making moral judgments

Alice and Arlene had been going out for a while now, and things were getting serious between them. It had started when they met each other at a meeting of the feminist club. Now here they were, a year later, applying to the same law school. There was one problem, though. Whenever Arlene pressed Alice to intro- duce her to her parents, she evaded. “They won’t understand,” was her attitude. “They don’t discriminate, I swear, but they are overprotective. They’ll see how much I love you, and they’ll respect that and love you too. But, like all parents, they want me married to a boy, be taken care of, and all that. Also, they’ll worry that others won’t approve of our relationship, that I’ll be marginalized profession- ally, and that any kids we adopt will be teased in school. So what can I do? I don’t want to hurt them.” There’s mixed news about same-sex relationships. The number of same-sex marriages has increased since they were declared a constitutional right by the Su- preme Court in 2015 (though new census data are not yet in). Yet there’s still a social stigma against same-sex relationships in many parts of the country and for many groups of people. The media has often reinforced that stigma. How often have same-sex couples been depicted on TV or in movies? Things are changing rapidly, and there are a few notable exceptions (e.g., Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal). Still, most TV shows and movies have stuck with portraying heterosexual relationships. In much of the rest of the world, any portrayal of same-sex relationships is even more taboo.
1. Do you think that Alice’s concerns regarding her parents—that others will disapprove, that Alice could be professionally marginalized, and that their kids would be teased—are factually correct? Evaluate the social stigma at- tached to same-sex relationships today, particularly in your own family’s social circles.
2. If they do come to know about Arlene, would Alice’s parents be morally jus- tified in cautioning Alice against such a marriage? Would they have a moral responsibility to caution Alice?
3. List some moral principles relevant to this case and use them to argue for your position regarding same-sex relationships. Apply the pattern of moral reason- ing to support your concluding judgment.
4. Given your movie and TV experience, how do you think same-sex relation- ships should be portrayed? Should the media take a pioneering role in this area, should it instead portray things more as they used to be, or should it just try to match social trends and attitudes?
5. Does the media have a moral responsibility to include more portrayals of same- sex relationships than they have previously? If a TV network owner was morally uncomfortable with certain kinds of relationships, would she be morally wrong to avoid including such portrayals in her network’s programming? Apply the pattern of moral reasoning to support your concluding judgment.
6. Alternately, answer the preceding question in terms of interracial relation- ships or relationships between ethnic or religious groups that presently tend to oppose each other. Apply the pattern of moral reasoning.
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