Let’s talk about ethics this morning.
Specifically the ethics of this – go on read it, all three pages, I’ll wait. Take a look at the comments under the article too while you’re at it.
Now when I say ethics, I’m not talking about the ethical questioned raised in the article, i.e. should Nadya Suleman have been allowed to have fourteen kids? Should she have gotten counseling first? (assuming that she didn’t). Should somebody have talked her out of having octuplets? (hell, octuplets are so rare that the word octuplet isn’t even in my Blog Editor’s spell checker). Who’s going to pay for their care? How can she afford to raise fourteen kids all by herself. Why is her father working in Saudi Arabia? Who is the father of her children? For that matter who is the mother, since her tubes are supposedly blocked? And etc, and so on and so forth.
Note: some of these questions aren’t exactly ethical in nature, they’re more busy-body in nature actually – masquerading as ethical questions posed by abcNews and other various and sundry entities.
Allow me to answer:
Attention Busy Bodies, here’s the answer to all of your ethical questions regarding the birth of Nadya Suleman’s eight new babies – it’s none of your business. That’s it and that’s all. It’s not your business. You don’t get to dictate how many kids somebody has or by what method. You don’t get to decide. Shut up.
Glad we cleared that up. Thanks for your attention.
Wait a minute, Jim, I hear you say. We though you were going to talk about ethics.
I am, just not Nadya Suleman’s – which, as I’ve noted, are none of my business. I don’t care if the woman has zero kids, or treats her womb like a clown car. It’s not my business.
What is my business, however, are the ethics of the media in this country. When I said lets talk about ethics, the ethics I was referring to are those of Mike Von Fremd, Jim Vojtech, Chris Francescani and Scott Michels (i.e. the band of yahoos who contributed to the article linked to above) – and their employer, abcNews.
Let’s talk about the ethics of standing on a moral pedestal and publishing Nadya Suleman’s personal history, financial history, and medical history. I’m curious as to what, exactly, the details Suleman’s divorce records have to do with the current situation – including speculation that her ex-husband is not the father of any of her children. Let’s discuss the ethics of naming the birth father of some of Suleman’s kids – but none of the octuplets who were supposedly the subject of the story. Let’s talk about the ethics of discussing Suleman’s medical history or the particulars of how she got pregnant in the first place – or why a supposedly legitimate and professional news organization like abcNews is speculating about such things instead of, say, the tabloids – unless of course, abcNews has decided to adopt the ethics of the National Enquirer? Let’s talk about the journalistic ethics of publishing the specific dollar amount of her father’s monthly income and his expected projected income, or her mother’s bankruptcy or the number of houses the family owns – really let’s discuss specifically why the world is entitled to know those particular details? Ethically and all, I mean. Let’s discuss the ethics of publishing the names of her friends, neighbors, and family. Let’s talk about printing the obviously biased opinion of some completely uninvolved fertility expert who has no firsthand knowledge of the case except what he’s read in the paper.
Let’s talk about the ethics of judging a women and printing demonstrably biased sensationalism for no other reason other than to stir up controversy and sell newspapers.
And if you really want to discuss ethics – well, take a look at some of the comments posted under the article. My particular favorite? Well, that would have to be:
can anyone spell Muslim baby machine? the FBI is already looking into it this women is nuts (Posted by: sfpp727 1:53 PM)
Somehow I doubt the FBI is “looking into it,” last I heard the Bush administration has left the building.
Those who know this woman personally call her a “wonderful” mother – those who only read about her in the paper call her variously crazy, selfish, greedy, vain, a publicity hound, irresponsible, criminal, and the list goes on. Every commenter, fueled and inspired by biased sensationalistic reporting, adds a little more to the story, becoming more and more outraged with each passing comment. Denisw1955 writes that he is “really, really ticked off!!! Maybe there should be 8 adoptions in progress for people who can give these little humans real love and care for them responsibly.” Note how Denisw1955 claims the ethical high ground for himself, somehow divining that Suleman doesn’t actually love her children and therefore they should be parceled out to real homes and families like a litter of kittens. I’ve got to marvel at those commenters, like Denisw1955, who demand in outraged tones and cascades of exclamation marks that Suleman’s children be placed into foster care – because they don’t want their tax dollars going to Suleman. Tax dollars? Talk about spontaneous generation of reality. Nowhere in any article I’ve read regarding this woman does it mention that she’s getting government assistance. The article speculates about how she paid for the fertility treatments, or how she paid for the delivery, or how she will pay for childcare – but no validated article definitively says that she received one cent of tax-payer funded assistance. I’m not saying she didn’t, I’m saying I don’t know and neither does pretty much everybody else. But say she is receiving government assistance or will in the future, do people actually think that it will cost less per child to dump them into government sponsored foster care? Also, as far as the moral outrage goes, exactly how is it ethical to break up fourteen siblings simply because it’s supposedly cheaper? Personally, I love the hypocrisy of those who bemoan the burden this women and her brood will allegedly place on their tax dollars – and then in the same comment say that she shouldn’t get one damned cent from interviews or Oprah appearances because that would just be exploitive or evidence of her greed or something.
Understand something – there are certainly some ethical questions here, especially if a fertility specialist implanted more than two eggs into this woman’s uterus and thereby violated state guidelines. But that is a matter for the state medical ethics board, not abcNews and not the mob. I find abcNews and the comments from the outraged readers ethically disingenuous. I wonder where all the articles are, questioning the ethics of allowing the birth of babies addicted to crack or with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or severe birth defects or any other condition that will cost untold amounts of money over the lifetime of the child? Millions of tax dollars. I wonder why abcNews hasn’t published articles questioning the ethics of allowing poor people to have children. Seriously, where do we draw the line abcNews? If Nadya can’t pay for her kids (something that has not actually been proven, only speculated about), what about the millions of others on the public dole who demonstratively can’t pay for theirs? Are one or two welfare dependent kids OK, ethically? If fourteen kids are too many, how many aren’t too many? Ten? Five? One? Where’s your ethical outrage now?
Is Nadya Suleman crazy? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe she just likes kids. Me, I’m overwhelmed with one child. I can’t imagine fourteen – but I’m not Nadya Suleman. Fourteen is a lot of kids … unless you’re a Mormon, or a Roman Catholic, or a … well, no need to belabor the obvious.
Here’s an example of how the article should have been written. Note the number of comments.
Funny how the ethical article about ethics didn’t generate the volume of rabid comments that the unethical article about ethics did, isn’t it?
I wonder what that says about our ethics as a people?
I know what it says about the ethics of selling newspapers.