First there was Randy Cohen, the original author of The New York Times Magazine’s “The Ethicist” column. Randy had some quirks, mostly ideological, that made his supposedly ethical advice unreliable: for example, he advised a tech worker who stumbled upon child porn on an employee’s office computer not to report it, because Cohen believes the legal penalties for child pornography are too severe. Citizens ignoring the law whenever they think the law shouldn’t apply to them is a blind spot for Randy, a rather large one.
Then there was Ariel Kaminer, Cohen’s short-lived replacement. Her advice was dreadful about 20% of the time, as when she said it was acceptable for a law school applicant to draft his own letter of recommendation for a lazy professor who couldn’t be bothered to write a real one to sign.
But the current embodiment of “The Ethicist,” Chuck Klosterman, officially locked up the title of worst Times “Ethicist” yet with his jaw-dropping, ignorant and wildly unethical advice this week to an inquirer who asked whether it was unethical for him to give leftover wine from a party to “the benign ‘drunkards’ who ‘hang out and drink’ at a nearby corner. Klosterman says no! It’s fine! Go ahead! His “reasoning,” if Reasoning will graciously accept my apologies for calling it that, follows. To save time, I will intersperse my commentary throughout, rather than scream, bang my head against the wall, clean up the blood, and then comment. Here’s Chuck: Continue reading