Splitting Ethics

So I’m sitting here, prepared to watch The Dark Knight, since Gena is out of town, and it’s not a movie she’d be interested in watching. The kids are in bed, most of the mess from Sunday Popcorn Dinner has been dealt with.  Time to relax a bit.  

The DVD (which I rented from Redbox since I didn’t feel like tweaking my Netflix queue when I watched and returned Blazing Saddles on Thursday night) leads off with an anti-piracy advert.  I haven’t seen this particular one before – and it consists of dialogue between Rick and Ilsa from Casablanca, spliced together with anti-piracy interpretations.  Nothing too phenomenal here, until the last couple of splice ins, which bracket a climactic kiss between Rick and Ilsa.  
The first splice in explains that “Making time with Victor’s girl: Good” – now comes the kissing scene.  Then the following splice in reads “Pirating DVDs: Bad”.  No, nobody’s going to be earning any awards for most original script here, but it’s the implication that I found interesting.
We can flout one time-honored example of ethical behavior (faithfulness to the one you love, not seeking after another person’s man/woman), while firmly insisting adherence to another equally (don’t steal from us).  Sure, it seems tongue-in-cheek, but I’m pretty sure that whoever wrote this pithy little advert probably isn’t troubled by the disturbing inconsistency that they’re creating. 
If you can sneak behind the back of another person in order to score with their beloved, hey, no big deal.  Nobody’s the wiser, right? Nudge nudge, wink wink.  But don’t you dare even consider ripping a copy of this DVD that you’re renting, even though nobody is likely to ever find out – far less likely to find out, in fact, than the people involved in making time with another person’s girl/boyfriend, spouse, whatever.  Violating one type of ethical behavior so long as you don’t get caught is good.  Violating another one is bad.  What’s the difference?  One costs somebody money.  But cheating with another person’s guy/girl?  Hey – nobody’s losing money over that situation, right?  
For as long as there have been people, there have been amazingly uniform ideas about how we ought to interact with each other.  Ideas ultimately provided to us – hard wired in us, even – by our Creator God.  No stealing is one such idea.  No cheating on/with someone else is another.  People tweak the nuances of definitions somewhat – stealing is only bad if it’s someone from your own family/clan/tribe/nation, but stealing from someone else is ok.  Cheating is bad unless the person you’re cheating on or with is from a different family/clan/tribe/nation, for example.  But pretty much everyone has agreed that stealing in one form or another, and cheating in one form or another, are bad.  
Yet Captain Clever the scriptwriter sees no problem in ripping them apart.  Natural law, smackeral law.  All he cares about is that he’s been paid to try and convince people not to do what obviously is terribly easy to do, tempting to do, and practically impossible to get caught at – ripping DVDs.  No worries about succombing to equaly easy, tempting, and perhaps even undetectable behavior in terms of relationships.  Do your own thing.  Whatever makes you happy.
Just don’t consider trying to steal from the Media Powers-That-Be, or they’re going to open up a legal can of whoop-ass so big you’ll drown in it.  
And they might try to make time with your girl or guy, just as an added insult.

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