Friday, February 12, 2010

Sexting - What to do??

By Tom Grant
PhD student at Center for ETHICS*, University of Idaho


What will you do when someone sexts you a picture?


If you’re under 30, chances are that someone will text you a sexually explicit photo. A recent survey on “sexting” by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that nearly half of the young adults had received a nude or semi-nude photo of someone via cell phone or email. A third of those young people had actually sent such a photo of themselves, generally to a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Despite the private intentions of those messages, sexting has created highly public and criminal dramas around the nation. A 12-year-old and 13-year-old in Indiana are now facing criminal charges for sending nude pictures to each other. Those photos were discovered when a teacher confiscated the girl’s cell phone.

In Ohio, a family is suing their daughter’s ex-boyfriend and other classmates because they shared an explicit photo of the girl. The girl later committed suicide.

In Pennsylvania, six high school students were charged with manufacturing pornography or possession of child pornography in a sexting case. Three girls under the age of 15 sent nude pictures to the boys, and the pictures were discovered on the boys’ cell phones.

In Virginia, a school administrator was charged with failure to report child abuse and possession of child pornography because of his investigation of a sexting case. The photo was discovered on a boys’ phone, it was not immediately identifiable, and the administrator had the student forward it to him so the school could try to determine if any laws were broken. Although charges were eventually dropped, it illustrates the legal danger that sexting creates for everyone involved.

Federal law says that any photo or video showing the “lascivious exhibition of the genitals” of a minor is child pornography. Both those who send such images and those who possess them can be found guilty of crimes. Those convicted of such a crime face a prison term and a lifetime on the sex offenders list. However, no law prevents consenting adults from exchanging nude photos, so the issues may be different for people over 18.

What would you do?

Imagine a friend or acquaintance sent you a sexually explicit photograph. You can’t see the face so you can’t tell who the photo is. You can’t tell if he or she is underage.

Would you forward it to your friends? Yes or No, and why?

Would you delete it? Yes or no, and why?

Would you report it? Yes or no, and why?

Now imagine the photo was sent to you by a friend in high school and it was your sister.

What would you do? And why?

Here’s what Dr. Stoll has to say about what would happen if someone sexted her.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Athletes and Guns - Had to Defend Myself

By Tom Grant
PhD student at University of Idaho Center for ETHICS*


What is wrong with carrying a gun into a locker room?


Following a felony gun conviction and league suspension for his locker room confrontation with a teammate, Washington Wizards basketball player Gilbert Arenas publicly promised to send “a message of non-violence” to young people.

“Guns and violence are serious problems, not joking matters -- a lesson that's been brought home to me over the past few weeks. I thought about this when I pleaded guilty as charged in court and when I accepted my NBA suspension without challenge,” Arenas wrote in a column in the Washington Post.

In the Wizards locker room on Christmas Eve, Arenas and teammate Javaris Crittenton pulled guns on each in a dispute over a $25,000 gambling debt. Crittenden told the court he brought the gun to defend himself because Arenas had threatened to shoot him and burn his car.

He pulled his gun after Arenas laid out three guns in front of Crittenton’s locker with a note that said, “Pick one.” In early statements, Arenas characterized the incident as a joke and that he never intended to hurt anyone.

Both players pleaded guilty to violating the city’s strict law against weapons possession as well as to breaking the NBA’s rule against carrying weapons while at a basketball arena. They were suspended for the remainder of the season.

Arenas promised in an op-ed piece in the Washington Post to be a better role model. Crittenton was sentenced by the court to mentor young people.

Some say the Arenas case is symptomatic of a broader concern, and that many athletes in the NFL and NBA carry guns. Other gun incidents include Chris Mills brandishing a gun during an argument with a teammate on the Trailblazers’ team bus in 2002 and Sebastian Telfair recently caught packing a loaded handgun on his luggage on the Trailblazers’ plane. Many say that “everyone does it.” Others say they need it for protection because as celebrities and athletes they become targets for criminals.

What do you think?

Were Arenas and Crittenton justified in bringing guns into the locker room because “everyone does it”?

Some athletes legitimately fear that they are targets for crime. They may come from backgrounds where guns were part of everyday life. They see their peers in the league carrying weapons. They may fear they’ll be in danger, as Crittenton did, if they don’t carry guns.

However, the NBA promotes itself as family friendly entertainment. Arenas says guns and violence are not joking matters, and that he won’t carry guns because has a duty to be a role model for young fans. Does that affect your decision about whether professional basketball players should bring weapons into the locker room?

Here’s what Dr. Stoll has to say about the Arenas case:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tiger and the Media

From: Tom Grant, doctoral student at the Center for ETHICS*

Does coverage of Tiger Woods’ sexual escapades serve as a personal constraint on people who are considering sex outside marriage? Or is it making marital transgressions seem morally acceptable because so many people commit them?

New York Times columnist Robert Wright says media coverage of Tiger Woods’ marital infidelity, as well as other prominent cases, may be changing our idea of morality — though he’s not sure how it’s changing.
In the article , Wright points to Woods and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford as what he calls “victims of the new transparency.” He says more and more of us are creating records of our behavior through text messages and e-mails, which make it more likely the world will learn about our hidden sexual relationships.
As Vanity Fair summarizes Woods has been a tabloid sensation since a car accident outside his Florida mansion. Gov. Sanford’s affair was discovered by a newspaper when he flew to South American to meet his mistress. Other sports figures and politicians involved in such scandals include Alex Rodriguez, Kobe Bryant, Bill Clinton, and John Edwards. Even though public figures are the ones whose stories will actually make the front pages and nightly newscasts, Wright thinks the coverage could have widespread impact on the general public.
“The resulting parade of foible is bound to affect our values,” he writes. “On the one hand, there could be a drift toward Victorian uptightness. If people are scared that their transgressions will come back to haunt them, then presumably there will be fewer transgressions.”
On the other hand, he says, wide media coverage of every affair of the rich and famous could make such transgressions seem more acceptable to all of us. “In a 1993 essay called ‘Defining Deviancy Down,’ Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan worried that the more common social pathologies became, the more common they would become,” Wright wrote.
Some evidence exists that media coverage of some negative events increases the likelihood of copycat actions, particularly with coverage of suicide and bomb threats. Other research suggests that drawing people’s attention to deviant acts, such as when a park put up signs condemning some visitors for stealing precious artifacts, can actually increase social approval of the action and increase the problem.

What do you think?
Do incidents of sexual escapades teach us that it’s OK to have affairs? Or, do all the sexual escapades warn us about our own behavior?
The answer is not easy. To ferret out a solution to any moral issue, we must first consider reversibility. Ask students to place themselves in the shoes of the people involved. Who is the victim? Tiger Woods? His wife, Elin? Tiger’s children?
Ask : “How you would feel if you were Elin? Or if Elin were your sister or Elin were your mother? How would you would feel if you were Elin’s son or daughter?” We all know someone who has faced the issues of infidelity, and we have seen the consequences. Then ask if the way Elin and her children have been treated the way all people should treat other people.
Now back to the original question, from a personal perspective: Do the students feel desensitized by such sexual transgressions? Are they more fearful of getting caught? Or do they see other values emerging, such as the importance of the promises Elin and Tiger made to each other?
Here’s a look at what Dr. Sharon Kay Stoll has to say about the issue: