posts 1 - 15 of 40
freemanjud
Boston, US
Posts: 246

Readings (select 2 of the 4 short articles to read):


Background:

For any of you who missed class on Wednesday, 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, we would 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 IN YOUR CLASS SECTION. 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).


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OverthinkingEnigma
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 13

Dilemma of the Bad Samaritan

What I believe should have governed Cash’s actions was the fact that someone, let alone a 7-year old girl, was being assaulted. It shouldn’t matter if the perpetrator happened to be a friend of his, their intent was clear and on a silver platter, thus Cash should’ve taken that as a sign to act. When someone has witnessed a wrong, it’s their responsibility to bring it to light or they would be allying with the perpetrator and might as well be considered as guilty as them. Moreover, if a bystander is in the middle of witnessing a wrong, it’s understood that they should use the best of their abilities to prevent matters from worsening. This simple concept can surely save lives and prevent tragedy, as it would have done with Sherrice Iverson. It can be understandable if one were to withdraw from action after having witnessed someone shoplift or cheat on a test, as the bystander may not see a clear victim. However, if someone’s safety and well-being are being directly, negatively, and openly impacted, it should be a bystander’s job to step in. In “The Bystander Effect in The Cell Phone Age,” the first person at the scene had not considered the lives threatened by the fire as he continued to take pictures, that single action, only increasing the deadliness of the situation.

We have an obligation to act occasionally and the severity and frequency of events play an important role in when we should take action. “Nightmare on The 36 Bus” taught me a common hurdle which bystanders frequently struggle with, public opinion and threat. This article recalls how everyone exchanged nervous glances as they witnessed an inebriated man grab an unaccompanied boy. Some bystanders might require encouragement or public persuasion to go into action, however if everyone else remains oblivious, it would only encourage a bystander to ignore the event at hand. Moreover, the threat of personal harm pushes bystanders to stand down, in Nightmare of the 36 Bus, the rugged man had proved to be violent and not in the right mindset which dismissed any encouragement in the bus and introduced fear/concern. Simply put, if someone’s safety was being threatened, it should be legally required for any bystanders to do what they can to prevent the matter from worsening.

cnovav
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

The Dilemma of the Bad Samaritan

I believe that David’s actions should've been governed by the fact that another human being was clearly being hurt. I personally don’t believe that anyone could believe that someone who is being hurt, and in this case, a SEVEN year old girl being sexually assaulted is not “wrong”. At the very least, David should have reported his friend’s actions to the authorities. If he truly had doubt about what happened, the moment Jeremy confessed to the crime should've been when all that doubt was cast away. No matter how close you are to someone, how much you think you know them, or if you “had AP English together”, human beings are capable of anything and this is something I think David should have been well aware of. David claims he did not want to be involved, which means he was thinking of himself rather than a little girl who lost her life at the hands of his best friend.To think that not reporting a crime of this magnitude at that time was not viewed as a crime is completely beyond me.I do believe that we always have an obligation to act when someone is in danger of or actively being hurt. Although there may be situations like the scenarios in class, like your friend stealing from Claire’s, that you don’t act on, I don’t believe stealing cheap earrings directly hurts an individual, whereas David ignoring what Jeremy did, directly hurt someone. In Deborah Stone’s “The Samaritan’s Dilemma”, it's evident that not wanting to be an upstander in fear of becoming involved, is a common thought process. And sadly this thought process leads to more tragedies than celebrations. “You think about the victim like it was your mom” sounds extremely similar to what David spoke about in his radio interview. He spoke about how people can’t expect his life to be put on pause for a little girl that he didn't even know. Almost dehumanizing Sherrice to make himself feel better, just like the guy in the excerpt of “The Samaritan’s Dilemma”. After reading “Nightmare on the 36 Bus” by Brian McGrory, I began to wonder if David felt any guilt because he did not help Sherrice. This is because the article mentions the fact that Auclair went to help but saw that people were giving him weird stares and he sat back down and “It's a decision he's regretted ever since”. Maybe David Cash truly didn't become an upstander because he truly was scared to get involved, we’ll probably never know, but either way it’s painful to think that he was not able to put his doubts aside to help Sherrice.
cnovav
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

Originally posted by OverthinkingEnigma on September 15, 2021 14:06

What I believe should have governed Cash’s actions was the fact that someone, let alone a 7-year old girl, was being assaulted. It shouldn’t matter if the perpetrator happened to be a friend of his, their intent was clear and on a silver platter, thus Cash should’ve taken that as a sign to act. When someone has witnessed a wrong, it’s their responsibility to bring it to light or they would be allying with the perpetrator and might as well be considered as guilty as them. Moreover, if a bystander is in the middle of witnessing a wrong, it’s understood that they should use the best of their abilities to prevent matters from worsening. This simple concept can surely save lives and prevent tragedy, as it would have done with Sherrice Iverson. It can be understandable if one were to withdraw from action after having witnessed someone shoplift or cheat on a test, as the bystander may not see a clear victim. However, if someone’s safety and well-being are being directly, negatively, and openly impacted, it should be a bystander’s job to step in. In “The Bystander Effect in The Cell Phone Age,” the first person at the scene had not considered the lives threatened by the fire as he continued to take pictures, that single action, only increasing the deadliness of the situation.

We have an obligation to act occasionally and the severity and frequency of events play an important role in when we should take action. “Nightmare on The 36 Bus” taught me a common hurdle which bystanders frequently struggle with, public opinion and threat. This article recalls how everyone exchanged nervous glances as they witnessed an inebriated man grab an unaccompanied boy. Some bystanders might require encouragement or public persuasion to go into action, however if everyone else remains oblivious, it would only encourage a bystander to ignore the event at hand. Moreover, the threat of personal harm pushes bystanders to stand down, in Nightmare of the 36 Bus, the rugged man had proved to be violent and not in the right mindset which dismissed any encouragement in the bus and introduced fear/concern. Simply put, if someone’s safety was being threatened, it should be legally required for any bystanders to do what they can to prevent the matter from worsening.

I completely agree that it's ones responsibility to act when there is a direct victim rather than shoplifting where at the time, there isn't a direct person being hurt. It's truly awful that the law would allow someone to be a bystander in this situation

strawberry123
Chestnut Hill, MA, US
Posts: 12

The Dilemma of the Bad Samaritan

People of most religions have this ideology that life on Earth is purely a test of our character. Whether it being true or not, it creates this notion to be the best version of yourself possible. Helping others, succeeding in personal goals, and obeying the laws and rules of the world places you under the title of a good Samaritan. Now, when speaking on behalf of religion once again, these acts of morality shall reward you in the afterlife, however, some don't believe in this conception of life being purely just a test, so why would they continue to help others and spread kindness whenever possible? This is because of the human instincts that automatically have us act upon wrongdoings without the time to think or process what we should do. In the New York Times, an article about acting heroically ties in with our instincts playing part instead of processing the repercussions. Unfortunately for seven-year-old, Sherrice Iverson, human decency and moral instincts were thrown out the window during the time of her sexual assault and murder by Jeremy Strohmeyer. Although Jeremy was the perpetrator of this awful incident, there was someone else who ultimately left Sherrice to suffer and that is the 18-year-old bystander, David Cash.

In certain situations, most people will agree to be a bystander as the value of the act or the nature of the "wrong" isn't that high. For example, seeing someone cheat on a test and not reporting it may not have the same consequences as seeing someone getting assaulted and not reporting it may. In David Cash's place, being a bystander was absolutely the wrong decision and can be agreed amongst most. With a direct victim being hurt, especially for a seven-year-old girl, Cash's actions should have been governed by his instincts as a human. It is not a situation where his obligations of saying or stopping the crime were questionable at any point as well as having the ability to physically stop his friend from the next stall or simply call for help. Cash not only saw the abuse going on but later had his best friend, Jeremy, confess to the murder yet the two continued on their day. Cash had plenty of opportunities to speak up for this human life that had just been taken away but apparently, no basic morals were in Cash's headspace.

In January of 2000, another young child on the 36 bus was assaulted by what seemed to be his own father. With many witnesses on the bus riding alongside the two and watching blood and tears roll down this eight-year-old's face, no one intervened. Visible actions of assault occurred that night in West Roxbury yet people including a man with a Ph.D., Auclair, did not stick up nor call for help in this child's vulnerable state. As humans, there are unsaid "rules" that we should keep in mind in order for us to govern how we act in times as so. In cases with direct victims, it is almost always best to be an upstander. This doesn't always mean that intervening is right, but calling for help from authority figures may also be best. We have obligations and duties in this world to do the right thing. It is your decision at what stakes and what times it is best to act.

pink12
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 12

The Dilemma of the Bad Samaritan

What I think should have governed Cash's actions was the fact that someone was clearly getting assaulted. Although it was his friend who committed the crime, it gives Cash no right to stay quiet. In doing so, he is almost in the wrong just as much as Jeremy was because he could have said something or gotten help in the span of 20 minutes to save a seven year olds life. If someone witnesses someone doing something wrong, even if its a friend or family member, to an extent you should talk to them or get other people involved. If someone is physically getting hurt then it needs to be taken more seriously then if someone is stealing something from a store. Neither action is right, but to an extent you may need to become more involved. If a bystander sees someone struggling in some way, it is their job to help the victim. In "The Bystander Effect In The Cellphone Age", there is a fire and a bystander immediately starts taking photos. Another man comes over and gets all the people out of the house since he can tell that things are not obviously ok. Instead of standing their taking videos and photos for social media people need to start looking out for others. Although a crime was not committed, the bystander is very much in the wrong for standing around and doing nothing to help. Furthermore in "Nightmare on the 36 Bus", a disorderly man was actively punching and hurting a young boy, while bystanders were on the bus. Just like Cash, the bystanders sat and watched without getting up nor saying anything to this man. Not only did they watch the boy get punched once, but they all watched again as he got punched in the nose with blood going everywhere. The bus driver didn't even report it and said that she didn't see anything. One of the bystanders said they couldn't sleep that night since they were so worried for the boy and regret not stepping in or taking action. It should become a law that if a bystander sees violence or someone seeking help it is their responsibility to either contact authorities or get involved to stop the event from intensifying.

strawberry123
Chestnut Hill, MA, US
Posts: 12

Originally posted by OverthinkingEnigma on September 15, 2021 14:06

What I believe should have governed Cash’s actions was the fact that someone, let alone a 7-year old girl, was being assaulted. It shouldn’t matter if the perpetrator happened to be a friend of his, their intent was clear and on a silver platter, thus Cash should’ve taken that as a sign to act. When someone has witnessed a wrong, it’s their responsibility to bring it to light or they would be allying with the perpetrator and might as well be considered as guilty as them. Moreover, if a bystander is in the middle of witnessing a wrong, it’s understood that they should use the best of their abilities to prevent matters from worsening. This simple concept can surely save lives and prevent tragedy, as it would have done with Sherrice Iverson. It can be understandable if one were to withdraw from action after having witnessed someone shoplift or cheat on a test, as the bystander may not see a clear victim. However, if someone’s safety and well-being are being directly, negatively, and openly impacted, it should be a bystander’s job to step in. In “The Bystander Effect in The Cell Phone Age,” the first person at the scene had not considered the lives threatened by the fire as he continued to take pictures, that single action, only increasing the deadliness of the situation.

We have an obligation to act occasionally and the severity and frequency of events play an important role in when we should take action. “Nightmare on The 36 Bus” taught me a common hurdle which bystanders frequently struggle with, public opinion and threat. This article recalls how everyone exchanged nervous glances as they witnessed an inebriated man grab an unaccompanied boy. Some bystanders might require encouragement or public persuasion to go into action, however if everyone else remains oblivious, it would only encourage a bystander to ignore the event at hand. Moreover, the threat of personal harm pushes bystanders to stand down, in Nightmare of the 36 Bus, the rugged man had proved to be violent and not in the right mindset which dismissed any encouragement in the bus and introduced fear/concern. Simply put, if someone’s safety was being threatened, it should be legally required for any bystanders to do what they can to prevent the matter from worsening.

I agree and really respect how you worded why people were bystanders on the 36 bus because it isn't exactly the same as David Cash's position. Cash had an advantage as a bystander to directly stop the perpetrator, his best friend, at any time as Strohmeyer was not a threat to him. On the 36 bus, however, the man seemed violent and under the influence which threatened the witnesses from directly intervening. I do think the bystanders on the bus could have at least alerted the bus driver of the violent behavior or immediately alert the authorities.

pink12
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 12

I agree that it is to an extent to get involved, but their is no excuse if you see someone in danger to just sit and let it happen. I agree that it is much different to watch someone cheat on a test then to watch someone get beat up, where the risks of something serious happening are a lot higher.


Originally posted by strawberry123 on September 15, 2021 19:30

People of most religions have this ideology that life on Earth is purely a test of our character. Whether it being true or not, it creates this notion to be the best version of yourself possible. Helping others, succeeding in personal goals, and obeying the laws and rules of the world places you under the title of a good Samaritan. Now, when speaking on behalf of religion once again, these acts of morality shall reward you in the afterlife, however, some don't believe in this conception of life being purely just a test, so why would they continue to help others and spread kindness whenever possible? This is because of the human instincts that automatically have us act upon wrongdoings without the time to think or process what we should do. In the New York Times, an article about acting heroically ties in with our instincts playing part instead of processing the repercussions. Unfortunately for seven-year-old, Sherrice Iverson, human decency and moral instincts were thrown out the window during the time of her sexual assault and murder by Jeremy Strohmeyer. Although Jeremy was the perpetrator of this awful incident, there was someone else who ultimately left Sherrice to suffer and that is the 18-year-old bystander, David Cash.

In certain situations, most people will agree to be a bystander as the value of the act or the nature of the "wrong" isn't that high. For example, seeing someone cheat on a test and not reporting it may not have the same consequences as seeing someone getting assaulted and not reporting it may. In David Cash's place, being a bystander was absolutely the wrong decision and can be agreed amongst most. With a direct victim being hurt, especially for a seven-year-old girl, Cash's actions should have been governed by his instincts as a human. It is not a situation where his obligations of saying or stopping the crime were questionable at any point as well as having the ability to physically stop his friend from the next stall or simply call for help. Cash not only saw the abuse going on but later had his best friend, Jeremy, confess to the murder yet the two continued on their day. Cash had plenty of opportunities to speak up for this human life that had just been taken away but apparently, no basic morals were in Cash's headspace.

In January of 2000, another young child on the 36 bus was assaulted by what seemed to be his own father. With many witnesses on the bus riding alongside the two and watching blood and tears roll down this eight-year-old's face, no one intervened. Visible actions of assault occurred that night in West Roxbury yet people including a man with a Ph.D., Auclair, did not stick up nor call for help in this child's vulnerable state. As humans, there are unsaid "rules" that we should keep in mind in order for us to govern how we act in times as so. In cases with direct victims, it is almost always best to be an upstander. This doesn't always mean that intervening is right, but calling for help from authority figures may also be best. We have obligations and duties in this world to do the right thing. It is your decision at what stakes and what times it is best to act.

Post your response here.

strawberry123
Chestnut Hill, MA, US
Posts: 12

Originally posted by cnovav on September 15, 2021 17:53

I believe that David’s actions should've been governed by the fact that another human being was clearly being hurt. I personally don’t believe that anyone could believe that someone who is being hurt, and in this case, a SEVEN year old girl being sexually assaulted is not “wrong”. At the very least, David should have reported his friend’s actions to the authorities. If he truly had doubt about what happened, the moment Jeremy confessed to the crime should've been when all that doubt was cast away. No matter how close you are to someone, how much you think you know them, or if you “had AP English together”, human beings are capable of anything and this is something I think David should have been well aware of. David claims he did not want to be involved, which means he was thinking of himself rather than a little girl who lost her life at the hands of his best friend.To think that not reporting a crime of this magnitude at that time was not viewed as a crime is completely beyond me.I do believe that we always have an obligation to act when someone is in danger of or actively being hurt. Although there may be situations like the scenarios in class, like your friend stealing from Claire’s, that you don’t act on, I don’t believe stealing cheap earrings directly hurts an individual, whereas David ignoring what Jeremy did, directly hurt someone. In Deborah Stone’s “The Samaritan’s Dilemma”, it's evident that not wanting to be an upstander in fear of becoming involved, is a common thought process. And sadly this thought process leads to more tragedies than celebrations. “You think about the victim like it was your mom” sounds extremely similar to what David spoke about in his radio interview. He spoke about how people can’t expect his life to be put on pause for a little girl that he didn't even know. Almost dehumanizing Sherrice to make himself feel better, just like the guy in the excerpt of “The Samaritan’s Dilemma”. After reading “Nightmare on the 36 Bus” by Brian McGrory, I began to wonder if David felt any guilt because he did not help Sherrice. This is because the article mentions the fact that Auclair went to help but saw that people were giving him weird stares and he sat back down and “It's a decision he's regretted ever since”. Maybe David Cash truly didn't become an upstander because he truly was scared to get involved, we’ll probably never know, but either way it’s painful to think that he was not able to put his doubts aside to help Sherrice.

I completely agree with your phrasing of Cash almost dehumanizing Sherrice by belittling her situation and saying he is not someone who can be a hero to everyone. I also like your emphasis on Sherrice's age because it is really telling on how saddening the situation was.

watermelon2
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 14

The dilemma of the bad samaritan

When David Cash saw what Jeremy Strohmeyer was doing to 7-year-old Sherrice Iverson, he understood that Jeremy was harming her, yet he chose to walk away. Jeremy was assaulting a young girl. That should have governed Cash’s actions. Rather than obsessing over the fact that Jeremy was his friend, seeing Sherrice get assaulted should’ve been the cue for Cash to do something. When a person like Cash witnesses a “wrong,” they have the obligation to take action. Although they didn’t necessarily choose to be in this situation, that isn’t an excuse for them to not do anything. By choosing to remain silent, in no way whatsoever does this mean you’re remaining neutral. Silence and neutrality do not go hand in hand. By remaining silent or not stepping in, you are aiding the perpetrator.


However, there are many aspects to “wrong” actions. If the wrong action isn’t directly affecting someone immediately or if it isn’t as severe, although it isn’t ok to ignore the action, it can definitely be seen on a different level than something like Cash’s scenario. Shoplifting and cheating on a test are examples where, although it’s better to address it at the moment, if you talk to the person later the consequences aren’t as severe. However, if someone is directly harming someone, such as in the scenario with Cash, you must do something. When Cash saw Jeremy assaulting Sherrice and chose to simply leave the bathroom, he is at fault for what happened. His actions of leaving when he knew Sherrice was being threatened are not excusable. These are two very different sides of “wrong” actions, but there are still thousands of other scenarios with different answers. The truth is that it’s complicated. We want to believe that people will always step in and do the right thing, but that isn’t the case. Bystanders see something, and their first reaction can be to jump in and help while others want to run away. Professor Rand found that heroes who risked their lives for others often did it by instinct, reacting quickly and intuitively. Similarly, people can instinctively not do anything, only to regret it later. And when you do that, it doesn’t always necessarily mean you’re a terrible person.


To be clear, in scenarios such as those with Cash, remaining a bystander is not acceptable. He saw that Sherrice was in danger yet chose not to tell Jeremy to stop, protect her, or even tell security. Instead, he protected Cash by allowing him to continue assaulting Sherrice. In a situation where you can see that someone is directly being hurt and you have the ability to do something about it, if you choose to ignore it, that should be illegal. However, when Daniel Auclair witnessed a boy getting beaten up on the 36 bus, just like Cash, he and everyone else on the bus didn’t do anything. But unlike Cash, he was confused about the scenario and regretted not saying anything immediately afterward. Cash knew without a doubt that Sherrice was being assaulted and even after knowing she died, he felt little sympathy or concern. That is not acceptable. Deciding when someone has an obligation to act when they are a bystander isn’t easy. There are so many factors that play a role in the scenario, and a few rules can’t decide it.


After all, just because you don’t choose to be in a certain situation doesn’t mean you can choose to excuse yourself. This is a life lesson. Life is about being put in situations that you aren’t comfortable in or expect, and deciding to face them rather than back away.

red
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 8

The Dilemma of the Bad Samaritan

I believe that Cash’s actions should’ve been governed by the moral obligation to stop the disgusting wrong that his friend was committing. As a human who has any respect for life or humanity, he had an obligation to help Sherrice and stop Jermey. There was an array of possible things he could’ve done that could’ve resulted in the saving of a little girl. For instance, what was he doing in the 22 minutes that he knew Sherrice was being assaulted. When witnessing someone break a moral sense of right one has a duty to not just be a bystander. I believe that when it comes to governing what qualifies as wrong, there is a moral obligation to protect life. However, when the “wrong” is less extreme, such as shoplifting the line becomes somewhat blurred. Context can mean everything to a smaller crime, for example Jean Valjean in Les Mis stole a loaf of bread to feed his family and I don’t believe he was morally wrong for that. Although I am not a religious person, I believe the phrase “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a good line in which to gauge wrongs by. In the “Nightmare on the 36 Bus” there is a line that says can you imagine being a child in need of help, and instead being assaulted while people just watch. It puts you in the shoes of the helpless child and shows that doing nothing is not a victimless crime. If Cash had any empathy for Sherrice he would’ve acted, but instead he walked away. In spite of the fact that he “didn’t know her” if he had been in a similar position, he wouldn’t want someone to walk away from him being assaulted and do nothing. In lesser situations the decision between acting and witnessing is again blurred. Depending on the severity of the “wrong” it can be hard to know when to act, but if it is something that impedes upon someone’s well-being it is an obligation to act. In the “Tricks to Acting Heroically” it says that humans instinctively do good when a sense of community and cooperative instincts are cultivated, which is exactly what Cash lacked. It is obvious when he says, “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” that he doesn’t not have sense of community in humanity and/or the ability to help others instinctively. It is baffling to see someone so detached from humanity and life as a whole, especially in relation to Sherrice who was a seven year old, helpless child.
watermelon2
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 14

Originally posted by OverthinkingEnigma on September 15, 2021 14:06

What I believe should have governed Cash’s actions was the fact that someone, let alone a 7-year old girl, was being assaulted. It shouldn’t matter if the perpetrator happened to be a friend of his, their intent was clear and on a silver platter, thus Cash should’ve taken that as a sign to act. When someone has witnessed a wrong, it’s their responsibility to bring it to light or they would be allying with the perpetrator and might as well be considered as guilty as them. Moreover, if a bystander is in the middle of witnessing a wrong, it’s understood that they should use the best of their abilities to prevent matters from worsening. This simple concept can surely save lives and prevent tragedy, as it would have done with Sherrice Iverson. It can be understandable if one were to withdraw from action after having witnessed someone shoplift or cheat on a test, as the bystander may not see a clear victim. However, if someone’s safety and well-being are being directly, negatively, and openly impacted, it should be a bystander’s job to step in. In “The Bystander Effect in The Cell Phone Age,” the first person at the scene had not considered the lives threatened by the fire as he continued to take pictures, that single action, only increasing the deadliness of the situation.

We have an obligation to act occasionally and the severity and frequency of events play an important role in when we should take action. “Nightmare on The 36 Bus” taught me a common hurdle which bystanders frequently struggle with, public opinion and threat. This article recalls how everyone exchanged nervous glances as they witnessed an inebriated man grab an unaccompanied boy. Some bystanders might require encouragement or public persuasion to go into action, however if everyone else remains oblivious, it would only encourage a bystander to ignore the event at hand. Moreover, the threat of personal harm pushes bystanders to stand down, in Nightmare of the 36 Bus, the rugged man had proved to be violent and not in the right mindset which dismissed any encouragement in the bus and introduced fear/concern. Simply put, if someone’s safety was being threatened, it should be legally required for any bystanders to do what they can to prevent the matter from worsening.

I think you touched on something really important, which was the idea that many bystanders struggle with public opinion. This can go hand-in-hand with peer pressure. Both of these show that people really struggle with the conflicting sides of fitting in and doing the right thing. Often these are seen as incompatible, but in reality, society should exist where doing the right thing is what makes you fit in.

watermelon2
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 14

Originally posted by strawberry123 on September 15, 2021 19:30

People of most religions have this ideology that life on Earth is purely a test of our character. Whether it being true or not, it creates this notion to be the best version of yourself possible. Helping others, succeeding in personal goals, and obeying the laws and rules of the world places you under the title of a good Samaritan. Now, when speaking on behalf of religion once again, these acts of morality shall reward you in the afterlife, however, some don't believe in this conception of life being purely just a test, so why would they continue to help others and spread kindness whenever possible? This is because of the human instincts that automatically have us act upon wrongdoings without the time to think or process what we should do. In the New York Times, an article about acting heroically ties in with our instincts playing part instead of processing the repercussions. Unfortunately for seven-year-old, Sherrice Iverson, human decency and moral instincts were thrown out the window during the time of her sexual assault and murder by Jeremy Strohmeyer. Although Jeremy was the perpetrator of this awful incident, there was someone else who ultimately left Sherrice to suffer and that is the 18-year-old bystander, David Cash.

In certain situations, most people will agree to be a bystander as the value of the act or the nature of the "wrong" isn't that high. For example, seeing someone cheat on a test and not reporting it may not have the same consequences as seeing someone getting assaulted and not reporting it may. In David Cash's place, being a bystander was absolutely the wrong decision and can be agreed amongst most. With a direct victim being hurt, especially for a seven-year-old girl, Cash's actions should have been governed by his instincts as a human. It is not a situation where his obligations of saying or stopping the crime were questionable at any point as well as having the ability to physically stop his friend from the next stall or simply call for help. Cash not only saw the abuse going on but later had his best friend, Jeremy, confess to the murder yet the two continued on their day. Cash had plenty of opportunities to speak up for this human life that had just been taken away but apparently, no basic morals were in Cash's headspace.

In January of 2000, another young child on the 36 bus was assaulted by what seemed to be his own father. With many witnesses on the bus riding alongside the two and watching blood and tears roll down this eight-year-old's face, no one intervened. Visible actions of assault occurred that night in West Roxbury yet people including a man with a Ph.D., Auclair, did not stick up nor call for help in this child's vulnerable state. As humans, there are unsaid "rules" that we should keep in mind in order for us to govern how we act in times as so. In cases with direct victims, it is almost always best to be an upstander. This doesn't always mean that intervening is right, but calling for help from authority figures may also be best. We have obligations and duties in this world to do the right thing. It is your decision at what stakes and what times it is best to act.

In the last sentence of your post, you said, "it is your decision" and I think this perfectly sums up this dilemma. The truth is that the answer to responding to each scenario differs, and in the end, it is our decision. It is an obligation for all of us to make the right choices because there is no simple answer. Although our decisions don't always come as instincts like those in the New York Times study, we always need to try out best to do the right thing.

SlicedBread
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 12

The Dilemma of the Bad Samaritan

Cash’s actions should have been governed by the fact that somebody was being assaulted by another person. Not to mention, that this person was a 7 year old girl, but regardless of these details the fact that somebody was being assaulted should have been enough for him to take some sort of action.

Cash did know the perpetrator very well which made things more complicated for him to be in his position, but regardless of this fact he should have taken some kind of action. In the N.Y.T article “The Trick to Acting Heroically,” it talks about how most of the people who were chosen for the Carnegie Medal for Heroism acted instantaneously and without much thinking. Clearly, Cash didn’t do this despite him being in the position where he certainly could have. His close relationship with Strohmeyer is probably his reason for hesitation, but this doesn’t excuse him for doing absolutely nothing at all. In contrast with the article, “The Bystander Effect in the Cellphone Age,” there were no other people who witnessed the incident. He was the only person who knew about what was going on at the time, which made it so there was no question of who would have to come forward about it, unlike in instances where the bystander effect is a factor. Cash had plenty of time in the 22 minutes he waited for Strohmeyer to exit the bathroom to take some kind of action if he wasn’t willing to directly stop the situation.

If it wasn’t already clear that he was an accomplice of this crime it was made irrefutably true when Strohmeyer confessed the murder to him. The obligations of a witness can certainly be a tricky situation and can depend on the gravity of the situation at hand. However, in case of murder and sexual assault for that matter I think somebody is definitely obligated to tell authorities about it. In cases where a situation is not as serious and there isn’t a direct victim at hand the obligations of a witness may be more lenient. To return to an example given in class today, if someone were to witness their friend cheating off of another person’s exam it isn’t as imperative (while it still might be a good practice) for the witness to come forward about it because the instance isn’t hurting or negatively impacting anybody in the moment. However, if after the situation the kid who got cheated off gets accused of being the cheater and receives a zero on the test, that is where the witness should come forward about their friend cheating.

Ultimately it is difficult to come up with an indefinite rule about whether witnesses need to act on all occasions because at the end of the day it is objective, and it may differ case to case. That said, for me I think it is a good rule of thumb that if there is a direct victim who is being gravely impacted by the actions of the perpetrator it is important to act in some way.

booksandcandles
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 8

The Dilemma of the Bad Samaritan

David Cash's actions, or non-actions, during the rape and murder of Sherrice Iverson were completely inexcusable. He walked away from the situation and, in the process, sentenced a young girl to die. So what should he have done? Honestly, in this case, anything would have been better than what actually happened. He could have called the police, he could have protected Sherrice physically or even verbally. There are certain moral obligations a person has when witnessing a crime, such as interfering to try and help the victim or stop the perpetrator. Cash should have been motivated by the fact that someone was being hurt and he had the power to stop it. The particular detail of it being a child that was in danger should have been enough to intervene. The article about the 36 bus had a similar situation, where a child was being physically abused by an older man and no one stepped up to help. But was it better or worse for the bystanders? On the bus, they had no idea what was going on. The man could have been family, there was something else going on there, it wasn't their place. In the bathroom with Sherrice, Cash, and Strohmeyer, Cash knew exactly what was happening and still did nothing. I am still drawn to the fact that on the bus there were multiple bystanders. Each and every one of them was having a moral dilemma and yet did nothing to act upon it.

In terms of different rules depending on the type of wrong, I'd say it's up to situation. We discussed this a little in class, with scenarios of stealing, cheating, and fighting. I think in a situation in which someone is actively being hurt, physically, emotionally, mentally, anything, one should intervene. Dealing with a scenario in which there is no clear victim, in which no one is being hurt actively but there are legal consequences or otherwise, there's not much you can do except report it to the right authorities, or talk to the perpetrator if comfortable doing so. There exist a lot of "ifs" dealing with situations like these, and I think it's best to use common sense and instinct. If helping someone is not harmful to you in some way, I say help them. This is why Cash's actions were so disgusting to me, he had the power to try and save a little girl's life, and still did absolutely nothing but turn a blind eye.

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