I know that you're all wondering about my take on Stephan, Nicole, et al. So without further ado, here's my ranking:
- Earnest: He's an ass. Sometimes there is nothing worse than a person who turns a blind eye and pretends not to see the world. But legally speaking, he did nothing wrong. I'm sorry, but I can't turn the lawyer switch off sometimes. Earnest is a butt head, but we can't hold him responsible for what he did not do. Of course, if he were a police officer or something like that, I'd throw his ass under the jail.
- Donald: Physical violence is never the answer, but his motives were pure. During our CLE discussion, someone pointed out to me that Donald is the only one here who has technically broken the law. I hear you. Maybe at one time I could never have seen the justification for violence, but having children has made me a little more irrational.
- Nicole: Nicole, you ignorant slut! Seriously, I don't think she's a slut. Her motives, again, were pure, but in her impatience she ruined her relationship. Plus, she gave Robert power over her by giving in to his coercion. I hate that.
- Stephan: How I view Nicole affects, in part, how I view Stephan. If I take the fact pattern at its face, Nicole had 2 choices: sleep with Robert or forever be parted from Stephan. She was coerced into sex, which frankly I view as one step above rape, and Stephan punishes her for it. Neither of them is blameless, but Stephan loses points for failing to get over himself.
- Robert: Scuz bucket. I view his coercion of Nicole as little more than rape. There's a special place in hell reserved for those who take advantage of others.
For shits and giggles, I asked my husband to rank the characters too. I think T. and I share similar values and a similar way of thinking, so I wanted to see if his gender might come into play here. Here's what T. had to say:
- Donald: He only helped after the fact
- Earnest: Would not help a friend
- Stephan: Not forgiving
- Robert: Just a low life
- Nicole: Compromised her principles
When my firm discussed this with Professor Moliterno, he asked us to pair off with someone who had dissimilar rankings and attempt to convince our partner to change their rankings. As you can imagine, in a roomful of 30 stubborn attorneys, only 1 person changed her mind in any significant way. Once decisions are made and values assigned, those judgments rarely waver.
What was revealing about the CLE discussion and the discussion in the comments, are the rationales that people use to justify their decisions. We all seem to focus on one of two things: (1) the morality of the act of each character or (2) the motivation behind the action. I, despite my claims to rationality, tended to focus on the motivating factors behind each action.
Another interesting twist would be to see if your answers differ if we switch around the genders.
Let's say Nick is trying to get across the river to Stephanie. He sees Roberta with a boat and asks for help. Roberta offers a lift in exchange for sex and Nick declines. Nick sees Earnest with a boat and asks for help. Earnest refuses to get involved. Nick sleeps with Roberta, gets across the river and Stephanie tells him to take a hike. Nick tells his friend Donna what happened and she beats the crap out of Stephanie.
Do your answers change?