Crime Spectators and the Tort of Objectification

Author: Amelia Uelmen

January 1, 2017

Reports of how some bystanders interact with victims on the scene of an emergency are shocking. Instead of assisting or calling for help, these individuals take pictures or recordings of the victims on their cell phones. In this article Amelia J. Uelmen proposes a new tort: exploitative objectification of a person in need of emergency assistance. It works to articulate the moral and legal foundations for an argument that treating a person in need of emergency assistance as an object of amusement should be considered a legally cognizable harm. It argues for ample space for discretion in the decision whether to engage, respecting subjective assessments of risks and priorities as grounded in the emotional and interior life of the bystander. This article was published in the University of Massachusetts Law Review in 2017.

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