“Thank God It’s Friday!” Ethics Amen, 2/28/2020: Will Women Give Up Sports? Does Joe Biden Know What “Arrest” Means? Do Kids Really Think Sitting In The Car Is Fun?, And Other Important Questions…

Amen to THAT…

1. Conservatism and nostalgia gone nuts...In the category of posts I don’t understand at all, right-ward blogger/pundit Megan Fox put up something called “8 Fun (and Possibly Dangerous) Activities Enjoyed by Past Generations That Today’s Kids Will Never Experience.” She said in her introduction of the paean to the good ol’ days, “Children are more coddled and protected than ever in 2019. For kids, it’s oppressive. I know mine listen to my stories of summers full of freedom and independence, running around the neighborhood all day until dark, with wide-eyed envy. These days, kids are hardly free to do anything we could back in generations past.”

But look what she chose…

  • “Play all day with no adult supervision, roaming neighborhoods and friends’ houses until dark”

We let out son do this, and I would do it today. There’s nothing stopping you. I’d strongly suggest waiting until the child is at least 10, though.

  • Ride in cars without seatbelts.

I don’t see how anyone can be nostalgic about something that got kids killed, abd what was so much fun about riding without seat belts anyway?

  • “The joy of phone calls” 

Okay, texting is more popular. But I see kids on the phone all the time (A school is almost next to our house.). If a kid really thinks phoning is a “joy,’ nothing is stopping her.

  • ” Lawn darts, rusty slides, dangerous park equipment”

Says Fox,

“At our neighborhood park, the slide was so high that it would make your stomach drop half way up the ladder…..  Nobody’s mommy came with them to the park. It was a sanctuary…Parks have been sanitized and de-riskified with padded ground and plastic, twisty slides that are so slow it seems pointless to even use them….Everything is super safe, and yet everyone’s mother is hovering. It makes no sense.”

There’s also a park just like the one she described within view of our house, yes, with moms (actually nannies) all around. The kids there seem to be having a lot of fun anyway.  All I remember from our local playground was coming home injured, sometimes badly. The only time I was ever beat up as a child was at that playground, because there were no adults around. What fun!

  • Hanging out at the mall in packs of 11- to 15-year-olds

Good riddance.

  • Buying cigarettes for a family member

What? Why is this  on the list?

  • Sitting in the car for up to an hour while Mom grocery shops

This is also a “What?” My parents never did that to us, and I don’t know why any responsible parent would. “Oh yes, we all did this,” says Fox.  “Back when I was a kid it was completely normal to have a parking lot full of kids in cars waiting for parents. No one thought this was a crime or weird at all. And we loved it!” She must be from Mars.

  • Babysitting

Babysitting was (and still is) a way to make money. Anyone who thought it was “fun” was weird.

Posts like this are among the reasons why conservatives have a bad reputation. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “More School Abuse of Students and Culture: The Deadly Cupcake Caper”

Kids playing soldiers

Karl Penny adds some useful perspective on children’s war games, which were referenced in my post about the school that deemed tiny toy World War II soldiers like the ones featured in “Toy Story” a threat to student peace and safety. Here is his Comment of the Day to the post, More School Abuse of Students and Culture: The Deadly Cupcake Caper:

“My friends and I used to organize war games, armed with toy guns, with which we would industriously go about “killing” each other. Today, of course, we are all psychopathic, gun-obsessed, would-be killers, just waiting for the trigger event that will send us off to wreak the next massacre at someplace where people gather.

“If I had uttered the preceding sarcasm at any sort of school function, I’d shortly be explaining to the police that no, officer, I’d never dream of shooting up anyplace, and I just spoke carelessly, and I’ll never do it again, and please don’t take me to jail…. For heavens sake. Continue reading

“Books for Christmas?!” A Christmas YouTube Ethics Lesson…For Parents

Last year, a three-year old opened a Christmas present and told off his parents when he discovered a book instead of a toy. So amuses were the parents at their offspring’s absence of gratitude and manners that they put the video of his disappointed response on YouTube. This Christmas, the video has gone suddenly viral, and there are dozens of web posts all over cyberspace holding the little ingrate up as an exemplar of all that’s wrong with Christmas, children, America, materialism, and more. Many commenters are suggesting just desserts for this budding illiterate, like no Christmas presents at all, nothing but books as presents from now until puberty, or nothing but books by Dean Koonzt, Sarah Palin, or  Marcel Proust. That’ll teach him. Continue reading

Unethical or Dumb? Three Scenarios From The News

Many actions that appear to be unethical at first glance are really just thoughtless, careless decisions by people who should know better. It is only when knowing better is an obligation of their jobs or positions that a foolish mistake becomes unethical, or when it involves willful disregard for basic ethical principles.

Here are three scenarios from the news. Your choices: Dumb, Unethical, or Dumb and Unethical. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: New York Met Jason Bay

Sometimes all it takes to be an Ethics Hero is being nice, especially if it’s in a way that most people like you have abandoned.

New Mets left fielder Jason Bay has moved to Larchmont, New York, where his presence is causing something of a buzz among the residents, especially the younger baseball fans. Gabriel Tugendstein, who is 11, was especially excited, and here we defer to his mother, writing in the New York Times… Continue reading

Disney, Mickey, and Childhood’s Betrayal

The Disney Corporation has decided to do something about Mickey Mouse’s image. It’s too nice, you see. In the edgy 21st century, where Hannah Montana does a pole dance, female tennis champs threaten to kill line judges for making a correct call, and Glenn Beck can become a hot commodity by calling the President of the United States a racist, Mickey Mouse is bland and boring. For more than fifty years, Mickey’s status as the symbol of Walt Disney’s empire (Walt did Mickey’s first voice) meant that he was polite, dignified, and always, always, child-appropriate. His typical role was as the MC, his job with the original Mickey Mouse Club, where Mickey often appeared in black tie and tails. With his characteristic nervous laugh, he never did anything wrong, mean, or even annoying. The funny bits were reserved for Donald Duck, Goofy, and Chip and Dale. Mickey slowly evolved into more of a corporate symbol than a cartoon character, but when he went on screen, he was always a good mouse. Continue reading

UNICEF and the Saint’s Excuse

Halloween’s editorial in the New York Times sings the praises of Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, the initiative born in 1950 to help the  work of UNICEF by having children solicit donations in their All Hallow’s Eve’s journeys, instead of traditional candy. UNICEF, as the Times points out, does important things, and Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF raises millions of dollars annually for the organization’s agenda of saving  children overseas with medicine, food, clean water and vaccinations. Who can complain? Well, I can, and we all should. Good intentions and even good results do not justify coercion and abuse of power, and that is what Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF has always represented. Halloween is a tradition of childhood, and charity has nothing to do with it. It is about fun and fantasy, adventure and imagination. It is about conjuring a spooky atmosphere and dressing up in scary or whimsical costumes, ringing strange doorbells and miraculously receiving candy and sweets in return. Redeeming social value? Fond memories have social value. Community rituals and tradition have social value. Halloween is a good thing, for its own sake. According to the Times,  a minister named Clyde Allison and his wife, Mary Emma Allison, created Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF because they wanted to support the  United Nations charity in its efforts to combat child mortality. They also , the Editorial says approvingly, felt that “Halloween was a chance to inspire children to help other children, not just rake in candy.” Translation: they saw a clever way way to get children to work for their admittedly worthwhile adult objectives rather the children’s own trivial, childish ones. Halloween has as much to do with children helping children as Arbor Day does. But having small children, many of whom know nothing about UNICEF, become irresistible door-to-door solicitors for cash within a tradition where it is virtually impossible for the solicited to refuse to give..brilliant! Brilliant, but wrong. The children are shamed into forgoing candy—for their satisfaction—to acquire donations, for the plans and aspirations of adults. Instead of a night of innocent, liberating, childish fun, the children get the pleasure of becoming unpaid fundraisers for UNICEF. Instead of being part of the Halloween ritual, the homeowners find themselves pressured by pint-size shakedowns that are near resistance-proof. Has anyone, confronted with a goblin collecting for UNICEF, mustered the courage to say, “Sorry, I give out candy on Halloween.” Or, “I give to the charity of my choice, thank-you”?  I haven’t. Meanwhile, the adults perpetrating this bait-and switch use rationalizations to justify what is a really an exercise in arm-twisting. “The candy is bad for the kids,” they say. “The kids get more satisfaction from this.” Most of all, they say, “It’s for a good cause”—the classic rationalization known as “The Saint’s Excuse.” It is the self-serving philosophy that principles of ethics can be broken as long as the goal is lofty enough. As examples of  the Saint’s Excuse, the UNICEF caper is pretty mild; after all, it was also the rationalization for the Spanish Inquisition.  Still, children are being coerced to do the job of adults. Their fun is being altered to meet the charitable goals of someone else. And the rules are being changed on the people answering the door, so they virtually have to give. It doesn’t matter if it’s only spare change. It is coercive, unfair and deceptive. Some communities have Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF in addition to Halloween, on the day before or after. I’m still not fond of making kids ring doorbells for charities; I would suggest that the adults go door to door on UNICEF nights, if they are concerned about poor children overseas. Still, at least the two-night formula lets kids enjoy Halloween without being saturated with guilt. They’ll have plenty of time for that. The fact that adults like the saintly Allisons and the editors of the Grey Lady don’t care very much about the values of childhood, which include fantasy and pointless fun, doesn’t make it right. Let adults do their own work, which includes raising money for poor and endangered children. They should let children, in turn, do the job they need to do. Be kids.