging mistletoe, or a dropping ball in Times Square invites a couple to kiss as an embodiment of traditions—all silly and disposable—is not leave for anyone to abandon manners and respect. I have seen women, and men, decline kiss invitations under the white berries. I’ve never seen this on New Years, first because people are usually smashed, and second because I hate New Years, but seriously: inviting sexual assault?

Baloney, Steve. Baloney, Syracuse.

Port was within his rights to raise the issue, and in a sane world it would have been shrugged off as what it is: some guy trying to earn a sensitivity merit badge. Pulling the kiss cam because of a single letter is just typical university spinelessness. The vast majority of people who go to sports events think kiss cams are just part of the fun. Those who don’t think so go along with it to be good sports, and there’s nothing wrong with that, either. The determination of Port and his ilk to make everything, innocent, silly or trivial, seem sinister as a part of a war on women will eventually rob college life of all enjoyment, and since nobody learns much in these over-priced institutions, what good will they be?

33 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: The Syracuse Kiss Cam Ban

  1. I have to agree with the guy who wrote the letter. Major League Baseball banned the kiss cam recently, because it turned out that he was always kissing her on the strikes, but she only got to kiss him on….

  2. Let’s get real! These kiss-cam shows are behind the times…well, maybe I should not have said it THAT way, seeing as how I am going to suggest that modern female empowerment might best be demonstrated by a couple of minutes of Twerk-Cam – you know, an opportunity for a lady to show she can do Miley Cyrus moves as sexily as anyone.

    Some hired lecher can scan the crowd and train a camera on one shiny hiny after another – on any lady who might fairly be expected to have such a hiny – in an exhortation to shake it. The ladies can twerk or not twerk – their choice. The lecher can make the camera linger for a few seconds on the comely babe, to see if the crowd’s exhortations win over the lady’s inhibitions. Even if no booty-motion occurs, the music that would play during the Cam show, by itself, would likely be worth the trip to the ballpark.

    But of course, the Twerk-Cam won’t happen more than one time, before yet another poor, thenthitive wittle pwogwetthive (boy or girl) becomes butt-hurt at the sight of a systa twerking, because that would be tho, tho, lookthitht. Lucky me, again: I can’t see well enough to operate any camera well, and my rear-viewing capabilities are generally impaired by age-onset blindness plus inhibited by marital fidelity, anyway. I still have some imagination (I probably should not have admitted that; Thought Police are ever watching).

    The Kiss-Cam as I have observed it in operation is NOT a provocation to assault of any kind. It is, however, a dangerous inducement to doubleplusungood fun-having behavior. All us little bots ought to realize just where our rights and justice come from, and not be distracted from complete devotion to The One True Government of, by, and for progressivism.

  3. “Well, I certainly agree that rape cam is a bad idea.”

    In general, I find rape-related jokes unfunny.

    This was funny.

    (As for the actual quiz: To quote Liz Lemon on sexism, “Ugh, I don’t even know anymore.” Pass.)

      • Ever seen the shots where the cam assumes the wrong two people are together, and the husband or wife left out looks a little bit cross? Now imagine that scenario with the rape cam. Hoo-wee.

      • But this is the problem with all of these PC feature-creep ‘offenses”. It is like they don’t understand the difference between quantitative and qualitative, they only deal with absolutes. A kiss someone agrees to under social pressure is the same as a violent rape.

        Oooh, someone else’s lips touched yours for 3.5 seconds. Now you will need years of therapy in order to leave the house, you will need to write a book about your struggles to overcome the shame and emotional scarring, and you will need to be on SS disability. Are these people stuck in Jr. High? Get over it already.

  4. Some things shouldn’t be done in the first place for reasons of manners and good taste. The kiss cam probably fits somewhere in that spectrum. But, it’s a real stretch to call it an invitation to assault and male entitlement. Just the kind of prissy new Puritanism that clouds the issue. Everything seems to be extreme. Everyone wants to cause a fuss and they get to because it’s so easy to do.

  5. “is unethical. Still, it’s a public event and on TV, so there is unavoidable implied consent to be filmed, videoed, put on TV or the Jumbotron, and the people who make the decisions who to show cannot be trusted to use taste or compassion. If it bothers you, don’t go, wear a mask, or be absolutely still. For better or worse, it’s part of the package.

    The kiss cam is just an especially obnoxious part of this stadium culture. Where it is used, it is treated as a tradition. One accepts being subjected to a tradition by submitting to it with one’s attendance. As such, it is no different from standing under mistletoe or going to a New Years Eve party…indeed, it is exactly like those events. Do mistletoe and New Years condone and encourage “sexual assault and a sense of male entitlement”? Well, I’m sure Steve Port thinks so, but his mind has been infected by little worms carrying the political correctness hypersensitivity mindset.”

    #36 & Haven’t you made arguments that you don’t just accept something that has an easy fix just because it’s part of the culture?

    It’s not unethical because it “encourages assault” (it doesn’t). It’s unethical because of the invasion of privacy and yes, in public, your privacy can still be invaded. Sure, you can always say “a couple can just not kiss”…but really? It’s then an open invitation for everyone around them to annoy the heck out of them until they do…

    • How are you disagreeing with me? I think it stinks. I think cameras taking films of the crowd is an imposition, yes—but that battle was lost when every moron started photobombing stadium shots and other TV locations, and waving at the camera like morons, so the assumption was “people like this crap”, and sadly, they do, most of them. So I “consent” to the earsplitting rock music that makes it impossible to enjoy a baseball game like it was meant to be watched, and I consent to the constant assault lights and noise from the scoreboard, and I consent to the girls throwing T0shirts at me and the insulting signs telling me when to clap and cheer. The damn kiss can is a minor irritation, but since I know that all comes with my ticket, I’ve consented.

      A couple can still not kiss, and while I can’t stop the asshole camera editor, I can damn well make anyone annoying me feel twice as annoyed BY me. THAT I enjoy, and trust me, I’m goooooood at it. Bring it on.

      • I would disagree that consenting to “earsplitting rock music” is analogous to “consenting” to having an intimate moment forced from you for the entertainment of others…

        All other examples are part of the game & stadium entertaining you with their own resources. Pressuring a kiss from a couple that MAY NOT WANT IT violates Kant’s non-use of other humans.

        I don’t think you can make the argument, “I consent to being the victim of unethical conduct, therefore it is pre-forgiven and ok” because ultimately that’s the NFL defense: The players consent to the injuries they will sustain…they knew what they were getting into…so therefore, ETHICAL!

        I think your analogies are all examples of things you don’t have a personal taste for, whereas the public-pressure compelled kiss isn’t a matter of taste, but a matter of compelled conduct of a personal and private nature (though many people are comfortable with it, many also are not).

        This is another example however, of getting a semi-right answer for all the wrong reasons, in Steve Port’s case.

        • If I buy a ticket to an event that includes kiss cam, I have consented to the possibility that I will be kiss-cammed. One cannot consent to unequivocally unethical treatment, like being beaten or made a slave. When the conduct is regarded as a benefit by many, perhaps most, with a rational argument for the belief, one certainly can consent to it.

          You realize that your argument could be easily twisted into justification of the Lone Offended Party Veto, right?

          • Except that I’ve clearly delineated between conduct that is reasonably considered private and intimate but is now being COMPELLED out of someone vs something that isn’t even conduct but part of the product supplied by the provider…

            If part of the product supplied by the provider is forced entertainment out of a spectator, it’s still a violation of Kant. They only get away with it because enough people presume the likelihood of being “kiss cammed” is non-existant (which statistically it is) that the mass of purchasers AREN’T going to protest it even if they would be uncomfortable with it occurring to them also.

            This also relates to the “I’m not going to defend the margins that are harmed since the odds are so little it will affect me” apathy that eats away at our culture.

            • Except that being a spectator at a modern televised sports event always means accepting that you are part of the entertainment. The big lights demanding that you cheer or applaud are just different in degree. Or being pressured to do the wave.

              • I don’t disagree with that first sentence. But what follows is where we diverge: Just what conduct can be reasonably expected of an in-person spectator?

                I would submit that the mass nature of the wave and the action itself lends itself to anonymity of both a participant and non-participant alike. Not so with kiss-cam. I would also submit that, in relation to my community comment below, some innocuous conduct, like “the wave”, can reasonably be cajoled out of those who have “pre-consented by way of attendance” as part of community building…however, some conduct ISN’T innocuous…and it is STILL reasonable to assume people don’t want to be forced into kissing for other’s entertainment.

                I like your counterexamples, but that they aren’t different in just degree.

                I think as this discussion continues, it isn’t just a problem of the venues but a problem of an apathetic crowd also not willing to say no to something simply because they think the odds are in their favor of not having to “pay up”.

                • Why is being on the kiss cam more of a breach of privacy than being shown botching a foul ball or being asleep and drooling? Nobody knows who these people are, except those who know them. So you shake your head and refuse to kiss someone. (I would.) So what? How are you harmed? I absolutely agree that taking cell phone shots of strangers in public is a breach of ethics, but I didn’t voluntarily enter a “you are likely to be put on the scoreboard or TV” Zone when I walk in downtown DC.

        • Now I will caveat that I acknowledge that Baseball games, before all other sports, are *supposed* to be the most community-oriented game. And a great function of the community is getting people comfortable with other members of the community, part of which involves breaking down barriers of “taking oneself too seriously” and that healthy communities often engage in public behavior that compels people to “loosen up”. But there are of course limits, for one, personal communities are considerably smaller than 75,000 people, and some barriers shouldn’t be broached (especially those of private & intimate natures).

  6. Remember when you could go to watch a professional baseball game and it was quiet, except for appreciative applause, the crack of bats hitting balls and balls popping into gloves? And maybe a beer or peanut vendor. Long time ago, I guess. I wonder if an MLB club has ever promoted a throw back night where they’d shut off all the noise sources and the electronic signs from soccer stadiums. I doubt it.

    • I just copied this to a friend of mine. He instantly emailed back with only a blow-up of his original smiley-face for reply. He and a bunch of his friends are rabid baseball fans. And pretty good amateur players too.

      They’re all deaf. And they have been known to complain about the bad vibes.

      • It might be a viable promotion in that it would generate some [old] fan interest. But it would be so subversive to what stadium marketing has become I can’t imagine it would ever, ever get past all the sales and marketing people in an organization (never mind the organist and the random noise generator guy). They’d be militating for their own irrelevance. But it might make for a good throw back night with old style unis and twenty-five cent beers. Oh, never mind.

  7. So what if the girl initiates the kiss and he doesn’t want it? How biased, and a bit fanatical, of Mr. Port to not look at both perspectives.

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