I recently wrote here that I have been pleasantly surprised when looking back on old posts to find that I am almost always in agreement with them. Naturally, I have immmediately been confronted with an issue where I now question Past Jack’s verdict.
Ebony has a “confession’ article—it may be fake, but the issue isn’t—by a trans woman who writes in part regarding her husband,
We were months into dating and contemplating sex before it ever occurred to me that Carlos might need to know… It was wrong, but I chose to keep the secret rather than risk losing him. Now, four years later, Carlos and I are happy and madly in love! It has been a roller coaster, but we couldn’t be happier. But it’s this happiness that is causing me such pain because Carlos feels that it is time to add to our happy family. He is excited to be a father and his face lights up at the very thought. So how do I break his heart? How do I tell him that all of our trying has been in vain because, despite my best efforts to be the person I always felt I was, I’m still not who he thinks I am?
My answer: Suck it up and tell him the truth. Maybe have him watch “The Crying Game” a few times. The relationship has already been built on a material lie, and now adding to the dishonesty by concocting a reason why children are not an option just damages the relationship further.
I do think that transgendered individuals have a difficult choice regarding the timing of this revelation as they enter a relationship, but that’s a different issue (There’s a poll on that one coming up.)
If churchgoers’ sensibilities regarding mothers breastfeeding during a religious service are worthy of respect and deference, what about their sensibilities regarding people dressed like vegetables?
This past Sunday, England’s Worcester Cathedral kicked off the region’s annual Asparagus Festival with a unique ceremonial blessing. A man in a suit and tie carried a bundle of the vegetable to the front of the church, followed by a man costumed as a spear of asparagus (Gus the Asparagus Man) and someone costumed as St. George, shield and all. The cathedral’s Precentor then blessed the crop.
Many churchgoers were offended. “This is an absurd pantomime-type scene that makes a mockery of Christian worship,” said one. A popular religious blogger asked, “Where’s the sprout liturgy, or equality for mushrooms? Would the Dean really permit a walking fungus to participate in an act of divine worship?”
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is..
Was it unethical for the Church of England to present such a whimsical service to its unsuspecting members?
The values to consider here are trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility.
What do you think?
Ah, yet another feast from the legal/ethical divide, with seasoning from the minority/majority ethics balancing dilemma, and a side-dish of favored group arrogance and entitlement! The beverage? Why breast milk, of course!
Annie Peguero’s 19-month-old baby became unruly during the service at the Summit Church in Springfield, Virginia, so she nursed her, right there, in the church. She was quickly asked to move the operation to a private room, but Peguero refused.The church staff told her that it does not allow breast-feeding without a cover because the activity might make members of the congregation uncomfortable.
The mother of two left the church, and soon posted a livestream video on Facebook telling viewers her side of the story and urging women to stand up for breast-feeding.
“I want you to know that breast-feeding is normal,” she said.
Is it normal without any cover in a church? That church? Peeing is normal, but I wouldn’t rely on the “normal” categorization take a whiz in a pew. Farting is normal, but if I felt a big one coming, I would excuse myself. Eating is normal, but chowing down on a huge Italian sub during the hymns would be in bad taste. Sex is normal, but…well, you get the idea. Annie doesn’t.
To complicate the matter, breast-feeding is a legally protected right in Virginia thanks to badly written 2015 law that says women have a right to breast-feed anywhere they have a legal right to be. Dumb law, overly broad, and probably the result of pandering to the mommy lobby while assuming that mothers wouldn’t try to stretch the law to absurd limits. But Virginia also has a Religious Freedom Preservation Act, § 57-2.02, which says,
No government entity shall substantially burden a person’s free exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability unless it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person is (i) essential to further a compelling governmental interest and (ii) the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
Do we really think that churches shouldn’t be allowed to have dress and decorum codes and policies? Continue reading
Here is the headline:
“Graduate Of Elite Law School Forced To Live Off Welfare Due To Terrible State Of Job Market”
The law school is my alma mater, Georgetown Law Center; the student is a 2010 grad who subsequently passed the bar, Danielle Owens. The author of the overwrought article in Above the Law is Staci Zaretsky. Her tone made my mind flash back to “Queen for a Day.”
I don’t particularly want to poke the Lawscam hornet’s nest again, because I don’t especially enjoy having giant photos of my head placed on-line accompanied by obscenities, and I know a lot of bitter out of work lawyers with shaky interpersonal skills, huge debts, a computer and time on their hands have nothing better to do but to blame me and anyone else they can find for their plight (and yes, if I see a couple of them posting a photo like this on Facebook with the caption, “Hello, Ethics Alarms!” I am calling the police.). Nonetheless, I can’t let this pass without noting that the headline is dishonest, and Zaretsky’s commentary on Owens’ problems is exaggerated to the point of hysteria. Continue reading
Because Judge Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit Court was appointed by Ronald Reagan, he is usually describes as a conservative judge. He’s better described as an unusually smart, articulate, thoughtful and courageous judge, and in responding to oral arguments lawyers for Wisconsin and Indiana defending their state’s marriage bans, he proved it.
I have frequently attempted to draw a distinction between those guided by archaic religious morality that causes them to regard same-sex marriage as sinful, and the attempt to use the government, which must not be guided by religion to make such marriages illegal. Morality doesn’t have to be defended by logic—God works in mysterious ways, you know—but laws do. A complete evisceration emanating from a place of authority of the specious and often absent reasoning behind gay marriage bans was much needed, and knowing that he risked criticism as a “judicial bully” for doing so with gusto, Judge Posner came through.
Here is a sampling of the barrage he placed on Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher and Wisconsin’s assistant attorney general Timothy Samuelson: Continue reading
You never know. My post about the ethics of withholding the fact of one’s past and altered gender from a potential spouse sparked the most passionate, erudite and instructive debate among readers that Ethics Alarms has seen in a long time, involving an all-star squad of some of this blog’s best minds. The prize goes to Zoebrain, though, who scores the Comment of the Day with this three part contribution. It’s long; don’t let that discourage you. It, and the whole thread, which you can find here, is well worth your time, because you will learn something. I did.
“May I give an extended set of replies here please? You see, this isn’t a hypothetical for me, it’s an actual. Continue reading
Sometimes I wonder if Emily Yoffe’s Slate advice column (“Dear Prudence”) is like the old Penthouse Forum, where it was clear to any reader who hadn’t purchased the Brooklyn Bridge twice that a team of giggling writers was coming up with the feature’s bizarre letters about orgies with amputees and people having sex in piles of fresh fish. But never mind: her most recent column makes an interesting ethical assertion is response to a woman who is troubled that her transgendered cousin refuses to tell her serious boyfriend about the jockstrap in her past:
“I think you should tell your cousin she’s living in a dream world and that she’s being unfair to John, even if he has a lack of desire for children. Of course, it could be that John flees, or it could be that he says, “She’s more than woman enough for me.” But it’s his right to know the crucial piece of history.”
I agree with Yoffe that the cousin is deluded if she thinks she can keep her past gender hidden forever if the relationship continues, and that the revelation of a secret of such magnitude is bound to be more disruptive the longer it is hidden. But is she correct that he has a right to know about it? Elsewhere Yoffe suggests that not telling him is dishonest. Why?
I understand the theory that couples shouldn’t withhold personal information from one another in the interest of mutual trust. Surely each member of a committed couple has an obligation to reveal any personal information that has the potential to affect the other. Is there an obligation to reveal personal information that one knows a boyfriend or girlfriend will be shocked to learn, or that will tap into visceral fears or biases? Author William Saroyan left his wife on their honeymoon when she revealed to him that she was Jewish, which highlights the irony of the problem: if a woman knows that a secret may cause a lover to reject her, however irrational that reaction would be, then is she ethically obligated to tell him but not obligated if she is sure he wouldn’t care? In other words, is one only ethically obligated to reveal the secrets that will destroy a relationship?
That seems strange. Continue reading
Twitter has come under fire from ignorant free speech advocates—essentially the same people who accuse me of “censorship” when I refuse to allow an anonymous comment, in violation of Ethics Alarms policies, on my own blog —because it removed a journalist Guy Adams’ account after he violated Twitter’s privacy rules by tweeting the email address of NBC executive Gary Zenkel over various Olympics coverage controversies. The main complaint is that apparently someone at Twitter notified Zenkel and alerted him to the process whereby he could get the tweet and the account taken down according to Twitter’s policies. Here is a representative reaction, from blogger Matt Honan at Wired:
“Here’s an interesting thought experiment. Imagine that instead of going after an NBC executive, Adams’ target was a dictator. Imagine that Adams tweeted, say, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s email address, along with a call to action to protest his policies. Had Twitter worked back-channel with the Syrian government, showing it how to have Adams’ account taken down on a technicality, it would clearly be an indefensible act of censorship. Heads would roll.”
Heads might roll, but Honan is wrong. It would not be “an indefensible act of censorship.” It would not be censorship at all. Continue reading
I couldn’t resist this one.
The thread on my post about an Occupy Wall Street protester who apparently was a law school grad and who held a hand-lettered sign blaming his failure to find work, not on the fact that he was standing around in a park holding a sign, but on his law school, has uncovered some unpleasant truths, such as…
- Law schools are giving degrees to a lot of people who don’t know what to do with them
- A lot of law school grads have not acquired some of the basic skills, like unbiased analysis, that their training was supposed to convey
- A striking number of law school graduates identify with whiny unemployed 20-lear-olds holding signs
- Too many people want to be lawyers for the money, rather than to serve a higher social function
- Personal accountability is on the wane in America
- People will believe the damnedest things if it will prevent them from accepting responsibility for their own plight, and
- Confirmation bias is a frightening phenomenon.
Embodying many of these qualities was the recent post of someone with the apparently ethnic name of Iwantoremainanonymous-–Indian, perhaps?—who had many observations typical of the thread that I unfortunately cannot permit to be posted, because he not only defied the Ethics Alarms no anonymous comments rule, but, in his wealth of legal knowledge, disputes that I even have the right to make such rules.
Here is his jaw-dropping, incomplete Comment of the Day on “Comment of the Day on ‘Young, Gullible, Lazy, Unimaginative and Unbelievable: I Wonder Why This Lawyer Has Trouble Finding A Job?'”: Continue reading