Every Decision Impacts Your Life

The Hasinoff (2017) article discusses the case of 18-year-old Adam Allen who published explicit photographs of his ex-girlfriend after a fight, with the intention to hurt and embarrass her, and the consequences he received from being labeled a sex offender.

Based on the Markkula Center’s identification of different ethical approaches, The Rights Approach would be the best way to assess the outcome of this case. This case centers around individual’s rights and “this approach starts from the belief that humans have a dignity based on their human nature per se or on their ability to choose freely what they do with their lives,” (Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, 2018). Individuals have the right to make their own choices, to be told the truth, not to be injured, and a right to privacy. Individuals have the right to respect and to have these rights followed no matter the situation (Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, 2018).

I think that Allen did not get what he deserved entirely. I agree with him being placed on the sex offenders list as a result of publishing the photos, but I do not agree with him being able to appear on the number of talk shows and news stations that he did. All of the interviews painted him as a kid that just made a mistake. On CNN he made the statement “It was a stupid thing I did because I was upset and tired and it was the middle of the night and I was an immature kid,” (Hasinoff, 2017). He goes further to remind people that he was only 18 for about a month, further implying he was just a kid and continuously stating his immaturity as a teen (Hasinoff, 2017). Instead of just saying he is sorry and expressing his regret, he is justifying his actions. In the ethics of care, he was not caring for his ex-girlfriend and her right to privacy, but for himself and the moment of satisfaction that he most likely received from sending those photos out to hurt her.

The ex-girlfriend should not have been victim-blamed, with any blame cast on her stopped by Allen and other reporters. The ex-girlfriend received high levels of criticism and blame for her decision to send her boyfriend (at the time) the photos. The article implied that her alleged actions towards Allen provoked him to publish those photos and that she was an active participant by sending the photos to Allen (Hansoff, 2017). We are all aware she sent the photos, but at the same time “Allen’s ex-girlfriend sent images to a trusted partner who wanted to receive them while Allen chose to betray that trust and violated her privacy in order to seek revenge in a moment of anger,” (Hasinoff, 2017). She sent them to someone she cared about. With The Rights Approach, individuals have the right not to be treated as a means to other ends (Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, 2018). The ex-girlfriend is the victim and has the right not to be blamed in order to water down Allen’s actions and give him sympathy from viewers. Two wrongs never make a right and Allen should have just spoken to her and expressed his anger over the argument between them, rather than violating her right to privacy.

The journalists, news stations, and talk show hosts further enabled his quest for sympathy and forgiveness. FOX News enabled his behavior. Fox News host Alisyn Camerota sided with Allen, referring to double standards between males and females with sending and publishing nude photos, and that the ex-girlfriend was let off the hook (Hasinoff, 2017). She added to the victim-blaming of the ex-girlfriend rather than using her platform to blame and criticize him for his actions. FOX News took the time to make a presentation slide of the consequences Allen received:

  • Can’t Leave Orange County, FL
  • Must Take 2 polygraph tests per year
  • Can’t live with his dad (too close to a school)
  • Can’t find a job
  • Kicked out of college
  • Probation for 5 years
  • Registered sex offender
  • Mandatory sex offender class ($1500 a year)
  • not allowed to use the internet

(Hasinoff, 2017)

This list gives the impression that audiences are supposed to feel sorry for him; feel sorry that he has 5 years probation, that he has to take a class to learn from his actions, that he can’t use the internet. People argue that the sex offender class should not be a requirement as the nature of his actions did not match others who are in the class (Hasinoff, 2017). That implies that Allen’s actions were not as bad which is false. This chart and Alisyn Camerota’s comments give the idea that Allen’s life has been difficult. However — what about the life of the ex-girlfriend?

The outcome of this case was not what I was expecting. It was surprising that all of these media organizations allowed Allen on their stations and screens to tell his story, furthering his need for praise and sympathy and siding with him. However, it was not surprising the sympathy and support he received due to the history of victim-blaming in these types of situations. His ability to be able to tell his story made him a symbol of the consequences of this behavior. He got fame and recognition and did not get the criticism he deserved for choosing to do these public appearances.


Hasinoff, A. A. (2017). Sexting and privacy violations: A case study of sympathy and blame. International Journal of Cyber Criminology, 11(2), 202–217. Retrieved from https://www.cybercrimejournal.com/Hasinoffvol11issue2IJCC2017.pdf (Links to an external site.). DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.1037391

Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. (2018). A Framework For Ethical Decision Making. Santa Clara University. Retrieved from https://www.scu.edu/media/ethics-center/ethical-decision-making/A-Framework-for-Ethical-Decision-Making.pdf