Can you tell I'm procrastinating?
Dear New York Times,
Forgive me for writing again so quickly, but I could not contain my shock at this week's Ethicist. In it, a parent wonders whether it would be ethical to permit her over-18-year-old son from smoking marijuana during a family vacation to Amsterdam, because while she discourages it at home on grounds of illegality, in Amsterdam it is perfectly legal.
My shock came not from the subject matter but the destination of the letter. Surely, this is not a question of ethics, but of manners, and Judith Martin ought to have set the whole family straight.
Her son should be chastised, and promptly, for placing his parents in the awkward position of having to prohibit or condone his behavior, when properly, it is none of their business.
Had the son wanted to display a more courteous attitude to his family, he could have responded, "Oh? Amsterdam. I have long wanted to observe the local culture" when the vacation was proposed, and then, casually said at the end of dinner, "I am going to visit a coffeehouse" or "I think I'll continue sight-seeing" and left it at that. Having instead apparently said something along the lines of, "Oh, goody! Legal weed!" he has now forced his parents into acting like parents must when confronted with a child's passion. They will want to find the best local hash; take photos of his smoking it for the grandparents; perhaps bring home a souvenir bong; all something of a burden. I only hope this family's mania for the truth has some boundaries -- he seems like the kind of boy who would exclaim, "Thank you so much for letting Sarah come visit for Thanksgiving. I am hoping that we will have lots of sex in the guest room."
I can't say I was surprised when I discovered that the family vacation plan was changed to Switzerland, and I must admit the young man deserved it for his rudeness. As the saying goes, "if you're not old enough to smoke pot without bragging about it to your parents, you're not old enough to smoke pot."