Ethical Dilemma #7 – Would You Forgive/Help a Murderer?


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The Ethical Dilemma discussions that we have here at The Daily Mind are fast becoming my favorite time of the month. I love sitting back and watching your educated but passionate comments roll in. Sometimes I get a laugh out of them, sometimes I walk away really quite upset. But I always learn something.

Today I want to look at two topics that have always been interesting to me; forgiveness and loyalty. I want you to read the situation (as always) and leave the most honest comment you can. Now, when I say honest I mean as “real” as possible. Try not to answer with what you would theoretically hope you’d do, but rather what you actually think you would do. Here it is:

You and your father are out for dinner one summer evening. Part way through the meal he excuses himself and goes to the bathroom. He is gone for a long time. A very long time. After a while you get worried and head to the bathroom to investigate. The door is locked. You knock and call out to him and he opens it and pulls you in whilst making sure no one is looking. There is a man lying dead on the floor. You ask what happened and you father explains that he killed the man after he had tried to steal his wallet. He orders you not to tell anyone. The two of you walk out and leave the restaurant.

What do you do? Do you call the police? Do you forgive your father and move on? What would you do in this situation? I am particularly interested in how your loyalties pan out and whether that affects your ability to forgive/dob him in. Does it make a difference that he is your father?

NOTE – All of these situations are hypothetical. My father has never killed anyone to my knowledge.

Leave a comment.

28 thoughts on “Ethical Dilemma #7 – Would You Forgive/Help a Murderer?

  1. Firstly I would be pretty shocked that my father had killed someone for money, when all he could have done is asked me. I would question our relationship and why he could not ask me for money.

    The easy part of the question is the forgiveness part. No I would not forgive him. But that does not mean I would love him or respect him any less. We always try to link love, respect, honor, forgiveness, loyalty etc, but it is possible to have one without the others.

    Loyalty is the difficult one. Hmmmmm. I would be an accomplace if I did not share my knowledge with the police. Would I go to jail for my father. No I would not. So I would confess if I was questioned.

    But to add some reality to the above. I grew up without a father (committed suicide when I was 1 yr old) so I do not have any understanding for loyalty to a father.

  2. Oh, my. I am moved by the first post. A daddy who comitted suicide. You sound very together, and you have processed so much. Good for you! Loyalty to family when you think they are innocent is completely separate from when you don’t know. To know, truly, what someone has done should be to commit them to that fact.A very difficult thing to do.

  3. Very difficult to imagine yourself in this situation. I would be shocked that my father could kill somebody for any reason. I would try to convince him to go to police It was a self defence at the end but I could not directly go to police without his will.I assume it is the killed man who tried to steal the wallet. But things would change after some time depending my father`s reaction to the situation.

  4. Forgive – no because I will be unable to forget that…

    Loyalty – probably I will not call the police right away (no emergency the guy is dead)

    But if I think that he may do it again, I will do someting: is calling the police the best thing?

  5. If I’m being real about it, I would find it hard to believe my dad would ever kill someone and then ask not to tell. He has admitted some heinous (but not illegal) things to me in an effort to be honest. I respect him for that more than if he tried to maintain the illusion of perfection.

    To get back to what I would do… I would call the cops and turn him in. But then I would probably find time to forgive him. Just because I choose to forgive him doesn’t mean he isn’t responsible for the consequences of what he did.

    Facing justice and receiving forgiveness are two different things.

  6. I would pay the bill and leave, i would be upset that someone had died but if it was self defense there is nothing to forgive him for, things would be a bit awkward for a while but i doubt it would affect our relationship, i wouldn’t tell anyone because i respect him as a man not just as my farther so i don’t think it would make a difference if it was him or not.

  7. I read it as the man who was killed was the one who was trying to steal the dad’s wallet. Please disregard the following if it is the opposite.

    So, assuming that was what you meant, here is what I would do. This is when I would try to diffuse the situation. I would explain to my father that he is in shock and that what has happened is a mistake and can be dealt with in a responsible way. I would tell him that I will stand by him no matter what happened but that we had to report it. If he tried to leave the situation, I would call the police and explain that it appears to be a horrible mistake and my father is scared.

    The loyal thing to do here is NOT to walk out with him. The loyal thing to do would be to stay true to the morals and values he taught me growing up and to the moral man I know he has always been.

  8. I would call the police or ask the restaurant staff to do so. I have no question that I would let my love for my father or any other family member, get in the way of justice or that I would try to help them get out of facing the legal consequences for their actions.

    I would also forgive him though. Or at least I think I would. It can imagine it would be very tough to do so though as it would call into question what he has always said he stands for, his integrity and morality, the very things he brought me up to care about.

  9. I feel I would tell him that he has to go and face up to the police and admit what has happened. I think I would feel that if he told the truth at the outset, then he would be better off than being caught at a later date or having to live with the awful feeling of watching the news with the family of the deceased (if there was one) crying over what had happened etc etc.

    But then again, I could just cut and run like hell as fast as my little legs would carry me……hmmm! I hope not, but I am after all human!

  10. Tis hard to say accurately.However, I will keep quiet.Right or wrong is of no consequence.I owe my life to my father.Moral issues are of no concern of mine.My father is my only concern.Though I do not know what actually happened, I will analyse through various questioning to him.If to my mind he suffers from any mental/psychological issues,I will seek the necessary help for him.But report the incident i will never.If I am wrong in my stand please forgive me but hence it is my stand.

  11. I would advise my father to go to the Police and probably obtain a lawyer immediately! I would also assume that he did not mean to kill the man. The reason is, even with loyalty to my father, one cannot live with the knowledge that such a thing happened. Myself nor him. While I realize a certain amount of panic might first set in, I know that I could not live with that knowledge, Inshallah. And…it seems that it may be better to pay for any wrong doing here on earth…instead of having to face the shame of not telling the truth when you meet your Maker. Our Maker can forgive us…but there is always a consequence…either here or there. My father would have to look inside and make his own decision….and so would I.

  12. Seeing as though I don’t have a dad, never in my life (he died when i was a baby in Isreal so we never met) Then I would have ran out of the bathroom quickly like I had not seen anything and I would just take off. No- that would look suspicious! Ahh! I would call the police and tell them exactly what happened, and hope they didn’t think I was involved!! I would tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth! Wow would I hate to be in that scenerio

  13. This is not a very tough situation.

    If you realise your existence in this world, it is not that you owe your parents much because of the life he gave you personally but to go on and move on the life they gave you.

    In the situation, it is a matter of life lost, in whatever circumtances it may be. Whether self defence, court shall decide then.

    Even though he is your father, whether you trust him what he said that is was merely a self defense, if you are fair minded and not emotionally attached, you must have certainty to clear things out. Whether your father becomes hysterical in accepting what he did, for whatever reasons, right one must prevail in a right place, in a right explanationss of the incident.

    You can forgive and you can even loyal to him even he will be convicted as murderer.

  14. Strangely this was a question I had to answer for pre-employment test at a sporting good store (circa late 80’s). Instead of dad it was mom and instead of murder it was shoplifting. I answered it truthfully and I think it prevented me from getting the job. I did not turn in my mom or dad, but instead would use the days following to convince them that they need to come clean with the police. In the case of bathroom murder, its sounds like self defense and one could argue that. In the case of shoplifting I did not turn in my mother but would make sure the stolen goods were returned to the store. After this test incident I later had to take another employment test this one I answered completely unrealistic to real world but what “they” wanted to hear and passed with flying colors, and got the job. For the record I am not a thief or a murder and am currently employed. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. I would definitely tell the police.

    If my dad killed the man because the man was trying to steal his wallet, that’s textbook self-defense. Of course, I don’t know if the killing was accidental or unnecessary violence, in which case that complicates matters.

    But, when the police arrive on the scene and get CSI teams in there, it will only be a matter of time until they match up DNA samples. In my experience, it’s always best to come clean right off instead of waiting… that’s when things might go from a little mistake or error to a huge issue.

    If my dad’s going to get caught either way, then why not do it earlier, and prepare for court?

    And as for forgiveness, if it truly was an accident, there’s not much to forgive. If it was over-aggressive violence that led to the thief’s death, then that might take me some time to accept, but I’m confident I would get there eventually.

  16. I seriously wouldn’t be upset if this happened. The guy could’ve killed my father! If you choose the path of crime, you know what could be coming to you: instant death, by a guy who defended himself. Now I’m sure killing the guy would not have been his goal (I would go for a knockout), but if the crook got killed in the process it is his own fault. Killing a person is allowed in my opinion if it’s for self-defense.

  17. if this happened id leave, get in the car, have long awkward silence, then ask him what the hell he plans to do and that its really dumb because hes going to get caught. then id start thinking about how im an accomplice and didnt tell anyone, and freak out!!!!

  18. If my father said he killed the man for trying to steal his wallet then I would report it because the murder could be classified as self-defense. An action of self-defense must be deemed to be both immediate and proportionate to the level of attack. My father’s reaction was no doubt immediate, the only questionable factor would be whether the attack was proportionate.

    Did the pseudo-robber have any weapons on him? There are factors to take into account. How did my dad kill him? Did anybody hear? Are there surveillance cameras. Above all, what shady restaurant are YOU eating in?

    What about this ethical dilemma? You come acros the man who raped and killed both your wife and your little girl. Ten years have passed and he is out on parole. You vividly recall his evil twisted face. You’re in your truck in a secluded back alley. Do you gun the engine?

  19. What i wouldlike to know is how the guy died and how he tried to steal the mans wallet. Killing a man because he said ‘im going to take your wallet’ is an extreme reaction and totally not necessary. But if the guy pulled a knife or gun or something on you and then threatened you and treid to stab you or something to take your wallet, now self defense in that case does apply.

    In this particular case i would not turn my father over to the police, but i would however make him go to the police. though i dont think my father could kill someone… ever… he is the sweetest man alive. so if he did end up killing a man i think it would have only ever been in self defence so if this is the case, he should have nothing to hide.

    I could forgive him, but it would change my view of him, whether i choose it or not, because no matter how it happened or why, the event would have changed my father too.

  20. Wow, this is a tough situation.

    When I gotten to know that my father killed a guy, lots of questions will come to my mind. (Why he takes such drastic move to kill a person, how he did it, why why why).

    I’ll be stunt and speechless till I gain my consciousness. My father actually killed someone! Not a hen, not a cout, but a person!

    I’ll try to talk to him to surrender so as to “pay” for his guilt instead of nightmare every night. If he decided to be silent, I’ll share his nightmare (that comes to me on every night too). As he is my father, I’ll have to take care of him and to accept that this is my father and he killed someone. I’ll be loyal and forgive him.

    If situation is another way that I killed one, he would have done the same for me too.

  21. uh, Wow? well, after reading all the comments i would have to agree with them all in some way. ๐Ÿ˜

  22. I guess this scenario could be read in 2 ways: he killed the man after HE tried to steal his wallet. If we read he as the father, then I would call the police. If we read he as the now dead man, then I would still call the police but only to explain what had happened. If the self-defense is true, there would be evidence or cameras to corroborate the story, and my father would be clear.

  23. i could forgive him easily everybody makes mistakes, even though his was much larger. I could totally forgive him if he felt bad for doing it.
    The idea probably ate away at him until he finally just had to do it, then right after regretted it. We’ve all done this on some level. so forgiveness is easy. we should all love eachother <3

  24. This dilemma is ambiguous because of the use of the personal pronoun ‘he’. Did the father murder a thief, or is the father a thief and a murderer? My actions would hinge upon the answer to this question. Additionally, I have no sympathy with an order to remain quiet.

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