Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/14/2017: Climate Change Porn, Stupid Conservative Tricks, A Lifetime Ethics Dunce, And A Jumbo

Good Morning!

Still waiting for Christmas Spirit to kick in, because I need it…

1 Plus it gives too much power to John McCain...No major tax bill, indeed no major bill at all, should be passed without at least some bi-partisan participation and support. This isn’t democracy, but some kind of freakish distortion of it, created by incremental irresponsible acts over time by too many politicians to name. I have my own favorite culprits, Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid prominent among them, but assigning blame can be left to objective historians, if there are any. Right now, what the U.S. desperately needs is a leader with sufficient courage and credibility to force both parties not merely to a table but to a serious and dedicated colloquy, with the objective of signing the equivalent of a peace treaty.

I cannot imagine who such a unifying figure might be, or if one can even exist in a culture where the likes of Jimmy Kimmel is accorded moral authority by a disturbing large segment of the population.

2. Bart Simpson would be proud…no, confused, actually. The latest effort to poison every last public refuge from toxic politics comes from the Right, which is encouraging the jerks among them to troll Starbucks in a variation of the old House of Pancakes gag we used to pull in college when we were drunk. (It also was a running bit on “The Simpsons.”) Starbucks writes the customer’s name on the holiday cups of their ridiculously priced concoctions, so the idea is to force the baristas at the openly progressive coffee shops to place the phony name TRUMP MAGA in view and actually announce it OUT LOUD.

At least the IHop prank names were funny, if you had the sense of humor of a 12-year old. ” I have a reservation for a Hugh Jass!” Bart used that one on poor Moe, too.

Supposedly this is payback from conservatives for Starbucks eliminating religious Christmas imagery from their cups, and this year adding what have been called “lesbian hands,”

….further defiling the holiday. I’m not kidding. People are actually complaining about the hands.

I think I’m going back to bed. Continue reading

Wildlife Documentary Deception

Great. CNN and NBC weren’t enough: now we can’t trust the National Geographic channel and Animal Planet.

Chris Palmer, a veteran wildlife photographer, recently went on NPR to talk about his new book. In Shooting in the Wild: An Insider’s Account of Making Movies in the Animal Kingdom, Palmer reveals the secrets of his trade, which apparently include renting trained animals when the ones in the wild won’t cooperate and putting M&M’s in the carcasses of prey, so the predators eat with gusto. He also expound on the use of a sound-effects technician to simulate sounds of animals breathing, chewing, drinking and flying. “You can’t get close enough to a bear to record his breath or his splashing in the water. If you got that close, you’d be in great danger,” he told NPR.

Although Palmer attributes the increase in the use of staged and fake footage in nature films to tighter budgets and shooting schedules, surely we had an inkling that this went on from the very beginning. The inventor of the form, Walt Disney, used animals as documentary actors in movies like “The Incredible Journey,” and I always assumed that Disney’s “true life adventure” nature films like “Jungle Cat” and “The Living Desert” included staged scenes, including battles between animals that were far from spontaneous.

Disney, however, is in the entertainment business. When wildlife documentaries announce themselves as real, they should be real, and if the producers staged sequences, rented animals, or used M&M’s, they have an ethical obligation to tell the audience. This goes for sounds as well. After all, there are people who think big snakes make the roaring sound the CGI villain makes in “Anaconda”; the fake sounds in nature films mislead many more. Real life footage is supposed to teach us something, not stuff our heads full of more misinformation.

That’s the job of CNN and NBC.

There is a lot of amazing wildlife footage that is not staged; the question now, in light of Palmer’s book, is how we are supposed to identify the fakes. The sound effects are a good clue. I will say this: if I find out that the story of Christian the lion was faked, I’m going to be angry.

But there is always “the battle at Kruger.”

[Thanks to Lauren Larson for the tip.]

The Ethics Of Ending Public Broadcasting

The seeming inability of elected officials and politicians to deal with basic decisions involving responsibility, prudence, accountability and honesty is coming into sharp focus as yet another debate over taxpayer-funded public broadcasting on PBS and NPR gets underway.

Colorado Congressman Doug Lamborn has introduced legislation that would cut all federal funding, an estimated annual $420 million, for public radio and television as part of the necessary effort to close the nation’s more than $13 trillion debt. As one of thousands of measures that will have to be taken to stave of fiscal catastrophe in the future, the move is truly a no-brainer, an example of the standard budget-balancing strategy of eliminating the most non-essential expenses, no matter how nice it may have been to have them when resources were more plentiful. In a rational, ethical environment where politicians didn’t regard their interest group contributors as more important than the welfare of the nation as a whole, Lamborn’s proposal wouldn’t be considered controversial. The rational response from all would be, “Well, of course! That’s $420 million that can be better used.”

But no. Continue reading