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  • Reverend James Squire

Qatar And A Drop Down Window




The current international ethical crisis in Qatar during the World Cup reminds me of a drop down window that often appears on our computers. The list always starts with a selected item that is always in view and then the drop down window allows others to choose other value choices with the selected item never leaving our sight.


The ethical problem here is that no one seems to have a clear picture of what should go in the select window before all the choices are laid out. Where you start in the select window makes clearer your dropdown window of choices. Different select windows means different choices available to you.


“You knew what you were getting into in terms of human rights when you agreed to have the World Cup in Qatar.” That would put us with choices that what you agreed to can’t be changed midcourse. The aphorism is that you can’t change a horse when you are midstream. FIFA’s strongest dropdown window here would be the theory of John Locke and Natural Law that all contracts are sacred and are necessary to avoid chaos and confusion in a political entity. Certainly, we are seeing that confusion at the soccer matches by both fans and players. We also see the government of Iran making controversial statements directed at the USA.


FIFA is also using the argument that was used at the Nuremburg Trials where the German doctors and officers, who were on trial for various crimes such as experimenting on their prisoners, used their legal defense that our treatment of black people in particular was a history of human rights abuses. the Tuskegee Experiments where prisoners were exposed to syphilis and had treatment withheld to show how the disease progresses is as an egregious an act. This similar to some of the Nazi experiments. FIFI included Western Europe as countries where atrocities were committed noting Germany as a perfect example of anti-human rights during the reign of Hitler. In the typical clean up your backyard first response, FIFI has held to this point.


What if we put human rights as the ethical standard in our select window. The drop down window could contain the words of Nelson Mandala on the importance of sports. “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to the young in a language they understand.” To not understand the importance of Mandala’s words is foolish. You may wish for human rights to not be in issue in the country, but that is not the reality of sport and human rights at a global level.


Let’s put in our select window the word Utilitarian. FIFA as well as people committed to human rights would be in our choices’ menu. If your view has LGBTQ as your primary group, then the obvious choice is to protest with shirts and One Love armbands that contain the message of justice for LQBTQ. If you are FINA and Qatar you are concerned with the World Cup happening in Qatar with clothing and signs promoting human rights and fell strongly that this should not be done. You would try to dismiss controversy.


Let’s put Via Media in our select window. The choices in the dropdown windows would have to include decisions that are the lesser of two evils or wrong but necessary. Quite frankly FIFA and citizens of the World Cup would have difficulty with this guideline because many groups would be caught between a rock and a hard place where there is lack of clarity to move forward.


Another select window would possibly contain what you do for one, you must do for all. The drop down windows here take us to considerations that the law against LGBTQ people has been inconsistent in its response to people with the rainbow clothes and protests. Some have been treated very badly particularly news people where others are spoken to by the police and quickly let go.


Let’s put a bioethics response in the select window. In bioethics there are at least three possibilities in the drop down window. We have those guidelines in decision making referred to as short-term and long-term decisions, justice balanced with mercy, and autonomy and beneficence. When they made this decision in selecting Qatar as the place for the World Cup, did they think at all about long term consequences? Obviously not. Our next window of justice and mercy asks what is the just thing or merciful thing to do now. The next dropdown window autonomy vs. beneficence takes us to an important consideration. Should the rights of the individual matter more than the rights of others and why?


The last drop down window has a challenging piece to it. What if you put ten people in a room and found a group that has no investment in either human rights or the World Cup. This is the reasonable person standard. Considering all of the above, they would have to come to a group decision. Usually, a consensus is required but sometimes a majority make the decision. That is determined before the group meets. Nothing, is going to change now with the World Cup and Qatar, but if this ethical decision-making mode of the reasonable person standard was in place much earlier, we would have put together a win/win and not what we have now which is a lose/lose not on the field but in the purview of world opinion.


Drop down windows are a helpful parable because what you put in that select window will shape what occurs in the dropdown choices. In ethics we would call that a “hierarchy of values.” It is the most important business that FIFA and the soccer nations on the world failed to see.

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