Yes, it was Joe Paterno's year, all right.
Welcome to the Third Annual Ethics Alarms Awards, recognizing the Best and Worst of ethics in 2011!
This is the first installment of the Worst; Part 2 is here. And the Best is here.
2011 prompted more than 1000 posts, and even then I barely scratched the surface of all the ethical dilemmas and unethical conduct swirling around us. If you have other choices for the various distinctions here and in the subsequent Awards posts, please make them known.
Here are my selections:
Unethical Community of the Year: Huachuca City, Arizona. Leading the way among American communities that believe, in their hysteria, that former sex offenders who have served their sentences are nonetheless fair game for persecution and the denial of basic rights as citizens and human beings, Huachuca County passed an ordinance that bans registered sex offenders from the use of all public facilities, including parks, school and libraries. Runner-up: Obion County, Tennessee. Last year, Ethics Alarms gave the county runner-up status as “Unethical Community of the Year” for sending its volunteer fire department to watch a man’s house burn down because he had failed to pay a $75.00 fee. In 2011, it did it again. I swear: if Obion County hasn’t come up with a better system and this happens again in 2012, Obion County will get the title no matter what some other unethical community does.
Most Warped Ethical Values: The Penn State students who protested the firing of football coach Joe Paterno, because, you know, he was such a great football coach that a little thing like allowing a predatory child molester to run amuck on campus shouldn’t be blown all out of proportion. Runner-up: Ron Paul supporters.
Unethical Website of the Year: Lovely-Faces, the anti-Facebook stunt pulled by Paolo Cirio, a media artist, and Alessandro Ludovico, media critic and editor-in- chief of Neural magazine, to show how inadequate Facebook’s privacy controls were. To do it, they stole 250,000 Facebook member profiles and organized them into a new dating site—without the members’ permission. The site embodied “the worst of ethical thinking: taking the identities of others for their own purposes (a Golden Rule breach), using other human beings to advance their own agenda (a Kantian no-no) and asserting that their ends justify abusing 250,000 Facebook users, which is irresponsible utilitarianism.” Continue reading