Moral Question: Phelps or Gold?

Suppose you were on a sinking boat and you and several others managed to escape in a lifeboat. As you sail out you spot two things: a chest full of gold and Fred Phelps (of Westboro fame) begging for help? There is spot on your boat for only one of those things so which do you choose?

I delibrately chose Fred Phelps because he while saying despicable things hasn’t actually murdered or raped or whatnot so you cannot claim you’d pick the gold to protect yourself.

I would choose Phelps because despite everything he is still a human being and thus one of the God’s children.

Gold, or no gold. I wouldn’t lift a finger to rescue him.

I don’t believe Asimov’s 1st law of robotics applies to me. I can through inaction allow a human being to come to harm, if he is a sufficiently accomplished asshole*.

*OK, I made up the last part.

I could do a whole lot of good with the gold.

I probably let both sink. I won’t get to keep the gold, and I wouldn’t lift a finger to help Phelps. I’d probably also call out “You know, if you weren’t such a bigoted scumball I’d save you!”

That said; in the real world I’d probably end up saving him because I wouldn’t know for certain it was Phelps, and better safe than sorry.

I do have strong feelings about the value of life (I am a vegetarian who tries to avoid killing bugs, I am against abortion, etc.) but in this scenario I actually think I would choose the gold. I would consider it immoral to actively do something to kill Phelps, so I wouldn’t push him out of the boat if he managed to get in it, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to help him.

He has caused a lot of pain to many people. I would call it abuse, even. When someone goes around trying to actively harm other people, I don’t feel any moral obligation to help that person.

I’d always save the human life. Hell, I’d pull Hitler out of the water. If it was Phred, I’d become gay on the spot just to remind him that one of the fags his god hates so much just pulled his sorry ass out of harm’s way.

The best things in life are dirty
The worst thing in life is…
Wakin’ up clean, without a bean
The best things in life are filthy dirty
Hunks of gold, gold, gold,
The best things in life are dirty
The worst thing in life is…
Being content, without a cent
The best things is life are filthy dirty
Hunks of gold, gold, gold, gold
Stinkin’, rotten, chunks of
Grimy, slimy, lousy, lovely


Fred can drown. I’d laugh, point, and take bets on whether the sea or the sharks got him first, then sleep the sleep of the Just (which is not quite as sound as the sleep of the Just-After).

I’ve been accused of loving gold.

I really don’t, though. I just say that to get it into bed.

Gold, no question. Some people I don’t care about – they can go pound sand or piss up a rope.


Fred Phelps. Drowning’s too good for the bastard.

I’m a little curious about how a chest full of gold is floating, so I’d prolly want to check that out.

Phelps? I’d toss that fucker an anchor.

Phelps. If we’re out at sea so long we have to resort to cannibalism, the rest of us can do it with minimal guilt.

I’d save Phelps. He’d be trapped in a lifeboat with me then, ha-HA!

I’ll choose Phelps without a moments hesistation.

I prefer to judge men on what they do not what they say.
Sure, he’s said some very very very offensive things, but he’s done very good things, he tried to prevent the war in Iraq by being a human shield, and he’s done a lot of anti-racist work as well.

Besides, he’s probably more useful to the gay cause alive than dead.

Phelps. I find his message and methods deplorable, but he has actually done quite a bit to advance First Amendment rights.

How about that Penn judge who was getting kickbacks to send kids to private juvie prison? I’d probably rescue him to make sure he did more time.

Let’s Godwin this. How about Hitler? I’d make him eat as much of the gold and drown him after beating his brains out with whatever debris is available. But suppose I find myself being punished in hell (cuz I ain’t the Calvinist elect) and on a fiery lake in a small boat with Hitler. I’d ask him if he had any pictures of Eva Braun naked. If he said no, I’d say, “wanna buy some?”

When it comes right down to it, I don’t think I could let a crazy old man die if I could do something about it.

I’d rescue Phelps. Because evil as he is, I’m not going to let another human being die if I can save him.

Although when we got back to shore, I might tell people he kept making clumsy passes at me the whole time we were in the lifeboat.

I’m getting flashbacks to the human life or the last copy of shakespeare’s complete works question.

I’d probably save phelps because I enjoy being sanctimonious.

I’d rescue him if he swore to paint my house.

Not paint a picture of it mind you, I actually want him to paint the walls and interior of my house. It would be the only circumstance I’d enjoy seeing a supercenturian struggle and wheeze