In specific areas of the country, schools are responding to parents complaints by conducting audits of their school libraries, removing books which are considered to be too “sexually explicit” for students exposure.
An individual board member this week brought up that one book, “which is centered around a 10-year-old boy being sexually abused by an older man should be burned” (ABC News).
Another board member, Rabih Abuismail, spoke against the inclusion of the book “33 snowfish” which apparently includes gay sex. Abuismail made multiple comments during this meeting which caught manys attention. Such as, “I guess we live in a world now where our public schools would rather have kids read about gay pornography than Christ”. During an interview Abuismail attempted to rescind his statements made in the board meeting “stating ‘he was not critiquing the gay community,’ despite referencing homosexuality at least three times in the board’s discussion about books.”
This has now sparked Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina to prevent such “offensive” books from being placed within the school or library systems.
Chris Cuomo was fired from CNN November 28th following the discovery that he is more entangled in his brother, Andrew Cuomo’s, political affairs than anyone had previously known. According to multiple sources including The New York Times and CBS news, Chris Cuomo had a hand in how his brother responded to sexual harrassment allegations.
“Chris Cuomo was suspended earlier this week pending further evaluation of new information that came to light about his involvement with his brother’s defense,” CNN wrote. “We retained a respected law firm to conduct the review, and have terminated him, effective immediately. While in the process of that review, additional information has come to light. Despite the termination, we will investigate as appropriate.”
While it is not specified by CNN as to what the new information that came to light is, the Associated Press has reported that Chris Cuomo was accused of sexual harrassment earlier the week of November 24th.
The ethical issue within this, is that CNNs reason for firing Cuomo was because of his involvement in his brother Andrew’s sexual misconduct cases, and helping him with how to react and respond. Following this, a multitude of articles were immediately posted citing Cuomo’s reason for being fired as his sexual misconduct allegation. It is not clear whether CNN was attempting to ignore or cover up this allegation, or if they truly were unaware of this at the time of his termination. This goes back to the power of the media, and fake news. While this allegation is very much so valid, was it the reason for his termination from CNN? Or did it provide a better headline for the press?
One question that remains in mind, if these allegations are true, while hearing about the multitude of powerful figures facing sexual misconduct allegations, is moral redemption possible for these individuals? Specifically surrounding the #metoo movement in 2017, many accused fled to social media to issue apologies. While Chris Cuomo himself has not publicly acknowledged his firing or allegation, he has removed himself from multiple projects.
City of Hope is a nonprofit hospital system in Los Angeles. In early December they decided they will purchase Cancer Treatment Centers of America for $390 million to bring together a hospital system famous for its research as well as one that is better known for marketing that critics have described as overly aggressive. Cancer Treatment of America has gotten controversial over the years because of the way they select their patients as well as their insurance.
City of Hope’s CEO, Robert Stone, in an interview explained that the deal was based around City of Hope’s mission to both care for cancer patients and develop new technologies. The combined company will be “a one-of-a-kind national cancer research and treatment system,” Stone said. “[Our] scientific expertise with their network and patient experience system will create something very special.”
City of Hope is going to learn and decide how to manage the controversies within CTCA and it will now become their ethical responsibility to fix the problems.
In 2013, it was alleged that CTCA was refusing patients treatment in order to improve the mortality statistics that is used to promote its cancer centers. In 2016, a study found that they spent $101.7 million promoting its services in TV, print, online, and other ads. A 2019 analysis likewise found that the CTCA spent more than competitors on advertising and that its spending was not correlated with better results for patients.
There are a couple things to dissect here. City of Hope has an idea that they want to upsize the company with CTCA’s marketing skills instead of downsizing, but are they merging because of the money opportunity? Why would a hospital nonprofit with a great reputation want to combine with such a controversial organization? They claim that it is an opportunity to move with the speed that cancer patients deserve, but if CTCA already has a track-record of denying “too-sick” or patients for their mortality rate, which is awfully unethical in itself, why go with that organization?
An assisted suicide pod in Switzerland was cleared for use in early December. The pod helps patients painlessly end their life by flooding the chamber with nitrogen. These pods almost act like a booth, where the person completely climbs into the capsule. Swiss outlets report that the manufacturer of a 3D-printed assisted suicide pod called the Sarco capsule has recieved legal approval to be used by the public.
Assisted suicide occurs when a patient chooses to die with the help of a mediccal professional which often means writing a prescription for a lethal drug or euthanasia. These patients are usually terminally ill or do not have long to live.
Switzerland doesn’t really have many legal barriers to physician-assisted suicide and it has become a widely accepted practice. Hundred of people, most of whom have terminal illnesses, have chosen to end their lives via assisted suicide each year. A couple of other countries in Europe have similar policies with practices like euthanasia or withdrawl of life-sustaining treatment in certain circumstanes. Countries like Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands all have similar policies.
Assisted suicide has always been a huge controversial topic for years. Many people do not believe assisted suicide to be ethical because it is a form of suicide. People also believe it is a form of murder. Some think that if someone is so ill to the point that they are already dying why they wouldn’t wait for them to die on their own, or if they are so sick how can they be cognizant enough to make that decision themselves? On the opposite side, if someone is in so much pain, others think they should be able to make that decision to end their suffering.
The assisted suicide pod in Switzerland brings another side of an ethical dilemma for how normalized this practice is compared to other countries. In America, there are only 10 states plus the District of Colombia where assisted suicide is legal. Therefore, in the U.S. when hearing about this new pod, would probably be against it because it is not as normalized here.
President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, had his first solo exhibition in Manhattan, New York in early November. There, he sold personal artwork and art pieces, which sold for up to $500,000 a piece. When Biden was struggling with various alcohol and drug addictions he said that art was the only thing “keeping him sane”. The solo exhibition was titled, “The Journey Home,” which consisted of twenty-four paintings. Yet ethical concerns started to arise in the white house. The initial reaction of a lot of people was that he was capitalizing on being the son of the president, therefore more people are willing to pay him more money. Last year, the Treasury Department also issued an advisory warning that high-value artworks, “make it attractive to those engaged in illicit financial activity including sanctions evasion.” It is unclear if there have been any confirmed sales of Biden’s artwork.
Of course, a question coming out of this would be if it is ethical for Hunter Biden to be selling his art for so much money just because he is the president’s son? And if people do pay the money, are they paying for the quality of the artwork or for the title of the artist? Is it ethical for Hunter Biden to be labeled a high-end renowned artist just because he is the president’s son? All of these questions need to be considered when looking at the ethics within this story.
Astroworld, a music concert featuring Travis Scott, started as a festive event and ended in fatality. Crowds of Scott’s fans forced their way into an already crowded venue, pushing audience members up against barriers where they suffocated and trampled others. Prior to the show, Scott had released a tweet encouraging fans without tickets to “sneak” into the stadium regardless. This tweet has since been taken down, but it begs the question of whether it played a part in inspiring the incident. Historically, it would seem that the impact of an individual tweet is less than the culture of his fans as a whole. After Astroworld, stories began coming out about other concerts that Travis Scott had played at wherein fans had exhibited similar aggressive behavior; storming venues and pushing people out of their way. These actions had been referenced as “raging,” which has been seen through previous social media postings and advertisements to be encouraged by Scott. In fact, Astroworld was not the first time that Scott has been brought under fire for encouraging aggression; he has been charged twice before for inciting violence at his concerts.
Despite this past history, in his response to the incident he establishes his feelings of shock that his fans would ever be part of such a morbid situation, and that “raging” would ever lead to this severe of consequences. His “apology” video has sparked further disdain and outrage, even mockery, in the days since. There was no genuine apology or accountability, the main content of the video consisted of head rubbing and statements of disbelief.
The lack of accountability for deaths that he was so clearly at least partially accountable for is nothing short of unethical. Attempting to distract from his responsibility for the situation and the performed ignorance is deception employed to evade consequences. This lack of transparency and self-preservation is an act of egoism and causes harm to all that attended the event, those who died, and their families. The lack of care and empathy for others is astounding.
When a 9-year-old dies, the focus should be on reparations and future prevention, not maintaining one’s own reputation and peace of mind.
Facebook has been under fire recently for it’s negligence in controlling the content that is on its platforms and for hiding research that indicates that some types of content that are frequent on the sites have demonstrated to be harmful to populations that use them, specifically youth. This information was brought forward by a whistleblower who was tired of seeing the deception and hoped to spark positive change and a trend of transparency in Facebook. Amidst hearings in which it became evident that neither social media giants nor members of congress know how the average person under the age of 30 functions, Facebook released an announcement about the rebranding of the Facebook brand, now to be called Metaverse. The platforms of Instagram and Facebook will remain unchanged, but they will become part of a new network of technological innovation that is geared towards a futuristic and savvy image. However, this rebranding has come with advertising that has raised yet even more concerns and conversation. These ads revel in the idea of a world where we no longer need to connect or interact in person, but instead communicate and bond purley through a virtual reality. It has been described as out-of-touch and as feeding into the problems that new technology has created, rather than attempting to mitigate them. Others say that it’s the natural progression of things, and that this new future is worthwhile and inevitable.
There are several ethical debates to be had here. For one, are Facebook’s actions of creating the Metaverse going to benefit society or just draw it farther apart? If their actions have harmful results, were their intentions largely positive? Does it even matter? Utilitarians would think not. Furthermore, the timing of the branding was convenient, a clear public relations solution to alleviate some of the criticism that Facebook was receiving due to the whistleblower. Is this type of diversion, one that has been used by various companies before, a fair strategic strategy? Or is manipulating the minds of the public to ignore issues that could be affecting them harmful to society and deceptive? This act of diversion could easily be seen as dishonesty, but whether lying is inherently wrong or if it’s acceptable in the circumstance of saving one’s own reputation is up for discussion between teleological and deontological theorists.
As of now, we’ll have to wait and see how this new chapter in technology adaptation evolves, and determine for ourselves whether we want to see the world with or without an Oculus headset.
Our group chose to focus on Virtue Signaling in the Communications Industry for our final project. Virtue signaling is a tactic commonly used by companies to create an image of being ethically sound in a way that doesn’t reflect actions. Commonly, virtue signaling focuses on topics such as environmental protection (greenwashing), feminism ( purplewashing), LGBTQ+ rights (pinkwashing), and racial equality. Brands will take note of what issue is currently “trending” and then express their views on the topic in order to capitalize on those interested in the cause. However, these statements of interest or surface level actions often fail to be backed by in-depth initiatives and are more about making a dollar than making a difference.
Virtue signaling is not a new concept. Politicians have been using it for as long as they needed the support of the people. Similarly, brands have historically used this tactic to draw in audiences, especially amidst controversy. One notable example was by a cigarette company in 1929. Edward Bernays (commonly known as the father of public relations) was hired to sell cigarettes to an emerging audience- women. To do this, Bernays helped the company to create messaging that implied that these cigarettes were “torches of freedom” that granted equality for women and that the company really cared about women’s rights and the feminist movement. However, the motivation behind this messaging was not to help women, but to capitalize on their struggles. While women fought for workplace equality, this same company released ads encouraging them to lose weight by smoking, a push that helped lead to the toxic diet culture we have today. The smoking rate among women did increase significantly, but so did the health problems associated with smoking. This public relations campaign was just one of many that took advantage of social struggles to increase revenue.
Recently, it is increasingly apparent that younger generations want to invest their time and money into brands that use their platforms to enact community change that they view to be positive. It is now expected for companies to take a stance on controversial issues. However, these brands don’t want to isolate any part of their audience and will therefore take stances that are perfomatory rather than substantial. For example, Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi commercial that featured a protest and demonstrated support for “equality” and “peace” without actually taking a stand in order to look involved without actually taking the risk of taking a stance. This decision backfired, with many saying that it trivialized the Black Lives Matter Protests that were currently going on and with others saying that it was glorifying riot violence.
The ethical considerations to take into account when evaluating these issues center around the teleological understanding of balancing intent versus impact, as well as considering whether the benefits that these companies reap are worth the potential harm caused to others.
We felt that this topic would be enlightening and thought provoking for the class and would encourage them to question their own motives behind their virtuous actions online as well as the motives of companies and public figures.
Personally I do believe “cheating” to be unethical. While I do understand that many times the term cheating can be subjective, I do not believe that “cheating” is defined by one statement and all that can be categorized by cheating is just filed under one word. The goal of this term is to make students/professionals/people make ethical decisions. When looking at the contract cheating article, yes that is technically not cheating as “your” work is not, for example plagiarized, although the goal of labeling this cheating is to enforce the student to do their own work, to actually learn the material. While ethically this may not be incorrect, as a student you should morally want to do your own work and again learn the material.