Ethics Quiz: The “420” Tattoo And GoFundMe Ethics

Tattoo 420

Tabitha West, of Fulton, New York, created a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a worthy cause: paying for her to get a giant woman  “420” tattoo removed from her forehead. “420” apparently means “I’m a pot head.” Some madman tied her down and defaced her. Wait, no scratch that. She paid to have someone but the big, ugly, stupid tattoo there. Now she finds that having a tattoo on her face that proclaims her love of illegal drug use is an impediment to employment. Huh. Boy, knock me over with a feather: who could have foreseen that?

So, broke and desperate, Tabitha—did I mention that she is an imbecile? Did I need to?—is begging for kind and generous people to undo what she did.

Her message on the GoFundMe page, seeking a goal of  $800, reads:

“I am wanti,g $ to get that tattoo off my for head I want to have a better start out in life and have a second chance at life please help me I was young n dumb when I got that I’m older one looking for a job can’t get out and people call me a druggie every day of my life and being called 420 is not nice and I almost killed my self over it. … can’t stand to look at my face anymore. .save a life save me..invest in me and I will show you I can be better with my life. ..thank you.”

We can all see from that eloquent appeal that Tabitha is a dummy no longer, and thus a superb investment.

Surprisngly, some critics demur. Shawn Morse, for example, wrote in response to the appeal:

“It’s people like you that keep my (sick) girl from getting help. My daughter has three brain tumors, cerebral palsy, neurofibromatosis, an optic glioma, & a feeding tube. My daughter’s GoFundMe keeps getting passed over for things like this. There are too many people begging for money for their bad decisions in their life.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the day is…

Is it unethical for Tabitha to seek help on GoFundMe, and for donors to give her money?

My view?

I feel Shawn’s pain, but asking for help is never unethical—anyone can say no—and people should be able to be generous to what ever cause they choose without being chastised by someone telling them that their cause is more worthy.

I admire the kindness of anyone who looks at that picture, reads the illiterate appeal, and thinks, “This poor woman has really screwed herself over. She’s probably too stupid to succeed at anything, but you never know. She at least deserves a second chance with a blank forehead.” Accusing Tabitha of robbing a sick little girl of donations is unfair, of course. This isn’t a zero sum game. Besides, GoFundMe is in part just a cyber version of a Calcutta street where beggars compete with each other for hand-outs from soft-hearted suckers, with some entrepreneurs thrown in.

Personally, I would burn my money before I would give it to Tabitha, but I salute any kind soul who feels differently, or who actually has money to burn.

She made her $800 goal by the way, with $284 to spare so far….which, I assume, she will use to purchase more pot, or to have something else tattooed on her neck.


Pointer: Fark


21 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: The “420” Tattoo And GoFundMe Ethics

  1. She lost me at “I am wanti,g $…”

    I even forgave the comma in place of the letter “n” and I barely forgave the dollar sign. But it irks me to no end when people inappropriately use the imperfect (aka the progressive, or the continuous) tense. In an extremely technical sense, the use passes muster here, but, generally, it is an awkward construct.

    She betrays her stupidity by not saying “I want $…” (I’ll even forgive her rudeness when she doesn’t begin with “I need…” or a better explanation prior to the demand.

    If anyone is curious how awkward it is when people inappropriately use that verb tense, reread my comment with nothing but that tense (and I know people who speak this way)—–

    She was losing me at “I am wanti,g $…”

    I even was forgiving the comma in place of the letter “n” and I was barely forgiving the dollar sign. But it is irking me to no end when people inappropriately are using the imperfect (aka the progressive, or the continuous) tense. In an extremely technical sense, the use is passing muster here, but, generally, it is being an awkward construct.

    She is betraying her stupidity by not saying “I want $…” (I’ll even be forgiving her rudeness when she wasn’t beginning with “I need…” or a better explanation prior to the demand.


    Among the top grammar sins, I’ll add inappropriate use of continuous verb tenses.

    I’m not sure however, where it ranks compared to the death of the adverb and people who say “he was like *conduct*” in place of “he did *conduct*” or “he said *conduct*”.

    With that last one, I’ve about reached aneurysm level combating my eldest’s horrible speech habits gained from her idiot friends at school.

      • Well, what irks me further and forces me to be more forgiving is when I go back and re-read my posts and catch myself using the occasionally inappropriate continuous verb tense. I did it today even. Ugh.

    • I believe you and I discussed the death of the adverb in a previous post. My latest grammar pet peeve? The use of “me” instead of “I” and “him” instead of “he”, over which I’m beginning to develop a facial tic.

      • When people replace a subject pronoun with it’s object counterpart? I understand your anguish. Correcting such is also frustrating when other role models also have terrible grammar.

        Yes, we discussed the sad death of the adverb.

  2. Is it wrong for me to assume people on GoFundMe are liars until their stories make a major news organization, and even then remain skeptical?

    “My daughter has three brain tumors, cerebral palsy, neurofibromatosis, an optic glioma, & a feeding tube.”

    Maybe she does, and maybe you’re the eye-patched beggar that can’t decide left or right today.

    • Knowing that my wife’s half sister did one of those gofundme’s or related services to “get enough money for her son’s meds” and knowing generally her lifestyle and purchasing options, I am always skeptical about any of those requests for help.

      There’s no rigorous getting system. Via a charitable institution, at least there is a modicum of vetting or even rigorous standards before allowing disbursement of funds. (Of course, with any given charity, I am also curious how much of a donation goes to overhead, more fundraising or to actual beneficiaries).

  3. I confess to being a sucker, but not for Tabitha’s panhandle. I was completely taken in by Shawn. I think I’ll just stay in my little cocoon of giving to family and church. I’m too big a sucker.

    • This is a terrible conundrum for me, especially as it is compared to the ever-present traffic island prophet (profit?) displaying a tale of woe and misery on a cardboard sign requesting money. The Catholic-guilt-infused humanitarian wants to help. The realist (generally pounding on the Catholic-guilt-infused humanitarian) wants to look the other way, while donating to verified causes set up to address those problems (perhaps with a shrug and a “I do want I can”). Yet, the conundrum persists.

      It happens to me very often. My wife thinks it’s God’s desire for me to be more merciful; my son thinks it happens to me because I am easy mark. I don’t know if they are both right or both wrong, or what. For example, last week I decided to dine at Taco Bell. As I entered the place, a fellow yelled at me, demanding lunch. After talking to him for a minute, I agreed, on the condition that we could eat together. He agreed and we ordered.
      i am under absolutely no delusion that Taco Bell is good food or good Mexican food, but it is fun to eat. The lady taking our order was a bit confused by the whole incident but she readily took my cash. The order was prepared and given to us. Yet, my humble guest decided to take his order and run out the door. Now, picture the scene: An attorney dressed in a navy blue blazer chasing a homeless guy down the street, yelling at him to come back to eat lunch. Surreal, no? The City of Houston road crew guys sat quietly, shaking their heads at me.

      In this instance, I agree that making a donation to aid her campaign is not unethical, and perhaps is noble – you want to save someone from the consequences of doing something really dumb (I won’t though – the realist just hid my credit cards). It is also clear that she lacks any form of an education, as clearly demonstrated by her abysmal profile. Perhaps a donation will set her on a path of personal redemption. Who knows?

      I agree with TexAgg04’s comments about poor (in this case, awful) grammar. I would add that using a noun as a verb drives me nuts: “I transitioned from paralegal to associate attorney after I passed the bar”.


  4. Maybe she could sign up for a Kick-starter grant. I’m delighted she got the money because otherwise the only job she could get would be to move to Colorado and work in a pot dispensary. Perhaps she’ll start attending NarcoAnon meetings and be educated how to avoid stupid decisions.

  5. We seem to have drifted from the ethics question somewhat; something I’ve NEVER done, ah hem.

    To my mind she is entitled to ask for funding to get her dog a multicoloured rinse if she likes. The intent of GoFundMe is that you seek funds for a worthwhile project of course but lets face it, cheap pun intended, everyone who approaches GoFundMe is ultimately hoping to make some money as a result of that project. So is she, she hopes to get a job to bring in money.

    As for someone funding her they may act out of genuine compassion for her youthful stupidity, or they may see it as a saving in taxes that will be used for her unemployment benefits! Don’t start on me, I too think she will have more problems getting and keeping a job than just the tattoo and wonder if the money would actually go to tattoo removal or more pot.

    Personally I don’t have an ethics problem with her asking, though I think she has a bit of a hide to do it; after all she managed to find the money for the drugs and the tattoo.

    I also don’t criticise the ethics of a person who funds her, just their wisdom.

    Two asides:
    1. Bill’s comment: “Can we contribute to cover up the rest of her face?” smacks of an ad hominem attack.
    2. Texaggo4 has commented on recognised charitable funds. Many people who are not practising Christians chose to support people in third world countries through Christian organisations because of the confidence that a high proportion of the funds will get through. I recommend ‘Compassion’ for child sponsorship, TEAR Fund for relief and projects and would encourage anyone interested in thinking about foreign aid issues to read Dambisa Moyo’s book Dead Aid.

    Jack, please forgive me for advertising on your blog, I felt this was something that ‘arose in debate’.

  6. Having been born in and lived in the South until I went to college in upstate New York, I’ve always been irked that idiots (and often everyone) from the South are automatically (and gleefully) called “rednecks” while people like Tabitha get a pass. The last time I was in upstate New York, I corrected this terrible disparity by coining the term “morons of the North.” When I publish my dictionary, I will use Tabitha’s picture next to the definition of “morons of the North.”

  7. Here’s the real problem with Tabitha’s tattoo and her GoFundMe – she’s not smart. Sure, everyone gets 3 strikes. Let’s use that.

    Strike 1) She got the tattoo in the first place.
    Strike 2) She wrote her plea in a most incompetent way.

    So where’s the 3rd strike? Her funding goal. She listed it at $800 because she probably saw that a treatment could be up to $800. She probably believes that with 1 treatment, the tattoo will be gone. Strike 3.

    5 to 20 treatments is what it will take. Let’s assume in her case, the treatment is $400. $2,000 to $8,000. Maybe she thought of the $8,000 number and missed another zero? Put the decimal point in the wrong place?

    I wouldn’t doubt that she probably takes the money and does something entirely different with it. Or perhaps her picture was misappropriated and it’s a scam to make a quick buck.

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