Skip to content

Super-PACs- Advocacy or News?

May 3, 2012

As a super PAC (political action committee), an organization can raise infinite sums of money from corporations, unions and other groups, as well as rich individuals to support the political agendas of certain groups.

The values of specific television and news networks were surprisingly difficult to research. The values of journalistic ethics include seeking truth and reporting it, minimizing harm, acting independently, and being accountable, according to the Society of Professional Journalists. (Kyouri). Is it the journalist’s responsibility to test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error?

Well, in my opinion, it’s much more fun to just laugh at them and join in on Stephen Colbert’s point of view.


Stephen Colbert made an attempt to poke fun at the effect of Super PAC ads by creating his own, getting FEC approval, and encouraging Iowans to vote for “Rick Parry,” a misspelling of Rick Perry’s name. One television station in Des Moines, Iowa refused to air the ad. Colbert produced two commercials through his PAC” (New York AP p. A6).


The values involved are equality, accountability, accuracy, integrity, fairness, and advocacy. The justice component in the media is that the rich get their way because they have the financial deep pockets. The values of the Super PACs that clash with the supposed values of the media are profit, publicity, political agenda, freedom of speech, power, and self-reliance.

Personally, I would love to see at least one major network refuse to air Super-PAC advertisements.


Peter Elkind, Truth, and Responsibility

April 19, 2012

Peter Elkind spoke to TCU students on Tuesday, April 17. As an investigative business reporter, he spoke to us about the Enron Corporate scandal, and the “Thomas Edison of our time,” Steve Jobs. His main points included the assertions that people are flawed, scandals are complex, and reality gets in the way of ideas worth billions.

The issues with the withheld truth about Steve Jobs’ cancer and the vague disclosure protocols of the company were discussed at length as well. Admittedly, companies can do what they want. Apple, for example can call the shots about both public disclosure and company assembly plant procedure in China and Korea. This doesn’t, however, eradicate discussion about whether the completely internal handling of these issues is entirely ethical.

(CNN) — “Americans have become used to the fact that most of the jobs created by Apple are in China. We know that Steve Jobs told President Barack Obama that “those jobs aren’t coming back.” Recently, an executive at Apple said that the company has no obligation to solve America’s problems by moving some of those jobs back to the United States.

As Apple is trying to get out of the recent controversy surrounding its suppliers’ labor practices in China, where workers put in more than 60 hours a week, the world’s most highly valued company would do well to consider how best to spend and invest its $100 billion cash pile. It needs to realize that what is good for Apple can also be good for the American economy.”

In my opinion, Apple has every right to call the shots with its company. But for the company to claim absolutely no obligation to help America’s employment issues is kind of ridiculous. Apple is mostly U.S. funded, and the origins of most of its products are in the States. Most of their copyright and patent laws tied up in American law, as well.

Sure, moving the jobs to the U.S. won’t work because they are so labor-intensive. But the “Gorilla Glass” is already being made in New York. Apple could have a plan for assembly suppliers, component and part research, and development bases in the United States, like the base currently sourced in Austin, Texas.

Harmony over truth/Palaver Tree

The presentation of the truth, timely, and with dignity and responsibility, can create harmony as a byproduct. Or instead of instant truth, slow truth can be the underlying factor in the characteristic of harmony. This gives more time to fix the wrong, communicate, and bring a new perspective.

I think it depends on the type of truth you are obligated to release. For example, the “scissor incident” with the Dallas Cowboy between Irving and McGyver ultimately worked out for the team, but the withholding of truth from the public is the main issue in this case study. The communication element, or what came out of the team’s comment was driven by stonewalling. Full disclosure was less important than the privacy of the team.

Stonewalling, however, is not always a definite don’t. At some point, after the truth is stated, closing the communication channel is a veritable tool in the PR toolbox, according to Professor Lambiase.

Source Article: Apple has an obligation to help solve America’s problems

Palaver Tree

April 13, 2012

The Palaver Tree is a decision making tactic from ethnic groups in Africa. According to the ritual, time is a servant to the process, in order to let it continue and grow. The Palaver tree uses all-inclusive participation for systematic treatment of all problems. The problems are meant to be viewed holistically, not independently as the symptoms emerge.

The value most apparently emergent with the Palaver Tree is harmony. Other themes are utilitarianism and community.

The Palaver Tree deals with the problem systemically, and it takes a lot of time and discussion; everyone matters and has a chance to participate. One thing the Palaver Tree seems to rely on is privileged opinions, or Elder wisdom. Though in traditional Palaver Tree rituals, women are not involved. However, it could be safe to assume modern Palaver rituals would allow women to voice their opinions equally.

Democratic vs. Representative republic (US). Palaver Trees are indigenous-centered. They mold free debate with consensus building. The right to speak may be the most important part of the problem solving tactic.

Since it is ritualistic, meaning in a placed community, forced connections emerge from repeated patterns of behavior, the goal is different from most North American problem solving goals. For instance, harmony as an end is different than truth as an end. Most Americans wouldn’t be as comfortable with a less-valued “truth”, because it is right and wrong are the ultimate ethical guidelines of Western culture.

Urgency is also an important part of western culture. We are used to deadlines, and sometimes can’t function without them. However, Palaver Tree rituals do not and cannot be completed with a sense of urgency. As discussed in Hamlet’s Blackberry, a balance between extremes (or Aristotle’s Golden Mean) would be the most ideal means to the ends.

How could systematic treatment of problems help people find different answers? How could it open our minds?

Source article: Connecticut Lawmakers Vote to Repeal Death Penalty

(CNN) — “Connecticut’s governor says he will sign a bill abolishing the death penalty, making it the 17th state to abandon capital punishment. On Wednesday night, lawmakers in Connecticut’s House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 86-63. The state Senate approved it last week.”

If the Palaver Tree and communitarianist principles discussed in class are applied to this current event, we can see some common themes emerge.

Let’s imagine a world in which an American state didn’t vote on elected officials who make decisions about the death penalty. In this scenario, Connecticut would be a tribe of people who would gather in one place to voice all and any opinions on this decision before coming to an all-inclusive decision.

With the theme of free speech, each person would have a different opinion based on their morals, values, and life experiences. If someone’s child was murdered, that person might bring forth a long case for the death penalty to remain legal.

The opposite could reign true, and all bets are off about which sides would be taken. The group is too large, and arguments would most certainly erupt. In my opinion, removing any deadlines from the decision would only perpetrate endless discussion and personal accounts.

The other non-death penalty states are Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Would Connecticut’s people want to bring in the professional opinions of other states?

The abolition of capital punishment could also be applied to the Palaver Tree in a different context. The lawmakers and state government officials could be the only ones invited to the discussion. A smaller group of people would take less effort to coordinate and express opposing viewpoints. A vote may even be a practical solution. This, to me, is pretty much the same thing as the House and Senate Voting which has taken place recently. Connecticut’s governor does have to sign the bill for it to become law, which is the only divergence from the Palaver Tree model in a modern world of representative democracy.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said he will sign a bill banning the death penalty that has passed the House and Senate.

The Ethics of Meat Eating

April 5, 2012

In many western societies, there is a stigma and controversy attached to the morality of consuming animal meat and byproducts. Animal rights and the preparation of food are reasons of objection, but as far as a pro-meat-eating argument goes, the only thing that comes to mind immediately is the fact that meat consumption for nutritional value alone is necessary in some underprivileged and underdeveloped countries. Personally, I have internally debated about becoming a vegetarian over and over, always coming to the same conclusion. I just need meat in my diet. Even though some of the treatment of the animals in cruel raising farms upsets me, the actual killing of the animals doesn’t bother me if it is done humanely.

I have tried to cut out certain byproducts, too. Currently, I refrain from eating all red meats, but that is because of health reasons. I have a lot of friends who don’t eat meat because of their faith. My best friend, in fact, has gone vegan for lent, and only eats animals on Sundays as a treat.

Is the consumption of meat vital to our development as humans? Should we value that more than the protection of animal life? Now that we have the ability to evolve without meat, theoretically, should we instate a widespread change in diet?

In class, we discussed the justifications of ends to a means, as in killing for food. This argument leads to the question, where does it end? Is the protection of sentient animals the end, or should we start protecting expensive vegetables too?

The ethical system I want to use as a lens for this issue is distributive justice. If we all had to make the decision whether or not to eat meat without knowing who was benefiting or how the animals are being treated, would we choose mass-production to feed humanity? Would we think that the ends meet the means?

What about from a sustainability standpoint? How long will the privileged be allowed to live in meat-eating capitalist societies? How much more globalization will have to emerge with the sharing and exporting and importing of food?

When we consider how cheap meat is compared to vegan and organic foods, would we be more okay with the meat industry on a purely economical level? I think that animals die no matter how we make our food and live our lifestyles.

To sum up, I do have an ethical problem with the treatment and pain involved in the deaths of animals we eat. I do not have a problem with the actual deaths of animals to feed humans. But since people have become so privileged, going back to not having meat at every meal is not really an option until it’s a necessity. It’s not just a custom, it’s an entitlement.

A quote from Mark’s Daily Apple blog sums up my feelings much better than I can:

“And indeed everyone has blood on their hands as a direct or indirect result of their choices, consumption habits, and dietary practices. Everyone steps on someone else’s toes or hooves or talons or cute little paws or flippers or probosci or roots for “selfish” reasons – even vegans. If meat-eaters are unethical by virtue of their meat-eating, so too is the vegetarian whose grain-based meals came from farmers whose tractors crush small mammals and whose cropland disrupts entire ecosystems. I don’t think either person’s actions are unethical, but I fail to see how someone could think the former was unethical without also taking issue with the latter.  If you’re going to indict eating meat because it kills animals, you also have to indict other dietary practices that also kill animals, like grain – even if those deaths are “unavoidable” or “accidental.” Sure, the farmer may not gleefully set out to murder field mice with his tractor (although the rodenticide used in grain elevators might raise a few eyebrows), but does it matter if the end result – a bunch of dead animals – is the same?” Source

Read more:

More than anything, I think my own values and principles about this stem from my upbringing. My parents always served meat of all kinds. Overall, this is a really tough topic. The deaths of animals is not an attractive thing, people don’t take pleasure in it. I love animals, and I don’t revel in the fact that their lives are forfeit for my meal.

I also agree with Dr. Lambiase that a time is coming for change when humans will have to learn to live without mass meat production. We are all going to have to go through a discussion about the ethics of it vs. the hard and fast solutions to sustainability. Ethically, if we don’t take action about the famine that comes with the lack of distributive justice, then we will have to face the end of the road in which the cycle of nature catches up with us.


March 30, 2012

Apple isn’t just a popular brand anymore, it has become an obsession and even a lifestyle for many. I am a mac user, and I love their customer service, style, and innovation. For 30 years, Steve Jobs’ careful planning of the branding process persuaded the world that they needed a new way to both crave and consume technology. The hype that surrounds even the logo is powerful, not unlike the early and still-pervasive “Change the World” messages in advertising the company uses as it presents itself on the consumers’ side.

Foxconn Pay: Chairman Pledges To Keep Raising

Worker Salaries

“Foxconn Technology Group will keep on increasing worker salaries in China and cutting the hours of work, Chairman Terry Gou said on Sunday, after it came under fire for poor working conditions for employees making Apple iPhones and iPads.”

-Huffington Post


The question posed is: What is a company’s responsibility to the people who makes the products themselves? There is a difference in opinion, and legally the answer is no. Some feel yes is the answer, because Apple has power.


The Tea and biscuit dilemma: One way of construing conclusions about Apple’s attitude towards ethical manufacturing issues is found in their response to criticism when workers fatalities in China became publicly known.

Where else would they respond like that 12 hour shift at a factory? Is any consumer product worth that kind of treatment? Would or should this happen in the U.S.? What Apple cares most about, in their actions, is making the best product possible.

Apple has agreed to 3rd party audits… which brings to light the value of transparency. But exactly how transparent does a company have to be to set a supplier standard? What value statements need to be pushed to the forefront of people’s minds?


I also want to play devil’s advocate with this and ask, should Apple feel obliged to match and cater to its customers’ values? Or should it only care about its image, which, (let’s face it) isn’t in jeopardy.

Violence, Profits, Wealth and Public Trust

March 17, 2012

Violence in the news is inevitable, because it’s completely protected speech. Much of the opposition to suits about pornography or violence are basically: 1. Artistic freedom and aesthetic integrity, 2. Lack of proof, 3. Violence isn’t the result of the media 4. Worry is really caused by fear of social change, 5. Boundaries between news and entertainment programming are fluid.

(Clifford et. al 2009).


In the case of a recent phenomenon in cultural media, the Kony 2012 Invisible Children co-founder was recently arrested.

Didn’t See That Coming of the Day: Jason Russell, co-founder of the controversial nonprofit Invisible Children and the star of its ultra-viral fundraising campaign video KONY2012, was arrested last night in the San Diego neighborhood of Pacific Beach for masturbating in public while under the influence.

The San Diego Police Department says Russell, 33, was taken into custody after he was caught masturbating in public and vandalizing cars. Lt. Andra Brown also noted that he was under the influence, but did not identify the substance.

His overall behavior was said to have been “Very strange.”



UPDATE: Invisible Children has just released the following statement concerning Russell’s public display of self-affection:

Jason Russell was unfortunately hospitalized yesterday suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, and malnutrition. He is now receiving medical care and is focused on getting better. The past two weeks have taken a severe emotional toll on all of us, Jason especially, and that toll manifested itself in an unfortunate incident yesterday. Jason’s passion and his work have done so much to help so many, and we are devastated to see him dealing with this personal health issue. We will always love and support Jason, and we ask that you give his entire family privacy during this difficult time.


This is what I like to call a nice PR distance-and-clean-up statement. No real mention of what this means for the company, just a well-wishing sympathy plea from the concerned affiliates. It’s actually brilliant.

The cases in the textbook deal with the impulses to freedom and the moral boundaries of liberty. Russel’s conduct was both lewd and potentially violent, and his actions are in the limelight because of Kony 2012.

Does violence incite more violence? When we publish stories that portray events like this humorously, are we sending the message that this is supposed to be somewhat acceptable conduct of a public figure?

Also, what does this mean when it comes to public trust of Invisible Children and its profits, especially since public perception of Invisible Children hasn’t exactly been 100% positive lately?


Now, in a more relevant case study, we can dissect “Flesh Gordon” comic books for “mature readers” along with”Ernie Evil” and “Heavy Metal” for the pornographic and graphically violent content.

Violence dominates these comics. Women blow themselves up with guns, blood, poison, slime and rot are pervasive, and not surprisingly these comics seem pitched for ages higher than seven.

You can throw the First Amendment at the $300 million comic industry, or you can face the loyalty questions. Do the comics hurt a reader’s capacity to be a moral member of society, or can we even talk about it with those who depend on decision making for them?

The textbook suggests applying the potter box, and also suggests that the real morality test lies in what we can talk about (content-wise of entertainment reading) with those we admire and respect. I’m not sure if this is the best application of fairness or morality because most kids aren’t going to value their entertainment any less if they don’t feel comfortable discussing it with authority figures. If anything, it makes video games and comic books more appealing when they are taboo.


CIPA and the Veil of Ignorance

March 16, 2012
All parties step away from real circumstances to an “original position” behind a veil where roles and social differences are eliminated.
The things one needs to forget to apply distributive justice include, but are not limited to:
The Veil of Ignorance is supported by the idea that “blind averages” or majority rule does not promote fairness in situations where social contracts are necessary.
OUTCOME: protection of the “weaker party” and “minimization risk” (p. 20).
Act linking Federal Funding for public libraries to filtering software that would prevent kids from “unhealthy exposure to material beyond their maturity” (p. 304). The Supreme Court 6-3 decision was rendered June 2003.
“Protecting children is okay, said the majority, and doing so through public library filters is okay. It’s the least intrusive means of protecting the innocence of youth without baby-bibbing the maturity of adults” (p. 304).
The underlying effect would be  considering all the positions at once, and not making a judgment based on your standing. Is the CIPA fair, if everyone is equally unaware of their position in society?
In this case, it’s the protection of the children whose parents neglected or failed to teach internet safety are the ones who benefit most from the CIPA. Whether or not the justice delivered with this law was perfect is not the issue, but it illustrates an example of a case where blind decision-making would be beneficial.