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Not Only Is He Unethical, He Brags About It
Always amazed by this sort of thing. A letter to the editor in New York Times Magazine:

The Ethicist

To the average 20-something who dispenses movie tickets, I certainly look like a senior. When those who are presumptuous or perceptive enough to think I may be under 65 (which I am) and ask me for proof of age, I simply look them in the eye, sigh and say, “You’re not going to card me, are you?” Recent memories of being asked to prove that they are of legal drinking age prompt them to issue the senior discount without further ado. It’s proof that experience and cunning beat youth and energy almost every time.

Eric Mendelsohn

Posted by aalkon at May 20, 2007 6:20 AM


Well, thank god we see ourselves through our own eyes and not the eyes of others. Then again, who knows -- maybe his last sentence was actually brimming with bitter sarcasm.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at May 20, 2007 7:17 AM

One wonders what the "Ethicist," of questionable ethics himself (since he's perfectly okay with a man paying child support for children that aren't his), has to say about all this.

Posted by: Patrick at May 20, 2007 7:40 AM

I went looking for that piece and found a good article by Jacob Levy on the "Ethicist."

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 20, 2007 8:05 AM

Here's that question, which I pulled from Time$ $elect:

An attorney with experience in paternity-fraud cases, I was called by a man dating a divorced woman who told him her ex-husband is unaware that he is not the biological father of two of her three children; he pays child support and visits all three. My caller wonders if he should tell the ex-husband, whom he knows. He has no legal obligation to, but does the golden rule suggest an ethical one? Louis Kiefer, Hartford

Your caller should keep this to himself. I can imagine few good consequences and many bad ones from his doing otherwise. For one thing, he has no way of knowing if the claim is true; people say all sorts of things. But even if it is, what would result from his disclosing it? The putative bio-dad already visits the kids, i.e., is involved in their lives. Why risk disturbing that? If DNA testing did prove him to be the biological father of just one child, what would he do -- visit only that one and ignore the other two? Buy only that one a winter coat? What makes someone a parent is a continuous relationship with the kids, not the mere exchange of genetic material. If I were to learn suddenly that my college-age daughter had been exchanged in her cradle, I'd love her nonetheless.

What's more, his coming forward would force a confrontation that both parents might wish to avoid. It is not unusual for people to determinedly ignore evidence of infidelity that is obvious to everyone else. There are things people choose not to know, and such information should not be foisted on them. The golden rule is a fine precept, but it's not always obvious what other people would like done unto them.

Unless the mother needs medical information from the bio-dad, the only benefit I can imagine here is that the biological father might be urged to shoulder his financial and emotional obligations. But that seems unlikely. One other thing that you, a lawyer, no doubt realize: in some states a husband is the legal father of his wife's children, which can compel an ex to pay child support even for kids who are not biologically his.

Disgusting. Do we keep people in jail who turn out not to be the criminal just because somebody should pay?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 20, 2007 8:12 AM

I read the "Ethicist" column...because I view it as I would a trainwreck. What new disastrous advice will be presented today?

Posted by: marion at May 20, 2007 8:46 AM

Yiiikes - the biological-dad question was horrendous. So many men pay for children that aren't theirs because some psycho feels she deserves something. She had a few bad experiences with men so she seeks out an innocent bystander to screw over as payback, as if she's doing womankind some sort of favor by sticking it, metaphorically, to all the bastards out there. Pay for this kid, you jackass, even though she/he isn't yours!

I have never heard of this "ethicist" person but he seems to miss the big point. Sure - if this boyfriend tried to let the ex know he's paying for two children that aren't his it will probably screw up the lives of those children in some way. But the point is that women shouldn't be allowed to get away with such chicanery. If more women were afraid of getting caught cheating the system then there would be fewer children in danger of having their "daddies" disappear.

And I'd card the bastard if I were working the box office. I haven't yet forgotten my last birthday at a local bar my friends and I used to frequent... one person forgot her license and, being 5 feet tall with a high pitched voice, was promptly kicked out (as well as the rest of us). It goes both ways, gramps, so cough up the ID or the extra two bucks.

Posted by: Gretchen at May 20, 2007 9:37 AM

Or it proves that 7 bucks an hour isn't enough to compel someone to argue with an pathetic aging freeloader.

I bet he giggles with glee when someone gives him the wrong change and keeps it.

Posted by: christina at May 20, 2007 9:44 AM

Paternity fraud is a serious issue for men, and I don't see feminists stepping up to decry the discrimination. If you're only against discrimination when it seems to benefit you, you're not against discrimination at all. California rep Sheila Kuehl, who supports allowing paternity fraud, should be run out of office on a rail.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 20, 2007 10:32 AM

A bill passed the Florida legislature that would end child support payments if DNA testing proves that another man is the baby's father:

Posted by: Joe at May 20, 2007 1:13 PM

Wow, that's fantastic.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 20, 2007 1:59 PM

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