When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring Dept: Planet Fitness


There’s nothing substantively wrong with the fitness chain Planet Fitness’s new philanthropic program to combat bullying. However, one has to question the ethics alarms and basic English comprehension of a company that sees nothing wrong with naming a campaign “The Judgement Free Generation.” I just saw a TV ad that was a teaser for the program. The announcer ended by saying “Now Planet Fitness is creating a Judgement Free Generation.”

Judgement is not a bad thing. Judgement is a good thing. So is making judgements. Society without constant judgements of all kinds cannot possibly have or maintain standards. Without standards, there can be no ethical guidelines and boundaries.Nobody with any concept of what ethics are and why they are essential to civilization would every want to eliminate judgement. Judgement and bullying are not synonymous, not even close.

What some copywriter at Planet Fitness has done is to launch a national campaign that frames “judgement” as something to be avoided. Nobody in the hierarchy there perceived anything wrong with that. This isn’t being “judgement free,” this is just bad judgement, as in incompetent.. To the extent that it advances the culture’s increasing tendency to discourage negative judgements against any conduct, even objectively destructive conduct, leading to purely subjective ethics (that is, no ethics at all), the campaign’s message is irresponsible.

Besides, based on what I’ve seen of late on college campuses, Bernie rallies and anti-Trump freakouts, we may already have a judgement-free generation.

At least one.


Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, language, Marketing and Advertising, Public Service, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society

16 responses to “When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring Dept: Planet Fitness

  1. Such an interesting issue. Everything hinges on it. In a Medieval understanding, the old metaphysical understanding, the ‘intellectus’ was understood as a faculty in the self, the very capacity to understand. A long definition is found in the Catholic Encyclopedia. In former times, it was understood that this ‘intellectus’ was part of the essential gift of reason to man. An inner spark or light that enables one to recognize truth. Later it became mere ‘reason’.

    There has to be some way to talk about the ‘attack on reason’ which seems to be a feature of the present. I think of this in relation to people that I imagined at one time to be great intellectual figures. For example Noam Chomsky who I have been thinking about because I am reading Horowitz’ ‘The Anti-Chomsky Reader’.

    A ferocious, powerful, analytical mind which should be the very definition of intellectual but which, somehow, gives itself over to anti-intelectual processes. He asks not for ‘true intellectual work’ but rather induces people to a sort of mechanical reasoning or even perhaps computation. I have been thinking about Chomsky because he really is the spiritual father of a whole multitude of activists who are now on the rampage.

    So while I can see how the Bernie-generation and the University class seem to be surrendering true intellect to what appears like uniformity of thought, thought-conformity and anti-intellectualism, I am also aware that it is not only that class who may be slipping into anti-intellectual positions or losing the capacity to intellectuate and to reason.

  2. Eternal optometrist

    I know “judgement” with an “e” is now an accepted spelling but it shouldn’t be. It still drives me nuts.

  3. Chris Marschner

    Jack: Planet fitness used the wrong word. Should have used “Judging Free” rather than “Judgment Free”. Judgment Free could mean trying to bench press 300 pounds when the best you ever did was 50.

    Correct usage of English is a dying skill even among corporate marketers and copy writers.

  4. Chris Marschner

    Sorry Jack I messed up you said the same thing.

    • That’s OK…it’s worth saying twice. And the people who did this are professional word smiths! I also wonder…and I didn’t think I could get into this…if this is an indication that the the Left’s constant efforts to delegitimize ethical disapproval has sunk in fatally hard. I used to get a lot of comments from progressives here challenging the premise of the blog: who are you to say what ethics is? Everyone can make their own ethics! I eventually would ban them, because the accepting the premise and mission of the blog, seeking a more ethical society by encouraging rational, ethics-based decision-making skills, was a prerequisite for commenting.

      • Chris Marschner


        Ironically, the people who argue most strenuously for moral relativism, such that no one should judge, are the same ones who villify the ideas and actions of others which are antithetical to their own

        • Slick Willy

          Chris said “Ironically, the people who argue most strenuously for moral relativism, such that no one should judge, are the same ones who villify the ideas and actions of others which are antithetical to their own

          Standard Liberal Hypocrisy in action, that is.

  5. E2 (nee Elizabeth I)

    Reason allows one to make judgments — what is right or wrong, what is true or false, what is kind or not. Agree: there is enough lack of judgement and lack of reason prevailing now.

    Note: Judgement, with an “e” used to be the standard American English spelling of the word (just go back even five years, for example); it was co-opted by the print media and changed. As was “advisor,” which now has become “adviser,” per the print media. I keep telling myself that English is a dynamic language, but changes like this with no sense behind them at all, and no phonetic base at all, don’t seem to me a natural part of the evolution of language.

    Perhaps ‘judgment’ will have its very definition changed by politics and ideology and through constant misuse. This last reason has one great example… For years teachers used to teach and rail against the misuse of ‘imply’ and ‘infer.’ The speaker implies and the listener infers, right? But the widespread misuse of these words led the Merriam Webster dictionary, ten years ago, to make them synonymous! Thus making our language less precise and less able to express thought and fact. Don’t know what the definition is in ol’ Merriam Webster today, but that was a major downward step for language.

    Agitprop experts love to redefine words and muddy the definitions of others. This can be combated much more easily than pure sloppiness, over and over and over again.

    PS. I think that the e is also necessary phonetically. The e softens the g into a j sound. Without it, the word would be unpronounceable. (And the root word is “judge,” not “judg,” after all!)

  6. junkmailfolder

    I’ve never been to Planet Fitness, but my understanding is that they don’t tolerate the stereotypical gym rat. You know, the big bulky guy who grunts with every lift of his 60lb dumbbell. Someone with more first-hand knowledge will have to correct me, but I believe they have an alarm bell they ring if anyone is making too much noise (ala grunting) while they are working out, lest they make other people feel… what… ashamed? Judged?

    Regardless, this seems to perfectly embody the “Judgement Free Generation,” in that they are hypocritically decrying perceived judgement (yep, those grunters are definitely judging you!) while engaging in the same activity themselves. As long as they dislike the victim, they’re okay with it.

    • crella

      That is so weird….someone lifting a couple hundred pounds is going to grunt. Is the grunting supposed to make the less fit feel bad? There’s a whole spectrum of needs and types of people at any gym I suppose, and the ones doing light weights and grunting are show-offs, as are the ones who flex in the mirror after every set, but what harm are they doing?

  7. Jack writes: “This isn’t being “judgement free,” this is just bad judgement, as in incompetent. To the extent that it advances the culture’s increasing tendency to discourage negative judgements against any conduct, even objectively destructive conduct, leading to purely subjective ethics (that is, no ethics at all), the campaign’s message is irresponsible.”

    “I used to get a lot of comments from progressives here challenging the premise of the blog: who are you to say what ethics is? Everyone can make their own ethics! I eventually would ban them, because the accepting the premise and mission of the blog, seeking a more ethical society by encouraging rational, ethics-based decision-making skills, was a prerequisite for commenting.

    If there is ‘an increasing tendency [in the culture] to discourage negative judgements’, it stands to reason that the path that led to this stage can be discovered and the causes revealed and explained. So, what exactly is happening and how did this come about? Obviously, not an easy question to answer. Yet it does seem to be the case that most people who complain about the present usually offer some level of Rx.

    In fact, it seems to me that we are more often than not asked or even forced to ‘discourage negative judging’ of many different doings and attitudes. Today for example, in a left environment or in a right environment, it is understood as sign of inner pathology if a person takes a position against homosexuality. But just a few years back to have opposed it was part of normalcy. So, a cultural force, a coercive force perhaps I might say, is established and it *insists* that people modify a more or convention to accord with a new view. Who decides what is ‘objectively destructive conduct’ in the absense of an objective ethics? (a standard of ethics that is accepted and understood as such).

    In fact (I have brought this particular issue up more than once) the social and cultural attitude toward homosexuality was deliberately engineered. A conscious, intentional, planned strategy with the purpose of *normalizing* homosexuality and homosexual sexual practices. Let us say, for the sake of my argument, that the population at large did not ever and might not ever have accepted the normalization of homosexuality into the very social structure, but that they were coerced. There are many implications to this.

    How can one then speak about ethics in this context?

    It operates like this then: a culture is coerced to not apply its standard of judgement, and the individual is forced to modify his or her view or suffer social shunning. It might be said therefor that this is the application of a ‘subjective ethics’, an arbitrary ethics. And if my example is correct then this may point not just to this one issue as being an example of how people have been taught to ‘surrender their judging faculty’ and to turn against their own ‘reason’ (and intellectus if this term will be admitted), because of social pressure and moral coercion, but also to whole patterns of behavior and attitude modification. Where does it begin? Where does it end?

    (I apologize for using the touchy example of homosexuality. It is only because I have examined the issue of social coercion and the use of PR tools to normalize it in the culture.)

    I would suggest that we live in an extremely coercive environment and that we not move over the very subjects of rather extensive social engineering. Is this fair to point this out? Is it an intellectually responsible line of enquiry? Is the question ethical? What stands behind all this? What structure of values? Who designs and organizes them? How are they instilled? What happens to those who are disobedient?

    There is a further issue which I think is doubly interesting: Leftist and Progressive politics and their marked social engineering-coercive tendencies. It’s close to home because, as it seems, and even in my limited temporal experience. it seems to be dramatically increasing. Obviously, they have penetrated into the highest levels of journalism and they operate there like spokesmen of the state’s policies. But they also very clearly function in the PR industry. And it is the business of PR to engineer attitude. It would be a false statement to say this is only a feature of the left-leaning media but it does seem that there is more left-leaning media. How does one adjudicate media systems when they act like extensions of public relations arms? Or like propaganda channels?

    I wonder if an examination of Maoist cultural engineering strategies can cast any illumination on Our Present. As I now examine ‘Democracy Now’ and other Marxist channels I think I notice something akin to Maoist strategy. A focus on the masses, to empower them, to give then importance and relevance as agents-of-value in and of themselves. Doing this of course places them all on the same plane more or less since notions of hierarchy are discouraged. Then, the organizing idea-commissars re-reflect an ideological vision of this mass back to the mass and they restructure them into a cohesive force (in ideal terms of course). The Commissars of course know many things about the best interests of these masses and, quite obviously, they *serve* them, leading them toward this mass mobilization that is always on the horizon and is assumed with a certain electric anticipation.

    Not only is this Maoist technique, this is advertising technique it seems to me! It is certainly public relations technique. It is not an inculcation of reason nor does it depend on raciocination.

    I would suggest that the mental body (as it were) is bypassed and that it is the emotional body that is appealed to. So, if irreason is the result and irrationality, well, I think interesting work can be done to locate the sources. There is something to be said about taking people out of a mental realm (dulling their capacities) while simultaneously accentuating their physical bodily and also emotional self (the emotional self closet to the body it seems).

    Smash Cultural Marxism …

  8. How do you even open a gym or fitness center without immediately stating to people through the opening of a gym or fitness center: “hey, you’re out of shape and we think being in shape is a good thing, come here so you can improve yourself from a condition we judge to be not as good as you could be”

  9. Here is an example of what can be described as Maoist political journalism. The ‘Mass Line’ of Maoist social engineering was based on the concept ‘From the Masses, To the Masses’. You abstract an image of these Masses and represent it as normalcy. Yet by abstracting it you have also interpreted it. Am I merely paranoid? I see these NYTs ‘Race/Related’ pieces as highly coercive. It looks like journalism or reporting but it is in fact something very very different.


    The topic of this thread is How has it come about that people have lost, had taken away from them, or surrendered their capacity to think freely and to reason freely. If you cannot make free ‘judgements’ by definition you are being coerced.

    The basic and underlying message and understanding in these NYTs ‘Race/Related’ pieces demonstrates what is the outcome of a social engineering project that was begun in the 1960s. The object, or so it would appear, was to forcibly diversify the existant population of the US which was 85% or more white. Who did this and why? How did this come about? Was it conservative America that made this choice? Or was it progressive and forward-reaching and ‘evolved’ America? If America as a white homogenous nation were to have been presented with the choice would it have chosen the future which we now live in as Our Present?

    But now and at this point it matters less because the work has been done. Just look at the hand drawn cartoons in the reporter’s notebook. This is America. This is normalcy. And the interesting aspect is that ‘the White’ is being presented and reflected back to the reader (From the Masses, To the Masses) as just another person or individual within a great mass. If instead of the diverse Americans you see in these images they were Chinese and instead of our own alphabet the captions were in Chinese the point would become more tangible.

    And this points of course to one other and major area in which social engineering by progressive factions (small groups in fact who engineer change in accord with a fixed and rational outline) work against and defeat a people’s capacity to ‘judge’ and think and choose freely. Now the question becomes: What agent stands behind these factions?

    I suggest that we live in and are inundated by this sort of social and political coercion. But this becomes complex when, as it happens, we also become actors and participants in it. When our ideas and our feelings have been *converted* as it were, we then self-enact. Our own ‘evolution’ and ‘transformation’ in the sense of a corollary in From the Masses, To the Masses.

    And it is this process of snap-shotting ‘America’ and presenting the image, and then going to work ideologically on that image, which is then additionally worked and reworked, that proceeds according to ‘dialectical’ method.

    Now, where is the ‘Conservative’ and what exactly is he conserving? If what I suggest is true (a Maoist-style manipulation of people and the undermining of their own decisiveness and judgement), and if such manipulation is a *real thing*, how do we speak about resistance? How would resistance come about? According to what concepts? In relation to what ethical predicates? And were they to begin to disentangle the social engineering which, as you rightly gather, I see as Marxian-inspired and also directed, with what precisely would they replace it with? How does one confront the reality of social and idea-manipulation in our present? And especially how does one speak to the person who is a self-actuator of it? Who carries it out within himself in response (it would appear) to the original guiding ideological or doctrinal impetous, yet now independently, as if it arose *naturally* in him?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.