One More Time As A Child Finds A Gun And Kills: Prosecute the Parents


This time the locale was Elmo, Missouri, and it was a five-year old pulling the trigger. The victim was a 9-month-old boy, but it’s basically the same tragic, stupid story….just like in the Idaho Walmart, where the two-year-old shot his mother, or the Albuquerque motel room where another toddler shot both of his parents, who were just lucky and lived. (They have been charged with child abuse. Good.) A gun owner negligently, recklessly, criminally leaves a firearm, loaded, where  young children are and a tragedy results.

Alexis Widerholt, the mother of the children, called 911, and when emergency crews arrived they found that her the baby had been shot in the skull with a .22-caliber magnum revolver.

Somebody has to go to jail for this, maybe several people. Authorities say the gun belongs to a relative, but not the mother. If she knew the gun was in the house, she’s accountable. Anyone responsible for putting the loaded gun where a kid might find it is accountable. Charge them with manslaughter, convict them, send them away. Unless the mother didn’t know about the gun (she originally told the police it was a paint gun, either out of panic, confusion, or ignorance), she needs to lose the right to parent them, at least for a while. Continue reading

Emmy Ethics: Honoring Elmo, Or Honoring A Child Molester?


I am assuming, based on the fact that this story was featured on the conservative muckraking website Brietbart, that some people think it is inappropriate to award three Daytime Emmys for children’s programming to Kevin Clash, the Muppets puppeteer whose career as fuzzy red monster Elmo on Sesame Street ended with a series of child molestation accusations.

If I am right, these people are dead wrong. Clash is an artist, and a talented one. Whether or not the allegations of his having illicit contact with under-aged boys are true, and none have been tested in court, his skill in manipulating and voicing the cutest and most vulnerable of the Muppets is beyond debate. The Emmy has never been nor claimed to be a character award. An Emmy recognizes excellence in television, in this case children’s programming, and it doesn’t make a smidgeon of difference if an artist is a child molester, a bank robber, a cannibal, a Nazi or a Billy Ray Cyrus fan—if he or she delivered the best artistic product, the honor is deserved.


Spark, Facts and Graphic: Breitbart

Ethics Quote of the Day: Sesame Street

“Sesame Workshop’s mission is to harness the educational power of media to help all children the world over reach their highest potential. Kevin Clash has helped us achieve that mission for 28 years, and none of us, especially Kevin, want anything to divert our attention from our focus on serving as a leading educational organization. Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Kevin’s personal life has become a distraction that none of us want, and he has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job and has resigned from Sesame Street. This is a sad day for Sesame Street.”

—— The producers of “Sesame Street,” announcing Kevin Clash’s resignation and the end of his close association with Elmo. A second man just accused Clash of molesting him when he was underage, and Clash’s original accuser, Sheldon Stephens, recently recanted his recantation of  his allegations.

“Goodbye, my friend.”

This ending was pre-ordained from the beginning of the scandal, and Clash’s guilt or innocence was and is irrelevant. Sesame Street’s duty is to Elmo and his fans, not Kevin Clash. “Innocent until proven guilty” also has no application. Clash, if nothing else, is guilty of not being innocent enough to be the voice of the most innocent Muppet on Sesame Street.

Elmo and the One Recant Rule

When we last left the sad saga of Kevin Clash, the Muppets puppeteer whose voice and hands give cute little Elmo his panache, the 23-year-old man who had accused Clash of having underage sex with him had recanted, agreeing with Clash’s defense that their relationship was consummated later, when both were consenting adults. I opined that this would do little to rescue Clash’s career, as the most innocent Muppet on Sesame Street could not survive being operated by a man who was now associated with gay sex, consensual of not. This likely result seemed unfair to Clash, but is nonetheless a responsible decision on the part of Clash’s employers, the Children’s Television Workshop, whose duty is to their mission and core audience, not to one unmasked Muppet.

Clash’s prospects have not improved. It was revealed last week that the recant was bought and paid for by Clash, who handed Sheldon Stephens $125,000 to deny his previous accusation and never to raise it again. Needless to say, a recant induced by monetary compensation is not a reliable one, and leaves as many questions open as the original claim, if not more. In a settlement, the accuser is paid to drop any legal action, but doesn’t agree to retract the original claim. What Clash did is called “buying testimony,” or ” a pay-off.” Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Elmo’s Problem

And now, Muppet ethics.

Sorry, Elmo.

Kevin Clash is the voice and operator of beloved Elmo, the cute lttle red monster  on “Sesame Street.”  A young man has accused Clash of molesting him when he was a teen.  Clah denies the allegations, claining that the relationship was between consenting adults. The Children’s Television Workshop says its investigation did not substantaite the accusation; nonetheless, Clash is being disciplined for says the show, is being disciplined for “inappropriate use of company email,” and is unlikely to have his hand in Elmo any time soon, if ever again. The alleged victim is probably not through with Clash, and this could get ugly.

Your Ethics Quiz challenge, should you choose to accept it, is this:

Assuming nothing illegal is proven regarding Clash’s sexual relationship with the accuser, and it remains a “he said/he said” dispute, should Clash remain the voice and puppeteer behind “Sesame Street’s” most innocent character? Continue reading

Katy Perry’s Cleavage and Sesame Street Ethics

“Sesame Street’s” producers yanked pop songstress Katy Perry’s upcoming appearance on the iconic PBS children’s show after parents complained about her low-cut dress. They had seen a preview of her duet with Elmo on YouTube, and were scandalized.

The complaint, to put it mildly had no merit. Continue reading