Social Question

spectrum's avatar

Is it better to look away or let someone know they are being unethical in public?

Asked by spectrum (16points) July 10th, 2016

Someone is swimming in an area marked ‘No Swimming’ and the water is part of a town’s public water supply, what would you do. Ignore them or bring it to their attention?

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11 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Tell them (as I did yesterday when a couple was walking on the restricted area of a dam),“hey, it’s a big problem if you get caught, that is illegal!”

If they act like they are going to get out of the water, leave them be. If they are jerks and tell you to mind your own business, I woul walk away and then call a ranger or sheriff.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Are you asking is it better to let them know that there’s a witness who might snitch them out, or are you assuming they have not read the sign?

spectrum's avatar

I am going to assume they didn’t see the sign or couldn’t read the language the sign was written in? The fact that I would brought it to their attention is enough for me, let their conscience be their guide. Maybe we need to put up the old circle sign ‘swimmer and the red line through it with a glass of water’ beside it so that everyone understands.
Thanks for your response.

kritiper's avatar

Bring it to their attention, and then tell the police. Ignorance of the law, by one or both parties, is unacceptable.

SavoirFaire's avatar

I would call them out on it. For one, social pressure is way more psychologically effective than fear of the law. Maybe they are ignorant and don’t know what they are doing is wrong. Maybe they are arrogant and think no one will stop them. Both bubbles are worth bursting.

I will note, however, that I probably wouldn’t say anything if I didn’t think the rule they were breaking was worth enforcing.

Stinley's avatar

I’m law abiding on the whole but when rules don’t make sense then I feel free to break them. Why is there no swimming allowed? What difference does it make that it’s the town’s water supply? All sorts of creatures are swimming in there anyway.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Stinley There are different processes used to treat water depending on the impurities it contains. Introducing humans requires additional processes, which is more expensive. And if the town has decided not to treat the water as if it contains contaminants of human origin, then swimming in the lake means adding impurities to the water that likely won’t be removed.

Seek's avatar

I’d ignore it, mostly because I live in Florida and people get shot for less around here.

Pachy's avatar

Confronting strangers is risky—in or out of the water. I’d report it to the authorities.

CWOTUS's avatar

Welcome to Fluther.

The question is a little too poorly presented to be of much practical value. There are sometimes wide gulfs of difference between “laws”, “regulations” and “ethics”. The things barely have nodding acquaintance with each other sometimes.

When I see people acting “unethically” in public, and I do see that from time to time: nurses and doctors talking disrespectfully about patients outside of the office, for example, and even naming those patients (or at least describing them to each other so that others can deduce who is being talked about), then I generally just file it as “how not to act”, and “what practice to avoid”. (If I were familiar with the person being talked about, then I might make a quiet recommendation to seek service elsewhere, and I may or may not say why.)

Where I work now – since a recent takeover of our company by a huge multinational industrial conglomerate – ethics and compliance to law, local regulation and “good behavior” in general is stressed above all else. We’ve had numerous online training sessions to expound on exactly the kinds of “good behavior” that are expected – and one of those expectations is to remove ourselves from the presence of those who are engaging in various forms of likely, apparent or obvious bad business practices. One of the things we’re being told to do is to not only remove ourselves, but to say why we’re doing that, so that if minutes are kept or if the others present are ever interviewed – and presuming they will tell the truth at that point – it will be on record that we said we were leaving for a particular reason (the bad conduct or unethical business that might be discussed in our absence), and that we did, in fact, leave the meeting or whatever was going on.

I’ll be interested to see how this plays out in practice. I’ve never been involved in “shady dealings” except that one time back in band camp, but I doubt that things are ever as cut-and-dried as presented in training scenarios.

As for people swimming in posted No Swimming areas, I might mention the restriction to the people if I knew more about the circumstances: if the beach was closed for safety reasons and they didn’t know that, or if they couldn’t read or simply hadn’t seen the sign, they might appreciate knowing. As for people swimming in a “drinking water reservoir”, I’d totally let that go. Enough cosmic dust falls from space on that reservoir every single day of the year to outweigh the effect of anything that a few human swimmers would do, even if they peed while they were swimming.

YARNLADY's avatar

Do not confront anyone doing anything illegal. ALWAYS call the authorities.

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