Re: (Fwd: *C&CD*) The main problem (*DIGEST*) (17 lines)

John McLaughlin (
Thu, 26 Oct 1995 16:27:14 -0500


Here's where I think a legitimate focus upon ethics may help you out,
confronted by racist, homophobic etc. students.

First, there's the simplest of all ethical questions: would you like it
if someone did that to you? If someone addressed cruel, hateful language
to you, based on your background and upbringing, how would you feel? If
you wouldn't like it, why should you think someone else would like it?
"Do unto others" is really simple, isn't it?

Second, what would the world be like if everybody used that attitude,
that language, with everybody else? Do you want to contribute to that mess?
There's an easy way to turn your back on it, beginning with rewriting
this essay....

Third, what "rights" do other people have that you are obligated to respect?
If mutual respect is part of being a human being, what is this that you
have just written? How would you rewrite it to reflect that just respect?

And finally, what duty do you have, as a writer, to your reader as a
human being? How does it fulfill your duty to your reader to say this?
If it clearly runs counter to what your reader deserves as a person, then
it's time to start revising this piece.

In other words, I don't think you're obligated to stand silently by and
let somebody say violently cruel, hurtful things to or about other people.
It's not your job to proofread bigotry. That would be a dereliction of
duty on your part, not a fulfillment of it. In the great Greek phrase,
that would be to help make the worse appear the better case; and you're
not obligated to do violence to your self-respect for a paycheck.