“Tiger King” Ethics…If You Can Control Your Gagging

You should watch the current hit Netflix documentary “Tiger King” as an ethics exercise, if you can keep focused. It’s difficult. The seven episode horror show/freak show/ “Well, it’s time for another shower!” thing is rife with revelations about America and its culture as well as the infinite variety of humanity that breeds and mutates under rocks and over them. But it is also so teeming with freaks, sociopaths and morons that it often makes you feel like you are watching “The Anna Nicole Show” or one of the other reality shows that exploits its dumb, attention addicted stars.

Focus, Jack! Focus! There are a lot of ethics issues here, largest among them the icky exotic animals trade.  (Fun Fact!  There are more tigers in the U.S. than in the rest of the world combined. Now: Is that a good thing for tigers, or a bad thing?) There are also clinical cases of  corrupt business owners, narcissism on steroids, marriages that make Bill and Hillary Clinton look like John and Abigail Adams, toxic personalities (once you have met series star “Joe Exotic,” you may never think of anyone as a narcissist again…no, not even you-know-who), astounding hypocrisy, the infuriating twilight world of young, healthy people (well, physically healthy anyway) whose lives consist entirely of getting stoned or waiting to get stoned, abuse of the legal system, idiots with guns… the list is ridiculously, depressingly long. Continue reading

From Idaho, Common Sense Measures Regarding Transgender Competitors In Women’s Sports

Naturally, the common sense measures are being condemned as bigoted and unethical.

Idaho is now Ground Zero in the controversy over the ethical and equitable treatment of transgender individuals. In addition to the newly passed and signed Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which bans biologically male transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports events,  Idaho Governor Brad Little (a Republican, of course) signed a bill making it more difficult to change the sex designation on a birth certificate.

Ethics Alarms has discussed the transgender/women’s sports controversy in many posts. It’s admittedly a difficult ethics conflict that has played out in many strange ways across the country, including a female high school wrestler transitioning to male being forced to compete against females, and many instances of formerly male athletes competing as women crushing their double-X opposition while giving us photographs like this:

Female athletes who have protested the unfairness of this development, like Martina Navratalova, have been attacked as bigots, while some feminists have predicted that allowing trans athletes to continue to take advantage of their passing through puberty as males will destroy women’s sports, negating the salutary effects of Title IX, the law that made gender discrimination in sports illegal.  Idaho state Rep. Barbara Ehardt , who played basketball at Idaho State University and later coached Division I women’s teams, led the way in pushing the legislation through to law. “If I had had to compete against biological boys and men, I don’t think I would have had the opportunity to play,” she told reporters. “Honestly, I know firsthand that we simply can’t compete against the inherent physiological and scientifically proven advantages that boys and men possess. We simply can’t do it, regardless of any hormone usage.”

Intersex competitors, like Caster Semenya, pose a different ethical problem. Continue reading

Observations On The Times Review Of “Apropos Of Nothing”

Woody Allen in “Manhattan” with a 16-year-old Mariel Hemingway (playing a 17-year-old)

To be clear, I haven’t read Woody Allen’s autobiography, “Apropos of Nothing,” and I won’t. I found myself unable to endure anything related to Allen after he married his own quasi-daughter following a sexual affair with her while they were both living with Mia Farrow, Allen as her supposed lover and domestic partner, Sun-Yi Previn as her adopted child. While I maintain that the works of artists should be kept separate from the character flaws and misdeeds of their creators, that’s an intellectual and ethical position, not an emotional and gastrointestinal one. The latter are non-ethical considerations, but that doesn’t mean I can ignore them.

If I were a professional book reviewer, however, I would be forced to put my revulsion aside, or refuse the assignment of rendering a verdict on “Apropos of Nothing.” It is undeniable that the New York Times book reviewer, Dwight Garner, couldn’t or wouldn’t do that. To be fair, the Times no longer enforces the core journalism ethics principle that journalists shouldn’t allow personal biases to infect their reporting, but that is an explanation, not a defense. Some observations: Continue reading

From The Wuhan Virus Ethics Train Wreck Files: What Would We Do Without Ethicists?

Cut it out, you two! A medical ethicist says you’re being unethical!

TIME magazine has a feature up called, “‘Is Ordering Takeout Unethical?’ A Medical Ethicist Answers Some of the Most Common Moral Questions Around Coronavirus.”  Yes, res ipsa loquitur: the article is almost as absurd as the title. Moral questions are not ethics questions, you dolts. How could ordering take-out be unethical?  Why would you ask a medical ethicist about ordering food?  With all the real medical ethics questions facing the country, that’s what TIME thinks is most important question? Why would a medical ethicist agree to be involved in such idiocy? Continue reading

A Brief But Significant Addendum To “I’ve Looked And I’ve Tried And I Believe In Civility, But The Only Fair Descriptive Word For These People Is ‘Asshole'”

Nice!

Mollie Hemingway, editor at the National Review, had an admirably understated reaction to this tweet from Mrs. Clinton, saying,Fully acknowledge I’m biased here, but my advice would be that if your politics are giving the impression that you’re rooting against your fellow Americans and for a deadly virus attacking them, you might want to reassess.”

My observations are not quite as understated:

  • What an asshole! But we knew that. By “me” I mean everyone who has observed this awful, awful human being’s behavior and statements since at least 1992.
  • The actual form of assholery that the spectacularly failed aspiring  first female President models here is not a variety examined in the post referenced in the title above, but in this post, item #4, in which I noted, “You can mark down any pundit (or Facebook friend) who gloats about the official U.S. tally of Wuhan virus cases making it the most infected nation in the world as fitting neatly into the topic of this recent post.” She’s not a pundit, of course (nor my Facebook friend, thank god); she is, by about 20 laps, the most ungracious, unethical, whiny, nasty, divisive and pathetic losing political candidate for national office in American political history…and she just happens to be the only woman to be on the ballot for President. Continue reading

Unethical Website Of The Month: reddit (ProRevenge)

I often have thought that I ought to research reddit more thoroughly for ethics stories. Then I stumble onto something like this, have to take a shower, and decide that I’ll be happier if  don’t. There is also the persistent reddit problem that one can never be sure when what you are reading isn’t completely made up by some aspiring James Frey wannabe. I have been burned in the past.

One of the reddit sub-site communities is devoted to revenge, and participants send in their alleged experiences. Revenge, as we all know, (I hope), is unethical. It’s also frequently entertaining and fun. Revenge has been a staple of drama since the ancient Greeks, and it’s vibrant still, perhaps because there is nothing unethical about revenge fantasies.

One particularly exhilarating (and disgusting) example is the original “I Spit On Your Grave” (yes, there are sequels), an extremely violent and graphic cult film in which a young writer is gang-raped and left for dead by five locals in “Deliverance” territory. She returns, trained, dead-eyed, determined and remarkably creative in a Marquis de Sade way, to pick them off, one by one.

Women seem to especially enjoy the film. I would not be surprised to learn that Hillary is a fan.

But I digress. The following story recently turned up on the reddit ProRevenge section. The disturbing thing was how few of the many commenters were critical of the writer’s alleged conduct, which is, as you will see, appalling.  Here is his account, redacted a bit for length, with periodic comments from your host. Continue reading

Thank God This Miserable Week Is Over Ethics Review, 3/27/2020: Of Pangolins, Pandemics And Pronouns

Good afternoon.

Stop blaming my favorite animal, the pangolin, or the so-called “scaly anteater,” for the pandemic!

That’s a tree pangolin above in a defensive posture. Ever since the nexus for the outbreak of COVID-19 was traced back to a wet market in Hubei province, scientists have been looking for the virus’s heritage.  It’s possible that the virus emerged in a colony of horseshoe bats in Yunnan, a province that borders the south-east Asian country of Myanmar. But some fingers are also pointing at the pangolin, which was once believed to have bats in its ancestry. The animal, like others that American wouldn’t recognize, is the most trafficked beast in the world due to the supposed health benefits of its scales, with most of that traffic ending in China. A search for the “missing link” in the chain of the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 has uncovered two close cousins of the variety of coronavirus that started the pandemic in Wuhan in pangolins smuggled into China. Not THE virus, however.  Here’s a photo of a pangolin unfurled:

1. It is outrageous that a U.S. newspaper would include this sentence…From an article about the joys of Randolph Scott Westerns by Times film critic Ben Kinegsberg: “The depiction of Native Americans as horse-eating, husband-killing savages doesn’t sit well in modern eyes, and the name of Henry Silva’s character in “The Tall T” is so offensive it cannot be printed.”

Well, it has to printed somewhere, or the information itself has been permanently erased! If a newspaper is going to start  purging words, names, history  and facts, where does it stop? I’ve been trying to imagine what name could justify the Times refusing to reveal it, other than “Voldemort.” What could it be? Let’s check the Internet Movie Database (the film is “The Tall T“)… Continue reading