View Full Version : What is a good person to do?
May 5th, 2010, 07:44 AM
I'm not seeking legal advice, just a sampling of what others would do.
A friend (call him Rolf) owns a small shop for computer sales/repairs and is doing OK. The other day one of his first customers came in with a laptop she says a "friend gave my son." but that had some trouble with Windows Media Viewer. Rolf got permission to bypass the password (on paper) did his registry magic and got the machine up to snuff.
The folder that opened up (automatically when he opened the program) had - wait for it - pictures of thousands of dollars and drug paraphernalia on a table with teens smoking what appeared to be large doobies and white powder on the table and - well you get it. The folder was named "from my camera." He doesn't know the kids in the pics, but it seems they are from nearby.
Ahh - the subtleties of the moral dilemma. Rolf's partner claimed that he was under a legal compunction to report the contents to the police (misprision of a felony and all that). So he did. The police told him it would be better not to tell the mom. But he did. Now there is smelly brown stuff spattered all over the place.
Would you have reported to the police?
Would you have clued in the mother? (Granted that since she thought nothing of a $1,500 gift to her adolescent son, she is in serious need of a clue.)
May 5th, 2010, 08:45 AM
I can't imagine 'Rolf' broke the law by telling the mother, but once he had informed Five-O of what he had seen on the laptop he should have followed their advice and not said anything to anyone other than his partner.
May 5th, 2010, 09:56 AM
I don't think there's any question of breaking the law with the mother. And nothing here is taken as legal advice, just interested to see what other HO's are.
Rolf felt he had to let the mother know her son was in a bad space - to help her and him. But she has gone off the charts with screaming to everyone who will listen about how Rolf overstepped his bounds by calling in the cops. She says he "took away her right to be a mother."
Just goes to show that no good deed goes unpunished. :)
May 5th, 2010, 10:48 AM
I guess neither way everyone would be happy.
He tried to help, and no matter which way of helping it wouldn't have satisfied everyone (completely ignoring what he saw would not have helped anyone).
Depending on the local laws, I'd probably have reported it to the police too (as repairing computers doesn't give unfortunately the untouchability of e.g. priests or doctors).
And depending on the relationship with that mother, probably it would have been a better choice to alert her too. At least if knowing her better and being sure she has no knowledge of those contents or her son's involvement. So she could then have taken action for whatever she considered appropriate for the son. As she was alerted, she still should take action as a parent to do whatever is appropriate.
But if not sure of her innocence or knowledge about the situation, just fix the software, let the cops handle it and just handle back the laptop to the customer after the ok from the police.
May 5th, 2010, 12:01 PM
Yeah - Rolf thought that he was being honest and upfront with the woman to help rescue the boy. They have had several conversations that turned far from the tech side. But he didn't know her from functions outside of his shop (or service calls). He thought he knew her better than he did.
The unfortunate thing is his own disappointment with people (Rolf is a young guy). He overreacts and tends to get harsh and claim that from now on its just business. My worry is he may loose his pleasant folksy demeanor that has helped build his business to this point.
The mother was unaware of her kids potential involvement and the sh*t on the wall is her ranting that he should have told only her and not the police.
May 5th, 2010, 12:38 PM
I am pleased you brought his up PDS. Not in a voyeuristic, gossipy or schadenfraude sort of way, but because these things matter.
Let me lay my cards on the table. I am health care professional with a personal interest in bioethics. That said, I am instinctively curious about non-medical ethical dilemmas too. What you have presented is one of these.
It seems to me that Rolf acted with best intentions (although the manner he did so may have been less than ideal and of course we don’t know if there is a history between Rolf and the family concerned).
The problem with innocence, as most likely demonstrated by Rolf, is that some individuals in our society (not Rolf) are emotionally immature and do not have sufficient social skills to recognise good intentions, innocent mistakes or ‘that shit happens’.
That is why older, wiser sages would have followed the advice of the police, even though they, like Rolf, know that most parents would have appreciated being told.
Western societies have developed safety nets to protect vulnerable people and to ensure justice for all. These take the form of protective legislation and improved cultural social mores.
The challenge ahead is to find some way of preventing emotionally immature people of exploiting these laws and social mores either for personal gain or to compensate for damaged egos.
May 12th, 2010, 04:23 PM
That seems like a sad comment on the state of humanity, even though it does kind of ring true.
The reason "older, wiser sages" would have shut up is because of cynicism, not because of wisdom. I think we have retreated from the task of forming our society in a way that is unhealthy. We allow to many others to tell us what to think and what to want and what to say and in that we have contributed to the immaturity and irrational response (like the mother's) that today becomes the justification for keeping our mouths shut. If we as a whole would be more involved in a public dialog about right and wrong, good intentions and bad, there would be less of the emotional power in the rantings of someone who is only protecting their own space and point of view.
I would like to see "innocence" as a cultivated quality of society, not naiveté that is often manipulated by the cynical and by the hypocrite, but a simple confirmation that road of good intentions brings one to "heaven", not hell
May 12th, 2010, 04:25 PM
I think you've got it spot on pds.