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.
Devil's Advocate

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Well, I'm just being a snot about poetry, but Nash, Parker and Marquis (all personal favorites of mine) were all rejected by the snobs for not being serious poets. Which is one reason I like them. In fact, "Archy and Mehitabel" is one of the great works of the 20th century, and I recommend it to everyone.
My favorite poets are William Blake, Emily Dickinson and Allen Ginsberg.
And the above 3 of course. Read Parker's "You Might As Well Live." It's a model for my detective fiction, making you laugh while it kicks you in the guts.
I've never been the worlds greatest poetry fan I must admit (reverse snobisim? who knows [vbeg]) but for anyone who is twitchy about it I can but recommend Dorothy Porter - she's written two mystery novels in Verse and they are - well the only word for it is - magnificent. El Dorado is the latest one and it's funny, sly, clever, sad, compelling, intriguing, intricate and magnificently poetic.
Margot: an unethical librarian? Is that not a contradiction in terms?
well, I laughed.

Linda, this is Part Three of the Ethics Grand Rounds. It's been a hotbed of deep philosophical thought around here. It started with exploring the proposition that by loaning books, libraries participated in a system to undermine the livelihoods of writers that operated like a legal file sharing system. Some of us librarians took spirited exception. Then we explored whether selling used books is just as evil. It's possible booksellers took exception, but they may have taken cover instead. Now we've come full circle, implicating everyone. Turn about, fair play.

If this be unethical -- yada yada. We're also radical militants according to some in the FBI. (The day that was reported in the Times a thousand T-shirts bloomed.)

If you're getting the T-shirt for this one, Margot, I'll wear one. :o)
Tha's what I get from coming late to the party... and insisting on blabbing on my in the door. (But do I get a t-shirt? Mebbe not?)
Sure, the more T-shirts the merrier. And welcome to the party.

Margot, if you want my deepest paranoid delusions, it was all a plot to distract from bigger issues like - well, the story in yesterday's New York Times that riled me up. Somehow, if you declare librarians the enemy, everything we stand up for becomes as trivial as ... I don't know, overdue fines. Anyone who insists on a warrant (in compliance with state law) before turning over circulation records is just being persnickety. And she wants us to be quiet and return books on time, too, and probably never got married to Jimmy Stewart...

I so have to see this film...

A couple of things. I followed the link to this film and was astounded that there was no Oregon venue. Portland has more readers per capita than NYC, has a bookstore tourist attraction, and even has a Hollywood library. What gives?
Also, if I detect a feisty leftward drift to this discussion, you might want to check my rants at my page. They arrive with no special schedule.
If we take ethics to be a system of morals used in our society, then of course it's ethical: we're all quite happy to buy and sell these things. So maybe it's a moral question then, which really puts it on a personal level.

For me, if it comes to fiction, I'd say it's hard to cross the line. I think almost everything's up for grabs, but there may be situations where timing can make a choice tactless (I'm thinking in the aftermath of 9/11).

As Mel Brooks says, you can make a joke about ANYTHING, even death, as long as it's funny.


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