When Keith arrived at Extinction Island, he said it was “actually insane”. I know some people say that as slang these days, but it always makes me think the only “actual” thing is that the speaker doesn’t understand either of those words. Keith was also shocked at getting voted out despite his tribemates needing to regularly make sure he didn’t drown. This on top of having to ask God for a sign about whether to go to Extinction Island. And most disturbing of all is that Keith is planning to be a doctor. I’m tempted to write this week’s blog about the ethics of letting him practice medicine:
“Wow, you’re actually going to die.”
“What?! How long do I have, doctor?”
“No, don’t worry, you’ll be fine. I just don’t understand what words mean.”
“Then what’s wrong with me?”
“God, give me a sign of what ails this man!”
Maybe Keith will eventually do something so egregious that it would be unethical for me to not protect his future patients. For now, though, I think this blog should be about things inside the game. So I’m going to focus on Wendy wanting to save the chickens.
To recap, Wendy’s tribe got some live chickens. Being very hungry, all the other members of her tribe wanted to eat the chickens. Wendy, on the other hand, wanted to save the chickens. However, she then revealed that she eats meat (including chicken) back home.
Putting aside the overall ethics of eating meat for now, is Wendy justified in wanting her tribemates to spare the chickens, considering that she eats chickens at home? Her explanation for eating chickens at home seems extremely weak: “Because they’re dead already.” She admits this is hypocritical, which is true, but what she’s doing is actually often considered worse than hypocrisy.
If Wendy were willing to kill animals, but tried to keep other people from killing animals, that would be simply hypocritical. Instead, she is outsourcing what she considers immoral work to other people so that she can enjoy the results with a cleaner conscience. In some societies, this has become the basis for castes and other systems of class injustice, where people like butchers do “unclean work” that brands them as immoral even though higher-class members of society savor the meat that comes from the untouchables’ unclean labor. If you consider caste societies to be unjust, then you should probably consider Wendy’s behavior unjust too.
In addition, Wardog brings up the excellent point that the chickens eaten by Wendy back home are living and dying in far worse conditions than the ones in the camp (i.e. on factory farms). She also admits this is true. Which again points to moral cowardice. As long as she doesn’t have to face the immorality of her actions, she can successfully compartmentalize them.
In fact, Wendy not only didn’t want her tribe to eat the chickens, she stole their flint in order to physically stop them from building a fire to cook the chickens. She then gleefully showed the stolen flint to the camera. The philosopher Aaron James, in his book Assholes: A Theory, might consider Wendy to be acting like a classic asshole. James defines an asshole as someone who feels there are different rules for herself than for other people, and that she is justified in enforcing those unequal rules.
Of course, a vegetarian might disagree with all of this. Even if he were uncomfortable about siding with a hypocritical omnivore like Wendy, the vegetarian might take an “enemy of my enemy” viewpoint. He might say that the result of saving the animals ultimately supersedes her moral failures.
Just as a final note about Keith asking God for a sign, Reem also thanked God repeatedly for the rice that the producers left on Extinction Island. Jeff Probst is many things, but the Almighty is not one of them. Unless Reem is going Old Testament and thanking God for changing Probst’s mind. Perhaps a future blog will focus on the similarities between Probst and wrathful deities.