posts 1 - 15 of 45
freemanjud
Boston, US
Posts: 301


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


Background:

For any of you who missed class on Wednesday, September 14, 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 resistor 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). You can respond to your classmates within your post OR you can do a separate (additional) post just to respond to them. Be sure you cite who you are responding to!


If you need some reminders on how to post on learntoquestion’s discussion board:



StaphInfarction
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 3

After reading "Nightmare on the 36 bus" and "The Bystander Effect in the Cellphone Era", it got me thinking a lot. I was reminded of the second part of The US and the Holocaust. For those of you who did not see it, it mentioned that many Americans expressed sympathy for European refugees but did not want to increase immigration quotas. What's especially scary about the readings is that while you could argue that increasing immigration quotas is "sacrificing" something (I would disagree), both of the mentioned stories could have had very quick resolutions. Simply calling 911 would have prevented the tragedies.

While I agree with the sentiment that the solution to Cash's problem was simple, I think the circumstances he was in were different than the one in "Nightmare on the 36 bus". That story involved an older man beating a young boy, presumed to be his son, on a MBTA bus. The perpetrator in Cash's story is his best friend. I'm not arguing that Cash didn't do anything wrong, his "body language" excuse is pretty weak, and sounds like something his lawyer told him to say, but when you put someone in a spur of the moment decision, they're very rarely going to act rationally. We like to think of ourselves as different from everyone else, and that we absolutely would instantly help Sherrice in the same position as Cash, but that's very likely not the case. I'm not sure if I even would.

It's for that kind of reason that I don't think Cash should have been prosecuted in any criminal court. It is impossible for the justice system to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that David was acting out of malice. Even if they could absolutely be sure that he was, not reporting a crime is not a crime, and it shouldn't be. I think the best way to think about it is that while David was a direct witness, who let Sherrice into a casino in the first place? Who was watching the cameras? Who was the one who brought her there? Who was the one that let her out of sight? Would you want to prosecute all of these people? On what grounds?

tiktok1234
Jamaica Plain, MA, US
Posts: 4

The Dilemma of a Bad Samaritan

  • Articles Read: “The Trick to Acting Heroically,” New York Times, “The Bystander Effect in the Cellphone Age”, WBUR Cognoscenti

I think that a person who witnesses another wrong has the obligation to do something about it. There is a common slogan seen on highways and major roads that says "If you see something, say something". However, it really depends on the circumstance. In Cash's case, it was truly life or death. If he would've done something, the little girl might've been alive today. Just because "he didn't know her" doesn't mean he shouldn't have interfered. The definition of a good samaritan is helping a community with problems, even those you aren't familiar with. If you are threatened by the situation, and it seems like it's being handled, sometimes it's ok not to interfere. However, you could also just call 911 instead of personally interfering. In "The Trick to Acting Heroically", we can see how people are influenced to help situations. Usually, when the situation poses a low threat to the bystander, he most likely jumps in to help. However, if they are being threatened themselves, or there isn't a big reward for helping, they don't do it. In the WBUR article, it was talking about how people were just posting pictures of the fire on social media. I think that if there is a large threat that people would find astonishing, the bystander just records the situation, instead of helping, which is very insensitive.

siri/alexa
Dorchester, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 1

The Bad Samaritan

I read the article "Nightmare on the 36 bus" as well, and I thought that it was sad that people witnessed this, 2nd guessed themselves and never stood up for that little boy. Although those people might have thought " Oh, its not my problem", think about what that little boy thought, think about where that places his mind at such a young age like that. I understand if it was a little slap on the shoulder or scolding if he did something wrong, but a full on punch, with blood being evident, is another level of discipline and is abusive. And this is kind of similar(but not as severe) as the Sherice Iverson case, what must have been going through her mind when she saw that Cash wasn't going to help her and she was all on her own. And as a reply to StaphinFarction(another student), I think that for you to just say that its a different situation just because that was Cash's best friend, is questionable. In my case no matter who you are even if you are my family or best friend if you are doing something as horrible as molesting, raping, or touching someone in an inappropriate way I will stand up and say something, and its not even about how comfortable you are or what your morals are, its about basic human decency and common sense. As I was watching The Bad Samaritan video and Cash's interview I just sat there dumbfounded because he never did give one clear reason as to why he didn't intervene. Although he had no legal obligations, he had a choice of whether or not to save a young girls life that night and he opted not to.


Another article I read was “The Bystander Effect in the Cellphone Age". This article I could kind of relate to because often on snap chat I see people who record fights, a house on fire, or anything bad that happened that includes police activity. And I for one have not done so but I feel like if I were in the position I would probably not do anything. I think this case is different from the Sherice Iverson case and the bus incident, because I personally wouldn't run into fire or something of that measure, and I don't really know how to explain why. But I think this type of case is an example of when you don't really have an obligation of intervening.

StaphInfarction
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 3

Originally posted by siri/alexa on September 22, 2022 17:52

I read the article "Nightmare on the 36 bus" as well, and I thought that it was sad that people witnessed this, 2nd guessed themselves and never stood up for that little boy. Although those people might have thought " Oh, its not my problem", think about what that little boy thought, think about where that places his mind at such a young age like that. I understand if it was a little slap on the shoulder or scolding if he did something wrong, but a full on punch, with blood being evident, is another level of discipline and is abusive. And this is kind of similar(but not as severe) as the Sherice Iverson case, what must have been going through her mind when she saw that Cash wasn't going to help her and she was all on her own. And as a reply to StaphinFarction(another student), I think that for you to just say that its a different situation just because that was Cash's best friend, is questionable. In my case no matter who you are even if you are my family or best friend if you are doing something as horrible as molesting, raping, or touching someone in an inappropriate way I will stand up and say something, and its not even about how comfortable you are or what your morals are, its about basic human decency and common sense. As I was watching The Bad Samaritan video and Cash's interview I just sat there dumbfounded because he never did give one clear reason as to why he didn't intervene. Although he had no legal obligations, he had a choice of whether or not to save a young girls life that night and he opted not to.


Another article I read was “The Bystander Effect in the Cellphone Age". This article I could kind of relate to because often on snap chat I see people who record fights, a house on fire, or anything bad that happened that includes police activity. And I for one have not done so but I feel like if I were in the position I would probably not do anything. I think this case is different from the Sherice Iverson case and the bus incident, because I personally wouldn't run into fire or something of that measure, and I don't really know how to explain why. But I think this type of case is an example of when you don't really have an obligation of intervening

I think you misunderstand my argument. My point was that it is very easy to say that we would do what's right, but history has shown us time and time again just because we think we would, doesn't mean we would. Look at any of the articles and it's easy to see, even in the case of David. There's no doubt in my mind all of them thought they would stand up, yet in every case none of them did. Humans like to perceive themselves as special, which is where this mindset comes from. The important step to take in approaching these scenarios is to realize we have a lot more in common with the people on the 36 bus than we might like to think.

moioma
Boston , MA, US
Posts: 4

The Dilemma of the Bad Samaritan

No individual has a legal obligation to help someone in need. David Cash, too, had no legal obligation to aid Sherrice Iverrison. Yet why is it that his actions or lack thereof feel so wrong? From the very beginning we, as a society, consume biblical stories, fairy tales, and the archetypes of good and bad characters, consequently they constitute our moral code. It’s all an unspoken set of moral obligations, and Cash showed no remorse for breaking said moral obligations. As Deborah Stone, author of The Samaritan's Dilemma, notes that we often view ourselves and how we would react to certain stressful situations as “no different from the rest of humanity” and “that helping a stranger is a part of [our] character, not a sacrifice, but of who [we] are,” (Stone 128). This echoes the sentiments of many against David Cash. Helping another person in danger should be second nature. Cash should have stepped up whether it was to directly intervene or to just find help. Yet despite the 20 minute period he had alone after leaving the bathroom and the following days leading after the murder, he did not. Individuals should not be obligated to physically intervene in a dangerous situation but we all have a responsibility to speak up for those who are victimized.

The readings, "Nightmare on the 36 Bus" and "The Samaritan's Dilemma”, further show how nuanced moral “rules” are and the fragility of our humanity. In “Nightmare on the 36 Bus”, Daniel Auclair confessed how he didn't intervene because “maybe [he was] out of place. Maybe it's just a family thing and [he] shouldn't intervene." Clearly the boy needed help but why did possible family matters somehow justify the man's actions? The rules should not change because the fact is that the boy was defenseless and much younger and much weaker. Maybe it is a family matter. Maybe we don’t understand the full story, but the bystander effect can be seen in the responses of all the bus riders. They all expect someone else to step in or shift the responsibility off of themself. Although David Cash was the only witness before Sherrice’s murder, he too in a way, felt the bystander effect. As humans, our natural instinct is to survive and to put our own safety and well-being first. I can see how Cash could have been too shocked to take immediate action and felt that someone else would have stepped up. However I can not comprehend his silence in the following days and especially his lack of remorse and guilt about his role in her murder. Most likely, Cash also pushed the responsibility of Sherrice’s life off of his hands and onto Jeremy and even Sherrice herself.

In addition, an individual in the Samaritan's dilemma commented on rescue acts as “very good and very inspiring," but "lack[ed] common sense,” (Stone 132). What is “common sense”? Where is the line between ensuring our personal safety and ensuring the safety of others? I agree in some respects with the individual that intervening in certain situations can be irresponsible. Including that not all situations require action. Not to mention that one of the hardest things about creating legislation that governs moral behavior/common sense is that the “rules” are constantly shifting. The line itself between wrong and right is a blurred spectrum. The rules shift depending on context, personal experiences, and biases --- as a general rule --- if it doesn’t harm anyone, simply continue on.

moioma
Boston , MA, US
Posts: 4

Originally posted by StaphInfarction on September 21, 2022 09:55

After reading "Nightmare on the 36 bus" and "The Bystander Effect in the Cellphone Era", it got me thinking a lot. I was reminded of the second part of The US and the Holocaust. For those of you who did not see it, it mentioned that many Americans expressed sympathy for European refugees but did not want to increase immigration quotas. What's especially scary about the readings is that while you could argue that increasing immigration quotas is "sacrificing" something (I would disagree), both of the mentioned stories could have had very quick resolutions. Simply calling 911 would have prevented the tragedies.

While I agree with the sentiment that the solution to Cash's problem was simple, I think the circumstances he was in were different than the one in "Nightmare on the 36 bus". That story involved an older man beating a young boy, presumed to be his son, on a MBTA bus. The perpetrator in Cash's story is his best friend. I'm not arguing that Cash didn't do anything wrong, his "body language" excuse is pretty weak, and sounds like something his lawyer told him to say, but when you put someone in a spur of the moment decision, they're very rarely going to act rationally. We like to think of ourselves as different from everyone else, and that we absolutely would instantly help Sherrice in the same position as Cash, but that's very likely not the case. I'm not sure if I even would.

It's for that kind of reason that I don't think Cash should have been prosecuted in any criminal court. It is impossible for the justice system to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that David was acting out of malice. Even if they could absolutely be sure that he was, not reporting a crime is not a crime, and it shouldn't be. I think the best way to think about it is that while David was a direct witness, who let Sherrice into a casino in the first place? Who was watching the cameras? Who was the one who brought her there? Who was the one that let her out of sight? Would you want to prosecute all of these people? On what grounds?

I agree with your statement that we, humans, generally like to believe we would do the "right" thing. I would like to believe that I would have instantly stepped in. However I can see how Cash did not immediately intervene and I'm not sure I would have either.

moioma
Boston , MA, US
Posts: 4

Originally posted by siri/alexa on September 22, 2022 17:52

I read the article "Nightmare on the 36 bus" as well, and I thought that it was sad that people witnessed this, 2nd guessed themselves and never stood up for that little boy. Although those people might have thought " Oh, its not my problem", think about what that little boy thought, think about where that places his mind at such a young age like that. I understand if it was a little slap on the shoulder or scolding if he did something wrong, but a full on punch, with blood being evident, is another level of discipline and is abusive. And this is kind of similar(but not as severe) as the Sherice Iverson case, what must have been going through her mind when she saw that Cash wasn't going to help her and she was all on her own. And as a reply to StaphinFarction(another student), I think that for you to just say that its a different situation just because that was Cash's best friend, is questionable. In my case no matter who you are even if you are my family or best friend if you are doing something as horrible as molesting, raping, or touching someone in an inappropriate way I will stand up and say something, and its not even about how comfortable you are or what your morals are, its about basic human decency and common sense. As I was watching The Bad Samaritan video and Cash's interview I just sat there dumbfounded because he never did give one clear reason as to why he didn't intervene. Although he had no legal obligations, he had a choice of whether or not to save a young girls life that night and he opted not to.


Another article I read was “The Bystander Effect in the Cellphone Age". This article I could kind of relate to because often on snap chat I see people who record fights, a house on fire, or anything bad that happened that includes police activity. And I for one have not done so but I feel like if I were in the position I would probably not do anything. I think this case is different from the Sherice Iverson case and the bus incident, because I personally wouldn't run into fire or something of that measure, and I don't really know how to explain why. But I think this type of case is an example of when you don't really have an obligation of intervening.

Connecting to your example about the fire, in "The Samaritan's Dilemma," it was mentioned that the police and other first responders often discourage civilian intervention. I agree that in this situation, we are not obligated to intervene. I wouldn't run into the fire either as it would jeopardize your safety and there are also more qualified people to handle these situations.

mustardspider
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 2

The Bad Samaritan

The bystander effect is a prevalent moral dilemma that governs the actions of civilians witnessing immoral acts. When Cash saw Jeremy restraining Sherrice Iverson in the bathroom, he was given the decision to help his friend or to help the innocent girl; as we know, he chose to help his friend. His decisions may have been governed by a multitude of factors, one being that he didn't know Sherrice–a fact which Cash used to justify his actions. While we can judge Cash for his actions, or inaction, in retrospect, we all practice similar justifications every day. Every time we buy from large-multinational corporations, we support their unethical labor practices. However, we continue to buy their products because their poorly treated workers are an unknown entity not pertinent to our lives. We can internally excuse the companies' immoral behavior because we don't know their victims personally. This idea shows up again in "Nightmare on the 36 Bus," where the bystanders on the bus did nothing to help the little boy. They didn't know him, so didn't feel as if it was their responsibility to intervene; they were able to just sit there and watch as an adult assaulted a child. While this is the norm, it is something that must change. We must stop excusing immoral actions simply because they do not affect us. Personal loyalty should not have governed Cash's actions, but instead a responsibility to help those in need. I believe that someone is obligated to actively attempt to stop any act that they wouldn't be willing to commit themselves. If it is unsafe to personally intervene, one must still seek out someone who can help. Assuming Cash wasn't willing to kill Sherrice himself, it was his responsibility to play an active role in helping her. He should've stopped Jeremy or found a security guard who could. Even to call the police afterwards would've been to support Sherrice and bring her to justice. Instead, he condoned his friend's actions by staying silent. This rule applies to crimes of a smaller nature, stealing from Claire's for example. Most people would not stop someone from stealing, knowing that they would do it themselves. But when the conflict escalates to interpersonal assault, almost no one would beat someone up themselves, and should therefore intervene or find someone who can. This is all to say that, if you wouldn't do it yourself, don't let others get away with it.

I believe we almost always have an obligation to act against wrongdoing, and it is our responsibility to uphold our personal moral standards. In "The Samaritan's Dilemma" Stone remarks on the importance of civilian action in upholding moral behavior in a society. Police might not be available or might not respond fast enough, so a civilian could be the difference in saving a life. Civilians play an important role in the conservation of peace–it's our actions that keep our communities ethical. While citizens ought to follow the laws established by the government, I believe it's truly one's own moral code that should govern one's actions. Where would we be if Rosa Parks had given up her seat or if Ghandi hadn't illegally marched? There is no definitive statement explaining what one must do in a morally ambiguous situation, and I believe one must behave and enforce their own moral standards.

I agree with StaphInfarction's point that most people feel empathy, but are still unwilling to help. The issue is often not getting people to acknowledge an issue, but to act on it. Most people in the US understand the prevalence of racism within the country, but will not take an active stand against it, simply brushing it off as someone else's problem. As much as I don't want to, I also agree that Cash did nothing directly wrong legally, just morally, and therefore cannot be prosecuted; even the worst people deserve just treatment under the law.

I think that siri/alexa made a good point that there is a certain standard of evil that trumps any personal relationship to the perpetrator. You may excuse your best friend's petty theft, but when a case escalates to rape, assault, or murder, your obligation must shift to the protection of the victim. I thought it was interesting that they drew the line at running into a burning building. Their hesitation to commit this dangerous act of bravery is understandable, but I wonder what makes this different from the assault on the 36 bus; both have possibly-lethal consequences for the victim and savior.

mashedpotatoes25
Posts: 2

I think that Cash definitely should have intervened. For me, the bottom line is that if you are seeing a little girl getting raped and murdered in front of you, you have to do something about it. Although as far as I know there are no laws that required him to step in, when it comes to something as serious as rape and murder I think that you have a moral obligation to intervene unless you are in a situation where there is a serious threat to your own life. Cash had little to no threat to his own life and if he had intervened Sherrice Iverson would likely still be alive today so in my eyes he is just as bad as Strohmeyer. To watch that happen and do absolutely nothing is just as despicable. And also for him to say that it wasn’t his problem is absolutely atrocious because he was literally standing right there and watching and had every capability to intervene.


One of the articles I read was "Nightmare on the 36 Bus" by Brian McGrory. In this situation everyone on the bus was uncomfortable and knew that something was wrong. The least they could have done was ask the boy if he was related to or knew this man when they noticed that he was scared. Even when the man was beating the boy, they still did nothing. Even if it was a “family thing,” if you are seeing a child getting beaten bloody in public, you can and should intervene. Assuming that the man is a parent is not a safe assumption to make considering how dangerous this world is. I think this is similar to the David Cash situation because they both reflect how people tend to have the mentality that because it’s not directly affecting them then they don’t have to get involved. The other article I read was “The Bystander Effect in the Cellphone Age” by Judy Harris. This article also displays the “someone else’s problem mentality.” With social media being such a huge part of everyday life, we are constantly seeing stuff like this so I think people can easily get desensitized and separate themselves from it. I agree with what tiktok1234 and siri/alexa said about the this article. I don't know if I would run into a burning building and I don't think it is necessarily reasonable to expect that from everybody. I agree that it is beyond insensitive to stand there and record when there are people who could be dying in there and you are making it into entertainment.

Curious George
Boston, MA
Posts: 4

“Nightmare on the 36 Bus" and “The Trick to Acting Heroically,”

In "The Trick to Acting Heroically", a study showed that helping another person instinctively, even with a cost, created a better (trusting) relationship with that person. However in this case, Cash "unintentionally" helps his friend get away with rape and murder of a child just by doing nothing (the road goes both ways). His excuse was that he had only ever seen Jeremy as a best friend and good person, but by not reacting to Jeremy's actions, Cash clearly values his relationship with a rapist/murderer more than an innocent child. Yes, he did not know the child, but as human beings, we have a moral obligation to help each other and to call out the malice actions of others. By calling others out, it is made more clear what is right and wrong and what actions are(n't) acceptable to our society. In this case, unacceptable behavior includes harming another person and not taking action after someone harms another. Secondly, even if Cash just is not the type of person to react in the moment and did not want to put himself in danger, he sat waiting outside for his friend for 20 minutes, continued on their night (riding roller coasters and gambling), drove three hours back to California with Jeremy, and all the days after, without saying a word. There was no remorse for his actions or lack thereof.

Another excuse was that Jeremy was his friend and he did not want to be the one to report him to the police. He knew that Jeremy would eventually be caught, and he just wanted to spend time he had left with him. This shows AGAIN that Cash values a relationship with horrible human being more than our moral obligations to each other as humans. [I refrain from referring Jeremy as a monster because he is also a human, showing what we are capable of]

Legally, he is not wrong, as he was not persecuted, but we all know how flawed our legal system is. Just because he was not charged, does NOT mean he does not bear responsibility. Good, responsibly taken actions belong to those at their school who called/reported to the police of Jeremy and Cash when they recognized them in the tape. No, they were not in the same exact situation as Cash, but when given the opportunity to bring some sort of justice to Sherice, multiple people did so.


Some believe it should not be illegal to not report a crime, and although I agree it depends on the situation, maybe you're threatened if you report someone, I disagree with the overall statement. As I mentioned earlier, as human beings we must call out unacceptable behavior in society and it cannot go unpunished. We've created entire legal systems for the purpose of doing so, thus we should continue altering/adding laws to better humanity

princess
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 4

The Bad Samaritan

After learning about the case of Sherrice, the actions of David the bystander seems very impactful alongside the actual crime committed by Jeremy. David Cash should not have so willingly left the situation and completely disregard the severity of what was going on. He should have acted thinking about Sherrice the seven-year-old child and her family and community. In the video, he expresses how he did not know her which is one main reason he could fit the role of a bystander, even in a situation of that degree. I can connect that point to the article "Nightmare on the 39" because the bystanders on the bus expressed how they did not jump in to help, because of a lack of information about the child and creepy adult, and a feeling of not wanting to get involved in a personal matter in which they may not know of. I think humans try to see the best of certain situations because it is hard for a person to wrap their heads around the fact that a crime or traumatic experience is occurring right before them. I also think it is important to acknowledge this human behavior because if someone encounters a similar situation in public they should try their best to help instead because it can save lives. When witnessing wrongdoings I would say we have an obligation of speaking up or finding help in any form. I don't know if there would be "rules" per se but I think an individual should evaluate the situation to make sure that they can help out but also remain as safe as possible.


There are a lot of factors that come into play before actually engaging in speaking up. In the article "The Bystander Effect In The Cellphone Age" people who see the fire take a picture and move on about their day as if this fire was on tv and not in front of them. The article talks about the bystander effect and how having others around while witnessing wrongdoings makes a person assume someone else is going to speak up instead or that the problem is not as big as it really is because no one else is taking action. Other reasons why a person may not speak up is for the involvement that creates, fear of facing danger, or just not wanting to deal with it (out of sight out of mind).

princess
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 4

Originally posted by tiktok1234 on September 22, 2022 16:18

  • Articles Read: “The Trick to Acting Heroically,” New York Times, “The Bystander Effect in the Cellphone Age”, WBUR Cognoscenti

I think that a person who witnesses another wrong has the obligation to do something about it. There is a common slogan seen on highways and major roads that says "If you see something, say something". However, it really depends on the circumstance. In Cash's case, it was truly life or death. If he would've done something, the little girl might've been alive today. Just because "he didn't know her" doesn't mean he shouldn't have interfered. The definition of a good samaritan is helping a community with problems, even those you aren't familiar with. If you are threatened by the situation, and it seems like it's being handled, sometimes it's ok not to interfere. However, you could also just call 911 instead of personally interfering. In "The Trick to Acting Heroically", we can see how people are influenced to help situations. Usually, when the situation poses a low threat to the bystander, he most likely jumps in to help. However, if they are being threatened themselves, or there isn't a big reward for helping, they don't do it. In the WBUR article, it was talking about how people were just posting pictures of the fire on social media. I think that if there is a large threat that people would find astonishing, the bystander just records the situation, instead of helping, which is very insensitive.

Responding to this I would say I agree with your points and I feel as if social media has created a false world where people use to escape reality and in this case real danger. Feeling some sort of connection online undermines the real struggles a person may have especially when encountering wrongdoings.

Curious George
Boston, MA
Posts: 4

Originally posted by StaphInfarction on September 21, 2022 09:55

After reading "Nightmare on the 36 bus" and "The Bystander Effect in the Cellphone Era", it got me thinking a lot. I was reminded of the second part of The US and the Holocaust. For those of you who did not see it, it mentioned that many Americans expressed sympathy for European refugees but did not want to increase immigration quotas. What's especially scary about the readings is that while you could argue that increasing immigration quotas is "sacrificing" something (I would disagree), both of the mentioned stories could have had very quick resolutions. Simply calling 911 would have prevented the tragedies.

While I agree with the sentiment that the solution to Cash's problem was simple, I think the circumstances he was in were different than the one in "Nightmare on the 36 bus". That story involved an older man beating a young boy, presumed to be his son, on a MBTA bus. The perpetrator in Cash's story is his best friend. I'm not arguing that Cash didn't do anything wrong, his "body language" excuse is pretty weak, and sounds like something his lawyer told him to say, but when you put someone in a spur of the moment decision, they're very rarely going to act rationally. We like to think of ourselves as different from everyone else, and that we absolutely would instantly help Sherrice in the same position as Cash, but that's very likely not the case. I'm not sure if I even would.

It's for that kind of reason that I don't think Cash should have been prosecuted in any criminal court. It is impossible for the justice system to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that David was acting out of malice. Even if they could absolutely be sure that he was, not reporting a crime is not a crime, and it shouldn't be. I think the best way to think about it is that while David was a direct witness, who let Sherrice into a casino in the first place? Who was watching the cameras? Who was the one who brought her there? Who was the one that let her out of sight? Would you want to prosecute all of these people? On what grounds?

We know that Sherrice's father took her into the Casino. Although he is obviously in the wrong and the casino is no place for a child, he did not murder, and in any other case would have been charged with just that crime. He would have also been charged for child endangerment. The person on duty watching the cameras could face the repercussions of being fired for not doing their job and maybe more legal actions, but not for her murder. These people would be could/should be charged, but not for her murder. These people, and cash, do hold some responsiblity, nut no one is saying Cash should face the same sentence as Jeremy; there is no way he should walk off scratch free.

princess
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 4

Originally posted by moioma on September 22, 2022 19:42

No individual has a legal obligation to help someone in need. David Cash, too, had no legal obligation to aid Sherrice Iverrison. Yet why is it that his actions or lack thereof feel so wrong? From the very beginning we, as a society, consume biblical stories, fairy tales, and the archetypes of good and bad characters, consequently they constitute our moral code. It’s all an unspoken set of moral obligations, and Cash showed no remorse for breaking said moral obligations. As Deborah Stone, author of The Samaritan's Dilemma, notes that we often view ourselves and how we would react to certain stressful situations as “no different from the rest of humanity” and “that helping a stranger is a part of [our] character, not a sacrifice, but of who [we] are,” (Stone 128). This echoes the sentiments of many against David Cash. Helping another person in danger should be second nature. Cash should have stepped up whether it was to directly intervene or to just find help. Yet despite the 20 minute period he had alone after leaving the bathroom and the following days leading after the murder, he did not. Individuals should not be obligated to physically intervene in a dangerous situation but we all have a responsibility to speak up for those who are victimized.

The readings, "Nightmare on the 36 Bus" and "The Samaritan's Dilemma”, further show how nuanced moral “rules” are and the fragility of our humanity. In “Nightmare on the 36 Bus”, Daniel Auclair confessed how he didn't intervene because “maybe [he was] out of place. Maybe it's just a family thing and [he] shouldn't intervene." Clearly the boy needed help but why did possible family matters somehow justify the man's actions? The rules should not change because the fact is that the boy was defenseless and much younger and much weaker. Maybe it is a family matter. Maybe we don’t understand the full story, but the bystander effect can be seen in the responses of all the bus riders. They all expect someone else to step in or shift the responsibility off of themself. Although David Cash was the only witness before Sherrice’s murder, he too in a way, felt the bystander effect. As humans, our natural instinct is to survive and to put our own safety and well-being first. I can see how Cash could have been too shocked to take immediate action and felt that someone else would have stepped up. However I can not comprehend his silence in the following days and especially his lack of remorse and guilt about his role in her murder. Most likely, Cash also pushed the responsibility of Sherrice’s life off of his hands and onto Jeremy and even Sherrice herself.

In addition, an individual in the Samaritan's dilemma commented on rescue acts as “very good and very inspiring," but "lack[ed] common sense,” (Stone 132). What is “common sense”? Where is the line between ensuring our personal safety and ensuring the safety of others? I agree in some respects with the individual that intervening in certain situations can be irresponsible. Including that not all situations require action. Not to mention that one of the hardest things about creating legislation that governs moral behavior/common sense is that the “rules” are constantly shifting. The line itself between wrong and right is a blurred spectrum. The rules shift depending on context, personal experiences, and biases --- as a general rule --- if it doesn’t harm anyone, simply continue on.

I found your point about putting our own safety first very significant. In a way, I think humans are just inherently selfish and do things for their own benefit. Not helping Sherrice was a way for David not to get involved directly but still in the long run impacted him forever. I think people need to realize that disregarding wrongdoings may feel like the safest way in the moment but in the future you'll live with lifelong regret and shame.

posts 1 - 15 of 45