Dear Karma Cleanser:
My friend was incarcerated for two days recently after he got into a fight in a bar. I called him on the day I heard the news, but he didn't get back to me until a couple of weeks later to tell me what happened. Meanwhile, the gossip had already gotten around that he was in a fight and had been put in jail. I called his roommate and got a bit more of the story, which I then told to a couple of our other friends.
I guess my version of the story got exaggerated, or his roommate had given me some false information, because when it finally got back to my friend who was in the fight, the facts had been distorted. He's now mad at me because he said that I was going around telling people lies about what happened to him.
This friend also happens to be black, and most of his friends (including myself) are white. He now says that this incident has made him not trust white people. I fear that he's going to lose a lot of his former social network. Am I at fault for telling people what I heard?
-- Color Bind
Yes, the fault is all yours. Clearly you got your friend into his unfortunate situation. You took him to that bar, got him drunk, even threw the first punch. It was all part of a vast Caucasian conspiracy, and now you've gone and exposed it. Way to go. Seriously, though, give your friend some time, and try to see the incident from his point of view. Once the dust settles, we bet he'll begin to realize that race relations never rest in such absolutes.
Dear Karma Cleanser:
A girl in my office has decided it's her job in the world to set everyone straight. She told one co-worker who has a deep, bronze tan that going to a tanning bed is "immoral" because it wastes electricity and causes cancer. She told another man in our department that he needed to stop showing off his underwear. Keep in mind, this guy wasn't showing off his underwear: He was just leaning down to pick up file folders off a bottom shelf.
Nobody in the office likes her, and we all hope she'll get fired. I want so badly to speak up and tell her to shut her fat lip. Would that be bad for karma, or is it worse to keep quiet?
-- She Ain't Right
Speaking up and trying to set this chick straight would only reduce you to her petty level. It's best for you to keep quiet for now, at least until her derision lands squarely on your desk. Office politics are a bottomless pit and best avoided at any cost.
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