posts 16 - 30 of 59
Cookie Monster
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 9

Don't Be a Bystander

As human beings, we all make mistakes all the time. We do small things like break the dress code at school and jaywalk all the time. However, those miniscule “wrongdoings” aren’t necessarily degrading to the rest of society or harming anybody else. The case of what went down between Sherrice Iverson, Jeremy Strohmeyer, and David Cash involves a lot of these elements. In this case, Jeremy Strohmeyer raped and killed Sherrice Iverson in the bathroom of a Nevada casino. Jeremy’s friend, David Cash, didn’t intervene to stop Strohmeyer and failed to inform the authorities about the incident. Although Cash didn’t commit the act himself, he should’ve been more empathetic to Sherrice instead of just caring about the security of the people in his circle of friends. Any witness that was in Cash’s position should feel obligated to inform someone if a person was hurt in the process and to intervene more directly to prevent further harm. The articles “Nightmare on the 36 Bus” and “The Bystander Effect In The Cellphone Age”. In “Nightmare on the 36 Bus”, a young boy was beaten by an older man on a bus in Boston. Instead of sticking up for the boy, all the riders decided to ignore the incident and the bus driver even failed to admit that anything happened to the authorities. In “The Bystander Effect In The Cellphone Age” an apartment building catches on fire and there are people who feel the need first to take a picture of the scene instead of helping anyone out. In both these cases, bystanders should’ve felt the obligation to show more empathy towards the victims of the harmful incidents. This involves, in every case of witnessing a situation where a person(s) is harmed, letting the authorities know AND trying to intervene to prevent any further harm.

ernest.
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 13

Being a Bystander Our Inborn Default?

Originally posted by wisteria on September 25, 2020 22:14

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?

I agree with @wisteria on several points. Cash’s total lack of empathy is truly astonishing and even confusing— how can such a drastic inversion of seemingly basic human emotions be possible?? And I agree with the point (which @squirrelluver123 also made) that a huge obstacle to people stepping in in the situations we’ve each explored is feeling that it wasn’t their place. There is a kind of social instinct that prevents us from acting, and to elaborate on this a little more, I think that this social instinct goes beyond just feeling that one shouldn’t intervene in others’ affairs. I think there is an impulse to avoid any kind of confrontation with an aggressor, even if it means letting someone else suffer.

I remember a while ago hearing a story of a woman who was being groped by a man on a crowded train, and, like other situations we’ve discussed, no one did a thing. No one spoke out, even though it was obvious what was happening. A very similar circumstance to the one described in Nightmare on the 36 Bus, in which people likewise avoided stepping in, this time when a relative/guardian of a young boy began physical assaulting him. But what haunts me in the first story is that I remember feeling I could so easily have been one of those people who did nothing but sat uncomfortably. In social settings, I am very much a people-pleaser and hate social tension. And as much as it pains me to admit it, I know that this kind of hatred for social tension could easily override an instinct to directly act, and cause me to be a bystander in order to allow the problem to continue and not inflame the social situation. I wonder if other people have this feeling too, or if it’s just me? @yvesIKB’s and @iluvcows’s statements about the way our priorities can be seriously misguided, especially when comfort or loyalty, respectively, come before the well-being of other humans, resonate with me a little and seem to be a bit similar to the point I’m making here.

How is it that we and so many others have been able to live and grow up in society without learning to prioritize human life and welfare over our own petty concerns of comfort, or loyalty? What circumstances could have produced this kind phenomenon among so many people? We all know, in theory, that putting yourself on the line to help others is the right thing to do. And yet— here we are. Maybe being a bystander is human nature; without proper conditioning, it’s what we default to. Cash stated as his line of reasoning for why he did not step in: “I did not know this little girl.” The implication of this statement is that Cash had no emotional attachment or connection with Sherrice, and thus, her death would not be a blow to him any more than the “starving children of Panama’s” would. This is rooted in the belief that, because he did not stand to lose anything from her death, he was not obliged to act. In this case, perhaps being an upstander must be learned. It’s something we should all be learning, then.

cherryblossom
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 9

Originally posted by wisteria on September 25, 2020 22:14

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?

Like @wisteria, I had the same questions running through my head when we were talking about this incident in class. I was shocked by the fact that David did not feel a single ounce of guilt after Sherrice was murdered, as he did not take initiative to talk with Jeremy about what had happened and continued to play more games like normal. I absolutely agree with your statement about moving forward from the mindset of “minding your own business.” This attitude is very harmful, as it allows others to ignore those individuals who need their help. Helping a person in danger in any way possible, whether it is a small or large act, can only benefit you and help you become a better individual. Ultimately, both David and the passenger on the bus had the obligation to act. Their passiveness in that moment will be something that they must live with forever.

cherryblossom
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 9

Originally posted by ernest. on September 24, 2020 13:21

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.

Although @ernest makes some good points, I think that anybody who witnesses a wrongdoing or someone else in danger has the responsibility to act. Their inaction reflects their character, as it shows their lack of empathy and compassion for victims of distressing circumstances. However, @ernest says that they believe that individuals are obliged to call 911 for help. I believe that that action does count as acting in the situation. Calling authorities is just as beneficial as asserting yourself in the situation to stop the harm being done to individuals. Witnesses of wrongdoings should not hesitate to act just because there are others witnessing the incident. In addition, people with military background are not more qualified to act in dangerous situations than those who are without military experience. As upright individuals, witnesses have the duty to take action in a harmful situation, whether it is physical action or notifying authorities.

iluvcows
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 8

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 agree with what BLStudent said in their response. David Cash definitely should have intervened and reported it automatically once he witnessed the 7 year old girl being harmed by his friend. There should be laws placed in order to prevent these horrible situations from happening, and as they said, require people to speak up right when they see a wrong doing. Although I agree with the fact that there should be different procedures and punishments depending on the severity of the crime, I disagree with what they said about how minor or victimless crimes don't have to be reported. I think that all crimes have a victim and will affect at least one individual in a harmful way therefore people should have the obligation to report any crime no matter what happened.

squirrelluver123
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 9

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 agree with what cherryblossom said about how if a person does not act when they witness a wrongdoing, then they are as responsible for the outcome as the perpetrator. I think that everyone has an obligation to act in anyway they can if they witness a wrongdoing or any kind of crime. I also agree with how they said that "it is in our best interest to develop a natural tendency to help others". Oftentimes helping others comes at little or no cost, and this is the same for people reporting a crime if they witness one. While some crimes may be more violent than others, people should do anything they can to help in the situation, whether it is calling for help or physically intervening. Although David Cash may have lost his friendship with Jeremy Strohmeyer for reporting his actions in the case of Sherrice Iverson, her life should have been more important than that friendship.

iluvcows
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 8

Originally posted by wisteria on September 25, 2020 22:14

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?

I liked how you incorporated questions into your response because it gives the reader something to think about as they continue through your comment. I agree with everything that you said and found it really interesting and horrible that Cash showed absolutely no remorse towards the child after his decision to not intervene resulted in Sherrice’s death. Depending on the situation you can act in different ways as you said, if it's a dangerous situation and you don't feel safe physically attempting to stop it, you can step away and call 911 or find help. I agree that David felt no fear and Jeremy showed no signs of violence towards his friend proving that if he had intervened he most likely wouldn’t have been harmed. Even if he chose not to do so he still had the option to find help but consciously chose to ignore what was conspiring. Your comment about how unspoken social norms have the power to prevent onlookers from acting and stopping domestic abuse and more was really interesting and I agree that these should be overturned so situations like we read about won’t continue taking place.

squirrelluver123
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 9

Originally posted by Sippycup on September 24, 2020 23:18

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.


I agree with you on how you said that many people's actions can be governed by how they think they will be viewed and seen in public or on social media. Even though social media was not as big as it is now, I agree that some part of David’s decision to not report his friend could have been because he was worried about how he or both of them would be viewed after this incident. I also agree that this in no way excuses his actions, but could partly explain his reasoning. However the life of Sherrice Iverson should have been much more important than his friendship. I like how you said “sometimes, you need to prioritize others over yourself”, and I think it is important to think about in this situation how Sherrice was in more danger than David was, and he should have prioritized her safety and gotten help.

Cookie Monster
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 9

Originally posted by iluvcows on September 27, 2020 10:02

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 agree with what BLStudent said in their response. David Cash definitely should have intervened and reported it automatically once he witnessed the 7 year old girl being harmed by his friend. There should be laws placed in order to prevent these horrible situations from happening, and as they said, require people to speak up right when they see a wrong doing. Although I agree with the fact that there should be different procedures and punishments depending on the severity of the crime, I disagree with what they said about how minor or victimless crimes don't have to be reported. I think that all crimes have a victim and will affect at least one individual in a harmful way therefore people should have the obligation to report any crime no matter what happened.

I disagree with Iluvcows on his statement about which wrongdoings should be reported to authorities and which ones shouldn't. David Cash definitely should've felt that he had the obligation to stand up for the 7 year old girl against his friend Jeremy's harmful actions against her. In any case that someone witnesses that involves a victim, the witness needs to have the responsibility of intervening and informing the authorities of the incident. However, I don't believe that for cases that involve miniscule versions of breaking the rules such as jay walking or dress code violations the witness should feel obligated to let authorities know. While these violations may cause annoyance to some, they don't hinder at anyone else's human rights and don't cause any major long term or short term harm.

Cookie Monster
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 9

Originally posted by ernest. on September 26, 2020 18:39

Originally posted by wisteria on September 25, 2020 22:14

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?

I agree with @wisteria on several points. Cash’s total lack of empathy is truly astonishing and even confusing— how can such a drastic inversion of seemingly basic human emotions be possible?? And I agree with the point (which @squirrelluver123 also made) that a huge obstacle to people stepping in in the situations we’ve each explored is feeling that it wasn’t their place. There is a kind of social instinct that prevents us from acting, and to elaborate on this a little more, I think that this social instinct goes beyond just feeling that one shouldn’t intervene in others’ affairs. I think there is an impulse to avoid any kind of confrontation with an aggressor, even if it means letting someone else suffer.

I remember a while ago hearing a story of a woman who was being groped by a man on a crowded train, and, like other situations we’ve discussed, no one did a thing. No one spoke out, even though it was obvious what was happening. A very similar circumstance to the one described in Nightmare on the 36 Bus, in which people likewise avoided stepping in, this time when a relative/guardian of a young boy began physical assaulting him. But what haunts me in the first story is that I remember feeling I could so easily have been one of those people who did nothing but sat uncomfortably. In social settings, I am very much a people-pleaser and hate social tension. And as much as it pains me to admit it, I know that this kind of hatred for social tension could easily override an instinct to directly act, and cause me to be a bystander in order to allow the problem to continue and not inflame the social situation. I wonder if other people have this feeling too, or if it’s just me? @yvesIKB’s and @iluvcows’s statements about the way our priorities can be seriously misguided, especially when comfort or loyalty, respectively, come before the well-being of other humans, resonate with me a little and seem to be a bit similar to the point I’m making here.

How is it that we and so many others have been able to live and grow up in society without learning to prioritize human life and welfare over our own petty concerns of comfort, or loyalty? What circumstances could have produced this kind phenomenon among so many people? We all know, in theory, that putting yourself on the line to help others is the right thing to do. And yet— here we are. Maybe being a bystander is human nature; without proper conditioning, it’s what we default to. Cash stated as his line of reasoning for why he did not step in: “I did not know this little girl.” The implication of this statement is that Cash had no emotional attachment or connection with Sherrice, and thus, her death would not be a blow to him any more than the “starving children of Panama’s” would. This is rooted in the belief that, because he did not stand to lose anything from her death, he was not obliged to act. In this case, perhaps being an upstander must be learned. It’s something we should all be learning, then.

I also disagree with what Ernest said because in order to change our own human instincts we must make the effort to change our actions. Cash, like any other human being, should've cared about the mortality of all people instead of just caring about what happened to his friend. This would've meant that Cash would've made an effort to intervene in the situation so ensure that prevention of any further harm to Sherrice was secured. If this effort was unsuccessful, Cash should've felt like he had the obligation to inform the authorities of what Jeremy did to Sherrice. However, in the moment Cash chose to care more about his friend than he did for humanity as a whole. What this demonstrates is a lack of care for humanity and a superiority complex that saw some people as more worthy than others. It isn´t human nature to not care about humanity.

wisteria
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 9

Originally posted by ernest. on September 26, 2020 18:39

Originally posted by wisteria on September 25, 2020 22:14

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?

I agree with @wisteria on several points. Cash’s total lack of empathy is truly astonishing and even confusing— how can such a drastic inversion of seemingly basic human emotions be possible?? And I agree with the point (which @squirrelluver123 also made) that a huge obstacle to people stepping in in the situations we’ve each explored is feeling that it wasn’t their place. There is a kind of social instinct that prevents us from acting, and to elaborate on this a little more, I think that this social instinct goes beyond just feeling that one shouldn’t intervene in others’ affairs. I think there is an impulse to avoid any kind of confrontation with an aggressor, even if it means letting someone else suffer.

I remember a while ago hearing a story of a woman who was being groped by a man on a crowded train, and, like other situations we’ve discussed, no one did a thing. No one spoke out, even though it was obvious what was happening. A very similar circumstance to the one described in Nightmare on the 36 Bus, in which people likewise avoided stepping in, this time when a relative/guardian of a young boy began physical assaulting him. But what haunts me in the first story is that I remember feeling I could so easily have been one of those people who did nothing but sat uncomfortably. In social settings, I am very much a people-pleaser and hate social tension. And as much as it pains me to admit it, I know that this kind of hatred for social tension could easily override an instinct to directly act, and cause me to be a bystander in order to allow the problem to continue and not inflame the social situation. I wonder if other people have this feeling too, or if it’s just me? @yvesIKB’s and @iluvcows’s statements about the way our priorities can be seriously misguided, especially when comfort or loyalty, respectively, come before the well-being of other humans, resonate with me a little and seem to be a bit similar to the point I’m making here.

How is it that we and so many others have been able to live and grow up in society without learning to prioritize human life and welfare over our own petty concerns of comfort, or loyalty? What circumstances could have produced this kind phenomenon among so many people? We all know, in theory, that putting yourself on the line to help others is the right thing to do. And yet— here we are. Maybe being a bystander is human nature; without proper conditioning, it’s what we default to. Cash stated as his line of reasoning for why he did not step in: “I did not know this little girl.” The implication of this statement is that Cash had no emotional attachment or connection with Sherrice, and thus, her death would not be a blow to him any more than the “starving children of Panama’s” would. This is rooted in the belief that, because he did not stand to lose anything from her death, he was not obliged to act. In this case, perhaps being an upstander must be learned. It’s something we should all be learning, then.


I am glad that you brought up public sexual harassment, as this is probably one of the most prevalent areas where bystander interference is lacking. Unwelcome sexual contact or comments can sometimes occur so quickly that witnesses feel the moment to react has passed in their hesitation. They might simply think it’s not that big of a deal. However this attitude only allows the normalization of behavior that is incredibly detrimental to those on the receiving end. Of course there is always the fear that any negative reaction to the incident could cause it to escalate into something violent, which is why often the woman or whoever is experiencing harassment will pretend to ignore it. But if every bystander noticed and spoke up collectively, there would be much less cause to fear retaliation. There are many indirect ways of dissuading the person doing the harassment, and these are most recommended to avoid situations of conflict or aggression. Hopefully these safer techniques can be applied in the witnessing of other wrongs as well, so that no one has to directly insert themselves into a violent situation. However I wonder if this is the right way to address the overall problem in the case of harassment. Instead of denouncing the act of harassment and clearly expressing that it is unacceptable behavior, one is simply eliminating the opportunity for that particular act of harassment, who knows if the person will repeat it in the future.


I think the question of whether humans default to being bystanders is very interesting. I think I am inclined to believe we are natural upstanders, as we all (hopefully) have a moral compass that dictates how we react to what we witness. Most people will react to violence or wrongful acts with feelings of sympathy and horror and a desire for what they are witnessing to stop. I think it must be the effects of our socialization that hold us back from being the one to stop it, either physically or by calling for help. As we saw on the 36 bus, everyone was incredibly affected by what they had witnessed from the moment it began, and some couldn’t even go to sleep at night. In that situation it seems that it was just the fears imparted on them by society that prevented interference. But maybe I am just being too optimistic. I can’t believe that all humans are inherently good, and the instinctive reaction to a wrongdoing probably varies from person to person. Someone who is capable of such violence probably wouldn’t bat an eye if they saw it happening to another person. Then there are people like David Cash, who for whatever reason felt no emotional impact at all. The human mind is too complicated and easily influenced to know for sure, but if being an upstander was more normalized and expected in our culture, I think more people would act on their natural impulses to interfere.

lurando
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 9

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

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.

And I think a huge part of why a person might be drawn to pulling out their phone as their first instinct rather than going straight into the burning house or calling for help is this idea of needing or wanting people to look at you and look at what you have to share.


In a way this can absolutely be helpful, I mean, the phone article even mentions how capturing moments of police brutality could be incredibly beneficial, but here’s the thing, these are injustices. Injustices should absolutely be spread everywhere so that people would be aware of them happening and hopefully get more educated.


Spreading a picture, a video, or a short clip of a fire isn’t quite as helpful. Maybe those who were coincidentally in the same area as you at that time and saw the post could have perhaps rushed to the scene and contribute as a helper, but the likelihood of that happening is quite slim. The more impactful and more secure option is to rush to help directly.


It’s human nature to want to prioritize ourselves first, it’s just with the advent of modern cell phones, those of us who were already on edge of helping, maybe because of fear, maybe because of indecisiveness, or maybe some people are just cold and uncaring, are even less inclined to help because of the fact that we could simply be doing something else, using our phones to spread it around. It could be still helpful, but definitely not quite as helpful as directly helping.


That’s not to say we shouldn’t record it because we ultimately do want those that were not on the scene to understand that there was a fire that happened. At the end of the day, cell phones can be bad, but they can also be good. It gives us more tools and options, but could in a way less incentivize better or more helpful options.

lurando
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 9

Originally posted by yvesIKB on September 25, 2020 21:42

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.

If you ask me, I think a large part of why David said he didn’t feel any remorse was simply because he wanted to defend himself. If we choose to believe what he said was true, he said he gave a disapproving, or at least a “what are you doing, man?” look on his face at Jeremy when he was at the stall. Coupled that with what you said, this tells us that David knew for sure what Jeremy did was wrong, and even though we may never know what he was thinking when he left the bathroom, sat in silence during that car ride or for the rest of his life for that matter, I think maybe he did feel something. A murder is a murder, a rape is a rape, the death of a little girl is a death.


And so because of that, he didn’t want to feel guilty. He didn’t want to feel burdened, and when the protests against him began, the feeling of not wanting to live with this burden forced him to try to convince himself and to convince the people around him that he doesn’t feel any remorse and that he’s justified. He wants to defend himself because he doesn’t want to believe he is a horrible person, and so he uses the argument that she’s merely a stranger. Perhaps he had some implicit bias against her race and that was part of the internal reasoning he had with himself. We don’t know, and we may never know.

BlueWhale24
Boston , Massachusetts, US
Posts: 9

Civic and Human Duty

Sometimes, it’s difficult to determine what is right and what is wrong. It seems easy from a young age, when our choices are clear cut, and we are limited to picking between the three little pigs and the big bad wolf. But as we grow older, choosing between right and wrong becomes a lot less black and white, as the lines between the two begin to blur. We’re taught to prioritize ourselves because that's what matters in the long run. As we’re presented with the dilemma of David Cash, the difference between right and wrong seemingly becomes transparent once again. David Cash chose the despicable action of turning his back on Sherrice Iverson, choosing to let a little girl die at the hands of his companion. When we are asked the question “What would you have done if you were David Cash”, the answer is simple: do anything possible to prevent her death. However, I believe that the far more important question that should be asked in this situation is “What would you have wanted to be done if you were Sherrice Iverson”? Ultimately, the severity of a “wrong” should be determined not by the level of inaction taken by a bystander, but rather the level of consequences inflicted upon the victim.

David Cash’s actions should have been governed by the events that he witnessed. His choice between action and inaction should have been determined by putting himself into the shoes of Sherrice, rather than saving trouble for himself because “[he] did not know this little girl… and [is not] going to lose sleep over somebody else’s problem”. The obligations that a person receives when witnessing a wrong should purely be determined by the consequences that could be inflicted upon a victim. For example, if a person sees another person stealing a pack of gum at a gas station, the level of consequence inflicted upon the victim (in this case, the gas station manager) is relatively low. If the person were to put themselves into the shoes of the gas station manager, they would be relatively unbothered by this act, although it did negatively affect them slightly. Another example of this would be if a person witnessed another person’s car being stolen. In this scenario, the person should have an obligation to try to prevent this from occurring, as the consequence for the potential victim is much more severe. In the case of David Cash, the consequence for the victim (Sherrice Iverson) is at its utmost peak, being molestation and possibly death. Cash has a mandatory humane obligation to respond, yet he chooses to ignore it for the sake of himself. Once again, the different rules for obligations to respond depend entirely on the severity of potential consequences upon the victim.

To paraphrase @yvesIKB, it was not David Cash’s job to help the situation, but rather a responsibility or “mutual contract” of living within a modern society. The term “mutual contract” especially stood out to me because it represents the moral understanding that we as humans share amongst ourselves. Feeling compassion for those less fortunate than us is something that we instinctively understand. It’s why we feel sympathy for the movie character being bullied or the little rabbit being chased by a pack of wolves, and it’s also why we’re shocked by David Cash’s choice to abandon a little girl in cold blood. It goes against our innate moral compass.

As we further explore this situation, it goes without saying that most everybody hearing the story of Sherrice Iverson would have chosen to intervene had they been present. Yet, in modern day, bystander behavior continues to be an issue. In the article “Nightmare on the 36 Bus”, by Brian McGrory, a group of people on a bus choose not to intervene as a man beats his son before their eyes. Eyewitness Daniel Auclair recalls hoping to stay out of the situation, believing it to possibly be a familial matter between the two and likely being unwilling to get in the way of the raging man. In a more recent article, “The Bystander Effect in the Cellphone Age”, by Judy Harris, it’s shown that bystander behavior has increased as people are compelled by the urge to compulsively record and document emergency situations via their cell phones instead of rushing to help. While this point was interesting to consider, I disagree with the idea. I do not believe that cell phones have begun to increase bystander behavior in the sense that people are hypnotically drawn to using them, but rather have provided another excuse for observers to feign participation in the crisis. Excuses for bystander behavior have existed far longer than cell phone use. In the case of the 36 Bus, the bystanders had a variety of reasons not to get involved: it was late at night, they were cold, it was not their place to involve themselves in another family’s business. Similarly, the bystanders present at the fire could have pointed to the simple reason that another man had already gone in to warn the inhabitants, and that they did not want to further risk their lives and instead chose to document what was happening. Even in the case of David Cash, he himself made a public statement that he did not know Sherrice, and therefore was not inclined to help. This statement made by Cash is disturbing, but not out of the ordinary, as we’ve clearly seen from the two previous articles. Excuses for bystander behavior will exist regardless of the circumstance; it merely depends on the severity of the situation as to whether or not they’re accepted. This further necessitates the importance of “putting yourself in the shoes of the victim” and understanding the “moral contract” within our society.

After examining these three varying scenarios, it begs the question of how legal rules can be structured in order to best govern the decision to either act or witness? To further add on to @squirrelluver123 ‘s point, I also believe that there should be a law to punish bystander behavior, but the question is, where does the line cross ignoring from small infractions to failing to act while witnessing large scale crimes? In short, should a person watching another person stealing a pack of gum from a gas station receive the same punishment as a person watching another’s car get stolen? After some brainstorming, my idea for a law regarding bystander behavior is as follows: if a person fails to report a crime which may cost the victim money, the infraction level depends on the amount of money which may be lost by the victim in relation to their total savings (i.e. if the amount stolen would significantly damage the victim’s savings), if a person fails to report a crime which clearly would damage a person’s mental or physical wellbeing, they will be charged according to the level of damage inflicted upon the victim, and if a person clearly witnesses a life or death situation befalling another and fails to report it, they will be charged with manslaughter. This “law” that I created clearly has loopholes and areas that I forgot to address, but I believe that it encompasses my previous points well. The moral rule for witnessing an unfortunate event should relate to how you would hope somebody else would react if you were the victim. In summary, we have an obligation to act sometimes, depending on the situation we are in and the level of consequence for the victim, but in the case of life or death, everybody always carries a responsibility to act, for it is their civic and human duty.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan originates from the Bible, where it’s told by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, so it’s only fitting that another Bible verse should be the rule for how we can uphold ourselves within society and not fall victim to bystander behavior - “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. If we can all strive to live our lives by this rule, a tragedy like that of Sherrice Iverson would never have to repeat itself, and I truly believe, that the world would become a much better place.

lurando
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 9

Why a Person Helps

I think all humans naturally have this innate ability to feel compassion and empathy even towards strangers, unless you have a genetic or a medical defect of course. It’s just depending on your upbringing, the environment, your parents, and the people around you that certain people might feel less or feel more. I think Deborah Stone’s hero article pointing out that the reason why all these people just help people without thinking or asking is because it’s an instinct of ours, which BLStudent and cherryblossom both assert, supports my theory.


We all have this natural flinching effect whenever something unexpected or horrible happens, and in many cases there are only two options a person can take, either they immediately assist the person or they stay put in their place. I think the option that you choose is based a lot on your morals, your personality, and your background, which, of course are all things dictated by your environment. Judy Harris’s phone article makes me realize that there is often a third choice in the modern world, use your phone to record what just happened. It’s an interesting idea, and even though I do somewhat agree with her claim that phones distract people from what they should be ultimately doing, I did put up some counter arguments and some other thoughts, all of which can be seen in my reply to BLStudent.


Another great point that I saw in the hero article that I want to bring up is that the author speculates that perhaps we have this desire to help people because this will be unconsciously beneficial for us, the idea that we become more valuable and trustworthy in other people’s eyes. What I want to say is that there’s so many things that could have compelled David Cash to act and do something, but at the end, he just didn’t. His shock or his fear got the better of him. He didn’t want to make trouble or go against his friend. Perhaps there might be implicit bias. It’s really disappointing and even infuriating to hear, and it really shows just how complex the human psyche really is.


There is a large difference between not telling on a person even though they were cheating and not preventing a murder despite witnessing it. Cheating could yes, prevent a person from going down the right path if they do it excessively, but it’s nothing compared to the loss of an actual human life. Of course then we get to the topic of whether or not a person deserves to die, but we should never decide that in a dangerous life or death situation except for absolute emergencies.


I know horrible things keep happening over and over again and that’s why people can become cynical, but what’s wrong with trying to save or protect a life? There’s a reason why smiles and laughter are contagious. I understand that there are implicit biases that can make people hesitate and that strangers are strangers and we know absolutely nothing about them, but don’t you want to make a person’s life better if you could?

posts 16 - 30 of 59