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New York Times Ethicist: Socialist Not an Insult

Posted on | June 20, 2010 | 2 Comments

NEW YORK–Answering a question from a reader as to whether a teacher should post a cartoon on his door that disparages President Obama as a socialist, New York Times columnist Randy Cohen writes:

[W]hile this teacher does not transgress ethically, he does seem to fall short intellectually, offering not deft political analysis but slogans and clichés…

Incidentally…how does it defame a person to call him a “socialist” (outside of nutty far-right circles) — a set of ideas many advanced Western democracies find congenial, what with the accessible health-care, affordable higher education and good public transportation?

Cohen, who writes the Times’ “Ethicist” column, answers readers’ questions on whether a particular conduct is moral. As far back as 1999, when the column debuted, he was criticized for using the column to advance government control of the economy. In 2004, he was discovered to be making donations to the left-wing political group MoveOn.org, in violation of the Times’ ethics policy. He was allowed to keep his job, claiming the organization was no more political than the Boy Scouts.

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2 Responses to “New York Times Ethicist: Socialist Not an Insult”

  1. Martin
    June 21st, 2010 @ 7:07 pm

    If I were called a socialist, you can bet your ass that I’d take it as an insult.

  2. Jeff
    June 22nd, 2010 @ 8:42 am

    That guy is a nut. I think I’ve heard him on NPR back when I occassionaly bothered to listen to NPR. He attempts to out-ethic traditional Judeo-Christian ethics by being OCD about things like finding a nickel on the ground, stepping on an ant, etc., with the goal being, of course, attaining moral superiority over all beings. It’s kind of like veganism, applied to EVERYTHING.

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