As a Good Person, anything I do – if my intentions are pure – is beyond moral questioning. Sound familiar? It is basically Tony Blair’s response to any questions about enabling Dick and George and Donald and all those chickenhawks as they unleashed hell on Iraq.(1) There was a great article about Blair by the journalist Geoffrey Wheatcroft, (2) in the June 2004 issue of The Atlantic (online here!, and here’s a gloss) about how he was well, antinomian.
This, from glasgowsexworker’s response to a comment on her post “So, you want to cite Farley” is rather good on the subject of people thinking they can accrue “goodness chips” to buy privileges they have no right to. Someone asked if it was possible to be an “ethical client” of prostitutes.
One thing that seems relevant is that I think some clients would like to assume the *identity* of Ethical Client, and I’d be quite wary of that slippage between it being something you *do* and something you *are*. I guess analogously to, say, men who want to be feminist allies or some such? Its not a thing whereby you get the badge and thus everything you do from thereon in is fine. Its more about choosing to act ethically in small ways all the time, and never assuming that your past aggregate of Ethical Points means that you get to push on boundary ‘this one time’ or whatever. Cashing in those points. Y’know? This seems obvious, but a glance any kind of attempt to be an ally to any group will tell you that people slip up here all the time (I include myself!), and clients are no exception. (Also, a client who particularly pushed my boundaries did so because he felt our long-standing prior interactions meant it would be somehow alright, so this is a topic that I feel strongly about. You do not get to have the Ethical Client badge & keep it forever! [/rant])
(1) Saddam was a grotesque thug. And for many years, up to 1990, he was OUR grotesque thug. What was the response to his use of chemical weapons in 1988? The UK Foreign Office covered for him. What was the response to the USS Stark getting attacked and 37 sailors dying? Uncle Sam shrugged it off.
(2) Brilliant recent piece by Wheatcroft in the Grauniad – The Tories just aren’t patrician enough