Ethics Jump Ball: What Is An Ethical Reaction To This Story?


From the BBC (2008):

An Italian woman artist who was hitch-hiking to the Middle East dressed as a bride to promote world peace has been found murdered in Turkey.

The naked body of Giuseppina Pasqualino di Marineo, 33, known as Pippa Bacca, was found in bushes near the northern city of Gebze on Friday.

She had said she wanted to show that she could put her trust in the kindness of local people.

Turkish police say they have detained a man in connection with the killing.

Reports say the man led the police to the body.

I think I’ll add my reactions to the comments.

Fragments can be found in the tags.

You go first.


Pointer: Red Flag

104 thoughts on “Ethics Jump Ball: What Is An Ethical Reaction To This Story?

  1. First I thought the sign read Gorgonzola, and, because I love cheese, I thought, “Okay, this woman likes cheese too.” But then I read the text underneath and was saddened. Ok, maybe not as saddened as my reaction to my cat, Artis, who is dying before my eyes, but, still, quite taken aback. Perhaps distance to tragedy plays a big part. I mean, my cat versus this woman’s life. I’m sorry, it’s my cat.

    Still, my heart grieves for this woman. And yet, not as much as my heart grieves for my cat.

    • The death of an animal companion is one of life’s awful tragedies, FM. I’ve been through it five times, and one is on the near horizon. I’m so sorry.

      Another reason you may feel more sorry for your cat is that it DIDN’T WALK INTO A GROUP OF STRAY ROTTWEILERS TO PROVE THAT LOCAL DOGS ARE PEACEFUL.

    • fattymoon,
      My cat, Izza, is the closest thing I still have to family — and I’d sooner watch the world burn than see a single hair on her (anywhere) harmed. I’m so sorry for what you’re going through.

      On a brighter note — at least there’s still cheese?


      • Neil, cheese, and the magical thinking associated with the Rainbow Bridge, keep me afloat. Otherwise, I would just roll over and die.

  2. Is there an ethical reaction to this story? I don’t know. Grief, anger, fear – all are emotions; emotions are ethics-neutral. My first reaction is emotional.

    By reaction, do you also mean real action by anyone who chooses to act in response to the story? It happened how many years ago? In Turkey? I suppose it would be ethical for anyone who has the goodwill, to seek out people who confess to being motivated to do something similar to what the dead lady did, and admonish them, try to persuade them to do differently.

    Perhaps there is some allegorical value to the story, and someone who is very clever might be able to parlay that value into effective persuasion of some persons who are on the brink of getting themselves into mortal danger unnecessarily…hmmmm…let me think…like maybe, voters for Bernie? (That was just the first group that came to mind. Voters like the dead lady seem to be in great abundance in the U.S. this year, and not all are for Bernie.)

    • But, as I have said, we now live in Ameri-la-la-la-la-la-rica. And, consistent with what Steve-O has been saying in his comments here, we have our minds made up, closed, settled and never to change or be changed; we want what we want; we are going to do what we want to do; and there is no persuading any of us to think or act otherwise. “LA-LA-LA-LA-LA!”

  3. I will be the first to admit that schadenfreude is an unethical emotion.

    Let me also suggest that walking barefoot through the main pen at the Rattlesnake Roundup is really, really stupid, and that ethics probably don’t apply here. Natural selection probably does.

  4. There was a hitchhiking robot that peacefully traveled for a while until it was destroyed. This was in America. It had traveled safely through Canada and Germany.

    A single incident does not illustrate any culture by itself, but they can be illuminating when put in the proper context of things we already understand about the culture.

    I believe Pippa had a better chance not being killed hitchhiking in America, but it was still a possibility. Apparently, murders of hitchhikers are rare, but in this era, so are hitchhikers.

    As far as how the Middle Eastern world would have reacted to HitchBOT… I honestly can’t say. If HitchBOT was destroyed in the Middle East, it might have been for concerns of spying, rather than for the sheer destructive fun of it, which is the suspected reason why someone destroyed HitchBOT.

    I suspect those who use either incident as an excuse to rip on one place and that culture probably won’t use the same ire to complain about the other.

    • “I believe Pippa had a better chance not being killed hitchhiking in America, but it was still a possibility. Apparently, murders of hitchhikers are rare, but in this era, so are hitchhikers.”

      This is probably true. But another pertinent data point would be whether Pippa was likely to survive hitchhiking across the middle east.I think that if 1000 HitchBots made the American attempt, most would arrive on the other side of America. More importantly, I’m sure that the vast majority of 1000 Pippas would. If 1000 Pippas made the attempt across the middle east, how many would make it? Half? A quarter? Three Quarters?

      Her premise was that the middle east was safe. Her premise was stupid and got her killed, and that’s a tragedy.

      What’s the ethical response to this? I have no idea. Do we use this as a teachable moment? Sure: Not all middle easterners are violent, but it’s a generally more violent corner of the world, and travelers need to take reasonable precautions? I’m sure some would accuse me of victim blaming. Those people are stupid, but they also represent the kind of person that thought this was a good idea in the first place, and they aren’t going to listen to silly things like logic or reason. Is that teachable moment doomed to teach nothing and foster more confrontation?

      I’m feeling pessimistic lately.

  5. If you truly believe your ideology that everyone is really good if we could all just love and trust each other, as this one did, apparently, you are going to run into reality like a car running into a brick wall. Stupid, with a predictable result. As to an comment on the ethics of it, wow, not sure. I don’t think it is unethical to be stupid, even if it might be deadly. I have a problem with the people who try to teach this false to facts fantasy for gullible people to buy. People are a combination of good and evil. Everyone has some of both. Societies are good to the extent they encourage the good and discourage the bad. Tolerance of bad behavior is unethical in my book. My current hot button is the people who stop and give money to the beggars on the side of the road. The police in my area have let this become rampant. It is just another example of a flawed belief system outweighing facts. I do not grieve for the woman. She got not what she deserved, but rather what she should have expected if she had looked at the world as it is, not as she wanted it to be.

    • Great—exactly the kind of thoughtful analysis I was hoping this old story (that I just learned about today) migh spark. Germane to your comment, from the Rationalizations list:

      36. Victim Blindness, or “They/He/She/ You should have seen it coming.”

      Asserting the rationalization of Victim Blindness attempts to shift responsibility for wrongdoing to the victims of it, who, the theory goes, should have known that their actions would inspire the conduct that caused them harm, and thus they should have either avoided doing what sparked the unethical response, or by not doing so waived their right to object to it. This is closely related to a sub-category of #7, The Tit-For-Tat Excuse, which holds that one party’s unethical conduct justifies similar unethical conduct in return. The sub-category is “They asked for it.” Victim Blindness is similar, but it applies even greater responsibility to victims: whether they asked for it or not, they should have known their actions would be met with this unethical response, and their ignorance, carelessness or stupidity constitutes a waiver of ethics.

      Clever, but nonsense. We do not judge the ethics of conduct according to the virtues, or lack of same, of its object. Rescuing a rotter from certain death is as admirable as rescuing an innocent child; horse-whipping a chiseling, cheating, wife-beating cannibal is still wrong. Predicting that another individual’s unethical conduct might follow from one’s own acts, good or bad, is irrelevant to the analysis of whether that subsequent conduct is right or wrong.

      Stopping or avoiding unethical conduct that I know is coming may be wise and it may be prudent, and I may blame myself for failing to do either if that was possible, but the last person who has standing to blame me for my fate is the one doing me harm. He, not I, had the last opportunity to prevent the wrongdoing, by simply declining to do it.

      #36 A. The Extortionist’s Absolution (“You were warned!”)

      #36, Victim Blindness takes the side of the treacherous scorpion in the fable of “The Scorpion and the Frog.” #36 A, “Extortion Ethics,” takes that argument one step further, asserting that a victim’s defiance of a threat or warning that unethical conduct will be the response to an ethical action constitutes a waiver of ethical principles by the victim.

      It doesn’t. The fact that a victim ignored a warning may make him guilty of negligence, or recklessness, or foolishness, or bad judgment, but it doesn’t mitigate the unethical quality of the threatened response in any way. The law takes the same approach. A “Trespassers will be shot!” sign doesn’t give a property owner the right to shoot trespassers with impunity. “The Extortionist’s Absolution” rationalizes that the threat “Do what I want or I’ll harm you!” removes all future ethical responsibility from the potential harm. This does not apply, of course, to a warning that is reasonable and justified, of consequences that are proportionate, legal and fair.

  6. Mr. Marshall,
    My father used to tell me that he would avoid hitch-hiker’s like the plague, unless it was a woman. Not, he said, because of any nefarious intent on his part, but rather because women were far more likely to be killed doing so and he knew that he at least was not a murderer. Which always struck me as funny, seeing as how every woman who’d ever died hitch-hiking probably thought the same of that driver right up until he proved her wrong. Unfortunately, sycophants look just like everyone else.

    I suppose this is one of those situations which falls into the “it’s not her fault, but ..” situations. On the one hand, we have someone who (perhaps naively so) had the will to put her trust in the care of strangers — which is how it should be. And, on the other, that same misplaced trust ultimately served to teach her exactly why our parents tell us not to — which is how it is.

    That said, while I suppose naivete and foolishness can be unethical, but I still hold the world to blame for this one. This is like a more tragic version of the story about the man who tries to prove the foolishness of picking up after other people by littering. Silly woman; sick world.


    • I had a relative who never locked her doors at night, because, dammit, you shouldn’t have to lock your doors. This is the visualization approach to reality, or perhaps magical thinking.

      Frankly, I analogize this episode with the Iran nuclear deal.

      • Jack,
        This is why people (not me) critique you for being overly political even though you insist otherwise. Why bring up Iran? Or why does Agghole have to mention Muslims? A discussion had started to form around ethical considerations instead of just analogizing current events. Now, we’re back to current events.

        People with different political views can often still have the same ethical ones, but if you frame everything through a political lens, that’s all anyone sees.

        • It’s not a political statement or observation. The fact that it involves a nation rather than a woman is just fractals. Why should anyone’s partisan view stop them from seeing the similarities between a woman who takes an outrageous risk to prove there is no risk, and a nation that does the same? The issue is trust—all ethics tends to end up in trust: what warrants it? What doesn’t? When is trust irresponsible? Someone who can’t perceive a larger lesson from this woman that extends to foreign policy is unteachable.

          • Jack,
            Because a person is relatable, a nation isn’t. We can imagine what one person may have felt or dealt with because of a shared human experience, but to analogize that to a political situation involving a nation of millions of people half a world and an entire culture away — of course that’s going to be (more) divisive.

            • So it’s divisive. It’s important to see clearly. If people resent tough questions, that’s their tragedy. And I live, reason and think by out or the lines analogies. Ethically, the only difference between a woman walking alone through the Middle East, and a nation trusting that a nation like Iran will be civilized and trustworthy when all of its rhetoric and conduct indicates otherwise is 1) she’s only endangering her own life, where the US is endangering others, and 2) her stunt was less risky.

          • I’m not saying there aren’t analogies to be made, only that you so often tend to make them political and that turns some people off.

  7. I’ll go ahead and go there so the flaming can begin-

    There may be crappy pockets of western civilization where this would happen. But once you walk into Muslim land, all bets are off. Sorry. It’s just that crappy.

    Let the flaming commence. I’m sure I’ll even get one from PM Lawrence about how everything g is relative and who are we to judge…

      • I apologize for my sarcasm above. Heh-heh, I must have some politician in me, to break a promise like that (to never again comment with sarcasm).

    • There may be crappy pockets of western civilization where this would happen.

      No “may” about it, though I’d content that such places may be western, but not civilised.

      But once you walk into Muslim land, all bets are off. Sorry. It’s just that crappy.

      As a generalisation, not true in every case…. yes. There are exceptions, but the problem is that Islam encourages this kind of thing. Most muslims ignore that, just as most christians ignore the encouragement of quasi-communism.

      • “As a generalisation, not true in every case…. yes. There are exceptions”

        Yes, thank you, you caught the obvious….but I think we’re past the need for caveats. We’re all intellectual and honest here.

    • Jizz Jarhead,
      Turkey is (officially) secular; Islam is a religion, not a geographical region; walking on land (anywhere), all bets are off.

      But that’s not even the point (as those are all semantic distinctions), from a story story so wrought with irony and moral uncertainty, and that’s all you could cull from it? What’s more, posting something intentionally inflammatory and then predicting the inevitable backlash doesn’t make you clever. Smart people don’t go looking for fights, they just always win them.

      • Did this little rant have a purpose?

        The woman was stupid. But she was harming exactly ZERO people. That means she’s ethically neutral in this story.

        So what else then can we glean ethically from this story? I must’ve been on to something…

      • “Turkey is (officially) secular; Islam is a religion, not a geographical region; walking on land (anywhere), all bets are off.”

        Somehow I suspect this poor woman heard many such diatribes from moral relativists like you extolling that “hey every culture has it’s problems, but we’re all just trying to be the best we can” before she went on her fools errand.


        “According to the government, 99.8% of the Turkish population is Muslim, mostly Sunni, some 10 to 15 million are Alevis. The remaining 0.2% is other – mostly Christians and Jews.”

        “The Eurobarometer Poll 2005 reported that in a poll 96% of Turkish citizens answered that “they believe there is a God”, while 1% responded that “they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force”.”

        Tell us again how secular Turkey is, please.

        • Turkey’s religious makeup has little or nothing to do with its safety issues today — it’s one of the more popular backpacking and family destinations (my workplace gets regular videos from a former coordinator* who has been teaching there for nine years) — but its politics definitely do, and they don’t target lonely roads in rural areas. The US State Department has two warnings out: “Avoid travel to southeastern Turkey, particularly near the Syrian border” and “Stay away from large crowds and remain vigilant near popular tourist destinations.” Jerusalem, though, has had religion-based warnings in recent times, and so have sections of the Borough of Brooklyn, NY for the same reason, neither of them to do with Muslims.

          *he doesn’t go out on the road alone, but says it’s much safer than it used to be [i.e., when he arrived in 2008!).

          • My take on this is that she was trying to prove that Muslims are peaceful by hitch hiking in a wedding dress through Muslim majority nations. That she believed that Muslims are peaceful, and that she believed that because she had been fed this really pernicious and false idea that Islam is no better or worse than Christianity.

            It’s a lie, by the way. Islam IS worse. The ideas within the holy books are worse, and the actions taken by modern adherents are worse. I’m gay, and if I had to choose whether to walk down a street in New York City, Tel-Aviv, or Tehran with my boyfriend, I feel that my chances of being thrown off a high building are lower in New York or Tel Aviv, and that’s not a coincidence!

            This him-hawing, pearl-clutching refusal on the part of Liberals to live on the same planet as the rest of us infuriates me. We aren’t all the same, our cultures are not all the same, some people are better, some cultural aspects are better. Cutting up women’s genitals because some heat addled man two thousand years ago is a bad idea. Killing women for getting raped is a bad idea. Caning women for failing to be escorted outside by a man is a bad idea. Throwing gay people off tall buildings is a bad idea. Killing people who decide not to believe what you believe is a bad idea.

            Do we know that Pippa was killed by Muslims for religious reasons? No. No we don’t. That isn’t the point. The point is that it’s likely that it was, and that she should have known that, she should have known better, but she didn’t because people told her that these people were really just tragically misunderstood, and believed that she was relatively safe.

            Because she had been lied to.

        • Humble,
          Except that I said the point was semantic and likewise put “officially” in parenthesis. How much clearer do I need to make it that the point was trivial to begin with .. just no more trivial than his.

          I have no quarrel with you.

            • Humble,
              Thanks again for the constant elucidation! I really appreciate your diligent efforts on my behalf to correct misunderstandings.

              Religion, as a whole, is a mother lode of really bad ideas. If the Bible were ever made into a movie, unedited, it would be triple-X rated. The same could be said for any number of other tracts. Muslims weren’t the first nor are they even the largest group to have cornered bad ideas — those are universal.

              • I think it’s important to look beyond the scripture to the actions and effects. Yes, the bible has some clearly awful things in it. Yes, so do the majority of holy books out there. Yes, if I asked the women killed in the witch trials what they thought, they’d probably think Christianity was worse. And yes, the crusades were a thing (although anyone who says “but the crusades” like it was the beginning of the dispute is ignoring centuries of Saracen aggression into Europe)

                But fast forward a couple of hundred years. Women and minorities in Christian nations generally have all the legal rights and freedoms men do, even if there’s still room to grow. And even if you don’t agree with that premise, at the very least if those groups decide to criticize their leaders, they aren’t branded as heretics and beheaded. Meanwhile, in the Middle East….

                Islam is killing people. Directly. Unquestionably. Without resorting to philosophical questions as to the effects of vague cause and effect. Today, right this minute, somewhere, someone is saying “You did something haram, I’mma kill you.”

        • Humble,
          1) I said “officially” in parenthesis to illustrate I realized it was a semantic argument. 2) I admitted as such immediately below.

          Why waste time pulling facts over something I’d already stated didn’t matter? My point was trivial, but so was his.

          We have no quarrel. Go in peace, good sir.

  8. Call it Evolution in Action. Then recall that stupidity has always been a capital offense. Then grieve for someone who was a better person than I am.

    Someone has to test the boundaries like this. Not me though. I will take risks, but the risk here approached certainty. An Eloi amongst Morlocks. One can be a sheepdog without being either a wolf or a silly sheep. I try to be neither.

    I mean it when I say “Call it Evolution in Action” as Evolution is a cruel process, and outliers like her are both the heroes and the victims of it. Such people are necessary. They also provide business for funeral directors nearly all the time. I don’t think she was heroic, just really badly informed. It doesn’t matter anyway from an Evolutionary viewpoint.

    Wiki has more on this 2008 story:

    • Evolution in action my ass.

      Somehow other cultures have managed to figure out ways to train its people up to not wantonly murder someone regardless how naive they may be.

      • I fear you are too optimistic. Sorry, I’ve just been talking to a nurse from Wewak in the PNG north coast. PNG Highlanders would have done the same, but eaten the body afterwards. Those on the coast are quite different.

        Cultures that are civilised usually only become so with the advent of weapons so destructive – from thermonukes to tercios – that it’s either play nice with others or be dead.

        Don’t piss off such civilised cultures, because when aroused, they’ll nuke your ass. They just take a lot of provocation before doing so.

  9. Well, I’m enjoying this thread. I may do more of these. Here’s another story this reminded me of: Timothy Treadwell, “The Grizzly Man,” who hung around gizzly bears and, predictably, was finally killed and eaten by one. Or is that an unfair comparison? I must confess, when I heard of Treadwell’s demise, my immediate reaction was, “What an idiot.”

    • Jack,
      Except bears kill as a means of survival and he was kind of on their turf. This woman didn’t throw herself to the wolves, she was attacked by a pack of rabid dogs.

        • I know — I was so excited by the dog parallelism that I forgot to make it apropos of anything.

          She was killed for no better reason than hate .. or robbery .. or debauchery .. or something equally as evil. Treadwell was stupid because HE should have known better (because the bears couldn’t); her attackers, on the other hand, had a choice.

            • Treadwell was beyond stupid. He had no formal training, he had no backup, and his head was full of idealistic notions of nature that were proven wrong time and again. He was lucky for years until he wasn’t, He acted no better than McCandless or half the people that wonder off into the woods never to be seen again — because they’re in awe of a power they’ve failed to properly consider or protect themselves against.

              She, on the other hand, trusted in people. Supposedly rational creatures who have the capability of making moral distinctions regarding the taking of a life that most animals (especially predators) don’t. I’m not suggesting she wasn’t naive or that she shouldn’t have taken more care, only that it’s more forgivable in her case. She was wrong for making assumptions about people, Treadwell thought that he could somehow escape the food chain (and ultimately caused the deaths of two animals he supposedly tried to protect).

                  • Jack,
                    “In their way, they are as predictable as grizzly bears.”

                    I never argued otherwise, only that grizzly bears don’t have a choice .. her murderers did. Was this outcome foreseeable? Sure. But that doesn’t excuse the evil of those who killed her nor does it make her wrong for imaging a world where such horrors didn’t happen. Treadwell was jumping off a cliff and expecting not to fall, this woman just placed her trust in the wrong harness (does that analogy work better? — I keep thinking in word play for some reason)

                    The “Jizz Jar” is a (supposedly real, possibly rumored) tradition at A&M involving the Corps and a jar of semen, while the “head” at the end refers to the militaristic nature of school more generally. I don’t know that you were a member of the corps or are just an alum, but considering I dislike both — it doesn’t really matter.

                    I’m not a moral relativist and nothing about my comment suggested that. I do find it odd that your eyes would read “Turkey” and get stuck. I’m not suggesting the country doesn’t have its problems or that her “errand” wasn’t foolish, only that singling this out as though it could have only happened (or was even more likely to happen) there, is silly. Thousands of people are murdered in this country every year for reasons no better than “Bitch wouldn’t smile at me.” — why single out an entire religious group as the “bad guys” just for the purposes of saying something controversial?

                    • Hypothetically speaking, if you engaged in non-harmful conduct in culture A, and there was a .05% likelihood that someone would rape and murder you because of that non-harmful conduct, but you did the same in culture B, and there was a 15% likelihood that someone would rape and murder you because of that non-harmful conduct…which culture has a bigger problem?

                      “jizz jarhead”

                      That’s what you were referring to? Criminy, don’t make your insults TOO esoteric. I thought you were trying to make some sort of US Marine Corps reference.

                    • This is just funny. It take willful delusion to really think that a woman hitch-hiking alone in the Middle East, where the follower of the predominant religion often regard women as inferior, disposable and rape-bait, while wearing garb that is explicitly Christian and symbolizes virginity, would be at no more risk than someone doing the same thing in the US. This is exactly the kind of fantasy, ideology-based thinking that got her killed.

                      And by the way, since grizzly bears chose NOT to kill this fool for quite a while, they obviously were capable of choosing. My dog makes choices all the time.

                    • Jack,
                      I said none of that. I said it was odd he would single Muslims out as if it could ONLY in such a place. I mentioned Turkey because that’s where the event took place (which is dangerous), what I took issue with was his characterization of “Muslims” — very different. I agree that it is more likely to happen in a place like Turkey (and said so, by stating what happened was foreseeable).

                      Finally, the grizzlies chose no such thing — Treadwell simply had never put them in a position where it was him or survival. The last time he did and was stupid for it.

                      ALL I said was that her case was more excusable because the cause of her harm (people) could chose not to do so. Faced with survival or killing, a bear will always choose survival.

                      Let’s keep in mind, she may be partially to blame — but it’s not her FAULT. THAT WAS MY ONLY POINT. THAT WAS THE ONLY THING I WAS TRYING TO CLARIFY. WE AGREE ON ALL MAJOR POINTS.

                      In fact, very seldom, if EVER, do we disagree. It’s just your phrasing I often am confused by, or the way you conflate small issues into bigger ones.

                    • TexAgg,
                      The whole point of the “insult” (it’s not that because 1) I know you don’t care 2) I think you’re really, really smart) was only to get your attention. We should talk more often — I really think we could be good friends.

                      I will email you my number if you’re interested.

            • He ignored the risk, he was mentally unbalanced. He had been warned and cited numerous times for camping too long in one location, not storing food properly, he would keep it in his tent.

              When he was finally attacked and eaten the bears he usually interacted with had all gone into hibernation. The bears he was camping with, he set up his tent on one of the trails the bears used, were all new to him and come from deeper in the woods to eat salmon.

              As far as Im concerned he got what he had coming, not so the young lady that had so stupidly went with him.

    • Recently re-released (yuck), the dumbest move ever made. Has to be seen to be believed but shouldn’t be seen by anyone ever and didn’t Tippi Hedron have enough animal attacks after Hitchcock got through with her??? /

  10. I’ve been that girl. But I’m still here. Maybe I was lucky, maybe she was unlucky. I’m sure we were both foolish.

    For 18 years I owned and operated a carpet cleaning business. One of my best clients was the VA and HUD. I cleaned the carpets in their repossessed houses before they were placed back on the market from 1987 to 1998. I worked all over SoCal, and most of these homes were not in the best neighborhoods – some downright gang-infested. I worked alone. I left the van unlocked. I worked through two pregnancies, hauling 100+ lb. portable carpet cleaning machines in and out of my truck and up and down stairs. I was small too, 5’3″, blonde hair and blue eyes. But I had a deep belief that for the most part, people treat you as you expect them to. It was common to see a group of young men on lawn chairs in driveways or knots on corners. I smiled and nodded. Sometimes they would see me lifting things (especially when pregnant) and rush over to help. I always thanked them. In all of those years, in all of those horrible neighborhoods, in those unspeakably depressing and hopeless neighborhoods. No one ever harmed me, no one ever stole from me, no one ever threatened me, no one even made feel uncomfortable. All I ever got was kindness…at the worst I was ignored.

    I don’t know that I would have ever gone so far as she did, and I think she might have fared a little better had she not been trying to make a big political, humanitarian statement – hitchhiking, dressed as a bride – deliberately provoking their beliefs (thank you religion!) about how women should behave… she was trying to prove a point to the world. I was just expecting people to treat me respectfully if I did the same to them. Fearless and foolhardy are two sides to the same coin. I did not want to live a life in fear, behind the trappings of fear: locks, guns, alarms and cameras. I still don’t. But I don’t think I could be convinced to hitchhike across the Middle East. But even now in my late middle age, I still scoff at locks, alarms, guns for protection and stranger danger.

    And Fattymoon, I am very sorry to hear about your kitty. One of my “occupations” is running a “retirement home” for geriatric, special needs and hospice pugs (and a few pug wannabe’s). I usually have between 12-16 that I care for and I have to make that decision far too often. It never gets easier, never.

    • Agreed, I can admire the faith the woman had in human nature even if she went out of her way to test it. I visited a city when much younger that had a high murder rep and consciously decided to Golden Rule my visit. Those who killed her deserve all the smacks the crimes deserve. Her killers are responsible for her death, she is responsible for her life. I regret that her faith outweighed common sense that she should remember to take care of herself.

    • Bless you, Lisa, for your caring and kindness.

      After my divorce in 2000 it was just me and my three three cats. Never locked doors. Or the car. Magical thinking, Got married again, Door locking is now strictly enforced. Sometimes my wife locks me out (not on purpose). I like the old ways better.

      Magical thinking. It works. Sometimes. I’ve had great successes and great failures. Even if you consider my story ridiculous, you cannot deny the peace and satisfaction I get when I sit down, search through the 850 pieces, and find a match. Slowly, I am putting my wife, and my life, back together.

  11. She was not unethical. If she had any family and/or friends, THEY were unethical. If she truly believed the ideal she pursued, her ethical response was to pursue it. However, family and friends had an ethical responsibility to either talk her out of it, direct her intentions toward a safer way of pursuing her ideals, or accompanying her. The latter makes me squirm, though, because they might have found a dozen bodies instead of one.

    I haven’t gone to the link for the further story, but I am tempted to wonder about a) her psychological state and b) her medical state. If she was so naive as to believe herself impervious to the dangers that exist all over the world — from perverts to venomous reptiles — one might imagine that there was some sort of reality disconnect, making her someone who needs a keeper. On the other hand, perhaps she had some fatal condition, knew that she was dying, and decided to make her death meaningful by being a misguided martyr. Maybe this was meant to be some bizarre performance art. Now I’m scaring myself.

    • I believe in an ethical value called life competence. People who are naive, irresponsible, reckless, careless—they make life more difficult for everyone else. That’s why education, constant self-auditing, dedication to acquiring wisdom and having the courage to face reality, are all ethical obligations of every one of us. She s accountable for her fate. She failed at life competence.

      • Thank you, Jack, for this statement about life competence as an ethical value. I had been “thinking around the edges” of this concept, but you expressed it better than I ever could have. And now I know it has a name!

      • I don’t think you can call life competence an ethical value. It is too subjective. You draw your line for where your responsibilities for your life competence begin and end, and nearly every human would have their own ideas. There are those who say every citizen should carry a gun, shutter their windows and keep a hoard of canned food, gold and ammo to be life competent. Who gets to choose the standard? Who draws the line? Isn’t it a slippery slope?

        • Well, but that’s a dodge. You know what it means to be life-competent. There are minimal levels, below which you are failing. Sure, one can always be more competent, but minimally competent not to get in everyone else’s way, not to be a burden on society and a danger to be around, to have sufficient common sense not to constantly place yourself at risk? That just takes diligence and a sense of responsibility.

          For example, learn to communicate clearly. A basic life-competence skill.

  12. To answer your question: The ethical *reaction* to this story is to remind everyone you know, especially those you are responsible for raising, not to be stupid and to know the situations you may face in life and the very likely outcomes of those situations should they go into them….

  13. A woman hitchhiker in a Muslim country sounds like a really dumb idea to me. Whether it’s to promote world peace or just to travel cheap, the days when you could hitchhike reasonably safely ended in the 50s. Why do people avoid the hard facts that it is dangerous? My guess is that they want to recreate The Summer Of Love which ended badly at Altmont, CA.

    • It was dangerous in the 50’s. I always wondered what happened when a homicidal maniac driver picked up a serial killer hitch-hiker—the odds are that it had to happen. Finally someone made a movie about it.

    • My guess is that they want to recreate The Summer Of Love

      It wasn’t one summer, it was three. It was amazingly safe on the road (moral luck abounding, no doubt) with everyone, including nearby residents, keeping watch and passing vital information along. By 1970, the predators had descended but more decisively, word had passed back East — all the way to Europe — that there was no gold in that particular gate and the free love had expensive and nasty consequences. During ’68 and ’69 however, I hitched on my own three times from Colorado to San Francisco and back (once by airport from just outside Salt Lake to Oakland) — the private airfields would often take on passengers just for company or to keep them awake; the truckers would too: Red Ball Express drivers had a particularly good reputation (they’re the only company I heard of that routinely tried to talk the young ones — there were 12 year olds out there! — into going home and would make sure they got them rides back). There were “payback” lines. I ran into one in a cafe in Elko, Nevada that gave out a hearty breakfast to foot travelers if they were young, polite and solo, ending with a stamped self-addressed envelope if the recipients ever cared to send a dollar back some day, no hurry.

      The difference between the Italian martyr and me (besides that moral luck) is that not only was I not in a foreign country, and being raised urban-independent I was wary and savvy about strangers, but mostly that there was almost never a half-mile that I didn’t run into others on any highway, going my way at their own pace. Only once did I venture East and that was to Chicago. Ride after ride after ride, lecture after lecture after Bible lecture. That’s the only time I borrowed money for bus fare home. (Greyhound, now, wasn’t called the Dirty Dog for nothing!)

      Up until a short time ago, I lived for nearly 30 years in two different areas of one city where neighbors had keys to one another’s homes, to enter and care for them, plants and pets, while the owners were away, had emergency plans and watch groups, carpool kids, share runs to the supermarket, had garage sales where lookieloos actually entered your house or apartment if they needed to use the bathroom or get a glass of water. This is not suburbia, it’s the middle of a busy city and both areas kept that trusting sharing lifestyle until recently.

  14. And currently we have a presidential candidate campaigning to Simon and Garfunkel’s “America.” Why is it kids are told about Woodstock but not Altamont? HItchhiking is dangerous. Tell your kids and grand kids that. And now Beyonce is getting security from Louis Farhakahn. And here we thought all the juvenile idiocy of the ‘sixties had been put to rest by the late ‘seventies. I feel caught in a terrible time warp. Sigh.

  15. This story reminds me of the warnings I was told as a young woman and that I will teach my daughters — “Don’t dress like a slut,” followed immediately with, “Don’t be a stupid drunk — especially in public.” I’ll use nicer words with my own daughters of course, but that essentially is the message. If you dress in short skirts and tube tops and go on a bar crawl do you deserve to get raped? OF COURSE NOT. The only criminal in this situation is the rapist. Like the woman in this story, how you dress is an ethically neutral (although often unwise) act. But, if there is a rapist on the prowl at a bar — and assuming equal opportunity among potential victims — is he going to choose the girl in a turtleneck drinking diet coke, the girl dressed appropriately and having a beer or two with friends, or the drunk girl in a halter top and hot pants? My money would be on the last girl.

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