Category Archives: Gender and Sex

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

34 Comments

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

Unethical Tweet Of The Month: Novelist Ann Rice

Can you see your hypocrisy when you look in the mirror, Ann?

Can you see your hypocrisy when you look in the mirror, Ann?

“The sex scandal at Fox matters; it’s at the heart of the GOP contempt for women as citizens and human beings.”

—-“Interview With The Vampire” author Ann Rice, on Twitter.

This is signature significance in so many ways. To write this in a public forum, one has to be completely corrupted by partyism, tunnel-vision, bias and the certainty that you are operating in an environment populated with millions of similarly disabled individuals. It also helps to be either dishonest or ignorant, or both.

Let’s try to count all the ways Rice’s tweet is unethical:

1. Sexual harassment scandals occur in all kinds of organizations, including otherwise virtuous non-profits and models of progressive thinking. The University of California at Berkley–the infamously right wing institution— has one going on right now. Yale has been covering up a sexual harassment scandal involving a world-famous ethicist.  These are just  examples of sexual harassment that make it to the headlines. I work in the field: believe me, there is no monopoly by Republicans or conservatives in this area. For Rice to insinuate otherwise is nothing more than disinformation born of her own biases.

In the alternative, she knows this is absurd, and is lying.

2. The statement embodies guilt by association at its worst. How about this: “The Brian Williams scandal at NBC matters; it’s at the heart of the Democratic Party’s contempt for the public as citizens and human beings” ? There’s no ethical difference: both statements are unfair and dishonest. I’ll wager that the percentage of Democrats who work for NBC is significantly greater than the proportion of Republicans who work at Fox. The political parties have nothing whatsoever to do with either situation.

3. Ailes’ engagement in harassing conduct is difficult to deny, especially after so many past employees have surfaced to bolster the accusations made in the recent lawsuit. Whether there is a wider problem beyond Ailes is completely unproven. Personally, I don’t doubt it: when leaders of organizations model such conduct, it typically corrupts the entire culture. However, it is far too soon to make the kind of leap Rice is making, which not only assumes company-wide harassment but somehow attributes it to another organization, the Republican Party.

4. Most of all, and to save the  best and funniest for last, has Rice never heard of Bill Clinton? Continue reading

22 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Social Media, Unethical Tweet

Nipplegate Ethics: No, We Don’t Owe Janet Jackson Any Apology At All

nipplegate

A wonderful, if infuriating, example of race- and gender-baiting was delivered earlier this year by pop culture pundit Emmanuel Hapsis, and a more ridiculous analysis you will seldom see. I missed it, but the post was no more valid then than it is now.

Returning, for some reason, to the infamous episode during the 2004’s Super Bowl halftime show, when Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake conspired to turn the supposedly family-friendly Super Bowl into a strip tease, Hapsis’s piece is called “Nipplegate Revisited: Why America Owes Janet Jackson a Huge Apology.” During a choreographed duet with Jackson  and while singing “Better have you naked by the end of this song,” (talk about rape culture!) Timberlake ripped a pre-rigged portion of Jackson’s bustier to reveal her naked breast. Jackson was severely criticized, as she should have been: after all, it was her breast, and she obviously agreed to allow it to make a surprise appearance, however brief.

Never mind. Hapsis sees the episode as exemplifying America’s “patriarchy,” “racism” and “sexism,” because obviously no white singers flashing ten-year-olds in TV land would be criticized, and no male singer who decided to let Mr. Wiggly make a guest appearance would be similarly pilloried. Continue reading

21 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, History, Journalism & Media, Jumbo, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture, Race

Health And Survival Rationing Ethics

cointoss

Beginning in 2012, Dr. Lee Daugherty Biddison, a critical care physician at Johns Hopkins and some colleagues have held public forums around Maryland to solicit the public’s opinions about how life-saving medical assistance should be distributed when there are too many desperately ill patients and not enough resources. The exercise was part of the preparation  for Biddenson’s participation in preparing official recommendations for state agencies that  might end up  as national guidelines regarding when doctors should remove one patient from a ventilator to save another who might have a better chance of surviving, or whether the young should have priority over the old.

Ethically, this is pure ends justifying the means stuff. The Golden Rule is useless—How would you like to be treated? I’d want to be left on the ventilator, of course!–and Kantian ethics break down, since Immanuel forbade using human life to achieve even the best objectives…like saving a human life. Such trade-offs of life for life (or lives) is the realm of utilitarianism, and an especially brutal variety….so brutal that I doubt that it is ethics at all.

When Dr. Biddenson justifies his public forums by saying that he wants to include current societal values in his life-for-a-life calculations, she is really seeking current biases, because that’s all they are. On the Titanic, it was women and children first, not because it made societal sense to allow some of the most productive and vibrant minds alive to drown simply because they had a Y chromosome, but because that’s just the way it was. Old women and sick children got on lifeboats;  young men, like emerging mystery writer Jacque Futrelle (and brilliant young artist Leonardo DiCaprio), went down with the ship. That’s not utilitarianism. That’s sentimentalism.

The New York Times article mostly demonstrates that human beings are incapable of making ethical guidelines, because Kant was right: when you start trading one life for another, it’s inherently unethical, even if you have no choice but to do it. Does it make societal sense to take away Stephen Hawking’s ventilator to help a drug-addicted, habitual criminal survive? Well, should violating drug laws sentence a kid to death? TILT! There are no ethical answers, just biased decisions. Continue reading

26 Comments

Filed under Bioethics, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, History, Professions, Rights, U.S. Society

KABOOM! The Washington Post Really Lets A Reporter Publish A Story Saying That Bill Clinton “Allegedly” Cheated On His Wife.

HeadExplode3

Unbelievable.

UNBELIEVABLE!

Here is the quote, from today’s Washington Post Magazine. I’m looking at it right now, wiping pieces of my brain and skull off the pages. (And the Marshall household just cancelled its subscription to the Post, after 35 years):

In a puff piece by by reporter Neely Tucker called From Wild Bill to Supportive Spouse: Can Clinton stick to his script?, we see this, in reference to poor, misunderstood, underappreciated Bill Clinton:

“He allegedly cheated on his wife, repeatedly, even in the Oval Office, and with a young woman who wasn’t that much older than their daughter.”

“Allegedly”?

“Allegedly”??

“Allegedly”???

“Allegedly” means claimed but unproven. The claims of Paul Jones, Kathleen Willey, and Juanita Broaddrick of, respectively, sexual harassment, sexual  assault and rape are indeed unproven and alleged only. Not the affair with Lewinsky, however. Clinton admitted it. Lewinsky confirmed it. An investigation documented it in nauseating detail. Clinton refers to it in his autobiography. There is DNA evidence, for God’s sake!

Using “allegedly” at this stage has no possible effect but to cast unwarranted doubts on the truth. What else can it be but a dishonest effort to try to mitigate the undeniable sleaziness of Bill Clinton, and the hypocrisy of his wife, who has enabled and facilitated his sexual compulsions throughout his political career, all while posing as a feminist champion? There are many young voters who are both ignorant and naive, who Clinton needs to have going to the polls for her. Such outrageous dishonesty by the Post can only be designed to make them disregard the ugly facts about Clinton’s despicable use and abuse of Lewinsky as just typical right wing rumors.

Post editors allowed this. They allowed it! When is the use of “alleged” the same as a lie?

This is.

Incredibly, the damning phrase links to a column by the Post’s own Factchecker, in which he describes the Lewinsky affair as documented ( along with FIVE others!)

The  corruption of American journalism is complete. Democracy has no chance, when journalists feel they can lie and deceive to make certain that their candidates win and their candidates prevail. All I can do is cancel this once-great newspaper that cannot be trusted to tell the truth about anything at this point. That’s not nearly enough.

Of course, this smoking gun proof of journalism’s betrayal of the public trust comes to us through the efforts of Bill and Hillary Clinton, and the party they have thoroughly corrupted.

Of course.

 

45 Comments

Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Romance and Relationships

A Plague Of Misleading Headlines

Fake headline

The mad quest for clicks appears to be leading websites that should know better to sink to misleading or outright dishonest headlines on the web. For someone like me, who has to scan these looking for possible ethics issues, it is an increasingly annoying phenomenon. Readers need to speak up. The practice is unethical, and moreover, suggests that the source itself isn’t trustworthy.

Here are three current examples;

1. The Daily Beast: “Idiocracy’ Director Mike Judge: Fox Killed Our Anti-Trump Camacho Ads”

Boy, isn’t it just like that conservative, Trump-promoting Faux News to help The Donald by using its power, influence, lawyers, something to stop the makers of “Idiocracy,” that comic classic, from being used to save the country from American Hitler?

That’s sure how the Daily Beast wanted its largely Democratic readership to react to its headline over the story about a fizzled effort to use the the film’s character  of ex-porn star future U.S. President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Drew Herbert Camacho, played by Terry Crews, in a series of comic spots ridiculing Trump’s candidacy. The story, however, never quotes Judge as saying Fox—that would be the movie side of Twentieth Century Fox, not Fox News, which had no say in the matter: the company produced the film and owns the right to it and all of its characters—killed the project.  All Judge says is that the idea of doing a series of such ads didn’t come to fruition, for a whole list of reasons which might have included Fox’s distaste for the project.. Of  Fox, he says this..

“I think also Fox… yeah, they… even though they’ve probably forgotten they still own it…”

The writer then suggests that company owner Rupert Murdoch might not like the idea, and thus prompted, Judge replies,

“Yeah. That’s the other thing. I think there was a roadblock there, too…I just heard that [the proposed ads] were put on the shelf, so it looks like they’re not going to happen.”

Based on this, the author, typical Daily Beast hack Marlow Stern, writes, “It looks like Fox refused—and the ads are now dead.” Stern never says that Fox refused; it is the “reporter” who says it. Meanwhile, when the Daily Beast writes about “Fox,” it is referring to Fox News 99.9% of the time, and knows that’s what its readers will think when they read “Fox.”

The headline is intentionally misleading, and a lie.

(Incidentally, the movie is a great concept that under-delivers on its premise and potential, and should be a lot funnier than it is) Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, language, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, The Internet

Ethics Observations On The Naked Trump Statues

Naked Trump

Last week, five identical statues of a grossly caricatured nude Donald Trump  appeared overnight on street corners in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Seattle, and New York City.  The Washington Post reported that the anarchist collective INDECLINE made and placed the statues. It called the  project “The Emperor Has No Balls.” Indeed, the otherwise anatomically correct statues showed the Trump effigy missing those particular features, though not bright yellow pubic hair. If you really want to see these assaults on your consciousness and sanity, go here.

I advise against it.

Ethics Observations: Continue reading

22 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump, U.S. Society