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Old 12-11-2011, 07:06 PM
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"But she's my mother!"


<sigh> These questions come up in my mind when I've spent all day watching a Law & Order marathon.

On this show, people perjure themselves all the time to protect mothers, fathers, siblings, children (rarely spouses), and when at the very end of the episode, the detectives drag the truth out of them (namely, that they knew all along that mom, dad, sis, son was, in fact the murderer), they say, as if it's obvious and self-explanatory, "BUT SHE'S MY MOTHER," or fill in the other first-degree relative.

So I'm asking: would you perjure yourself in court to protect your parent, sibling, or child, knowing they were guilty?

Separate question: would you take the rap (jail) for your guilty parent, sibling, or child? (I'm presuming you wouldn't take the death penalty.)
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Old 12-11-2011, 07:26 PM
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It totally depends on what the crime was!
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Old 12-11-2011, 07:27 PM
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I don't know. I hope not, but I really don't know.
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Old 12-11-2011, 07:29 PM
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It totally depends on what the crime was!
Murder.
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Old 12-11-2011, 07:57 PM
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I've already told my Mom that if she commits murder or some other serious felony, I'm turning her in. She is horrified by this, and has said that she would never turn me in. This is just one of many issues on which we have agreed to disagree.

We watch a lot of Law & Order.
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Old 12-11-2011, 08:02 PM
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Given that I'm nearly 400 miles from my mother and brother and nearly 700 miles from my father, I'm not likely to be a witness or be in a position to take the fall for any crime they may have committed.

In any case, no I would not. I don't really care what happens to either my brother or father. I would only be concern about my mother, but given her age (76) and health, they would likely put her into some sort of prison hospital or something. She might get better care there than at home alone.
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Old 12-11-2011, 08:12 PM
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Murder.
Most foul?
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Old 12-11-2011, 08:27 PM
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Not for murder in cold blood.
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Old 12-11-2011, 08:43 PM
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Murder.
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Most foul?
Is there any other kind? <channeling Col. Jessup>
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Old 12-11-2011, 08:56 PM
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Only one of my siblings, and only if she killed someone that needed killing.

Is this what they call moral relativity?
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Old 12-11-2011, 08:57 PM
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Murder.
Oh, in that case, sure. Family and all that. Well, for some of them. At least one.

Perjury that is - do time? No.

Other crimes - fraud, significant fraud, probably not. Crimes against one person are terrible, but agains the entire community - that's despicable.
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Old 12-11-2011, 10:04 PM
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Most foul?
By Death, On The Orient Express, She Wrote.
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Old 12-11-2011, 10:59 PM
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I would totally alibi for Mom.
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Old 12-12-2011, 01:52 AM
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Here are two historical cases from "recent" times:

(1) "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski was recognized and turned in by his brother David.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Kaczynski#Search

(2) During Kenneth Starr's investigation of the Whitewater business, Susan McDougal had the guts to refuse to answer the grand jury's questions, and she spent 18 months in jail for it.
ETA: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_McDougal

Last edited by Senegoid; 12-12-2011 at 01:52 AM.
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Old 12-12-2011, 02:23 AM
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I've already told my Mom that if she commits murder or some other serious felony, I'm turning her in. She is horrified by this, and has said that she would never turn me in. This is just one of many issues on which we have agreed to disagree.

We watch a lot of Law & Order.
Wow, what is THAT Thanksgiving dinner like?
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Old 12-12-2011, 02:39 AM
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I'd draw the line at refusing to testify. Contempt of court is something I could live with.
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Old 12-12-2011, 03:11 AM
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So I'm asking: would you perjure yourself in court to protect your parent, sibling, or child, knowing they were guilty?
In the current reasonably free and democratic country I live in, no.

In the previous undemocratic regime, if it was a political thing, yes, otherwise no.
Quote:

Separate question: would you take the rap (jail) for your guilty parent, sibling, or child? (I'm presuming you wouldn't take the death penalty.)
No.
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Old 12-12-2011, 03:12 AM
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Murder.
Then no, not even in the Apartheid regime.
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Old 12-12-2011, 05:40 AM
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Since this really isnt a discussion of the TV show, I'm moving this thread to IMHO, from Cafe Society.
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Old 12-12-2011, 08:31 AM
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I would lie and/or take the rap for my child. Not parents or siblings.
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Old 12-12-2011, 08:49 AM
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Depends.
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Old 12-12-2011, 09:24 AM
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It is really really hard for me to imagine either of my parents murdering someone...the most I can imagine is involuntary manslaughter (that's killing someone by accident or negligence right? I only know this phrase from TV).

Really it would never come up, either of my parents would confess right away. Neither of them would ever expect or want me to lie for them.

My husband? I would be sorely tempted.....single parenthood does not appeal to me, but I think I would "do the right thing" and trust that "the truth will set you free" and everything would work out.

Partly because of watching TV and movies.....lies always come out in TV and movies.
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Old 12-12-2011, 09:29 AM
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I think it might matter to me whether the crime was likely to occur again in the future (as in the Kacyzinski case).
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Old 12-12-2011, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
<sigh> These questions come up in my mind when I've spent all day watching a Law & Order marathon.

On this show, people perjure themselves all the time to protect mothers, fathers, siblings, children (rarely spouses), and when at the very end of the episode, the detectives drag the truth out of them (namely, that they knew all along that mom, dad, sis, son was, in fact the murderer), they say, as if it's obvious and self-explanatory, "BUT SHE'S MY MOTHER," or fill in the other first-degree relative.

So I'm asking: would you perjure yourself in court to protect your parent, sibling, or child, knowing they were guilty?

Separate question: would you take the rap (jail) for your guilty parent, sibling, or child? (I'm presuming you wouldn't take the death penalty.)
My mother's dead; my father and I don't get along.

But, hell yes, I'd perjure myself to save my wife or baby sister from prison.
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Old 12-12-2011, 11:23 AM
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Sure, I would and I would expect them to cover for my murders. Isn't that is what family is for?
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Old 12-12-2011, 11:25 AM
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Sure, I would and I would expect them to cover for my murders. Isn't that is what family is for?
It's probably sexist, but I wouldn't want my wife or baby sister risking prison for me. I'm not being noble; I'd just feel too guilty.
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Old 12-12-2011, 11:44 AM
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I'd perjure myself for my folks but I don't think I'd take a murder rap nor would they let me.

I can justify murder but I couldn't help someone get away with a sex crime. Basically the same answer I gave in the "help someone on the lam" thread.
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Old 12-12-2011, 12:19 PM
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I don't understand how people can think sex crimes are worse than murder...
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Old 12-12-2011, 12:26 PM
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I don't understand how people can think sex crimes are worse than murder...

Most people can imagine a scenario in which a murder can seem at least partially "justified"; say, if the person they murdered hurt or killed someone they loved or otherwise ruined their lives. It's not the best solution, but it can at least be understandable.


I don't think it's that easy to imagine a sympathetic motive for a sex crime.

/edit: To answer the actual OP- it depends entirely on the nature of the crime and whether I thought it was justified.

Last edited by Vihaga; 12-12-2011 at 12:27 PM.
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Old 12-12-2011, 12:26 PM
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No, I wouldn't lie to protect someone from that sort of criminal prosecution.

Political crimes under an oppressive regime, yes (or at least maybe).
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Old 12-12-2011, 12:32 PM
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Sure, I would and I would expect them to cover for my murders. Isn't that is what family is for?
My family taught me that you don't murder people in the first place.

I admire David Kaczynski for turning in his brother, the Unabomber.
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Old 12-12-2011, 12:34 PM
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I don't understand how people can think sex crimes are worse than murder...
The problem is twofold, methinks. Partly it's because people are using murder as synecdoche for homicide; that leads to confusion, because while all murders are homicide, not all homicides are murder.

So let's ditch the term murder. Some sex crimes are worse than some homicides, because sometimes killing a human being is justified. If someone is trying to rape me or a third person, I am justified in killing him to prevent it. Contrariwise, I am not justified in killing a person to avenge a rape or even a murder; nor am I justified in killing a person to prevent or avenge an act of larceny or theft. (Note that I did not write robbery.)

Also, some killings--while unjustifiable by morality or law, and thus murder--are, ah, sympathetic,, in a way that rape never is (at least by civilized persons). One of my best friends was brutally raped once, and while I don't think she would kill her assailant if given the chance, and don't think she has the right to do so, I honestly cannot say I would blame her if she did. (The guy's in prison for life, so it's a moot point.)

In sum: I can understand why someone might feel it necessary to kill another human, even if that killing is technically illegal. I refuse to even try to understand why people commit rapes, and my gut says those who do it need a neat lead injection to the forehead.
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Old 12-12-2011, 12:57 PM
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So let's ditch the term murder. Some sex crimes are worse than some homicides, because sometimes killing a human being is justified.
Now you know I don't agree with that.
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If someone is trying to rape me or a third person, I am justified in killing him to prevent it.
Or that
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In sum: I can understand why someone might feel it necessary to kill another human, even if that killing is technically illegal. I refuse to even try to understand why people commit rapes, and my gut says those who do it need a neat lead injection to the forehead.
Problem is, in threads like these, the OP didn't specify any sort of justification - so the fact that the killing is justified is really just a projection on the part of posters, whereas they are incapable of projecting the justification for rape.

Well, personally, I can see how some rapes may be justifiable to someone (the "not die a virgin when we execute you" justification or the "render you unmarriageable in you culture" justification or the "teach you lesbians to love a man's loving" justification or even the "I was horny and she was slutty" justification) just as much as some killing has justification for you. But to me, as an outsider to both those moral frameworks, well, sex crimes don't outrank killing.
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Old 12-12-2011, 01:00 PM
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Now you know I don't agree with that.

<rest of post snipped>
I know you don't. I also know that we're about to hijack the thread, and as I am not currently wearing an eyepatch I'll drop out of the conversation here. If you wish to start some other thread, I'll talk about it there.
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Old 12-12-2011, 01:07 PM
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If it was someone I cared about (mom or sister) I wouldn't perjure myself, but I wouldn't answer any questions. If it were anyone else, I'd either tell the truth (if I thought they deserved to go to jail) or say nothing (if I thought they didn't).
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Old 12-12-2011, 01:55 PM
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MrDibble, WRT justification:

I might not agree with my dad for killing my neighbor with a snow shovel but if I could convince myself that he wasn't going to kill ALL my neighbors w/ snow shovels, I'd probably help him get away with it.

I think David Kaczynski was a hero but I'd have to be convinced my folks were a danger to society before I held up my social responsibility to rat on them. I'm selfish that way.

As for sex crimes, well, I figure my family's experience with sex crimes has informed my opinion of killing people.
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Old 12-12-2011, 02:39 PM
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It would seriously depend on the crime, or rather, how the crime was committed. As above, I would never help cover up a sex crime; they are completely unjustifiable. Killing someone... that's different.

I know my Dad and my spouse well enough that I feel confident saying they would never, ever kill someone without justification (assuming they are sane). So, I would probably cover it up, because I just literally cannot conceive of them killing in cold blood.

I would do the same for my kids, because they are minors (ages 11 and 8). At their age, I would even take the rap, including a death sentence, to save them. But, again, it's because I know that they would never kill anyone on purpose. As to when they are adults; I can't say. It is possible that life will change them a great deal, and they will become bad people, and then I would not shield them from the consequences of their actions. So, I can't really answer that.

And, if you are postulating that somehow one of them did kill in cold blood... I don't know what to say. In my mind, that person would be so unlike the father, spouse, or children I know, they would actually not be the same person; we're in an alternate universe. And, again, I can't answer with so many unknown variables.

TL;DR version: I would cover up for my dad, spouse, or kids, but not out of family loyalty. It would be because I know them well enough to say they are incapable of cold blooded killing.
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Old 12-12-2011, 06:42 PM
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I've already told my Mom that if she commits murder or some other serious felony, I'm turning her in. She is horrified by this, and has said that she would never turn me in. This is just one of many issues on which we have agreed to disagree.

We watch a lot of Law & Order.
Of course, now if she murders someone else, she really does have to kill you.
Not your cleverest of moves.
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Old 12-12-2011, 07:08 PM
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I've already told my Mom that if she commits murder or some other serious felony, I'm turning her in. She is horrified by this, and has said that she would never turn me in. This is just one of many issues on which we have agreed to disagree.
Ths strikes me as being the natural order of things. It's her job to protect you. It's not your job to protect her.

I'd die for my child. I'd do almost anything for her, including perjure myself (unless she was quite obviously going to be a menace to herself or others if released) but I don't expect her to do the same for me.
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Old 12-12-2011, 07:57 PM
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Eh, I don't think so. If it was a heat-of-the-moment, not-likely-to-be-repeated scenario, I just wouldn't talk to the police.

If they were a serial killer or they shot up a school, or something, you bet your ass I'd turn them in.

And if they raped someone, not only would I turn them in, I'd give them a few broken bones first. Which means I'd probably be charged with assault, but whatever.
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Old 12-12-2011, 08:19 PM
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Ths strikes me as being the natural order of things. It's her job to protect you. It's not your job to protect her.

I'd die for my child. I'd do almost anything for her, including perjure myself (unless she was quite obviously going to be a menace to herself or others if released) but I don't expect her to do the same for me.
That is basically it for me as well. Sure, I would lie to protect any close family member but I wouldn't let myself get in much trouble unless it is one of of my children then all bets are off. I am a big fan of sociobiology. I am younger than my parents and have kids of my own so we fall in ever increasing importance in the hierarchy in descending birth order. I expect my children and grandchildren to feel the same way.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 12-12-2011 at 08:20 PM.
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Old 12-12-2011, 08:21 PM
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Unless they are a serial killer on a rampage actively killing people, I will not tell anyone. But if I'm questioned, I will answer honestly. I just won't look at them when I'm sitting on the witness stand.

I'm always amazed when family members reflexively defend someone accused of a heinous crime. "They would never do that! They wouldn't hurt a fly!" I know all of my family members, and they are great people. AS FAR AS I KNOW. And that is key. No one is an open book, and everyone is capable of everything. If my mother turns up dead and my father is implicated as the killer, I'm not automatically think there's a mistake and rush to his defense. And vice versa.
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Old 12-12-2011, 08:35 PM
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I'm always amazed when family members reflexively defend someone accused of a heinous crime. "They would never do that! They wouldn't hurt a fly!" I know all of my family members, and they are great people. AS FAR AS I KNOW. And that is key. No one is an open book, and everyone is capable of everything. If my mother turns up dead and my father is implicated as the killer, I'm not automatically think there's a mistake and rush to his defense. And vice versa.
I think a key sticking point is that people are imagining up their own scenarios and how they would respond to it and the universe of possible crimes is large. If one of your parents killed your other parent, you have a true conflict and I can see how you would want the justice system to do whatever is necessary because that is family-on-family crime. I wouldn't cover up for a serial sex offender either especially if I had a high degree of confidence it was actually true.

I imagined the scenario as a murder that was a one-off kind of deal and had some good reason behind it. Maybe it was a person that kept threatening your sister's family including their very lives but the authorities wouldn't take it seriously. One night your sister believed the threat was about to become real and did something about it. It is murder by the strict definition of the law and would be prosecuted as such but only if there are enough witnesses to make a good case. Your sister confessed to you that she did it and even told you where the body was buried. You can talk or not talk. The choice is yours. Right now, it is just a missing person's case and may stay that way.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 12-12-2011 at 08:39 PM.
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Old 12-12-2011, 09:55 PM
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My mother's dead; my father and I don't get along.

But, hell yes, I'd perjure myself to save my wife or baby sister from prison.
Brother.
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It's probably sexist, but I wouldn't want my wife or baby sister risking prison for me. I'm not being noble; I'd just feel too guilty.
Yeah, you're being noble, and sexist, and it's very sweet. (Live that one down.)

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If one of your parents killed your other parent, you have a true conflict ...
No, not really. I would have ratted one out in a heart-beat and done time for the other.

My siblings? I'd perjure myself for one.
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Old 12-12-2011, 10:20 PM
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You know what they say, a friend will help you move, a good friend will help you move the body.
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Old 12-13-2011, 07:00 AM
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MrDibble, WRT justification:

I might not agree with my dad for killing my neighbor with a snow shovel but if I could convince myself that he wasn't going to kill ALL my neighbors w/ snow shovels, I'd probably help him get away with it.
Serious? Even if he did it without any real justification?
Quote:
As for sex crimes, well, I figure my family's experience with sex crimes has informed my opinion of killing people.
What you think there's some special legal or moral privilege that attaches to having been a victim of sex crimes, that doesn't count for murder? I don't. And I've been a victim.
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Old 12-13-2011, 08:35 AM
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I'm reminded of a Korean movie where a son murders his own parents by stabbing them - he tears his fingernail in the process. The mother, dying on her own living room floor, notices his torn fingernail and manages to pick it up and swallow it in an attempt to hide evidence.

Talk about over the top Confucian family values.
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Old 12-13-2011, 10:46 AM
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Serious? Even if he did it without any real justification?What you think there's some special legal or moral privilege that attaches to having been a victim of sex crimes, that doesn't count for murder? I don't. And I've been a victim.
Bear in mind that I haven't advocated my actions from a legal, moral, or even a logical standpoint. Obviously everyone should be held to the same standard of justice.

That being said, are you really surprised that I value my loved ones more than the social contract? I picked an extreme example as a way of finding my own personal limit. I would imagine I'd be quite conflicted if I knew Mom or Dad killed someone with no provocation. However, if I saw an opportunity to get them out of trouble I would take it.

I haven't murdered the sex offenders in my own family but I'm not going to be upset if someone else does. I only raised the sex crimes issue to point out a personal hard limit - I can wrap my mind around helping my folks get away with murder but I could never defend them if they committed a sex crime.
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Old 12-13-2011, 01:39 PM
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Bear in mind that I haven't advocated my actions from a legal, moral, or even a logical standpoint.
So you're saying you're advocating actions you, yourself, think are immoral and illogical?
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That being said, are you really surprised that I value my loved ones more than the social contract?
Not surprised - just frustrated, I guess. It's such monkeysphere thinking that leads to a lot of the evil in the world.
Quote:
I haven't murdered the sex offenders in my own family but I'm not going to be upset if someone else does. I only raised the sex crimes issue to point out a personal hard limit - I can wrap my mind around helping my folks get away with murder but I could never defend them if they committed a sex crime.
Fair enough, I acknowledge everyone has different criteria - but you and others are acting ... not exactly like that's right and proper, since you acknowledge the immorality and illegality....but fatalistically, as though you have to give family a pass, rather than something bad, a flaw to work against and a behavioural trait we should eliminate.

Maybe it's my Anarchist tendencies talking, but society is more important than blood. Or else we're just monkeys.
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Old 12-13-2011, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
It's such monkeysphere thinking that leads to a lot of the evil in the world.
And a lot of the good. You can't pretend that refusing to turn Mom into the cops is a completely separate thing from her taking care of you your whole childhood or being a positive, supportive presence in your life as an adult. "Monkeysphere" thinking is what makes people take care of their families, spend holidays with them, and fosters a sense of interdependence on which society relies in a large part. Deciding that we can just cut out the negative parts of that while retaining the positive ones seems unrealistic.

Our brains simply do not work the way you seem to think they should. We can't even usually keep track of all the people in our town, let our nation or planet. Caring for them all equally would have a lot more consequences than just refusing to testify against a relative, and I don't think all those consequences would be that great. We have a limited amount of time and energy to invest, and choosing to invest most of it in a few rather than a small amount in many seems a lot more efficient to me.
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