Tag Archives: photography ethics

The Obama-Farrakhan Photo

A  photo has emerged showing former President Barack Obama, then a U.S. Senator,  posing with Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the black nationalist Nation of Islam. Obama and the anti-white, anti-Semitic demagogue are beaming at a Congressional Black Caucus meeting in 2005. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls his organization a hate-group, but then they call a lot of organizations hate groups. I’d call the Nation of Islam a racist group that peddles hate.

Journalist Askia Muhammed, who took the photo, is publishing it in a new book called “The Autobiography of Charles 67X.” He says that after the event,  the Congressional Black Caucus contacted him and demanded to have the disk. “I gave the original disk to him and in a sense swore myself to secrecy because I had quietly made a copy for myself,” Muhammad told Fox News, adding that the CBC was concerned that a photo with Farrakhan could hurt the Obama’s Presidential prospects.

The conservative news media is writing about this, while the mainstream news media, with a few exceptions like the New Yorker, is ignoring it. Writes Vinson Cunningham, in that publication,

“[Askia] Muhammad, that anonymous C.B.C. functionary, and Farrakhan, with that faux-harmless smile, all knew it: if that picture spreads in 2007 or 2008, a whole different history ensues.”

If that’s true, then the fact that the photo was buried is news, right? But is that true? Why should it be true? Why would such a photograph mean anything at all? Continue reading


Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Race

Hillary Clinton Ethics And #MeToo Integrity

But first, a diversion:

I gave my sister “What Happened” as a gift, I hadn’t turned it over, so I saw the alleged photo of the author for the first time when she took off the wrapping. (This was a late Christmas gathering.) Hilarity ensued. Here is what we saw:

Now here’s an up-to-date picture of me:

Not to be petty or anything, but flattering photos are one thing, and extreme misrepresentation is another. Hillary’s book jacket photo is a visual lie, showing vanity and a lack of integrity….just like her book.

But I digress…

Yesterday  Clinton responded to a New York Times story revealing how she handled allegations of sexual harassment within her 2008 presidential campaign. After  her campaign spiritual adviser, Burns Strider, was accused by a young female staffer of repeated sexual misconduct, Hillary refused to fire him, instead docking him several weeks of pay telling  him to seek counseling. The young woman was moved to a new job. Clinton didn’t dispute the facts. She said this (WARNING: HEAD EXPLOSION RISK!) via Twitter: Continue reading


Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Workplace

From The “Law vs Ethics” Files: PETA Chooses To Harm An Artist On Behalf Of A Monkey Who Couldn’t Care Less, And Judges Think It’s An Amusing Legal Condundrum

“I’m baaaaack!”

When we last heard from  photographer David Slater, the U.S. Copyright Office had rejected his claim that he owned the  copyright for the famous series of selfies presumably taken unintentionally by a Celebes crested macaque.  In 2011,  Slater spent several days following and photographing a troop of macaques in Sulawesi, Indonesia, and the selfies were a lucky bi-product that quickly became a web sensation. Slater had asserted ownership over the photos, and had demanded that various on-line users, such as Wikipedia, either take them down or pay him as the copyright holder. The ruling of the Copyright Office was based on the theory that Slater had not taken the photo, so he was not the creator, and animals couldn’t own copyrights, so the photos were in the public domain.

Pop Ethics Quiz: Would it have been unethical had Slater simply released the photos without revealing that the selfies had been the lucky result of an  accident, snapped by the monkey while it was messing around with his equipment?

About the Copyright Office’s ruling: I’m dubious. Slater owned the equipment, and had the sense to preserve the photos. A decision that if a photo is taken accidentally by a non-human or an act of God, the photographer who owns the equipment gets the copyright would have been fair.  Zapruder owned the film that inadvertently caught President Kennedy having his forehead shot off, and it made him rich. Slater’s claim just goes a step further: Zapruder left the street  to buy a hotdog, put his camera on on a trash can and asked a friend to “watch it,” and a dog turned the camera on, catching the grisly scene. So Zapruder doesn’t own the film anymore? Does that make sense to you?

Well, that was the ruling anyway. Then things got really ridiculous. Slater included the monkey selfies in a book, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)  brought a law suit against Slater on behalf of the monkey,which PETA claims is named Naruto, and asked that PETA be appointed to administer proceeds from the photos for the benefit of Naruto and other crested macaques in the reserve on Sulawesi. So PETA would suddenly be the de facto copyright holder. Continue reading


Filed under Animals, Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Law & Law Enforcement, Quizzes

Ethics Observations On That “This Is The Future That Liberals Want” Meme


Boubah Barry, a Guinean immigrant and real estate student, saw a striking pair  riding on his subway into Manhattan on February 19. He snapped a photo, and posted it to his Instagram page. The post was shared by the Instagram account “subwaycreatures,” and eventually  /pol/ News Network attached it to a tweet this week with the message “This is the future that liberals want” as a warning about the  danger posed by progressive policies. Naturally, progressives saw nothing alarming about the scene, flooded the site with defiant endorsements of diversity, and shot the meme around the Internet with the same message: This is the future that liberals want, and so there! Then the satirists, adsurdists, and apolitical got into the act—thank god—and we had this kind of thing…



and this…


…this… Continue reading


Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Popular Culture, Religion and Philosophy, Social Media, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “A Daughter Sues Her Parents For Being Assholes. Good.”


Having just returned from an eight-day (and partially laptop-less) speaking tour  that has me about ten posts behind, it was nice to have Steve-O-in-NJ deliver a textbook Comment of the Day, expanding on the original post with relevant and useful observations about photography -obsessed parents and photography ethics.

I do object from an ethical standpoint to his tit-for-tat endorsing last line.

Here is his good and thoughtful work in response to the post, “A Daughter Sues Her Parents For Being Assholes. Good.”

What are the ethics of taking 500 pictures of your child? I wish that I could say that the ethics of taking large numbers of pictures are always the same but they are not. I am in the middle of a two-week vacation and I have been taking a large number of pictures. I see absolutely nothing wrong with shooting a large number of pictures during an air show, particularly where the opportunity to get a particular shot is very limited. I see absolutely nothing wrong with taking a large number of pictures at a place like Colonial Williamsburg, where the actors are deliberately dressed up in costumes designed to attract attention. The same ethics generally applies to any event where there are costumed individuals who are seeking attention. The same ethics probably apply to sporting events. Of course the shooting of inanimate objects like in a museum is perfectly all right, subject to whatever policies the institution puts in place and makes known. Continue reading


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Etiquette and manners, Family, Social Media

I Found It! Presenting The Lost Rationalization, #57: The Golden Rule Mutation, or “I’m all right with it!”

sleeping woman

Every time I come across a rationalization for the Ethics Alarms list, I metaphorically, and sometimes literally, slap myself on the forehead. How could I have missed it? Thus I have been long convinced that there was a huge, obvious, missing rationalization that somehow got lost in the search for others. Jimmy Durante did a piano routine called “I’m the Guy Who Found the Lost Chord!” (“The Lost Chord” is a previously famous composition by Sir Arthur Sullivan) in which he celebrated finding the chord, then lost it again mid-song. (Jimmy later found it again when he sat on the keyboard in disgust, and the magic chord issued forth. “Strange” he said, “I usually play by ear!”) This is how frustrated I was until today, when  veteran commenter Tim LeVier led me to the Lost Rationalization, #57, “The Golden Rule Mutation,” or “I’m all right with it!” It’s a major one:

57. The Golden Rule Mutation, or “I’m all right with it!” Continue reading


Filed under U.S. Society

Speaking Of Photography Ethics, How About “Don’t Kill Anything”?

selfie dolphin

I’ll admit it: I have about as little interest in photography and photographs as it is possible to have for a human living in this century. I regard the mania for taking photos of oneself constantly and posting them on-line as strong evidence that crippling narcissism can be transmitted electronically, and as we have been discussing in comment to this recent post, if you try to use me as a prop in your cellphone camera-warped quest to make every your waking hour the object of public gawking, you had better ask permission first, or else. I realize this attitude is fighting the “everybody does it” tide, but I’m right, everybody is wrong, and that’s all there is to it.

This story out of Argentina, in addition to being disgusting, shows just how unbalanced the selfie-craze is making human priorities. I know—Argentina. This couldn’t happen here, right?  Not in a country where Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are surging in the polls….we’re too smart.

Two La Plata dolphins, members of a rare and endangered species, got to close to shore in their playfulness near an Argentinian resort last week. Some bathers plucked the small cetaceans out of the waves, and they were passed around a smiling, brain-dead mob containing selfie-mad amateur photographers.  One of the dolphins died of stress and exposure, and was just dumped on the beach. But never mind: it will live on in online shares and Instagram. What’s the problem, dude?

“At least one of these dolphins suffered a horrific, traumatic and utterly unnecessary death, for the sake of a few photographs,” a spokesperson from the World Animal Protection group said.  “This terribly unfortunate event is an example of the casual cruelty people can inflict when they use animals for entertainment purposes.”

Activists groups just cannot help themselves, can they?  They must squeeze every episode into their own agenda. This is one of many reasons why they aren’t trusted. This episode was about reckless, selfish, ignorant people who don’t have respect for living things, not Sea World.

Well, the crowd got their selfies, so it’s all worth it to them. Meanwhile. as for their once living, breathing, prop…

dead dolphin

Fortunately, the carcass was still good for one more photo.



Filed under Animals, Around the World, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces