Hannah Montana and An Ethics Meltdown – Anything For Success? Ethics Speaker Chuck Gallagher Comments!

December 31, 2007

A sad story out of Garland, Texas (not far from my home in Southlake, TX). A story of Iraq, a little girl, compassion and all for Hannah Montana tickets.

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The little girl was six years old who won Hannah Montana tickets to a sold out concert for the touching essay she wrote. What a special reward for a girl who touched the hearts of those who read.

The essay was a fake – the story told a lie! All done to influence the judges and win the tickets. Ethical choices gone bad and at six years old (and get this) with the knowledge (and likely help) of her mother.

The Associated Press story featured on CNN is shown below: http://www.cnn.com/2007/SHOWBIZ/Music/12/29/fake.essay.ap/index.html

Here’s what took place:

  • Club Libby Lu, a store that sells clothes, accessories and games intended for young girls based out of Chicago, sponsored a contest which included airfare for four to a sold-out Hannah Montana concert on January 9th in Albany, NY.
  • The little girl who won had an essay whose first line began with: “My daddy died this year in Iraq.”
  • The story wasn’t true!
  • Priscilla Ceballos, the little girls mother, told an interviewer with KDFW (a Dallas, TX TV station), “We did whatever we could to win.”

Mary Drolet, the CEO for Club Libby Lu stated, “We regret that the original intent of the contest, which was to make a little girl’s holiday extra special, has not been realized in the way we anticipated.” The company is considering taking away the girls tickets.

What should the outcome be?

I seriously doubt that a six year old girl could come up with a deception that contrived on her own. She had to have had help and her mother has as much admitted her part in the overall deception.

If the little girl were allowed to keep the prize, including the tickets, it would send a clear message that unethical behavior (regardless of who made the decision) is alright. It’s not alright!

If the little girl had the tickets revoked, while she would likely be hurt, it would demonstrate at a very young age, something that I state to groups all over the country, that every choice has a consequence. Reality is, by your choices you determine the consequences you receive – negative consequences (loss of the tickets) or positive results (enjoyment of the prize).

Either way, her mother, through national attention, has been exposed as a liar and a person who was willing, as she put it, to do “whatever we could do to win.” The likely outcome for their family will play out in many ways for time to come.

What do you think the outcome should be? Your comments are welcome.

Do you think that children and teens are taught ethics or is ethical behavior instinctive? Again, your comments are welcome.

For now, Motivational and Ethics Speaker, Chuck Gallagher signing off.