Virtue is its own reward…
The other day we went to see some screenings of student films at the New York Film Academy in New York City. One was a particularly disgusting short film of a girl being beaten, which was sufficiently abhorrent – it wasn’t what we would call controversial, merely degrading – that one experienced actress (SAG, EQUITY, AFTRA, AGMA) simply got up and walked out, vowing never to work for that filmmaker.
This event caused us to ruminate on the issue of taste and judgment, right and wrong. Our thoughts naturally turned to Socrates’ rejection of intelligent design as presented by Anaxagoras, the philosopher friend of Pericles. As readers remember, Anaxagoras postulated that the world had been ordered by an Intelligence. Socrates expected to find that Anaxagoras would explain the world order as a work of design, not a result of blind mechanical necessity, but of course discovered that Anaxagoras’ Intelligence was limited to creation, and that for the rest Anaxagoras fell back on mechanical causes of the usual type. Socrates gave up hope of an intelligible system of nature, and turned away from the study of external things, focusing instead on examining human life in society, the meaning of right and wrong, and the ends for which we ought to live. In this Socratic framework, the actress was right to walk out. We ourselves didn’t walk out, but only because we were there to see a subsequent film. We put the name of the filmmaker on our never-again-see-anything-by list.
The nature of right and wrong was more firmly brought out to us when anew client retained the offshore trust company of which one of the editors is a principal. The new client went from wanting to protect his assets to wanting advice on how to hide money in a way that was considered to be beyond skating on thin ice. After a number of attempts – going way beyond the limits of the retainer – to explain the limits of what was permissible, the client was fired.
The ex- client, on whom the company had done due diligence before taking him on, turned out not to have been a potential client at all, but a CID agent(with a pretty good government-built cover) whose job was to try to induce offshore financial companies in that jurisdiction to do bad things. Since our partners share our code of ethics (don’t work for bad people; don’t do bad things; get enough of an advance so that everyone can be paid on time) they faced no risk whatsoever in this kind of sting.
Note the distinction here between legal and illegal and right and wrong /good and bad. It is our belief that if you do the right thing you generally don’t need to worry about much else.