Ethics Expert Answers Your Questions

Keating: You have several interesting ideas here -- and you make the big picture point, too: Tolerance for heavy drinking is partly a sociocultural phenomenon. At the same time, many people would argue that the first line of defense against drinking too much is the individual drinker. And it comes full circle, doesn't it? The society has to train those individual drinkers just right!

Lee from Southampton, N.Y., wrote, "The action between the two couples where the men were the aggressors, it was clear the women were trying to defend themselves and appeared they wanted to get away. The women were making eye contact with the aggressors as they were using their arms in defense. The man who was beat upon by the woman appeared patronizing. He was not making eye contact nor attempting to defend himself. He ignored the woman. He stayed focused on his newspaper.

"Being a male, I would have had no problem intervening with the two couples where the males were the aggressors. If needed, I would have no problem getting physical with the men. The other couple would cause me to hesitate, because I believe women are a lot more violent than our culture portrays. I would hesitate becoming physical against a woman. If the man in this couple appeared to be threatened by the woman's violence, I probably would have made some kind of contact. But, as it was portrayed in the segment, probably not. I might have made a comment about disturbing the peace with her yelling."

Keating: So here is the experiment both you and I want to do: IF the man and woman display EXACTLY the same aggressive behavior toward the other-sex victim who also behaves in EXACTLY the same way, right down to the violence of each shake, the pitch of each yell and the fear expression on each victim's face, would bystanders react the same way in each instance?

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