And Harvard’s Ethics Death Spiral Continues: The Lampoon’s Ann Frank “Gag”

Talk about ethics alarms malfunctioning.

Fortunately, I had already disavowed my Harvard degree before this surfaced, so I am only mortified rather than trying to figure out how to flush myself down the toilet.

Above is an allegedly  humorous gag from Harvard’s student-run humor magazine, which once gave us Robert Benchley, Al Franken, and “Animal House.”  [Full disclosure: I was rejected by the Lampoon when I competed to join the staff as a student. ] The magazine has often championed sophomoric humor as well as bad taste, but there are limits to everything. I’d say using the image and memory of a brave and iconic Jewish girl who died in a Nazi concentration camp for a cheap, spectacularly unfunny photoshop gag is over the line, wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t just about anyone with an atom of common sense and decency?

Fortunately, some Harvard students erupted in anger over the photo of Frank’s head grafted on the body of a pumped-up busty bikini girl and the “ Add this to the list of  reasons the Holocaust  sucked” punch line. So did the New England branch of the Anti-Defamation League,  which condemned  the cartoon as a “vulgar, offensive & sexualized” meme that “denigrates [Ann Frank’s] memory & millions of Holocaust victims….Trivializing genocide plays into the hands of #antisemites & Holocaust deniers.” Continue reading

Ethics Hero Emeritus: Miep Gies, 1909-2010

Miep Gies, the last surviving participant in the inspiring story of Anne Frank, died last week, a month short of her 101st birthday.

One of the most important objectives of thinking about ethics, and challenging ourselves to find the most ethical courses in the dilemmas and conflicts we read and hear about every day, is to be ready if and when a time comes when lives depend on our ability to determine the right thing to do, and to have the courage do it. I have no idea how much or how often Miep Gies thought about ethics. But when her time came, she was ready. Continue reading