Mr. Parrot’s & Tom the Mayor’s Moral Dilemma Questions

Shooting Parrots, from across the pond, as they say, decides to try to confound me.

Okay, here is one of those moral dilemma questions for you:

Your closest friend wants to talk to you about something, but you have to promise that it is just between the two of you. They then tell you that they ran someone over with their car last night and drove off without stopping to see how they were.

The following day you read that the person died and their body had been hit by several other cars. One of those drivers has been arrested and charged with causing death by dangerous driving. Worse still, it appears that driver may have been drunk.

You don’t know whether it was your friend that killed the person or the cars that came later, but at the very least it was your friend who put the person in a situation where they would be killed.

You try to persuade your friend to turn themselves in, but they flatly refuse. Meanwhile, an ‘innocent’ driver may go to jail because of it and carry the guilt of it for ever.

You have no idea how good I can be at laying on guilt, when there is actual guilt to be laid on. I find out as much as possible about the other driver. Hope he or she has a family, which, I could tell my friend, would be without a father/mother, etc.

If that fails, I tell my friend that I will contact the defense attorney, and, I hope without specifically implicating my friend, and ideally anonymously, point him/her to the possibility of another theory of the crime.

Finally, if the prosecution has rested – the prosecution presents its case first in courts in the United States – I would tell my friend that I will make myself known to the defense, then do so. The defense could call me as a witness, and I’ll tell my friend that. At the end of the day, the defense might call me, and I would, under oath, be willing to testify to what I know. Now, the prosecution might likely object, wishing my testimony to be deemed inadmissible, as hearsay, and the judge might agree. But this would still aid competent defense lawyer and perhaps the police to look elsewhere for a suspect.

Note that, at every stage, I try to pressure my friend to do the right thing, while keeping to the letter of our agreement.

Did I ever tell you that, after I gave up the idea of being a minister, I decided to be a lawyer? Gave up that idea in college, but I was always a sucker for the law shows such as The Defenders (E.G. Marshall, Robert Reed), Judd for the Defense (Carl Betz) and, of course, Perry Mason (Raymond Burr).
***
Tom the Mayor says:
How about another Moral question? Would you kill someone to protect your daughter and wife, if their lives were at stake?

I would think so; I’m assuming no other options available. Still, there are factors that make the scenario trickier. For instance, unless he’s already killed or injured, how would I know he was going to kill, rather than just threaten?

And what circumstances would be involved where I would be able to potentially kill someone without endangering my family? Use of a gun? Never fired one, save for my grandfather’s hunting rifle when I was 7. I’d feel even worse if, in trying to save them, I harmed them or a bystander. As the physician says, First do no harm.

The most likely situation I envision would involve hand-to-hand fighting, where taking the would-be assailant out a window or into traffic or off a cliff, even if it meant taking me too. I could better imagine that.

But if I were to kill someone, even in self-defense, or in the defense of others, and survived, I would mourn that loss for the rest of my life.
***
Still taking questions.

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7 thoughts on “Mr. Parrot’s & Tom the Mayor’s Moral Dilemma Questions

  1. I’m enjoying these tricky questions and I spent a long time yesterday trying to come up with a comment that wasn’t longer than your original post!

    I put quite a few caveats in my question to try to block off the easier exits, but what I was testing was the value of the promise made early in the scenario and the point at which the bond of friendship might snap under pressure.

    You ably avoided that dilemma in a most Perry Mason-like manner!

  2. First one is easy. I always tell the truth in such a situation. I wouldn’t about to want to see an innocent person go to jail. Tell the authorities and let the DA and defense lawyer figure out the rest. Once you lie then you can be held as an accessory to the crime.

    Second one is hard to say because I’ve never faced it in real life. You’ll never know how you’ll react in such a stress situation. Think I might try aiming for the leg to disable him but that’s just conjecture.

    One last point, real life courts are nothing like Perry Mason or any of those other shows as we all now know.

  3. The hard questions are the only ones worth asking! Remember Michael Dukakis got tripped up in a debate when Bernard Shaw of CNN asked hin what he would do if someone raped and murdered his wife. Dukakis answered like a politician, and it cost him the election. But who are we to say we would have the right answer at that moment.

  4. Scenario #1: Wow! What a moral dilemma this would be. My question to myself would be whether I saw this type of moral lapse in my friend before or is this a shocker? Then it would be up to me to decide on the morally and ethically correct path, or to do what’s easiest. Scenario #2: I’ve fired a gun twice, both times at a stray bale. But, if my family was violently threatened, I would do or use anything within my reach to protect them.

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