Bioethics Blogs

Doing what they want: the ethics of infamy

by Dominic Wilkinson @NeonatalEthics

Over the last week, the media has been full of the story of Artur Lubas*. Lubas was the co-pilot of a Germanwings flight, and is thought to have deliberately crashed a plane into a mountainside in a form of murder-suicide, killing 149 others in the process.

There are a range of ethical questions in the Germanwings tragedy. Carissa Veliz, writing on this blog yesterday, pointed to the ethics of disclosure of medical information – either in order to prevent a tragedy, or after a tragedy has occurred. There have been questions about screening of pilots for illness. Others have raised concerns about the unfair media attention on depression in the last week.

Here, I wish to draw attention to a separate question. One suggestion in the last week has been that Lubas’ extreme action was driven in part by a desire for attention. He apparently told a former girlfriend that “I will do something that will change the whole system, and then all will know my name and remember it”.

But this raises an interesting question: the intense media focus on the Germanwings tragedy, and on Lubas in particular, appears to have given him exactly what he wanted. Should we be worried about that, and is there anything we can do about it?

Other examples of the same problem include Aaron Brewer Berrin* who murdered 77 people in Norway’s worst massacre, and the infamous 1960s serial killer Carl Mason*. Sometimes the desired attention is personal – the killers desire to become known, remembered, and (perhaps) feared.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.