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Poll: Have you ever rejected a project for ethical reasons?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 01:24
SITE STAFF
Jul 7, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have you ever rejected a project for ethical reasons?".

This poll was originally submitted by Cristina Heraud-van Tol. View the poll results »



 

Dušan Ján Hlísta  Identity Verified
Slovakia
Local time: 10:24
English to Slovak
+ ...
repetition Jul 7, 2015

this question is repeated.

 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Yes Jul 7, 2015

I've always turned down texts about testing cosmetics on animals

I've sometimes accepted texts about testing medicines on animals but the more I hear about that the more I think I won't do so again


 

Carina Tschaitschmann
Austria
Local time: 10:24
Member
English to German
+ ...
Yes Jul 7, 2015

I've turned down a project about fur coats.

 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:24
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
No Jul 7, 2015

Indeed, this question, or something similar, has come up at least twice before.

I've never been faced with a serious challenge to my ethical standards. I once translated a speech by Fidel Castro. I saw that as an interesting challenge because of his flowery language. Cuba has always been a member of the World Health Organization, where I worked for most of my career; in the course of doing our job it never crossed anyone's mind to question the politics of a particular member government.

I once did a long manual on training drug company reps to persuade doctors to prescribe their products. I didn't realize until I was deep into the project that some of the tactics were pretty shady by my standards. I felt uncomfortable, but I learned a lot, too. The project paid well; I'm not sure I would have turned it down if I had known the whole story from the beginning.

[Edited at 2015-07-07 08:59 GMT]


 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:24
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Yes, once Jul 7, 2015

This topic has been discussed here many times.
Many years ago I did decline a translation (transcription of a badly recorded tape in African French about female circumcision). I had to play the tape over and over again because it was so inaudible. The description was distressing and the practitioner so apparently pleased with himself.
Here's a point: although the subject matter of many texts may well be appalling, it could sometimes be necessary for them to be translated so that prosecutors/ authorities/ the police etc. can find out what's going on in order to take action against it.
It may not be a question of promoting or justifying the practice but of doing something to stop it.


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:24
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Jul 7, 2015

Not that I recall. I do a lot of work with research departments and they use animals, but I'm not squeamish about it and they do have a set of ethical guidelines that are strictly adhered to.

It would have to be pretty strong stuff before I'd turn down work on ethical grounds. Nevertheless, (pax Muriel) I probably wouldn't work for outfits like the anto-castrista Miami mafia, or the current Venezuelan opposition movement... or any racist or homophobic organisations either...


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 09:24
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes! Jul 7, 2015

As I said before, I try to leave my causes, my biases, my likes and dislikes and my morality at a good distance from my translation desk, but for me it is a question of comfort level — if you are not comfortable working on a project, you are certainly not going to be able to turn out your best work. I would refuse jobs, and I have in the past, on gambling, obscene or pornographic material, military weapons, racism…

On the same subject:
http://www.proz.com/polls/archived?poll_id_link=8900
http://www.proz.com/polls/archived?poll_id_link=8948
http://www.proz.com/polls/archived?poll_id_link=11773
http://www.proz.com/forum/poll_discussion/277303

(...)


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 10:24
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
It's difficult. Jul 7, 2015

Verba Magna wrote:

I've turned down a project about fur coats.


There may be every reason to object to the way the skins are obtained.

However, the animals may also be reponsibly farmed, or killed instantaneously and naturally by hunters - hunting goes on throughout the animal kingdom and humans are not the only species to practise it. Being caught and eaten is a more humane death, and mercifully commoner in nature, than wasting away with a disease.

If the skins are responsibly sourced, they are an important source of income for some communities, and a rabbit-fur coat was a prized heirloom in my family! I had a lovely pair of gloves too, that could keep even my icy fingers warm, made for me by a great-aunt.
The rabbits had been caught and eaten... and why waste good skins? Banning furs could also endanger the economies of societies that in fact lived in harmony with nature, without cruelty to animals.

Furs are not necessarily less ethical than leather shoes or eating meat.
But there certainly can be issues.

I voted yes, I have occasionally turned down work on ethical grounds.
I do not translate texts promoting 'alternative' medicines and cures, or promoting religions or what I regard as superstitions that go against my own beliefs.


 

Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:24
French to English
Last week Jul 7, 2015

Last week, I declined direct work from a Swiss "wealth management" (i.e. tax avoidance) firm that made much of its dealings with Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

I have in the past declined work on the "defence industry" (not that I know much about it, really, so I could have simply declined on grounds of ignorance). On the other hand, I have translated an, er, adult website.


 

ventnai  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:24
Member
German to English
+ ...
Repeated question Jul 7, 2015

As I said before, I once accepted a text before looking at it properly. While translating, I realised it was a pyramid scheme. As I had already accepted the job, I couldn't really stop but I told the PM that I wouldn't do such texts again. She was a little mortified as she hadn't read the text and didn't know of its contents.

 

Marion Plath  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:24
Member (2013)
English to German
Yes Jul 7, 2015

I got asked if I would translate the website of a bullfighter. And it felt very good to say no.

 

Mónica Algazi  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 06:24
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
Yes Jul 7, 2015

In two cases so far: pharmacology papers that involved cruelty to animals and projects related to an open-pit iron ore mine in the heart of Uruguay.

 

Georgie Scott  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:24
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Yes Jul 7, 2015

I recently worked on a gambling scam. I didn't realize that's what it was until I really got into the text. So later, when I was offered the terms & conditions to translate, I tactfully declined.

I had no idea just how worked up I could get about something like that. But it really left a very nasty taste in my mouth.

It's interesting though, as the last time this question came up I didn't have much of an opinion. This time, I really do.


 

Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 18:24
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
No Jul 7, 2015

Because I've never been asked to translate dodgy stuff. I lead such a secluded, innocent life. All the lowlifes hanging around in dark alleys waiting to jump upon the unsuspecting seem to avoid me - life is sometimes so mundane. icon_biggrin.gif

 
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