More Zombie Ethics: George Lucas, Re-Animator

It seems that cinema innovator and mega-mogul George Lucas is using a large chunk of his “Star Wars” merchandising lucre to purchase the rights to screen images of dead movie stars. His plan is to give his tech-magicians at LucasArt the opportunity to perfect the process of re-animating and manipulating them to appear in new roles in new films. Imagine Humphrey Bogart in “Pirates of the Caribbean 5”! Imagine Marilyn Monroe joining the girls in “Sex and the City 2”!  Imagine Cary Grant in a buddy picture with Adam Sandler! Or Jar Jar Binks.

Undoubtedly there are many movie fans who would enjoy having digitally resurrected Hollywood legends appearing side-by-side current idols, and there is probably a lot of money to be made by giving them what they want. Turning deceased stars into computer-generated images and making them do and say anything the programmers choose, with the pace, volume and inflection the directors desire, would represent a significant technological advance. Another obvious benefit is that Lucas’s method is preferable to just digging up the carcasses of the acting greats, hanging them on wires, and using machinery to parade them through movie sets like marionettes.

But not much. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson

From the “What was he thinking?” files:

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson says that he is considering whether to pardon Henry McCarty, a.k.a. William Bonney, a.k.a. Billy the Kid (1859-1871), because in 1879 one of Richardson’s predecessors, Gen. Lew Wallace (who, among other things, presided over the trial of the Lincoln conspirators, headed the military tribunal that condemned the Confederate commandant of the infamous Andersonville prison camp, and wrote Ben-Hur,)  reneged on a deal to grant Billy amnesty in exchange for some helpful grand jury testimony in the prosecution of vigilantes.

Of course, when Billy didn’t receive his pay-off quickly enough, he escaped from jail and killed two deputies in the process. He was that kind of guy. Continue reading

The 2009 Ethics Alarms Awards, Part 2: The Best

The Best in Ethics of 2009. May the 2010 list be longer!

Most Important Ethical Act of the Year: President Barack Obama’s executive order banning torture. The Declaration of Independence already did it once, but the President was right: we needed some reminding.

Ethical Leadership: Howard County, MD, which launched a “Choose Civility” campaign based on the book Choosing Civility: The 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct, by Johns Hopkins University Professor Dr. P.M. Forni. The effort attracted national attention, and has sparked similar movements around the country. Continue reading