What's Your Problem? April 2013

There's a War Criminal at My Gym

Our advice columnist to the rescue

Q: Last weekend I was in the locker room of my D.C. fitness club, watching a football game while getting dressed after a workout, when a man I consider to be a war criminal, responsible for horrible foreign-policy decisions and the deaths of American soldiers, ambled up beside me, naked, to ask what the score of the game was. What’s the etiquette here? Am I obligated by my conscience to berate him? Or compelled, by the rules of the locker room or by our nudity, to refrain?

—D.T.
Washington, D.C.


Dear D.T.,

You could easily have avoided this situation by doing what I do: never work out and never be naked. Since it’s too late for that, the most graceful way for you to satisfy the demands of your conscience and of locker-room decorum is to politely tell him the wrong score and then walk away. (After first glancing disdainfully at his private parts with shock and a distinct lack of awe.)


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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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