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

Political Correctness, Race-baiting Social Justice Warrior Bullies And A Gutless Star Collaborate To Kill A Hit Musical

…and the show’s creator is fine with this. After all, it’s for a good cause, the good cause apparently being the elevation of race grievance politics above art, commerce, fairness and common sense.

Bear with me now, as you strain to comprehend this apotheosis of progressive cant gone stark, raving mad:

Josh Groban (a talented performer who is white)…

 

leads “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812,” to 12 Tony nominations. He is replaced by the talented “Hamilton” alum Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan (who is black),

but the show’s box office drops like a stone once Groban leaves the  cast. Thus Oak is scheduled to leave the cast in August. Mandy Patinkin (who is a Tony award winner, a musical theater icon, a bigger star than either Groban or Onaodowan, and who is, incidentally, white)

…was hired to replace him. Ticket sales rebound at the news. But crazed, social justice warrior race-baiting bullies on social media attack Mandy for “taking away the job of a black actor.” Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “CVS Line Ethics”

golden-2

Texaggo4’s Comment of the Day  enriched the surprisingly lively discussion about  the ethical conundrum of how many single-item purchasers a CVS customer in line should let go before him to checkout if he had, as I did last week, a full cart.

 His discussion of applying The Golden Rule to the situation took off from my comment referring to his earlier assertion that it wasn’t strictly a question settled by Reciprocity. The numbered statements on Tex’s post are from me. Here is Tex’s COTD on the post, “CVS Line Ethics”—I added another brief comment he offered in the same thread at the end, as it is germane:

1.“I don’t recall Jesus, Zoroaster, Buddha and the rest ever noting the CVS exception.”

I don’t recall ever noting an exception either…since this isn’t necessarily Golden Rule territory. In this scenario, application of the Golden Rule would arise as the exception.

“2. The GR has nothing to do with an obligation. It is never an obligation. It is based on altruism.”

It is very much about obligation– and obligation isn’t a dirty word. The real question here is where do you draw the line on whose needs outweigh the others, and if they really do or not. Golden Rule would compel you to allow someone to cut if their cutting *actually* decreases *actual* harm. The Golden Rule doesn’t compel you to allow someone to cut *just because* it increases an already-present level of contentment in their lives. It may strongly suggest such conduct in so much as it doesn’t needlessly impose on you, but it no means compels it, hence this isn’t necessarily a Golden Rule scenario.

You see, “so whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” is a painfully open ended, and as such-much criticized maxim, when taken out of context. So, the Golden Rule IS the Law. Looking at the phrase elsewhere one would glean that ALL the Law, and therefore the Golden Rule, depends on two basic commands:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself”

Continue reading

Clever! But Wrong: “Hoodies For Hobos”

Homeless advertisng

“Team ADD -A-BALL is proud to announce our new outreach program ‘Hoodies for Hobo’s’. All profits from sweatshirt and t-shirt sales go towards outfitting Seattle’s street people with some fresh gear. I will post a pic of every new bum we spruce up. Thanks everyone.”

—-Add-a-Ball owner Brad Johnsen, on his company’s Facebook page.

Yes, Brad, who casually refers to his walking billboards as “bums,” has what he sees as a perfect plan. Profits profits from all  T-shirt and apparel sales at Johnsen’s Seattle arcade will be used to outfit the city’s homeless “with some fresh gear,” all sporting the arcade’s name and logo. Everybody wins! He gets publicity and good will for this—wink, wink—“charity,” the homeless get spiffy new clothes, and he gets really cheap advertising.

So what if he robs the objects of his charity of their dignity, exploits them, and dehumanizes them into the equivalents of car bumpers? Hey, no plan is perfect! To his credit, sort of, Johnsen’s comments don’t exactly leave much room for doubts about his compassion and motives. “If it also encourages people to go play pinball and get drunk—all the better,” he says.

If he was interested in anything other than the cheap publicity…like, say, the welfare of the homeless, Johnsen would hand out clothes without the logo. I’m sure he wouldn’t understand why I say that. Or why paying the “bums’ who choose to wear the ones that advertise his business would be the ethical course, since it would compensate the homeless for their service and give them a sense of self-worth, rather than making them, in effect, unpaid sandwich-board wearers for the privilege of wearing a lousy hoodie.

I wonder how many people see nothing unethical Johnsen’s scheme. I’m a little afraid to find out.

[Addendum (4 PM 4/10/14): I should have mentioned in the original post that Kant would have agreed with me. This is a Categorical Imperative situation, using human beings as a means rather than an end: “Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end.”  The fact that the cynical ploy can be represented as a one that aims at clothing the homeless makes the label a little shaky, and I admit that the “Ick Factor” looms large here.]

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Pointer:  Drudge

Facts: Vocative

 

 

 

Comment of the Day: “Of COURSE There’s An Unwed and Pregnant Catholic School Teacher Principle….Don’t Be Silly.”

No irish

I encourage the long form comment here, and Ethics Alarms has many commenters who are masters of the form. I feel badly about the many longer, well thought out essays-as-comments that I do not highlight as Comments of the Day, because they represent—well, most of the time—the kind of serious thought and original expression that most blogs, even many of the best, seldom see. Length is not virtue, of course, but ethics, as this post by texagg04, reminds us, is a vital topic that often does not yield answers that are easy, simple, or permanent. The post is in response to a statement from Fred, another trenchant commenter, on the thread’s discussion of whether a school is ethically obligated to allow single and pregnant teachers, if in its view this undermines its efforts to teach certain values and life choices to the young. Fred wrote:

““Doesn’t have to take the job” is not an ethical or legal excuse if there’s a discriminatory requirement not related to doing the job. Being pregnant while teaching does have some relation to the job. Mopping while Methodist doesn’t….There’s an ethics question in whether the school lived up to their religious principles and a legal issue of arguable sex discrimination.”

Here is texagg04’s reply and the Comment of the Day, to the post, Of COURSE There’s An Unwed and Pregnant Catholic School Teacher Principle….Don’t Be Silly.:

 

Let’s start from the market aspect and contractual aspect, and disregard existing law initially…

An employer creates jobs when he senses the market demands a value the potential job can provide. I think the answer lies between two poles: Continue reading

Unethical Website of the Month: “Smosh” OR “Let’s Give A Big Hand To The Hilarious Comedy of Will Weldon!”

Blurry face boy

In a twist, this Unethical Website found me. Smosh’s despicable montage titled by the ethically clueless creep who concocted it, Will Weldon, “19 Funniest Examples of Kid Shaming” includes, among its hilarious examples, the photo above from an Ethics Alarms essay I posted about a year ago, with a link back here. Weldon appears to have stolen his post idea from an earlier version of it on the website Heavy, this by an equally warped wag named Elizabeth Furey. Heavy would have been an “Unethical Website of the Month” if I had known about its post last May, and everything I write about  Smosh applies to Heavey, just as everything I write about Will applies to Elizabeth.

In the linked Ethics Alarms post, I specifically condemned the practice of  parents forcing children to hold up a sign “confessing” some transgression, taking a photo of him or her*, and posting it on the web.  I wrote:

“I think any aspect of a punishment that outlives the effects of the offense and a continues to do harm long after the original wrongdoer has reformed is unfair, abusive and cruel. If, as seems to be the case, the boy’s parents added to his punishment of having to return his Play Station 3 by first photographing the kid holding a sign describing his transgression, and then memorializing his humiliation by posting it on the internet, they took the lesson into unethical territory. Punishing their child for his spoiled and ungracious behavior by taking away a cherished gift is a legitimate exercise of parental authority, if a bit excessive for my tastes, especially at Christmastime. Turning him into the web poster child for ungrateful and spoiled children everywhere is, I believe, an abuse of that authority.”

I was feeling uncharacteristically equivocal that day, it seems, infused as I was still by the holiday spirit. Let me be more assertive now.  Dog-shaming using this device is a “thing’ on the web now, and such photos can be funny. Needess to say…or rather, it should be needless to say, but apparently I need to say it for people like Will and Elizabeth…children are not dogs. Continue reading

Funny! But Unethical: The “Fuck You!” Spite Statue

 FU statue

Lea Tuohy is suing her ex-husband, a wealthy Detroit strip club entrepreneur named Alan Markovitz, to force him to remove his idea of “karma.” This would be his 12-foot bronze statue of a hand with its middle finger extended, which he bought specifically so it could be positioned on his backyard balcony  to face the neighboring mansion where Tuohy lives with the man who (according to Markovitz) broke up their marriage.

Markovitz seems to have deftly avoided the specifics of Michigan’s public nuisance law, which  law professor Jonathan Turley discusses here. The artwork is carefully positioned so that nobody else in the neighborhood has to see it, just his hated next door neighbors, when they look out their window. It is quiet art, not obtrusive noise, or even a giant sign that says “Fuck you, Lea, and the guy you moved in with!” But in all honesty, there really is no question that this is the message he intends to convey, and is conveying, in a clever, under-stated, expensive and fanatical way. This, in itself, makes the message–which could also be translated as “I really, really hate you people!”—even more intense. Imagine buying a lakefront mansion and a $7000 bronze middle-digit just to make someone else miserable. Now that’s a grudge.* Continue reading

Will Somebody Please Explain To The President That Children Are Not Props, Puppets or Set Dressing?

Finger puppets

“White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced this afternoon that President Obama will unveil a “concrete package” of gun control proposals including assault weapons bans, high capacity ammunition magazine bans, and closing loopholes on background checks. Carney said that the president will be joined by Vice President Joe Biden as well as children who wrote to the president after the Newtown shootings.“They will be joined by children around the country expressing their concerns about gun violence and school safety, along with their parents,” Carney confirmed”—News reports.

What, no babies? How about golden retriever puppies?

Jerry’s Kids in wheelchairs?

How about the bodies of recent shooting victims?

As Kant would remind us, children are not props, should not be used as props, and should not be forced to serve as meat puppets and sentimental set dressing for political announcements. This is dehumanizing and disrespectful of their autonomy.

It is even more disrespectful than treating the American public like idiots.

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Graphic: Aliexpress

Really? The Baby Mop?

No.

One of the Kantian categorical imperatives is that no human being should ever use another for his or her own selfish objectives. Another ethical principle that is close to absolute is that one should never  exploit children. A third is not to treat human beings as objects, or to denigrate, diminish or humiliate them without their informed consent. A fourth principle is that forced child labor is inherently unethical, and a fifth is that making individuals do work that benefits you without compensation is theft.

HEY! I’ve got a brilliant idea! Let’s help parents turn their babies into living, breathing, drooling mops! Continue reading