posts 1 - 15 of 36
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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bluepen19
Posts: 3

Bystander Obligations

Cash holds some responsibility for remaining a bystander to Jeremy Strohmeyer’s actions. I find him to be particularly guilty, as he was in the position of someone who potentially could have stopped the despicable acts against 7 year old Sherrice Iverson. As Jeremy’s friend, and a male of comparable age and height, he both verbally and physically could have put an end to the actions at the time. In terms of humanity, I think he was obligated to at least say something, and feel remorseful for the fact that he didn’t. I believe that many would agree that his choices were “wrong” and while there may be different definitions of this nature, if his life was not in danger, which it wasn’t, he should face the obligations of not just remaining a bystander.

For the governing of Cash’s actions, many could be held responsible. The viewers of security cameras in the casino and the Nevada state government both had potential to take action. Nevada’s Good Samaritan Law, NRS 41.500, protects bystanders who try to assist someone in an emergent situation (Las Vegas Defense Group, 2021). However, there is no law that requires bystanders to step in and help someone; a bystander is legally allowed to just witness. In my personal opinion, we have an obligation to act sometimes. If a situation were to put yourself at risk, I do not feel that you are obligated to step in. However, in this case, I do not believe that Cash was at risk by verbally questioning his friend’s actions or even using force to end the raping. If Cash were another young girl, I would not at all expect there to be intervention with Jeremy’s actions.

As I read the story of the boy assaulted on the 36 bus, I find an issue with specifically the bus driver’s lack of intervention as a child was assaulted. The article specifically points out that the driver has access to a radio and distress button, and chose to do neither (Boston Globe, 2000). Additionally, no one on the bus intervened either; one man believed it to possibly be a familial issue which he didn’t want to be involved with, however, even if this was within a family, the situation is an example of child abuse, where legal action should be taken regardless. The New York Times story, “The Trick to Acting Heroically”, provides a different perspective. The author describes how many people act heroically instinctively, as if it is an innate choice of most humans. In both stories, Iverson’s and the bus assault, no bystanders had the instinct to intervene. Perhaps this is because of the violent circumstances where they may feel their life is in danger (although I personally don’t find Cash to have been in a dangerous situation himself), but it is interesting how some stories which the Times focuses on, show a different side of humanity than what we’ve heard in the former atrocities (New York Times, 2015).

groot
West Roxbury, MA, US
Posts: 14

The Dilemma of the Bad Samaritan

I think that from the start having seen Jeremy follow a child into a women’s bathroom should have alerted David of the dangers lying ahead. Immediately Cash should have realized that what his friend was about to do would be horrendous. There is no way that things in that bathroom with a little girl alone with two grown men would be fine. Secondly, as soon as Jeremy started to restrain Sherrice, another warning sign should’ve gone off in David’s head. And yet, ignoring both of these blatantly obvious signs of trouble, David decides to leave. I think those two astonishingly prominent warnings should have governed better decision-making skills from Cash.

I believe a person who witnesses the torture of another human being has an incredibly huge obligation to help. For example, in an article entitled “Nightmare on the 36 Bus”, Brain McGrory depicts a situation in which a little boy was beaten, and an entire bus of bystanders watched in silence. From one of the passengers’ viewpoints, we are told that because people believed the attacker to be the boy’s dad, he didn’t need help. In this situation, I don’t think it matters whether or not people believed this, though. Even if that man was the boy’s father, what right did that give him to beat him up? I feel that a bystander holds such power in these situations that it is sad that not enough people decide to help out when they witness wrongdoing.

I do think in some circumstances the rules could change depending on the crime. For example, if the incident isn’t hurting anyone or causing anyone physical or mental pain, it is possible a bystander wouldn’t need to stand up in certain circumstances. In many situations, though, if the warning signs are there, you should do your best to help.

I think depending on the severity of the crime being witnessed, different rules should apply. People could have stepped in multiple times, whether it be David or a person watching the security cameras. Yet, no one did. For a whole 23 minutes, Jeremy was left alone with Sherrice. In cases as devastatingly disturbing as Jeremy and David’s, where David was almost an accomplice, a punishment should most definitely have been enforced.

We do have an obligation to act whenever we see something we know isn’t right. In an article entitled, “The Bystander Effect In the Cell Phone Age,” written by Judy Harris, a man walks all-around a burning building taking photos instead of helping the people escape the fumes. In a situation like that, it’s insane to think that someone was thinking more about how they could get famous for taking the pictures instead of thinking about the possible human lives being burned inside. This is why in the greater majority of situations, I think people have an obligation to act.

Nightshade
Posts: 10

The Bad Samaritan

In the situation Cash was in, there shouldn’t need to be legal motivation for him to take more action than he did. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any at the time. A person who witnesses a wrong has the obligation to stand up for what is right if they can do so safely. Especially when it’s as obvious as this and there’s no other plausible explanation for what’s going on, there is absolutely no excuse for not taking action. Not to mention, Cash didn’t have the bystander effect to deal with like the people on the 36 bus from “Nightmare on the 36 Bus,” by Brian McGrory.

Even the bystander effect should not stop people from acting. The Bostonians on the 36 bus did have an obligation to step in, especially the other adult men who would not be putting themselves in as much risk. The bus driver should have taken action as well. There are mirrors on the bus to see the riders and the boy and man were at the front of the bus, so it’s wildly unlikely she wasn’t aware of what was going on. Everyone on this bus had an obligation to protect this child in some way, but just like Cash, they did nothing. The difference is the man who was interviewed expressed remorse.

A lot of Cash’s argument for why he did the right thing by leaving was that what Strohmeyer did to Sherrice doesn’t matter because it doesn’t affect him. But it does. If as a society we decide to not step in when we see something very wrong, each person has a chance of facing the consequences of a community that doesn’t protect each other. There’s no way to ensure that Cash one day won’t find himself in a similar situation as Sherrice. The phrase “treat others the way you want to be treated” applies here. It’s frustrating that we have to explain how to protect and care for others using this logic, because it should be our humanity that makes us know right from wrong. Standing up for people is easier said than done, of course, but Cash was the only person who could’ve done something and he made an active decision to do nothing. He left the bathroom, he told nobody, and he said nothing to Strohmeyer.

Why Cash isn’t upset with himself, I’ll never understand. Both Cash and Strohmeyer are to blame for this, and although Cash wasn’t arrested, he did have an obligation.

Anytime someone is hurting someone else, whether they’re part of a family, they’re friends, or complete strangers, as human beings it’s our moral responsibility to step in. The bystander effect, further explained by “The Bystander Effect in the Cell Phone Age,” by Judy Harris, along with more complicated situations than what Cash saw, understandably makes being an upstander more difficult. Standing up for each other is all we have in situations like these, though.

It’s different if someone does something that hurts no one else, but is legally wrong, like spray painting a wall or shoplifting from a huge chain. In that case, it could be good to have a discussion with the person and understand their motivation and if they need any kind of help with an issue that would lead them to commit that type of crime.

In general, though, observing and recording with our phones isn’t enough. Getting directly involved, asking questions to figure out what’s going on, and letting go of our fear of being judged by others for stepping in is our obligation as citizens of the world.

Nightshade
Posts: 10

Originally posted by groot on September 15, 2021 10:35

I think that from the start having seen Jeremy follow a child into a women’s bathroom should have alerted David of the dangers lying ahead. Immediately Cash should have realized that what his friend was about to do would be horrendous. There is no way that things in that bathroom with a little girl alone with two grown men would be fine. Secondly, as soon as Jeremy started to restrain Sherrice, another warning sign should’ve gone off in David’s head. And yet, ignoring both of these blatantly obvious signs of trouble, David decides to leave. I think those two astonishingly prominent warnings should have governed better decision-making skills from Cash.

I believe a person who witnesses the torture of another human being has an incredibly huge obligation to help. For example, in an article entitled “Nightmare on the 36 Bus”, Brain McGrory depicts a situation in which a little boy was beaten, and an entire bus of bystanders watched in silence. From one of the passengers’ viewpoints, we are told that because people believed the attacker to be the boy’s dad, he didn’t need help. In this situation, I don’t think it matters whether or not people believed this, though. Even if that man was the boy’s father, what right did that give him to beat him up? I feel that a bystander holds such power in these situations that it is sad that not enough people decide to help out when they witness wrongdoing.

I do think in some circumstances the rules could change depending on the crime. For example, if the incident isn’t hurting anyone or causing anyone physical or mental pain, it is possible a bystander wouldn’t need to stand up in certain circumstances. In many situations, though, if the warning signs are there, you should do your best to help.

I think depending on the severity of the crime being witnessed, different rules should apply. People could have stepped in multiple times, whether it be David or a person watching the security cameras. Yet, no one did. For a whole 23 minutes, Jeremy was left alone with Sherrice. In cases as devastatingly disturbing as Jeremy and David’s, where David was almost an accomplice, a punishment should most definitely have been enforced.

We do have an obligation to act whenever we see something we know isn’t right. In an article entitled, “The Bystander Effect In the Cell Phone Age,” written by Judy Harris, a man walks all-around a burning building taking photos instead of helping the people escape the fumes. In a situation like that, it’s insane to think that someone was thinking more about how they could get famous for taking the pictures instead of thinking about the possible human lives being burned inside. This is why in the greater majority of situations, I think people have an obligation to act.

I completely agree that we have an obligation to take action in emergency situations such as Sherrice's, the boy's on the bus, or the residents' in the house. It's so frustrating to read these stories of people who seem like any other person, faced with a situations like these that they do nothing about. It makes someone wonder deeply if they might do the same if they were in the same position, and it's a wildly disturbing thought. It's good to think about these things now so that if we're ever faced with horrors like these ones, we'll know how to take action.

turtle17
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

The act of being a Bystander, and the guilt that can follow

After reading both the story of a man hitting a little boy on the 38 bus and how people reacted to a fire in Jamaica Plain, it was interesting to think of how they related to the story watched in class earlier today about David and Jeremy. At first I had no explanation for David's actions, other than complete stupidity, but then something dawned upon me. I don't think it was David believing it wasn't his business, or maybe he did believe that, but I believe the overwhelming fear he felt in the situation clouded his sense of judgement. In no way does this excuse his actions, or lack thereof, but it does make you think. It's also not just an 18 year old boy who did something like this, it was also many adults. In the story of the Nightmare on the 38 bus, you read about what looks like a father abusing his son. A man who was a witness to this accident was interviewed, and helped provide the information for the newspaper story. The interviewee was an adult, along with everyone else on the bus due to the time being 10:30 at night, and every single person witnessed the physical abuse the child endured, but no one said anything. The thing that caught my attention, however, was the man saying how when he stood up to say something, the thought that it wasn't his place, it was family drama and not to interject took over. Again, I was annoyed hearing this. But then I thought what I would do if I was in that situation. At first I immediately decided I would try and help the little boy, but then I thought about my physical safety. The sad thing is, most people will prioritize their own well being over someone else's, the fight or flight reaction, a sad but quite realistic thing people's mind jump to. I then connected this to David's story, where he noted Jeremy giving him a blank stare. Without a doubt, David was experiencing some fear, not knowing what his friend was doing, and later hearing he had just committed murder definitely frightened him. Its possible that David didn't say anything about Jeremy, or tell the police on him, in order to preserve his safety. The second story I read about told how when there was a fire, only one person ran to tell the people inside the house about it to save them, while everyone else including the author took pictures instead. This is similar to the actions of the invisible bystander that watched security cameras during the murder of Sherrice. In both scenarios, people used technology to be a bystander, whether it was a conscious decision or not.

From reading both the stories, and watching the video that really there isn't a genuine obligation to being an upstander or not, just moral ones we are taught our whole lives, We fear getting in trouble for not standing up, due to reactions, but we also fear for our physical safety if we were to stand up for someone.

groot
West Roxbury, MA, US
Posts: 14

Originally posted by bluepen19 on September 15, 2021 09:43

Cash holds some responsibility for remaining a bystander to Jeremy Strohmeyer’s actions. I find him to be particularly guilty, as he was in the position of someone who potentially could have stopped the despicable acts against 7 year old Sherrice Iverson. As Jeremy’s friend, and a male of comparable age and height, he both verbally and physically could have put an end to the actions at the time. In terms of humanity, I think he was obligated to at least say something, and feel remorseful for the fact that he didn’t. I believe that many would agree that his choices were “wrong” and while there may be different definitions of this nature, if his life was not in danger, which it wasn’t, he should face the obligations of not just remaining a bystander.

For the governing of Cash’s actions, many could be held responsible. The viewers of security cameras in the casino and the Nevada state government both had potential to take action. Nevada’s Good Samaritan Law, NRS 41.500, protects bystanders who try to assist someone in an emergent situation (Las Vegas Defense Group, 2021). However, there is no law that requires bystanders to step in and help someone; a bystander is legally allowed to just witness. In my personal opinion, we have an obligation to act sometimes. If a situation were to put yourself at risk, I do not feel that you are obligated to step in. However, in this case, I do not believe that Cash was at risk by verbally questioning his friend’s actions or even using force to end the raping. If Cash were another young girl, I would not at all expect there to be intervention with Jeremy’s actions.

As I read the story of the boy assaulted on the 36 bus, I find an issue with specifically the bus driver’s lack of intervention as a child was assaulted. The article specifically points out that the driver has access to a radio and distress button, and chose to do neither (Boston Globe, 2000). Additionally, no one on the bus intervened either; one man believed it to possibly be a familial issue which he didn’t want to be involved with, however, even if this was within a family, the situation is an example of child abuse, where legal action should be taken regardless. The New York Times story, “The Trick to Acting Heroically”, provides a different perspective. The author describes how many people act heroically instinctively, as if it is an innate choice of most humans. In both stories, Iverson’s and the bus assault, no bystanders had the instinct to intervene. Perhaps this is because of the violent circumstances where they may feel their life is in danger (although I personally don’t find Cash to have been in a dangerous situation himself), but it is interesting how some stories which the Times focuses on, show a different side of humanity than what we’ve heard in the former atrocities (New York Times, 2015).

I also read the article "Nightmare on the 36 Bus," and I completely agree. I forgot the part about the bus driver because they had so many resources to help and yet used none of them. At the end of the article, it even mentions that the bus driver remembers what the boy looked like as she drove away. The imagery of a boy with a bloody nose being taken by an aggressive older man is so depressing. Thank you for sharing.

Bumble Bee
Posts: 10

People have a natural instinct for self preservation. If a situation occurs where someone is endangered and you feel like intervening will put your safety in danger you’re less likely to do so. In David Cash’s situation there were no real safety threats to himself, only the threat of losing his relationship with Jeremy Strohmeyer. They were the same age and appear to be around the same size. If he didn’t want to risk intervening in the bathroom he could’ve sought help from someone outside. He wanted to preserve his friendship, but why would anyone want to be friends with a murderer?

A situation that is putting other life in danger, especially human life, should give people much more reason to try and help. In situations like we discussed in class where your friend cheats or shoplifts, it’s not as serious since the crime is far less significant. When a person’s life is being endangered and there is any safe way you can help you should absolutely do so. In “Nightmare on the 36 Bus” the passengers didn’t intervene when a little boy was being beaten up by an older man. They may have felt scared that they could be endangered if they tried to step in. This doesn’t mean that they couldn’t have called the police once they left the bus or done something else instead of being implicit. Cash could have immediately gone for help once he left the bathroom. We know that other students at his college recognized the men from the surveillance camera and they chose to turn them in, but Cash did nothing.

Cash wasn’t charged with any crimes or kicked out of his college. Now there are laws that are in place to hold bystanders like him accountable including the Shericce Iverson Bill. This bill would require any Nevadans to report crimes they see if the crimes involve a violent act towards a child. The law is there to protect people and holding bystanders accountable is a way to do this. I also see Cash as more than just a bystander since he was friends with Strohmyer and had an idea of what was going to happen. He chose to do nothing. In “The Trick to Acting Heroically” people who are heroic tend to do these acts out of instinct. Cash had plenty of time to make a heroic decision but he didn’t.
Bumble Bee
Posts: 10

Originally posted by groot on September 15, 2021 10:35

I think that from the start having seen Jeremy follow a child into a women’s bathroom should have alerted David of the dangers lying ahead. Immediately Cash should have realized that what his friend was about to do would be horrendous. There is no way that things in that bathroom with a little girl alone with two grown men would be fine. Secondly, as soon as Jeremy started to restrain Sherrice, another warning sign should’ve gone off in David’s head. And yet, ignoring both of these blatantly obvious signs of trouble, David decides to leave. I think those two astonishingly prominent warnings should have governed better decision-making skills from Cash.

I believe a person who witnesses the torture of another human being has an incredibly huge obligation to help. For example, in an article entitled “Nightmare on the 36 Bus”, Brain McGrory depicts a situation in which a little boy was beaten, and an entire bus of bystanders watched in silence. From one of the passengers’ viewpoints, we are told that because people believed the attacker to be the boy’s dad, he didn’t need help. In this situation, I don’t think it matters whether or not people believed this, though. Even if that man was the boy’s father, what right did that give him to beat him up? I feel that a bystander holds such power in these situations that it is sad that not enough people decide to help out when they witness wrongdoing.

I do think in some circumstances the rules could change depending on the crime. For example, if the incident isn’t hurting anyone or causing anyone physical or mental pain, it is possible a bystander wouldn’t need to stand up in certain circumstances. In many situations, though, if the warning signs are there, you should do your best to help.

I think depending on the severity of the crime being witnessed, different rules should apply. People could have stepped in multiple times, whether it be David or a person watching the security cameras. Yet, no one did. For a whole 23 minutes, Jeremy was left alone with Sherrice. In cases as devastatingly disturbing as Jeremy and David’s, where David was almost an accomplice, a punishment should most definitely have been enforced.

We do have an obligation to act whenever we see something we know isn’t right. In an article entitled, “The Bystander Effect In the Cell Phone Age,” written by Judy Harris, a man walks all-around a burning building taking photos instead of helping the people escape the fumes. In a situation like that, it’s insane to think that someone was thinking more about how they could get famous for taking the pictures instead of thinking about the possible human lives being burned inside. This is why in the greater majority of situations, I think people have an obligation to act.

I like your take that if you notice warning signs it should tip you off to take action. People may not want to think the worst in people so they ignore their gut. In the article “The Trick to Acting Heroically” the heroes went with their gut and saved lives.

freud
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 13

The Dilemma of a Bad Samaritan

Ultimately, what should've governed Cash's actions is the ability to put someone else before yourself. Cash had this repeated attitude towards the situation that he didn't know this girl. He knew his friend, but not the girl and so it really wasn't his problem. He goes so far as to compare the situation to "starving children in Panama," or "people that die of disease in Egypt" (60 Minute Clip). First of all, it is ridiculous to make a comparison between something that happened right in front of you to some issue happening across the world. However, there should also be some empathy and compassion towards people in dire situations.

There is a fine line between situation that you should help in, situations that you shouldn't and if you should feel guilty for not being able to aid more. In "The Trick to Acting Heroically" the concept of what makes people heroic is explored. The resounding truth is that, people act heroically out of instinct, and they do not think of self preservation, they barely even think at all. A study was done in which people were given two envelopes; one had something they could do to help another person, and the other had something that they could lose if they did that. They could choose not to open the second envelope. It became clear that in most situations, self-preservation is out of the window and people do whatever it takes to help others.

Something should have clicked in Cash's brain. It's clear that he gave no thought to the little girl that was in front of him. Whether that's because of racial prejudice, gender discrimination or a complete lack of empathy is unclear. I think there is an obligation, purely for just being a human being, to try and do what you can to help others. There are times when you should put yourself first, and you should not be consumed by guilt when you can't fix everything, but overall you should help others. Cash's lack of action shows that he did not consider the humanity of this girl, and he also must not have care for his friend. Because if he really cared for his friend, he would've stopped him from doing something so horrible.

Whether there's a law or not, it's just human decency. A similar situation happened in "A Nightmare on the 36 Bus" where a boy was punched by a man on the bus and no one did anything. I think there's this attitude of "not my problem," or "that doesn't concern me," but peoples morals speak in their actions. Having good morals and ethics is extremely important and if you don't follow through with them in your actions, it's useless.

freud
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 13

Originally posted by turtle17 on September 15, 2021 10:43

After reading both the story of a man hitting a little boy on the 38 bus and how people reacted to a fire in Jamaica Plain, it was interesting to think of how they related to the story watched in class earlier today about David and Jeremy. At first I had no explanation for David's actions, other than complete stupidity, but then something dawned upon me. I don't think it was David believing it wasn't his business, or maybe he did believe that, but I believe the overwhelming fear he felt in the situation clouded his sense of judgement. In no way does this excuse his actions, or lack thereof, but it does make you think. It's also not just an 18 year old boy who did something like this, it was also many adults. In the story of the Nightmare on the 38 bus, you read about what looks like a father abusing his son. A man who was a witness to this accident was interviewed, and helped provide the information for the newspaper story. The interviewee was an adult, along with everyone else on the bus due to the time being 10:30 at night, and every single person witnessed the physical abuse the child endured, but no one said anything. The thing that caught my attention, however, was the man saying how when he stood up to say something, the thought that it wasn't his place, it was family drama and not to interject took over. Again, I was annoyed hearing this. But then I thought what I would do if I was in that situation. At first I immediately decided I would try and help the little boy, but then I thought about my physical safety. The sad thing is, most people will prioritize their own well being over someone else's, the fight or flight reaction, a sad but quite realistic thing people's mind jump to. I then connected this to David's story, where he noted Jeremy giving him a blank stare. Without a doubt, David was experiencing some fear, not knowing what his friend was doing, and later hearing he had just committed murder definitely frightened him. Its possible that David didn't say anything about Jeremy, or tell the police on him, in order to preserve his safety. The second story I read about told how when there was a fire, only one person ran to tell the people inside the house about it to save them, while everyone else including the author took pictures instead. This is similar to the actions of the invisible bystander that watched security cameras during the murder of Sherrice. In both scenarios, people used technology to be a bystander, whether it was a conscious decision or not.

From reading both the stories, and watching the video that really there isn't a genuine obligation to being an upstander or not, just moral ones we are taught our whole lives, We fear getting in trouble for not standing up, due to reactions, but we also fear for our physical safety if we were to stand up for someone.

This is interesting because in the article "The Trick to Acting Heroically" people actually were most heroic when they completely abandoned self preservation. Every single person who won a Carnegie Award for heroic actions said that there was no thinking involved when they did what they did. The moment people think too hard or think about how a situation affects themselves, they will decide not to act. There's pro and cons and often the cons outweigh the pros which leaves people bystanders to horrible situations. It's so hard to say whether you can really blame them because would I even be able to stand up to someone who was doing something like that? Especially if no one else was?

freud
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 13

Originally posted by Nightshade on September 15, 2021 10:36

In the situation Cash was in, there shouldn’t need to be legal motivation for him to take more action than he did. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any at the time. A person who witnesses a wrong has the obligation to stand up for what is right if they can do so safely. Especially when it’s as obvious as this and there’s no other plausible explanation for what’s going on, there is absolutely no excuse for not taking action. Not to mention, Cash didn’t have the bystander effect to deal with like the people on the 36 bus from “Nightmare on the 36 Bus,” by Brian McGrory.

Even the bystander effect should not stop people from acting. The Bostonians on the 36 bus did have an obligation to step in, especially the other adult men who would not be putting themselves in as much risk. The bus driver should have taken action as well. There are mirrors on the bus to see the riders and the boy and man were at the front of the bus, so it’s wildly unlikely she wasn’t aware of what was going on. Everyone on this bus had an obligation to protect this child in some way, but just like Cash, they did nothing. The difference is the man who was interviewed expressed remorse.

A lot of Cash’s argument for why he did the right thing by leaving was that what Strohmeyer did to Sherrice doesn’t matter because it doesn’t affect him. But it does. If as a society we decide to not step in when we see something very wrong, each person has a chance of facing the consequences of a community that doesn’t protect each other. There’s no way to ensure that Cash one day won’t find himself in a similar situation as Sherrice. The phrase “treat others the way you want to be treated” applies here. It’s frustrating that we have to explain how to protect and care for others using this logic, because it should be our humanity that makes us know right from wrong. Standing up for people is easier said than done, of course, but Cash was the only person who could’ve done something and he made an active decision to do nothing. He left the bathroom, he told nobody, and he said nothing to Strohmeyer.

Why Cash isn’t upset with himself, I’ll never understand. Both Cash and Strohmeyer are to blame for this, and although Cash wasn’t arrested, he did have an obligation.

Anytime someone is hurting someone else, whether they’re part of a family, they’re friends, or complete strangers, as human beings it’s our moral responsibility to step in. The bystander effect, further explained by “The Bystander Effect in the Cell Phone Age,” by Judy Harris, along with more complicated situations than what Cash saw, understandably makes being an upstander more difficult. Standing up for each other is all we have in situations like these, though.

It’s different if someone does something that hurts no one else, but is legally wrong, like spray painting a wall or shoplifting from a huge chain. In that case, it could be good to have a discussion with the person and understand their motivation and if they need any kind of help with an issue that would lead them to commit that type of crime.

In general, though, observing and recording with our phones isn’t enough. Getting directly involved, asking questions to figure out what’s going on, and letting go of our fear of being judged by others for stepping in is our obligation as citizens of the world.

I really like your point about how we are responsible for our society. It plays into the idea of karma, and it is very true. I would want someone to help me in that situation, so shouldn't I try to help someone else. And I agree that legal action shouldn't be the only thing motivating people. There should be some kind of moral compass that pushes peoples actions.

runningdog96
Posts: 5

The Dilemma of the Bad Samaritan


The case of Sherrice Iverson brings up an interesting question: what exactly is the role of the bystander? In a situation that is so wholly and morally wrong, I believe that almost everyone would agree it was cruel and inhumane for David Cash to walk out of that bathroom, knowing what Jeremy was going to do to Sherrice. Without sharing words, the two boys understood that Jeremy was going to inflict some sort of violence on Sherrice. And still, David walked out as if nothing had happened. In this case, I believe that David should have been punished. He willingly allowed the assault and murder of a seven year old girl, and that must garner consquence. The fact that he was able to go on, and continue living his life, and was not given any actual consequence- barring any social consequences from his fellow peers at UC Berkeley or others fighting for Sherrice- is, to me, astounding. It is my belief that David Cash should have faced legal consequences for his actions, including jail time. He allowed such a horrific thing to happen, and should be punished accordingly.

In today’s society, there are most definitely different rules depending on the nature of the “wrong”. As we discussed in class, if a friend were to cheat on a test, almost none of us would report them. But, if they were to undo some sort of violence onto another person, we all agreed we would immediately report them, because in today’s society, physically harming a person is a significantly more extreme “wrong” than cheating on a test. Thus, the obligation of the bystander also changes with the wrong. As @Nightshade points out, there should no need for legal motivation when it comes to a situation of violence, such as the assault and murder of Sherrice Iverson. I also liked how @Nightshade points out that Cash did not have to deal with the bystander effect- like those on the 36 Bus or in the case of the fire in Jamaica Plain. The fact that there were no bystanders in the assault and murder of Iverson makes it evident that Cash left the bathroom that night out of loyalty to his friend, and as an act of self-preservation. In the case of the 36 bus, no one stood up, but multiple witnesses go on record as stating that they regret not intervening. But in the article The Bystander Effect in the Cellphone Age, the author focuses on the fact that someone was standing on the side, taking pictures of the even with no regard of the lives at stake (similar to Cash), which then begs the question: how can some people stand on the sidelines and do nothing, while others intervene?

The “rules” that govern whether or not someone should act are most definitely societal, but should also be legal. As we established in class, there are different severities of a “wrong”. Thus, to many people, it’s not morally wrong to not turn in a friend they saw cheating. But to many, very evidently, it’s extremely morally wrong to not intervene in the assault and murder of a child- or anyone for that matter-. Thus, these “rules” are societal; but they should also be legal. David Cash faced no legal consequences, but I believe he should have. While there were laws passed in Nevada and California as a result of this case, I believe it is not enough. Laws should be passed in all states in order to protect those like Sherrice Iverson, in the hope that a case like hers does not happen again. To answer the final question- we sometimes have the obligation to act. It truly depends on the situation; if it is a minor indiscretion, maybe not. But, if one human is attempting to or in the act of harming another, then we most certainly have the social and legal obligation to act.

gato927
West Roxbury, MA, US
Posts: 13

The Dilemma of the Bad Samaritan

After watching and discussing the video in class, I was absolutely disgusted by the actions of David Cash and Jeremy Strohmeyer. Jeremy did unspeakable things, and there are no excuses for his actions. The events leading up to and during the night and are quite confusing as well. Why did David's father drive them to a casino in Nevada? Why was Sherrice left alone in the casino? Why did no one see the boys going to the bathroom? Why didn't Cash feel any guilt? I'm still thinking about many of these questions now.

In account to being held responsible for governing Cash's actions, I believe the state of Nevada could have done a better job fighting for Sherrice. The security cameras should have been being monitored, and someone should have stopped the boys from going into the women's restroom. It is clear that Cash does not believe he had to intervene, and that is just wrong. He knew what Strohmeyer was going to do to Sherrice, and he could have tried harder to prevent it. We know Cash believes it was not his place to get involved because Strohmeyer was his friend, but this was a grave situation where he could've saved Sherrice's life. I think in a situation like this is it is crucial to react and help, it doesn't matter if it is your friend and you "don't need to see that".

When the video mentioned that the crime took place in Nevada, I wasn't surprised. After reading "Nightmare on the 36 Bus" however, I was shocked. I never believed an incident like that could occur and no one would stand up for a helpless little boy, especially in Boston. It is disappointing knowing that after 20 years people still don't have the courage to act heroically. I believe there is a "nature of wrong" that should be acted upon, and any type of assault falls into that category. Legally, there is no obligation to act in situations where you know someone is doing something wrong, and we saw that with Cash.

In "The Trick to Acting Heroically", the men who saved the other man on the train are people who the whole world should model after, in my opinion. Quick thinking is something many people don't considerate in short moments. They think of the long term, and how it affects them. Reading that passage was refreshing to know that there are still good people in this world. There is never an obligation to help someone in any kind of situation, but what Cash did and what all the people on the 36 bus did are examples of when you should always act.

gato927
West Roxbury, MA, US
Posts: 13

Originally posted by runningdog96 on September 15, 2021 15:06


The case of Sherrice Iverson brings up an interesting question: what exactly is the role of the bystander? In a situation that is so wholly and morally wrong, I believe that almost everyone would agree it was cruel and inhumane for David Cash to walk out of that bathroom, knowing what Jeremy was going to do to Sherrice. Without sharing words, the two boys understood that Jeremy was going to inflict some sort of violence on Sherrice. And still, David walked out as if nothing had happened. In this case, I believe that David should have been punished. He willingly allowed the assault and murder of a seven year old girl, and that must garner consquence. The fact that he was able to go on, and continue living his life, and was not given any actual consequence- barring any social consequences from his fellow peers at UC Berkeley or others fighting for Sherrice- is, to me, astounding. It is my belief that David Cash should have faced legal consequences for his actions, including jail time. He allowed such a horrific thing to happen, and should be punished accordingly.

In today’s society, there are most definitely different rules depending on the nature of the “wrong”. As we discussed in class, if a friend were to cheat on a test, almost none of us would report them. But, if they were to undo some sort of violence onto another person, we all agreed we would immediately report them, because in today’s society, physically harming a person is a significantly more extreme “wrong” than cheating on a test. Thus, the obligation of the bystander also changes with the wrong. As @Nightshade points out, there should no need for legal motivation when it comes to a situation of violence, such as the assault and murder of Sherrice Iverson. I also liked how @Nightshade points out that Cash did not have to deal with the bystander effect- like those on the 36 Bus or in the case of the fire in Jamaica Plain. The fact that there were no bystanders in the assault and murder of Iverson makes it evident that Cash left the bathroom that night out of loyalty to his friend, and as an act of self-preservation. In the case of the 36 bus, no one stood up, but multiple witnesses go on record as stating that they regret not intervening. But in the article The Bystander Effect in the Cellphone Age, the author focuses on the fact that someone was standing on the side, taking pictures of the even with no regard of the lives at stake (similar to Cash), which then begs the question: how can some people stand on the sidelines and do nothing, while others intervene?

The “rules” that govern whether or not someone should act are most definitely societal, but should also be legal. As we established in class, there are different severities of a “wrong”. Thus, to many people, it’s not morally wrong to not turn in a friend they saw cheating. But to many, very evidently, it’s extremely morally wrong to not intervene in the assault and murder of a child- or anyone for that matter-. Thus, these “rules” are societal; but they should also be legal. David Cash faced no legal consequences, but I believe he should have. While there were laws passed in Nevada and California as a result of this case, I believe it is not enough. Laws should be passed in all states in order to protect those like Sherrice Iverson, in the hope that a case like hers does not happen again. To answer the final question- we sometimes have the obligation to act. It truly depends on the situation; if it is a minor indiscretion, maybe not. But, if one human is attempting to or in the act of harming another, then we most certainly have the social and legal obligation to act.

I strongly agree with the fact that David should have faced some legal consequence. Everyone knew what he did, and it was ridiculous how he went unpunished. I also agree that there are different forms of wrong like you said, and some of them should be punished by law. I wonder why Cash didn't have the bystander affect like the other passengers on the 36 bus.

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