Ethics Quiz: “The Penniless Girl” And The Yechhh! Competition

"Hey...I'm cute, without shame, ambitious, mean...I could be a reality TV star!"

“Hey…I’m cute, without shame, ambitious, mean…I could be a reality TV star!”

Actress Erin Wotherspoon, 24, lives in Toronto and has an unusual avocation. As she describes it on “A Penniless Girl, Bad Dates and Plenty of Oysters”,

“I’ve got a pretty face & a pretty extensive urban spoon wish list…We all know that getting what you want in life can be tough. Which is why I’ve decided to let someone else finance my dreams. My dream? To eat in pretty restaurants without costing me a penny. You had me at Elk Tartare, lost me at chin strap. Follow me to learn who I screw over, bang and love as I navigate Toronto’s diners, drive-ins & dives.”

Yes, as breezily chronicled on the Tumblr blog, Erin entices unenticing, lonely and hopeful men to feed her at Toronto’s best eateries, then dumps them unceremoniously once the bill has been paid. As her mission statement above demonstrates, she doesn’t see anything wrong with this, despite the fact that it is dishonest, cruel, manipulative and a straight-up violation of both Kantian ethics (don’t use people) and the Golden Rule, as well as a pure as crap example of an ends justifies the means life philosophy. Are some of Erin’s escorts using her as well, essentially buying faux affectionate companionship for the cost of some elk tartare? Oh, surely. Such individuals use their affluence to sully the dignity and integrity of others for a price. The fact that one is being unethical in his dealings with another who is also unethical—mutual users, mutual corrupters—is no justification.

Now, as someone—maybe even Erin—could have predicted, a U.S. reality show producer wants to make a star out of her, and it appears that we may soon be able to watch Ellen dupe wannabe sugar daddies into delicious and free meals weekly.Then she can give an interview to GQ and explain why gays are sinners.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz as 2013 winds down to an ethically depressing finale:

Who is more unethical: “the Penniless Girl” or the TV executives who want to make her rich and famous?

For me, it’s an easy call: the reality show purveyors are much worse than Erin. Selfish, deceptive, exploitive conduct is wrong and more harmful to society the more of it we get. Reality shows and the other ways the United States and its media reward terrible conduct—CNN giving Eliot Spitzer his own show, MSNBC doing the same with Al Sharpton, Fox employing sleazy (but famously sleazy!) Dick Morris, and the radio shows for the likes of Ollie North and G. Gordon Liddy come to mind, and now I’m nauseous again—make being unethical (or drunk, or stupid, or pathetic) a ticket to stardom, and even a desirable career path. It isn’t only reality shows, of course. It’s Republicans cheering Phil Robertson as if what he said wasn’t offensive; it’s Joe Wilson getting boat-loads of contributions off of shouting “You Lie!” at the President of the United States; it’s Tom Delay and Kim Kardashian getting gigs on “Dancing With The Stars” for being indicted and making a sex tape, respectively; it’s Kanye West, Miley Cyrus and other pop “sensations” receiving dawn to dusk publicity and inflated recording sales by behaving badly. We stifle liberty and expression by organizing boycotts against those whose conduct is objectively or subjectively offensive, but to reward them for it is courting cultural suicide, and turning the usual process of establishing healthy societal standards upside-down and inside out.

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Pointer: Fark

Facts: Toronto Sun, Tumblr

Graphic: Toronto Sun