Have you ever boarded a train seeking a little quiet reading time, only to be disrupted by the incessant cell phone chatter of a fellow passenger? What do you do? The answer to queries like this one and many more questions of scruples are found in Randy Cohen's new book "Be Good: How to Navigate the Ethics of Everything." It's based on his years as "The Ethicist," writing for The New York Times Magazine. He began that very popular column and wrote it for 12 years. ...Cohen is a secular Jew, and not orthodox, of course. He used to be married to a famous feminist poet. The NY Times caters to its Jewish readers.
COHEN: ... Here was the question that provoked by far the most response.
A woman goes to hire a real estate agent. And she meets the guy and she thinks, Wow, he's great, he's honest, he's confident. And she goes, you are my guy, and sticks her hand out for a handshake to seal the deal. And he will not shake her hand. And she instantly understands why. She sees that, oh, he's an Orthodox Jew and there's a religious stricture against physical contact across the gender line, except for close relatives.
Her question is: Should I work with this guy? And she crystallized it beautifully. She goes: On the one hand, I truly respect religious tolerance. This does me no actual harm and it's not meant in an unkind way. On the other hand, I hold my feminist principles in as much esteem as he holds his religious principles. All I'm asking for is to be treated with the same courtesy and respect as anyone else would be, in an ordinary business deal. Hire the guy or fire the guy?
My position was fire the guy. And the way I worked towards this conclusion was by making an analogy to race. That if this person had said, I can't touch you 'cause you're black, we would not put up with that for two minutes - nor should we. And in my case, I felt that your religious values which manifested you being part of a voluntary community cannot be imposed on other people.
This is wacky Jewish advice from Jews who do not even believe in Judaism. Would anyone here really fire the agent because of his handshaking scruples?
If a Catholic or a Mormon were giving advice, I might assume that the advice is based on church teachings. Or they might explain the basis of their advice. But not Jews. Many of them like to give bad advice to non-Jews, and not explain it.
I post this because I was subjected to court-ordered bad advice from a psychologists named Ken Perlmutter. He could never explain anything he was saying. It was just his opinion. The whole field of psychology is corrupted by creeps like him.
Maybe you think that it is unfair for me to draw attention to Cohen's Jewishness when he is not really a practicing Jew. But he's the one who goes around giving bad ethical advice to everyone, and failing to explain his premises. His advice is obviously influenced by Jewish thinking. I think that it would be strange to discuss his ethical advice without mentioning the Jewish influence.