Tag Archives: YouTube

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/24/18: Ethics Musings While Not Marching [UPDATED]

A Good Saturday Morning To All!

[If you had a speech impediment and lisped your “s’s”, would you choose this song as your only solo among the repertoire of your singing group? Why didn’t Karen tell her bother? This has mystified me for decades…]

1  It’s irrational and pointless fury day in D.C. Today hundreds of thousands of intellectually dishonest, ignorant or purely emotional citizens will be doing the equivalent of screaming at the sky to call for “something” to be done about gun violence., because “think of the children.” Yes, I think that’s a fair characterization.

Given the chance to suggest actual measures that would stop the equivalent of the Parkland shooting, one of my usually rational but currently virtue-signalling-to beat-the-band friends really made this pathetic argument in response to a Facebook post that was a shorter, gentler version of what I just posted on Ethics Alarms: ‘Where is your empathy? Would you feel this way if your son had been killed in the Parkland shooting?”

Can you believe that? “How would you feel if you were so emotionally ruined, angry and despairing that you couldn’t think straight?” Why, I believe that I would be so emotionally ruined, angry and despairing that I couldn’t think straight—and thus useless to any serious and objective public policy discussion. As I told my friend, when “Why can’t you be irrationally and emotionally biased like the rest of us?” is your reflex rebuttal, you’ve got nothin.

2. Related: YouTube is banning gun instructional videos. This a part of a growing trend in the online platform world to attempt to constrict information and discourse according to ideology and partisan preferences. There is no more justification for banning how-to videos about guns than there is for banning how-to videos for chain-saws. The social media companies are going to have to be regulated as common carriers, or the right of free speech and access to information will be slowly strangled by these left-wing, high-tech, useful idiots.

3. From the ” Tragic Misunderstandings of the Cognitive Dissonance Scale” files. Lindsay Lohan is the new spokesperson for Lawyer.com. What, O.J. wasn’t available? Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/21/18: Ethics Observations As The Snowflakes Fall

Good Morning!

1 Moral luck.  In Great Mills, Maryland, a student with a handgun entered a high school and began shooting. He was brought down by a lone, armed and trained officer before anyone was killed. In the Parkland shooting, the equivalent officer chose to avoid a confrontation. There were other material differences: yesterday’s student shooter seems to have had a specific target in mind (his ex-girl friend) whereas the Parkland shooter was juts out to kill as many kids as possible. One student carried a hand-gun (which is very difficult for anyone to acquire legally in Maryland, which has among the toughest gun laws in the country), while the Florida shooter had a semi-automatic rifle. However, the primary difference was moral luck: if a competent and courageous officer had entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High and shot Nikolas Cruz before he could inflict carnage, and Deputy Blaine Gaskill, instead of almost immediately entering the school and shooting 17-year-pld Austin Wyatt Rollins dead, had done a Scot Peterson impression and remained outside, the results in Parkland and Great Mills might have been reversed. In any case, the results would not have been changed by different gun laws or demonizing the NRA and lawful gun owners, only by different responses by human beings, and the vicissitudes of moral luck.

I think Marjory Stoneman Douglas High has serious cultural and management problems that played a larger role in the massacre than gun policies. Today’s news certainly suggest that…

2. This is how puppies end up dead in airplane luggage bins…The headline that caught my eye was “Pit bull goes on rampage in elementary school.” What actually happened was that a pit bull -mix puppy got out of the yard and ran onto a nearby elementary school playground where small children were playing, they started screaming and running because their parents had either taught them to be terrified of dogs or never instructed them how to interact with them, the puppy chased the kids into the school, and began jumping and nipping, as puppies tend to do. I was taught not to run from dogs at about the age of four. The consensus later was that the dog was not aggressive, but was just stimulated by all the commotion and playing. A teacher calmed the dog. You know, dogs are a feature of our neighborhoods and communities, and failing to teach children basic dog-interaction skills is as irresponsible as not teaching them how to cross the street. Anti-pit bull hysteria doesn’t help either. “Rampage.”

Then, this morning, I watched an episode of “My Cat From Hell” on the Animal Planet cable channel. In the first segment, one of a family’s two cats was behaving aggressively, biting and scratching in response to any human contact. The reason became apparent to the cat therapist quickly: the family’s two little girls were abusing both cats, treating the more passive of the pets like a stuffed animal as the  parents laughed and took photos. The second segment was even worse. A couple had bought a Munchkin cat—which is an ethics issue itself, since these are deformed cats bred to have such short legs that they can’t climb or jump—

and apparently thought of the creature as a cute animated decoration. They had no toys or comforts for the cat, just a bare room and a litter box. “Have you ever played with your cat?” the therapist asked. “Play? Well, no, we’re both really busy,” came the response.  And the couple wanted to know why was the cat was behaving so neurotically… Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up,1/28/2018: Looking For The Silver Lining

Good Morning!

1 Phooey. This was one of those annoying weeks where the blog covered a lot of diverse topics (28 posts in the last 7 days), featured excellent comments, and was rewarded by a kick in the teeth. There was a big drop in followers, especially after the post about the Larry Nassar sentencing fiasco (I got slammed on Facebook, too.) That one is not open to legitimate controversy: the judge was unethical, the manner of sentencing did breach the Judicial Canons in Michigan and elsewhere, the length of the sentence was  disproportionate, and the parade of victims was a disgrace to the system. Never mind, though: he’s a monster and didn’t deserved to be treated any better by the judge, so good for her. No wonder trying to get people to reason using ethics tools and systems is so difficult. Most people default to emotion; some lawyers on Facebook even expressed that sentiment—“You go girl!”

It is such basic ethics, and so core to the justice system, that even the worst human beings deserve to be treated with the same respect and fairness as anyone else in the justice system. It is the bedrock of professional ethics that those with the job of protecting the public’s health, safety and welfare must be role models and eschew the passions and indulgences of the public they are pledged to serve. Yet people are frustratingly resistant to both concepts, giving lip service, pretending to understand, then  regularly bouncing back to rationalizations and mob reasoning like their values were on a bungee cord.

Silver Lining: It is satisfying to be 100% sure you are right in principle, even when, indeed especially when, you are getting beaten up for it.

2. And speaking of bitches…Contemporaneously with Hillary Clinton’s transparently cynical and damning response to the revelation that she responded to a campaign staffer’s complaint about sexual abuse by Hillary’s “spiritual survivor” in 2008 by transferring the accuser while keeping her advisor around (to harass others, it seems), she released a video…

…that began with the words, “And let me just say, this is directed to the activist bitches supporting bitches.” And thus we see how the Nation of Assholes is progressing. Somehow, I didn’t see the coarsening of the culture as Americans, as they always so, emulate the conduct of the President, extending to  Hillary Clinton, but why not? She has no integrity or ethics alarms. If she thinks going potty mouth will bring her money and power, why wouldn’t she ditch civility? The woman is first and always an ethics corrupter. Continue reading

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I Worry About Cary Grant [Updated]

…and James Cagney. And Kirk Douglas. And Bette Davis. And Rita Hayworth.

Seeing Kirk Douglas at the Golden Globes revived the concern that every Christmas season intensifies for me, when I realize that it is only Christmas that keeps such giants of entertainment past as Gene Autry, Bing Crosby and Dean Martin from fading into permanent obscurity.  The cultural figures who we remember are mostly the beneficiaries of moral luck, not a fair merit-based calculation. It is a random process, and culture, which is significantly defined by who and what we remember and who and what we forget, should not be shaped by coincidence, chance, and random amnesia.

It should not be, but it is. A classic example outside the realm of entertainment is the strange case of  Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the hero of Little Round Top in the Battle of Gettysburg, and by some assessments the savior of the Union itself. When the story of Gettysburg was assembled by the battlefield commission, plaques erected and statues placed. Chamberlain’s desperate stand protecting the Union army’s flanks on Day Two of the battle didn’t make the cut. Despite as remarkable a career as anyone from Maine could have, and more than one shining moment of distinction during the Civil War, he was forgotten for more than a century. Then a brilliant, best-selling historical novel, “The Killer Angels,” recounted his heroics leading the 20th Maine so vividly that Chamberlain memory was re-animated, and began receiving the attention from historians that it deserved from the start.

In popular culture, whether a performer’s unique talents and contributions are remembered after more than a generation is now almost entirely dependent on whether there is a film featuring them that is regularly presented on television. Only a handful of performers who have permanently entered iconic status avoid that standard: I’d include Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Shirley Temple and John Wayne in this category, with a few debatable others. (And even the Little Tramp, MM, Fred, Judy and The Duke aren’t necessarily  safe: once Rudolf Valentino, Laurel and Hardy, Lon Cheney, Greta Garbo, Boris Karloff and James Dean could be safely called icons. I doubt one Millennial in a hundred could identify any of them. Marlene Dietrich has a thumb-hold on her iconic status only because of  Madeline Kahn’s film-long send-up of her in “Blazing Saddles.”) Continue reading

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Ethics Dunce: Logan Paul

I was blissfully unaware of the existence of Logan Paul until this morning. He’s a unique creation of the cyber-age, a 22-year-old college drop-out whose occupation is “social media entertainer.” He makes daily videos–“vlogs”—that he posts on his YouTube channel. It has 15 million followers, along with his hundreds of thousands of others across social media, and is regarded as major cultural force, for what, I have no clue. He is, of course, rich.

In pursuit of more followers and cash, he posted a video, since  removed from YouTube available elsewhere online, that features a dead young man, lying in a Japanese forest known as the “Suicide Forest,” which lies at the base of Mount Fuji. Paul began by telling his YouTube fans,

“This definitely marks a moment in YouTube history Because I’m pretty sure that this has never hopefully happened to anyone on YouTube ever. Now with that said, buckle up!”

With that titillating intro, Paul described the reputation of the Aokigahara Forest at the base of Mount Fuji. It is a popular site for distraught Japanese to end their lives, and is thus known as “the Suicide Forest.”  Locals also say the forest is haunted, another exiting feature that Paul and his companions hyped as they walked along. Then they come across the dead body. The video blurred his face. “Yo, are you alive?” Paul shouted at the dead man. As a camera zoomed in, Paul described the body’s condition, and speculated that the death was recent.

After making the obligatory observation that depression and mental illness are not a joke, Paul’s group left the scene and he began joking, with the mugging and giggling his fans are accustomed to seeing on his vlogs. At the end of the video he encountered a young fan and told him, smirking and pointing the way, “I have one piece of advice. Don’t go over there!”

And yes, he was wearing that hat (above) the whole time.

 The video was posted over the weekend, and did not receive the desired response. Many expressed horror that a young man’s body would be used a a prop, and that Paul would be cavalier about mental illness, depression and suicide. Now the Cyber Furies are after him, and threatening to turn him from web star into a web pariah. Continue reading

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And The William S. Burroughs Memorial Award For Fatal Stupidity Goes To….

.Monalisa Perez and her dead boyfriend, Pedro Ruiz III!  Yes, we should blame the victim. And his girl friend.

Clarence Darrow said, “History repeats itself.  and that’s one of the things that’s wrong with history.”  If Monalisa and Pedro had been students of stupid moments in literary history, they would have encountered the ridiculous tale of novelist William Burroughs (“Naked Lunch”), who on September 6, 1951, was at a drunken party at a bar in Mexico City. For no apparent reason, Burroughs suddenly shouted to his equally drunk wife that it was time to show everyone  their “William Tell trick.”

They had never performed their trick before.

Joan Vollmer (well, they held themselves out as married, though they were not) balanced a highball glass on her head and Burroughs, playing Tell, tried to shoot the glass off with his revolver. William Tell wasn’t drunk, however, and Burroughs was. He aimed too low and shot Vollmer right between the eyes.

Believe it or not, Perez and Ruiz were even less sympathetic than Burroughs and his wife. They weren’t drunk, just cretinous and greedy. They were making a YouTube video. A few hours before Monalisa shot Pedro, a posting on her Twitter account read: “Me and Pedro are probably going to shoot one of the most dangerous videos ever. HIS idea not MINE.” The stunt he had talked her into involved Ruiz holding up a hardcover encyclopedia volume in front of his chest as she shot a .50-caliber Desert Eagle pistol at the book from about a foot away “to see if it would go through.”

Well, waddya know! It did!

This was part of Pedro’s plan to become rich and famous via viral YouTube videos. Now he’s dead, Monalisa is charged with murder, and their yet-to-born child will be off to terrible start in life, in addition to carrying some dubious genes.

Yes, it’s a tragedy…a tragedy born of astounding recklessness, inadequate life competence, irresponsibility, and a poor understanding of risk-reward ratios.

Blame the victims.

There is no way around it.

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Torturing Kids For Giggles And Profit: The DaddyOFive Videos And The Cultural Scourge Of Child Exploitation

The story on “The Conversation”: is headlined, “When exploiting kid for cash goes wrong on YouTube….” and there we have the problem in black and white.

Exploiting kids is wrong to begin with and in all respects; it can’t “go wrong.” The culture doesn’t just get it. This ethics alarm has been sounding at ear-breaking pitch for a long time. Too many adults and media opinion-makers have not just tolerated cruel and abusive uses of children by the very people who are obligated to protect them—their own parents– but encouraged it. In such a child-focused culture,where “Think of the children!” is an all-purpose emotion-bomb employed with regularity to obliterate  rational policy arguments, this ugly realm of ethics blindness still thrives.

Ethics Alarms has done its best to cast a light on the cultural scourge from the blog’s beginnings. There were “the Biking Vogels.”  There was Jon and Kate Plus Eight. But what chance do I have trying to explain that all child exploitation is unethical whether it is done for cash or not, when a late night TV star, Jimmy Kimmel, has been gleaning fans, applause ratings and YouTube hits by encouraging parents to “prank” their own children to almost no criticism at all? I even started a Facebook page to stop Kimmel from doing this, as he does every Christmas, Halloween, and whenever his child-hating writers have a sadistic brainstorm.

Maybe the exposure, shaming and punishment of Heather and Mike Martin, of Ijamsville, Maryland will finally have some impact, but at this point I am dubious. Yesterday these horrible people appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America to weep, lie, grovel and try to make the public feel sorry for them, as their torture videos threaten to cost them custody of some or all of their children.  Anyone who does feel sorry for the Martins is a fool, and perhaps one of the complicit millions of internet viewers who rewarded the couple for using their children as props, dupes and victims. When you make money by torturing your children to attract YouTube hits, that is signature significance. You are a vile human being, with your values and ethics rotting somewhere in your brain like a dead rat in the attic. The Martins are indefensibly ethics-free human beings, though just two of many. How much can the culture condemn them, when an even worse human being is paid millions by ABC—the hypocrisy of the network is staggering—to encourage the same conduct they are now being, finally, attacked for?

The YouTube video that finally served as a tipping point was the one where the Martins poured  ink on the bedroom floor of one of their five young children. The Washington Post describes it:

Heather Martin, a.k.a. “MommyOFive,” is screaming. “Get your f—— a — up here!” she yells at Cody, her young son. Mike Martin — DaddyOFive to his family YouTube channel’s 750,000 subscribers — follows along behind with the camera as Cody runs upstairs. Soon, he is yelling, too: “What the hell is that?” There is ink all over the floor of Cody’s room. The boy begins to cry. “I didn’t do that,” he says, his face turning red. “I swear to God I didn’t do that.” For three minutes, the parents scream and swear at Cody and his brother Alex, accusing them of spilling the ink. Suddenly, MommyOFive reveals a small bottle in her hand. She smiles and laughs. The ink was trick ink, she says, it will disappear from the floor. “You just got owned!” DaddyOFive says, pointing the camera in the faces of his children, who appear to be elementary school-aged. “It’s just a prank, bruh!” As the Martin parents laugh, their children remain sitting on the bed, faces still red from crying.

HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! This is hilarious!

With over 760,000 subscribers,  DaddyOFive earned between$200,000-350,000 each year from YouTube advertising revenue. The ink prank wasn’t the worst of the videos either, not at all. In addition to the emotional abuse being inflicted on the Martin kids, there was often physical abuse. Some videos showed them being pushed into furniture or walls by their father, or being struck by siblings. Here is a sampling of the videos, as they were promoted on DaddyOFive:

Nice. Although these have all been removed by the Martins or by YouTube for violations of their policies—which YouTube apparently only enforces vigorously when sufficient bad publicity is stirred up—they have been archived here. Continue reading

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