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Ethics, would you work for...


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Disclaimer, I do NOT want a political / religious discussion.
I've got a request to work for Scientology.
If I were in a position to be able to refuse work, I would leave it instantly. But you've guessed, I'm not...

Now, where is the line?
I could really use some money, but I'm not really comfortable with the idea that my work will help sucking in people into something I call 'bad'.
'No discrimination' does not apply in this situation IMHO.
What do you think?

@ Jeff, monitor this and step in if this goes off the track.

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I do have a line. But I'm married and my spouse's job is honorable...and provides partially-subsidized health insurance (perhaps the later is less of an issue in the Netherlands). In a few instances my turning down certain big-bucks projects caused some financial distress and personal tension. And we had kids in the house (they're all adults now). I think a factor for us was, the financial distress wasn't going to cause us to lose our house or not feed our kids. If it was such a situation, I may have made different decisions about a couple projects (though it probably wouldn't have changed my declining a couple others). But even still, the lost money was painful.


So perhaps my line could move. And frankly, it's the areas just above and below the line that are trickier. In the end, I'm glad I turned down those jobs. I have to live with myself. And I don't want to make the world a worse place.


Geez. Sorry I don't have more insight. Good luck, Bouke. 

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That's a difficult one because they are objectively a terrible organization that preys on people, but then again they aren't like literal Nazis reaching out to create a hate speech piece or something.  Maybe ask for 2x your going rate and donate half to an organization that counters their organization to stick it to them but still get yourself out of whatever financial situation you're in?  It's a tough one, I'll tell you that!

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Where is the line is a good question.  I've said yes to jobs where I had reservations about the client, and I completely understand being in a position where you can't turn down work.


I'm not sure if this is an excuse or not, but this is how I rationalized it:

Whether or not I do the work, they are going to hire someone to do the job.  Saying no might help me escape *my* moral culpability, but it doesn't actually do anything to prevent the "badness" that makes me uncomfortable about the job.  A one person boycott accomplishes nothing.

In addition, I will get paid for doing the job.  That means *I* get control over the money that my client is spending.  I can spend it on myself (and, I was definitely in financial need when I said yes), or I can spend it on something that might counter the badness.  At the very least, once I have the money, it is that much less financial power that the bad client has to put towards their goals.  If they are going to give that money to someone, it might as well be me, because I can spend it better.


This is, unfortunately, an unhealthy effect of how money works.  Bad people and bad organizations can hire good people with the power of money and use the work of good people for bad ends.  There's no choice a good worker can make that can prevent the bad use of money.

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I am probably gonna get flamed for this but, here goes.


Someone is asking you to do a job for money.  Someone wants to pay for your skills.


It is, to me, as simple as that.  Not that I wouldn't say "no" to some jobs, and do for a variety of reasons.


But the guy who you hire to paint your house doesn't ask and makes no judgement on anything other than "Does the house need painting?  Can I do the job for the money offered?"


Maybe it is that simple.


Oh and as to "bad guys", Scientology can't be as nasty as some movie producers who I have worked for.  :):)



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I have taken very lucrative jobs with political clients whom I completely disagree with and later feel guilty that I may have had something to do with their current elected position. I didn't vote for them so I have that going in my favor but I helped spread their message.


But as one politician once told me after shooting her commercial and talking with her about her platform, "Well, you know it's all theater." 


Now, I take their money and put it ALL into my over-priced Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance premiums (a result, in part, of the politician's policies). I guess I work for the GREEN party. U.S. greenbacks.


As for a religion you disagree with... that is tough. At least politician's get voted on every 2 or 4 years. 


Maybe tell the client you first need to hook them up to this machine that measures their anxiety, guilt and bank account, lol.

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There was this guy that showed up one time and he offered me a million dollars. He showed me a box and it had a button on it. He said "Press the button and I'll give you $1 million dollars". "But what does the button do?" I asked. He said that someone I don't know would die. I couldn't push the button. He gave me the box and said "Think it over. I'll be back tomorrow". Over the course of the evening I talked it over with my wife and oddly enough, after 5 or 6 hours, we figured out that it was ok to push the button. We did. Just a moment later the man showed up and gave me $1 million in cash. He asked to have the box back. I said "What are you going to do with it?". He said "Give it to someone you don't know"*


Ok, I don't know what that has to do with anything. But I feel like you have been handed the box with the button and you came to JWSoundGroup  to find enough people to tell you to go ahead and push the button.



*A Twilight Zone story

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Without meaning to diss anyone, I don't buy the argument that its ok to work for an employer who is a well known bad actor because if you don't someone else will.  I have worked for political causes I didn't agree with (pretty tame stuff) and political figures I wasn't behind (Arnold, McCain, Deukmejian, etc etc) but then I donated the money they paid me to their opponent or the competing ballot measure that I did support.  But I drew the line with Scientology, EST, and various other predatory orgs.   If you close that door another will open, or so I have found...

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Tough one. IMO if you're going to use that money for good (feeding yourself & family, doing good work), then you're taking money that could have been used for nefarious things away from them. It would sit in my throat though, knowing I'm helping people like that.

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Thanks all.
I have worked for political parties / persons that I truely HATE, but did my job cause it was in the line of democracy. (The party did not hire me, the governement, and every legal party gets it share.)
I did my job, made a very decent clip out of it, even knowing what lying backstabbing bitch I was editing.

Fun story, something like that once totally backfired when my counterpart at the governement (I'm independent) decided to make a 'bad' video: a stupid extreme right wing idiot got funded to make a video, he did the job and told the 'talent' the first take (and his delivered chroma key backdrop of a 60 pixel wide GIF was fine). End result was hilariously bad, but went viral on YouTube. (Sadly it is removed...)


Long story short:
I have told them (my contact at Scientology) I'm not taking the job.





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My position has fluctuated on this a bit over the years, but generally i believe people have the right to share their message even if i disagree with it.   Now i usually draw the line when i believe the message is designed to cause real harm. Most recently i turned down a political job for a known conspiracy spreader who i believe was out to destroy. 
I do feel fortunate enough that i am not in need of money the way i was when i was younger, so i have a lot less pressure to say no to the jobs i dislike, even if they don’t cross the threshold of harm.   With that in mind i often say no to ballot campaigns that i think are bad for my area, but i might work on them if i really needed the money.  All those spots aired anyway, but i free’d myself up to work on other jobs that I didn’t have any qualms with, and being available and having energy to pursue what i believe in turned into more work that i care about and less that I don’t. 
There is also the consideration of who you want your clients to be. I’m much more likely to do a one off spot i disagree with for a client I generally like working with, than for a political agency who only represents what i dislike. They will only ever come back and ask me to do it again putting me in the same position over and over. 
I also believe that my job revolves mostly around quality and execution, and I’m not hired at all to moderate content, so it feels out of place for me to complain about what talent is promoting just because I don’t agree.  I’ve done plenty of infomercials for products that i believe are borderline scams, but judging the product is not what I’m there for.  I’m there hired to help them, not tell them what they shouldn’t say. If I had a writing or content contribution job i think i would feel differently. 

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