I wrestled with whether it was ethical to show this video or just link to it on another website instead. I have, as you might have surmised by now, an ethical objection to the practice of taking videos, photographs or recordings of people without their knowledge or permission and publicizing them, and that objection is intensified when it is done for the purpose of embarrassing them or shaming them, unless the conduct is illegal or so unquestionably vile that society is obligated to issue an objection in the strongest terms possible. I think that the borderline episodes of this are important to discuss and yet it is difficult to do that without aiding and abetting what may be unethical conduct, as I help publicize what perhaps should have been left private.
I haven’t resolved this dilemma. When a video has gone viral, as this one has (as well as another I show here), I think that the impact of my embedding the clip in order to discuss it is minimal, and that the value of presenting the actual video for readers to see outbalances the harm to the victim/victims, if that’s what they are, of posting it on one more site on the web among many. I invite opinions to the contrary. (In the instant case, I should note, the episode was inadvertently captured by a TV cameraman—he shot what he thought was a sleeping fan, and then the copping and feeling began—and broadcast live. Someone else then put the touching moment online.)
With that introduction, here is the video, YouTubed and picked up by Gawker (naturally) as well as many other sites. It shows a male fan at a Yankee game with a sleeping or otherwise unconscious young woman resting her head on his chest. While she sleeps, he appears to fondle her breast, thus spawning endless leering references, since it was at a ballgame, of “stealing second.” We do not know whether the young woman was a stranger who collapsed his way (this actually happened to me once, and at a ballgame, so it’s not that far-fetched), a friend, his wife, his girlfriend, or, as some disturbed individual on one site suggested, his sister.
For the sake of this quiz, we will assume they are a couple. YouTube pulled the video I had embedded, so to see the action, go here.
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz today is…
Assuming this was the fan’s wife or girlfriend, was it unethical for him to cop a feel, in public, while she was unconscious? Continue reading