Ethics Dunce: Evan S. Cohen

The New York Times has a provocative examination of the ways cyber-bullying and abusive social networking sites and posts are challenging schools and courts. It also exposes a particularly cruel Ethics Dunce, Evan S. Cohen.

In 2008, Cohen’s daughter videotaped her friends as they mocked and made vicious comments, some of them sexual about another eighth-grade girl. Then Cohen’s daughter posted the video on YouTube, traumatizing its victim.  The school was alerted by the devastated girl’s parents, and then suspended Cohen’s daughter for two days.

Daddy, however, is an attorney, and he knows overstepping authority when he sees it. He sued the school district, arguing that the school couldn’t reach into his daughter’s off-campus activities and punish her for them. Of course, he was right, and won the lawsuit. He also won $107,150.80 in costs and lawyer fees. Continue reading

Accountability, the Phoebe Prince Suicide, and the Golden Rule’s Limitations

Sometimes the application of the Golden Rule actually leads us away from an ethical result.

The suicide of a 15-year-old South Hadley, Mass girls who had been the victim of bullying and web attacks by fellow students continues to be framed as the failure of school administrators to protect the girl. What the school knew and when they knew it is the object of current investigation and controversy, but there is an inherent public and media bias in such cases that is rooted in laudable ethical motivations, indeed, it is rooted in the Golden Rule. But that bias often results in unfairness and injustice. Continue reading

Isolating Corey Haim: Child Star Deceit and Disinformation in the Media

It is clear that the news media, and especially the entertainment and pop culture media, don’t want to lose their cuddly child performers. Thus when a former kid star like Corey Haim perishes at a young age, the victim of a dysfunctional childhood turned fatal by addictions to fame and drugs, the sad story is usually told as a cautionary tale about how one young actor’s early promise and talent turned to dust and destruction because of his own weaknesses and missteps. A responsible media would use such events to examine the larger, serious, and mostly ignored problem of child abuse and exploitation in the entertainment business, and its terrible toll of casualties.The media is not responsible on this topic, however, and in the case of Haim, seemed to go out of its way to falsely represent his fate as the exception, rather than the rule. Continue reading