The Kid Mowing The White House Lawn

Sure it’s a political stunt, but it’s a nice stunt. In the long tradition of Presidents responding to letters and news stories involving children, this is one of the better ones. It is certainly better than the last example, President Obama making a hero out of “Clock Boy,” a kid who was seemingly being used as a propaganda tool by his Muslim activist father.

Frank Giaccio, of Falls Church, Virginia., had written to Trump earlier this year, saying it would be his “honor” to “mow the White House lawn some weekend for you.”  In the letter that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read the letter at a press briefing last month, Giaccio wrote that he would cut the grass “at no charge.”

Any President with two brain cells to rub together would take up an offer like that and have photographers ready when the kid came to work. Sure enough, a throng was on hand as Frank was seen mowing in the Rose Garden after the White House invited him to spend the morning alongside the groundskeeper at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Diligent to a fault, he initially wouldn’t even stop mowing when the President spoke to him. Finally, he paused long enough to shake President trump’s hand.

Lessons? The President was humanized: he didn’t try to eat him.  The episode shows that America’s youth are still industrious and ready to work. It shows that patriotism lives. It shows that the rising generation is full of normal kids that love America, at least until they have been indoctrinated otherwise by high school and college teachers, and popular culture. Who could possibly object to this heart-warming scene? Continue reading

Guest Post: “Can We At Least Agree On This?”

by

Paul Petersen, guest blogger

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[This is Paul Petersen’s second guest blogger appearance on Ethics Alarms. Based on his own experiences as a child actor on “The Donna Reed Show” and what he observed in the treatment of his less fortunate colleagues in the field, Paul  created the profession of child performer advocate and activist, educating the public and assisting individual  performers. (His Facebook friend list is a Who’s Who of former child actors.) Although Paul is officially retired, he continues to speak out about conditions, legal and otherwise, that place child performers in financial, physical, and social peril. The number of child stars, current or grown, who are indebted to him and his organization A Minor Consideration are beyond counting. A true Ethics Hero, his work and statements have been referenced here many times.–Jack]

Can we at least agree on this? Children are a special class of humankind. They are uniquely unformed, utterly dependent, and slaves to the adults who brought them into this world and the society into which they were born.

We all know how children are created, right? They did not ask for this. They are, in a word, innocent. Biologically mature adults are responsible. Of that there is no doubt. Children are a special charge. The rules, for kids, are different…or at least they used to be.

When did they become sexual objects? Since when are they merely background players, mere props? Who decreed that a child immersed in a working environment in which all the contributory adults are compensated for their labor, could somehow NOT be themselves working? Continue reading

Seven Ethics Observations On The Josh Duggar Child Molestation Revelations

19 kids

Yes, this is an Ethics Train Wreck.

First, some background:

“19 Kids and Counting” is another reality show featuring the exploitation of children for their parents fame and profit broadcast by the  cable channel TLC, the same shameless bunch that bought us “Jon and Kate Plus 8” and the trashy Honey Boo-Boo Bunch.It began as “17 Kids and Counting,” became “18 Kids and Counting,” and but for this emerging fiasco, might have kept adding numbers, and little unpaid performers,  ad infinitum.  The show featured the godly, conservative, fertile Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their nine girls and ten boys, all of whose names begin with the letter “J.” Since the show began, three of the children have been married and several grandchildren have been born. The series began on September 29, 2008.  February 17, 2015 marked Season 10.

In response to emerging reports that oldest son Dugger son Josh, now 27, was once accused of molesting five underage girls as a teen, Josh Duggar, his wife Anna, and his parents Jim Bob and Michelle jointly explained the circumstances, which had not been revealed outside the family until now. “Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends,” Josh said  in a statement. “I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.”

Josh then resigned from his position at the Family Research Council.

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar had this to say about their son:

“Back 12 years ago our family went through one of the most difficult times of our lives. When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes, and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before. Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God. We pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family. We have challenges and struggles every day. It is one of the reasons we treasure our faith so much because God’s kindness and goodness and forgiveness are extended to us – even though we are so undeserving. We hope somehow the story of our journey – the good times and the difficult times – cause you to see the kindness of God and learn that He can bring you through anything.”

TLC cancelled the show. It said, on its Facebook page,

“Effective immediately, TLC has pulled all episodes of 19 Kids and Counting currently from the air. We are deeply saddened and troubled by this heartbreaking situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and victims at this difficult time”

Then GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee issued his own Facebook statement in support of Josh and the family:

“Janet and I want to affirm our support for the Duggar family. Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, ‘inexcusable,’ but that doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable.’ He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities. No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story. Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things. The reason that the law protects disclosure of many actions on the part of a minor is that the society has traditionally understood something that today’s blood-thirsty media does not understand—that being a minor means that one’s judgement is not mature. No one needs to defend Josh’s actions as a teenager, but the fact that he confessed his sins to those he harmed, sought help, and has gone forward to live a responsible and circumspect life as an adult is testament to his family’s authenticity and humility. Those who have enjoyed revealing this long ago sins in order to discredit the Duggar family have actually revealed their own insensitive bloodthirst, for there was no consideration of the fact that the victims wanted this to be left in the past and ultimately a judge had the information on file destroyed—not to protect Josh, but the innocent victims. Janet and I love Jim Bob and Michelle and their entire family. They are no more perfect a family than any family, but their Christian witness is not marred in our eyes because following Christ is not a declaration of our perfection, but of HIS perfection. It is precisely because we are all sinners that we need His grace and His forgiveness. We have been blessed to receive God’s love and we would do no less than to extend our love and support for our friends. In fact, it is such times as this, when real friends show up and stand up. Today, Janet and I want to show up and stand up for our friends. Let others run from them. We will run to them with our support.”

Observations: Continue reading

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Unethical, As A School Board Ponders The Profits of Child Labor

child laborWe learn about how seriously our institutions take their ethics when money gets scarce. States suddenly decided that ol’ devil gambling wasn’t so bad after all, once they realized that lots and lots of poor, desperate people without a lot of mathematical skills would fork over billions they needed to buy food with or save to move out of the ghetto in the hope of becoming a tycoon. I’m sure as soon as states realize that their legislators don’t have the guts to make the wealthy and powerful pay for lousy schools, more and more of them will get into the drug dealing business, like Colorado, and let the lives, families and businesses destroyed by the inevitable results of legal pot and cocaine become collateral damage.

Somewhere in between those irresponsible and cynical policy decisions way come ideas like this one, from the Prince George’s County Board of Education (in Maryland.) There is a new proposed policy in the perpetually corrupt Washington D.C. neighbor to make all work products created by teachers or students the intellectual property of the County, not the individual who created it: Continue reading

Guest Commentary: “When Children Work; A Dialogue”

By Paul Petersen

[Paul Petersen is the founder and president of A Minor Consideration, a non-profit advocacy group that seeks to protect the welfare of juvenile performers. Mr. Petersen was a prominent child star himself, most famously as “Jeff Stone” on the long-running TV comedy, “The Donna Reed Show.” The following commentary, also posted on his website, is inspired by the hearings this week on proposed child labor legislation in Pennsylvania, where “Jon & Kate Plus 8” was filmed. The legislation proposed  by State Representative Tom Murt defines reality television and would require all minors to have work permits issued by the state Department of Labor and Industry to ensure all adequate provisions have been made for the minor’s educational instruction, supervision, health and welfare. The bill also provides that minors can only work between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., and sets guidelines for the amount of hours, work, recreation, school and activities per day. A certified teacher would be required on the set of any production to monitor working conditions, and the bill would require 15 % of a child actor’s gross earning be set aside by the employer in a trust.]

Imagine if your boss unilaterally declared that your time spent in a commercial workplace wasn’t work at all but merely “participation.” That might be said of the drug store cat, or a barnyard animal, but to say that about a living, breathing, conscious human being passes all understanding. Yet that is precisely the position taken by reality show Producers and the Networks that broadcast commercial products called “reality shows” that feature children. Continue reading

Petersen Was Right: “Jon & Kate” Exploited Their Kids

Back when everyone was buzzing about TLC’s reality show “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” long before the dark side of the show began to emerge, before the messy divorce of the couple, before Kate was revealed as a castrating control freak and Jon showed himself to have the maturity of a 12-year-old, and long, long before Kate demonstrated that she may be the least watchable dancer ever to appear in televised dance show, child performer advocate Paul Petersen was sounding the alarm that the show violated child labor laws. Reality show producers sneak in through loop-holes in the laws regulating scripted shows, and Petersen, to  nasty derision from some quarters, kept making the point that what the Gosselins were doing with their eight children was against the law, harmful to them, and wrong.

Now that the show is off the air, Pennsylvania, where it was filmed, has finally gotten around to looking into Petersen’s allegations, and guess what? He was right all the time. Continue reading