Robin Hanson at Overcoming Bias on the movie, Up in the Air:
“Apparently we are ok with firing folks, as long as the occasion has sufficient solemnity to show respect for the departed. It is like how we respect a hunter who pauses to say an eloquent prayer for the animal he killed, in contrast to an insensitive slaughterhouse worker just passing time till his shift ends. As with executing humans, we don’t really mind animals dying, if we show we are good people via the process.“
In a sense, this is another way of saying that the ends justify the means — the ‘end’ for most everything we do or don’t do in life being this: that we confirm our notion that we and those we (implicitly or explicitly) allow’ to act as they do are good people.