Tuesday, October 30, 2007

When is a good person a Samaritan?

Today's Boston Globe has a short story headlined "Good Samaritan, 30, dies of stab wounds." I was intrigued since, like most people, I often wonder whether I have enough compassion to help out a stranger in need. But the story is weirdly vague about how the people involved -- the "Samaritan" named Scott Gilbeau, the woman in distress who is not identified, and the attacker with the memorable name of Roy B. Bash -- came to know each other.

Gilbeau, Bash, and two women had been at a bar in Vergennes before returning to the Hinesburg trailer where Bash and his girlfriend lived. The couples had retired to separate rooms for the night when Gilbeau heard Bash and his girlfriend fighting, according to the affidavit filed by Vermont State Police Detective Sergeant James Whitcomb.

Gilbeau was undoubtedly heroic, but I thought a Good Samaritan, by definition, was someone who goes out of his way (or misses church, in the original story) to help a stranger. Here the term just seems confusing, and even euphemistic in a way I can't figure out. Why not just say that the two men were friends or neighbors, or some other vague term that doesn't come from a parable specifically about providing aid to someone one has never met before?



Anonymous K. McDonald said...

Well David... I think the press got it right..."Good Sumaritan" is the perfect way to phrase this, "Hero" would have been even better. A good sumaritan is not helping just people that you don't know, it's helping anyone. Now let me ask you a question...Why would you even make a comment like that after just a horrible tragedy????

11/15/2007 09:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scott was a great guy willing to help anyone and was always there when someone needed him. I was very close to Scott, I grew up with him. Not to be rude but I will say to you, please make sure you get your stories straight before butchering a story and making accuastions.

11/17/2007 08:42:00 AM  

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