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Patch Poll: You Witness a Major Crime Taking Place At Your Workplace. What Would You Do?

You don't have to wander far among the day's headlines to understand the premise behind this week's Patch Poll.

Recent events have set us to thinking about the mindset of people thrust into intense, "My God, what am I seeing?" moments.

Everyone would like to think they would do precisely the right thing at the right moment, but it is evident that different people react in different -- outwardly  strange -- ways. In the recent, headline-grabbing case of Penn State Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky, a junior member of the coaching staff who allegedly walked in on Sandusky as he was sexually attacking a boy in the university shower room left the area, calling his father and revered Coach Joe Paterno to ask how to proceed.

Another potential witness -- a university custodian and Korean War veteran -- also allegedly walked in on Sandusky as he was attacking a boy in the Penn State shower room. According to one of the man's colleagues, the janitor, who was reportedly “upset and crying” as he talked about what he'd seen, said that he had “fought in the war…" and that he had "just witnessed something in there I’ll never forget.”

The janitor told his immediate supervisor what he’d seen, and the supervisor “told him to whom he should report the incident, if he chose to report it.” The janitor, who now suffers from dementia and is unable to testify before the grand jury, never made an official report.

So, dig deep. Put yourself in the scenario: at work, surrounded by people on whom your job depends, and you see a colleague perpetrate a crime in front of your eyes.

What would you do?

Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop November 26, 2011 at 05:35 PM
Just came across the attached and I am somewhat shocked at its defensiveness from one who prides himself on his superciliousness and hard-edged, even thoughtful, comments. Nic-Dime would sooner smother you in logic before he would call you a lying coward. A chink in the nickel-plated armor perhaps? (CAPS below to differentiate from quote) "@Mblog: I hope your morals are really as pure as your sanctimony. I AM MORALLY NORMAL, IN THAT I TAKE THEM DEAD SERIOUSLY AND THEY SLIDE ON NO SCALE. THEY MAY BE TEMPERED BY THE SITUATION, BUT THEY ARE STEADY. I, along with the other "subhumans," are cursed to live in the real world, SUB-HUMAN REFERRED TO PEDOPHILES, OBVIOUSLY. where sweeping absolutes make for nice speeches, but sometimes don't provide a mechanical (SIC) and optimal (SIC) solution to many of life's predicaments. The world needs heros, but most of us would pause for half a beat before springing to action. Is that wrong? I THINK THERE ARE MANY MORE HEROES THAN YOU KNOW. PERHAPS IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE. As for moral stands, I have been in the position many times. When I was 30 or so, I took a stand that would eventually cost me a job (I did not consider it at the time) and I recovered over time. Your nihilistic pov leaves little room for the human spirit. We are in an era of the self-righteous and self-absorbed, where altruism is a dirty word. I also believe most people would consider saving a child from being raped an opportunity, not an inconvenient predicament.
Chris Nicholson November 26, 2011 at 07:32 PM
@Comrade Hero MBlog: You use a lot of colorful language for a guy who claims to see in black and white. In any case, when you said "THEY SLIDE ON NO SCALE...[although] THEY MAY BE TEMPERED BY THE SITUATION," your latter phrase essentially concedes my core premise that the real world doesn't operate on absolutes. "Absolute" is a binary condition: either you respond robotically and with blinders on to a given situation, or you don't. Any "tempering" of absolute destroys it by definition. A nuanced definition of the "situation" is just concealed method of fuzzing up ostensibly crisp moral platitudes. Is it possible that you DO see shades of gray in the world?
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop November 27, 2011 at 06:30 PM
How is it, 5 & Dime, that you are the self-appointed arbiter of my morals? Your pedagoguery is generally off point and irrelevant to the issue at hand and your insistence on pressing these pseudo-analytical digressions are at once intriguing and annoying. Recently, you seem to be misinterpreting the simple meaning of my words and juxtaposing our roles in this sidebar activity, i.e., confusing me with someone that is a polarized thinker like yourself with no shades of gray or allowing for the complexity of most people and situations. As for 'tempering' as applied to a moral code, it refers to the action taken to achieve the applicable moral standard, not the COMPROMISING of said standard. In the case in question, something had to be done immediately to stop the rape and ensure the safety of the child. Then, the timely reporting of the perpetrator's identity to the "proper" authority would follow. 'Stop it' and 'Report it' both represent my moral obligation, both to be accomplished post haste. "Tempering", applied to the former, would include a range of possible behaviors in which morality would also serve as arbiter. For instance, I could pull the child to safety, then beat the reprobate to a bloody pulp, ensuring that safety, or I could simply remove the child and temporarily ignore the well-known miscreant knowing full well who he is and reasonably certain of his future availability. Clear? fyi: Your dogmatic style at times clouds your insight.
Chris Nicholson November 27, 2011 at 08:34 PM
@Hero Mblog: You are dancing and retrofitting. Get a dictionary. "Temper" does not mean what you think. My simple point is: Although it would be nice to imagine that people would invariably "do the right thing" regardless of consequences, both the human brain and the real world are more complicated than that. If you want to predict and understand actual behavior, my model does a better job than utopian absolutest ones. I am a realist.
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop November 28, 2011 at 12:56 AM
5&dime. It is called a vocabulary, they are not that difficult to develop. Had it for years. Undergrad degree was in psych and this insistence on the last (correct) word may have another name now, but in the 60s it was about sublimated aggression and a few other aspects associated with external affirmation or some such. Be that as it may, the goal of this poll is to gather differing points of view in order to see if this sampling of the population trends toward some, as yet undiscovered, position. And it most definitely is not about establishing right from wrong, which is for the Criminal Justice System to decide. My position on whether or not the major crime one witnesses at their workplace should be reported (with a subtitle that infers a recent "Penn State type" crime) is: Yes, I immediately would do something to abort the disgusting crime against innocence then report it to the police. The responsibility I feel toward protecting the innocent would supersede any concern for myself. If the crime were of a "white collar" variety, a completely different animal in that the victim is a business, but of "major" proportion, I would make the perpetrator aware of the fact that I knew and if he did report him or herself, then I would. Life is too short to be hauling around that sort of complicit guilt as you would also have become an accomplice after the fact.

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