off the record
As Off the Record pondered the ethics of regifting last week, we came across help in an unlikely place: a web ad for Detroit-based Ally Bank, which features original New York Times Magazine ethicist Randy Cohen dispensing advice about financial etiquette.
We called Mr. Cohen to find out how he went from being “The Ethicist”—a post he held for a dozen years—to the etiquette adviser at Ally Bank. Apparently, the advertising folks at iCrossing, fans of Mr. Cohen’s, got in touch about using him in a campaign for their client. But what about using the “Author, original NY Times Ethicist” chyron in the videos? Is the Gray Lady cool with that?
Earlier this week, The New York Times‘ Ethicist Ariel Kaminer announced a contest: Carnivorous readers must defend, in 600 words or less, why it is ethical to eat meat. They’ll be up against tough judges: Peter Singer, Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Jonathan Safran Foer and Andrew Light. (Yes, it’s already been noted that none of the panelists are women.)
Although readers are told to send in their entries to firstname.lastname@example.org, of course the real meaty matter can be found in the comments section of the article, where vegans and organic farmers rip into each other like the savage beasts we essentially are. (Why bother trying to define “ethics” as it applies to different standards of living and nutrition, which sounds really hard, when one can just start up a flame war with some other pseudo-intellectual whose ideas are different from your own?)
Here are the best comments.