Man's wife ruins someone's job out of homophobia. Should he rat her out?

Yes, it’s a Skaldthetical with a storytelling OP. Possibly a long one, but since I’m making it up on the fly I can’t be sure just yet. If you don’t like these, there’s probably a thread open about the NBA playoffs or something.

Today’s story, set in the early 80s, is about Jack, **Janet, **and Vicki. The first two are teachers at a small, exclusive private high school (Jack teaches cooking and Janet, horticulture); they’ve been friends for over a decade. Vicki is Jack’s wife of about a year. Jack and Janet used to be extremely close, but they had to dial back their friendship after he met Vicki. Ostensibly this is because Janet’s a hot brunette and Vicki’s on the jealous side, but there’s another, more subtle reason. You see, Janet is absolutely no threat to the marriage, as not only is she in a long-term relationship of her own, with another woman. As the school has a morals clause in every teacher’s contract, Janet is forced to be discreet, and so merely lives next door to her girlfriend (whose name is probably Chrissy or Terri or Cindy) rather than sharing a residence.

One night Jack gets a panicked call from Janet. CindyTerriChrissy has just been in a car accident and is in critical condition at a local hospital. Being a mensch, Jack leaps out of bed, tells Vicki where he’s going, and races to his friend’s side. The two of them keep vigil all that night; Vicki joins them the next morning.

Happily, CTC pulls through. But all is not well. A few months after this accident, Jack stops by Janet’s classroom to say hi, only to discover that she’s packing her things. She’s been fired; someone–she doesn’t know who–ratted her out to the headmaster, and the school has judged her in violation of the morals clause. Stunned, Jack helps his friend pack and promises to help her any way he can.

That evening, Vicki notices that Jack is upset. When she asks why he tells her about Janet’s firing. She replies that it’s probably for the best; homosexuals do not belong around children, she claims, supporting her position by telling him about a female teacher who molested her in middle school (something Jack never knew before). Hearing this, Jack is instantly suspicious; he asks Vicki if she was the one who told the headmaster about Janet and CTC. Vicki does not deny it–nor does she apologize. Neither Jack nor Janet ever asked her to keep the secret, she says; in fact, they never even spoke about her relationship when CTC was in the hospital. If anything, Vicki feels betrayed because Jack kept this secret from her. Nonetheless she does feel a little guilty in retrospect; she asks Jack not to tell Janet that it was she, Vicki, who went to the headmaster.

Assuming Janet ever asks Jack this question: should he honor his wife’s request? Why or why not?

Tough one. Sort of…but it didn’t take me long to come up with an answer. If it were me? No…screw her. (Actually, if it were me, I’d have a hard time staying married to the woman, but hey, whatever.) Somehow I don’t think Janet is going to go tattling on Jack to Vicki about it, so Vicki won’t exactly find out.

However, it’s the first part of my statement that leads to my second. Frankly, I’d feel so betrayed by my wife that I frankly wouldn’t care what she thought of me telling my friend. Luckily I can’t apply this hypothetical to my life…both my wife and I are pretty liberal and have multiple gay friends, including a couple who live together and may adopt or go the sperm bank method of having a kid…and we’d be first in line to throw a baby shower, so Vicki’s reaction is frankly so outside what’s acceptable to me that her feelings seem pretty low on the totem pole. :slight_smile:

Yeah, he’s got to honor his wife’s request (so long as she is his wife, and who knows how much longer that’ll be if she keeps up with this kind of shit?); the kind of loyalty and partiality that is owed one’s spouse requires it. The answer would likely be different if ratting out the wife would help Janet in some concrete way, but since it does nothing for her it’s still the case that you’d have to take your wife’s side even when she’s wrong.

^^^ I’d agree with you VarlosZ if Jack agrees to keep it secret. If I were Jack, though, I’d flat out tell her no…I won’t keep it a secret. Sorry…what she did was so far out of bounds, it’s ridiculous.

I’d be heartbroken and betrayed were I the man in question. To find out that we differed so vastly on something, and to boot, that she was so vicious and unrepentant.

I don’t agree you have to take your spouse’s side even when they are wrong. There’s a lot of cases I would take his side, even if he was wrong, but to destroy someone’s career like this?

I don’t know. He might agree not to tell the headmaster if the wife is willing to admit what she did was wrong (to the husband) and help the friend get back on her feet. But it’s a tough hypothetical.

Were I Jack, I’d be leaving the woman faster than roadrunner after 14 cups of coffee. Not only ruining my relationship with a good friend, but then messing up said friend’s life like that…
She be crazy, and I may be a girl, but I know the rules regarding dicks and the crazy. And not just any crazy- vengeful crazy. Worst kind.

I mean, yes, she got molested, and that’s horrible for her; but if she got molested by a man in her youth, and claimed that was good grounds for firing any man who worked with kids, would that make sense?

Ps. I can’t really apply an 80’s mentality, as I was only a wee kiddy at the time, so I hadn’t got past the ‘EWwwww sex is naaasty’ level until at least the mid-90’s.

DTMFA. I’m sure Janet knows some nice bi or straight girls to set him up on rebound dates with.

Vicki can fall in a volcano as far as I’m concerned and Jack’s under no obligation to shield her from the consequences of her actions.

I, as Jack, would stick by Vicki at this point. But I would seriously be considering if this relationship was right for me. Doesn’t sound like Vicki and Jack are compatible.

I couldn’t love someone capable of this sort of callous, pointless nonsense. And absent love, I see no point to staying in a marriage. (There’s no way I’d ever want kids).

I’d tell Janet the truth, apologize profusely, and divorce Vicki.

I both agree and disagree with you here. That is, it’s probably true that for the sake of the marriage, Jack would be wise to honor the request. But I’m not convinced that he has any ethical obligation to do so, because Vicki asked him to keep the confidence *after *telling him (i.e., without first getting a promise of confidentiality, or their mutually agreeing that he would keep the secret). If you mean that Jack is ethically obligated to keep his lip zipped, then it seems to me that you’re also saying that Vicky has the authority to unilaterally decide that. Seems unfair.

Probably true. On the other hand, doesn’t it depend on whether Janet asks him specifically? I agree that Kacl probably shouldn’t volunteer the information (what good does it do?), but if she asks him if he knows who ratted her out (or, worse, if it was Vicky), then his only workable choices are to (a) lie outright or (b) tell her outright. Unless Janet is a nitwit*, declining to answer the question will let her know it was Vicki.

  • Which she clearly isn’t; it isn’t Chrissy asking. :wink:

I’m not sure I agree with that. I can believe that Vicki’s homophobia is born of ignorance rather than malice. It’s possible she can learn better. And there’s a tiny bit of blame for Jack in this too (maybe one-tenth of one percent), in that the OP gives no indication he asked her not to rat Janet out to the headmaster.

Nitpick: the headmaster won’t care. He’s the one who fired Janet, presumably. And he probably knows anyway, though Vicki might have gone the anonymous letter route. In fact, she probably did (I aver as poster rather than OP).

Again as poster rather than OP: I’m not willing to say that Vicky is crazy. Just ignorant. I can believe she genuinely thought she was doing the right thing.

Jack should buy a lot of life insurance on Vicki’s life and Janet should arrange for Vicki’s death when Jack has an alibi.

Payback is a bitch.

On general principle, you shouldn’t rat out your spouse. But in this case, Jack should narc out Vicki and dump her for a man. And have lots of kids with him, with Janet as egg-mom.

I’m sorry, but this is not an Evil!Skald thread. (Note the lack of flying monkeys or flaming bees.) We should probably avoid ridiculous overreactions like murder.

He should rat her out and consider divorce.

Yeah, I found what Vicki did horrendous. But seriously, the chances are very high that WHOEVER we are, in 30 years time, at least some stuff we think today will be treated with a sort of bemused tolerance for “oh dear, old people are so bigoted, but what can you do”.

30 years ago, she <i>should</i> have known that gay people are, well, people. Everyone should know that. But most people go along with what they were brought up with, at least until they meet counterexamples. (WAS Vicki brought up in an environment that taught her that?)

Her homophobia will only be fixed long term. And she was rash for acting on it so quickly. I don’t know if I could live with that or not, probably I could if it didn’t come up, and I couldn’t if it did.

For that matter, is it the case that Jack didn’t tell her Janet was gay? It seems so weird to marry someone when you don’t know something that important about their best friend, but I suppose it happens all the time. I’m not sure if that was a good idea or not: on the one hand, it wasn’t completely honest. On the other hand, apparently, telling her was a really bad idea!

On the subject of secrecy specifically, I don’t know, it’s a toss-up. I think spouses do have an implicit understanding of some amount of confidentiality: I expect my spouse and I to know what sorts of things we’d expect to be confidential and not have to specify every time. But this is severely straining, probably breaking, those bounds, but asking Jack to keep quiet about a major breach of confidence SHE made, so there’s no real good answer. Ideally he can persuade her that it’s ok that he won’t mention it to Janet, but he won’t lie if she asks. (After all, it’s too late to do anything about it.)

To all you folks who say Jack should tell Janet what Vicki did:

Do you mean he should volunteer the information regardless of whether Janet actually asks, or simply that he should not lie if she asks?

After 30 years I’d leave it alone, and probably not volunteer it. If asked, I’d fess up. What are the chances of that after so long? Are Jack and Janet still close after all this time? Met up on Facebook?

Jack and Vicki are still together? Is Vicki still an evil bitch? Is Jack a wussy who stayed with the evil bitch all these years anyway?

See, I wouldn’t keep it secret even if I’d promised ahead of time. Anyone who knows me knows that all promises come with a morals clause.

I wouldn’t say anything unless asked, but I’m pretty sure I’d be asked when people found out I was filing for divorce. I’m increasingly of the opinion that bigots are subhuman.

Not having existed for the first half of the 80s, I’m going to basically ignore the homophobia aspect of the Skaldthetical here for a moment. To me, the issue is that Vicki intentionally caused harm to someone who Jack cares about deeply, without discussing it with Jack. She may be able to argue that she didn’t actually think Janet would be fired, but she knew that writing the letter would cause trouble, and she did it anyway.

Vicki has very clearly betrayed the trust in her marriage. It would be a completely different issue had she discussed her feelings with Jack: “I’m not comfortable with how much time you spend with Janet”, “I don’t feel right knowing that there is a gay woman teaching at your school”, “Now that I know Janet is breaking the morals policy at work, I don’t feel good about keeping it to myself”; all of these are debatable positions, but if she discussed them with Jack, fine, she’s allowed to feel that way. She didn’t, though. Instead, she did something behind Jack’s back, knowing it would hurt him both directly and indirectly, and she knew it was wrong because she kept it from him. Were I Jack, that is the real issue that would signal a huge red flag, and possibly the end of my marriage.

About telling Janet: it depends. If my subsequent conversations with Vicki led to the near-immediate dissolution of the marriage, I would discuss the whole affair with Janet as one of my closest friends. If not, I would probably not volunteer the information, but might reveal it if asked directly. Either way, since Vicki betrayed the marital trust so severely, I would not feel honor-bound to swear secrecy on the matter.