"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.
A foundation hired me to start and help run a philanthropy club at the high school where I am a junior. We raise money for women's health in Mexico. None of the other members are paid. Am I ethically wrong not to tell them (or colleges or future employers) that I am paid for work they might assume is voluntary? — Anna Akullian, Berkeley, Calif.
First of all, wipe that brown off your nose before you speak to me.
Now, even setting aside my own high school experience, I think the entire canon of pop cultural documentation of those formative years is based on the exploration of youthful sexuality and recreational drug use. So your philanthropic entrepreneurial spirit is more than a little concerning, Teenager Robot.
You should know that all of this hand-wringing over the ethical ramifications of your extra-curricular activities is the reason that no one invited you to the SnOw C winter ball. Any high school junior who spends her weekends deciding what the ideal level of disclosure over income earned will be with FUTURE EMPLOYERS is the kind of girl who can't even get a date in the fucking AV club.
It's definitely one of those catch-22s, because the best thing to straighten you out is probably a good pregnancy scare, but you can't get one of those unless you have sex, and you can't have sex unless you stop doing and being everything that you are doing and being.
My brother, an eighth grader in a school where I am a junior, gave a speech about the genocide in Darfur to his English class. His teacher and classmates chose him to present it to the entire grade. School administrators would not let him speak unless he removed a sentence containing the word "rape," finding it inappropriate for 13-year-olds. Is this censorship, or does the school have a valid point? — name withheld
Okay, someone is just fucking with me now.
Adults don't even write like this, TeenBot3000. Please upgrade your language chip to a more believable model.
It is cute, though, when children get all worked up about injustice like the removal of a potentially upsetting word from a speech to a room full of 8th graders. ERACISM! You probably sit at Denny's all weekend, staring out the window at your friend's Toyota Corolla, quoting Chomsky while picking at your Eggs Over My Hammy and decrying the inherent unfairness of the exploitative capitalist system, all while wondering why girls won't talk to you.
But I think we all know why girls won't talk to you.
In any case, within 10 years none of this will matter because you'll either become so disgusted and discouraged at your bullshit job that you won't have the energy or interest to change the world anymore, or the civilized world will have ended in some kind of apocalyptic disaster and you'll be dealing with "rape" in a much more immediate and unambiguous way.
An 8-year-old distant cousin I've never met has Crohn's disease. A doctor has started my relative on steroids, which can have side effects, some of which my relative is already experiencing. Through long experience with a close companion, I've seen what dietary changes can accomplish. I believe the child needs to see a nutritionist. As a member of the extended family, what responsibility do I have to pursue this? — name withheld
I know you don't have a date, but what are you wearing to prom? Actually, your question isn't stentorian and indignant enough. You're probably still in Junior High.