Comment of the Day #2, On the Pointless Marriage of Bert and Ernie

Marrying a puppet is illegal in all 50 states, plus the Dictrict of Columbia.

This is where maintaining integrity and consistency becomes tricky.

Obviously the Comment of the Day suggests only one, yet for some reason this particular day has generated an unusual number of contenders, all deserving. If I refuse to highlight any of these because a Comment of the Day was already posted, I am obscuring important content to maintain a rule, in a situation where the rule doesn’t have any benefits.

But if I have more than one “Comment of the Day,” that creates a precedent and suggests that the designation is more of a formal verdict on comment quality than it is meant to be.  I simply do not, and do not have the time to, give Comment of the Day status to every deserving post. One is usually plenty, and will remain so. But it is foolish, and a contradiction of the principles I argue for on Ethics Alarms, to withhold recognizing a valuable comment for no reason other than an admittedly arbitrary limit.

So here is Comment of the Day #2, on what I will, for this time only, designate as Comment of the Day Friday, as Jeff is inspired by the discussion of bigotry in the continuing discussion generated by Enzo and the Contessa, to weigh in on a particularly stupid news story, the appeal by some gay marriage advocacy groups to have Bert and Ernie, of Sesame Street, tie the knot…if gay marriage is legal on Sesame Street.

(Yes, I know: this is a Comment of the Day on a Comment of the Day on a Comment of the Day. Curse you, Jeff!) Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Comment of the Day: ‘The Barefoot Contessa and the Compassion Bullies'”

 

Does the truth matter?

No, that wasn’t a typo: Karl Penny just achieved a first for Ethics Alarms, a Comment of the Day in response to a Comment of the Day.

The COD at issue was Gary’s assertion that he had no obligation to align his ethical preferences according to my analysis (or any other) of the “Ina Garten rejects Make A Wish” dispute, and that to him it was “just a story” that he could use or ignore according to what he chose to believe.

This inspired Karl’s excellent Comment of the Day, which also contains one passage that would justify another Ethics Alarms first, an Ethics Quote of the Week in a Comment of the Day on a Comment of the Day. I bolded it. Thanks, Karl: Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “The Barefoot Contessa and the Compassion Bullies”

He's young, sick, and poor. His mother must be right, then.

Gary, an occasional commenter, grabs the Comment of the Day with a provocative one on a post from quite a while back. To refresh your memory, a sick child named Enzo Pereda asked the Make-A-Wish Foundation to get him a one-on-one cooking experience with “The Barefoot Contessa,” Ina Garten. Garten refused, and the boy’s mother led an online shaming exercise, condemning Garten, encouraging boycotts of her Food Channel show, and launching other bloggers and media on an anti-Ina rampage. Ethics Alarms’ verdict was that the boy’s mother was engaged in compassion bullying, demanding that this cable celebrity do her child’s bidding, alter her own schedule and priorities, and grant her son’s arbitrary “wish” because he happened to be ill. Garten had no obligation whatsoever to do what someone, or even everyone, might consider a kind act, and the one who was acting unethically was Enzo’s mother.

Gary’s comment goes to the heart of what Ethics Alarms is all about. Here is his Comment of the Day on “The Barefoot Contessa and the Compassion Bullies.”  I’ll have some additional comments at the end: Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “The Barefoot Contessa and the Compassion Bullies…”

Today’s Comment of the Day needs some background. The first comment regarding yesterday’s controversial post “The Barefoot Contessa and the Compassion Bullies…”, asserting the right of a celebrity to decline a sick child’s request, was by reader Nancy Simpson, who wrote…

“Obviously we have different beliefs about what constitutes “ethics”. The first duty of all persons in a civilized society is to care for the children. My ethics say that for the optimum function of society, we care for children unless what they ask for will cause physical or emotional harm to them.

“Short of confinement in a leprosy ward, this woman has no excuse for her unkindness to a child. If the “too busy” excuse is true, then she is just greedy. No law against being greedy, is there? She has no duty to be concerned with anything other than her money.

“The other place we have ethical differences is that it against my ethics to criticize control and blame a sick child’s mother. Talk about hit below the belt. Shame on you.

“Celebrities are not mandated to give back–they may bite the hand that feeds them any time they like. And I decide who gets my hard earned money, and it will not be her or Food Network.

“I don’t pay people who hurt children.’

I was, I admit, rather severe with Nancy, writing in response…

“No, Nancy, you are completely wrong. Obviously we do have a different understanding or ethics, because you have very little and you also didn’t really read or think about the post. If a stranger walks in your home and demands that you care for her child, are you ethically required to do it? What gives “Make A Wish” or Enzo, his mother or anyone the right to finger this one woman because he happens to watch her show and put her in the position of either having to make a major effort to please him—not cure him, not actually make him well, but just give him a good time—at the threat of being condemned by self-righteous uninvolved bystanders like you? Ridiculous.

“Maybe she had a brother with the same disease and spent years in therapy trying to conquer the depression his death caused…and the prospect of getting close with Enzo risks her long term mental health. Does her refusal pass your approval process then, or is she obligated to harm herself because a stranger’s child has a “wish”? How can you judge her actions when you have no idea what motivates her? Granting these things is usually a PR bonanza….I doubt her motivations are crass at all.

“Maybe she is especially emotional around sick children. You have no basis to criticize her. She is not Enzo’s slave, she is not his doctor, she is not his plaything. She has a right to say “no.” There is a difference between exemplary ethics, and ethics. It would be great if she decided to grant his request, but it is not unethical not to. I know—you don’t understand. Well, you can revel in your ignorance without telling me that I don’t understand.

“I DO have basis to criticize Enzo’s mother, and I hereby throw your silly “shame!” through your window.

“She set out to harm a woman who owed her nothing. She sicced the internet on someone for pure revenge. I sympathize with her, but her actions were unarguably wrong. If you think certain classes of people like “mothers of sick children” get special passes to act badly and harm others, go start a Cindy Sheehan fan club—you don’t have a clue what ethics are.

‘You know what rationalizations and excuses are, however.”

Now, today, new reader Yao added a very provocative Comment of the Day: Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “The Barefoot Contessa and the Compassion Bullies…”

Commenter Marlene Cohn has some well-reasoned insight on the issue of a celebrity’s obligation to comply with a sick child’s wishes. Here is her comment on The Barefoot Contessa and the Compassion Bullies: an Ethics Drama:

“I enjoy a bit of celebrity gossip just as much as anyone, and always find internet reactions to perceived celebrity slights to be fascinating. Having been on the internet far longer than the hoards willing to throw around the dreaded “c” word, I’ve been able to see a true shift in what people generally expect of others. Continue reading

The Barefoot Contessa and the Compassion Bullies: An Ethics Drama

Monster?

A boy named Enzo Pereda, now 6, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2009. The Make-A-Wish Foundation asked him what his wish would be, and he said he wanted to meet the Food Network’s Ina Garten, the “Barefoot Contessa,” and watch her cook from his bed. Enzo’s wish was relayed to Garten through the Foundation, but she declined, saying that her schedule was too busy with a book tour. Enzo opted to wait. The request was made again this year, and Garten’s refusal was final and unconditional. Enzo’s mother, who has catalogued his illness in a blog called “Angels for Enzo,” was furious, writing: Continue reading