• authored by remote viewer
  • published Mon, Feb 23, 2004

Financing Health Care With Porno Dollars

Financing Health Care with Porno Dollars: Another ethical and moral dilemma

Fundraising is an important activity for public sector institutions. Big donors are treated with great respect, buildings are named in their honour, great efforts are made to keep up good relations in the hope that they continue to open their wallets. But do these relationships give the donors influence over the institution directly or indirectly? Do they influence decision-making? What happens if the donors' activities are inconsistent with the institution's mission or its role in the community or are offensive to its workers?

In December 2001, a group of nurses at Vancouver Hospital and Health Sciences Centre wrote to the hospital's President and CEO Phil Hassen, expressing concerns about some of the business interests of one of the Hospital's largest donors. Jim Pattison, a devout fundamentalist Christian, is the CEO of the Pattison Group, one of the largest conglomerates in Canada. The workers concerns? Pattison is also one of the largest pornography distributors in Canada. They found that offensive and were troubled by the hospital's relationship with him.

Here's what they wrote:

Dear Mr. Hassen:

We are writing to express our deep concern over the increasingly close association between Vancouver Hospital and Health Sciences Centre and Jimmy Pattison. This began with Mr. Pattison's donation of $20 million to our institution for prostate cancer research, and resulted in the decision to rename Laurel Pavilion the Jimmy Pattison Pavilion. We did not say anything at the time, as we did not know then what has since come to light..

We are disturbed to have to inform you that Jimmy Pattison, among his other enterprises, is the largest distributor of hard-core pornography in B.C., and probably in all of Canada. The Jim Pattison Group controls The News Group, which is the largest magazine distributor in Canada and the third largest in North America. The News Group distributes 276 different hard-core porn magazines. Their titles tell the whole story: Wet & Wild, Big Ones, Black Lust, Bump & Grind, Butt Time Stories, Cheeks, Honeycups, Juicy Sex Stories, Anal Action, Oral Secrets, Shaved Orientals, Sticky Buns, Big Boobs, Leg Action, Lesbian Licks, Tight Squeeze, Babyface, Barely 18, Barely Legal, Bubble Gum Girls, Finally Legal, Just 18, Only 18, Purely 18, Young & Tight, and Hustler.

We are deeply concerned that our institution is becoming increasingly involved with a corporate enterprise distributing such materials. Would we rename Heather Pavilion the Larry Flynt Pavilion if Hustler donated $20 million to VHHSC?.

We think it is obligatory for a world-class institution such as ours to play a leadership role in fostering respect for women, as patients, as family members and as health care professionals. We would therefore like to ask, in the strongest possible terms, that you write to Mr. Pattison and request that he cease distributing hard-core pornography.

Thirty-four workers put their signatures to the letter. They never received a response. Why do you think that is? Is CEO Hassen still struggling with the ethical issues it raises or do ethics and morality stop at the institutional parking lot?

Our institutions - public and private - are managed by officials whose decisions often pose ethical dilemmas. Decisions to fire or lay off workers raise ethical issues. So do decisions to seek wage rollbacks and other concessions. The fact that these issues are ignored (usually on the basis that "we want the money") doesn't make them any less real. It's time we began asking our CEO's to answer our ethical questions and demanding some answers.

  • posted by Fed Up
  • Mon, Feb 23, 2004 7:43pm

You know there is another way to look at this.Call it restitution, studies have shown that porn has caused many instances of sexual violence against women.Hospitals have to treat women and children who have been abused or raped so this 20 million can be put to good use.If alcohol and tobacco companies were to donate a tenth of their profits to health care there wold be no worries over funding anywhere in Canada and everyone in the US would have great health care.The other thing in this matter to consider is how much of his total distribution is made up of porn? Also if he was the sole owner of the News Group would he sell the magazines, sometimes people do not have a choice and have to answer to their employer maybe with this donation he eases his conscience.Morality is a personal issue with the final consequences to be decided by God.

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Tue, Feb 24, 2004 6:33am

Your statement that morality is a personal issue to be decided by God seems sort of contradictory - if moral issues are personal how can they be decided by anyone other than the individual? Suggesting that they are decided by God implies that there's nothing personal about morality - it's dictated by some higher power and individuals must fall in line. If I've misconstrued your statement, let me know.

God aside, I would not agree that morality is entirely a personal issue either. I would agree that morality can be a personal in that people have their own views about what is right. But moral principles can be held (and are held) by groups of people that range in size from a handful to millions. Our society is founded on a set of moralistic principles (like liberty, equality, security). Our legal system is grounded in moralistic principles as well (it's wrong to cause harm to people and property). You would be hardpressed to find any group or organization that does not have a set of moralistic values and that does not use those as the basis for making its most important decisions. Whenever someone talks about "the right thing to do", they are dealing with a moral dimension of an issue. That issue might affect only him/herself or it might affect millions of people.

So, moral issues are not entirely personal. Never have been, never will be. Discussion of morality, however, is slanted in favour of the rulers in any society. For this reason, there is a lot of discussion of the morality of going to war or of protecting personal property or of the freedom of business to pursue profit but not much discussion of the moral implications of mass layoffs or of putting profit ahead of people in business decisions. IMO, the nurses who wrote to the CEO of the hospital didn't get a response because the CEO didn't want to discuss the moral issue they were raising and the ethical dilemma that it presented.

Ethical dilemmas arise when the moral principles of one group conflict with those of another. In the case of the nurses, the conflict is readily apparent: The nurses believe that sexual assault is wrong and that there is as causal connection between the porn industry and sexual assault. (That' the moral issue). Since the institution they work for is supposed to be promoting good health, they felt that it was wrong for the institution to accept money from a purveyor of pornography (that's the ethical dilemma).

Someone arguing the flip side of this dilemma might say: Jim Pattison is free to engage in his business as long as he complies with the laws of the land. That's his right. He also has the right to do whatever he wants with his money. (These are issues of morality - whenever you talk about "what's right", you're talking about morality.) The hospital is responsible for providing health care. It needs money in order to do that. Jim Pattison offered the hospital a large sum of money for use in health care delivery. It's right that the hospital accepted the money.

There is actually no absolute right or wrong argument here. It's a moral dilemma and either side has a compelling argument.

What's important is the argument be allowed to take place and that the views of each side be taken seriously with a view to resolving it.

Just because a marginalized or disempowered group is on one side of the argument doesn't minimize the reality that there's a moral issue here. Just as there are many moral issues in the contemporary workplace that have been ignored for way too long.

I'm not sure that I understand your reasoning with respect to the issue of donations to health care institutions from the porn industry, Fed Up. What I understand you to be saying is that if the porn industry has contributed to an increase in the incidence of sexual assault, then make the porn donate to health care as a means of funding health care. The justification for this, if I understand you correctly is two-fold:

1. It will provide much-needed funding for health care; and

2. It is a form of retribution for the damage done by the porn industry.

There are a couple of problems with this line of reasoning. Firstly, if there is a causal connection between the porn industry and sexual assault, or between the tobacco industry and various health problems, then does making the porn/tobacco donate to health care really take care of the funding problem? Wouldn't the funding problem continue as more people became sick or injured as as result of the continuing exploitation by the industry? That's sort of a practical issue but there is a big moral issue involved here as well and that is: Can the harm done to individuals by these industries be adequately addressed with a financial transaction? Is it right to accept money that was made by causing harm to others?

The reason that health care is not funded by tobacco industry donations is because most (maybe all) health care institutions have addressed this moral issue and decided that "No, it's not right for us to accept money from an industry that's killing millions of people and putting enormous strain on health care resources".

Regarding Jimmy Pattison's control over his porn distribution business, I'm quite sure that as the CEO of the company that owns the distribution business he could divest himself of it if he wanted to. I doubt very much that this is something beyond his control. What's happening here is that Jimmy has dealth with and resolved (in a way that suits his interests) the following moral dilemma:

- The company that I run has one goal which is to maximize profit. The porn distribution business is very lucrative and helps my company maximize profit, but...

- It's possible that the porn industry hurts people.

- it right to be in the porn distribution business?

Jimmy has, resolved this dilemma in a way that reflects what's most important to him - money, power and that kind of shit. It's possible that certain aspects of the dilemma still trouble him.
Perhaps his donations to health care are - as you say - a way of easing the loan on his troubled conscience.

  • posted by Fed Up
  • Tue, Feb 24, 2004 7:38am

I have one question before I start what is IMO?

Ok the reason i say morality is a personal decision with repect to God is I believe that morality is given to us by God therefore He judges what is moral and immoral.The reason it is personal is that each indivual has the free choice to live by a certain set of standards wether they be community or biblical.
The health care industry may chose not to take money from the tabacco companies now but governments and indivuals are taking them to court in other places to try and recover the huge financial burden they have placed on the health care system and on indivuals without healthcare.You know I do have a small solution to this problem stop putting peoples names on things ie waitng rooms, bricks, chairs and wings.Would anyone have been the wiser if they had seen the name on the building?
Or how abou the tobacco companies could build private hospitals with their own staff for all the people who suffer from the reults of using or living with someone that uses their products and the rest of us could us the regular health care system?
Just some thought have a great day.

  • posted by Duffbeer
  • Tue, Feb 24, 2004 8:29am

IMO is "in my opinion".
What is GOD?

I wonder if a church would accept donations from the porno industry.

Perhaps the alcohol, auto, firearm, drug, porno industries, etc. should build private hospitals as well.
The more vices you have, the more hospitals to choose from.

  • posted by Fed Up
  • Tue, Feb 24, 2004 9:38am

automobiles are a vice?

  • posted by Duffbeer
  • Tue, Feb 24, 2004 9:54am


posted by Fed Up:
automobiles are a vice?

Yeah, if you're Amish.

  • posted by Fed Up
  • Tue, Feb 24, 2004 10:28am

I guess that depends if your progressive or orthadox in your practice.

  • posted by yankeebythewater
  • Tue, Feb 24, 2004 11:27am

Was this another main stream media omission as I don't recall hearing/reading about any involvement with pattison and the porno industry? I do try to keep myself abreast of the news.

What is GOD - I don't know. IMO, it is my DOG.
In my travels, my dog has always given unconditional love, I don't know of any two foot walking identity that can do that - do you?

The church does not have to, but probably gladly would, accept donations from profits made off anything to do with porn. Them papals, like government, would just re-name it to suit the political correctness of the day and people would not question it. They simply would donate to the trough that is peddled around in the Sunday morning sing-a-long.

You gotta love this system that attempts to guide us.

Once again, Spock - beam me up - I have seen enough

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Tue, Feb 24, 2004 11:40am

Oh good old God fearin' Jimmy's been up to his ass in porn for a lot of years. Check out this story.

  • posted by Fed Up
  • Tue, Mar 2, 2004 7:53am

Can it be said he is God fearing if he is involved in things that run contrary to the bible?

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