(That’s the Kentucky All-State Choir serenading the hotel where they were staying last night, in observation of an annual tradition. I’m sure guests were kneeling everywhere in protest….)
1 Winter Olympics Ethics: You are all going to have to help me keep up with this, since I regard the whole enterprise as corrupt and cynical. How many of the competitors are doping? How many little girls are being molested by their coaches? How much gauging by local businesses is going on? Why are American citizens marching under flags of foreign nations? How many athletes are going to exploit the opportunity for political grandstanding? I’m dedicated to following cultural ethics, but as my terse and eloquent friend is prone to say in such situations, “There is some shit I won’t eat.”
So far, I note…
- Vice President Mike Pence is getting roundly criticized for not being properly diplomatic regarding the North Koreans, refusing to shake hands with officials, and not standing when the unified Korean team entered the stadium during opening ceremonies. I would not criticized the Veep if he had behaved otherwise, but I won’t fault Pence for his choice, which I assume were signed off on by the President. Cognitive dissonance—my, this has been relevant lately!—applies. North Korea is a brutal regime that savages its people, spends money on weaponry while the public is malnourished, and has devoted a year threatening to nuke us.
They and their leader have earned contempt, not respect. The degree of criticism Pence is receiving from the news media shows how many journalists viscerally prefer North Korea to the Trump Presidency.
- On that score, the gushing of NBC, ABC and CNN over the North Korean synchronized cheerleading squad is bizarre, dumb and tasteless. The 200+ team is propaganda for totalitarianism, and the less praise it receives from useful idiots, the better. At one point, NBC tweeted “This is so satisfying” with a video of the beaming slave squad, then quickly deleted the tweet after a faint ethics alarm sounded.
This is one of those times we should be grateful for social media, as the Twitter assassins had their knives out, and appropriately so. My favorite of the many appropriate tweets collected here,
“Look happy or your little sister gets fed to a pack of dogs.”
- And speaking of idiots, NBC Sports had to apologize after Asian correspondent Joshua Cooper Ramo told the Opening Ceremony TV audience that “every Korean” respected Japan. This demonstrates astounding ignorance of culture and history, and stunning incompetence by NBC in preparing its broadcasters for covering an international event in South Korea.
2. Animal Ethics:
- I’m not eager to write any more about “emotional support animals” on airplanes, but an ethics screw is loose somewhere when you get an episode like this one. Before Belen Aldecosea flew home from college, she says she twice called Spirit Airlines to confirm that she could bring along Pebbles, her pet dwarf hamster, for emotional support. When she arrived at the Baltimore airport, however, Spirit said that Pebbles couldn’t fly with her. After considering her options, and, she says (though Spirit denies it), after the suggestion of airline staff, Belen flushed her emotional support animal down the toilet. Thanks for your service, Pebbles!
Aldecosea, who is 21 going on 11, says, “I was emotional. I was crying. I sat there for a good 10 minutes crying in the stall.”
Well, that’s wonderful; good for you. I think it’s horrible when people don’t feel properly miserable after they flush their pals down airport toilets. I’m sure Pebbles really appreciates those tears, Belen. You’re a good person. <cough!>
Aldecosea says she is now considering filing a lawsuit against Spirit.
Good luck with that, you idiot.
- I don’t know exactly what to say about this ethics and culture issue: the persistence of dog meat as an acceptable delicacy in South Korea. Maybe you will have some ideas. My Jack Russell is sleeping on my desk, and I have to consider his feelings…
3. Our incompetent, unethical public education system. From the Christian Science Monitor:
All the seniors at Ballou High School in the District of Columbia – despite poverty and other obstacles – walked across the stage and received their diplomas last spring. But as the high school graduation rate keeps hitting new highs in the United States, it appears now that the rush to celebrate, in some cases, has masked a culture of passing seniors by any means necessary. At Ballou, that meant allowing kids to pass classes despite chronic absences – with about half the seniors missing more than 60 days – and offering short credit-recovery classes before they failed the regular course, all in violation of district policy, WAMU and NPR reported in late November. Now, an outside evaluation of the D.C. school district has shown such violations were widespread. But D.C.’s is far from the only school system that should examine itself, education experts say.Gray areas around attendance and credit recovery are fairly common, and that can cause confusion or can be exploited. It can also make it difficult to separate genuine improvements in graduation from gains that merely look good on paper.
The big question: At what point does a desire to help struggling students get through high school cross the line into unethical shortcuts, potentially setting them up for longer-term failure?
Why is that a question at all? Isn’t the answer obvious? The fact that anyone in the education or public policy field would argue that it is ever justifiable to graduate any student who doesn’t legitimately meet minimal, realistic standards for a high school degree is res ipsa loquitur: it tells us all we need to know about how the education system has failed students and the nation.