HGTV And Corporate Cowardice: Hold Companies Accountable For Stifling Speech, Opinion, And Thought

"Remodeling Homes, and Wrecking Democracy"

“HGTV: Remodeling Homes, and Wrecking Democracy”

Once again,  a company that is in effect punishing an American for his or her views on a complex social or political issue is being excused as simply “watching out for the bottom line.” This time, it is cable network HGTV, which cancelled a planned cable show about home repair because one of the prospective stars expressed an opinion adverse to gay activists. Last week, it was the NBA; before that, the agent of activist vengeance was Mozilla, and before that, A&E, until it decided that it was more profitable to do one “right thing” (not punish the duck call eccentrics for being open about who the network and its viewers always knew they were) rather than what it had decided earlier was the “right thing” (“STONE THE BIGOTS!!!”). None of these profit-making organizations are the least bit interested in what is right or wrong, of course, and probably don’t give the ethical implications of their acts a moment’s thought. All they are worried about is money, and what they will grandstand as their “principled decision” will always, amazingly, coincide with whose bullying tactics are more likely to succeed. Continue reading

Exemplary Ethical Conduct I’m Embarrassed I Didn’t Know About Dept.: Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin

Salk and Sabin

Salk and Sabin, true professionals. Did you know?

You learn the damnedest things in the damnedest places, which is a good reason to keep your ears open wherever you may be.

Last night I found myself listening to Michael Savage, easily the most offensive of all conservative talk show hosts, and he gives Rush and Mark Levine a run for their money in the ego category, too. I only listen to Savage by accident, and then only in bites of five minutes or less; it frightens me that millions of people might be influenced by such consistently hateful commentary.

But Savage (whose real name is Michael Alan Weiner) is no dummy, and not infrequently goes off on learned tangents about philosophy, history or religion in between declaring that the nation is under Nazi rule. Yesterday, just as I was reaching for the dial, he disclosed that one of his heroes growing up was Jonas Salk, not because he invented the first effective polio vaccine, but because he refused to patent it, and gave it to the world for the benefit of humanity. A bit later, Savage noted that Albert Sabin, Salk’s bitter rival who later invented the oral vaccine, also declined to profit from his invention.

Could all this be true, I wondered?  If it is true, why did I not know about it? Why doesn’t everybody know about it? Continue reading

Advertising Ethics: How Low Can It Go?

Trade commentators have noticed a welter of really offensive ads lately, and a suspicious pattern: an ad is released online that no sentient being could possibly believe is tasteful or appropriate, the ad attracts exactly the kind of negative response that any 13-year-old could have predicted, and the company remorsefully removes it, with an abject apology.  The latest of this invasive species was a Hyundai ad showing a despondent  man rigging a hose from a Hyundai IX35’s exhaust pipe to the car interior as a suicide attempt. As he sits in his car, waiting to die by inhaling carbon monoxide in the dark garage, a light comes on he opens the garage door, with the words appearing on the screen,  “The New IX35 with 100% water emissions.” See? You can’t kill yourself with a Hyundai! Hilarious!

Yechhh, and most viewers detested the ad. Hyundai Motor Europe quickly responded,

“We understand that some people may have found the IX35 video offensive. We are very sorry if we have offended anyone. We have taken the video down and have no intention of using it in any of our advertising or marketing.”

“No intention”?  That’s odd, because the ad was already online. Hyundai North America quickly took the moral high ground in apparent contrast to its European sibling. “We at Hyundai Motor America are shocked and saddened by the depiction of a suicide attempt in an inappropriate UK video featuring a Hyundai,’ it said. “Suicide merits thoughtful discussion, not this type of treatment.” Continue reading