“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

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

Comment Of The Day: “From Australia, A Cancel Culture Chapter That I Don’t Understand At All”

Reader JP, who is a minister, had a fascinating reaction to the post about the Australian cartoonist in the process of being “canceled” because he had the audacity to mock mothers who pay more attention to their cell phones than their infants. Australians, especially mothers and feminists, are furious…because he criticized conduct that nobody denies occurs.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “From Australia, A Cancel Culture Chapter That I Don’t Understand At All”:

“Is guilt driving the attacks on Michael Leunig? Is that it? They are punishing a truth-teller for using satire and humor to hold a mirror up to their faces like satirists and social commentators are supposed to do? If that cartoon sparks such anger, what would these people have done to Swift, Voltaire, Gilbert, Shaw, Parker, Wodehouse, Vidal, or even Dave Barry?”

A few years ago,  I was teaching this class on 1 Corinthians. It had been going on for about a month at this point where we got to the section on marriage, divorce, and adultery. Most of the class focused on the marriage part. Very little was said about divorce and adultery. I didn’t focus on it too much. In a class like this, I tend to let discussion stay with the interests of the class. I did address divorce and adultery as real problems of the church and  said they should not be ignored.

After class, a women came up to me and let me have it.  According to her, divorce and adultery were “none of the church’s business.” She was pretty passionate about it, so I let it go. She wasn’t at the next class  I assumed she was making a point because she thought that I would never agree with her.

A month later, her husband dragged her into my office, saying she been committing adultery. He wanted to know what he should do about it. She wouldn’t look a me. I suggested a professional counselor, and that was the last time I saw either of them. Continue reading

Movies To Keep You Happy, Inspired And Optimistic , Part I

This is a very subjective and personal list. The main requirement was that they all must be, in the final analysis, upbeat. I also have seen all of them more than once.

I left out some obvious choices that I have already devoted full posts to on Ethics Alarms, like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “White Christmas.” Some of the films on my ethics movies list appear here, but not for the same reasons. Obviously, I encourage you to see those movies too.

Below is approximately the first half of the list. The rest will be along eventually.

Rocky (1976)

It still holds up as one of the most exhilarating sports movies of all time.

The Natural (1984)

Great score and a happy ending, unlike the novelette it was based on.

True Grit (1969)

This is the John Wayne version, with two of the go-to scenes I’ll play when I want to feel better.

E.T. (1982)

Other than the unforgivable rainbow at the end, a near perfect feel-good film.

Stand By Me (1986)

One of two Stephen King movies on the list. Does anyone not love this film?

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

And the other King movie. has any suicide in a film been quite this satisfying?

Erin Brockavich (2000)

More or less a true story, which makes it especially inspiring.

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

If Donald O’Connor walking up walls doesn’t get your heart pumping and your mouth smiling, nothing will. Continue reading

Ethics Alarms Thanks The Ethicist For Some Non-Pandemic Topics

With  about 80% or more of all news stories somehow involving the Wuhan virus and its effects (World War II must have been like this), finding non -pandemic stories and ethics issues has become an irritating and challenging job.

Fortunately, Kwame Anthony Appiah’s “The Ethicist” column” this week saw two interesting issues arise, both of which he answered correctly. (There are other questions in the column too.) One inquirer asked, “It has become clear to me, however, that individual senators and other elected officials outside my state do indeed have a powerful effect on the entire country. Is it appropriate for me to donate to candidates in elections in which I cannot vote?”

Of course it is. Appiah wrote essentially what I would: “As you recognize, the effects politicians have aren’t confined to their immediate constituencies. On the contrary, the prospects for our country depend on who holds elective offices at every level. For one thing, representatives from each of the states in the U.S. House and Senate vote on national legislation. For another, policies in one state affect what happens in others….We are one nation; if we’re to aim at liberty and justice for all, we need to do it together.”

Bingo.

The second question was interesting because it is amazing that anyone would have the gall to make such an outrageous request, and fascinating that anyone would be so  puzzled about how to respond that they would seek advice from a third party: Continue reading

Once Again, “The Good Illegal Immigrant.” Once Again, I Am Not Sympathetic

Nor should I be.

Nor should you.

Once again, the New York Times has published another of its entries into what I call “The Good Illegal Immigrant” files. The “good illegal immigrant” is a contradiction in terms, as much as “the good embezzler” or “the good bigamist.” This ongoing propaganda by the Times as the journalistic vanguard of the open borders mission of the American Left is in its fourth year. These features are stuffed with emotionally manipulative tales and quotes about the travails of residents of the United States who broke the law by coming here, and who continue to stay here, reaping the benefits that are supposed to be reserved to citizens while being nauseatingly self-righteous about it. The Times surpasses itself this time, with “Telling the Truth Wasn’t An Option” by Julissa Arce, illegally in this country from the age of eleven, whose dilemma was finally resolved when she married an American citizen.

It’s convenient that the title itself embodies a rationalization, indeed a couple whoppers from the Ethics Alarms list: #25, The Coercion Myth: “I have no choice!” and #31. The Troublesome Luxury: “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford right now.” Telling the truth is always an option if one has the courage and integrity to be accountable. The headline applies to anyone who is engaged in an ongoing crime, or guilty of a past one, except that in this case, the individual feels uniquely entitled to not only avoid the just consequences of  her own actions, but to seek sympathy for her discomfort in doing so. Continue reading

Noonish Ethics Warm-Up (But It’s Morning To Me!), 3/6/2020: Bill Clinton Returns, And Other Amusements

Morning already, Sea Dog?

I guess I have to admit that I don’t bounce back from travel like I used to…incidentally,the original voice of Captain Crunch was the great Daws Butler, who was Hanna-Barbara’s answer to Mel Blanc, and every bit as versatile as the voice of Bugs, Porky and Daffy. He was Fred Flintstone, Huckleberry Hound, Quickdraw McGraw (and Baba Looey) Yogi Bear and Elroy Jetson, just to name a few of his 459 characters.

1. Enemy of the people…the Coronavirus situation is a perfect example of how the news media’s inability to avoid partisan bias does tangible harm. It is literally impossible to get straight reporting. The left-biased news media wants to make the situation seem as dire as possible, wants disruption of the financial markets, wants to undermine trust in the federal response, all because they so, so want to see President Trump defeated in November and they can feel that objective slipping away. The conservative media is determined to bolster the administration, and give the cheeriest spin on the pandemic possible. You either have to choose what you want to believe, or, like me, resign yourself to uncertainty because we have a corrupt and unethical journalistic establishment.

After the head of the World Health Organization (WHO)  estimated the global mortality rate of the coronavirus to be 3.4%, President Trump said on Fox News that his “hunch” was that it was much lower.

“I think the 3.4 percent is really a false number, and this is just my hunch, but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this because a lot of people will have this and it’s very mild. They’ll get better very rapidly, they don’t even see a doctor, they don’t even call a doctor. You never hear about these people.”

He was immediately attacked in the press and mocked on social media, because, you know, he lies, he’s an idiot, and he doesn’t believe in science. His “hunch,’ however, is almost certainly right, and for exactly the reason he talked about. From The Hill:

“Experts warn that the figure from WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus comes full of caveats and is likely to change as more people get tested and undergo treatment for the virus. ‘I think it’s lower because we are missing mild cases,’ said Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. ‘We should be preparing for [the worst] cases, it’s true, but also going out to see what the real number is….Folks want to be able to understand what the true risk is. They want to know just how deadly is it, how deadly is it to me? The challenge is, we don’t totally know.'”

Joe Biden, meanwhile, noted that the outbreak occurring during The Great War made it hard to separate the Real McCoy from the malarkey.

Oh, lighten up! I’m just having a little fun. Continue reading