A Peaceful Death is Necessary

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The Topic Set that I have decided to write about is death.  Death is something that is eventually inevitable.  By definition, death is “the permanent cessation of all biological functions that sustain a particular living organism”.  Abortion, euthanasia, animal rights and the death penalty all result in death one way or another.  My claim about death is that for the betterment of society as a whole sometimes death is necessary, but in a way that is peaceful.  My claim regarding death is important to societal morality because I believe society has the moral obligation to protect the rights and safety of their citizens. I believe that death sometimes being necessary should be accepted worldwide as okay because it has a positive outcome on society.  Some oppositional claims about my my topic regarding death, might be that life should be valued more than death and that death is never necessary for the betterment of society.  It is important that death is sometimes necessary to keep us and future generations out of harms way and in safe hands. In the following paragraphs, I will argue that since death is a necessary outcome for the betterment of society, we must support the ethical issues including abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty and animal rights.  Each of these ethical issues connect one way or another, all for the betterment of society.

Having demonstrated the importance of death, I assert in order for death to be successful we must work to support worldwide access to the pro-choice option of abortion. By definition, abortion is the “termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability”.  Abortion is human intervention that does not allow a developing fetus to be born that results in termination or in other words death. Pro-choice movements advocate for legal access to abortion and offer women the right over their own body.  My perspective on this issue is in support of pro-choice.  I believe that if it is your body, then therefore it should be your choice and unalienable right to decide the future for yourself and for your unborn fetus.  Based on our readings we discussed in class, the health of the mother is the ultimate importance and someone who took all the right precautions to prevent pregnancy should not be at fault.  We also discussed individual’s not having a moral obligation to none but themselves.  The first scenario based on not being at fault if taking the proper precautions, was about a woman keeping her window open to let the cool breeze in on a hot summer night, with a screen.  Although her window was open with only a screen, she did not ask for a robber to sneak in through the window.  I thought the window being open stood for the woman’s choice of being sexuality active and the screen on the window symbolized her responsible choice of using birth control or another contraception to prevent pregnancy.  Although she was taking the proper precautions there was still a slim possibility of a robber breaking in or in other words having an unplanned pregnancy, as an outcome of keeping her window open or in other words being sexuality active.  The second scenario involves one having no moral obligations to no one but themselves.  In class we had a discussion about Judith Thomson’s reading.  This argument was based on imagining being kidnapped and waking up one morning, finding yourself attached to the circulatory system of a famous violinist who will die if you unplug yourself.  In my own words I thought about it like this, imagine waking up connected to someone, but not by choice.  If you decided to unplug yourself from this other individual then the outcome would result in their death.  I believe that unplugging yourself does not make you cruel, bad intentioned or a killer even though it does result in their death.  Not only do I not think a woman is not morally obligated, but also that a woman should have safe access to an abortion.  In recent years, abortion restrictions have made abortion harder to access and harder to afford, making it just as inaccessible to many women as it would be if it were outright illegal.  As an outcome of inaccessibility of abortions, thousands of women are admitted to hospitals every year for septic abortions when the procedure was illegal, either from unsafe and unsanitary back-alley providers or their own amateur attempts at home.  Ireland and some African nations banned abortion, except in cases where the woman’s life or health is life threatening.  In Peru, abortion is legal only if it is performed in order to save a woman’s life or health.  This is a life or death decision that only goes as far as ten percent in women.  This law means that it is legal for doctors to refuse abortions, even for young girls who have been a victim of rape.  According to a pro-choice article, researchers estimate that 35,000 pregnancies occur every year in Peru as a result of rape.  This leaves women and girls with either seeking an illegal abortion and facing legal action or suffering with psychological effects of giving birth to their rapist’s child.   It is believed that hundreds of the country’s women die each year as a result of the government refusing to legalize abortions.  Tragically, illegal abortions are the third most common indirect cause of death for pregnant women.  A story that I found very interesting was an article titled, “A 13-year-old’s life destroyed”.  It was about a teenager from Peru who was the target of frequent sexual assaults and became pregnant at the age of thirteen.  Confused and desperate, she jumped from the rooftop of a building in the hopes of ending her life.  Hours later she was rescued and taken to the hospital, where she was found to be in danger of total paralysis if she did not undergo an emergency operation on her spine.  In the United States the circumstances would have been different, but since she was pregnant surgeons refused to perform the procedure, claiming that it would endanger the fetus and therefore be illegal.  This surgery was this thirteen year old’s only hope of ever walking again.  The issue regarding abortion relates to my chosen topic of death because abortion may be viewed as the choice of your own life over one’s death.  Some possible opposing views to my perspective may be that there are other options that include adoption and abstinence, but what if you are taking the proper precautions or are a victim of rape?  Society may view people who decide to terminate their pregnancy as careless and as people who take advantage of the system.  Unfortunately, you cannot draw a line between an individual who is a victim of rape and an individual who took all of the right precautions to someone who has had a numerous amount of procedures performed due to carelessness.  At the end of the day, my claim remains the same due to the fact that all women worldwide should have the choice to do what they want with their own body.  This includes access to peaceful, safe and sanitary surgical procedures, that would avoid the danger of women trying to perform this termination on their own. I believe for the betterment and safety of society, abortion should be legal and accessible worldwide to avoid the danger of harmful and unsanitary self-induced abortions resulting in negative psychological and physical effects.

 Building on that same principle of death being necessary for the betterment of society, we must also support euthanasia and advocate for pro-choice regarding euthanasia for patients worldwide as well.  The second issue within this topic set that I will discuss is physician assisted suicide.  My perspective on this ethical issue regarding euthanasia is the pro-choice perspective as well.  I believe that terminally ill patients should not have to suffer and should have the right to decide when and how they will go.  They should have the right over their own body and the choice to leave this world by a death that is peaceful should be necessary. According to one of our readings by J Hardwig, “there can be a duty to die before one’s illnesses would cause death.”  I completely agree with Hardwig because I believe that one should enjoy whatever remaining quality of life they have left and should have the right to choose whether or not they want to suffer, and should be able to decide when they want to end their suffering.  This issue relates to my chosen topic of death because euthanasia includes the choice of when and how your death will occur.  Euthanasia relates to abortion, because they both have two different perspectives including pro-choice vs. pro-life.  In the case of both abortion and euthanasia, termination and death are necessary for the betterment of society.  In order to prevent patients and mothers dangerously trying to terminate their own lives and the life of their fetus, it is important to have the full support of a doctor who would perform the procedure.  Psychological and physical scarring can result in both cases resulting in negative effects on the individual and many people around that patient or mother.  My perspective on both of them is your body, your choice.  Some possible oppositions to my perspective may be the questioning of whether or not it is ones ultimate decision.  Patients may want to end their suffering one day, but may want to continue fighting later on down the road.  Ultimately, as long as it is the patients decision then I support this practice.  Also medical professionals may not always have the right diagnosis or give the patient the accurate amount of time they have left to live.  Many oppositions to my perspective may value life over death.  In an article I read titled, “Should euthanasia or physican-assisted suicide be legal?” it stated that opponents of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide contend that doctors have a moral responsibility to keep their patients alive.  I disagree with these opposing views because these people aren’t in these suffering patients shoes.  The patients and their loved ones are hurting as well.  In order to not have a suffering society, euthanasia should be accessible and supported worldwide in order to avoid psychological and physical pain of patients and the world they effect around them.

Continuing to build on the principle of death, we must also support that the death penalty.  Just like abortion and euthanasia, I believe that death in this case results in the betterment of society as long as it is done in a peaceful manner. The third issue within this Topic Set that I will discuss is the death penalty. My perspective on this issue is that I am for capital punishment.  In order for a safe society to thrive I don’t think murderers should have the possibility of rehabilitation or accessibility to be on the streets again.  According to the New York Times, a high percentage of convicted killers kill again out of prison.  I ask myself is capital punishment moral?  I will defend capital punishment on the grounds that society has a moral obligation to protect the safety and welfare of its citizens. Murderers threaten this safety and welfare and only by putting murderers to death can society ensure that convicted killers do not kill again.  I believe that the death penalty is an appropriate consequence for ones actions which results in a safer society.  Although I believe death is necessary in this case, since there is room for the possibility of human error, I believe death is necessary but in a way that is peaceful since their is a possibility of existing innocent souls on death row that don’t deserve to suffer.  In class we talked about a man from Norway who murdered 77 innocent people with a bombing and shooting spree.  In the United Stated a terrorist act to this degree would have received the death penalty but since there is no death penalty in Norway, Anders Breivik will only serve 21 years in Norwegian prison, which includes living conditions of what appears to look like a dorm room.  In fact this prison system is majorly based on rehabilitation, something I clearly don’t agree will provide stability and safety for society.  This relates to my chosen Topic of death because death would be the consequence in this case that has a positive effect on society.  A life for a death or a death for a life. This issue relates to abortion because it is choosing “death” over life.  Some possible oppositions to my perspective may include the room for human error and the possibility of rehabilitation.  There are people who have been convicted guilty of murders that have been found innocent through DNA testing and false convictions.  I believe that our science is getting more advanced day by day and that appeals are being answered.  I don’t believe murderers are fit to go back into society through rehabilitation.  In order for a safer society for civilians, the death penalty is necessary but in a way that is peaceful since there is room for human error.

In order to enact that death is necessary but in a peaceful manner, abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty must be supported, and it follows that we should support animal rights as well.  The fourth issue I will discuss is animal rights.  I am against animal cruelty and believe that there should be stricter laws enforced regarding this issue.  Although I am aware that sometimes the death of animals may be necessary for the circle of life, I believe the treatment and death of animals should not be as cruel as it is today in society.  Production and money are ultimately chosen over the quality of life of animals and nature overall.  A great example I would like to share is Temple Grandin, who has become one of the top scientist in the humane handling of livestock on cattle ranches and slaughterhouses.  She revolutionized systems used to prepare cows for slaughter, as well as the design of the slaughterhouse themselves.  Even though she wasn’t fighting to stop the production, she fought to get rid of horrible and harsh conditions cattle don’t deserve.  Although death may be necessary for the circle of life, it should only be done in a way that is peaceful because animals are innocent souls that don’t deserve to suffer.  Us as human beings are part of the circle of life and are at the top of the food chain, which I don’t think makes us bad intentioned because it is human nature.  Although it is questionable whether or not animals are morally obligated to none but themselves and whether or not nature was put on this planet to become part of mass production in a slaughterhouse, I believe that for the betterment of society and to make the world go round the circle of life including the death of an animal is inevitable.  The reason I emphasize that death is sometimes necessary is because in the in class article by Kant, he talks about someone feeling bad if they destroy a creature for no reason, something I completely agree with.  If killing an animal is just out of pure cruelty with no reason such as a source of nutrition, then I think it is wrong.  Giving animals the right to a peaceful death relates to my point regarding euthanasia. When it comes to the point that an animal’s or a patient’s death is inevitable, they still do not deserve to suffer or die for no reason.   I think humans deserve the right of dying peacefully and the right over their own body, which brings me back to abortion. Even though our place at the top of the food chain may be necessary and our right, just like my point regarding the death penalty, there is still a possibility innocent souls that don’t deserve to suffer.

Regarding these four issues, abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty and animal rights, I would assert my claim that for the betterment of society death is sometimes necessary, but always in a peaceful manner.  Society has a moral obligation to keep society safe in a supportive manner.  Some people may value life over death, but it is important to realize that sometimes death is for the better.  In my opinion, the laws regarding the issue of abortion and euthanasia should be pro-choice.  When regarding capital punishment and animal rights I believe that death is necessary in these cases to make the circle of our society go round, but in a way that is peaceful due to the existence of innocent souls.  My perspective of death sometimes being necessary to result in the betterment of society, includes the safety and the rights we as a society deserve.  I believe the laws should be similar to what I personally believe because I have the moral obligation in my mind that reflects on the betterment of society.  In my opinion, some specific steps that could/should be taken by society includes continued protests by organizations advocating for not only individual but worldwide pro-choice regarding euthanasia and abortion, along with fighting for the peaceful deaths for everyone and anything deserves.  It is important to become critical of these issues in today’s society and fight for the positive future for all!

Sources regarding abortion: “A Defense of Abortion” Judith Jarvis Thomson, www.ncregister.com/un-harshly-critized-for-puching-abortion-in-peru

Sources regarding euthanasia:  “Is There a Duty to Die?” John Hardwig, http://euthanasia.procon.org/

Sources regarding the death penalty: “The Ultimate Punishment: A Defense”  Ernest Van Den Haag, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/03/opinion/death-penalty-new.html

Resources regarding animal rights: “On Duties to Animals” Immanuel Kant, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/05/arts/television/05grandin.html

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“Doctor Death”

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Dr. Jack Kevorkian also known as “Doctor Death,” was a medical pathologist who willfully assisted dozens of terminally ill people end their lives.  Before he passed away at age 83 in 2011, he become the central figure in the drama surrounding the ethical issue of assisted suicide nation wide.  In arguing for the right of the terminally ill to choose how and when they die, Dr. Kervorkian challenged social taboos about disease and dying while defying prosectors and the courts.  He spent eight years in prison after being convicted of a second-degree murder in the death of about 130 ailing patients whose lives he had helped end, beginning in the year of 1990.  He was originally sentenced to 10-25 years in 1999, after making an agreement with authorities that he would never perform an assisted suicide again. But because his first assisted suicide took place in Oregon, where state lawnmakers had made it legal for doctors to prescribe lethal medications to help terminally ill patients end their lives, in 2006 the U.S. Supreme Court decided a lower court ruling.  The Unites States Supreme Court found that Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act protected assisted suicide as a legitimate medical practice.  During the time period where Oregon was considering it’s law, Dr. Kevorkian gained much scrutiny from critics and even agreement from supporters.

In the late 1980’s after an undistinguished career in medicine, Dr. Kevorkian rediscovered his previous fascination of death, only now his interest was not private but a matter of public policy.  After graduating from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1952, he later became a resident at the University of Michigan Medical Center where Dr. Kevorkian proposed giving murderers condemned to die the option of being executed with anesthesia in order to subject their bodies to medical experimentation and allow the harvesting of their healthy organs. He delivered a paper on the subject to a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1958.

From May 1994 to June 1997, Dr. Kevorkian stood trial four times for the deaths of six different patients.  On March 26, 1999, after a trial that lasted less than two days, a Michigan jury found Dr. Kevorkian guilty of second-degree murder. That trial came six months after Dr. Kevorkian had videotaped himself injecting “Thomas Youk, a patient suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), with the lethal drugs that caused Mr. Youk’s death on September 17, 1998”.  Dr. Kevorkian sent the videotape to the new program “60 Minutes,” which broadcast it on November 22. The tape showed Dr. Kevorkian going well beyond assisting a patient in causing his own death by performing the injection himself. The broadcast, which prompted a national debate about medical ethics and media responsibility, also served as prime evidence for the first-degree murder charge brought by the Oakland County prosecutor’s office.

Dr. Kevorkian was known as “a reckless instrument of death” who “poses a great threat to the public.”  I’m not sure if I view Dr. Kevorkian as a threat because I do not consider him a murderer.  I believe that he was only conducting these assisted suicides because they were wanted by the patients in the first place.  In the end a little part of me still considers it  an unethical practice since he was conducting these assisted suicides illegally, but I do believe if it is your body, then it is your choice.  If a patient is terminally ill I believe he or she should choose the way they would like to go.

How Young Is Too Young to Face the Death Penalty?

“Hammer Murder: Florida Teen Charged as Adult But Can’t Get Death Penalty”

The Florida teen accused of killing his parents with a hammer and then hosting a party at his house, while his parents lay dead in their master bedroom, was charged as an adult in July of 2011 but was not eligible for the death penalty because of his age.  According to prosecutors, at the time of the murder, life in prison without parole was the only viable option for this teen.  Tyler Hadley, 17, was charged with two counts of second degree murder and assembling a grand jury, was the only way to prosecute Hadley for first degree murder.  In Florida, first degree murder consists of two punishments; the death penalty for people 18 or older, or life in prison without parole.  Prosecutors made the decision to seek first degree murder chargers against the teen after seeing the gruesome damage done to the bodies of Hadley’s parents during the medical examiner’s autopsy.

Hadley’s neighbor called police around 2:30 a.m. Sunday, July 16th, to report a noise complaint.  At that time the party that Hadley had organized via Facebook earlier that day seemed to be coming to a close.  Police sent a patrol car and saw evidence of a house party, but didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.  A couple hours later police received an anonymous tip from a partygoer, saying that the Hadley’s had been murdered.  When police returned to the house, they found the Hadley’s dead in the master bedroom around 4:20 a.m. that same Sunday.  The teenager appearing “nervous and panicky,” told officers his parents were out of town.  When police checked the house they found the bodies of his parents, Blake and Mary-Jo Hadley behind their locked master bedroom covered with books, clothes and other household items, with a 22 inch framing hammer between their two bodies.  Both parents were reportedly killed before the party even began.

“Tyler Hadley’s defense for allegedly bludgeoning his parents to death will probably be “involuntary intoxication”.  Hadley, who is 18 now, was 17 years old, when he allegedly beat his parents, Mary Jo Hadley, 47, and Blake Hadley, 54, to death with a hammer at the family’s home and then sent out invitations via Facebook for a party at the house.

In an apparent reference to an insanity plea, Hadley wrote in a November 29th letter from the St. Lucie County Jail, to his best friend and the prosecution’s key witness: “We do have a very strong defense and could beat the (first-degree murder) charge if we go to trial. I could be lookin’ at 20-40 years in the pen, but at least I’ll get out. If I plead insanity and go to a state hospital, I’m lookin’ at 10 or 15 years. That’s what I pray for.”                                                     His best friend told reporters that Hadley took three pills of the psychoactive drug commonly known as ecstasy before the homicides: “He said he couldn’t do it sober.”  If convicted of first-degree murder, Hadley faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Because of his age at the time of the homicides, he cannot be executed.”

How do you host a party at the same house, with your parents dead in their master bedroom?  How can you live with yourself?  After reading this article I am in complete disgust.  I believe Tyler Hadley deserves to face first-degree murder, even if he was 17 years old at the time of the murder.  While reading this article, I started reading another disturbing story about a ten year old boy who confesses to shooting his mother in the back of the head over a heated argument about his assigned chores.  It saddens me and I begin to question do children really deserve the death penalty? How young is too young to face the death penalty? What I do believe is that even though Tyler Hadley was a teenager at the time of the murders, he should face first-degree murder and receive the punishment of an adult along with any other human being who is a murder and is a threat to our society.

Welfare Reforms in the UK, Good or Bad?

Today I read an article on welfare reforms in the UK that are changing lives.  The question is, are these changes positive or negative?  Well here is some background…

Passing welfare reforms into law and presenting the biggest welfare to work program the UK has ever seen for a promising future has been introduced by Conservatives.  Their goal is to help people escape poverty, not trap them in it, which is why they are reforming welfare, universal credit, caping benefits, getting people back to work, including the young and reforming disability benefits.  The government believes that they’re delivering the reform their country needs.

Changes towards Getting People Back to Work, Reforming Disability Benefits and Getting Young People Into Work include…

Since the Conservatives came to power, nearly 1.2 million new jobs in the private sector were created since the election, leading to 700,000 more people in work .  They presented the ‘Benefits Cap’ so that those out of work cannot get more benefits than the average person earns in work.  They combined work-related benefits and tax credits into one, creating the ‘Universal Credit’ that ensures going to work will always pay more than remaining on benefits. Also, the goal is to reform Disability Living Allowance to the Personal Independence Payment, including a more objective assessment process so that disabled people get the support they need. It is the biggest welfare program the UK has ever seen, by tackling benefit fraud, replacing job initiatives with a single program that helps people back into work and gives them the support they need. A Youth Contract has also been set up to help tackle youth unemployment, which gives wage incentives for businesses who take on 18-24 year olds.  Conservatives are committed to continue spending over £40 billion a year on support services for disabled people, but to be sure that the support is going to those who need it most, they’re moving forward with the Disability Living Allowance.  By 2014 they will have reassessed 1.5 million people who receive the Incapacity Benefit, through the Work Capability Assessment.  The priority is to support those facing the greatest barriers to living an independent life.

Along with these reforms, thousands will lose legal aid.  Branded by Labour a “day of shame” for the legal aid system, the cutoff to claim legal aid will be a household income of £32,000, and those earning between £14,000 and £32,000 will have to take a means test. Family law cases including divorce, child custody, immigration and employment cases will be badly affected.  A bedroom tax will also be introduced, the aim is to tackle overcrowding and encourage a more efficient use of social housing. “Working age housing benefit and unemployment claimants deemed to have one spare bedroom in social housing will lose 14% of their housing benefit and those with two or more spare bedrooms will lose 25%. An estimated 1m households with extra bedrooms are paid housing benefit. Critics say it is an inefficient policy as in the north of England, families with a spare rooms outnumber overcrowded families by three to one, so thousands will be hit with the tax when there is no local need for them to move. Two-thirds of the people hit by the bedroom tax are disabled.”  This reform estimates savings of £465m a year. As many as 660,000 people in social housing will lose an average of £728 a year.

Now the question is, are these actions to date and planned actions the UK’s prospering present and promising future? With sweeping changes in the fields of welfare, justice, health and tax… What do the people think of the UK’s reforms and changes?  There is a lot of negative responses to these changes.  There will be many people affected by these cuts and people find it hard to understand how these reforms are going to save money and not cost more in the long term.  Do you think the government is hurting the poor and the disabled by making them vulnerable through these reforms, or do you think this is the positive and necessary change their country needs?

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne welfare changes

Chancellor, George Osborne defends welfare reforms as necessary to fix a broken system as protests against change grow louder.  Osborne insists welfare changes are a positive reform of a bloated system in the increasingly bitter war over welfare.

http://www.gov.uk/governement/policies

What is it to be a Man vs. a Woman these Days?

There are three different systems in the ecological model, the macrosystem, exosystem, mesosystem and the microsystem.  The macrosystem has the greatest effect on our society and culture, while having a cascading effect on the other systems.  Today I want to focus on the greatest level, the macrosystem and its affect of media on our society.  Media communicates messages to us, through images and messages that shapes our norms and beliefs of the future.  Most of all it influences our expectations of ourselves, others, our life and of the world. Mass Media and advertising is a powerful source to large amounts of people at once.

In what ways do advertisers use violence and sexual content to portray women and men?

What is to be a man…

Sexism and Violence through media and advertising, teaches us what is to be a man, aggressive and tough.  These are messages we learn, not messages we are born with.  A billboard or a add in a magazine is what influences us and through family reinforcement, it continues to all different levels.

Also for women…

What matters? Hair, clothes, shoes.  It is hard to not let anyone tell you how to behave when you are influenced through constant stereotypes shown through advertisements in magazines for women like Cosmopolitan which targets women and Seventeen magazines which target teens from the start.

When sexualized violence is used, to portray women as willing sex objects and men as violent aggressors, what effect does this have on both genders conception of sex roles and sexuality?

First off we must realize what messages are being sent to us and our generations to come and become critical and begin to question these messages.  Why is it dangerous to accept these messages? Because we are going along with the status quo and the things we see in advertisements are soon defined as normal.  If we don’t question them, these things just become another norm.

How do the messages we see through advertising affect the way we think and behave about women?

For example stereotypes are assumptions that have a great lasting affect on both genders conception of sex roles and sexuality.  Sexual imagery is defined as a genre when it comes to advertising.  The depiction of women’s sexuality and bodies are used to draw attention of viewers.  Culture teaches us to be men and women through images and videos of advertising.  The fantasy of female characters are used across all different kinds of advertising.  It depicts women as ravenous creatures who desire sex at any time and are presented as aggressors who won’t take no for an answer.  Multiple women drapped over a man, which is the “cliche” of also being defined as a man.  Women are objectified sexual beings who are a lot of times only understood through a man as being even more sexualized and having value.

 Advertising further sexualizes women’s behavior, especially when men aren’t around through objects of substituion.

Now for men, it is all about masculinity and control.  They are demonstrated as controlling a woman and her body in many advertisements. Control, powerful and forceful are three key words that come to mind when it comes our depiction of men in advertising.  Images teach men to feel entitlement in the real world and therefore are known as the pursuers or the one’s that want to be that guy in the advertisement.

Where is the Line between Porn and Prostitution?

Escort services and adult films are said to be engaged in what is essentially the same activity.  Do you think pornography qualifies as prostitution?  Prostitution is the practice or occupation of engaging in sexual activity with someone for payment.  Pornography is printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity.  By contrast, prostitution is generally understood as the trading of sex for money, while pornography involves a customer paying an actor for providing sexual services to another actor, while receiving no sexual favors himself/herself in return.

Where should the line be drawn when it comes to porn and prostitution then?  “New York Penal Law defines a prostitute as a person who engages, agrees or offers to engage in sexual conduct with another person in return for a fee.  A pornographic actor does just that; like a more typical prostitute, he or she engages in sex in return for a fee”.  So, why does court protect adult movies?  The U.S. Supreme Court would hold that pornographic actors are indeed engaged in First-Amendment protected activity, as long as obscenity is not involved.  The ultimate demand for pornography comes from the viewer of pornography, therefore the “enjoyment” of pornography is therefore as “speech,” rather than as action.

The porn-or-prostitution issue came up in the 1980’s, when California prosecutors argued that an adult film producer named Harold Freeman was guilty of “pimping” women because he had hired five women to perform sexual actions for a movie called Caught From Behind II.  The court ruled that anti-pimping laws weren’t intended to apply to pornographic films.  Even if the actors had engaged in prostitution, it was ruled that applying the anti-pandering laws to “skin flicks” would impinge on the First Amendment.

Pornography has enjoyed the First Amendment protection since the 1950’s.  In the early 20th century, pornography was considered obscene, even though it was rare.  It wasn’t until adult movies became more popular that authorities paid more attention to this arising issue.  In a 1957 Supreme Court case, Roth vs. United States, Justice Brennan concluded that obscenity wasn’t protected by the First Amendment, but also defined it, which effectively legitimized most pornography.

Researching this subject made me think about how far our society has come to socially accept something like Playboy magazine.  Marilyn Monroe famously posed nude for a calendar in 1949 and landed on the front cover of the first edition of Playboy in 1953. She was the first centerfold for the .50 cent Playboy Magazine and since posing for nude photos during the 50’s was not common, exposing herself bare in Playboy magazine could have been seen as controversial along with the possibility of hurting ones career.  Although, instead of hurting her career, these images enhanced it and the Hollywood sex symbol never regretted taking these pictures for she was and will always be known as a sex siren on the Silver Screen.  Marilyn Monroe felt that she did not commit a crime or do anything wrong, for it was her choice to pose nude in front of the camera.  This first edition of Playboy sold 54,175 copies leading up to the best selling edition almost 20 years later of 7,161,561 copies.  Today, Playboy Company is valued at over $185 million and is still growing.

BLOW

BLOW

I can’t get enough of the 2001 film Blow, which  is one of my favorite dramas.  Johnny Depp who is one of my favorite actors, plays George Jacob Jung who was a major player in the cocaine trade in the United States during the 1970’s and early 1980’s.  I find this film very intriguing because it is a true story based on a single man who grew up in a working class family during the 1950’s and was able to gain enough power, wealth and knowledge to eventually establish the American cocaine market.  George Jung’s father was a hard worker who owned his own plumbing and heating company, also known as George’s hero as a little boy.  As hard as his father worked though, he never earned enough money to make George’s mother happy.  Eventually business got slow and it wasn’t enough, so his father lost everything and their family went bankrupt.  From that moment on, George knew he never wanted to live like that and becoming poor would be the last thing he did, even though his father always taught him that money had no worth.  Therefore, he got as far as possible and moved to California in 1968 with his best friend Tuna with $300 in his pocket.  California introduced a new world to him with new liberated and independent ideas.  George needed money, wanted it fast and selling marijuana in California was the answer to all his problems.  His girlfriend Barbara at the time, introduced George to Derek Foreal who was a Manhattan Beach legend, to score dope.  It was no nickel and dime game with Derek, it was serious business and he started selling large right away.  George who earned the nickname “Boston George” and his best friend became the Kings of Manhattan, with a great reputation.  Eventually, they expanded and moved their grass back east.  College kids on the east coast couldn’t get pot like this and they had money to spend.  George and his partner Derek decided to move 100 pounds a week through his girlfriend Barbara who was a stewardess. His product started selling at a rapid rate, it was a feeding frenzy and from that point on it was no longer small potatoes.  He therefore went straight to the source, cut out the middle man and went to Mexico.  It was a great time in his life, he worked hard and played even harder.  His next endeavour was Chicago, but that was the end of his reign when he was busted with 666 pounds of marijuana with the intent to distribute and was sentenced to five years in the penitentiary.  Prison for George was a crime school.  George and his cellmate Diego were two criminal minds with experience of breaking the law and smuggling.  They formulated a plan in prison to smuggle cocaine into the United States from Colombia, which would start as soon as George was released in 1976.  This product from Colombia was so pure that George and his old partner Derek, sold 110 pounds of blow in 36 hours.  George was a legend now and was working directly with the head drug lords of Colombia.  Cocaine exploded among the American culture like an atomic bomb and George and his crew were a huge part in the making.  It was a market-place that George created, which eventually lead to consequences that dramatically changed his life by affecting his family, health and future.  George Jung’s gain of wealth and power was eventually diminished by having to pay the price.

There are many ethical issues presented in this film.  George’s views on drug use and addiction and crime and violence are two ongoing dilemmas presented throughout the story.  Cocaine exploded among the American culture like an atomic bomb.  It started in Hollywood and moved east in no time.  Everyone was doing it, from ordinary people to celebrities, politicians and other authority figures.  If you snorted cocaine in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s, there was an 85% chance it came from George and his crew.  Cocaine was a status drug for the wealthy during this time and even the poor.  With the rise of cocaine, came the rise of crime.  From hotel rooms to alleyways, coke was consumed by a large percentage of the American population, even considering the potential toxicity of the drug.  Blow was a dangerously addictive drug that grew to a feverish pitch and George Jung played a large role in this outburst.  While George was living large, he didn’t stop to think that what he was doing was wrong, even though millions were left broke and mentally debilitated after years of ongoing use of this drug.  The financial and health state of many sank to an ultimate low, leading to many deaths across America.  The cocaine epidemic presented widespread cocaine trafficking and violent drug wars among dealers resulted in crime and violence.  Power and money were the name of the game, and if the ones cut short were the ones charge, the results were only negative.  George also used the system to his advantage.  He did not make ethical decisions in or out of jail.  Jail was known as a crime school for him.  He went into jail with a bachelor of marijuana and came out with a doctorate of cocaine.  His timed served was replaced with corrupt plans for the future, along with spreading his knowledge to other criminal minds about smuggling illegal drugs.

George’s ethical positions remain similar throughout the movie.  He had no respect for the law.  He didn’t believe that his consumption nor his distribution of cocaine was wrong.  George didn’t take into consideration that he was harming millions, as long as he was living a lavish and powerful life, money was his only concern.  Working with other drug lords, made it inevitable to avoid violence.  His criminal mind set perceived his knowledge of smuggling as tools and the key to success, not just for him but for many.  When teaching others with a lower educational status in prison, he taught them about the history of America, along with his history and knowledge of smuggling illegal drugs.  He crippled the system even more than it already was, by arming convicted criminals with more illicit knowledge that would detriment the future of our society.

A fallacy that is presented in this film is when George presents his deceptive and false notions and beliefs regarding the law to the court, when he was sentenced to five years in prison for smuggling 666 pounds of marijuana across the Chicago border.  He was accused of possession and intent to distribute, and when he was asked to address the court he pleaded not guilty and said that he didn’t believe what he did was a crime.  He thought it was illogical and irresponsible that the judge send him to prison.  In his own words, he said that “when you think about it what did I really do? I crossed an imaginary line with a bunch of plants.”  He didn’t believe he was an outlaw and believed he was never weak and always strong.  He had a power mind set and believed that it wasn’t him that the law should be looking for.  In response the judge jokingly responded saying that although his concepts were interesting, he still broke the law because the line he crossed was real and the plants he brought with him were illegal.

Although George had a criminal mindset for the majority of his life, at the end of the story he has a shift in his perspective.  His opinions of everything he did not being wrong, shifted to everything not being worth it.  Sooner or later, he was strippped of his money and his power, that resulted in the loss of his wife and his most prized possession, his daughter.  He said in the end he was left with pieces of his heart missing, but when he goes to sleep at night he can still crack a smile knowing that his ambition far exceeded his talent.  Would George have done things differently? Yes, I believe that he would have done things differently.  I also believe that he still would have done what he did, but just in a different manner to change the outcome of his situation.  George Jung is currently serving in Federal Correctional Institution, Fort Dix until his scheduled release in November of 2014.  Money and power take the best of many, but personally my family, friends and promise of a positive future would outweigh anything.