posts 1 - 15 of 42
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.



softballgirl18
Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 5

Friendship and Fear

Even though friendship is a major part of life, just because your best friends with someone does not mean you get to ignore their bad qualities. There was nothing that could ever justify David Cash’s actions of knowing what his friend had done and not turning him in. As a human being, you should feel a sense of guilt knowing that a little girl was brutally murdered and sexually assaulted at the expense of you saving your friendship. In this case I believe David did have an obligation to act, considering he was given several chances, starting with when he heard his friend threaten the girl, and when his friend admitted to killing the girl and those several hours they were together after this. As a society we do have an obligation to act in almost every case, because it is our duty to each other to help those who are in need and in David’s case he didn’t do that, he helped himself. In a similar situation where bystanders allowed an action to happen while knowing the victim was being hurt, happened in Boston in 2000, where the people on the bus sat by and watched while a little boy was punched in the face twice by an older man. No one intervened, no one alerted the driver or the police. I think, based off the eyewitness given by Daniel Auclair, people didn’t want to get involved in fear that they may also be hit, but well never know exactly. This may have been the case for David, the fear that his friend wouldn’t want to be his friend anymore or that he may even hurt him. Maybe he didn't have thew “gut instinct” that people whos first thought is to help others have.

dewdropdoll
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 8

Would you help?

I think that the whole situation is obviously very messed up, and especially with the case of David Cash. This idea that people shouldn’t be bystanders and instead try to help out when you see someone getting hurt in the streets is something that I think is very interesting because there are many sides to it. Obviously, it’s easy to look at this case and condemn David Cash (which I think is necessary) for his lack of action towards preventing Sherrice’s death or at least reporting it to officials, but it also begs the question of what you would do in the same situation. Would you have done the same thing as David Cash, and not report it (for fear of your own life or because the person was your best friend), or would you immediately report it and try and stop it from happening even though you might also get hurt?


I personally think that David Cash should’ve been convicted of some crime for not being able to recognize the situation and stop Jeremy from doing those horrible things to Sherrice. If you see someone physically hurting another person, whether it be your best friend or just a stranger, you have the obligation to at least do something to prevent it or report the situation to an official. Many people would argue that if it’s a life-or-death situation, such as in this particular case or in the cases that were mentioned in the Deborah Stone reading titled “The Samaritan Dilemma”, it might not be a good idea to risk your own life to try and save someone else’s. One particular case that was mentioned is where an emergency medical assistant is going home when he receives a call that there was a shooting that happened a block away. The person was hesitant at first to go and help the injured woman, for fear that the assailant would still be around to harm him, but he went anyway and ended up saving that woman’s life. Had he hesitated even longer, that woman might have died with no one to help her. In such a situation, I’m glad he was there to help her when no one else was around to help, even if he could’ve also gotten hurt. I’m just thinking about what it would be like in that same situation (as the woman), and I would obviously want someone to come help me, so I would help someone else out just because of that logic. That’s why I think everyone is obligated to do something to help even if you don’t want to do it yourself; it’s better to call someone else for help rather than just stand there, watching, and do nothing. You wouldn’t want that to happen to you, so why would you do it to someone else.


Judy Harris also talks about this “bystander effect” but with phones and social media. She described an experience with her husband where he ran to get people out of a house that was caught on fire suddenly. Meanwhile, he says that he saw someone already there at the house but instead of helping or caring about the people inside the burning house, they stood there to take pictures. Later, there was an article released that sort of praised the person who took the pictures in time. This is a different kind of situation, but it got me thinking of other cases where people just stand there, watching, and recording a video instead of actually doing something about it. Obviously, it’s very helpful to take videos and post on social media to raise awareness, but it’s kind of hypocritical when that same person taking the picture posts on social media, condemning others for not helping the person in the situation, are also the person who’s not doing anything except recording.


Overall, I just think everyone who’s witnessing a horrible situation happening to someone, should try and help them even if they are a stranger. You don’t have to necessarily risk your own life if it’s that kind of situation, but you can help call someone for help rather than pretending like nothing is happening, and going on about your day because you don’t want to be in that situation.

dewdropdoll
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 8

@softballgirl18

I completely agree with you on the whole friendship thing and how just because your best friends with someone, it doesn't mean that you should ignore their bad qualities. Adding on to that, I think that just because you might not have seen an instance where that person does something bad or you believe that the person is nice, doesn't mean that they are excused for one bad action. Especially in this case where Jeremy literally killed a 7 year-old little girl, I think it's crazy how David didn't think to report Jeremy for the reason that he was his best friend, and he just didn't think Jeremy would be the type of person to murder someone, despite knowing that he did just kill someone. You also mentioned how David might've feared that Jeremy would hurt him if he had reported, which I understand but like you mentioned, there were many instances from the time Jeremy admitted his crime to the time they returned home, that he could've reported it to someone (like his dad). I don't think he has any excuse for why he didn't report it to an authority, and he should've been convicted as well.

plaidplatypus
Boston, Ma, US
Posts: 6

What are we obligated to do

I think that David Cash definitely deserved to be charged in the rape and murder of Sherrice Iverson for his inaction in preventing her death, or at the very least not reporting it to authorities. The fact that after his best friend murdered a little girl he continued to enjoy his night was the part I found most disturbing. His general dimenor after this incident honestly frightens me and makes me think that he may have been more than a bystander in some way.

That being said I think that people have an obligation to act as long as it doesn’t put them in danger. In the instance of David Cash it seems like he could have acted without putting himself in harm's way by telling someone after he left the bathroom, which could have saved Sherrice’s life. In an instance like that I think it’s very important to act, but it becomes more difficult to determine whether to act when you could be putting yourself in danger. For example the article, “The Bystander Effect in the Cell Phone Age”, talks about how many people stopped to take pictures of a fire in a residential building instead of trying to help the residents. Here I don’t think that one has an obligation beyond calling 911, because in trying to help the residents they could injure themselves. According to the article “The Trick to Acting Heroically”, most times when people risk their lives to help strangers it is born out of instinct rather than a social obligation they feel. I think that while some people instinctively will take risks to help people, it’s ok not to but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do what you can in extreme situations because little things can make a difference.

In response to softballgirl19 I definitely agree that David did have an obligation to act and I think that in this situation fear isn’t an excuse. After exiting the bathroom he wasn’t in immediate danger, but Sherrice was and if he would have reported what Jeremy was doing, Sherrice may not have been killed.

In response to dewdropdoll although I see where you’re coming from I don’t think that there is an obligation to help someone if you’re putting yourself in physical danger. Even though I would also try to help in a similar situation, I don’t think that you are obligated to put someone else’s well being over your own.

dewdropdoll
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 8

@plaidplatypus

I completely agree with what you said about how no one should feel obligated to put someone else's well-being over their own. I didn't mean to come across as saying that people should risk their own life to help other people, but what I am trying to say is that everyone should feel obligated to help someone else out no matter how small the action may be. If you were in that kind of a situation, you don't have to endanger yourself, but at least call for help like 911 instead of just standing there and do nothing. I know that if I were personally in such a situation, I may not be able to physically help but I also won't just walk away and not report it to the authorities like David Cash did. As for the article regarding the fire situation, I think that while people shouldn't have to rush into a burning building to save people (because that's very dangerous and can end very wrong), they should be more concerned and call the cops. When I first read the article, it seemed like the person who was just standing there and taking pictures of the fire didn't seem concerned about the people inside at all. It also didn't seem like they had called 911, but they probably did that first (we don't really know the full story). Again, it's not really about being obligated to be willing to risk your own life to help others, but at least not be a bystander who does absolutely nothing to help.

cabbage
Boston , MA, US
Posts: 6

Being a Bystander

With David Cash being the only witness for most of the information on this situation, we can’t be sure what is the truth and what are lies. When David followed Jeremy into the women’s restroom, saw him messing around with Sherrice and didn’t stop him, that was his first mistake. This wasn’t a “I saw someone littering and didn't say anything” type of problem, but David saw a little girl get killed and acted as if it didn’t happen, aware that he could’ve taken actions to prevent it. As @softballgirl18 mentioned, although they were friends, David as a friend should’ve held Jeremy accountable for his mistakes. Perhaps he didn’t have a “gut instinct to help” that was described by the New York Times “The trick to Acting Heroically” article, but he is still unpunished and free roaming as an adult who can reflect on his actions and take responsibility.


Not everyone is going to be a hero and put their life on the line to help someone else which is fine, but being a bystander to a terrible crime shouldn’t be normalized. The article “The Bystander Effect in The Cell Phone Age” describes how during a fire in JP many people instead of seeking help just pulled out their phone to record. If no one called 911 or if no one had chosen to help, these people would just have a useless video of a horrible accident on their phone. David Cash decided to not report anything and defended his actions later on which honestly amazes me because even Jeremy was able to confess for what he did. I agree with @plaidplatypus that the way he acted afterwards was frightening because he seemed confident that “tapping Jeremy on the head and giving him a look” was enough and he bore no responsibility to stop this crime.


I don’t think Cash has a valid reason to not feel responsible. It was mentioned in class that substances were probably used, but they made the decision to buy and take them. Many substances are illegal for a reason and they are also not an excuse for murder.


slothman
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 6

Tragedy

The murder of Sherrice Iverson was a tragedy. The thing is, we only know a lot of the story from David Cash and his perspective. We don’t know whether that perspective is 100% right or not, but again we have no way to prove that. Cash’s actions, nevertheless, should have altered. He shouldn’t have left Jeremy and Sherrice there alone, being Jeremy’s best friend, he should feel the obligation to not want his friend to go to jail for the rest of his life, and for him to not make a life time mistake. Cash should’ve felt a responsibility to be there and stop the situation from escalating, but instead he left the bathroom like nothing happened. There is quite an obligation that a person has if witnessing an event such as this, especially a murder. The fact that Cash could’ve easily saved a little girl's life but instead left the situation is cruel and awful. It’s almost similar to “Nightmare on the 36 Bus' ' where many people on a bus witness a man punching a little boy continuously, but then doing nothing to intervene. Not only is this inhumane, it’s a feeling that will mentally haunt you for your life, knowing that you could’ve prevented this situation from happening but instead you sat and watched. The nature of the “wrong” can obviously vary, but either way I think people have the obligation to step in if something of this nature occurs.


Putting legitimate rules into this decision of to act or to witness is difficult, merely because depending on one’s point of view of the situation, there specific opinion, location, all can have a play in the final verdict. Taking that all into consideration, I think most times we as a people have the obligation to act. Witnessing events such as the 36 bus should not be ignored. The Byestander Effect is one which is way to popular and used these days. The Bystander Effect is described as, “bystander effect occurs when the presence of others discourages an individual from intervening in an emergency situation” (WBUR). An example of this is in the article, “The Bystander Effect In The Cell Phone Age” where a fire takes place in JP, and many of the people just stand aside to take pictures instead of helping with the situation. An interesting sentence from this article that I agree with is, “Have our new-found instincts to document everything on our phones heightened the bystander effect, because we’re almost always connected to others online?” That is a riveting message to which I 100% agree with, these days, with technology always with us, ends up distracting us from the real problem at hand.


Overall, I think as a people we should feel the need to act if someone else is in danger, is being harmed, is taken advantage of, etc. We should not witness the fact when we can prevent the situation from happening in the first place, and that is an obligation each person should have.

berry
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 6

Choosing to act

Although we only know this story from David Cash’s perspective and don’t know what’s true and what's not, we all know he could’ve done something. Whether he prevented Sherrice Iverson’s death, or reported his friend Jeremy Strohmeyer to the police after confessing to him that he sexually assaulted and killed a seven year old girl. David’s body language that according to him, “certainly suggested” that Jeremy stop what he was doing wasn’t enough. Just because someone is your best friend doesn’t mean you should let them get away with murder. His conscience should have told him that what he was doing was wrong. I think David should’ve been charged with a crime for knowing about a murder and not reporting it, even hours after his friend confessed to multiple crimes. Even the months after Jeremy was convicted and put in prison, David showed no remorse for his role in Sherrice’s death. It’s disgusting to see him barely regard Sherrice’s life and his ability to act instead of being a bystander.

I think we all have an obligation to act when we see a crime taking place. We can’t be bystanders, and allow bad situations to happen. Although for some it can be an instinct that kicks in and could potentially be dangerous, you can also act without risking your life. In the New York Times article “The Trick To Acting Heroically'', the authors talk about how a lot of the time when people risk their lives to help others, it's their instincts. Although risking your life is heroic, for some people that doesn’t come as an instinct, which is okay. You can still be heroic by helping without risking your life. Judy Harris mentions in her article, “The Bystander Effect in the Cell Phone Age”, a person was taking photos of a house on fire while her husband was trying to make sure everyone was out of the house and safe. Using your phone and documenting a crime might seem like you’re helping, but in reality it’s the equivalent to standing by and doing nothing. We live in an age where we can call for help at the tips of our fingers in seconds. Calling for help or maybe if you’re taking a photo of the person(s) committing the crime, that can be helping without risking your own life. I think that we can all do something to help others in trouble, whether it's your heroic life changing instincts or your ability to get help without risking your life.

I agree with @softballgirl18, friendships aren’t a good enough reason to allow your friends to get away with bad things. You should always hold your friends as well as yourself responsible for your actions. You should feel guilty about knowing your friend committed horrible crimes, which David didn’t seem at all guilty or remorseful.

I think @dewdropdoll asks a great question of if in the same situation would you do what David Cash did, or report it with the possibility of getting hurt. I would report it because I personally wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I let someone who I thought was a friend sexually assault and murder a seven year old and not report it. I think that’s David Cash’s problem because he clearly doesn’t care at all about what happened.


Overall, I don’t think David would have been risking his life by reporting to the police what Jeremy had done, but by not doing anything he was potentially risking other peoples’ lives.

Chameleon23
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 6

The Obligations of a Witness

In my opinion, as a witness to a crime, David Cash has a responsibility to take action to prevent the crime from being committed. His inaction was what resulted in the murder of Sherrice Iverson, and he should be held accountable for his role in the crime. The morals of being a bystander in that situation bring up another issue concerning David Cash. To be able to morally justify walking away and allowing a horrible crime to be committed, is appalling, and he should face consequences. Just because he didn’t know Sherrice Iverson does not mean that he should have no regard for her life. No matter the nature of the wrongdoing, witnesses have an obligation to take action instead of being a bystander. Witnesses should not allow themselves to be bystanders so long they are not putting themselves and others at greater risk by stepping in. As mentioned in “The Trick to Acting Heroically,” people who do good deeds to prevent wrongdoing generally do so instinctively, without thought for the consequences that their actions might bring upon themselves. In the case of David Cash, he acted immorally and put his friendship with Strohmeyer over the life of Sherrice Iverson. The consequences of being a bystander in a potentially dangerous situation is effectively highlighted in “the Bystander Effect in The Cellphone Age.” The Article describes how out of a crowd of people who saw a residential building burning, most of them recorded the fire on their phones instead of ensuring the safety of others. Had one of them not gone to warn the residents, they might not have been able to evacuate the building before they were hurt. This article is an example of how important it is to take action, even if that is not what most people are doing. This relates back to the David Cash incident because if he had decided to take action instead of walking away, he could have saved Sherrice Iverson without putting his own safety at risk.


Response 1: Berry

I agree that David Cash’s attempts to stop Strohmeyer were not enough given the severity of the situation. If he had truly wanted to prevent Strohmeyer from harming Sherrice Iverson, he would have done more than using body language that “certainly suggested” that Strohmeyer should stop. The situation was not one of life or death for David, so he had no excuse to not take action.


Response 2: Dewdropdoll

I agree that it should be a crime to be a bystander in a situation where the actions of a bystander could have changed the outcome of the situation and prevented the crime. David Cash should be held responsible for his lack of action. He has no excuse as to why he did not take action because he had over twenty minutes to think about what was happening before Sherrice Iverson died. Even if he did not feel that he could stop Strohmeyer, he could have alerted other people in the casino, or called the police to intervene.

gibby
Posts: 7

Basic Empathy

In this day and age, being a bystander can take many forms. In whatever form that may be, the definition of a bystander is “a person who is present at an event or incident but does not take part”. Regardless of intent, I believe that being a bystander is not something that we can afford to be, especially during a time of such tension as 2020. Among the many great authors and writers who have said this, it was Elie Wiesel, the author of Night, and also Desmond Tutu, who said “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”. So why, during so many “situations of injustice”, do people choose to stay silent and not take action? The answer to this question is not simple. In the situation of the “Bad Samaritan”, where college student David Cash observed his friend Jeremy Strohmeyer murder Sherrice Iverson, an innocent seven year-old girl, most people can come to an agreement. Cash did not attempt to stop Strohmeyer, nor did he come forward with his story to the police until Strohmeyer was identified in the security cameras at the casino where Iverson was murdered. It is widely acknowledged that in this situation, Cash was in the wrong. As if to further the case for his wrongdoing, Cash was later heard on a radio station saying “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.” This is a classic case of bystander mentality; the unfounded notion that because an event or situation does not involve oneself, we do not have an obligation to step in. Yet countless examples in the course of world history seem to say otherwise. As functioning members of society, we have an obligation, at the very least a moral one if not lawful, to intervene in situations of injustice such as the one described above. So, as most of my classmates agree, at the very least, Cash should have come forward to the police, even if he did not attempt to stop his friend from committing this horrific crime.

The logical next question that jumps to our minds is where we draw the line. Where’s the line between stepping into a situation of wrongdoing and realizing that a situation is something you don’t understand and should step away? For many people, this line is quite hazy. One example of this apparent grey area was the “Nightmare on the 36 Bus” story in Roslindale, Massachusetts, where bus passengers observed a drunk parent beating his child and did not intervene in the slightest. Personally, I don’t believe this is even a situation that needs to be discussed; I think that if anyone observes violence to someone else, no matter the relationship between them, it is our responsibility to step in. What gave people pause in this situation, however, was the fact that it was a father beating his child. Some of the bystanders may have felt that it was “not their place”, or that it did not concern them, a common argument among bystanders.

Another of the most common motivators for bystanders is fear for their own safety, or fear that if they intervene, they themselves will be in danger of falling into the same situation that they observed. For example, if a person observed another person beating someone up and punching them, they might fear that if they intervened, the person would attack them as well. However, this reasoning has a glaring philosophical hole in it. This idea that one does not intervene because they fear for their own safety has an underlying sense of self-superiority to it. By standing by and watching someone else get attacked, you put your own safety above the other persons. Despite this, many people will argue that this is not morally wrong. Our natural instinct is to fear for our own safety first, before we worry about others. But when does this become a problem? In this day and age, it can often be best to let trained professionals handle the situation rather than attempting to solve it yourself. When this becomes a problem, however, is when people choose to walk away, or to turn a blind eye. This says that this act of wrongdoing is only wrong if it happens to you personally. It is the people who would fight back if they were the victim, but choose to stay silent when others are, who are the problem. In a perfect world, one would always treat these situations as if they were happening to themselves personally, which seems to be in agreement with @dewdropdoll’s post.

So the question still remains: when do we act? A simple yet brilliant approach to answering this question is found in a simple saying that most of us learned when we entered kindergarten or first grade: “Treat others the way you want to be treated”. Try to put yourself in the person’s shoes. If you were in this situation, would you want someone to intervene? If not even as members of society, as the bare minimum, we have a duty to each other as human beings on this earth to step in and help each other in times of crisis. At the heart of this issue lies our basic empathy towards other human beings. A famous confession from a German Lutheran Pastor after the rise from the Nazis captures this well:


“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”


If we as human beings only speak up when a situation directly impacts us, or when we believe that a situation relates to us, we become divided and separate. If we can excuse injustice because it simply did not affect us, we are just as bad, if not worse, as the oppressor. This world is no longer an every-man-for-himself place, and indeed it hasn’t been for many, many centuries. This world cannot and should not be a place of exclusively self-advocacy. We must step up for those who are being oppressed as if we ourselves were in that situation, at every chance that we get. Ultimately, this question mark in all of our personal philosophies boils down to our empathy for other human beings. Especially in the dark place that our world can be, we cannot lose that.

SwedishFish
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 12

Silence is Compliance

I think what should have governed Cash’s actions was the fact that a 7 year old girl was in danger. A little girl was taken advantage of, stripped away of their innocence, and eventually killed. Out of pure human decency, Cash should’ve done something. It is appalling to me that someone would just simply stare at the perpetrator, see the monstrous look in their eyes, and walk away, allowing the death of a 7 year old girl. Especially because Strohmeyer is his friend, you would expect Cash to have some type of influence on him. A person who witnesses another wrong should either physically help try to stop it, OR report it to other people in the area. Cash could’ve walked away and at LEAST told someone about what was happening. Cash’s excuse was that Stromeyer was his friend and didn't want to get in trouble. Cash’s actions were inexcusable and I would even consider, inhumane. Every situation is different, but generally it is necessary to say something or defend those in need. Of course if you have assessed the situation and realize if you part take in this too the situation could escalate, maybe don’t get physically involved. Yet, it is still important to notify someone who may be able to help. Silence is compliance, meaning that Cash is just as guilty as Strohmeyer and should be convicted of murder.


The rules that should garner action from a witness is if something is wrong say something. I think that if the situation is extremely dangerous it is important to call authority and if possible notify others who could be witness to it too or would be willing to fight. Certain situations are difficult to gage whether or not you should physically get between them. However, I think that Cash was in the wrong, even though he could’ve got hurt, Strohmeyer was also his friend, who may have even listened if Cash had just said something.


In Brian McGory’s “Nightmare on the 36 Bus”, this is a perfect example of why you must say something. Regardless of whether or not they were assumed to be family, you must speak up because abusing a child is just wrong. Auclair mentioned how he regretted not saying something, to live with that guilt is unexplainable. However, you shouldn’t say something to only avoid guilt, rather say something to avoid the situation from escalating. An 8 year old boy is left defenseless against a 45 year old man. If you were that 8 year old boy, how would you feel seeing no one helping you? How would Sherrice Irvereson feel? It’s hard to truly know what the right thing to do in situations like these. However, generally speaking, even if you prevent escalation indirectly it's still better than sitting there doing nothing.

I think that Judy Harris brings up a great point in the “Bystander Effect in the Cell Phone Age”, about how if witnesses see someone taking action in a situation they automatically don’t have to do anything. Which, is simply, irresponsible. That shouldn’t be the case, and especially today, cellphones play a huge factor in the car crash effect. Where people would rather stop to look at the car crash than to seek help. Cell Phones cause distraction and can be easily misused in an instance like the one that was explained in this article. It’s important to redirect the use of the cell phone in these kinds of emergencies, whether it's to call 911, look up how to heal a fire wound, and simply use it to your advantage. It was sad to read that people were more concerned about getting a picture of the incident than to notify police/firemen.


All in all, the main idea of these articles and stories is to highlight the fact that you must seek help for those in need. This advice can be used for something as little as moving a lego so a toddler doesn’t trip on it, to donating to organizations that help Lebanon during the explosion in Beirut. Be kind to one another.

SwedishFish
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 12

Originally posted by slothman on September 27, 2020 08:49

The murder of Sherrice Iverson was a tragedy. The thing is, we only know a lot of the story from David Cash and his perspective. We don’t know whether that perspective is 100% right or not, but again we have no way to prove that. Cash’s actions, nevertheless, should have altered. He shouldn’t have left Jeremy and Sherrice there alone, being Jeremy’s best friend, he should feel the obligation to not want his friend to go to jail for the rest of his life, and for him to not make a life time mistake. Cash should’ve felt a responsibility to be there and stop the situation from escalating, but instead he left the bathroom like nothing happened. There is quite an obligation that a person has if witnessing an event such as this, especially a murder.

I agree with what you said @Slothman. I also wanted to highlight what you said about not knowing whether or not Cash's perspective is 100% right or not. Cash could've easily said these things to make him seem less guilty. He could've easily been physically involved and we will never truly know because he was the only witness. With human nature theres empathy, something Cash lacked, but also selfishness. Us humans, tend to act for ourselves almost 99% of the time. However, that 1% of not being selfish should have been used for Sherrice. Being someones friend means you have an influence on them, like slothman said, it is an OBLIGATION as a friend to tell them when they are doing something bad. I think you made a lot of great points.

Junior
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 4

Duty to Fellow Man

I believe we always have a duty to act when others are in danger or in trouble. From a humanitarian standpoint, if an innocent is in danger they should be defended by their fellow man. However, there is a range to this, as not every situation is the same. I don't think people should be expected to risk their life in situations with very clear danger to themselves. The situation referenced in the article "The Trick to Acting Heroically" where 4 men were able to disarm a gunman attacking a French train. In that situation, those men were not required to risk their lives in such a dangerous situation. The situation put forward in the article "Nightmare on the 36 bus" where a boy was abused by a man on a bus is not like the former situation. In this situation, everyone on the bus had the opportunity to help and wouldn't have had much danger to intervene. People have a duty to help if it is not harmful to themselves. If someone needs your help, and helping them would not put you in danger, you need to help. If someone suffers because you failed to even attempt to help, you are just as liable to the guilt of the action.

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

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

blueslothbear
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 7

The Moral Compass

I think that basic human morals should have governed his actions. He saw that Sherrice was scared and in danger. Much like on the 36 bus in the article, here was an adult hurting a child, who clearly was not comfortable or safe in that area, and there was someone who could interfere, do something to stop that adult from hurting the kid. But similarly, in both situations, they chose to do nothing, finding some "rationalized" reason to not take action, either considering it to be a familial matter or trusting your friend to come to their senses and do the right thing. It is a natural response to assume that it isn't your problem to interfere when something seems wrong. After all, what if you are misinterpreting the situation? What if everything you see happening can be explained away? Those questions that you ask yourself are, in some cases, the wrong thing to do. While they may help to not be looked down on by strangers, they promote apathy, and ignorance of possible injustice. This is why the NYC Metro has the saying "If you see something, say something". This motto promotes the idea that you shouldn't expect someone else to act on what maybe only you saw. It promotes being an upstander, and, should Cash or Auclair have followed those instructions, maybe those children would still be alive today.

I think that there already are social rules in place to govern the decision to act. The problem in enforcing them. There already are some bystander laws in place, to prevent more Cash's from being free while being indirectly involved in Sherrice's murder, but there should be more, to create a worldwide culture of being upstanders and stopping illegal activities. I think there should always be an obligation to act, even if it's as simple as asking someone if everything is ok, or pretending to know someone to get them out of trouble.
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