"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.
This week a young man faces the not actually particularly difficult question over whether to take a job supporting the tobacco industry or to keep living off the money his parents give him. You know, whatevs. Oh, and someone's mom killed herself, which is cool.
I am competing for a job at a firm that does work for a tobacco company on whose account I would have to work. This makes me deeply uncomfortable. Since I received my degree, my parents have been supporting me. If I took a stand on principle here, it would be at their expense. Should I take the job if it is offered? — Name Withheld, Texas
While you do a very nice job of obfuscating the facts of your situation by failing to mention what type of job you are competing for at what type of firm after receiving what type of degree, you've done nothing to hide the fact that you are a fucking pussy. If this job doesn't work out, you could use your secondary degree in being a loser to get a job as a mooch at a firm called your parents' house. Ooops! Too late! LOLSads.
Smoking is cool, we all know that. But if the past few years of Truth ads have taught us anything, it's that clever, nicely photographed advertising campaigns are also cool. Think about it this way: if people stop smoking, we won't have any more over-educated teenagers with bullhorns filmed in cinema verité style, giving us shocking party trivia about cancer statistics.
Should you take the job? Probably not. Smoking has become a contentious issue in this country, and if we want it to remain a cultural touchstone of rebellion and effortless cool, we don't need simpering hand-wringers who can't even get out of their parents' basement taking the reigns. It's time to separate the Marlboro men from the Marlboro boys.
Our mother committed suicide at home, and now we're selling her house. Potential buyers know that the owner died but do not know how. Under the law, we're not required to tell them about a death on the property. If asked directly, we would let them know, but do we have an ethical duty to volunteer this information? — Name Withheld, New York
From everything I've seen in American remakes of Japanese horror movies, it doesn't really matter whether or not you tell potential buyers how your mother died. The pale, wide-eyed ghost child standing in the corner of the dining room making other-worldly cat noises with his over-wide mouth will be indication enough.