Roadkill Goanna

Friday, July 21, 2006

Call for help in clearing region's ethical minefields


AUSTRALIAN ethicists have called for greater international assistance in clearing the world's ethical minefields.

Professor Porfiry Zyuganov, of the Australia-Asia University in Melbourne, said that in the Asia-Pacific region alone, the area covered by ethical minefields had increased more than 5000 per cent in the past 25 years.

"When I was a young ethicist, Australia - and the whole region, for that matter - was a very different place," Zyuganov said while sipping a Fairtrade coffee sweetened with certified slavery-free sugar.

"Today, anyone who steps even slightly off the well-trodden path of public discourse is likely to have their leg blown off, in a metaphorical sense."

Professor Zyuganov said that mainstream media coverage of minefield-related issues was generally confined to the traditional high-explosive anti-personnel landmines of the sort found by the millions in places such as Vietnam, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Mozambique, Angola, Somaliland, Sri Lanka and Nagorno Karabakh. Little attention, he said, was given to the ethical minefields of "so-called protected" academic enclaves such as Carlton and Parkville.

Professor Zyuganov raised the hypothetical example of whether an ethically aware university professor should allow his wife to purchase a large four-wheel-drive vehicle in order to drive their child to school.

"That scenario really opens up Pandora's floodgate of worms," Professor Zyuganov said. "For instance, a smaller car would use less fuel, causing less pollution and less depletion of natural resources. Also, the lower profile of the car would mean that the wife is less likely to kill another motorist should she T-bone them at an intersection. A better situation still would be if the child walked to school on his own, yet this puts the father at risk of life-long guilt should the child be taken by a pedophile or run over by a different woman in a four-wheel-drive. But then if the professor forbids his wife from buying a four-wheel-drive is that not perpetuating the subjugation and oppression of women as institutionalised by the notoriously misogynist Western patriarchy?

"Even the traditional high-explosive landmines open up an ethical minefield. For instance, is it now ethical to use a Motorola mobile phone because the company no longer makes components for landmines, or is it better to boycott the firm in perpetuity? And is it ethical to trick monkeys and dolphins into detonating mines and so sacrifice their own lives to save the life of a hypothetical human? It's all too much."


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