Ethics can be a tricky thing.
It isn’t always as easy as correct and incorrect, particularly in fields with moral gray areas like law and medicine.
Redditor and Original Poster (OP) chocolate_glizzy found that out first hand when they accidentally stumbled into a real-life ethics challenge.
So they decided to bring their concerns to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subreddit for clarity.
“AITA for doing a class presentation on the opioid crisis in front of a drug addict’s daughter?”
They began with the backstory:
“For a bit of a background, I’m a third-year public health major at a mid-sized university in the US.”
“Over the summer, I decided to take a medical ethics class that is heavily discussion-based and requires various presentations throughout the semester.”
So far so good.
“For our final presentation, we were required to present on a topic of our choice as well as argue in favor or against the topic from an ethical standpoint.”
Seems pretty straightforward.
“The only rule was that we should not choose a topic that would be considered ‘gaslighting’.
A pitfall that is easy to avoid.
“My presentation topic was on the opioid crisis and my argument focused on stricter regulation of prescriptions issued by doctor’s offices.”
An ethically sound argument.
“Throughout my presentation, I cited various reputable sources as well as information from two professors on campus, who worked directly for drug-manufacturing companies.”
Firsthand accounts are always good.
“Aside from the ethical argument part of my presentation, the rest was completely fact-based.”
“Within minutes of beginning my presentation, one of the girls in the class started throwing a fit over Zoom because I decided to do a topic on something that personally relates to her, and because of that, she feels this is ‘gaslighting’ her personal life.”
Perhaps not so easily avoided after all.
“She asked the professor to make me do a different topic.”
“The girl who expressed anger over my presentation happened to have a mother suffering from a heroin addiction, so that why was she was unhappy with my topic.”
Surely, there’s no way OP could have known…
“She had brought it up in the past during class discussions on drug use, so I was aware of this.”
“Anyways, the professor told her that the gaslighting rule was far too subjective so she removed it completely. The professor said it would be up to me if I wanted to stop the presentation, in respect of the other student, and do a different topic.”
So a choice had to be made.
“I refused because of the amount of work I put in. Ultimately, the girl left the Zoom class and it looked like she had started crying right before she left.”
Ethics isn’t always easy.
“AITA for presenting on a topic that hit close to home for somebody in my class?”
“My intentions were not to hurt anybody and I just felt like presenting on a topic I feel passionate about.”
They asked for Reddit’s judgment.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors ultimately decided the OP was NTA.
Some got right to the point.
“NTA. As a fellow person who has an immediate family member severely addicted to drugs, that girl needs to shut up and realize the world doesn’t stop because something pertains to her life.”
“The important discussion about the opioid epidemic needs and should be discussed openly, and she needs to get out of her bubble to realize the world doesn’t care about people’s feelings.”
“I wouldn’t change the topic. Who knows, maybe she can learn something from it.” ~picklesandpenises
Others were concerned with defining the terms of the argument.
“NTA. And that’s not gaslighting.”~CodenameBuckwin
“I assumed something along the lines of like, ‘[condition] isn’t real and anyone who thinks it is is just lying/crazy/etc.’
“I don’t think gaslighting is quite the right term for a presentation along those lines, but that was what I assumed was meant.” ~loracarol
Definitions. Are. Very. Important.
“Imagine playing with a toddler. When they look away, you grab and hid the toy.”
“When they ask about it, you deny it ever being taken out and it’s probably still in their room, so maybe they should check.”
“Then while they are gone you put the toy down so they see it when they returned. When they point it out, you act like it was there the whole time and insist they went back to their room to get a new shirt to wear, where is the shirt?”
“And then you did this every. Single. time. they played near you until they developed anxieties about where their toys were and shut down with interacting with their own toys out of fear of feeling insecure in their own knowledge of where their toys were or what they were playing with, and now play with only 1 toy that they cry if its ever not in their hand because if they put it down, they don’t know if it will still be there.”~k9centipede
OP’s teacher didn’t escape scrutiny, either.
“Yeah, that was weird. I don’t know why the prof would put it on the student, that’s poor leadership.”
“Teacher should have paused, talked to the other student on the side, and given her permission to sit out for the day, then talked with op on the side and told them what to do, and followed up with both of them later.”
“Should not have made OP decide while up in front of the class.”~Fmeson
The exchange of ideas isn’t always comfortable.
“Any conversation of real import will have people who disagree with you. Can’t operate in the real world unless you can deal with those differences.”
“The only way to not offend someone is to not say anything… but then you’ll offend someone by being too quiet so… you can’t win.”~wernercd
It can be difficult to present your ideas to your peers—even more so when those ideas might hurt someone else’s feelings.
Ideas do not sit in silence well, though, and hopefully OP’s classmate can learn to deal with that discomfort.
Ethically, maybe we could all use that lesson.