The Value of a Promise

In 1990, Jeffery Cain was killed due to a road rage shooting in Anchorage, Alaska.  George Kerr learned from his friends that they were the ones responsible for Cain’s death, and he proceeded to tell the police what he knew about the shooting.  Kerr said:

I usually would not rat out my friends, but this is just so severe I got to do it.

After George Kerr’s friends were convicted of this crime, they made a revenge plan and sent a bomb to his home intended to kill him.  Kerr was not home; the bomb killed his father.  If you were in George Kerr’s position, what would you have done?

Imagine that you are in the situation described:  A friend confides in you that they have committed a crime; you promise never to tell anyone.  You learn that an innocent person has been accused of the crime that your friend committed.  You ask your friend to give themselves up, but they refuse and remind you of the promise you accepted.  What do you do regarding this moral issue?  Does your decision change depending on the type of crime – murder, embezzlement, hit and run?  Where do you draw the line in this moral dilemma, with regards to when to reveal your friend and when you keep their promise?

01
kim
September 12th, 2009 6:04 pm

There is no line to draw. What kind of friend murders an unsuspecting human being…or any human being for that matter? And as we saw later on, these “friends” tried to murder Kerr, which may or may not have happened even if Kerr had not reported them to the police. Keeping deadly secrets can be deadly for the keeper as well as for the one who spills the beans.

02
Robjh
September 22nd, 2009 7:02 am

Agree with Kim. The “friends” had murdered someone and do not deserve to go free from it, no matter what promises you make, especially with something as severe as a murder.

03
Mike
January 12th, 2010 12:35 pm

George Kerr was not told of the murder, he was in the car with them

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