I’m still getting hate comments about my verdict on the Bon Jovi DirecTV commercial that extols the virtue of erasing one’s children from existence, so this piece of New Yorker satire, by real parents about a real newborn child, gave me pause. Here is how “An Honest Birth Announcement” starts…
Dear friends and family,
Jen and I are utterly horrified to announce the arrival of our son, Jasper Heusen-Gravenstein, born May 21st at 4:56 A.M. For nine long months, we’ve wondered who this little creature would be. Well, now we know: he’s the living embodiment of our darkest imaginings, with a nefarious agenda and Grandpa Jim’s nose.
At seven pounds four ounces, Jasper may be small, but he’s large enough to have triggered our most primal fears. We’ve already been driven to the brink of madness with unanswerable questions such as: How can we sustain the life of a creature whose incessant, bloodcurdling screams communicate nothing but blind rage and indeterminate need? What if he senses our fear and, like a wild hyena, is instinctively triggered to attack? Will we ever finish the most recent season of “House of Cards”?
It goes on in that tongue-in-cheek-but-you-know-we’re-half-serious-right-fellow-parent-vein…
But it names the child, who is, or course, helpless, blameless and defenseless, and creates a permanent record of parental faux-hate for Jasper to read…when he’s a parent, and old enough to get the joke, or when he’s 8, and a classmate sends it to him.
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…
Even as obvious humor, would it be ethical for Rob and Jen Heusen-Gravenstein to have this published?
Kenny, Kelsey, Natalie, Brandon, Alexis, Nathan and Joel McCaughey, the world’s first septuplets to survive infancy, graduated from Carlisle High School in Iowa over the weekend. Alexis, who has cerebral palsy, was co-captain of the cheer squad and graduated at the top of her class. The miraculous siblings were born nine weeks premature in November 1997, weighing between two and four pounds. Their mother Bobbi rejected calls for the group to be culled by “selective abortion” while they could still be claimed to not possess a right to have a chance at life.
“Grace And Frankie” is a mostly fun Netflix series featuring Jane Fonda (as creepily “Death Becomes Her”- like, 70-going on 40-looking Grace Hanson) and Lilly Tomlin (Frankie Bergstein, an old, adorable hippie) as an odd couple of septuagenarians brought together when their respective lawyer husbands, Robert ( Martin Sheen, looking very old) and Sol (Sam Waterson) declare that they have been carrying on a 20 year gay love affair. It’s now Season Two, both couples are divorced but friendly, and Robert and Sol are preparing an elaborate wedding.
Ah, but at the end of last season, cleaning out their old house and being soaked in photos, regrets and fond memories, Sol and Frankie had one last sexual fling (they had a kid: this was not unprecedented). The final episode saw Sol in anguish, feeling like he had betrayed the love of his life (that is, Robert) and not knowing how or whether to confess that he cheated with his former wife.
As Season Two gets underway, Robert has a heart attack, so the wedding is much reduced in grandeur with him still recuperating. Frankie officiates, having received her legal authority to do so over the internet. All is romantic bliss until Sol, after Robert, now recovered has prepared a romantic dinner and they have belatedly exchanged rings, can’t hold his terrible secret back any longer. He tells Robert about his one-night stand. [As he should. Everyone else in the extended family knows about his dilemma, and Robert and Grace’s children urge him to never reveal a secret that can only cause unhappiness. Sol, correctly, asserts that he can’t begin a marriage with secrets and lies. For better or worse, he has to come clean.]
And Robert throws him out! Continue reading
Let’s see if I can through this to the Ethics Quiz portion without shorting out my laptop.
Maverick Schutte, a 6-year-old from Cheyenne, Wyoming, has required over 30 surgeries, including five open chest procedures, to treat a heart condition.He still must be hooked up to a ventilator most of each day to allow oxygen to reach his lungs, and more surgery will be needed, as he is in constant danger of heart failure.
The child’s greatest joy is baseball, and he has adopted his father’s team, the Boston Red Sox, as his passion. The Children’s Miracle Network put the family in touch with former Red Sox player Kevin Millar, now an MLB host and broadcaster, and Millar contacted Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, Maverick’s favorite, after the family explained that Maverick was in the hospital again and needed a morale boost. With Millar, Ortiz made a video for Maverick, ending with Ortiz promising to hit a home run that night, just for him. I didn’t believe it when I heard the story, but it was true. “Stay positive, keep the faith, and I’m going to hit a home run for you (Friday night),” Ortiz says in the video. “Remember that.”
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz for today before, as Paul Harvey would say, you learn “the rest of the story”…
Was it ethical for Ortiz to make such a promise to Maverick?
Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, History, Humor and Satire, Love, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity, Popular Culture, Professions, Quizzes, Sports
I was walking Rugby yesterday—that’s him above from a recent commercial photo-shoot–and ran into a young woman walking her West Highland Terrier. I like Westies, as does Rugby (but then, he also likes mail carriers, squirrels, my sister and once wagged his tail at a cockroach…), and I made some positive comments about the breed.
“Well, your dog certainly looks like he hasn’t missed many meals!” was her response. The ethicist programming blocked me from saying what first popped into my head, which was, “Well, neither do you, bitch,” and instead I attempted to enlighten her by saying, in a moderate tone,
“Actually, Rugby is an authentic, Jack Russell Terrier Association-certified Jack Russell, meaning that he is not the long-legged, faux monstrosity the AKC calls a “Parson Russell Terrier,” nor the much smaller toy-like version it calls the “Russell Terrier.” Jack Russell Terriers of the Irish, as in genuine variety, are certified by their personality and hunting traits, and not by looks alone. Thus they vary more in physical traits than AKC breeds, bred for show, and since the bulldog is part of the strange and wonderful alchemy that makes these dogs the bundles of joy they are, some Jacks, like Rugby and his still mourned predecessor Dickens, have a thick bulldog build, with a broad chest and stocky body. They are all muscle (“unlike your simpy terrier”–the ethicist filter blocked this too), and you may be surprised to learn, given the fact that he is at this moment acting more lively than your young dog, that Rugby is just short of 13 years-old, and thus just a bit heavier, but not much, than he was in his youth when the vet said he was as perfect a specimen of the breed as he has ever seen. Val Kilmer or Kirsty Alley he isn’t. He remains unslowed by time, and those meeting him for the first time often mistake him for a puppy, which is undoubtedly how he sees himself.”
She just walked on, hearing little of it.
Why do people think that making gratuitously critical comments about a stranger’s pet is any less rude and disrespectful than insulting a child or anything else that the individual obviously cares about? Continue reading
It is sobering to read the hateful and contemptuous comments from so many of my Facebook friends about the legislators of Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, Mississippi and other states that have either passed or have tried to pass laws allowing citizens to opt out of the cultural freight train that gives them the option of boarding or getting crushed. Whether these are “religious freedom” laws or “bathroom laws,” aimed at transgendered interlopers in the once orderly realm of public bathrooms, or whether they are designed to fight for the definition of marriage as “between a man and a woman,” these laws, every one of them unwise and unethical, and probably unconstitutional too, need to be regarded as the inevitable and predictable result when human beings are forced to absorb cultural shifts in a matter of years or less that properly would evolve over generations
Culture–what any society, country, region, religion, business, organization, club, family, secret society or tree house agrees over time as how they do things, think about things, what is right and what is wrong, what is remembered and what is forgotten–is a constantly evolving process. Efforts to freeze it inevitably fail, because human beings as a species can’t stop themselves from learning. Efforts to rush the installment of major changes, however, can be disastrous, even when there seems like no alternative but to rush.
Laws don’t automatically change culture. They are part of the process, both reflecting and facilitating cultural shifts, as well as institutionalizing them. They do not even mark the end of such shifts. Nobody should be surprised, angry or abusively critical when those who have been raised to believe in certain values and practices feel betrayed and mistreated, and see the need to resist when their sense of what is right is suddenly proclaimed as not only wrong but the sign of a character deficiency and a cause for denigration and disrespect. Continue reading