The Unethicist: Well, This Year Is Clearly Going to Suck

"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.

The theater group at my mother's seniors' community typically does a lot of editing — removing expletives and cutting scenes so plays don't run too long. If they didn't, they could not do the plays at all. But what's worse, my mother recently changed a line in a play she is directing, Neil Simon's "California Suite," to improve it. Isn't she wrong to do these things? LANE GALLOWAY, SEATTLE

Really, 2007? Is this really how you're going to greet me? Fine. Fuck you then. I guess it could be worse. This could have been that question from last week about TENNIS COURT ETIQUETTE! That was the biggest Christmas gift of all, not having to dignify that one with a response.

Well aren't you lucky, Lane! Apparently Santa brought you a whole lot of too much time on your hands for Christmas. I am sure that throughout the years, your mother has given you nothing but permanent psychological scar tissue with her constant dissatisfaction with and nagging about all of your choices and failed promise, but when you publicly turn the Walleye of Sauron that is your insufferably dull needling criticism back on her, you're actually hurting me. My New Year's Resolution is to hate you, and I think it's going to stick.

Anyway, if you're really worried about the artistic integrity of the THEATER GROUP AT A SENIORS' COMMUNITY, I think the solution is simple. Find out what seniors' community Neil Simon is living in, have his death bed wheeled into what I'm imagining is a dun-colored cinder block room filled with folding chairs and the smell of existential despair, and see if he complains about the bastardization of his work in what's obviously a place of serious dramatic interpretation and chronic illness. If he does, have the doctor pull the plug on old mumsy and collect your inheritance. If he doesn't, have some red Jello and shut the fuck up.

I was injured in the line of duty and had to retire on a disability pension from a police force in the Midwest. After years of rehabilitation, I want to resume my career. I cannot pass the physical to reclaim my original job, but I did qualify for a job in a police department in another state. Is it O.K. to receive a disability pension from one force while doing similar work for another? NAME WITHHELD

You, sir, are an American hero, and I salute you.

I think.

I mean, you don't actually specify how you were injured in the line of duty. It could be a Season One of The Wire thing where you went undercover for the re-up and got popped because you didn't tape the gun tight enough under the passenger seat in an old beat up Buick and as soon as someone sat down the tape came off and you couldn't get to the gun in time so you got got. Or it could be a Season One of The Wire thing where your fat lazy Irish friend took early retirement and you're so fucking fat lazy and Irish that you started drinking on the job, trying to work up the courage to pitch yourself down a flight of stairs for that sweet disability check and a chance to sit on your ass.

Do you see where I'm going with this? I'll give you a hint: it's a room in my apartment with a TV, because I just remembered how much I like The Wire and how little I actually care about whatever it is you were talking about in your boring letter.

Earlier: I'm Dreaming of a White Power Christmas