If an activity is unethical, is it unethical to enjoy watching it? The blog posting below takes recent criticism of pro football and (on the day after Super Bowl Sunday!) turns it on fans. The author compares enjoying watching football to enjoying watching a car crash (in part, this comparison serves to put pressure on the intuition that “I can’t be blameworthy since I didn’t cause the injury”). To gain further insight, we might also ask what other comparisons we might make. What about owning a 100-year-old toy made from an endangered species? (After all, YOU didn’t kill the endangered animal.) What about buying a chocolate bar made partly through child labour? (After all, YOU didn’t employ the child….) What about enjoying child pornography? After all, YOU didn’t harm any children. Does the indirectness of your involvement matter in some cases, but not in others? >>>
LINK: Is it unethical to watch the Super Bowl? (by Chris MacDonald for Canadian Business)
… As evidence mounts that professional football faces an epidemic of brain injuries, the question arises whether watching the causing of all that brain injury is itself unethical. If the game is ethically problematic, is watching problematic, too? Is it wrong to find joy in watching young men sustain physical damage?….
What do you think?
Note that you don’t have to agree that football is unethical in order to get something from considering this topic. What if the football players were slaves, rather than parties to multi-million dollar contracts? Would them being slaves make it wrong for you to watch (assuming you weren’t contributing directly by, say, paying to watch)? What (if anything) is it that justifies criticism of the viewer, in such a case?