Bulletin: No More Sex. [Corrected]

Extreme, unrealistic, impractical advice from health “experts” is not useful nor effective, and because it undermines trust in such experts (not that there has been any shortage of statements that do that), it is irresponsible and unethical.

The University of Georgia has told students that they really should  wear masks while having sex. Heavy breathing and panting can further spread the virus, after all.

“You are your safest sex partner. Practice solo sex, or limit the number of sexual partners you have,” says the University of Georgia’s recommendations. Continue reading

Encore: “Forgetting What We Know”

Rosemary's director is more horrible than her baby...because he's real.

Rosemary’s director is more horrible than her baby…because he’s real.

I noted with horror that Roman Polanski has a new film out that is, as usual, garnering rave reviews. Polanski is a perpetual burr under my metaphorical saddle, and when he is out of the spotlight I am a happier person. One of the early reviews, under the heading “About the director,” describes him this way:

“Roman Polanski is a Polish film director, producer, writer and actor. Having made films in Poland, Britain, France and the USA, he is considered one of the few truly international filmmakers.”

This leaves out what I would argue are the most important parts of his biography, namely that he is a child rapist and a fugitive from the law of the United States. He is also an ethics corrupter on a grand scale. When his name once again made its unwelcome intrusion on my senses, I recalled that one of the very first posts on Ethics Alarms, on Halloween of 2009, was inspired by Polanski. I read it again last night, and reflected on how the blog recently passed its 1,000,000th page view since its launch that same month. I like it, and not many people read it at the time. With a few small edits, I decided to post it again.

Here it is:

Ethics evolves. It isn’t that what is right and wrong actually changes, but that human beings gradually learn, sometimes so slowly it can hardly be detected. For example, slavery was always wrong, but for centuries very few people who weren’t slaves understood that fact. There was never anything immoral about being born gay and living accordingly, but it has taken all of the collected experience of civilization to make this dawn on most of society. While we are learning, and even after we have learned, there are always those who not only lag behind but who work actively to undo the ethical progress we have made. We assume these individuals will come from the ranks of ideological conservatives, misapplying valid concepts like respect for tradition, suspicion of change for change’s sake, and a reliance on consistent standards, making them slow to accept new wisdom . Sometimes, however, the people who try to make us forget what we know come from the left side of the political spectrum, misusing values such as tolerance, freedom, empathy and fairness in the process. This is especially true when it comes to the topic of sex. Liberals fought so long and well to break down the long-established taboos about sex that many of them lost the ability to comprehend that unethical conduct can  involve sex in any way.

The most striking recent example is the bizarre defense of Roman Polanski, best known as the director of the horror classic, “Rosemary’s Baby.” Continue reading

As Dean Wormer* Would Say To Bryan Craig: “Sex-Obsessed, Promiscuous and Stupid Is No Way To Be A High School Guidance Counselor, Son…”

The Rich Central High principal suspected something was amiss with the girls’ basketball coach when the team members began to act strangely…

A provocative variation on the “naked teacher” scenario has surfaced in Chicago suburb Olympia Fields. Bryan Craig was a guidance counselor and girls’ basketball coach at Rich Central High School until his self-published book “It’s Her Fault” came to the attention of parents and school administrators. Then he was placed on administrative leave, and finally, fired.  The book is for mature audiences only, and based on reports (I haven’t read it and have no intention of doing so) includes pick-up advice, analysis of female body types (including a discussion of the varying colors and temperature levels of the vaginas of various races, apparently the book’s highlight) and Craig’s insight into how women think, a perspective that appears to be muddled at best and sexist at worst. Here is a passage from the book (in an Amazon reader’s review—a favorable one, and from a teenage stripper):

“In some cases, strippers and dancers show the overall dominance a woman can have over a man. Not to say that stripping is what has to be done to truly establish dominance, but these women’s mind-set is in the right place in order to meet the true potential of the point of this book.” Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Is a Transgendered Woman Ethically Obligated To Tell Her Boyfriend That She Used To be Male?”

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

Is a Transgendered Woman Ethically Obligated To Tell Her Boyfriend That She Used To be Male?

“Is this a bad time to tell you that I used to be a man?”

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

Comment of the Day: Anti-Bullying Mis-steps: The Perils of Changing Cultural Norms (Part 2)

From Penn, excellent and valuable insight on “The Hunger Games” controversy, going into relevant issues and facts that my post did not. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Anti-Bullying Mis-steps: The Perils of Changing Cultural Norms (Part 2):

“The purpose of this argument scares the hell out of me. As one press-screener’s review had it, and as the trailers make clear, “The Hunger Games” tells the story of a televised fight to the death between(sic) a group of youngsters in which only one can survive.” If I believed there were any merit to the MPAA system, yes, R is what it should be. [“This Film is Not Yet Rated” is the movie to see on this subject.] Continue reading

Anti-Bullying Mis-steps: The Perils of Changing Cultural Norms (Part 2)

If "Hunger Games" should be able to bypass the ratings because kids can learn from it, then why shouldn't a film like "A Clockwork Orange," a better film, should also get a pass?

When society decides makes altering attitudes about any conduct a priority,an immediate danger is that it will destroy other societal safe-guards and damage other valid cultural norms in its tunnel-vision.

“Hunger Games,” a film about the consequences of bullying based on a best-selling novel, is about to hit theaters with an R rating, meaning that teens, the prime target of the nation’s anti-bullying effort, can’t see the film without their parents’ permission. Katy Butler, a young bullying victim, has led a national effort to get the film’s ratings reversed. Predictably, politicians have jumped on the bandwagon.

“Over 13 million American youths will be bullied over the course of this year alone, making it the most common form of violence experienced by young people in our nation,” begins a letter from Rep. Mike Honda (D.- Calif.) to his colleagues, in support of Butler’s campaign. “We cannot hope to control this epidemic … without discussing tough issues publicly and bringing them to the forefront of the consciousness of the American public.”

“YES! RIGHT ON! OF COURSE!” Except that what Butler and Honda are proposing essentially undermines the entire purpose of movie ratings, and if their efforts succeed, there is no way anyone will be able to argue that the system has a shred of integrity at all. Continue reading

Facebook’s Weird Ethical Standards

I know, they're too small to read. Never mind; they also don't make any sense

The idea of Gawker, a website that shares the ethical standards of the seamier denizens of “Rick’s” in “Casablanca,” doing a legitimate ethics expose gives me a brain cramp, but the gossip site has given a platform to a Facebook whistleblower, sort of.

I say “sort of,” because knowing Gawker, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he was paid to rat out his former employers-once-removed (he was hired by  Facebook’s outsourcing firm that handled his training—oDesk), making him ethically less of a whistleblower than a candidate for Gawker’s editorial board. The argument, I suppose, would be that a dollar an hour, which is what Gawker’s source says was his princely reward for doing Facebook’s dirty work, shouldn’t buy much loyalty and confidentiality, if any. Ethically, that’s false: you are obligated to abide by the terms of bad deals if you voluntarily agree to them. Practically speaking, it is true. A worker a company exploits is likely to harbor more animus than good will, and it isn’t the happy workers who blow whistles. Fine: neither Gawker’s source nor Gawker are ethically admirable. On to Facebook.

The whistleblower is Amine Derkaoui, a 21-year-old Moroccan who was recruited by an outsourcing firm to screen illicit Facebook content. This is what he was paid a dollar an hour for, which, when one considers the news reports flying around recently about how rich Mark Zuckerberg is, and after the company filed its record $100 billion IPO, seems unequivocally exploitive. His real exposé, however, involves what he was paid to do, which was to be Facebook’s censor. Derkaoui supplied Gawker with a bootleg copy of part of Facebook’s abuse standards, which lays out what the company believes is appropriate and what it believes should be banned from the web. Thus it is Facebook’s morality, revealing the ethical standards that the company embraces. Continue reading

Count The Ethics Alarms: A Lingerie Football YOUTH League?

Looking forward to the opening of the Lingerie Football Junior League...

The headline: “Lingerie Football League Wants to Start a Youth League.”

All right, maybe it’s not as bad as it sounds. Still, we can watch four-year-olds wearing falsies and “shaking it” in kiddie beauty pageants on “Toddlers and Tiaras.” How far removed from that is a future football league with 13-year-old girls tackling each other in their training bras?

Lingerie Football League founder and chairman Mitchell Mortaza issued this statement on the LFL website:

“Obviously the improvement of our game is directly tied into the development of the future LFL athlete. What excites us at the league is seeing the caliber of athletes improve so vastly each season, now imagine in five years when we start fielding athletes that have trained their entire life for the opportunity to play LFL Football.”

And what does early training to to play lingerie football consist of, I wonder? The more important and troubling question: what does it say about our cultural health that the only route available for young female athletes who enjoy football to practice their sport is to train to eventually play the game while dressed like a Victoria’s Secret model?

Krystal Ball, the Dildo Nose, Human Nature, and Trust

Krystal Ball is a Democrat running for an open Virginia Congressional seat in the 1st District. Today, however, most Americans who know her at all only do so because some spectacularly embarrassing photos of her have gone viral on the Internet. In the shots, a Santa-clad Ball is shown in a series of suggestive poses involving a bright red dildo, which is fastened to the nose of young man wearing reindeer antlers. In some shots, she has Rudolph the Dildo-nosed Reindeer on a leash, just to add that dominatrix flair we all associate with the holidays. Continue reading