January 2004 Ethics Dunces

Steve Irwin ("The Crocodile Hunter")

Based on his recent interviews, Mr. Irwin doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with involving his one month old son in the feeding (and taunting!) of a 12 foot crocodile. We’ll explain it to him. Even if, as he absurdly claims, the danger to the child was minimal, the risk to the child of being harmed by a crocodile was greater than it needed to be, the necessary risk being zero. Mr. Irwin placed his infant son in this danger, not for any educational or vocational or character-building benefit to the child, but as a stunt for his own benefit. Using human beings as props without their consent and placing them in any jeopardy as a result is unethical, Steve, as well as just stupid. If you had dropped your son, or if you had tripped and he had slipped out, you would probably already agree by now. But trust us on this: It’s unethical.

Pete Rose

Pete Rose now admits he bet on baseball (after ten years of lying about it) but says that his bets (always in favor of his team, never against it, he says) as manager of the Cincinnati Reds never effected his management decisions, and thus he did not harm the integrity of the game. He feels he should be let back into the game as a manager.

A couple of things, Pete:

1) Even if this were true, fans of the game cannot put their faith in the outcome of games when they know that those who help determine the outcome might be motivated by their wagers. This is the reason that we call "the appearance of impropriety" an ethical problem.

2) Presumably you did not bet on the Reds when a key player was sitting out, or when your starting pitcher wasn’t feeling good. Right? Or are we supposed to believe that you bet large amounts of money while already in debt to bookies in circumstances when you thought you would lose? So every time you didn’t bet on the Reds, you were sending information to the bookies, and it affected their odds on the game. Got it?

3) You say you never bet against the Reds. You used to say you never bet on baseball. You’re a liar. Why should anyone believe you now?

The Fox Network

The Fox Network is now paying people to inflict emotional trauma on their loved ones. Nice. In its current "reality" series, "My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé", a woman receives $1,000,000 for convincing her family that she is about to wed a disgusting boor, thus causing those who sincerely care about her happiness and welfare to be exposed to worry, fear and embarrassment on her behalf. Thus the network is using its resources to induce others to engage in gratuitous cruelty for a price. Having proven that people will ingest all manner of disgusting objects and creatures for financial gain, Fox has now moved on to this, both in pursuit of ratings and to demonstrate, we suppose, that people will do awful things to themselves and others if you offer them enough money. This is called corruption, of course. What despicable acts will Fox foster with its checkbook next, one wonders? Pay people to cheat on their spouses? Abandon their children? Engage in self-mutilation, or eat their pets?



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