Holiday Ethics Assigment: Quick! Watch These 25 Great Old Ethics Movies Again Before You Go Bonkers Too!

movie-theater

I am compiling a new list of great ethics movies to help those troubled by the recently completed Presidential campaign, the election and its aftermath. I haven’t decided whether to reveal it piecemeal, or collectively as I have before, but I do need to begin by presenting the previous list of 25, actually the combination of several previous posts. Ethics films I have covered individually since those lists debuted, like Spotlight and Bridge of Spies, will eventually be added.

For now, here’s the top 25. Don’t pay attention to the order.

1Spartacus (196o)

The raw history is inspiring enough: an escaped gladiator led an army of slaves to multiple victories over the Roman legions in one of the greatest underdog triumphs ever recorded. Stanley Kubrick’s sword-and-sandal classic has many inspiring sequences, none more so than the moment when Spartacus’s defeated army chooses death rather than to allow him to identify himself to their Roman captors (“I am Spartacus!”)

Ethical issues highlighted: Liberty, slavery, sacrifice, trust, politics, courage, determination, the duty to resist abusive power, revolution, love, loyalty.

Favorite quote: “When a free man dies, he loses the pleasure of life. A slave loses his pain. Death is the only freedom a slave knows. That’s why he’s not afraid of it. That’s why we’ll win.” [Spartacus (Kirk Douglas)]

2.  Hoosiers (1986)

“Hoosiers” is loosely based on true story, but its strength is the way it combines classic sports movie clichés—the win-at-all-costs coach down on his luck, the remote superstar, over-achieving team—into a powerful lesson: it isn’t the final victory that matters most, but the journey to achieving it.

Ethical issues highlighted: Forgiveness, generosity, leadership, kindness, courage, loyalty, diligence, redemption.

Favorite quote: “If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don’t care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game, in my book we’re gonna be winners.” [ Coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman)]

3. Babe (1995)

A wonderful movie about the virtues of being nice, the greatest civility film of all time. Second place: “Harvey.”

Ethical issues highlighted: Civility, kindness, reciprocity, loyalty, courage, love, friendship, bigotry, bias.

Favorite quote: “Fly decided to speak very slowly, for it was a cold fact of nature that sheep were stupid, and there was nothing that could convince her otherwise…The sheep decided to speak very slowly, for it was a cold fact of nature that wolves were ignorant, and there was nothing that could convince them otherwise”  The Narrator (Roscoe Lee Browne) Continue reading

On Climate Change And The First Amendment, Yale’s Law School Dean Gives Us A Reason To Be Very Afraid

I just wrote in a comment thread,

“The one thing that could change my mind to believe that Trump is less dangerous than Clinton is that the trappings of Trump and his followers reek of stupidity, and the trappings of Hillary and her allies are redolent of totalitarianism.”

The effort by Democrats and anti-gun zealots to deliberately breach the Fifth Amendment to allow “pre-crime” anti-gun laws was one example of the Obama/Clinton/Sanders left’s creeping embrace of totalitarian principles.

Here is another.

Over the weekend, Robert Post, the current dean of Yale Law School where both Bill and Hillary learned to be unethical lawyers, authored a shocking 0p-ed for the Washington Post. In it, he attached his influence and credibility to the idea that the government should use the power of prosecution to intimidate opponents of government policy and widely accepted left-wing agenda items. I have never seen such a disgraceful breach of academic prestige. If I were a Yale grad, I would be heavily involved in calling for Post’s resignation.

Post is supporting the attempts by Democratic, climate change policy-supporting attorneys general to target Exxon-Mobil for fraud because the company opposes certain climate change measures. This comes after eco-facists like Robert Kennedy, Jr. and climate change shills like  Bill Nye (The Self-Promoting Not-Really-The-Expert-He- Pretends -To-Be  Science Guy) have suggested that “climate change deniers” should be jailed. That’s not the theory, though. The theory is that Exxon-Mobil has defrauded investors by misleading them about the results of their own research. Thus the company has been hit by demands for documents by the Massachusetts and New York attorneys general to reveal all of that research.

Exxon-Mobil, as well as others, has condemned this effort as an attempt to chill First Amendment debate. Post, who has allied himself with the censors because climate change is “settled science,”  bolsters the political inquisitioners’ deceit. “It may be that after investigation the attorneys general do not find evidence that Exxon-Mobil has committed fraud. I do not prejudge the question. The investigation is now entering its discovery phase, which means it is gathering evidence to determine whether fraud has actually been committed,” the esteemed dean writes.

Cute. Of course, once the precedent had been established that the government can force someone into expensive legal defense for “the fraud” of disagreeing with the pronounced truths of the State, then dissent and political opinion will be repressed, suppressed, and discouraged. Continue reading

Ten More Hollywood Ethics Cures For A Post-Election Hangover (Part 2)

Here are the final five ethics movies, making 25 on the Ethics Alarms list so far. Except for the last, they are a sober batch. I think I now understand why they are at the back end of my list of 25; this group is darker than the first 15 and more tinged with defeat than hope. Their ethics lessons, however, remain inspiring, or if not quite that, thought-provoking:

6. The Insider (1999)

Another true story, one that explores the murky area of whistleblowing and whistleblowers as well as the conflict between the business of journalism and the profession of journalism.

Ethical issues highlighted: confidentiality, whistleblowing, law vs. ethics, sacrifice, courage, media ethics, integrity, honesty, trustworthiness, betrayal

Favorite quote: “You’re in a state of conflict. Here’s how it lays out. If you have vital insider stuff that the American people for their welfare need to know and you feel compelled to disclose it and this violates the agreement – that’s one thing. On the other hand, if you want to honor the agreement, it’s simple. Say nothing. Do nothing. The only guy who can figure this out is you, and that’s you all by yourself.” Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) Continue reading

The FDA’s Disgust Offensive: Manipulative and Wrong

Why stop at this?

I’ve never smoked.  My wife is a smoker and I am worried about her; I also think the tobacco industry is more or less despicable. Nevertheless, I find the new disgust-initiative by the FDA on cigarette package labeling  troubling. If it’s ethical, it only passes muster in a utilitarian balancing formula, and even then I think it opens the door to government abuse.

Thanks to a 2009 law, cigarette makers must add large, graphic warning labels depicting diseased lungs, a man exhaling smoke through a hole in his neck, a baby near a cloud of smoke, a dead body, a man wearing a black t-shirt with “I Quit” written across the chest and three other ugly images to packaging and advertising in the U.S. by October 2012. These will be accompanied by warning labels with messages like “Smoking can kill you” and “Cigarettes cause cancer.” In full, stomach-turning color, the new labels must occupy the top half of the front and back of  cigarette packs, and 20% of any cigarette ad’s space. The labels must also include the number of a national quit line and the current warning labels.

All this, yet the government allows the stuff to be sold. I don’t get it, frankly. If cigarettes are so bad that the FDA feels it has to use tactics this extreme, then it should have the courage to just ban them, like they ban other harmful substances. Continue reading