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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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pseudonym
boston, Ma, US
Posts: 10

The Dilemma of the Bad Samaritan

1. It's difficult to stand up to your best friend when they are doing something wrong, you might think they won't think you are cool or not be your friend anymore; so you stay quiet. This might be acceptable when you're talking about stupid situations, not a real person's life. Cash should have immediately gotten the help of someone to save the life of Sherrice. Although there weren't laws saying you had to intervene when you saw someone going against the law, I think like a normal human being your instinct leads you to. I can understand that risking your life for others doesn't come easy just like Yoeli and Rand explain. The quick reaction many times does not allow you to have time to think of what bad could happen.

2. We always have the obligation to act when other humans or even animals' lives are being threatened. This doesn't necessarily mean they need to have a gun to their head but it can mean climate change or even the racial injustice. If we aren't here to pick eachother up then what's the point? It may feel weird getting involved in a new situation just like how Auclair, “"So I said to myself, ``Maybe I'm out of place. Maybe it's just a family thing and I shouldn't intervene.' So I sat back down."(McGrory). But it's times where you feel most uncomfortable where help is needed.

Kazuma
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 8

The Dilemma of the Bad Samaritan

1.) I think that what should have governed Cash is his ability to change the outcome of the situation. Cash could have stopped Jeremy even if it resorted to using physicality but regardless, he could have stopped Jeremy. He had the power to do something in that situation. He could have stopped Jeremy and that little girl but he chose not to. I think there are different rules considering the nature of the "wrong". While yes, wrong is wrong, there are varying degrees of wrongness as it is wrong to steal but that is not as bad as someone being hurt. I think you should intervene when you have the power and ability to change the outcome. If I could stop someone from beating on someone else by moving them away or even just getting someone who can, then I will. If I know I can't do anything I'll get help from those who can.

2.) I think that the rules that should govern what people should do in these situations is that if you can do something without risking your own life, do it. At the end of the day, we want to save people and minimize the loss of life. If you can help people while also making you aren't gonna put your life at risk that would be the best situation. If you can't then try to find someone who can whether that be emergency services or someone who has the skills and ability to help.

Lion03
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 8

The Dilemma of the Bad Samaritan

Cash's sense of what's wrong and what's right should've been responsible to govern his actions and led him to say something. There are questions to be wondered such as if he was on substances or if this was racially motivated? Regardless, he had the moral obligation to step in to save her especially since she was a minor. I honestly really think that there is a difference between having to do something because of the nature of "wrong". For example I would not have the same obligation to say something if somebody was "illegally" downloading a movie, however I would react differently to somebody physically assaulting another person. Although they are both illegal there is a clear difference between the two activities. I think there are rules to a certain extent of when and when you don't have to get involved in some wrong-doings. Legally, if you see somebody getting killed or assaulted, you report it. However, if you see something against the rules such as cheating on a test, use your own good judgement to react, and if it were something as small as cheating or plagiarism, I don't think it is comparable to killing someone. At the end of the day cheating or plagiarism isn't really affecting anybody else but the person doing the action. If you see somebody getting physically harmed or in danger of getting harmed I feel as though everybody can make the correct decision, and step in to help, so yes I believe we do have the obligation to act depending on the situation. I feel as though certain factors need to be considered when being an up-stander too, like in "Nightmare from 36 Bus" by Brian McGrory, a woman said she stood up but no one else did so she felt out of place. As well as "The By-Stander Effect in the Cellphone Age", factors such as social media could factor into it as well. So many people, when there is a fight or altercation, have the reaction to pulling out their phone to record it and show their friends to laugh at. But this leads me to wonder, when did we begin to find physical harm funny, and where do you draw the line?

Lion03
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 8

Originally posted by pseudonym on September 15, 2021 10:18

1. It's difficult to stand up to your best friend when they are doing something wrong, you might think they won't think you are cool or not be your friend anymore; so you stay quiet. This might be acceptable when you're talking about stupid situations, not a real person's life. Cash should have immediately gotten the help of someone to save the life of Sherrice. Although there weren't laws saying you had to intervene when you saw someone going against the law, I think like a normal human being your instinct leads you to. I can understand that risking your life for others doesn't come easy just like Yoeli and Rand explain. The quick reaction many times does not allow you to have time to think of what bad could happen.

2. We always have the obligation to act when other humans or even animals' lives are being threatened. This doesn't necessarily mean they need to have a gun to their head but it can mean climate change or even the racial injustice. If we aren't here to pick eachother up then what's the point? It may feel weird getting involved in a new situation just like how Auclair, “"So I said to myself, ``Maybe I'm out of place. Maybe it's just a family thing and I shouldn't intervene.' So I sat back down."(McGrory). But it's times where you feel most uncomfortable where help is needed.

I find it interesting that you included the moral obligation of taking care of animals as well. In haven't thought about that at all but it is good that you brought it up because I think everyone can agree that animals are important too.

no name
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 5

The Dilemma of the Bad Samaritan

I agree with Kazuma here as it was that Cash had the ability to change the events, that is what matters. This also proves the study in "Trick to Acting Heroically" as he had time to think, making him less likely to think. Something I want to mention from the original video is when he said "quote on quote murderer" when referring to Jeremy, which I found incredibly ironic how he literally testified say he did the murder. It was the same thing as the 36 bus incident where she thought about her action and she wanted to not be out of the norm of the other passengers. The question was she scared of what the others would think or what would happen to her. It should be ruled by morality in some cases but cases with minor there should be laws. This luckily has happened in most states.

pseudonym
boston, Ma, US
Posts: 10

Originally posted by Kazuma on September 15, 2021 10:40

1.) I think that what should have governed Cash is his ability to change the outcome of the situation. Cash could have stopped Jeremy even if it resorted to using physicality but regardless, he could have stopped Jeremy. He had the power to do something in that situation. He could have stopped Jeremy and that little girl but he chose not to. I think there are different rules considering the nature of the "wrong". While yes, wrong is wrong, there are varying degrees of wrongness as it is wrong to steal but that is not as bad as someone being hurt. I think you should intervene when you have the power and ability to change the outcome. If I could stop someone from beating on someone else by moving them away or even just getting someone who can, then I will. If I know I can't do anything I'll get help from those who can.

2.) I think that the rules that should govern what people should do in these situations is that if you can do something without risking your own life, do it. At the end of the day, we want to save people and minimize the loss of life. If you can help people while also making you aren't gonna put your life at risk that would be the best situation. If you can't then try to find someone who can whether that be emergency services or someone who has the skills and ability to help.

Its interesting how you mention we should help others without risking our own life and I do agree with that. But my question is, how would you know if you will come out of that situation or not?

pseudonym
boston, Ma, US
Posts: 10

Originally posted by no name on September 15, 2021 16:28

I agree with Kazuma here as it was that Cash had the ability to change the events, that is what matters. This also proves the study in "Trick to Acting Heroically" as he had time to think, making him less likely to think. Something I want to mention from the original video is when he said "quote on quote murderer" when referring to Jeremy, which I found incredibly ironic how he literally testified say he did the murder. It was the same thing as the 36 bus incident where she thought about her action and she wanted to not be out of the norm of the other passengers. The question was she scared of what the others would think or what would happen to her. It should be ruled by morality in some cases but cases with minor there should be laws. This luckily has happened in most states.

I agree with what you said about how its ironic Cash still wont talk about his best friend as the person he is. Hes not a quote on quote murderer, he is on. this goes to show how Cash is strangely not getting the point of what happened. It seems like he says the facts but Is hesitant. Mentioning that is body language should have told Jeremy what he was doing was wrong but yet he never spoke out.

redemmed2021
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

The Dilemma of the Bad Samaritan

  1. I believe Cash's actions should have been governed by what he knew to be right vs wrong. Clearly he knew that what Jeremy was doing to Sherrice Iverson was wrong because in the video he claims that he was "slightly suggesting" Jeremy to stop. Sadly, though he didn't take the big steps that needed to be taken to effectively help Sherrice. Personally,yes, I do believe that he had an obligation to protect or help Sherrice and not allow this event to happen. He should have tried to physically stop Jeremy or alert the workers at the casino, maybe her father, and the authorities. This is similar to what happened in the “Nightmare on the 36 bus”. The horrible actions that took place were all on young kids and perpetrated and viewed by older adults. It’s terrible that Sherrice, who was 7 and the 8 year old boy didn’t get help from the older individuals that were bystanders to the event. I strongly believe that it's our responsibility to protect and help the younger individuals we see in need, the ones who can't yet stand up for themselves in certain cases, the ones whose voices are barely heard or respected. Yes I do believe that there are different rules depending on the nature of the “wrong” but when it involves the possible destruction or extermination of another human being it's important to report and prevent those situations at all costs, which I know can be difficult at times

2. The rules for me are simple. If it's materialistic wrong stealing or something like cheating you should try to prevent these things but for me these are less important than protecting another human being regardless of how I may feel about them. If you see something happening and it can lead to the abuse of another human, or murder of another human then you should definitely act in the most effective way possible. Sometimes it's to physically step in, sometimes it's to record what is occurring which can be used for evidence, other times it's to alert the authorities as quickly as possible. I somewhat disagree with Yoeli and Rand in the article “ The Trick to Acting Heroically '' is something instinctual. Just because something is instinct doesn't mean it’s right or wrong and ultimately you have to use your own mind and free will to decide to act. I say I'm between sometimes and always with our obligation to act because sometimes it’s difficult to be an upstander in many cases. Also like I said wrong is wrong but the consequences of these wrongs are radically different so the way a person would act would be different

redemmed2021
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

Originally posted by pseudonym on September 15, 2021 10:18

1. It's difficult to stand up to your best friend when they are doing something wrong, you might think they won't think you are cool or not be your friend anymore; so you stay quiet. This might be acceptable when you're talking about stupid situations, not a real person's life. Cash should have immediately gotten the help of someone to save the life of Sherrice. Although there weren't laws saying you had to intervene when you saw someone going against the law, I think like a normal human being your instinct leads you to. I can understand that risking your life for others doesn't come easy just like Yoeli and Rand explain. The quick reaction many times does not allow you to have time to think of what bad could happen.

2. We always have the obligation to act when other humans or even animals' lives are being threatened. This doesn't necessarily mean they need to have a gun to their head but it can mean climate change or even the racial injustice. If we aren't here to pick eachother up then what's the point? It may feel weird getting involved in a new situation just like how Auclair, “"So I said to myself, ``Maybe I'm out of place. Maybe it's just a family thing and I shouldn't intervene.' So I sat back down."(McGrory). But it's times where you feel most uncomfortable where help is needed.

I definetly agree with what you said about how in times where you feel most uncomfortable is where help is needed. I would even go further and say where the most help is needed. I feel like personally people sort of sit back or are indifferent to certain things and actions because of fear of hate from others, rejection, and the individualistic ideology the US communicates and is seen its it citizen. I feel like we are all more connected and have an affect on other peoples actions,and feeling, than we would like to have and admit.

s_b613
Posts: 2

The Dilemma of the Bad Samaritan

I think that Cash should have known that what Jeremy was doing was wrong and he definitely should have known to get help during the attack and to turn him in after the event. He should have been governed by his own integrity and he should have some amount of respect for the girl. Someone who witnesses something wrong should be obligated to tell someone about it, especially the authorities. Like in the story about the boy on the bus, that man Auclair, although he didn't do anything on the bus at the moment, he spoke up about it later, which was something that Cash did but not something that he did when it had the chance to matter ("Nightmare on the 36 Bus"). Cash only spoke up about it to help clear his name from it and prove that he was not guilty of anything. Going back to the questions Ms. Freeman asked us today about speaking up when there was shoplifting or some small kind of wrong, no one said they would speak up, but when it became violent, then they would speak up, which proves that there are different "rules" depending on the nature of wrong.

I think that the Good Samaritan Acts are very good for dealing with these sorts of things and I think that people should be held accountable for witnessing things that they keep to themselves, especially when they know the person committing the act. Also the integrity of people should make them want to tell authorities about it and want to help that person get what they deserve. I think our obligation to act on situations really depends on the event. Like if there is murder or someone gets hurt or something of that nature, then they need to speak up, but if it is something small like stealing from a store (not that that's small but relatively speaking) then someone shouldn't be obligated to do anything about it because no one is receiving any physical harm.

YellowPencil
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 9

The Dilemma of the Bad Samaritan

I think the number of choices Cash has as a bystander and the overall severity of the situation should govern Cash's actions. Cash had many choices when he saw his friend Jeremy assault Sherrice. Firstly, he could have chosen to intervene right when he found out what Jeremy was doing. But I would say maybe this isn't natural for Cash to do because Jeremy is his best friend and he might be having a dilemma at the moment of the incident of whether or not to go against his best friend. But after the initial incident he still could have done something like report the incident or to stay in the bathroom to try to prevent anything worst from happening, or even ask for help. In the article The Trick to Acting Heroically it states that, "The tendency to help without looking wins out when the cost of helping is typically small...[and] if Player 1(Cash in this case) doesn't help this is really harmful to Player 2(Sherrice)"(New York Times). Although friendship matters, so therefore the cost of helping Sherrice, is higher because it puts the friendship in stake, I believe that when something dangerous is happening and you have power to change the end result, it is morally right to step up. Especially because Cash is Jeremy's friend. In some way Cash has more power to influence him than a stranger.

How serious or life-threatening the wrong is governs the decision to act or be witness. In The Bystander Effect In the Cellphone Age, many people just took their phones out and recorded as a building is on fire rather than actively trying to get the people in the building out or tell them that there is even a fire. In this situation, the fire is life-threatening to the people in the building and the people don't lose anything by informing the people in the building and therefore they should have acted. I agree with redemmed2021, if someone stole or cheated it is less important. I think in these incidents you can decide to act or not based on what you believe is best or comfortable with based on how well you know the person and other factors.

hotchocolate
Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 10
The fact that David Cash walked away from this morally wrong situation because he didn’t want to get involved is shocking. I want to know if he feels guilty because in the video, he seems unfazed and that he wouldn’t have acted any differently if put it that situation again. I know that David was young and possibly even feared for his own safety if he intervened, but it’s completely wrong morally that he didn’t face any consequences. It’s easy for me to say that if I was in David’s shoes even when it came to my best friend being the perpetrator, I wouldn’t hesitate to physically try and stop him and if that failed, let people in the casino know who would try to stop him. Maybe David walked away because he wanted to deny that what he was seeing was real but it was in the end to protect his friend who he had known not to act like this before. I wonder if anyone in the casino witnessed the event and chose not to speak up because oftentimes bystanders aren’t upstanders out of fear. A witness has a legal obligation to speak the truth when getting asked questions about an event but when it comes to situations like this, there are moral obligations to either help Sherrice in any way possible or that the guilt would weigh them down until they confessed what Jeremy had said. It’s just reality that there are different rules of different severity when it comes to wrongs of varying natures. When it comes to physical and hurtful wrongs that would especially be illegal by law, absolutely step in but the line blurs a little when it’s your friend cheating on a test where you can talk directly to them and nobody has to face any guilty conscience or consequences. As people, we tend to have at least a little bit of hope in others and give them second chances to right their wrongs even if people tend not to change. The case of the “Nightmare On The 36 Bus” sadly shows the truth of most wrong situations where nobody intervenes because they find a reason not to like “it might be a family matter”. It’s interesting because even if it was a family matter, everyone can be empathetic towards the boy that he’s a young child alone in the cold being physically abused by this larger man. Even in a family, abuse is illegal (in some places) and morally wrong no matter the reason behind it. When Auclair rose to intervene, instead of everyone joining together to stop this violence, they looked away like cowards. I understand that feeling because I’ve been a bystander many times, and feel guilty and have learned from it, but that child had nobody fighting for him. The damage the man inflicted might’ve been happening on a daily basis which will end up seriously traumatizing and affecting the boy’s feeling of security, trust, how he interacts in relationships, self confidence, and his own actions. In the article by Judy Harris about the bystander effect, it states the unfortunate truth of today which is that when people witness something they could help with, everyone believes “Oh someone else will help them so I don’t have to” and therefore don’t act. Although digital documentation can be used as evidence and to spread awareness, the most important thing is making sure people are safe by acting quick and smart, not whipping out your phone to spread it publicly because then nobody will be an upstander. I distinctly remember being a bystander when I was younger. I was at the mall on the escalator when an elderly man in front of me fell backwards and grabbed onto my bag in an attempt to steady himself but it happened so quickly that he kept tumbling in circles down the escalator. I was shocked and everyone around me luckily called 911 but I’ve always felt guilty about not saving him and reaching out but rather fearing for my own safety since he was much greater in size than me. The obligation to act is just what people as individuals hold themselves to because as a whole, there will always be people who ignore and choose not to be brave and do the right thing. As people, I wish everyone felt the obligation to act on morality because it would restore some trust people have in how reliant they can be on strangers for their own safety and everyone has the ability to feel empathy which means they all know what it’s like to be alone and not have people watching out for you. Plenty of laws come about from awful events like Sherrice Iverson’s murder so it’s important to establish laws before an event occurs to prevent it.

I agree with someone's comment above about minimizing lives lost so if people can act without risking their lives, then definitely intervene. It gets trickier when thinking about personal connection and importance and whether it's worth risking your life no matter if it's the right thing to do (trolley problem!).

hotchocolate
Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 10

Originally posted by YellowPencil on September 15, 2021 20:58

I think the number of choices Cash has as a bystander and the overall severity of the situation should govern Cash's actions. Cash had many choices when he saw his friend Jeremy assault Sherrice. Firstly, he could have chosen to intervene right when he found out what Jeremy was doing. But I would say maybe this isn't natural for Cash to do because Jeremy is his best friend and he might be having a dilemma at the moment of the incident of whether or not to go against his best friend. But after the initial incident he still could have done something like report the incident or to stay in the bathroom to try to prevent anything worst from happening, or even ask for help. In the article The Trick to Acting Heroically it states that, "The tendency to help without looking wins out when the cost of helping is typically small...[and] if Player 1(Cash in this case) doesn't help this is really harmful to Player 2(Sherrice)"(New York Times). Although friendship matters, so therefore the cost of helping Sherrice, is higher because it puts the friendship in stake, I believe that when something dangerous is happening and you have power to change the end result, it is morally right to step up. Especially because Cash is Jeremy's friend. In some way Cash has more power to influence him than a stranger.

How serious or life-threatening the wrong is governs the decision to act or be witness. In The Bystander Effect In the Cellphone Age, many people just took their phones out and recorded as a building is on fire rather than actively trying to get the people in the building out or tell them that there is even a fire. In this situation, the fire is life-threatening to the people in the building and the people don't lose anything by informing the people in the building and therefore they should have acted. I agree with redemmed2021, if someone stole or cheated it is less important. I think in these incidents you can decide to act or not based on what you believe is best or comfortable with based on how well you know the person and other factors.

Many moral dilemmas remind me of the trolley problem where as bystanders, the outcome of a situation is sort of in your hands although they don't always end up with two negative outcomes. When lives are at stake, it's more important to talk about these moral dilemmas as opposed to just cheating which can go without consequences. It's up to an individual person to determine the obligations they feel to acting on morals.

hotchocolate
Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 10

Originally posted by redemmed2021 on September 15, 2021 19:12

  1. I believe Cash's actions should have been governed by what he knew to be right vs wrong. Clearly he knew that what Jeremy was doing to Sherrice Iverson was wrong because in the video he claims that he was "slightly suggesting" Jeremy to stop. Sadly, though he didn't take the big steps that needed to be taken to effectively help Sherrice. Personally,yes, I do believe that he had an obligation to protect or help Sherrice and not allow this event to happen. He should have tried to physically stop Jeremy or alert the workers at the casino, maybe her father, and the authorities. This is similar to what happened in the “Nightmare on the 36 bus”. The horrible actions that took place were all on young kids and perpetrated and viewed by older adults. It’s terrible that Sherrice, who was 7 and the 8 year old boy didn’t get help from the older individuals that were bystanders to the event. I strongly believe that it's our responsibility to protect and help the younger individuals we see in need, the ones who can't yet stand up for themselves in certain cases, the ones whose voices are barely heard or respected. Yes I do believe that there are different rules depending on the nature of the “wrong” but when it involves the possible destruction or extermination of another human being it's important to report and prevent those situations at all costs, which I know can be difficult at times

2. The rules for me are simple. If it's materialistic wrong stealing or something like cheating you should try to prevent these things but for me these are less important than protecting another human being regardless of how I may feel about them. If you see something happening and it can lead to the abuse of another human, or murder of another human then you should definitely act in the most effective way possible. Sometimes it's to physically step in, sometimes it's to record what is occurring which can be used for evidence, other times it's to alert the authorities as quickly as possible. I somewhat disagree with Yoeli and Rand in the article “ The Trick to Acting Heroically '' is something instinctual. Just because something is instinct doesn't mean it’s right or wrong and ultimately you have to use your own mind and free will to decide to act. I say I'm between sometimes and always with our obligation to act because sometimes it’s difficult to be an upstander in many cases. Also like I said wrong is wrong but the consequences of these wrongs are radically different so the way a person would act would be different

It's interesting that you pointed out how in both events, adults were witnessing young people being abused and chose not to do anything even though they knew it was wrong. Children are often in the position of helpless and aren't taken seriously or listened to. They often don't have autonomy and rely on adults as role models and protectors. I'd think that adults would be most likely to act as upstanders because they understand how wrong this abuse is, but they were scared and that overpowered the empathy and moral wrong they felt. I agree that it's everyone's responsiblity to protect each other, especially those who can't fight for themselves.

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