"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, MySpace isn't the only place on the internet for inappropriate adult-teenager relationships anymore, and a medical student in New Jersey thinks $50 entitles him to something more than a dirty look and an "excuse me, but go fuck yourself."
I participate in an online sports forum. Users are anonymous but can e-mail one another privately. A young man e-mailed me saying that his mom beats him up. I believe he is in his late teens and is reaching out for help, but I cant be sure. Should I advise forum moderators, who have his personal information? — Chuck W., Atlanta
I've never claimed to understand the internet. Why people enjoy spending multiple hours every day looking at pictures of cats eating hamburgers and taking unscientific quizzes to find out how gay they are (answer: very gay) is, and will probably always be, one of life 2.0's greatest mysteries. But how you get from participating in an online sports forum to receiving emails from teenagers about their physical abuse, well, even Frank Warren would probably scratch his head at that one.
But let me see if I can put the answer into metaphorical terms you will understand: it's the ending of the fourth half of the final competition and all of the sports athletes are on the court and the offensive MVP makes the ball go up into the air and all of the outfielders are high-sticking each other to get the catch and the referee calls it foul offsides out of bounds. You are the catcher, the internet is the stadium, the teenager is the MVP, the MVP is a decoy, the referee is Chris Hanson, the game is To Catch a Predator, and you should be in jail.
At the medical school I attend, we were assigned sites for a clinical psychiatry course, some of which are an hour's drive away. We are permitted to trade sites among ourselves. One student offered $50 for a swap. The deans threatened him with an official letter of unprofessional conduct, although he violated no explicit rule. Was he unethical to offer to pay for an easier commute? Was the punishment too harsh? — Taylor White, Shrewsbury, N.J.
What's unethical is offering someone $50. You can barely even buy a blowjob for $50, and that's a blowjob in a shitty neighborhood, which is probably from a dude, who uses too much teeth, and will probably result in sores all over your penis. NO THANK YOU.
And no, he doesn't deserve an official letter of unprofessional conduct. The punishment should fit the crime. Gross, toothy, herpes blowjobs from that dude for everyone.