The Ethicist is a regular column in the New York Times. People send in their ethical questions, and The Ethicist discusses the dilemma and provides some kind of answer. Klosterman doesn’t seem to be very judgmental or superior, so I’m not all that surprised that the parent in the blog post below got a positive response.
What does surprise me is the nature of Klosterman’s response. In a way, it seems too personal. It should be more public, considering his whole job is discussing moral and ethical issues in a public forum. An apology letter and a charitable donation are nice, but it might be more helpful to write a column about the “R-Word” and maybe more broadly, “Political Correctness”. One of the problems with this tiresome but necessary debate over language is that people see it as “political”, when really, they need to think of it “ethical”.
Also, I don’t believe for a minute that Klosterman never heard of people being offended by the “R-Word” until he got that letter. He has to have been aware of the controversy long before that, yet until he got that letter, he chose to use the word anyway. If he ever addresses this in a column, he ought to address that, too … why do people continue to do and say things they basically know they shouldn’t?
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