You didn't know this was Ethics Week here at Crimespace, did you?
Okay, so far we've examined the ethics of practices that might interfere with authors making money. (I admit to being utterly bemused by worrying about losing a sale instead of losing a culture of readers, but I digress.)
Let's turn our attention to something else: Is it ethical to make entertainment (and money) out of the suffering of others?
Let's propose a scenario: You're giggling with a friend at a cafe about ways to kill people and a woman at the next table leaves in furious tears because her sister had been murdered and she's upset and offended that you think it's so damn funny. How do you respond?
Or - you write a bestseller inspired by the headlines about the war on terror in which your intrepid hero battles the odds to thwart another attack on US soil and, the day after the movie based on your book is released you grab your newspaper from your porch, flip to the entertainment section, and are delighted to see it's number one at the box office. Yes! Then you glance at the front page and find an angry crowd set fire to a local mosque.
We often say crime fiction satisfies people's yearning for justice. It also apparently satisfies a yearning for vicarious and painless violence that has a happy ending. Is it ethical to make money by exploiting that fascination for violence and providing a false sense of resolution?
Please discuss these matters at your earliest convenience.
Yr. most humble servant,
Lucy Fer, J.D.