Comment Of The Day: “Observations On A Tender, Obnoxious, Unethical Screed”

Bill Weir’s nauseating open letter to his newborn son River—GACK! ICK! BLECHHH! —- was so unethical in so many ways that I almost needed a ventilator to finish reading it. When I had finished posting on the monstrosity, I was awash with regret that I hadn’t the space nor the time to write the letter Weir should write, and was hopeful that one of the many acid-penned bards among the talented  commentariate here would take up the challenge. I was not disappointed.

Here is Steve-O-In-NJ’s Comment of the Day, one of his finest, on the post, “Observations On A Tender, Obnoxious, Unethical Screed”:

The article is utter garbage, written by someone untrained in science, but trained in making up stories. One day when River is grown up, assuming he makes it there and isn’t driven off the deep end by constant teasing, I hope he reads this article and asks him, just like Greta, “how dare you?” How dare you use my birth to push your own agenda and your employers’ agenda? How dare you plaster pictures of me as a newborn infant all over the internet where anyone can see them? How dare you reveal the circumstances of my conception to the world? I’m an individual. I am not an accessory to flash around like a new pair of sustainable dockers. I am not a prop for your causes. I am not an illustration to make a point next to pictures you cherry-picked to tell the story you wanted.

I’m not a half bad storyteller myself, and I’d tell quite a different story if a son were born to me. I always said if I had a son I’d name him Charles James, after my grandfather and father (ironically also now after two heroes of my own writing). So, if he were born, I’d say this: Continue reading

Observations On A Tender, Obnoxious, Unethical Screed

My original impulse was to post  this as an ethics quiz, with a heading like, “Is Bill Weir’s essay as bad as I think it is?”

Bill Weir is CNN’s climate correspondent. His wife just gave birth to a son, for which Ethics Alarms gives him a hardy congratulations and will wait for its metaphorical cigar. However, Weir chose to use this life event for an astoundingly long, self-indulgent, and in several ways unethical post on CNN’s site headlined, “To my son, born in the time of coronavirus and climate change.”

Read the thing, if you can stand it. Commenter Other Bill sent it to me with the query, “Is it ethical for this guy to have a child?” He was engaging in hyperbole, but the thrust of the question is valid. Here’s how the essay begins:

Against all odds you were conceived in a lighthouse, born during a pandemic and will taste just enough of Life as We Knew It to resent us when it’s gone. I’m sorry. I’m sorry we broke your sea and your sky and shortened the wings of the nightingale. I’m sorry that the Great Barrier Reef is no longer great, that we value Amazon more than the Amazon and that the waterfront neighborhood where you burble in my arms could be condemned by rising seas before you’re old enough for a mortgage.
The scent of your downy crown makes my heart explode. The curl in your Tic Tac toes fills me with enough love to power New York City.

Gack! I’m sorry, I have to take a break. Continue reading

“Pay What You Can” Ethics

A question in an advice column asked if it was unethical to pay nothing for a product or service that was priced at “pay what you can.” It reminded me of an ongoing disagreement I had with the board of my theater company regarding holding a “pay-what you can” performance in each production’s run. Many of the other Greater Washington theaters were employing the tactic, and one of the main arguments  for our theater doing the same was “Everybody does it.” You know what I think of THAT logic.

There was an altruistic, community spirited argument, of course: provide an opportunity for people who couldn’t afford typical theater prices. That sounds good, but in practice the theory was more ideology than reality. When we tried the gimmick, almost all of the attendees were people who regarded it as a chance to pay less than they usually did, as in “almost nothing.” People who don’t go to theater mostly aren’t interested in theater. Our prices were under 30 bucks a ticket, far less than many of our competitors, and children were admitted free, another concession to the needs of theater-loving families with limited budgets. Again, almost nobody took advantage of that benefit.

My objections to “pay-what-you-can”: Continue reading

Insomnia Thoughts On Tip-Baiting, And A Poll

Pop quiz: What does Grover Cleveland have to do with the Wuhan virus?

Unfortunately, this is how my mind works…

Something about last night’s post on the despicable practice of tip-baiting to lure financially desperate Americans to go grocery shopping for the tippers bothered me, and I couldn’t quite figure out what it was. The thought that I was missing something kept churning in what I laughably call my brain (my wife calls it an ourdated hard drive that has never been cleaned of junk, cookies and malware and is going to crash any day now). It kept me awake tonight: I’m at my keyboard out of desperation. Weirdly enough, I kept thinking about the Civil War. Why was that? There had to be an ethics connection somewhere.

Ah HA! Got it. Continue reading

No, There’s Nothing Unethical About Performing Holograms Of Dead Singers…

…as long as they don’t materially misrepresent the performer or the performance. They may be icky, but they aren’t unethical. This is in ethical contrast with the Ethics Alarms position on zombie performers in films, as examined here several times, most recently upon the unveiling of zombie James Dean.

The issue has arisen because a holograph of Whitney Houston, mercifully in a form before her physical and vocal decline due to drug abuse, is touring the country. Here’s a review of one of the performances; Zombie Whitney will make her debut in the US soon. Big plus: she doesn’t have to worry about the Wuhan virus, just holograms of the Wuhan virus. Fans have been less than ecstatic, as much because of the quality of the image as the ickiness of the concept. Here’s part of one review: Continue reading

Res Ipsa Loquitur: Woke Politics And Counter-Factual Progressive Cant Are Driving People Crazy

Here is another question to Slate’s sex advice column, “How to Do It”:

I’m a cis woman in kind of a classic millennial sex pickle: I’m really repelled by heterosexuality politically and personally, but I’m also really into dick. I’ve been thinking maybe I should look for bi dudes/ bicurious gay dudes, but I am not sure how best to do that. Rich, what would you think of a woman being on Grindr or Scruff? I do want to be respectful of gay men’s spaces and not horn in where I’m not welcome, but I really would love to find a vers guy with queer politics who would be up for casually dating a woman. What do you think? If you were me, where would you look?

—-Radical

My answer? Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz: Dying Dog Ethics”

As usually is the case, today’s Open Forum generated several Comment of the Day contenders, and I will get to them in due course. I did not want too much time to lapse, however, before giving this lovely comment by JutGory its due. The topic was gratuitous and perhaps self-serving kindness to a dying dog who couldn’t possibly appreciate it’s details, or really have a “bucket list.”

Here is JutGory’s Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Quiz: Dying Dog Ethics.

And, just because I’ve been thinking about him a lot lately, I’m dedicating Jut’s COTD to Rugby, our universally loved and loving Jack Russell Terrier who left us last summer.

This is complex, but I think your confusion, flumoxxation, etc., is the result of over-anthropomorphization on all fronts.

Is the dog being used? Sure. The dog is being anthropomorphized. That is not necessarily a bad thing.

Kant said that it was bad to abuse animals, not because of the harm that we did them, but because our abuse of them harmed us by (essentially) desensitizing us to abuse.

The flip side would seem to hold true. Being kind to animals is good, not because they are deserving of kindness, but because it makes us more kind. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Dying Dog Ethics

Well this story is calculated to make any dog-lover teary. Having lost my beloved Rugby last yearand not yet been able to consider a successor, I read it while having to constantly adjust my “don’t be an idiot” controls.

Eddie the pitbull, in the care of Mikey’s Chance Canine Rescue in Benton County, Washington, has an inoperable brain tumor. He’s been given six months to live, and the staff  decided to make his final days as much fun for him as possible by creating various “bucket list” experiences.  One recent example was giving Eddie  “his dream” of being a crime dog, and and as soon as local police heard about Eddie, they pitched in.

The officers gave Eddie his own police jacket, then set him down in a pool filled with toys. Then Eddie accompanied the police in the front of a squad car as they toured the town requesting donations for the rescue shelter.

On their Facebook page, the Pasco Police wrote: “We have finished our amazing day with K9 Eddie and we are overwhelmed with the amount of support the community has shown him. Eddie was welcomed everywhere he went and shown nothing but love and affection all day. Finally, we want to wish Eddie all the best with his bucket list and future endeavors.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of Day is…

What’s going on here? Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: Authors Stephen King And Don Winslow

Winslow, King, and their extortion target

Wow. Talk about having defective ethics alarms.

Bestselling novelists Stephen King and Don Winslow (he’s a best-selling detective novelist; I assume you know who King is) have offered to donate $200,000 to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital if  White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham will finally hold a press conference, something the Administration stopped having ten months ago.

I assume you can quickly assess what is wrong with this, even though these successful, wealthy, adult men cannot:

  • They seem to think their wealth entitles and empowers them to manipulate the President of the United States,

   What hubris. What arrogance.

  • The two writers are using sick children as their hostages to try to bend the White House to their will.

Nice. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: GretaThunberg

“World leaders are still trying to run away from their responsibilities but we have to make sure they cannot do that. We will make sure that we put them against the wall and they will have to do their job to protect our futures.”

—Climate change demagogue Greta Thunberg to cheering protesters somewhere or other; it doesn’t matter, and I don’t care.

Maybe the hubris-poisoned Swedish teen doesn’t know that “against the wall” is a violent and threatening allusion, but then she has forfeited the normal leave I would grant a high-schooler by going around the world pretending to know more than one. She doesn’t of course. She has just been programmed to lecture adults as a surrogate for adult activists, as they use her as a human shield against critics, kind of like when Curly of The Three Stooges would don glasses and shout “Can’t a man with glasses!”  Can’t be mean to a teenaged girl!

Greta  might as well be a Muppet, like Kermit or Miss Piggy, except I have a hard time believing that a Muppet would every threaten to line up world leaders against a wall.

World leaders have many responsibilities, among them being the duty not to pay any attention to indoctrinated children with a false sense of their own wisdom. For Time to make this obnoxious kid its “Person of the Year” is the height of pandering and unseriousness, which, com to think of it, pretty much decribes what Henry Luce’s baby has grown into in its twilight years.

Thunberg makes Cindy Sheehan look like Gandhi. As for anyone who cheers Greta’s rants, they are enabling a slow-motion tragedy. She’s a female Marjoe Gortner now, and likely to end up angry, bitter, emotionally disturbed, a drug addict, a hustler, dead before her time, or worse, a reality show star.