The Seventh Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Best of Ethics 2015, Part II

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The Awards continue (Part I is here)….

Most Important Ethical Act of the Year:

The US Supreme Court’s Decision in  Obergefell v. Hodges in which the Supreme Court considered whether states had to recognize a right to same-sex marriages, and narrowly decided that they must. The prejudice against homosexuality is ancient, deep, and complex, mixed up in confounding ways with morality and religion, and deeply divisive. Nonetheless, I felt that the opinion should have been unanimous; it’s a shame that it was not, but in the end, this will not matter. The result was preordained from the moment gays began coming out of the shadows and asserting their humanity and human rights. Since the Stonewall riot, the nation and the culture has learned a great deal about the number of talented and productive gay men and women in our society and our history, the pain, ostracizing, discrimination and mistreatment they have suffered, and the falseness of the myths and fears that lead to this suffering.  In the end, as Clarence Darrow said about blacks, it is human beings, not law, that will make gays equal. No topic immediately causes such emotional and intense debate, on this blog or in society, as this one, but the Supreme Court’s decision is a major step toward changing the ethical culture, by asserting  that gay men and women have the same rights,  in the eyes of the state, to marry those they love and want to build a life with, and by implication, that the beliefs of any religion regarding them or their marriages cannot eliminate that right.

Outstanding Ethical Leadership

Senator Rand Paul.   I am neither a Rand Paul supporter, nor an admirer, nor a fan.  However, his June filibuster-like Senate speech against National Security Agency counter-terrorism surveillance was a brave, principled,  important act, and a great public service. The point Paul made needs to be made again, and again, and again:  there is no reason to trust the NSA, and no reason to trust the current federal government either. The fact that on security matters we have no real choice is frightening and disheartening, but nevertheless, no American should be comfortable with his or her private communications, activities and other personal matters being tracked by the NSA, which has proven itself incompetent, dishonest, an untrustworthy.

 

Parent of the Year

Tonya Graham

Toya Graham, the Baltimore mother caught on video as she berated and beat on her son in the street for participating in the Freddie Gray rioting and looting. Continue reading

Beating The Naked Teacher Principle: The Provocatively Clad Bodybuilding Teacher Principle.

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It is important to remember that the The Naked Teacher Principle   doesn’t state that pre-college teachers who allow themselves to be seen on the internet in states of undress likely to arouse the lust of their students should and must be fired—though most of them should be—but that they have no legitimate complaint if they are. Teachers who must command respect, serve as role models, and of course, teach, should not permit themselves to become pin-ups and peep-show stars for their students. At very least, they owe their employers and their students’ parents advance notice.

Mindy Jensen, a Utah middle school teacher,  has a second (or perhaps first) career as a bikini model and fitness competitor. She came under the  cloud of The Naked Teacher Principle the usual way: a student was surfing the web and cried out: “Holy crap! That’s my teacher, and she’s HOT!”  The news (and images) spread around the community and student body quickly. Parents called the Instagram photos “pornographic” and demanded that Jensen be dismissed. The school gave her an ultimatum: take down the photos, make her account private, or get sacked.

Jensen made the Instagram account private, then changed her mind. . Explaining her decision, Jensen told ABC Utah,  “Why am I taking this picture off, I get comments and messages that it’s inspirational to them and these women like my story. If I put it to private, it’s not going to reach these people that might need and understand me.”

The school has since backed down,  opting instead to hold training sessions for  parents on teaching kid to be careful on the Web—you know, like avoiding hot photos of their teachers. (Good luck with THAT.)

I think several features of this episode on The Naked Teacher Principle spectrum led to this result. In 2014, in this post about whether the NTP applies to non-teaching bodybuilding mothers, I raised the issue of bodybuilding teachers on the web, and posited this photo as an example for discussion: Continue reading