"The Ethicist" is Randy Cohen's long-running advice column in the New York Times. Each week, Gabriel Delahaye's "The Unethicist" will answer the same questions as "The Ethicist," with obvious differences.
We could enroll our older daughter in a school for gifted children or in a very good school for children who are bright but not gifted. The attraction of the latter is that it has a strong sibling admissions policy, all but ensuring her younger sister's acceptance. Should we consider our younger child's interests in deciding where to send her sister? David Quinto, Los Angeles
Before we talk about the proper manipulation of your children's dreams and how to pit them against each other so that for the rest of their lives they will be in fierce competition for your affection, leaving both of them emotionally stunted but with an insatiable need to please you, I just wanted to let you know that I Googled you, and boy are you bald.
Hi, David! The internet says that you're the head of Internet litigation at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, LLP, which probably means you could figure out a way to sue me for this, certainly a watershed case in your career that would pay for rubber bands for your daughter's braces for the next
six to eight three to four weeks!
Also, congratulations on siring a genius. The fact that your other kid is retarded is a small price to pay! Probably your wife's genes, am I right? Personally, I feel like if I was going to ask a syndicated columnist questions regarding the welfare of my children, that I wouldn't use my name because I'd want to spare my family the scrutiny of a problem so glaringly bourgeois that if the guillotine hadn't already been invented, a group of unwashed, huddled masses might have gotten out some pen and paper (or, you know, dirt and sharpened sticks).
Then again, I'm sure that life in the halls of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, LLP is extremely cutthroat when it comes to this shit, like that Jeremy Piven movie that came out earlier this year that no one saw about who can throw the most lavish Bar Mitzvah. Now that you've gotten your letter published in the New York Times, you can walk around like king lawyer of law mountain, like, Fuck yeah my kid is getting into a school for gifted children, so who the fuck cares if I didn't make partner? Just kidding, I know you made partner, it says so right on the Internet.
P.S. David, if you do choose to sue, please be gentle. On the scale of deep pockets, I'm wearing sweatpants.
P.P.S. I know I didn't actually answer your question, but since you're probably going to be leaving them both with a sizable inheritance, I guess my answer is, who cares?
I teach ethics to 17- to 19-year-olds in Bavaria. By law, Muslim students attend ethics lessons instead of Christian studies. My class also includes Protestants and Catholics and some nonreligious students, an interesting mix. Some Muslims, often very religious, ask if I am religious. Shall I tell the truth (I'm not religious, but accept any nonfundamentalist religious belief), or avoid answering so as not to confuse them or cause conflict in their families? Peter Kopf, Altdorf, Germany
I think I speak for all 17- to 19-year-olds when I say that they are way too busy fucking and getting high to give a shit about your religious beliefs. And if for some reason they are not, God help them.