posts 1 - 15 of 59
freemanjud
Boston, US
Posts: 154

Readings (select 2 of the 4):

Brian McGrory, “Nightmare on the 36 Bus” Boston Globe, January 25, 2000.

Judy Harris, “The Bystander Effect in the Cellphone Age,” WBUR Cognoscenti, June 5, 2015

Erez Yoeli and David Rand, “The Trick to Acting Heroically,” New York Times, August 28, 2015

Deborah Stone, The Samaritan’s Dilemma: Should the Government Help Your Neighbor (New York: Nation Books, 2008), pp. 128-132.



Background:


For any of you who missed class today, we watched a clip from 60 Minutes called “The Bad Samaritan” (from 0:00-5:39).


Eighteen-year-old David Cash chose to walk away as his friend, fellow eighteen-year-old Jeremy Strohmeyer, assaulted and murdered Sherrice Iverson, age 7, in the women’s restroom of a Nevada casino at 3 in the morning on Sunday, May 25, 1997. He told the Los Angeles Times when his friend was arrested that he was “not going to lose sleep over someone else’s problems.”


Clearly what Jeremy Strohmeyer did was reprehensible. But what David Cash did was to be a bystander, not to be a rescuer or a resister in any way. One can only speculate what might have happened had Cash more actively intervened. But according to Nevada law at the time, he was under no legal obligation to do otherwise.


It’s remarkable to listen to David Cash’s words when interviewed on a Los Angeles radio station after his friend Jeremy Strohmeyer was arrested and convicted. Cash remarked, “It’s a very tragic event, okay? But the simple fact remains: I do not know this little girl. I do not know starving children in Panama. I do not know people that die of disease in Egypt. The only person I knew in this event was Jeremy Strohmeyer, and I know as his best friend that he had potential…I’m not going to lose sleep over somebody else’s problem.”


Your task for this post:


As awful as the Sherrice Iverson murder was, I’d like to hear your views on the situation. What do you think should have governed Cash’s actions? What obligations does a person who witnesses another wrong have? Are there different rules depending on the nature of the “wrong”?


Can you identify what “rules”—legal or otherwise—ought to govern the decision to act or merely to witness. Do we have an obligation to act—sometimes, rarely, occasionally, always? Explain.


Choose at least 2 of the readings listed above (all are uploaded to Google classroom and attached to the post), read them and integrate what you learn from them into your response. Be certain to cite the authors or titles as you reference them so we all recognize the references.


Write your post on the discussions.learntoquestion.com site. Be sure to respond to the views of at least two other classmates (if you post first, go back and do a second posting responding to two comments posted after yours).


How to post on the discussion board:


1.You should log in using the button at the top right of the page at discussions.learntoquestion.com with the username you chose earlier this week as well as your password you chose when you registered on the site. Remember both are case-sensitive! If you have not done so already, make sure you bookmark the site as well, as we will use it frequently throughout the year. If you registered properly then this should work. (If it does not work, please e-mail me asap.)


2.Go into your specific class section. If you are not sure which section you are in, here’s a reminder:

Section 01 Abigail Ortiz: Day 1 R3

Section 02 Ayanna Pressley: Day 1 R7

Section 03 Tunney Lee ’49: Day 1 R6

Section 04 Ernani de Araujo ’99: Day 1 R1


3.Once you are in your section, you’ll see a thread titled “The Dilemma of the Bad Samaritan” (due Monday, September 28). Click on the post’s title. This will take you into the page where you can post. Read the prompt message (the first one, which will essentially repeat the assignment described above) and any other posts that precede yours (you are encouraged to comment on those and certainly should acknowledge any overlap between what those prior posters may have said and what you are writing). When you are ready, at the bottom of the comments already made, there is a button on the lower right saying “New Reply.” Click on that. You’ll get a page with blank spaces. This page will time out eventually, so see step #4 for some important advice.


4.VERY IMPORTANT ADVICE: draft your post on Word (or Google docs or some other text doc that is not going to ‘time out’) and save it before you paste it onto the discussion board. You work hard on these and you never know what can go wrong, particularly in the early months of using the discussion board. People find that from time to time, the discussion board “times out” in the middle of posting, resulting in the loss of whatever you are writing. So take my advice (and that of your predecessors, all of whom lost a post at one time or another) when the server or their computer crashed; draft in another program and PASTE into the board.


5.Give your comment/post a title, then put your cursor on the big box in the message part of the page and paste your response.


6.To respond to other people—and sometimes this is required as part of the assignment, you can do so by mentioning their username and reference their comments within your text OR you can do a separate post in response to theirs. You can even quote from their post (and that’s helpful as long as it’s not too long!) by clicking on their post, going to “reply” and then including the portion of their post that you wish to reference.


7.When you have finished writing your post (and you’re satisfied with it), click at the lower left “Create post.”


8.You should then be taken back to the page of posts. Check that yours has appeared. If it has, bravo! If it hasn’t, try the aforementioned steps again and see if it works. (If not, let me know asap via e-mail)


9.Check back regularly to see if anyone has replied to your post. You should absolutely try to comment on other people’s posts and they will in turn comment on yours! (This counts as part of your class participation and your homework grade!) Feel free to quote from others’ replies, identifying the username of the person who wrote the original post you are quoting. Remember: this is a conversation, not a monologue.



BLStudent
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 7

the Dilemma of the Bad Samaritan

From a moral standpoint Cash should have tried to intervene or at the very least he should have reported it immediately after i think he placed his loyalty to his friend over his empathy for a stranger but he was also likely worried he would incriminate himself if he reported it. If you witness a wrong it is your responsibility as a human to report it. There are of course different levels of wrong and if the wrong is very minor or victimless there isn't an obligation to report it but in this situation Cash's actions were disgusting.

There should definitely be laws requiring people in similar situations to cash to speak up and like we saw with the protests against him there are already societal standards against what he did but they don't carry appropriate consequences. we always have an obligation to act if someone is being hurt/victimized. For example in the iphone age article bystanders look on and took photos rather than doing the right thing which was to make sure the people in the building were ok or do something as simple as calling 911. It's ironic that with cell phones it should be easier than ever to be an upstander but in reality people have just as little empathy.

The hero effect article goes into depth about what all of us should try to be, not just to do the right thing but to have so much empathy that doing the right thing is second nature and instinctual.

ernest.
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 13

Danger of Situation Determines Obligation

The obvious answer about Cash’s obligations, and our own, is that we are all bound to act when someone is in danger and when we have the power to intervene safely. Even if Cash felt that he could not safely step into the situation directly as he was watching, because he thought he himself would be in danger if he tried to stop Strohmeyer, we can all probably agree he was absolutely obliged to alert people in his vicinity and call 911. And the law (now) recognizes this.

The moral uncertainty comes in when we think about when we have an obligation to directly step in and stop something bad from happening in its tracks, especially when that requires us to put ourselves at risk. In the case of Cash and Strohmeyer, Cash should have done everything possible to top Strohmeyer. Never did he say he felt threatened or scared by Strohmeyer’s actions, and that they were able to continue gambling together for the night after the murder backs this up.

In terms of obligation to act, I think I’m more inclined to say people don’t have an obligation than to say they do when it comes to a dangerous situation. People should always alert authorities/some form of necessary help when something happens, and always directly intervene if it comes at no risk to them, such as if a person takes a serious fall on the street. However, when there is an active aggressor, there isn’t an obligation. I think common morals and values dictate that intervening and putting your life in danger to help would be the right thing to do, but it’s not compulsory- there’s a difference. I say this because, in both “The Bystander Effect in the Cellphone Age,” and The Samaritans’ Dilemma: Should the Government Help Your Neighbor?, the tendency of people to do nothing in cases where someone is in distress is documented as a psychological phenomenon, not just a bad choice (The Bystander Effect). Especially when there are also other people around, individuals are likely to do nothing or expect that someone else will be the one to act, and so one does. What’s more is that those who do act, according to the book, frequently have military backgrounds, indicating the instinct to act is often learned. Because of this, I hesitate to label inaction in such situations as complete moral failing or the equivalent of bearing culpability.

To be clear, I do not encourage inaction or think it commendable, and the broader societal implications of being a bystander are real. What happens when there is not one isolated incidence of aggression, but a movement, government, or authority that is acting unjustly? We can see how the need to act becomes all the more urgent. But, I believe these isolated incidences of physical aggression are different from a broader societal injustice, which more definitely requires action because much less risk is associated with it, and so I don’t think there is a straight out obligation to act in a dangerous situation.

thesnackthatsmilesback
brighton, ma, US
Posts: 9

Measuring Safety's role to Obligation

In a matter of milliseconds, anyone can be tested when they see someone else's danger or their own. David Cash ultimately, in what I hope is everyones eyes, had failed. Although Jeremy Strohmeyer was his best friend and there are potential elements of drug use, emotions, and his own safety, I had hoped that his morals would trump through. He could verbally or physically tell his friend to stop grabbing her, he could have stopped them from going into the stall, he could report this behavior to an official, or better yet stopped him from following Sherrice in the first place. He should have intervened not only with his body language in order to stop what he knew was wrong.

In my opinion, every person has a right to remove themselves from an unsafe situation, however, if it is a situation where the danger does not affect them, it should be an obligation to help. After reading a segment of "The Samaritan's Dilemma: Should the Government Help Your Neighbor," it brought up a point that altered my view. What if the person in need was your mom, or dad or significant other? You would want someone to help them. Then I alternated the positions, what if the person committing the crime was your mom, or dad, or significant other? To me, I think it's reasonable to say that not everyones first instinct when someone close comes to you and tells you that they've done something unforgiveable, is to go off and tell an official. If I'm being completely honest, I don't know when my breaking point would be when I would tell someone, because there are so many factors that can play into the situation. Nevertheless, it shouldn't excuse the fact that a person has done a terrible thing. The nature of the crime may stagger a persons' reaction and sensibility to the circumstance, but morally it is inexcusable to leave things unsaid.

After comparing "The Samaritan's Dilemma: Should the Government Help Your Neighbor" and "Nightmare on the 36 Bus", I was able to see patterns. As stated in "The Samaritan's Dilemma: Should the Government Help Your Neighbor", the more people in the area, the less obligated a person feels to help. Then in the article, "Nightmare on the 36 Bus," it constantly talked about the other passengers on the bus looking to and from eachother nervously. Then once one of them stood up, they all turned to him, making him feel out of place. In my opinion the situation clearly conveys the idea that the more people in the area, the less obligated a person feels to help, but also, the more that they stand out from the rest, the more thats on the line. This person not only is risking their own safety, but his own reputation if things escalate and he becomes a victim, or he may risk the safety of the other unharmed witnesses on the bus. From these observations, I would want a rule to act when a person's safety is in danger and there are more people around, instead of relying on others to stand up, use the strength in numbers. I would see it more reasonable that if numbers were smaller, there would be a higher chance of risk and therefore it would be safer to have officials intervene. Now I'm not trying to encourage a chance that could possibly endanger witnesses trying to stop the situation, but to measure a person's own safety before jumping into a possibly dangerous spot. Now that judgement is something that only oneself can decide, but can drastically change the outcome.

Nevertheless I feel that everyone has an obligation to help one another in any circumstance, whether that be verbally, physically, or giving a call to an official. The obligation to act comes in many different varieties, doing anything is acting on the situation and should always be done. The phrase better safe than sorry should be applied to any situation when it involves someone's safety.

Sippycup
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 7

What are YOUR priorities?

David Cash says that the Strohmeyer’s actions should not affect himself because he himself was not physically involved with the murder of Sherrice. However, if a person witnesses something that is morally wrong, they should report it. He could have physically stopped Strohmeyer, helped Sherrice, notified the security, or even called 911 but didn't. He let Strohmeyer get away with a murder and would not have admitted to anything if Strohmeyer weren't arrested.


Usually prioritizing one’s own life is a normal thing, however David in this situation was not in any immediate danger. Sherrice’s life was endangered and was apparently not important enough for David to take any action. This, in my opinion, is a selfish act. Many of us are taught since we were young to always help others when needed. Obviously David did not follow this philosophy. Maybe he was afraid of the consequences he might face. In “The Trick to Acting Heroically” a game theory model was created and one of the results was that Player 1 would not help Player 2 if the risk was too high. David may have genuinely thought of turning his best friend in but feared that he would end up in prison due to being guilty by association. Or maybe he didn’t want his image to be ruined by the public and decided to avoid that risk.


Although social media did not have a big presence back then, it does today. Many teens are worried about how they are seen in public and on social media instead of using the available technology to good use. I agree @BLStudent’s analysis of “The Bystander Effect in the Cellphone Age.” With technology being available to a vast majority of people, it is so easy to report an incident to the proper authorities but like the article mentions, some post it on social media as an attempt to better their personal image (e.g. pretending to be one of the upstanders). Highschool definitely fosters the idea of keeping up a good image and maybe having one was really important to David. However, this does not excuse the death of Sherrice.


To be clear, I am not justifying his actions in any shape or form, but giving my idea on why he might have stayed neutral in the situation instead of stepping up. I believe that everyone should work on improving their own priorities because sometimes a person's life can be at stake. If a person is in a position of safety, or even privilege, they should help out in any way possible. David had hours after the murder to process what happened in that stall, but he still decided to be a bystander. He tried justifying his actions, saying that Strohmeyer was his best friend. Although I admit to being lenient to my friends, I would never excuse murder even if it was committed by my best friend. David selfishly focused on his own life and could have prevented a tragic incident. Sometimes, you need to prioritize others over yourself.


iluvcows
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 8

The Dangers of Being a Bystander

In short, David Cash definitely should have intervened to prevent this horrible act from taking place, and save the life of Sherrice Iverson. He instead prioritized his loyalty to Jeremy Strohmeyer as well as saving himself from incrimination. As citizens, if you are put in a position in which you are witnessing a crime, you have the responsibility to insert yourself in order to stop the wrongdoing. This of course is different if it is unsafe to intervene in the situation, but in that circumstance you are still capable of calling 911 or getting other people to help you. David Cash should have either stopped his friend himself, or look to others for assistance. His actions should have been governed by his emotions, but instead he failed to show any sympathy for Sherrice and was capable of ignoring what was happening and doing nothing to end it.


In the article Nightmare on the 36 Bus a similar event occurred, where a crime was committed on a public bus. When an older man punched a little boy, the entire bus was silent and didn't even attempt to save the boy from the beating. One man, Dave Auclair thought it was strange that the little boy was riding on his own and proceeded to get up to try to help him after he was hit. Shortly after when he looked around and saw no one reacting he decided to sit back down and thought he shouldn't intervene. In this article as well as The bystander effect in the cell phone age we see something called the bystander effect, which is a psychological theory that states when people are present, people are less likely to intervene in the situation. Most individuals assume that someone else will act, so don't do so themselves.


Overall, I do believe that there should be a law enacted to ensure tragic stories like these will not repeat themselves. No matter the situation, individuals should always act whether that means physically inserting yourself, speaking out, or getting help. In the article The bystander effect in the cell phone age, instead of running into the house to warn the inhabitants of the fire, people began taking pictures to post on social media. They were lucky no one was harmed, and that the man quickly reacted and ran into the building or else the residents deaths would be on their conscience because they prioritized sharing it over the individual’s lives. These 3 events that we learned about could have ended very differently if this such law was placed, either saving those harmed/ preventing the crime from continuing or punishing those who simply stood back and watched. These consequences would obviously depend on the situation and whether the threat prevented them from getting help, but in the long run it could prevent these upsetting stories from taking place.


user1234
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 6

Like many of my classmates have already stated, David Cash should have intervened and done anything that was possible to try to help Sherrice Iverson. David should have acted with instinct. Just like the Deborah Stone article talks about. Most of the people who acted like Good Samaritans said that they did what they did without thinking twice about it. The fact that David did not do this says more about his character because like the Deborah Stone article states what if it was his mother or his sister in the same position as Sherrice. Wouldn’t he have wanted someone else to help them? In the article called The Bystander Effect In The Cell Phone Age the author says that the Bystander Effect happens when there are many people that could intervene, but they don’t because they assume someone else will, and I feel that wouldn’t apply to David in this situation. He was the only other person in that bathroom who could have done something. He wasn’t able to rely on the possibility that someone else would do something to help. That wasn’t an excuse for him.


I disagree with the @thesnackthatsmilesback ‘s point about if someone is alone it would make more sense for them not to act because even if David felt that his life could be in danger he could have ran out of the bathroom and screamed for help from anyone else who was there. I think that no matter what the situation is you should always try to intervene in one way or another. Even if you feel scared that intervening could cause you harm, then find someone or something that could help you intervene. In David’s case I agree with @ernest’s point that he in no way showed that he was scared his life could be in danger at the hands of Jeremy. If he was able to continue to hang out with Jeremy after Jeremy confessed to him, then he should’ve felt safe enough to have intervened when the assault was happening. Or at least he should’ve immediately told the police what his friend had done.


There should be laws put in place that state that you could be prosecuted if you witnessed a crime being committed and didn’t physically intervene, call the police, or ask for someone else’s help. No matter what the situation is as a human being it is our civic duty to try to help another person who’s in danger in any way we can. Contradictory to David’s statement we should lose sleep over someone else's problems, especially if someone’s life is in danger.


squirrelluver123
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 9

The Moral Obligation to Help

Everyone has a different opinion on what they believe is right and wrong. When David Cash witnessed his friend Jeremy Strohmeyer assaulting Sherrice Iverson, he did not think it was his obligation to stop or even report what his friend was doing. Cash did not believe how he acted in this situation was wrong, saying that he did not know Sherrice personally, and therefore what his friend did to her was not his responsibility and did not affect him. Cash definitely should have tried to intervene when he saw what was happening. Even if he did not physically stop Jeremy from hurting Sherrice, he should have gotten help from someone outside of the bathroom. He clearly had no compassion for Sherrice, as his actions should have been governed by his emotions towards what was happening to her, instead of his loyalty to his friend. Cash said he could not report his friend because he could not imagine that his friend had done something like that, even though he says that Jeremy confessed to killing Sherrice right after he left the bathroom. Even after Cash witnessed what was happening, and after his friend confessed, he still did not tell anyone what had happened. Even though Cash may not have seen it as his duty to report it, it was definitely still a crime, and I think that everyone has an obligation to act when they see someone committing a crime, even if the person committing it is their best friend.


A situation similar to this occurred on the 36 bus in Boston, when a young boy was assaulted by an older man on the bus, and neither the passengers nor the driver did anything to stop it. The article Nightmare on the 36 Bus describes how the other passengers just stood by and watched as the older man yelled at the little boy and punched him multiple times in the face. No one intervened as this was happening, and the driver did not radio for help or activate the distress light. In these two situations it seems that the people who witnessed the incidents did not think it was their place to intervene. One witness on the bus stated that he stood up to help the little boy but sat back down when he saw that no one else was doing anything to stop it, and said he did not want to intervene if it was a personal or family matter. This is similar to how Cash stated that he did not think he had to report how his friend killed Sherrice because he had no connection to her.


The Trick to Acting Heroically article states examples in which people intervened in situations instead of just watching them take place. When these people were asked afterwards why they did what they did, many of them said that it was their gut instinct to help, and that their actions were not planned out. Had Daniel Cash or the people on the bus had this reaction, Sherrice Iverson might still be alive today, and the little boy might not have gotten off the bus with the man who assaulted him. Because of cases like these, not only should everyone feel a moral obligation to report any crime to the witness, there should be laws in place that punish people for being bystanders and not stepping in when a crime is taking place.
thesnackthatsmilesback
brighton, ma, US
Posts: 9

Originally posted by user1234 on September 25, 2020 12:35

Like many of my classmates have already stated, David Cash should have intervened and done anything that was possible to try to help Sherrice Iverson. David should have acted with instinct. Just like the Deborah Stone article talks about. Most of the people who acted like Good Samaritans said that they did what they did without thinking twice about it. The fact that David did not do this says more about his character because like the Deborah Stone article states what if it was his mother or his sister in the same position as Sherrice. Wouldn’t he have wanted someone else to help them? In the article called The Bystander Effect In The Cell Phone Age the author says that the Bystander Effect happens when there are many people that could intervene, but they don’t because they assume someone else will, and I feel that wouldn’t apply to David in this situation. He was the only other person in that bathroom who could have done something. He wasn’t able to rely on the possibility that someone else would do something to help. That wasn’t an excuse for him.


I disagree with the @thesnackthatsmilesback ‘s point about if someone is alone it would make more sense for them not to act because even if David felt that his life could be in danger he could have ran out of the bathroom and screamed for help from anyone else who was there. I think that no matter what the situation is you should always try to intervene in one way or another. Even if you feel scared that intervening could cause you harm, then find someone or something that could help you intervene. In David’s case I agree with @ernest’s point that he in no way showed that he was scared his life could be in danger at the hands of Jeremy. If he was able to continue to hang out with Jeremy after Jeremy confessed to him, then he should’ve felt safe enough to have intervened when the assault was happening. Or at least he should’ve immediately told the police what his friend had done.


There should be laws put in place that state that you could be prosecuted if you witnessed a crime being committed and didn’t physically intervene, call the police, or ask for someone else’s help. No matter what the situation is as a human being it is our civic duty to try to help another person who’s in danger in any way we can. Contradictory to David’s statement we should lose sleep over someone else's problems, especially if someone’s life is in danger.


To reiterate my point of view, in general, when there is a situation where a person feels that as a bystander they are in danger, and there aren't other eye witnesses, safety wise I would understand not intervening with the situation but to otherwise act in a different way such as calling an official which is stated a little later on in my post. However for David's circumstance, I agree with your point of view that if David had felt like he was in danger he could have gotten help in other ways and that should be an unspoken rule. Although in my opinion, I think David was shocked and did not know how to address the situation properly not because he was scared of his best friend, but because of his own reputation.

thesnackthatsmilesback
brighton, ma, US
Posts: 9

Originally posted by BLStudent on September 24, 2020 13:02

From a moral standpoint Cash should have tried to intervene or at the very least he should have reported it immediately after i think he placed his loyalty to his friend over his empathy for a stranger but he was also likely worried he would incriminate himself if he reported it. If you witness a wrong it is your responsibility as a human to report it. There are of course different levels of wrong and if the wrong is very minor or victimless there isn't an obligation to report it but in this situation Cash's actions were disgusting.

There should definitely be laws requiring people in similar situations to cash to speak up and like we saw with the protests against him there are already societal standards against what he did but they don't carry appropriate consequences. we always have an obligation to act if someone is being hurt/victimized. For example in the iphone age article bystanders look on and took photos rather than doing the right thing which was to make sure the people in the building were ok or do something as simple as calling 911. It's ironic that with cell phones it should be easier than ever to be an upstander but in reality people have just as little empathy.

The hero effect article goes into depth about what all of us should try to be, not just to do the right thing but to have so much empathy that doing the right thing is second nature and instinctual.

I found the irony that you discussed in your second paragraph very honest. I think especially with the pandemic, cellphones have been such a crucial part on how we communicate to one another and spread news. It has lead us to connect to issues on social media in the last few months more than I personally have ever seen. It's sickening to think that many people's first instinct is to take out their phone and post about things instead of seeing things in the moment. Phones make us more aware of the problems around our world and connects us to different causes, however it can also make us miss what is right under our noses.

yvesIKB
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

But What Did It Cost?

The original tale of the Good Samaritan has, over time, become one of praise, of singularity. The parable, which, in the Bible, was told by Jesus of Nazareth, seems to be the story of a particularly upstanding citizen who helped a stranger when more pious men walked right past. Given this, it is easy to believe that doing the right thing is reserved only for those who are truly, remarkably good — better than the average person. Yet, when looking at the context of this parable, the teller does not praise this Samaritan in an overly zealous manner; instead, the teacher explains to his students that it is everyone who should behave in this way, that it is only natural to help one’s neighbor, even when said neighbor is, by society’s standards, your enemy. I bring up the original tale not because I believe that there is an actual religious significance to the situation of Sherrice Iverson and the “Bad Samaritan,” but because I think that the notion of helping one another, even when it may not be in our best interest, is not extraordinary. Of course, it should be celebrated! Certainly, it should be aspired to! But helping others should not be made to only fit such a rare individual where the ordinary human is then able to excuse themselves for looking away, with a defense already lined up for any criticizer: you would’ve done the same.

David Cash, in a way, did not have to help. There was no law, at that time, requiring that he step in and take legal responsibility for this crime. This was not his job — something he’d have to make agreements and get paid for — to protect the lives of strangers in public places, though, it was certainly someone else’s. Still, I think Cash had an obligation — one of moral and ethical responsibility — to step in, to take pity, to say stop. This obligation matters. Living in a society means that we have a responsibility, a mutual contract, to do what is best for our community. We have to protect one another, just as we’d expect for others to do for us, especially if in a situation like Sherrice’s. The article, “The Trick to Acting Heroically” by Erez Yoeli and David Rand, mentions that in instances where individuals had acted to save others with a risk to themselves, these heroes acted instinctively. These are people who had the gut reaction to do good. One “hero” in this article even mentions that she was actually “grateful” to not have the time to stop and think, and just act. This is because when we find ourselves hesitating, we are often thinking of the cost. Weighing and debating this in our heads, we are really thinking, what is my own expense? In this way, I wholeheartedly agree with @Sippycup’s statement that, in prioritizing his comfort over Sherrice’s safety, Cash ultimately behaved extremely selfishly. Cash hadn’t acted to stop Strohmeyer because he thought only of what it might cost — the betrayal to a best friend, the possibility of liability, the cause of one’s downfall. Although he didn’t act — or rather, because he didn’t — it ended up costing much more than that. It cost Sherrice her childhood, security, and life.

Another instance where a bystander did nothing to aid another in their time of need is described in the article, “Nightmare on the 36 bus,” by Brian McGrory. A young child, about eight years old, was severely beaten by an older, possibly intoxicated man, right in the front of a bus where there were several adult witnesses, none willing to help. During this incident, a witness, David Auclair, mentions that he had briefly gotten up and sat back down. In addition to @squirrelluver123’s point that other passengers didn’t want to intervene on what could be a private matter, I think it’s critical to note that Auclair, and probably other witnesses too, did not know the context of this, they didn’t even know for certain that this was a personal or family affair. They were just afraid of misunderstanding. To me, what happened there was that subconsciously Auclair (and perhaps the others) decided that the possibility of saving this child was not worth the cost of being wrong. Even if this purposeful ignorance were a valid excuse, which I don't believe it is, David Cash would still be guilty. Jeremy Strohmeyer was no stranger; he was Cash’s best friend. There was no misunderstanding of what Strohmeyer would be doing to Sherrice in that stall in the women’s room. I think that Cash ignored his obligation the very second he allowed Strohmeyer to follow a small child into the women’s room. In this allowance, Cash didn’t just not choose the good deed. He actively chose the bad, vile, evil outcome.

What is most puzzling to me after all this is why didn’t he feel remorse? People don’t have to do the right thing to feel sympathy or pity. Auclair, who got off the bus without helping the child, and “regretted it ever since,” is evidence of this. Cash recognized that the situation he was in was wrong, which he proved by responding in an interview, “when an eighteen-year-old male grabs a seven-year-old child… that’s not a position I want to be in,” at the question of why he left the bathroom. He shows, too, that he is not remorseful, when he asks in a different interview, “how much am I supposed to- to sit down and cry about this? I mean let’s be reasonable here.” I feel like usually, when people don’t feel remorse, it’s because they don’t feel that what they did is wrong. Yet, Cash recognizes it was, though I can’t tell whether his ethics or his morals told him so, though I suspect that this distinction might've made a difference in his reaction.

When we see that something is wrong, it is an absolute obligation to step in and stop it. The fact that there is now the Sherrice Iverson Act shows an overwhelming societal agreement that as a witness, we are liable. Though it maybe cost us a friend or dignity in public, the alternative to not taking action can be so much worse.

wisteria
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 9

If you're a bystander then it's your business too!

David Cash’s actions should have been governed by empathy, especially since it is clear from his interview that he knew exactly what was about to transpire between his friend Jeremy and 7 year old Sherrice. After looking over the bathroom stall and witnessing the start of the assault, he chose to distance himself from the situation, which makes me wonder if he played a more active role than he admits. I don’t understand how he does not feel even an ounce of remorse that his conscious decisions enabled the rape and murder of this little girl. I also don’t understand why no one viewed a young girl wandering a casino alone as a cause for concern.Were they simply unaware, or were they just too absorbed in their slot machines to care? Is this another example of how the adultification of young black girls can lead to danger and tragedy? We will never know all the details of that night, but we do know that anyone in David’s position has an obligation to act in some way.

The nature of a situation definitely determines whether bystanders are obligated to intervene and in what way. According to Deborah Stone’s The Samaritan’s Dilemma, the Boston police “cautioned citizens against getting involved in such situations; better to mind your own personal safety, call 911 and let police handle things, they said.” Law enforcement does not expect bystanders to risk their own personal safety, simply notifying them can still make a great difference. Civilians should never be expected to risk incurring bodily harm by intervening when they see a crime. However, David had ample opportunity to do so safely. From his own account it seems that Jeremy didn’t direct any violence at him. Even if the glazed, unresponsive look in his eyes was enough to deter David from physically stopping him, there were still many alternatives. It would’ve been so simple to report the assault to security, his dad, anyone he ran into upon exiting the bathroom. But instead he did nothing, and continued playing arcade games as if he hadn’t just condemned a little girl to her death.

In Brian McGrory’s “Nightmare on the 36 Bus” multiple passengers witnessed a violent assault on a little boy, and despite all being extremely disturbed by the incident, not a single person got up to help. The expectation that someone else on the bus would go to his aid coupled with the possibility of the boy’s attacker being his relative kept them seated. Nobody wants to get involved in others’ “family matters” or be the first to report someone and cause an even bigger scene. Invisible social rules such as these can prevent intervention in cases of domestic violence and child abuse, and certainly influenced David that night. He viewed what Jeremy was about to do to Sherrice as a “private matter”, and felt that it was not his place to report the best friend whom he believed had so much potential. Maybe it is time we move past the notion of “minding your own business” and the stigma about causing a scene by intervening when you notice someone being victimized. In these cases it is much easier to simply look away, but sometimes just sacrificing some of your time or social comfort could even save a life. Is that really too much to expect of someone?

cherryblossom
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 9

Beyond Witnessing

David should have shown concern and questioned Jeremy when his friend walked into the woman’s bathroom. As he witnessed Sherrice, a seven year-old girl, being threatened by Jeremy, David should have taken immediate action either telling his friend to stop and that what he was doing was wrong or running out of the bathroom to get assistance from authorities. His choice to not report the incident even after Jeremy confessed to killing Sherrice and to proceed on playing more games with his friend, as if nothing had happened, reflects his character, showing his indifferent and heartless nature. The suffering of Sherrice should have evoked some sense of humanity that would have prompted him to act, but he did not even consider his obligation to act in the situation.


The article Nightmare on the 36 bus illustrates a comparable circumstance, as passengers on a bus witnessed a man assault an eight year-old boy. Auclair, a passenger, recalls noticing a drunk and unstable manner to the man and a sheer look of fear in the boy’s eyes when he looked at the man. Immediately, these observations should have been an indicator for him to approach the child to put him at ease. When the man started to punch the boy’s face to the point of bleeding, Auclair should have taken physical action, notified the driver, or called 911 for help. The passenger expressed that he had thought that the two individuals might have been related and that this was a “family” situation, but that should not have stopped him from acting. However, unlike David, he regretted his passivity during the incident on the bus and hoped that the boy was safe, emphasizing some compassion for the child.


All witnesses of wrongdoings, including David and Auclair, always have the obligation to act and help individuals that are at harm. The way that a witness can intervene varies, as it is dependent on whether the victim is threatened by another individual or natural causes and on how the witness feels about their own safety in the circumstance. Even if the witness is concerned about their personal risk, there are steps that they can take to help with little threat to their own life. If an individual, as a witness, does not take action upon the situation, they are as responsible for the situation as the assailant. Regardless of the nature of the wrongdoing, witnesses have the responsibility to intervene in the situation, whether it is subduing the assailant, calling authorities for help, or reporting the incident. The article The Trick to Acting Heroically highlights individuals who have taken measures to help others in harmful situations. From their accounts, our duty to assist people in danger should be a gut instinct. We should not have to stop to consider. It is in our best interest to develop a natural tendency to help others, as our personal risk is usually small in day-to-day situations and we will be seen as more trustworthy. As a moral person, it is important to embrace the duty to act for those who cannot defend themselves in distressing circumstances.


Sippycup
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 7

Originally posted by cherryblossom on September 25, 2020 22:26

David should have shown concern and questioned Jeremy when his friend walked into the woman’s bathroom. As he witnessed Sherrice, a seven year-old girl, being threatened by Jeremy, David should have taken immediate action either telling his friend to stop and that what he was doing was wrong or running out of the bathroom to get assistance from authorities. His choice to not report the incident even after Jeremy confessed to killing Sherrice and to proceed on playing more games with his friend, as if nothing had happened, reflects his character, showing his indifferent and heartless nature. The suffering of Sherrice should have evoked some sense of humanity that would have prompted him to act, but he did not even consider his obligation to act in the situation.


The article Nightmare on the 36 bus illustrates a comparable circumstance, as passengers on a bus witnessed a man assault an eight year-old boy. Auclair, a passenger, recalls noticing a drunk and unstable manner to the man and a sheer look of fear in the boy’s eyes when he looked at the man. Immediately, these observations should have been an indicator for him to approach the child to put him at ease. When the man started to punch the boy’s face to the point of bleeding, Auclair should have taken physical action, notified the driver, or called 911 for help. The passenger expressed that he had thought that the two individuals might have been related and that this was a “family” situation, but that should not have stopped him from acting. However, unlike David, he regretted his passivity during the incident on the bus and hoped that the boy was safe, emphasizing some compassion for the child.


All witnesses of wrongdoings, including David and Auclair, always have the obligation to act and help individuals that are at harm. The way that a witness can intervene varies, as it is dependent on whether the victim is threatened by another individual or natural causes and on how the witness feels about their own safety in the circumstance. Even if the witness is concerned about their personal risk, there are steps that they can take to help with little threat to their own life. If an individual, as a witness, does not take action upon the situation, they are as responsible for the situation as the assailant. Regardless of the nature of the wrongdoing, witnesses have the responsibility to intervene in the situation, whether it is subduing the assailant, calling authorities for help, or reporting the incident. The article The Trick to Acting Heroically highlights individuals who have taken measures to help others in harmful situations. From their accounts, our duty to assist people in danger should be a gut instinct. We should not have to stop to consider. It is in our best interest to develop a natural tendency to help others, as our personal risk is usually small in day-to-day situations and we will be seen as more trustworthy. As a moral person, it is important to embrace the duty to act for those who cannot defend themselves in distressing circumstances.


I definitely agree with your statement about David's indifference in the situation. Any other person would have questioned what happened, or have been plagued with a guilty conscience. This ties back to the "The Trick to Acting Heroically” article. Although it argues that people who continually do good acts don't think twice about it, an argument can be made about the opposite. A person who continues to live in complacency and comfort will not change their ways. David's mindset is so focused on his own life that if he has to go out of his way, even if it's to save another person's life, then he will not do it. This is a dangerous approach of living life and we should all reconsider our priorities.

orangedino
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 8

We, as people, have the obligation to stop someone from doing something that could cause damage to themselves or anyone else. Cash knew that his friend was committing a crime that hurt a little girl and he did nothing to stop him from doing it. Even if he didn’t have a legal obligation to act, he did have a moral one.


Taking action can be hard sometimes, especially when there are many other witnesses. It is human nature to want to fit in and it takes a lot of courage to be the person who initiates that, when nobody else has. Auclair experienced this when he witnessed a man punching a little boy on a bus one night, (Nightmare on the 36 bus). Auclair wanted to do something to stop the man from hurting the boy, but nobody was doing anything about it so he felt out of place and did nothing.


Someone also may not take action not because they feel out of place, but it may be because they don’t feel required to, they feel like it is someone else’s responsibility to do something. This is called the Bystander Effect, and we can see it take place in the article “The Bystander Effect In The Cellphone Age”, when a man was running towards a burning building to see if anybody needed any assistance, and he saw a man just standing by the building taking pictures of it.


We cannot just sit back and watch as bad things are happening. If we have the ability to, we need to try and help people who need our help and stop people who are doing wrong. We cannot let our fear control us and convince us to do nothing, and we also cannot let ourselves think that there is no need for our help.

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