With about 80% or more of all news stories somehow involving the Wuhan virus and its effects (World War II must have been like this), finding non -pandemic stories and ethics issues has become an irritating and challenging job.
Fortunately, Kwame Anthony Appiah’s “The Ethicist” column” this week saw two interesting issues arise, both of which he answered correctly. (There are other questions in the column too.) One inquirer asked, “It has become clear to me, however, that individual senators and other elected officials outside my state do indeed have a powerful effect on the entire country. Is it appropriate for me to donate to candidates in elections in which I cannot vote?”
Of course it is. Appiah wrote essentially what I would: “As you recognize, the effects politicians have aren’t confined to their immediate constituencies. On the contrary, the prospects for our country depend on who holds elective offices at every level. For one thing, representatives from each of the states in the U.S. House and Senate vote on national legislation. For another, policies in one state affect what happens in others….We are one nation; if we’re to aim at liberty and justice for all, we need to do it together.”
The second question was interesting because it is amazing that anyone would have the gall to make such an outrageous request, and fascinating that anyone would be so puzzled about how to respond that they would seek advice from a third party:
My ex-husband’s new fiancée recently contacted me, insisting that I give up my last name. She and I just happen to share a first name…My ex’s fiancée thinks I’m “sick and stuck in the past” and that I should be “embarrassed to not let things go.” …Is it terrible and unethical to keep it? …she is furious, and I’m worried her anger could escalate to harassment.
Never mind The Ethicist’s answer, which is less vociferous than mine but otherwise tracks with it. I would say:
“How dare this harpy demand such a thing? Tell her your name is your business, and if she doesn’t like sharing it, she should change her own, preferably to Bitchy McBitchface. She has your husband, and now she thinks she has a right to demand your name?
Why would you even have to ask advice about this? Your letter goes into excruciating detail [I left out this part] about why you don’t want to change it—you don’t need to justify that! Stop being a door mat! It’s your name! If Wife #2 looked like you, would you consider her demand that you get a nose job or change your hair color? Your husband is going to marry this wacko? if you really are on as good terms with him as you say [I also omitted this] , then do him a big favor and warn him. She’s a control freak, and nuts. I see a boiled rabbit in his future.
If she harasses you, get a restraining order, and buy a gun.