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Seinfeld's Good Samaritan Law Now Reality?

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the not-that-there-is-anything-wrong-with-that dept.

The Courts 735

e3m4n writes "The fictitious 'good samaritan' law from the final episode of Seinfeld (the one that landed them in jail for a year) appears to be headed toward reality for California residents after the house passed this bill. There are some differences, such as direct action is not required, but the concept of guilt by association for not doing the right thing is still on the face of the bill."

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Oblig (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945726)

That's a shame

Re:Oblig (2, Funny)

madpansy (1410973) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945992)

The great thing about robbing a fat guy is it's an easy getaway. You know, they can't really chase you!

No (5, Informative)

scotch (102596) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945730)

I didn't have to read very far to find out that no, the law is not a reality.  Thanks, slashdot!

Re:No (5, Insightful)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945884)

It's just a test to see who reads the article before sharing their enlightened opinion.

It's like that instruction test in school:
1. Read all of the instructions.
2. Clap your hands.
3. Shout out that you are at step 3.
4. Jump up and down.
5. Do not perform steps 2-4
6. Finish test

Re:No (4, Interesting)

mmalove (919245) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946048)

I always hated these, because to me it makes no sense to read but not do steps 1-4, and then to read and execute step 5 or 6. Therefore after reading them, you SHOULD go back and start executing the steps in order, 2-4 occur before they are negated, the 5 tells you to stop, and then you finish.

Of course, I get the point of the test. But it's like some guy on the internet playing teacher correcting your spelling while making god awful grammatical errors.

In conclusion, pedantic lessons suck.

Re:No (2, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946096)

It's just a test to see who reads the article before sharing their enlightened opinion.

We had a prof do that in college. There were a bunch of instructions, really tough problems, some with labs. Some people spent days working on them before they got to the second page of the instructions and it said, "It's only necessary to turn in question 3." Holy crap were people burned over that. But it was one of the core classes for pre-meds so there wasn't an option. But I bet as doctors they read directions.

It would have gotten me too but I had a lab partner who compulsively read all the directions. She was also traffic stopping hot. Those were great days.

Re:No (3, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946254)

It's just a test to see who reads the article before sharing their enlightened opinion.

Honestly, would it really have surprised anyone if it was true? California seems bent on a destroying itself with stupidity, to the extent that many of the smart and talented people are getting out of Dodge, so to speak. The reason why surrounding states have been more competitive politically this past decade (after mostly being solid GOP) is the sheer number of Californians getting the hell out of their state. Everything from California... costs, product liability laws, fuel standards, etc, is stricter and more expensive than most of the country. Buy a mouse or keyboard, and many of them will have a tag on it warning you not to do something stupid, like eat the cord. The small print explains that this little reminder was brought to you via a product safety lawsuit in California.

California, with it's bust-ass budget and spiraling social program costs is a preview of what might happen to the rest of the country. They're still $21 billion in the hole, and yet now they want to enact a statewide universal health care program, with costs upwards of $200 Billion over the next decade?

Again, when you hear something ridiculous about California... true or not... does it really surprise you?

Politician's "thinking" (4, Insightful)

name*censored* (884880) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945734)

Do stupid laws and frivolous lawsuits make you too afraid to help someone in trouble? No problem, we'll just pass another ill-thought law! What could possibly go wrong?

Re:Politician's "thinking" (0, Flamebait)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945882)

Let's say you have a few dozen illegal immigrants hanging out, watching a girl being raped. Some of them even taking a turn. Now, you can't arrest them for being illegal immigrants and you can't arrest them for rape, so the only solution is to create an entirely new law that wouldn't have helped but at least sounds good. Sort of.

There is an upside: this law provides an absolute defense if you kill the legislators who thought this was a good idea.

Re:Politician's "thinking" (2, Informative)

belmolis (702863) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946000)

Uh, it is quite possible to arrest and convict people for rape, and it is quite possible to detain illegal immigrants and deport them, possibly after criminal charges and penalties. What fantasy world are you talking about?

Re:Politician's "thinking" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30946112)

Europe

Re:Politician's "thinking" (4, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946016)

Actually, the stupid lawsuits that follow helping people are countered by laws requiring you to render assistance. You can't be sued for obeying the law. Most such laws have a built in "out" to them like "if you believe you may do so safely". The only downside is that such laws are dirty hacks to paper over the real problem of a sue crazy society.

Re:Politician's "thinking" (4, Informative)

GiveBenADollar (1722738) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946270)

This is a bad idea. In emergency response training we had a lengthy discussion about this. When people witness a crime or even a heart attack they often don't respond because they expect someone else to have already called 911 or that someone else will be able to help the person better. You can have a man choking in a restaurant and 10 CPR/Heimlich trained people who all stand around doing nothing. If you don't realize that this is a natural reaction then you can't counter it if the time comes.

On the other side of the coin, if you do render assistance and you are not trained you can be sued. For example, if you assist in a car accident and drag someone from the wreckage who is later diagnosed with spinal injuries you could be sued for causing those injuries unless you can prove that they were in imminent danger and you are trained to move someone with spinal injuries.

Good Samaritan laws are meant to protect first responders, but against a good lawyer you can still lose.

Re:Politician's "thinking" (1)

pipedwho (1174327) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946020)

According to TFA they already have a law on the books that requires a witness to report violent assaults to anyone under 15yo. This is an amendment to that law to make it compulsory to report violent crimes against anyone of any age.

The idea is to scare people into not being caught watching (or cheering on) instead of reporting the crime.

This is mostly attributable to teenagers and others within an insular peer group. If something like that gang rape happened within visible range of 20 random adults, then I'd find it hard to believe that at least half of them wouldn't have tried to call the cops.

Re:Politician's "thinking" (-1, Troll)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946184)

When I feel that a cop's intent is to do good, I will call the cops.
When I honestly feel that cops are driven by a visceral emotion to do good - their true underlying motivation being only to do good, I will call the cops.

In today's world of reality, however, there is no fucking way I am going to volunteer myself to have any interaction whatsoever with a cop. No fucking way.
I watched a dozen different youtube videos of a cop in Oakland grab a black young man sitting there minding his own business, handcuff him face down on the ground, and then shoot him in the back. Dead.
Traffic lights that have the yellow light length shortened to increase the number of tickets written.
Motorcycle cops sitting on the far side of overpasses with their laser guns trying to catch someone driving 56 in a 55.
Cops arresting people for DUI because they were riding a riding mower on their own property after two beers.

Sorry, but no.

Re:Politician's "thinking" (2, Insightful)

Le Marteau (206396) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946294)

> When I honestly feel that cops are driven by a visceral emotion to do good - their true underlying motivation being only to do good, I will call the cops.

I hate the cops as much as anyone, and avoid interacting with them whenever possible....

But FFS... you would not call the cops on a gang rape? I hope I never become that much of a reptile.

Re:Politician's "thinking" (2, Informative)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946076)

It has nothing to do with intervening. If you are afraid for your own safety then there isnt anything to make you go rambo. What it is saying is that you have an obligation to pick up your phone and call someone about it. Is that really too hard?

Re:Politician's "thinking" (1)

piltdownman84 (853358) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946200)

What it is saying is that you have an obligation to pick up your phone and call someone about it. Is that really too hard?

Yes, because of the stupid laws imposed on mobile phones that force them to have a loud distinct noise when you call 911. You simply cannot call the police without alerting everyone in the area. I once tried to report a domestic when a huge guy was pushing around his tiny girlfriend after the bar, and almost got myself flattened for the effort.

Re:Politician's "thinking" (1)

Sabriel (134364) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946298)

What the? Mobiles have to make a loud noise when dialling 911? That's news to me, and utterly stupid - if it's true. Can someone confirm (preferably with citation)?

A bit late? (5, Interesting)

SlothDead (1251206) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945736)

I'm surprised that the USA does not already have a bill like this. In other countries (e.g. Germany) helping people in need is mandatory. You are also encouraged to give CPR and if you fail at it and make it worse you are not charged (otherwise people would be too scared of screwingn up and never administer CPR at all).

Re:A bit late? (5, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945798)

Its not a federal law in the US, but I know certain states require you to give help in life threatening situations if you are capable of doing so.

CPR is a perfect example. In Florida for instance, if someone dies in front of you and CPR had a good chance of saving them, don't let anyone find out you are CPR certified (which every highschool student is at some point) as you will be punished.

I really don't have a problem with it. Too many people will stand by and watch someone die or get mugged and do nothing to help, not even bother to call the cops, but they'll take pictures on their phones. And yes, I've seen that happen, I have pictures! Mind you, my friend was calling the cops while I was snapping pictures of it.

On that same note, let something happen to one of my loved ones while you stand by and watch and you better prey to whatever god you worship that I don't find out. I have no problem with revenge against useless fucks too lazy to do anything to help others. No, I don't expect an unarmed person to go after some guy with a knife or gun, but I do expect an appropriate response such as calling for help or calling a doctor. Not everybody is a hero, but everyone SHOULD be a responsible citizen.

Re:A bit late? (5, Insightful)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945858)

Not everybody is a hero, but everyone SHOULD be a responsible citizen.

And that's the crux of the matter. The fact that someone SHOULD do something does not mean that anyone (not even the government) has the right to FORCE them to do something.

Re:A bit late? (1, Troll)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945962)

Modern liberalism is premised on the exact opposite. Modern liberalism is based in a sort of duty-based ethic whereas it's ethical to force others to do what you think is ethical. Not my position, but there you go.

Re:A bit late? (1, Troll)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946088)

That's such a vague (if not trolling) description that it's useless.

Let me transofrm it a bit; "modern conservatism is based in a sort of divine-based ethic whereas it's ethical to force others to do what you think is ethical", and with many examples.

Re:A bit late? (1, Redundant)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945972)

And that's the crux of the matter. The fact that someone SHOULD do something does not mean that anyone (not even the government) has the right to FORCE them to do something.

Uhm, what do you think governments are for then? Forcing individuals into doing things that should not be done?

Re:A bit late? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30946026)

Looking at their track record, yes.

Re:A bit late? (3, Informative)

smashr (307484) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946050)

Uhm, what do you think governments are for then?

1) Defend the borders & provide for basic public saftey.
2) Deliver the mail
3) Build the roads
4) _Maybe_ provide public education
5) Collect enough tax renevue to do ONLY the above.

And thats it.

Re:A bit late? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946056)

And you really don't understand that govs would be unable to do even any of those basic things without forcing some people into actions that should be done?

Re:A bit late? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30946180)

Yes but those instance are the purpose of the government. Anything beyond that is crossing the line.

Re:A bit late? (1)

Rophuine (946411) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946134)

I believe they're going for item 1 with this one.

Point of order: It would be a violation of the UN Declaration of Human Rights to not provide public education to at least some reasonable level. That said, the US hasn't ratified that particular treaty anyway.

Re:A bit late? (1)

Lloyd_Bryant (73136) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946066)

Uhm, what do you think governments are for then? Forcing individuals into doing things that should not be done?

What are they for? To prevent people from doing things that should not be done. There are a few cases where government needs to force people into actions (such as paying taxes), but those are necessary for the maintenance of government.

I'm all for a law that shields a good samaritan, if he/she was genuinely acting in good faith to the best of his/her ability, but the notion that people should be *forced* to be good samaritans is, in my opinion, over the line.

Re:A bit late? (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946156)

Uhm, what do you think governments are for then? Forcing individuals into doing things that should not be done?

Governments aren't supposed to be forcing citizens to do anything beyond paying taxes for the bare necessities (military, roads, emergency services, etc). The fact that you think governments should be forcing people to do things does not speak well of your character.

Re:A bit late? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946040)

If they can't even be bothered to at least call 911 on their cellphone, perhaps we're better off if they are taken off of the streets!

Re:A bit late? (2, Insightful)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946170)

So not caring about a stranger should be a crime? If I saw a stranger in need of help, I'd probably help, or at minimum call for help. However, the fact that you think I should be arrested just because I don't share your opinions definitely explains why we have so many politicians in office who think it's ok to try to control every aspect of people's lives.

I know, people like you think that free will is a terrible thing, but free will is the most basic of human rights.

Re:A bit late? (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946098)

Haven't you heard, Comrade? From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs!

Re:A bit late? (2, Insightful)

Trogre (513942) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945902)

Moderation: -1, Too sensible for this forum.

Re:A bit late? (2, Informative)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945970)

In California, presence of training does not obligate helping. However, once one does begin to intercede, that person cannot stop helping until relieved by emergency personnel. (At least this is how two first aid trainers have explained it to me.)

The need for revision to California's Good Samaritan law comes as a result of a successful lawsuit against a woman who pulled another woman out of a wrecked car, and in doing so, managed to paralyze the victim. The rescuer is generally agreed to have over-reacted, but was acting with good intention. The court ruled narrowly in that case, but by the letter of the law, it ruled correctly. However, the precedent was set.

BTW, it was the California Assembly that passed the bill. California does not have a portion of the legislature called the House. The Assembly basically fills that role, however.

Re:A bit late? (3, Informative)

Rophuine (946411) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946250)

In Australia we have a shield law for good samaritans. There are three caveats required to invoke the shield law:
1. You must be acting reasonably (although this is to be interpreted in the favor of the good samaritan if in doubt).
2. You must not act without permission, although you may assume you have permission if the victim is unable to give it.
3. You must not be performing something for which you are professionally trained and the act you are seeking shielding from is something for which you could be held liable for under that training (eg. doctor committing mal-practice).

The first test came when a good samaritan ripped a lady's top off to be able to perform CPR (she had had a heart attack and collapsed on the street, and her bra was impeding his effort). She sued him for exposing her in public, and the shield law meant the case couldn't even be heard. IANAL but I understand from my first aid instructor that you are legally shielded against all possible consequences; criminal, civil, procedural, and anything else you can think of.

I understand we also have specific crimes along the lines of "Indifference" and "Aggravated Indifference" which mean you can be held criminally liable for not helping, but a paramedic I know tells me that this is based on your level of training: an average person is expected to call 000 (our 911 equivalent), while a doctor is expected to stop and lend full medical assistance, and a soldier would be expected to intervene physically if the odds meant his own safety wouldn't be compromised. He (the paramedic) said that he was unofficially instructed to GTFO if he ever witnesses an accident, because legally he MUST stop and render medical assistance, but he could be held liable for screwing up first aid and his professional indemnity insurance wouldn't cover him (as the incident wasn't "on the job"). IOW it's better if he was just "never there".

Re:A bit late? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30946004)

Your high school gave all the students CPR training??

Re:A bit late? (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946092)

I got basic CPR training (not certified, though) in high school health class, and that was 20 years ago. Do they not do that any more? I mean, this is a captive audience that was (in IL at least) required to take an idiotic class consisting mostly of information everyone already knows (and usually ignores), so might as well try to teach them something that's actually useful!

Wow, that has me thinking. Instead of taking an entire semester to try to explain sex to a class where half of the kids have already had it, and drugs to a class where half the kids have already tried them, what if they actually took the semester to teach basic EMT skills? We'd end up with the majority of the population actually able to deal with a lot of basic emergency situations. But no. The school would probably lose a lot of funding if they didn't make kids sit for an hour a day showing 8mm movies of Chachi getting high.

Re:A bit late? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30946226)

I think I remember learning CPR back around 2000/2001 in high school. I think it expires after a couple years though. It would be nice though, if they could have an all-around first-aid course in addition to CPR.

Re:A bit late? (1)

pla (258480) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946036)

In Florida for instance, if someone dies in front of you and CPR had a good chance of saving them, don't let anyone find out you are CPR certified (which every highschool student is at some point) as you will be punished.

...And to think, my HS health teacher wondered why I refused to fill out the paperwork to get the "official" certification (not in FL, but that quarter's health class required we know enough to pass the real cert test). Yeah, I passed the test - But damn my eyes if I'll save anyone I don't feel like saving.

And if that sounds callous - Would you give G.W.Bush CPR in 2007 if you happened to notice him conveniently choking on a chicken bone?

Re:A bit late? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30946258)

Yes. Are you saying you'd have preferred Cheney?

On a more serious note, Bush was a fellow human being, and by many accounts a very goodhearted individual. Regardless of my opinions of his decisions, I would never wish death upon him. In my opinion you discredit the anti-bush/anti-republicans by implying you would, even in jest.

Re:A bit late? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30946168)

On that same note, let something happen to one of my loved ones while you stand by and watch and you better prey to whatever god you worship that I don't find out. I have no problem with revenge against useless fucks too lazy to do anything to help others.

The rest of us have no obligation to serve you. We are not your slaves. Who the hell do you think you are? FUCK YOU and your precious loved ones. I hope that some day you do indulge in your macho man revenge fantasies, get caught, and spend the rest of your sorry life in prison. Enjoy the sodomy! : )

unless you have a MASK, CPR is risky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30946230)

Unless you have a CPR mask, even if you are CPR certified (those certs expire every other year)
and you don't help, you won't be hold accountable.

No law can force you take risk like that (Swine flu, Bird flu, Flu, AIDS, Hepatitis....)

Re:A bit late? (1)

networkzombie (921324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945948)

So in Germany if I am certified in CPR and I see someone not breathing, I can screw up CPR and kill them without being charged for negligence? How many times?

Did the submitter do their research at all? (5, Informative)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945744)

"Good Samaritan" laws in the sense of Seinfeld already exist in many jurisdictions. It is called a "duty to rescue" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duty_to_rescue [wikipedia.org] . Good Samaritan laws also exist, but in legal parlance that means something different, namely protection from liability of people trying to rescue or assist. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Samaritan_law [wikipedia.org] . The California law is a variant duty to rescue. This isn't anything new. Seinfeld didn't do their research and apparently neither did the submitter of this post or the editors.

Re:Did the submitter do their research at all? (2, Informative)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945876)

"Good Samaritan" laws in the sense of Seinfeld already exist in many jurisdictions. It is called a "duty to rescue" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duty_to_rescue [wikipedia.org] .

"A duty to rescue is a concept in tort law..."
Civil law, not criminal.

Re:Did the submitter do their research at all? (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945888)

Read further in the article:

In some countries, there exists a legal requirement for citizens to assist people in distress, unless doing so would put themselves or others in harm's way. Citizens are often required to, at minimum, call the local emergency number, unless doing so would be harmful, in which case the authorities should be contacted when the harmful situation has been removed. Such laws currently exist in several countries[1] such as Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia,[13] Czech Republic, Finland, France,[14] Germany,[15] Greece, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Spain, and Switzerland.

Re:Did the submitter do their research at all? (2, Interesting)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945900)

No, Seinfeld was a _comedy_, making this thing called a _joke_, especially about New Yorkers and their cavalier attitudes about witnessing crime. Some of us are old enough to remember the Kitty Genovese case, before the Watchmen stories mentioned it. The ludicrous nature of the law was supposed to make it funny.

In real life, one compelling reason for Good Samaritan laws is so that skilled people such as doctors and police, when off-duty, get legal protection from civil suits for providing aid. They can point to the law and say "I was compelled to help" rather than face liability for volunteering, especially for medical staff who may be sued for malpractice and whose insurance companies may attempt to weasel out of liability for such "volunteer" work.

I'm glad to say I learned to help out in such situations a long time ago: it's not always been successful, but at least I can say "I tried". It seems to be common among freeware advocates that we help out strangers when we can: I just wish more of us were more practical about it. Writing a new GUI is good: investing in some tools and time and materials and working at "Bikes not Bombs" is even better.

Re:Did the submitter do their research at all? (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945974)

Some of us are old enough to remember the Kitty Genovese case, before the Watchmen stories mentioned it.

Some of us are also students in psychology or otherwise, who hear it every time anything remotely connected to social psychology is brought up.

Re:Did the submitter do their research at all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30945946)

Your citation of the wikipedia article on the Duty to Rescue is misplaced. The duty to rescue applies in a civil action (if the legislature or common law allows such claims). In other words, you can be sued.

This bill appears to be a criminal sanction. This bill is, to my knowledge, unique in that regard.

Re:Did the submitter do their research at all? (1)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946236)

Personally, I'm opposed to the GS laws for a number of reasons.

One of the biggest things is that a lot of people have no idea how to offer first aid. Simple mistakes in early care can cause more harm than good. For instance, if someone is in shock, how many people know not to let them eat, drink, or smoke? Someone is in an accident and you help them light a cigarette or give them a bottle of water and now you've made things worse.

How many people know CPR? Or will they just try and emulate what they saw Doctor House doing?

This leads me to my second problem: someone will get to look at what I did and how I did it. If I could have done better, will there be consequences?

What if I honestly don't see something going on? Will I be hauled into court because I was thinking about some difficult problem when I walked past a crime scene?

What if I feel that interfering would endanger my life? If the law says, "don't get involved but call 911." Well, what happens when the guy robbing the store sees you dialing and decides to shoot you? Or the store owner decides to file charges because you didn't.

This is sad (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30945754)

That you have to pass a law to get people to call 911 (never mind taking direct action such as interceding to stop the rape). I mean calling 911 takes what, holding down the 9 key on your phone (assuming you haven't changed the default speed dial that most phones come with), worst case you have to dial 3 digits, and say an address/quick description of what is going on, and they feel the need to codify this into law to get people to do it?

I think this is as good as any proof that society and culture (at least in California) is pretty damn broken.

Re:This is sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30945780)

it's the litigiousness of society that makes people unwilling to get involved. with so many bullshit laws 'for the children' on the books, it's just too damn risky.

Re:This is sad (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945854)

it's the litigiousness of society that makes people unwilling to get involved.

Unwilling to call the cops?

Re:This is sad (2, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946078)

Unwilling to call the cops?

Yes.

How many cases have you heard of where some random person, on trying to do the right thing, finds himself tasered/sprayed, cuffed, tossed in a cell overnight, and charged with some absurd law simply for making himself available for the police to take their frustrations out on, having failed to actually do their jobs? Or worse, sued into penury by the very victim they risked their lives to help?

Yeah, I would almost certainly help someone getting raped in the street outside my house. And you can bet your ass I'd vanish before the police showed up. "You okay? Good... See ya!".

Re:This is sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30946100)

Yeah, think that until you see a gang killing and see what happens when they find out who turned them in. That's normally enough for most people to question the soundness of calling 911.

When girls can be raped in public with no 911 call (4, Insightful)

rahvin112 (446269) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945770)

This is the result of more than 20 people watching a minor (15) year old girl being gang raped during a school dance and not a single one calling 911 to report it. Unfortunately a law like this needs to be enacted so that such people can be punished. It's a shame that such basic morality is lacking in society these days but it's come to this point. We have to legislate that if someone is so devoid of such basic morality, that they can't call the police when witnessing a gang rape, that we need to start putting people in jail for not doing such basic acts of humanity, so that there is at least a threat of jail to inspire people to do the right thing if their conscious is devoid of inspiration to do so voluntarily.

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30945802)

could you please cite your sources? i have know knowledge of such an terrible thing ever happening, but just in examples for laws like these

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945836)

If you spent 5 seconds googling rather than asking for a citation you would know that the individual was talking about this case: http://www.seattlepi.com/national/411845_rape04.html [seattlepi.com] .

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30946176)

Doesn't exactly sound like the kind of thing you want to be searching for in this day and age.

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945906)

it [cnn.com] happened 3 months ago. Expect a slashdot story any day now.

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946072)

How about RTFA? Although that girl was 16, I fail to see a material difference there.

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946108)

Its in the article...

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (4, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945810)

Why should such people be punished? There's a lot of evidence that they are acting out of normal and fairly standard psychological patterns. Humans are less likely to help in large groups. This is known as the bystander effect. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bystander_effect [wikipedia.org] . People have tested this in many different contexts, these include having people pretending to have heart attacks, as well as more controlled lab settings. One good example test involved a lab setting where people were supposed to be answering a set of questions, then the experimenter would go out of the room and something loud and bad would happen to the experimenter who would cry out for help. The key issue is that all but one of the people in the room were actually actors. The actors all just kept taking the test. The one almost never helps. This works with as few as one actor and one real person. But if there is a single individual and no actors, more often than not, they will help. And if one of the actors gets up to help, then the person generally will also. You shouldn't punish people for following their basic herd instincts as righteous and moral as it might make you feel.

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (5, Insightful)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945890)

You shouldn't punish people for following their basic herd instincts as righteous and moral as it might make you feel.

Then let's make gangrape legal too, shall we ? Talk about your basic herd instinct.

The whole point of morality, religion, and by extension laws and such is that we can do better than these stupid instincts. Modern society (or any city with more than 50 people) would be utterly impossible without actively punishing people for following their instincts.

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (4, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946138)

Then let's make gangrape legal too, shall we ? Talk about your basic herd instinct.

Sorry, but a HUGE difference exists between actively committing a violent crime, and choosing not to report the same.

Try applying this to situations you might disagree with. Failure to report your friend smoking weed? Failure to report your mother speeding? Failure to report your uncle cheating just a bit on his taxes? Failure to report your coworker for circumventing the DMCA to do what your mutual boss ordered?

This amounts to the worst of slippery slopes. Even in the best of applications, someone might simply not have noticed (I, for one, get very disoriented in large social gatherings, and yes, you probably could rape someone in front of me without my noticing). And in the worst, this amounts to criminalizing a refusal to obey potentially intolerable laws (Failure to report anyone who violates the "We love George Bush" law).

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (1)

Zey (592528) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946248)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) wrote:

The whole point of morality, religion, and by extension laws [...]

Man, I'm so glad I live in a democracy rather than that theocracy you're living in.

Is-ought problem (5, Informative)

SpeedyDX (1014595) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945920)

Just because it is the case that the bystander effect is normal doesn't mean it ought to be the case that it is normal. This is a very common logical fallacy in moral philosophy called the is-ought problem [wikipedia.org] as it was well articulated by David Hume. The gist of it is that you cannot take descriptive statements as premises and come to a prescriptive conclusion.

The reason why there are such laws is because we feel that we should have a moral responsibility to help those who are in immediate life-threatening danger when we are in a position to help them without (too much) personal sacrifice.

Re:Is-ought problem (2, Interesting)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945944)

Then take steps that will actually encourage people to be aware of the problem, like teaching them about the bystander effect. But punishing people who most likely didn't even know such a law exists does nothing but give us satisfaction with the thought that we wouldn't do that sort of thing, when of course, we likely would.

Re:Is-ought problem (1, Insightful)

sonamchauhan (587356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946060)

"But punishing people who most likely didn't even know such a law exists "

Oh, they know. Everyone does. Its called conscience.

"does nothing but give us satisfaction with the thought that we wouldn't do that sort of thing, when of course, we likely would."

Yes we would. We would also speed, cheat on our spouses, not pay our taxes, etc.

Re:Is-ought problem (1)

Compholio (770966) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946144)

Then take steps that will actually encourage people to be aware of the problem, like teaching them about the bystander effect. But punishing people who most likely didn't even know such a law exists does nothing but give us satisfaction with the thought that we wouldn't do that sort of thing, when of course, we likely would.

Prosecuting people for such cases usually gets a lot of media coverage and brings attention to the issue. I'm not sure I agree with such a tactic, but in all honesty a lot of people don't notice moral issues unless they have some sort of incentive (positive or negative) to do so.

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30945816)

And you think this would encourage people to call for help, rather than just to get the hell away from whatever crime they're witnessing?

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945868)

What *we* think is completely and utterly irrelevant. This is politicians we're talking about. News media.

It's very progressive, and very surreal. Both fit perfectly in California.

20 people can't see through 20 people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30945844)

the 20 people couldn't see through the 20 people raping her, no xray vision

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (1)

LockeOnLogic (723968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945850)

It's a relatively well known phenomena that groups witnessing emergencies often take no action on the assumption that someone else will. Would you be acting perfectly rational if you were to come across something like this? Of course those responsible deserve the full force of the law. But those witnesses are acting as many reasonable people would (reasonable person as in the legal meaning). Although doing nothing is morally reprehensible, it's sadly what most people would do.

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (0)

JoshDD (1713044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946150)

There is no excuse doing nothing to help a victim of crime is the same as committing the crime.

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (1)

madpansy (1410973) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945870)

Lack of morality aside, another real head-scratcher is this nugget.

Current law requires witnesses to report violent crimes when the victim is younger than 14.

I suppose CA legislators (or perhaps it was a prop) asked us to, please, think of the children, but not anyone else.

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (-1, Troll)

zoloto (586738) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945878)

This is what happens in a "progressive" society that's trying to remove morals from our society completely.

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30945986)

I blame the Kyoto Protocol, gay weddings and Obama bin Laden!

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (2, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946044)

Being supposedly "progressive" has nothing to do with it.

Ever heard about long standing tradition of blaming rape victims, for example?

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30945918)

Violent gangs are very bad like the gang rape. This law i think will not inspire people because people are scared of retaliation against such as 'gangs' replace with(mob, corrupt governments, and etc.) Don't get me wrong this law is great because it makes people speak up. But if you do speak up and testify against them what protections will they get from testifying.

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30946002)

a law like this needs to be enacted so that such people can be punished.

No. Being a bystander to rape is obviously a crime right now. This law would not significantly change the prosecution of those people (if they were identifiable).

From what I can tell the target of this law is riots and protests. If you are in a protest now and 1 person does something wrong you must STOP and contact the police. This law will be used to break up gatherings and arrest protesters en masse.

Unfortunately taking politics at face value isn't very useful and will rarely lead to logical reasoning.

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946028)

No, what needs to happen is this. Round up all members who raped the girl, and execute them with a hollow point bullet. What's lacking in America is a show of FORCE in the front of heinous/violent crimes against humanity.

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30946068)

Maybe that cunt wanted to have sex with those 20 men and then claimed otherwise.

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946132)

Its not politically feasible to actually punish the offenders anymore, especially juveniles. Slap on the wrist, out on parole, bam! You have another repeat offender. Last numbers from the FBI I saw showed that some 60% of offense are by repeat offenders.

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30946058)

Say what you will about Tennessee, but I know for a fact that if something like that happened down here, the only "watching" done by 20 people would be the sighting of their shotguns on the sorry assholes. There are some things that just don't ever make it to the courts, and in situations this extreme, I have to say I like it that way. As Bob Lee Swagger put it in the movie Shooter, "I'd bury you in the hill and tell the sherif a month or two later. He understands."

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30946188)

"that we need to start putting people in jail for not doing such basic acts of humanity"
Because we all know that prison is such a humanizing, uplifting experience for most people. Get a brain, Moran!

Re:When girls can be raped in public with no 911 c (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946238)

Make it legal (and not impossible) for regular people in California to get certified to carry handguns and to protect them from prosecution when they use deadly force to prevent / stop these things from happening, and I will be the first one to step up to save the next gang rape victim. Until / unless that happens, forget it. Know why you don't read about these kinds of things in Texas or Florida - because they hand out CHL's like candy and the law lets people use deadly force to stop rape.

And yea, real handguns with full capacity magazines too - not those wussy 'CA Legal' handguns with five bullets or whatever in them.

NOT ficticious (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30945862)

That famous Seinfeld ending was based on a very law recently passed at that time in Massachusetts. The episode was set in Latham,MA. The law referenced was not fictitious. Similar laws exist in many places.

Another save the children law (2)

LockeOnLogic (723968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30945904)

Lets make the assumption that this law existed before this event happened. Would it have been prevented? Of course not. More ineffective unenforceable laws are what America needs! That is, if you are a up for reelection.

Is a victim also a witness? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30945984)

Does this mean that the victim of crime can be punished for failing to report it?

It is as simple as.. (1)

JoshDD (1713044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946094)

if you see someone in a situation (robed raped etc) and you do nothing to help you are as guilty as the person committing the crime especially if your actions could have prevented it. Such is the rule of honour. Turning a blind eye is never acceptable under any circumstances regardless of what happens to you.

5th Amendment (4, Interesting)

gcnaddict (841664) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946204)

This can easily be seen as a violation of the 5th amendment. This would force anyone who doesn't report a crime they might or might not have been involved in to face charges for not reporting the crime unless they report the crime and, in turn, incriminate themselves. IANYAL

Re:5th Amendment (1)

JoshDD (1713044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946292)

effing rights now think how our members of congress would like this? they made this amendment to protect their own asses.

The stupid thing about the Seinfeld case... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30946206)

The stupid thing about the Seinfeld case is that, while they did not physically intervene to help the person, it could easily be argued that they were helping by videotaping the incident.

They are animals. (0, Flamebait)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30946240)

Related stories note that this crime took place in an inner city area, where people are already breaking the law rampantly. What you have here is a bunch of ghetto people that are completely out of control, and the answer is what? Some other stupid law?

The entire culture is just ruined, the values, what these people think, are just a cancer on society and it has to be isolated and then ultimately cut out. You can't mandate dogs be good samaritans, you can only put them in concentration camps.

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