“Colorism” Ethics

“Colorism” isn’t racism, at least not exactly. It describes the bias towards light-skin rather than dark skin, and that bias is prominent among African Americans, as well as South Americans

Dark-skinned women around the world are targeted by advertising for skin-lightening products telling them that lighter is better. It doesn’t help that prominent black celebrities have sometimes engaged in skin lightening, notably Michael Jackson. Another is formerChicago Cubs star Sammy Sosa:

(Sammy’s response to questions about his radically changed appearance have been pure “Jumbo”: “Lighter? What do you mean my skin is lighter?”)

The Beautywell Project, is a non-profit group. Its  mission: “eliminate biases against dark-skinned people and lift the self-esteem of those who have been harmed by the discrimination.” The Project is claiming a major victory after it delivered  a petition with 23,000 signatures in late last month  to Amazon , demanding that the retail giant remove skin-bleaching products  rom its online platform. Amazon did, too, but those products already violated the site’s guidelines, and were also illegal due to excessive amounts of mercury.  The group, says the New York Times, is still saying this was a successful strike against dark-skin bias.

That’s spin verging on a lie. It was a successful strike against dangerous consumer items, and Amazon did not pull the products because they enabled skin-lightening.  Amazon still offers skin-lightening creams without mercury, and as long as consumers want such products, it should keep offering them.

The Beautywell Project isn’t just in all likelihood futile, it is totalitarian in spirit.  If someone wants to look lighter, darker, or like a Smurf, they should be able to follow their dreams.  But…but…the Message! Continue reading

Q: “What Kind Of Person Fakes Her Voice?” A: “A Competent One.”

Preface: This is the kind of issue that can be hard to find, unless one has unlimited time to search all sources and for better or ill, I don’t. Ethics Alarms is still feeling the effects of losing the regular services of topic scout Fred, who had a remarkable reach, finding ethics issues in all sorts of places I never would (though Fred does drop by here to comment, and I am grateful for that, as well as his long service.) I really do depend on the readers for tips, particularly in the non-political arena. Even the news aggregating sites like The Daily Beast, The Daily Caller, the Blaze and Huffington Post have become more politics obsessed than ever, so Ethics Alarms has to dig deeper and go farther. Some of our best discussions have arisen out of obscure venues. So please: keep an ye open, and write me at jamproethics@verizon.net/

Ann Althouse found this, from The Cut:

There are many fascinating, upsettingdetails in the story of Elizabeth Holmes, but my favorite is her voice. Holmes, the ousted Theranos founder who was indicted last year on federal fraud charges for hawking an essentially imaginary product to multi-millionaire investors, pharmacies, and hospitals, speaks in a deep baritone that, as it turns out, is fake. Former co-workers of Holmes told The Dropout, a new podcast about Theranos’s downfall, that Holmes occasionally “fell out of character” and exposed her real, higher voice — particularly after drinking. One can only assume the voice will be discussed in the upcoming HBO documentary, too.

To begin with, as anyone can hear from the video above, Theranos did not and does not speak in deep baritone voice, which tells us immediately that the author, Katie Heaney, doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Neither, apparently, does Ann, who directs us to another video and describes Holmes’ voice as “a ludicrous phony voice.” There’s nothing ludicrous about it, and if she is not using a ventriloquist, it’s not phony either. Continue reading

Unethical App Of The Month: Peeple

The co-founders of Peeple. I don't care which is which.

The co-founders of Peeple. I don’t care which is which.

(I’m officially adding this as an Ethics Alarms category. I don’t know why it too so long.)

The Washington Post reports that a greedy woman who never heard of the Golden Rule will be launching Peeple, “essentially Yelp for humans,” sometime in November:

“…you will be able to assign reviews and one- to five-star ratings to everyone you know: your exes, your co-workers, the old guy who lives next door. You can’t opt out — once someone puts your name in the Peeple system, it’s there unless you violate the site’s terms of service. And you can’t delete bad or biased reviews — that would defeat the whole purpose.”

Which is what, exactly? To pre-bias all future relationships by making sure they are colored by someone else’s judgment, emotions, or prejudices? Not only should no one want to be rated on such a service, no one should want to use it if they have a brain in their head. (No one should want to use Yelp, either.) Why should my standards, which are unique to me, be suppressed by the standards of other people I don’t know or respect? My ability to trust new acquaintances will be undermined by people I have no reason to trust, since a) I won’t know them and b) I won’t trust anyone so unethical as to smear someone like this.

As for positive reviews, what’s to stop someone from arranging to give positive feedback on a friend in exchange for a return rave? Nothing. The app will pave the way for sociopaths and con artists. Imagine what Bill Clinton’s reviews would look like.

Julia Cordray, one of the app’s founders, tells the Post, “People do so much research when they buy a car or make those kinds of decisions Why not do the same kind of research on other aspects of your life?”

Because it isn’t valid research, you moron. It is hearsay and opinion, neither of which would be admissible in court, for excellent reasons: they are unreliable.

The Post:

“A bubbly, no-holds-barred trendy lady” with a marketing degree and two recruiting companies”—“Trendy lady”? Great, I hate her already—“Cordray sees no reason you wouldn’t want to ‘showcase your character’ online”—I already showcase my character online, thanks. It’s called Ethics Alarms, but the difference is that I really do know myself, and I trust the standards of the reviewer implicitly. They are very close to my own…

“Co-founder Nicole McCullough comes at the app from a different angle: As a mother of two in an era when people don’t always know their neighbors, she wanted something to help her decide whom to trust with her kids.”

There we go. With any luck, there will be a few good, whopping law suits for defamation that will either reduce the user base of this App From Hell to four pranksters and a few mean and bored seniors with grudges, or drive the Trendy Lady to another scheme to make the world a little more unpleasant. Continue reading

OH NO! Political Correctness Got Me!

Late last night as I was battling worry and insomnia, my TV remote transported me to the Cartoon Network where I encountered, for the first time  in 40 years, a minor Hanna-Barbara animated series called “The Perils of Penelope Pitstop.” Like all Hanna-Barbara shows, but especially the Saturday morning variety, “Penelope” was crudely drawn and aimed its humor at the lowest common denominator: compared to it, Woody Woodpecker is Faulkner. Drawn in by the comforting sounds of great vocal artists of the era like Mel Blanc and Paul Winchell, however, I watched about ten minutes of the show and realized, to my horror, that I now found it offensive…and not for the reason that I found it annoying in 1970 (it is, after all, moronic).

The plot of  every episode of “The Perils of Penelope Pitstop” (a spin-off of H-B’s more successful but just as repetitious and silly “Wacky Racers”) was the same. A female auto racer who is also a blonde, helpless bimbo with a Southern accent is stalked by a villain called “The Hooded Claw,” voiced by the great Paul Lynde.  The Hooded Claw, for no discernible reason,  concocts elaborate plots to kill Penelope, but is foiled, at the last second, every time. The cartoon is an obvious riff on “The Perils of Pauline,” the famous Pearl White silent movie cliffhanger serial in which each segment ended with the heroine tied to a railroad track or falling to earth dragging a collapsed parachute. Yet I found it impossible to appreciate the cartoon’s meager charms because of the loud clanging of  ethics alarms in my brain. Why is the only woman in the show portrayed as a walking, talking Barbie Doll? And why are kids being encouraged to laugh at a woman being stalked by a homicidal maniac? Because he’s an inept homicidal maniac? What could possibly be funny about stalking, an insidious phenomenon that every year leads to multiple murders?

“Oh my God,” I thought. “I’m politically correct!Continue reading