No need to ask The Ethicist, Chuck Klosterman, about the following scenario. It just screams wrong from all directions.
At a public meeting a number of people were dialoging about common concerns. One of the participants voiced ideas and opinions in a manner that perhaps was more robust and spirited than others. It was then someone, without a microphone and admittedly using an ‘in-door voice’ let it be known to those close by that the person “was seen coming out of a psychiatrist office”. It was offered in the same way that one might ask if you want extra cheese on your pizza. In other words it seemed that adding that detail for others to mull over was no big deal.
I was one of those to hear this statement and was floored. I did not comment back, as I was not looking to roil the waters and start a separate conversation, or embroider an already out of the ballpark remark.
What was being inferred however was the tone and manner that the participant made comments on a topic at the meeting was in some way due to a deeper problem that needed professional help. There could be no way that someone might actually be quite energized over an issue, right? How pathetic.
The fact someone is seen exiting a place of business can mean they were simply delivering flowers to a relative that works there, or dropping of a resume, or a multitude of other plausible reasons. I might also add that if someone is needing the services of a psychiatrist it should not be seen as a weakness, but a sign of strength. Seeking mental help is no different than having a specialist set a broken bone. And in 2013 it should not be the topic of snide comments!
While I am never one to have qualms about talking politics or religion I know there are ethical lines that should not be crossed in polite conversation.