An Assassination Thought Experiment

Imagine you stand in between an on-coming bullet and the president of the United States of America. If you stay right where you are, you are dead. If you move to avoid the bullet, the president is dead.

So what do you do? Naturally, you move out of the bullet’s way. Your life is simply more valuable to you than the president’s life is. No hard feelings nessasarily, even though you don’t particularly like the president. It’s not even an entirely selfish act… if it had been a family member or a friend, you would have stayed there and taken the bullet. In a political vein, it’s hard to decipher: you don’t really know what you would have done if it had been a president you thought better of.

Let’s say that the entire mental debate is available on camera footage, for endless dissemination of close ups and slow motion replay. Nothing spectacular here — the footage shows that you caught sight of the bullet, turned your head and looked at the president, grimmaced, and stepped out of the way. All in a split second.

The president’s supporters… will not accept you stepping aside to protect your life. After all, they would have jumped right to the bullet to protect the man they see as the “Best Hope for America”, and don’t understand anyone who doesn’t consider him the “Best Hope for America”. To them, you are more guilty than the assassin him/her/themself. So, death threats come rolling in. Their media partisans spew venom at you on talk radio and newspaper columns and whatnot. And since the president is dead and receiving a funeral goodwill honeymoon, where everyone’s gushing about his new found greatness, and a generic “good citizenship dictates that you save the life of our president” ethos enters the public domain… you have no defenders.

Recall the last episode of Seinfeld and the “Good Samaritan” Laws that inspired it. Seinfeld and company stood by videotaping and laughing as a fat man was mugged. And, as it turned out, they were legally required to have helped the man out –legally required to a certain level of morality.

Imagine in the bowels of the law that you are legally obligated to save the president’s life in such a circumstance as described above.

What’s that mean? I don’t know. My thought experiment has reached a dead end.

2 Responses to “An Assassination Thought Experiment”

  1. DK Says:

    What if it was Hitler? By-the-way, Bush II may be the most destructive force on the planet…wouldn’t you and I have an obligation to save the planet?

    To save America, our economy, the economies of the world, to save us from a completely polluted and destroyed planet? Wouldn’t it be sacreligous not to step aside?

    Stopping the next Hitler (Instead of killing the jews and taking over europe, our Hitler is killing the muslims and taking over the world with the Neo-cons) from destroying the world?

    Just curious…

  2. Nikolai Tesla Says:

    What if you could go back in time and kill hitler, even though he was the guy that would kill the guy that would destroy the whole WORLD? That’s about the same isn’t it?
    By the way, how old are you?

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