Ethical Choice Point

By Patricia Emefiele


You're teaching a class in communication. In the public speaking segment, one of your students, a sincere and devout Iranian Muslim, gives a speech on "why women should be subservient to men." After the first two minutes of the speech, half the class walks out. During the next class you plan to give a lecture on the ethics of listening. What is your ethical obligation in this situation? What would you say?

My ethical obligation.

  • There are always two different moral paths when it comes to an ethical dilemma. I, myself, may believe in a certain culture or way of life but the person next to me may have a different belief or different position on how my way of life may be right or wrong. It's what's in my personal morals that helps me choose to sit there and listen to their either ignorant or intellectual perspective or just leave the conversation altogether. However, I believe my ethical obligation in this situation would be to sit in for this women's speech and maybe gain a perspective on her deep rituals of religious law. I honestly have no background and very little knowledge of the Muslim religion and I think it would be very interesting to learn some of her beliefs. Even if she contradicts some of my ways of life, even if it's almost too insulting, I know the women speaking isn't targeting me or the person sitting next to me. She is simply giving someone or anyone her personal perspective on a specific topic that is just a fraction of a category in a religion. Listening to her would be the ethical thing to do for me but for the other half of the class, not so much.