I am finally ready to set up the first Ethics Alarms Zoom meeting. The topic will be the Netflix series “Clickbait,” which is an ethics cornucopia. I am looking at the period of October 7-21, in the evening, and need to know which days and times are preferred, as well as who and how many visitors here are interested. I’d prefer to facilitate discussion rather than have to dominate it, so I would also like to hear from you if there is a particular ethics issue raised by the story about which you would like to present your views to kick off discussion. I’m envisioning a 90 minute session, but it could be longer. You can respond on this post, or to me via email, email@example.com.
1. Great moments in “It isn’t what it is”…This week, a student attending an event with Vice President Harris opined that Israel was conducting “ethnic genocide” in Palestine. Harris responded, “Your voice, your perspective, your experience, your truth cannot be suppressed, and it must be heard.” For some strange reason, Israel’s press had a problem with this, and so did many American Jews and supporters of Israel. “VP Harris to student who accused Israel of ‘genocide’: Your truth must be heard,” was the headline in The Jerusalem Post. The Times of Israel said: “Kamala Harris doesn’t reject US student’s ‘ethnic genocide’ claim against Israel.” Harris’s flacks represented the episode as one big misunderstanding. Her office assured critics that the Veep’s “commitment to Israel’s security is unwavering” and that she “strongly disagrees with the George Mason student’s characterization of Israel.”
Of course she does! I know I always describe statements that I strongly disagree with as “the truth.”
2. Follow-Up: CVS, dedicated to customer satisfaction. OK, I’m feeling sarcastic today. As soon as I finish this post, I’ll be calling CVS Customer service for the fourth time regarding the incident in which an off-duty employee berated me mid-store in front of customers, threatened to call the police, and told me to use a different pharmacy. All three times I was promised that my complaint would be reviewed and that I would receive a phone call from a CVS exec to follow up within…Call #1 48 hours, Call #2 48 hours, and Call #3, ten days to two weeks. No one has called. I first complained a month ago.
3. Pro-masking gibberish. In the Times health column “Ask Well,” Tara Parker-Pope engages in fake expertise and propaganda in answering the question, “If I’m the only person wearing a mask in a store or other indoor location, am I really protected from infection?” Her long, long response includes appeals to obscure international studies and anecdotal evidence like “During a hotel outbreak in Switzerland, for instance, several employees and a guest who tested positive for the coronavirus were wearing only face shields (with no masks); those who wore masks were not infected.” Read the whole thing: a fair summary would be “we really don’t know much about how well masks work if we are talking about what most people wear, but keep wearing them anyway.” As for Parker-Pope, she has no health care credentials at all. She just has “reported” in the area. Her undergrad degree was in sociology, and she has no training in health. On her website, under the heading “Education and Personal Life,” she begins, “Ask me about volleyball! I’m a devoted fan of volleyball and helped start the Pennsylvania super-club East Coast Power Volleyball, where I managed programming, website content, college recruiting and communications from 2013 to 2020.”
4. Netflix #2! And Catholics thought “The Da Vinci Code” was hostile to religion...The new Netflix horror mini-series, “Midnight Mass,” would have never been broadcast just a couple of decades ago. The creation of writer/director Mike Flanagan, whose re-imagining of Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House” was both clever and scary, is reminiscent of Stephen King’s “Salem’s Lot” while delivering a direct indictment of Catholicism, the devout, the Bible, and organized religion generally, which is portrayed as a cult of the gullible. All in good fun, of course! The fact that there aren’t official Church protests and demonstrations shows just how little influence religion has on the culture and society. One of the protagonists is the community’s doctor—science, you know.
5. Netflix #3: Another follow-up…I wrote earlier this year about quitting the Netflix-streamed ethics series “Manifest” after learning that it would have no resolution. Now I’m watching again, because the show has been such a ratings hit that the producers have committed to a 4th and final season.