Randy Cohen pens "The Ethicist" column for the paper's Sunday magazine. The online title over his latest was provocative: "Fixing an Offensive Employer's Mistakes."
What made the employer so clearly "offensive"? Opposition to gay marriage. Cohen took it upon himself to set corporate policy for a religious organization, equating marriage with equality and suggest to oppose it was dishonorable: "No honorable person, gay or straight, should abet efforts to deny homosexuals equal treatment under the law."
Cohen addressed the concerns of one Simon Fortin:
I was hired to do the voice-over for a French version of the annual video report of a high-profile religious organization. The video opposes gay marriage, a view untenable to me. During the recording session, I noticed various language errors. Nobody there but me spoke French, and I considered letting these errors go, my guilt-free sabotage. Ultimately I made the corrections. As a married gay man, I felt ethically compromised even taking this job. Did I betray my tribe by correcting the copy?
Cohen, who is getting more political in the letters he chooses, replied that Fortin did right to correct the errors, then inserted his personal leftist politics:
But should you have accepted this job? I think not, and I gather you agree, hence your feeling "ethically compromised." An actor need not admire the characters he portrays. To play Richard III is not to endorse murder. It is, as the creator of "R3" himself noted and the audience understands, "to hold a mirror up to nature."
This video, however, is a form of advocacy. To collaborate on its production is to promote policies you revile. Doing so betrays not just your tribe but the larger community. It is not only Jews who should repudiate anti-Semitism or African-Americans who should oppose racism. No honorable person, gay or straight, should abet efforts to deny homosexuals equal treatment under the law.
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