Saturday Ethics Notables. 5/18/2019: More Social Media Partisan Censorship, A-Rod’s Potty And Ian’s Potty Mouth…

Why, I asked, on such a beautiful May day, am I inside writing about ethics? And my wife turned into Hymen Roth…

1. PLEASE stop making me defend Alex Rodriguez, who is one of my least favorite human beings, never mind former athletes, on the planet, and yet…this is a strict Golden Rule issue. The ex-Yankees (also Texas and Seattle) slugger  was photographed sitting on his toilet in his luxury apartment’s bathroom. The shot was apparently taken by a rogue photographer in a high rise office building next to the apartment building where A-Rod shares a  $17.5 million apartment with Jennifer Lopez, whose movies are now beneath those of Adam Sandler and Tom Arnold on my playlist.

Legal precedent in New York suggests than  Rodriquez has no case, because in 2015, an appeals court ruled that a gallery show of images snapped through less famous New Yorkers’ windows by an “artist” was not a privacy violation. (I wrote about that photographer here; perhaps the title gives you a sense of where I came out on my analysis: “Why Photographer Arne Svensen Is An Unethical Creep”]

Fine, I see the legal point. If you don’t want people taking photos of you, then keep your window blinds down. However,just because you can do something crappy to another human being doesn’t make it right.

Even if it’s a crappy human being. Continue reading

Ethics Heroes: The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Michael Robertson: pervert, creep, outrageous abuser of women who deserves to be shunned, despised and condemned by all decent people. But a criminal? Not yet...

Michael Robertson: pervert, creep, outrageous abuser of women who deserves to be shunned, despised and condemned by all decent people. But a criminal? Not yet…

The degree to which our media pundits fail to grasp the essential nature of the rule of law remains confounding, and this is another in a long line of examples. Worse, the lower court in this weird case failed to grasp it as well.

You see, there is conduct that is obviously wrong, which we call unethical. Some of that conduct is so wrong, so harmful, and so difficult to discourage with social opprobrium and informal enforcement alone that we pass laws against it, both to signal strong disapproval but also to add serious negative reinforcement, in the form of tangible punishment, to the mix. Then the wrongful conduct becomes both unethical and illegal. If we skip the essential intermediate step of writing and duly passing the law that designate the conduct as illegal, however, we have established a dangerous, indeed frightening precedent. Then we have created a society where one can be imprisoned or fined for conduct that is regarded as unethical without a law in place that empowers the state to take such actions against citizens who engage in it. Ethics, unlike law, especially on the margins, is never etched in stone. Once society starts imprisoning individuals based on ethics alone, none of us are safe.

Yet this morning I was subjected to the protests of one TV commentator after another who derided the absolutely correct decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to uphold this principle by throwing out the conviction of Michael Robertson, a sick sleaze-ball who was arrested in August 2010 by Boston transit police who had set up a sting after getting reports that he was using his cellphone to take photos and video up female riders’ skirts and dresses: Continue reading

“Ethics Dunces Assemble!” Supporting Vigilante Justice In The U.S.

“You know…morons.”The Waco Kid, “Blazing Saddles.”

This really does explain a lot…

The Waco Kid’s (Gene Wilder) sage description of “the common clay” to Sheriff Bart (Cleavon Little) when the latter was devastated by his treatment at the hands of the good (but  racist) citizens of Rock Ridge often comes to mind in times like this, when I see a large portion of the public, pundits and the media taking a position that is not merely ethically indefensible, but suggestive of brain death.

Such a position is the rush to rally around Emilio Chavez III, an understandably enraged father who caught a naked peeping Tom masturbating outside his  teenaged daughters’ bedroom window. From media reports:

“Police said Emilio Chavez III, his brother and a family friend beat the alleged peeper, Dylan Maho, 29, so badly that he was hospitalized, a local television station reported. The district attorney wants to charge Mr. Chavez with aggravated battery, a third-degree felony that could land him in jail for three years…Mr. Maho is in stable condition at the hospital and will be charged with voyeurism, a fourth-degree felony that only brings between one and two years of jail time.”

The headlines in the majority of national news sources—all what the mainstream media would call “the conservative media”— that have covered this story, for this is the feature of the incident that they deem makes it “national news,” is the “Believe It or Not!” angle that so backward are the priorities of the U.S. justice system that the father will face harsher punishment for his conduct than the sick pervert will for his! Here’s passage and quote included in most of the reports:

“Community members voiced their outrage and sympathy for their neighbor’s plight. ‘There’s a naked man outside his daughter’s window,” Mr. Chavez’s neighbor Bill Morgang told the station. “I think he was well within his rights chasing him down and beating him.”’

The overwhelming majority of the online comments to these news reports agree with Morgang.

From the Washington Times: Continue reading

Why Photographer Arne Svensen Is An Unethical Creep

Photographer/artist/ Peeping Tom Arne Swenson as played by Jimmy Stewart in "Rear Window."

Photographer/artist/ Peeping Tom Arne Swenson as played by Jimmy Stewart in “Rear Window.”

“For my subjects there is no question of privacy; they are performing behind a transparent scrim on a stage of their own creation with the curtain raised high. The Neighbors don’t know they are being photographed; I carefully shoot from the shadows of my home into theirs.”

Believe it or not, this is how photographer Arne Svensen justifies his wildly unethical photographic peeping Tom excursions into his neighbor’s bedrooms for his own profit. This artist has provoked a controversy by 1) stalking the people who live in the New York apartment building across from his, 2) keeping a camera lens on them when they dare not to keep their windows shuttered as if they were vampires, 3) shooting photographs of whatever he sees that tickles his artistic sensibilities, fetishes or perversions, 4) choosing photos that do not show the faces of his subject victim, and 5) exhibiting and selling the results as artwork.

Amazingly, his neighbors object!

Let me cut to the chase here and be direct, because any minute now we are likely to find out that President Obama’s EPA has been secretly causing coal mine cave-ins and assassinating oil execs to forestall global warming, and that the President is outraged and just heard about it when we did, and will take strong action by telling the officials involved that they have to sit in the back during the next White House concert, and I’ll be distracted. Continue reading