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Intervening in perceived injustices

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libertygrl
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Posted 06/13/11 - 12:10 PM:
Subject: Intervening in perceived injustices
Was curious to know at what point, if ever, you feel it's appropriate to intervene when observing something taking place that you consider to be an injustice.

I'm guessing (and hoping) that if you saw someone doing something to hurt someone you love, that you would in most cases step in and defend your loved one in whatever way possible. But what if it's not a loved one? What if it's a complete stranger that you see getting the short end of the stick? Maybe it's a woman getting physically assaulted on the street. Or maybe it's a homophobic waitress verbally assaulting some gays in a restaurant. Could be your boss getting ripped off by a co-worker, could be anyone at all really, anyone that you see being either physically, emotionally, financially or socially victimized in some way. Would you adhere to a policy of "none of my business" in these cases? Or is there any kind of scenario where you could see yourself wanting to step in?

Any thoughts?
libertygrl
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Posted 06/13/11 - 3:05 PM:

Another question: What if the shoe is on the other foot, and the person on the receiving end of the injustice is you? Would you want a stranger to intervene?
henry quirk
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Posted 06/14/11 - 9:31 AM:

For the most part: unless an *innocent is the target, I'm steering clear.

One: it's a little arrogant for me to assume my assistance is needed.

Two: ignorant of the facts of the circumstance, I might aid someone who actually deserves what he or she is getting.

Three: I have this sinking suspicion that in aiding that person, I'm some how assuming a 'responsibility' for him or her...and my plate is full already.

Four:**

#

"a woman getting physically assaulted on the street"

Is she attempting to defend herself?

#

"a homophobic waitress verbally assaulting some gays in a restaurant"

Are the gays defending themselves?

#

"Would you want a stranger to intervene?"

Probably not: in my experience, most folks are incompetent in the extreme...if my ass is to be kicked: I'd rather it be because of my failings, and not because of the incompetence of a well-intended bystander.



*A child, for example, one without an obvious adult defender.

**I'd be remiss if I neglected to say -- apart from the first three -- one significant reason I'll steer clear is: I don't give a shit... wink

Edited by henry quirk on 06/14/11 - 3:59 PM. Reason: clarification
libertygrl
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Posted 06/14/11 - 7:50 PM:

henry quirk wrote:
For the most part: unless an *innocent is the target, I'm steering clear.

One: it's a little arrogant for me to assume my assistance is needed.

Two: ignorant of the facts of the circumstance, I might aid someone who actually deserves what he or she is getting.

Three: I have this sinking suspicion that in aiding that person, I'm some how assuming a 'responsibility' for him or her...and my plate is full already.

these are excellent points

quirk wrote:
"a woman getting physically assaulted on the street"

Is she attempting to defend herself?

sometimes people fail to defend themselves out of fear. doesn't mean they don't wish someone would help them... ("sometimes" being the operative word as well there. can definitely make a situation hard to read at times.)

the bit about the homophobic waitress was inspired by this news segment.
henry quirk
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Posted 06/16/11 - 12:15 PM:

"sometimes people fail to defend themselves out of fear."

I know this is true: I don't understand 'why' it's true.

If I'm hungry: am I obligated to eat (right then and there)?

If I'm horny: am I obligated to fuck?

If I'm afraid: am I obligated to cower or freeze up?

#

"doesn't mean they don't wish someone would help them"

Does the desire for help obligate another to offer help?

#

Is there a (written) story associated with the video? The particular machine I'm on won't let me access it... :(

Edited by henry quirk on 06/16/11 - 12:25 PM. Reason: removed a pesky word
libertygrl
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Posted 06/16/11 - 1:21 PM:

henry quirk wrote:
If I'm afraid: am I obligated to cower or freeze up?

it's not so much about obligation, i'd say it's just about not knowing any better. if you're used to being beaten as a child, you easily get used to not fighting back, if you have any sense about you. sudden trauma also tends to cause a "deer in the headlights" response in a lot of people.

one time my ex-husband and i were having a (verbal) fight, and he reached over and snatched the glasses off my face. completely startled and disturbed the hell out of me, i was upset about it for the rest of the day, in spite of his apology. later on, he told me, if you ever see someone's hand coming toward your face, don't just sit there. back away, or block it with your arm. lessens in self defense, with a dash of irony. anyway, sometimes these things just don't occur to you, especially when you come from a history of childhood abuse.

"Does the desire for help obligate another to offer help?"

as far as i'm concerned, no. although if someone asks me directly for help, i usually will, if i can.

"Is there a (written) story associated with the video? The particular machine I'm on won't let me access it... :("

alas no. basically you have a lesbian couple in a restaurant, played by a couple of actresses. their waitress, also played by an actress, goes off on the couple and their children, saying that she's disgusted by them and they're not fit to raise children, etc etc. sort of a social experiment to see if anyone will come to their defense, which some people did. the unwitting patrons are later informed that they were being filmed for a news segment.

i'd have to watch it again to remember, but i think they found that people were more likely to speak up when it was a female gay couple than a male gay couple. also, they found that people in new york city were much *less* likely to intervene than folks in texas were. they attributed it to NY being more of a "mind your own business" kind of place.
henry quirk
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Posted 06/16/11 - 4:53 PM:

Yeah, I get the 'deer in the headlights' syndrome: I just don't understand it.

For example: in the midst of an argument, I too had the glasses snatched off my face...I didn't think twice: I punched the fucker square in the head.

It may be simply a matter of different (in-born) strokes for different folks.

#

There's an ABC program (I don't care for) that stages public scenarios like the one you describe.

I dislike the show specifically because the scenarios are staged (that is: the possibility for real, problem-resolving, violence is eliminated).

In the real world: at least some of the time, one of the gays would've kicked the waitress's ass.

How valid is an experiment if you remove a real possibility from the potential results?
libertygrl
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Posted 06/17/11 - 11:15 AM:

that clip is from an abc program, probably the one you're talking about.

quirk wrote:
In the real world: at least some of the time, one of the gays would've kicked the waitress's ass.

probably so, but i doubt a stranger would have intervened in that case..
smokinpristiformis
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Posted 06/21/11 - 3:13 PM:

I don't know if I would help someone who would be assaulted in any way, mentally or physically, but I do hope that I would do so without blinking. Call me naïve, in my book people are innocent until proven otherwise. I see no reason not to help a random bystander. They're human too - well, you know my stance here.

There is the issue of physical capacity to help, I guess. I admit I'm somewhat lucky in this department. On the other hand, if you hear of old ladies chasing away assailants with their handbags... well. What a wuss would I be if I turned away, right? And yelling and screaming is probably very efficient, too.

It's pretty similar to helping someone who fell from their bike, no? Only you risk a punch in the face. But what's a little punch anyway? smiling face
libertygrl
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Posted 06/24/11 - 1:12 PM:

smoki wrote:
I see no reason not to help a random bystander. They're human too - well, you know my stance here.

it's kind of you. smiling face

smoki wrote:
And yelling and screaming is probably very efficient, too.

it probably is, in a lot of cases. there's always the option of calling for help too, either from people standing around or by calling the police.
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#11 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 06/26/11 - 4:39 AM:

libertygrl wrote:

it's kind of you. smiling face



Thank you.

I reckon that it is also rational. smiling face

I think the most common reason for not helping people are irrational ones: fear, unease, doubt,...
henry quirk
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Posted 06/27/11 - 4:56 PM:

"it is also rational"

It can be...it can also be lunacy.

There is no standard of 'decent behavior' to apply here...instead: there are only individuals, each with his or her peculiar and particular reasonings, doing 'this' and 'that'...each being assessed (and sanctioned or condemned) by other agents, each with his or her own peculiar and particular reasoning for 'this' or 'that'.
smokinpristiformis
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Posted 06/28/11 - 3:14 AM:

henry quirk wrote:
"it is also rational"

It can be...it can also be lunacy.

There is no standard of 'decent behavior' to apply here...instead: there are only individuals, each with his or her peculiar and particular reasonings, doing 'this' and 'that'...each being assessed (and sanctioned or condemned) by other agents, each with his or her own peculiar and particular reasoning for 'this' or 'that'.




It's not all set in stone. I suppose it's where common sense and rationality meet. And that can be different depending on the person or the circumstances. I think that many cases are quite obvious: On an average day, you notice an old lady falling off her bike or someone ganged up on by young troublemakers. The net humanistic benefit of helping is quite clear, I think. It's completely useless to start hypothesizing if maybe they did something to deserve it, or that helping is a great big danger. You make a judgement call based on what you see and know.
henry quirk
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Posted 06/28/11 - 12:12 PM:

"common sense and rationality meet"

Eye of the beholder, I think...I know for a fact much of what I consider 'sensical' ('cause it works for me) is considered immoral (at best) and evil (at worst) by the majority of folks I rub shoulders with (literally and figuratively)...can't see myself restrained by what is considered conventional wisdom.


"that can be different depending on the person or the circumstances"

Exactly.


"The net humanistic benefit of helping is quite clear"

I suppose so: if the 'net humanistic benefit' is figured into the equation...I generally don't think in those terms.


"It's completely useless to start hypothesizing if maybe they did something to deserve it, or that helping is a great big danger."

For you, maybe... wink


"You make a judgement call based on what you see and know."

Exactly.
Morgena
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Posted 06/29/11 - 5:22 AM:

Well, I would try my level best to help even though personally I had experienced the opposite, that’s the reason why I understand very well what it means to be victimised of unjust.
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Posted 06/29/11 - 11:02 AM:

Morgena wrote:
Well, I would try my level best to help even though personally I had experienced the opposite, that’s the reason why I understand very well what it means to be victimised of unjust.




Welcome back Morgena hug It's so nice to hear from you after a long time. You have also changed your profile pic. Nice!nod
Morgena
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Posted 06/29/11 - 1:19 PM:

Thinker13 wrote:




Welcome back Morgena hug It's so nice to hear from you after a long time. You have also changed your profile pic. Nice!nod







Well, that’s the pic. of my real hair 27 inch long cared for with Henna and a few Indian herbs ;-)
My Google mail hat a hiccup, had to apply for a new one, but lost contacts and mails.

libertygrl
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Posted 06/30/11 - 11:30 AM:

hi morgena, great to see you hug

smoki wrote:
You make a judgement call based on what you see and know

quirk wrote:
Exactly.

for sure, i think this is the key. a real world friend of mine, the one who actually inspired this topic, said that his personal policy is one of non-intervention because, for example, maybe the two people are engaged in some kind of sadomasochistic ritual to which they both consent. really, though, how often is this going to be the case? i think the best any of us can do in each situation is use our best judgement.

personally, i think it's worthwhile to help where we can, when the help seems welcome, but i don't feel anyone has the strict obligation to do so. a keen sense of intuition can be greatly helpful, but sometimes we may end up just being wrong either way. so again, it just boils down to assessing each situation as it comes around.

i don't think it's good, though, to decide never to help anyone based on the possibility of being wrong. if your position is that you just don't care, that is one thing. then it's a question of acting on what you value. if it's a concern for your safety, that is another issue. but if it's just a fear of being wrong, then i dunno, that seems kind of sad to me.
smokinpristiformis
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Posted 07/04/11 - 3:00 AM:

but if it's just a fear of being wrong, then i dunno, that seems kind of sad to me.


Exactly. Not to mention absurd. I think such reasons usually are a cover story for fear. I don't think that people who are afraid are necessarily bad people. It's a human trait to be afraid. What I think IS bad is not facing up to it. If you're afraid, be a (wo)man about it.
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#20 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 07/05/11 - 12:39 PM:

keep in mind too that fear can go in both directions - what seems like fear to one person may seem like courage to another (depending on the circumstance). for example, a parent sees their two adult children fighting. (an argument, not a fist fight.) one person thinks the parent should get involved, take a side, resolve the issue. another person thinks the parent should stay out of it & let them gain the wisdom & experience of working it out for themselves. either option could require a certain degree of courage, depending on the perspective...
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