Q:I was hired to do the voice-over for a French version of the annual video report of a high-profile religious organization. The video opposes gay marriage, a view untenable to me. During the recording session, I noticed various language errors. Nobody there but me spoke French, and I considered letting these errors go: my guilt-free sabotage. Ultimately I made the corrections. As a married gay man, I felt ethically compromised even taking this job. Did I betray my tribe by correcting the copy?
A: You were right to perform according to your usual standards. If that generally means simply reading the copy, however illiterate, you need not have done more here. But I infer that you typically correct such solecisms, and so you had to in this case. To deliberately, albeit passively, undermine the work you agreed to do is to tell your employer a kind of lie. If you accept a job, you must do it professionally, as I suspect you know - when a query includes the word "sabotage," the sender usually does, even when that noun is modified (unconvincingly) by "guilt-free."
But should you have accepted this job? I think not, and I gather you agree, hence your feeling "ethically compromised." An actor need not admire the characters he portrays. To play Richard III is not to endorse murder. It is, as the creator of "R3" himself noted and the audience understands, "to hold a mirror up to nature."
This video, however, is a form of advocacy. To collaborate on its production is to promote policies you revile. Doing so betrays not just your tribe but the larger community. It is not only Jews who should repudiate anti-Semitism or African-Americans who should oppose racism. No honorable person, gay or straight, should abet efforts to deny homosexuals equal treatment under the law.
If this column were called "The Psychotherapist," I might question your acting self-destructively. Were I writing "The Have-to-Pay-the-Rentist," I might take a gentle and sympathetic tone but would discourage you from ignoring your nagging conscience or the angry muttering of your friends and neighbors.
Update: A few weeks later, the question-writer was invited to be not just the voice but also the face of this organization on some additional videos. He declined.
Piercing pact broken
Q: Three years ago, I made an often-restated agreement with the mother of my daughter's best friend that our daughters would not get their ears pierced until they both turned 10, and not a moment sooner. My daughter is now 9-1/2; her friend just turned 9 and got her ears pierced. My daughter is upset, and I feel wronged that this mother broke our agreement without giving me a heads-up. What are our obligations to each other?
A: You two made an imprudent pledge. When your kids are 6, it is tough to know how you or they will feel a few years later, even about something as minor as pierced ears. Okay, it's easy to anticipate what the kids will feel: They'll want to put as many holes in their bodies as soon as they can. But parents sometimes alter their own views, responding to changes in their children, the culture and their sense of what's worth a battle. Part of being a good parent is a willingness to rethink what's best for your kids. Neither you nor that mother need feel bound by this promise. It was never something either of you could truly avow.
But though she must rear her kids by her own lights, even if that includes a revised piercing policy, she should have alerted you to her change of heart before taking action, so you could discuss this with your daughter before she had to behold her friend's sparkling earlobes. Now you have the challenging task of instantly explaining to her why the rules in your house differ from those in her friend's. And why you can't promise to provide a sunny day for the Fourth of July, when she will not be getting an American flag tattoo.
This column originally appeared in the New York Times Magazine. Send questions and comments by e-mail to email@example.com.