Grappling with the Gray

Grappling with the Gray #20: No Laughing Matter?

October 03, 2022 Yonason Goldson
Grappling with the Gray
Grappling with the Gray #20: No Laughing Matter?
Show Notes

Few things in life are black and white.  That’s why we have to learn to Grapple with the Gray.

This episode's ethics challenge:

Most humor elicits laughter at someone else’s expense: ridicule, mocking, derision and, frequently, misrepresentation. Late night television has built a cottage industry out of corrosive humor.

It wasn’t always that way.  An old article in Civilization Magazine explained the difference between irony and sarcasm by contrasting late night hosts Johnny Carson and David Letterman.  The ironic Carson often laughed at himself.  The sarcastic Letterman was always laughing at someone else.  Especially disquieting is a study that found sarcastic people are perceived as being more intelligent.

Satire seems to fall in the middle.  I was called to task recently by a correspondent challenging the ethics of my video series, The Ethics Consultant, in which I use the straw man tactic of a one-sided conversation to raise ethical challenges, often in response to headline news.

The commenter wrote:  “I can't think of anything less ethical than to openly discuss something with someone who isn't there and create your own answers for them.”

In principle, his observation is sound.  But do the rules apply equally in the context of satire? Did I cross an ethical line?  Ethical minds want to know.

Caveat: I haven’t invited you because I want you to defend me.  I want an honest discussion of the topic.

Meet this week’s panelists:

Paul Edwards used to drive large military vehicles through the deserts of the Middle East, armed with an assault rifle. Today, he’s a ghostwriter who often gets mistaken for a therapist.
Bonni Scepkowski is an unapologetically triple-vaxxed meeting professional specializing in life sciences who has spent 25 years surrounding herself with people smarter than she is.

Dr. Bruce Weinstein, The Ethics Guy®. Bruce Weinstein aka The Ethics Guy is a speaker, trainer, Forbes contributor, and CEO of the Institute for High-Character Leadership.