Print Story A policy of non-intervention?
Religion & Philosophy
By tierrasimbolica (Mon Jun 13, 2011 at 01:14:24 PM EST) (all tags)
I've been having a lengthy debate with an old friend, and wanted to get some outside perspectives on a certain point.  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?
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A policy of non-intervention? | 16 comments (16 topical, 0 hidden)
Depends by duxup (4.00 / 1) #1 Mon Jun 13, 2011 at 01:56:07 PM EST
If we're talking physical violence I'm more likely to pickup the cellphone although I've never had to do that so who knows.

With the kid these days I think I'd be a lot less brave, but again who knows as you never know when you're sitting in a comfy cube or in the actual situation.

Good point about the cell phone by tierrasimbolica (4.00 / 1) #5 Mon Jun 13, 2011 at 04:11:44 PM EST
Certainly much easier to call the police, especially when it can be an anonymous tip.

[ Parent ]
I have no qualms about stepping in anywhere ... by lm (4.00 / 2) #2 Mon Jun 13, 2011 at 01:58:24 PM EST
But that doesn't mean that it would be prudent to do so. Quite a few times, someone stepping in only makes matters worse. So pratical reason (or wisdom or good judgment or experience or whatever you want to call it) comes into play.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
For sure. by tierrasimbolica (2.00 / 0) #6 Mon Jun 13, 2011 at 04:14:13 PM EST
It definitely causes some problems in the decision-making process when there's the potential for the person you're intending to defend to get upset with you for stepping in (and of course, this does happen, which makes for a lot of gray area).

[ Parent ]
Someone getting their panties in a bunch ... by lm (4.00 / 1) #16 Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 11:49:24 PM EST
... doesn't really concern me all that much. If the question at hand is justice, the would-be victims feelings are likely to be fairly low on the order of things to be seriously considered.

I'm thinking about real, substantial things. For example, physical intervention in a situation where a man is beating a woman might involve an escalation of violence once the not-so-happy couple gets into the privacy of their own home.

Perhaps a good comparisson can be made to classical just war theory. In order for a war to be considered just, most thinkers argue that not only must the attacking party be going to war for the right reasons but also have a reasonable chance of success. That is to say that there are wars that would be just but are not because engaging in them is just likely to end in failure all around. Intervention in the affairs of others can be like that sometimes.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
(Comment Deleted) by robot lover (4.00 / 1) #3 Mon Jun 13, 2011 at 03:01:45 PM EST

This comment has been deleted by robot lover

The bit about the homophobic waitress by tierrasimbolica (2.00 / 0) #7 Mon Jun 13, 2011 at 04:21:53 PM EST

was inspired by this news segment.

"The hardest one is quarreling couples when you suspect there is some physical abuse going on but cannot get any evudence either way, in those cases I never know how to play it."

If one is cheating on another is also a very gray area.

[ Parent ]
(Comment Deleted) by robot lover (4.00 / 1) #8 Mon Jun 13, 2011 at 05:10:53 PM EST

This comment has been deleted by robot lover

[ Parent ]
It was interesting by tierrasimbolica (4.00 / 1) #10 Mon Jun 13, 2011 at 07:15:30 PM EST
that at the end of the news segment, they found that folks in Texas were more likely to speak up in defense of the gay couple than folks in New York, it being suggested that New York was a more "mind your own business" kind of place.

[ Parent ]
A related question for everyone by tierrasimbolica (2.00 / 0) #4 Mon Jun 13, 2011 at 04:08:33 PM EST
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?

That depends on which side they take by Alan Crowe (4.00 / 2) #14 Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 07:00:25 AM EST
Strangers don't know the real story and may step in on the wrong side.

[ Parent ]
Physical and Social intervention by Gedvondur (4.00 / 2) #9 Mon Jun 13, 2011 at 05:16:21 PM EST
In the case of the homophobic waitress, I'd give her what-for.  I don't put up with that shit.

In the case of uncertainty regarding couples physical abuse, you can do nothing unless you know.

Someone being assaulted in the street, I intervene.  Mind you, I am about the worst fighter ever, but that doesn't matter. I will not allow the strong to oppress the powerless if I can help it.  That being said, using the cell phone first to summon the authorities is the smart way to go.  Physical intervention is also tempered on not getting either of us killed.  As LM observed, there needs to be some judgement involved.

If the boss is ripping off the co-worker and I can prove it (in a legal sense) I turn that motherfucker in.  If I can't prove it, I find a new job, inform the higher-ups of my suspicions on the way out.

Honestly, nothing pisses me off more than someone in a position of power (social or physical) hurting another living being. 

"Adrenaline dumbs pain" - xth
I no longer get paid to, so no. by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #11 Mon Jun 13, 2011 at 09:00:04 PM EST

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

depends by bobdole (4.00 / 1) #12 Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 04:46:22 AM EST
as in I have no clear cut guideline on intervention, it is dependent on the balance of power, if I have the time, etc.

Have intervened both by telephone, verbally and physically in the past.

The last two can cause consequences (called in as witness) which usually makes you think twice about intervening again.
-- The revolution will not be televised.

First aid... by Tonatiuh (4.00 / 1) #13 Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 06:14:22 AM EST
When you take First Aid training the first step before you help somebody that is in distress is to asses the situation looking for danger.

In my mind the same approach should be used in any situation where somebody is in distress. Will you put yourself in danger if you intervene? If the answer is yes, then don't do it, you will make matters worse.

In most violent incidents the best course of action is not to get involved, that does not mean to ignore it, it means to either call the pros or to change the situation in a way that makes danger to yourself negligible (i.e. call your mates, make lots of noise so other people notice, etc).

As for catching a cheat in your company, any company worth anything should have procedures in place to deal with these situations, that normaly would mean to report it to somebody that will handle the situation discretely, so even if you don't have conslusive proof of something, your report is taken seriously and your identity is protected, so if a misunderstanidng arises nobody is hurt in the process.

If your company does not have those things in place, then reporting somebody in any way opens you to a world of pain, so it would be better to turn a blind eye and wait until the eevidence is so overwhelming that you can report the problem even in the worst of situations, but as somebody said above, you may not want to be working in such a place where people cheat and there are no mechanisms to report the cheats.

You Can't Reason... by CheeseburgerBrown (4.00 / 1) #15 Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 03:19:35 PM EST
...a man out of a position he didn't reason himself into. So if someone's behaving like an ass in public it is unlikely rhetoric is the answer.

Beyond that, I am physically meek and therefore unlikely to successfully intimidate anyone.

I am most likely to let sleeping dogs lie, or let yapping dogs yap. My wife, on the other hand...she'd speak up for justice regardless of the circumstances, and the consequences be damned.

Science-fiction wallah, storytelling gorilla, man wearing a hat: Cheeseburger Brown.
A policy of non-intervention? | 16 comments (16 topical, 0 hidden)