Category Archives: Around the World

Ethics Quiz: Disney’s Maui Costume

maui

It’s a bit early for Halloween costume controversies , but the outrage machine is ever vigilant, and has provided a provocative ethics quiz, though not a difficult one if one isn’t the Headless Horseman.

Disney released a Halloween costume for kids that will allow tykes to dress up as the Polynesian demi-god Maui, a character in its new animated movie “Moana.” This is classic Disney cross-marketing, what Wells Fargo would call “cross-selling,” and what Elizabeth Warren would call “evil,” because it makes money for a big corporation. The difference is that Disney allows customers to actually purchase such products intentionally, while Wells Fargo charges customers for products without their knowing it.

Wait, how did I get off on Wells Fargo and Warren? Right: the next post. Sorry.

Back to Maui: The costume features a body-suit with thin brown material covered by traditional Polynesian tattoos, as well as a grass skirt and a plastic bone necklace. As soon as it was released on the web, the costume was attacked as racist (it’s the equivalent of blackface, critics say) and an example of cultural appropriation. Marama Fox, co-leader of New Zealand’s Maori Party, said that selling the costume is “no different to putting the image of one of our ancestors on a shower curtain or a beer bottle” while Pasifika news site Samoa Planet described the release as “cultural appropriation at its most offensive worst”.  The New Zealand Human Rights Commission issued a statement calling on Disney to “listen to the views of the communities and people whose cultures their movie is based upon.“ Translation: “Bend to our will, or else.”

Activist Chelsie Haunani Fairchild argued on Facebook that Disney was encouraging a children to wear “the skin of another race.”

“Polyface is Disney’s new version of blackface. Let’s call it like it is, people,” Fairchild argued in a video.

Oh, let’s!

Your Ethics Alarms (Ridiculously Early Halloween) Ethics Quiz of the Day is this:

Is there anything genuinely unethical about making, advertising, selling or wearing the Maui costume?

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Marketing and Advertising, Race, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump, U.S. Society

A Thoughtful, Rational Entry In The “Give Me An Ethical Reason To Vote For Donald Trump” Contest

Would Bobby Kennedy have been a Trump supporter?

Would Bobby Kennedy have been a Trump supporter?

As regular readers here know, I have been on a fruitless quest to find a single articulate, informed, unemotional and substantive argument for Donald Trump’s Presidency. Not only have no such arguments surfaced, nothing has come even close. This entry is different. It does not blather on about “elites,” or “tearing it down,” or use rationalizations like “we’re all doomed anyway.” It does not default to reasons why Hillary Clinton is worse, an increasingly plausible theory, but still not a case for Trump. The argument that Trump is a better risk than Hillary because she would get away with her excesses while a biased news media will keep Trump under the scrutiny that they should subject every President  to but reserve only for Republicans  is too pretzelian to be taken seriously, but otherwise intelligent analysts keep proposing it. They are that desperate.

The article by former Robert Kennedy speechwriter Adam Walinsky is different in kind, and deserves attention. His perspective is interesting, and his gauzy perspective on Jack and Bobby is what I would expect from an ancient True Believer. Call me cynical, but those who extol the commitment to peace of a President who set the fuse for the Vietnam War and whose projction of weakness to the Soviet Union nearly sparked a nuclear war are not credible nor respectable advocates. Still, his argument is novel and his position is sincere, with many valid observations leading to what I judge as an absurd and reckless conclusion.

It is worth reading, though: I Was RFK’s Speechwriter. Now I’m Voting for Trump. Here’s Why….The Democratic Party has become something both JFK and RFK would deplore—the party of war.

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Government & Politics, History, Leadership, War and the Military

A Daughter Sues Her Parents For Being Assholes. Good.

photo

An 18-year-old Austrian woman is suing her parents for continually posting embarrassing childhood photos of her on Facebook without her consent. Since 2009, she alleges, they have willfully humiliated her by constantly posting intimate images from her childhood—about 500 to date. Among them are potty training photos and pictures of her having her diapers changed.

The abused daughter told reporters, “They knew no shame and no limit – and didn’t care whether it was a picture of me sitting on the toilet or lying naked in my cot – every stage was photographed and then made public.” Her parents have  700 Facebook friends.

The technical term for them is “cruel and merciless assholes.”

They have refused to delete the photos, with her father arguing that since he took the photos he has the right to publish them to the world.

Oh, what does the law have to do with this? If the parents had any decency, and sense of fairness, respect and caring, the law wouldn’t have to be involved in any way.  Their daughter feels humiliated, as most of us would be, by having such photos published. There is no ethical principle under which publishing photographs (or videos) of anyone that were taken without consent when the subject objects or one knows or should know that he or should would object can be justified. This controversy, if ethical parents were involved, would be settled with a simple exchange:

Her: “Please don’t put anymore of those photos on Facebook, and take down the ones that are up now. They are embarrassing.”

Them: “OK!”

How hard is that? I know it’s hard for parents to resist posting photos of their adorable infants and toddlers while they are too young to protest, but the protest should be presumed. The Golden Rule rules, and I go further: this is an absolute. Children should not have their lifetime privacy scarred by parents selfishly indulging themselves by treating their children like pets. Children should be able to trust their parents to respect their sensibilities and vulnerabilities, and not to sacrifice them for cheap Facebook “likes.”  Obviously, many of them can’t.

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Childhood and children, Etiquette and manners, Facebook, Family, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

Unethical? Criminal? Stupid? Careless? What The Heck IS This?

Headline:

QUICK! Someone punch it!

QUICK! Someone punch it!

Shopper arrested for punching newborn baby after ‘mistaking her for toy doll’

Well that’s certainly understandable and..wait, WHAT?

In England, Amy Duckers was shopping at a supermarket with her five-day-old daughter in a baby carriage. She was approached by a 63-year-old man who overheard family friends saying, “Come and have a look at this beautiful baby.” The man suddenly punched the baby in the head,  then reacted in horror when the infant burst into tears. He told police that he thought the baby was a toy, and not alive.

Oh! That explains it, then. Everyone punches dolls belonging to strangers in the face. It’s a mistake anyone could make!

The infant is recovering, but I may not. I can’t get my mind around this crazy incident. If he really thought the baby was a doll, you can’t properly charge him with a crime, but how would you categorize what he did? It’s obviously unethical—he has no right to handle someone else’s doll—but how much leeway do we give idiots or crazies, when their handicap causes them to do something like this?

The guy has been arrested, and it will be interesting to see what he’s charged with, and how the system deals with him. I assume that he will be observed for mental health issues. If he’s not, and they release him with a pat on the back and a “next time, make sure it’s a doll before you punch it,” I’m going to be very upset.

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Filed under Around the World, Childhood and children

Ethics Hero: 11-Year-Old Singer Capri Everitt

Capri Everitt is an 11-year-old girl with a big voice. She set a Guinness World Record earlier this month when she sang the National Anthem before a Washington Nationals baseball game . For nearly a year, you see, Capri and her family have traveled around the world to 80 countries so she could sing 80 different anthems in 41 different languages.Washington D.C. was the final stop for Capri,  in a tour that required her  to learn  a lot of songs and master the pronunciation of many foreign tongues.

“And a lot of the time, I got people that are native to the country to help me with the national anthem – to help me learn it and pronounce it right, ” Capri says.

Some people use national anthems to divide people. Some, like Capri, would rather use them to bring people together.

Her tour raised money for a charity called SOS Children’s Villages, which provides homes for orphaned, abandoned and disadvantaged children in 134 countries.

“There is so much bad news on television and in newspapers that we thought, ‘How can we create a good story? How can we do something with our daughter because she loves to sing,’”  Tom Everitt, Capri’s father. has told journalists. “But we wanted to be something that would be really, really positive, so we got her to practice some national anthems.”

Capri’s anthem tour is documented on the family’s  website AroundTheWorldIn80Anthems.com.

Sing, Capri!  Colin Kaepernick can sit it out if he wants.

 

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Family

France’s Unethical—And Really, Really Stupid— “Burkini” Ban

burkinis

I’ve received several inquiries requesting an  Ethics Alarms analysis of the current controversy roiling France, namely the so-called Burkini Ban.  Muslim women had been wading into the French Riviera surf wearing “burkinis,”  body-covering swimsuits designed to be compliant with the Islamic faith , and one resort  town after another, fifteen in all including Cannes and Nice, declared them illegal. The women entering the water wearing such attire have been ticketed for not “wearing an outfit respecting good morals and secularism.”

Well, I try not to spend much time here writing about the obvious. The ban is unethical. In the U.S., such laws would be over-turned before the arrested women’s bathing suits were dry, since the meaures violate both the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. It should be obvious that the ban is unfair, as it is sexist, directed against one religion, and makes no sense whatsoever.

Sometimes I wonder if the French quite get this ethics thing. This is an example.

Both conservatives and many liberals in France support the ban. The conservatives, in addition to wanting to punish Muslims for recent Islamic terrorist attacks, claim  to be upholding France’s core principle of “secularity,” enshrined in the nation’s constitution. Liberals argue that the Islamic strictures against women exposing any part of their bodies in public are misogynist, patriarchal, and “regressive,” so the bans defend the rights of women…by preventing women from wearing what they choose to, observing their own religion, and taking a swim.

You see what I mean about not quite grasping the whole “ethics” thing? The equivalent argument in the U.S. would be if feminists argued that sexy bathing suits be banned because they objectified women, even when the women wearing them felt like being objectified. The Burkini Ban is, to be blunt, idiotic. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Religion and Philosophy

A Deft And Appropriate Rebuke To Climate Change Hysteria

FLASHBACK: Jonestown combats climate change

FLASHBACK: Jonestown combats climate change

On her blog, Ann Althouse delivered a devastating and ethically profound defenestration to Jennifer Ludden, a  correspondent for NPR’s “All Things Considered” who delivered a mad feature she called “Should We Be Having Kids In The Age Of Climate Change?”  Now, the very question is incompetent and irresponsible, as it treats a speculative future event—she even admits that it is speculative!–of unknown cause, arrival, duration and seriousness as the equivalent of certain nuclear war or a zombie apocalypse. The essay and her attitude represent hysteria, cowardice, scare-mongering and an insufficient appreciation for the importance of continuing the species, or at least having people smart enough to spell “climate change” contributing to the gene pool so “Planet of the Apes” doesn’t become reality. No, the pre-emptive extinction of the human race is not a rational response to the problems posed by climate change, Jennifer, and why the hell are my tax dollars being wasted to hire people who want people to think it is?

That would be my crude response to this cretinous piece. Ann Althouse, however, is far cleverer, constructive, less confrontational and effective in her response, which in its own way is more damning than mine. She launches from this quote from the NPR piece:

“I said to [my children], ‘I hope you never have children,’ which is an awful thing to say. It can bring me to tears easily,” said 67-year-old Nancy Nolan, who had children before she learned found out about climate change.”

Prof. Althouse, contrary to my inclination, doesn’t counter with, “Oh? And what did you ‘find out,’ Nancy? Here are computer printouts of climate trends and projections from five different models. Which is correct? Explain it to me, please. Show me you understand what the hell you’re talking about that is so devastating that you wish your children had never been born, you silly, silly twit!”

Instead, she writes,

If anybody really cares about carbon emissions, stop your crying and be hard-headed about what emits carbon. It’s not the person per se, but what the person does. Back in 2010, I made a list of changes you could make to your behavior. No air conditioning isn’t on the list, because that is already a given. If you haven’t done that yet, Nancy and the Weepers, you are crying crocodile tears. So get up and switch that off. Forever. And now, read my list:

It includes such “common sense’ advice as this…

“Do not go anywhere you don’t have to go. When there is no food in the house to make dinner, instead of hopping in the car to go to the grocery store or a restaurant, take it as a cue to fast. As noted above, your weight should be at the low end of normal, and opportunities to reach or stay there should be greeted with a happy spirit.”

I won’t include any more here. The professor’s clear message: why don’t you make some sacrifices yourself rather than condemn the species to extinction?

Read the whole thing on her blog. Ann earned the click.

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Filed under Around the World, Bioethics, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Journalism & Media, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology, U.S. Society