(or How the Ethicist Got It Wrong)
For as long as we’ve subscribed to the New York Times, I’ve always enjoyed reading the Ethicist column on Saturday mornings. Perhaps, I now realize, I didn’t enjoy the actual column as much as I enjoyed the insight of then-Ethicist Chuck Klosterman. Since I first started reading, my beloved column has undergone a transformation, first becoming a short-lived podcast and now in the hands of Kwame Anthony Appiah, a professor of philosophy at N.Y.U.
This past Saturday, when I finally had a chance to sit down and peruse the day’s edition, I first turned to the column in the magazine, as I usually do. Sometimes it’s the only column I get to read, uninterrupted. The first letter was from “Name Withheld,” a gay man, who asked “How do I explain to my Evangelical Relatives why I avoid family functions?” I delved into the Ethicist’s response with enthusiasm, thinking that perhaps this was my answer: I could simply rip out this column, letter and answer in all, and send it to my parents. I was hopeful that the Ethicist would be able to explain exactly why I felt it so hard to attend family functions, and why it was not selfish, but rather self-preserving, that I distance myself from them and their toxicity.