Social worker befriends mugger

Julio Diaz, a social worker, was robbed at knifepoint by a teenaged mugger in the Bronx. Instead of getting angry or scared, he offered the kid his coat, and struck up a friendship:
As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, "Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you're going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm."

The would-be robber looked at his would-be victim, "like what's going on here?" Diaz says. "He asked me, 'Why are you doing this?'"

Diaz replied: "If you're willing to risk your freedom for a few dollars, then I guess you must really need the money. I mean, all I wanted to do was get dinner and if you really want to join me ... hey, you're more than welcome.

Link (via Kottke)

Update: Boing Boing is not in a position to fact-check this story, nor any of the versions of it reported in the comment thread.


  1. It’s gratifying to see not only that such positive things happen, but that they are being REPORTED.

  2. Awesomely cool.

    Definitely what Jesus would approve of.

    Also definitely NOT what modern Christian’s approve of. (most of whom are more into Crime and Punishment, from my limited exposure to born-agains like my brother)


  3. This is really kewl. The reason it is kewl for me is that I’m a Christian, and this is what Jesus said to do to those who treat us badly. I don’t know if this guy is a Christian or not, but he certainly exemplifies behaviour Christ approves of. I only hope that if I was in his situation, I’d do the same.

  4. You don’t have to be a Christian to see that this is the right way to treat your fellow human being.

    Subsequently, you don’t have to be a New Yorker to know that this outcome is the exception and not the rule.

  5. This is the philosophy of Bill & Ted in action.

    I’m happy to read of it, and hope it becomes more universal.

  6. I was thinking of it as very Buddhist, actually. He saw through to the kid’s suffering, instead of concentrating on his own.

  7. This is great, better than any Government program, one person helping another who really needs it. Mr. Diaz should feel good, I hope he continues. It’s a great lesson for all of us, whether you are religious or not, all it is is compassion for our fellow humans.

  8. Yes, this was very Jesus-like, which unfortunately bears NO similarity to the vast majority of Christians, in America, anyway.

    Fact: Too many “Christians” would have emptied their gun on the thief, and then prayed thanksgiving to God over the thief’s blood-soaked body for the 2nd amendment.

    (Note, this is *hopefully* beginning to change. I came across this new book: – here’s hoping it catches on amongst Christians…Very clear indictment of the current horrendous state of Christianity in America, written not be an athiest, but by an authentic follower of Jesus…)

    That said, there is no question this is very Buddhist-like as well. I recall a story in which a thief climbs a tree to steal the breadfruit from the trees on Buddhist monastery land, one of the few sources of food in the area. He used a makeshift ladder to get up part of the way then must climb high; definitely risking his life to steal the breadfruit. He is climbing down the tree, notices it’s strange how the ladder is not wobbling as usual…and then, shocked, realizes one of the Buddhist monks, quite aware what the thief was doing, was holding the ladder for him…

  9. Too true, Bionicrat2 … at least this one didn’t leave me weeping, like some of them do.

    re: Comment #17 — When I heard this story this morning on NPR, my first thought was, “What a beautiful and touching story; I hope that it’s true.” My second thought was, “I almost hope it doesn’t get picked up and linked by blogs and other forums, because inevitably self-appointed Professional Skeptics will just try to pick it apart and even debunk it.”

  10. #17, real life is not TV. Even well-written TV.

    This is nice. It sort of works as a unicorn chaser for that satelite installation story.

  11. Fact: Too many “Christians” would have emptied their gun on the thief, and then prayed thanksgiving to God over the thief’s blood-soaked body for the 2nd amendment.

    It is a good thing you labeled this as “fact”… Otherwise we would have thought you were just another bigoted dick with ridiculous stereotypes about another race/religion who happen to fall in the crosshairs of your own personal hate philosophy.

    Geez, it doesn’t really bother me that you are a bigot, but that you are such a typified stereotype yourself! Does every bigot have to be so uncreative?

  12. As a Quaker, I have to give a shout-out to the awesome Alternatives to Violence Project. This guy used what AVP calls “transforming power.”
    From this website:

    “Transforming Power…has to do with an individual drawing upon his or her inner resources to act powerfully to change negative situations into positive outcomes. AVP encourages people to cultivate their faculties of reason, faith, language, creativity, intuition, humor, courage, patience, discipline, and attitude. Transforming Power is about using these faculties to take an active leadership role in resolving conflict. It requires that one be simultaneously aware of the feelings and reactions in oneself and in others, understand the tensions present in a conflict, recognize the various options available, and act decisively to create solutions that avoid or reconcile violence and injustice.”

  13. Excellent… this guy is truly exceptional. And lucky, too, that the kid was a good sport, instead of some violent psycho.

  14. I think we’d all like to think this embodies the best of our particular worldviews, and probably one or another informs Mr. Diaz’s actions, but it’s far more fundamental than that: this is supposedly what being human is about. If I have my wits about me if I should get mugged, I’d want to try to logic with my assailant; they’re obviously not in touch with their self-esteem, so better to try to engage them as another human so they might have a moment of introspection.

  15. This is how Ananda Marga started. A notorious criminal tried to rob Anandamurti. Anandamurti agreed to give him the money but first asked why he robbed people. The criminal ended up as his first disciple. Ananda Marga emphasizes social justice and equality for women among other progressive things. Not surprisingly, the Indian government regards it as a terrorist organization.

  16. this is how real change happens – with action. this makes me look at myself: would i be too quick to judge, too offended to think it through, too busy to take the time?

    gotta remember this one.

  17. @25 I agree – I appreciate the sentiment of this post and the comments, but situations where someone has a weapon are often as tense for the robber as the robbee. I really don’t think talking back is the best strategy for anyone but the best of speakers – as far as I know, feeling “in control” is very importatnt to someone committing robbery like this, and I would imagine that the last think you want to do is try and yank it away, even for a good deed. Any other thoughts on this?

  18. To anyone feeling a bit skeptical, I work for StoryCorps and can vouch for the fact that all of our stories are vetted and fact-checked before they are produced for radio.

  19. Beautiful story :)

    We need more examples of this in our society, knowing that wont change ppls attitudes but seeing examples like this are a real inspiration.

  20. A radical black activist friend of mine visited the house of a marijuana dealer, trying to buy a small amount. Seeing that nobody was home, he left and was immediately jumped by several black teens, one of whom had an Uzi-type automatic weapon.

    They demanded all his money and drugs. He sort of sighed and offered them the 20 bucks he had and the chicken he was taking over to his friend’s house. And then he said “Sorry I don’t have much for you, I’m a poor man…for real, I’m just trying to look out for y’all – I’m sort of like a Black Panther”.

    The reference to the Panthers struck the kids strongly. They didn’t really believe him, so my friend got out a book about Huey P Newton he was reading and told them a little about what his deal was.

    The kids ended up giving him everything back, and acting respectful to him, obviously shocked but pleased to have met someone who was a living representation of their struggle, and of a movement most people think died decades ago.

    One of the kids explained that they targeted him because they thought his red, black, and green armbands meant he was Jamaican, and possibly a drug dealer. My friend said “Nah, those are the African colors!” Among the other things the kids said: “If we don’t keep these rich people out of our neighborhood, we’re gonna have nowhere to go!”

  21. I’m with #25. He’s lucky he wasn’t gutted like a fish. Surely the numbers were against this outcome?

  22. This helps me to restore a little of my faith in humanity. I would not try this with just *any* mugger though. It kind of reminds me of the time when I was on my way to school going through a toll area. I realized I was in the wrong lane and had to cut in front of someone. She was in such a fit of rage that when my vehicle was in front of her she rammed my car with her vehicle. I could not *believe* it. I pulled the emergency brake and got out of the vehicle to inspect for damage. There was none. I started to walk over to her car to give her a piece of my mind and saw some kids in the back. So I changed my mind. I got in to my car and paid her toll. It did make me feel good to take the high road but it also became a habit of treating anger with kindness because it made me feel better than retaliation.

  23. Well I hope I am wrong. I certainly hope it’s true. and if it’s not it certainly should be. It just sounds a little too perfect. I am no “professional skeptic” but I don’t think there is anything wrong with taking the news with a grain of salt.

    I once asked a mugger if he would mind giving me my drivers license back so I wouldn’t have to go wait in line at the DMV and he did. Not exactly dinner with the guy but a little humanity none the less.

  24. i heard a similar story from a student i knew who woke up to find an intruder on top of her – she actually talked him out of an attack and made him breakfast and eventually had him in tears telling his story. she was studying psychotherapy and counciled him a few more times before convincing him to seek public subsidized help.

    buddha, jesus, mahavira- all the great saints have taught this benevolent and insightful approach.

  25. @13 — i heard this this morning on NPR, and i thought it was very buddhist, and just very HUMAN, too.

    @31 — thank you for storycorp. we listen to it every week, and while we jokingly call it “sobstory corp” (because it always leaves us teary-eyed), we wouldn’t miss it for anything.

  26. @22 Kingzilch, I know what you mean.

    I do my best to be compassionate and to create peace, but if I got mugged, my instinct would be to kick the person’s ass and if not that then I’d still be really pissed off. Intellectually, I know peace is the best path, but it’s much harder to change habitual, emotional behaviors especially when you’re being threatened or victimized. That makes what this guy did all the more remarkable. We all have to make compassion our habitual behavior in small and large things, if the world is going to improve. I’m the first to admit that I personally have a long way to go.

  27. #23 RexRhino I have to agree with you on this one. Mikey loves boingboing was way out of line and obviously trolling.

  28. Great story. He should have obtained the kid’s name and contact information. Being a social worker, he may have been able to help the young man out for more than one evening and provide some much needed friendship and guidance. I hope the young man doesn’t go back to robbing people next week.

  29. #36: It is sometimes hard to know the context because you are only hearing a snippet from a 40 minute overview, but the facilitator at the interview spoke with Julio and he said that he works with kids and knew that this was a troubled kid he could talk to. He wouldn’t do this with just any mugger but in this situation he took a chance and the resolution was a good one.

    StoryCorps stories are always inspirational, often painful but often funny too. We have hundreds on our website:, I highly recommend visiting and listening to a few more.

  30. Well I do agree that this could be false, I hope it’s true, and feel that perhaps the guy in question having social worker training could arguably deal with more threat of bodily harm on a daily basis than your average person and may possibly have been more level headed to handle the situation with the grace he did. I love all the comments here, especially the ones that question the validityof the story. True or not, it made me the happiest I’ve been today to think that maybe that teen was truly touched by this man’s reaction.

  31. sounds too good to be true. anyhow the most interesting part is the way the mugger responded to his kindness. people nowadays are pretty suspicious to kindness, damn i get weird\freightened looks by the old ladies i offer to help with the grossery bags in my own appartment building.

    just out of curiosity why americans try to look everything through a religious point of view? this guy was just being a good person and from the story i didn’t understand he was trying to preach any specific religious view to the kid , so why does it matter what he believes in and why religion was brought in? curiously enough only christians and boudhists seem to make it for most as possible good beings but the guy could be an atheist a muslim or you name it.

  32. The story by no means sounds impossible to me. But I know that there is no way in hell I’d be a good enough person to do anything along those lines in the same situation.

  33. Great how all religions want to claim this guy as their own.

    I’d like to think that maybe there are more like him than we know, that we despair at the sorry state of society and on and on, but maybe after reading this, a few more of us will consider alternatives the next time we are in a confrontation.

  34. Wow. I think the kid may have benefited from this more than an arrest & jail time. And I don’t mean just the free meal & $20.

  35. Cross and the Switchblade anyone?

    This guy is so full of shit.

    He’s a liar, and this didn’t actually happen. Sorry to rain on your parade.

  36. Wow Timmy,

    Just because you’re full of bile doesn’t mean that everybody else is as hate-filled as you. Would it help if I give you my coat and take you to dinner?

  37. poor naysayers.This kind of thing does happen. I’ve been there. If you are balanced and centered and your would-be attacker is not, it is easily possible.

    I won’t discuss my failures.

  38. @49 – thank god someone has an all-seeing clairvoyant reality check on everything that happens everywhere. could you please straighten us out on everything else that was reported today ?

  39. #17: after five seasons of the Wire, I’m MORE inclined to believe this. Ain’t no such thing as random violence – every crook has a motive, and this guy used his mad social worker skillz to suss his muggers motivations correctly.

  40. @9
    I’m pretty sure that assumption is way off. I’m a Christian and, of all the dozens and dozens of Christians that I’ve known personally, I can’t think of a single one that wouldn’t love this. In fact, I think you’d find the vast majority of modern Christians would love this.

    The ones you’re thinking of would probably be ultra-right wing, stick-in-the-mud old farts living in the Bible Belt. Contrary to popular belief, they’re more in the minority than you might think. They’re just the ones you actually hear about most often. We think they’re crazy too. ;)

    Either way, this guy is a great example of Christ-like behavior. “Give him your tunic,” indeed.

  41. Why can’t we just call it “human-like” behaviour?

    As in what Humans are supposed to try to be?

  42. I also became slightly skeptical of this article upon reading it. Not that the situation couldn’t exist, but just that there is nothing in the article other than the guys word itself. Someone here apparently from that organization that broke the story states the stories are fact-checked. What would that mean in this story, if you don’t mind my asking?

    I think it would be sufficient to have one statement from the diner to the effect that this event happened. He mentions everyone came by and shook his hand, why don’t we get a quote from one of those folks? I’d trust the dishwasher over anyone else in that scenario.

    I, like others, get a kick out of the religious association folks are making. After watching I Am JesusLegend last night, this just makes me laugh a bit more than I did during that viewing. I thought Taladega Nights was bad at product placement…

    Further, I’ve had a couple of similar experiences. While drinking a bit, enough to sing in the street while in college on the way to a little house party, I was approached by a group of about 5 guys obviously looking for a victim. Instead of panic, I invited them to the party I was walking to. I could judge these guys really were amateurs, not any hard core gang types, and took the chance that actually responding but in a bizarre way would be best. I’m sure it could have ended worse had I not been in front of an obviously large group of people about 50 yards away in front of a house… but still.

    There’s a couple others, but I’ve bored you already. Nothing quite as awe inducing as this event, but similar. So the act is not implausible to me, just feel the story could easily have made itself more believable with one additional witness statement.

  43. If I’m reading people right, lots of commenters believe that Jesus would have approved of this, and probably Buddha too. Mohammed has been left out so far, but I’ll get to him in a moment.

    Furthermore, there has been some suggestion that this represents the “true” message of Jesus, and I do not dispute that charity to strangers and turning the other cheek are part of message Jesus preached.

    But what about the other bits? Are they true too?

    For example, Jesus was very negative about divorce and absolutely forbade remarriage (Matthew 5:32 “anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.”) What about the belief that all prayers offered in full and complete sincerity are granted (Mark 11:23)? Or my personal favourite, albeit non-canonical (Thomas, 114):

    Simon Peter said to them, “Make Mary leave us, for females are not worthy of life.”
    Jesus said, “Look, I shall guide her to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every female who makes herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

    Likewise, Mohammed said, “for those that cannot [fast] there is a penance ordained: the feeding of a poor man.” (2:183) But he also said: “Believers, retaliation is decreed for you in bloodshed: a free man for a free man, a slave for a slave, and a female for a female.” (2:178)

    I won’t talk about Buddha because I know a lot less about Buddhism and our textual evidence for what Buddha actually said is even weaker than that for Mohammed and far weaker than that for Jesus, but I’m quite sure the main point survives: some things Buddha says would seem right and admirable, others variously silly or wicked.

    So here is my question: what principle that is higher than the teachings of Jesus or Mohammed or Buddha are you applying when you tease out the “true” teachings from the “historical context” or “bad translation” or whatever else you might think is the cause of all the wrong-headedness in the teachings of your chosen spiritual guide?

    And given that you are clearly using that principle as your primary guide, why bother with the ancient texts at all, which have about as much relevance to modern ethics as Aristotle does to modern physics?

    We know stuff now (women and men have equal moral worth, slavery is wrong…) that those guys simply did not know. Given these vast lacuna in their moral knowledge, why are they anything more than an historical footnote in any debate on modern ethics? It isn’t as if we aren’t willing to discard what they say any time they disagree with us. So why continue to twist our ethical discussions around the framework they laid down, with its prudery and misogyny and improbability?

    You can’t say we can’t do ethics effectively without them, because the very fact that you are willing to jettison the bits you don’t like means that you are actively and in my view quite successfully doing ethics without them.

    So why bother with them at all?

  44. Why is anyone surprised? People here seem to think this guy is lucky. Brave? Sure. But lucky? Not luck.

    He’s just a brave, observant, and compassionate person. Anyone as brave, observant, and compassionate as he is could have done the same.

    He did it the right way, after the kid was already walking away and the situation diffused. Had the kid wanted to stab him, he would have already done so.

    He was honest and treated the kid with decency, which goes a long way. Most kids like this are runaways from bad situations, homeless, lonely, hungry, and desperate. Not psychopaths.

    The kid was alone, not with a gang. He doesn’t even have a partner in crime. He’s not trying to impress anyone or build a reputation. He’s at the end of his rope.

    He didn’t even have a jacket.

  45. Nice, so the thug was ready to knife and possible kill someone for the money in their wallet yet 99% of you get drippy and maudlin because a counselor took one hell of a chance and made it out of the situation with his life intact. I grew up in a housing project hence we had next to nothing growing up yet I never once allowed my lack of privledge to become an excuse for socially unacceptable/dangerous behavior.

    Sorry if my heart doesn’t swell with pride over this moment of humanity.

  46. #58: As far as fact checking goes, I know that we called the diner and also had several conversations with Julio after the interview to get more information. I’m sure there is more, that’s not my department, but I do know that our producers were skeptical and checked it out thoroughly.

    I should add a bit of background about our process because we are not a news organization—StoryCorps’ focus is about facilitating conversation and recording it posterity. We’re an oral history project. You don’t do StoryCorps to get on the radio, in fact, less than 1% of the interviews in our booths are ever produced for radio. So that should also provide some insight into Mr. Diaz’s intention in recording this story.

  47. #55 – “Why can’t we just call it “human-like” behaviour? As in what Humans are supposed to try to be?”

    As an atheist I don’t have any problem with people finding spiritual and religious significance in this. In fact I think it’s a beautiful thing and wish more people would be inspired thusly. It’s true Jesus preached a faith in human nature so that one should be brave and turn the other cheek. Also that the meek would inherit the earth. All of which is true philosophically and in terms of basic evolutionary principles.

    I’d call it optimal human behavior.

    First, he was empathetic and compassionate, which is vital to the survival of any social species, even common dogs and wolves. Without empathy our evolutionary ancestors would never have shared meals, never organized into groups, never developed higher intelligence.

    Secondly, he was smart and observant. He recognized this kid was desperate, and not a serial killer. He approached the situation intelligently, waiting until the threat was passed and the kid leaving, before offering kindness in a nonthreatening way. He was smart enough to realize the possibility for a better outcome and weigh the risk.

    Third, he was brave. I don’t mean bravado. I mean the courage and clarity to stick to one’s convictions and do what he thought was right, while acknowledging life is unpredictable and dangerous sometimes, but you have to do the best you can. That’s real courage.

  48. Why is human, decent behaviour so often claimed “Christian”? Being good is just being good, full stop, and it’s a shame that it gets co-opted like this.

  49. 24: I’m sorry, I’m just LOLing at the acronym. Alien Vs Predator as an Alternative to Violence ;-)

  50. This is lovely.

    And the reason that there are so many “Christian” comments? Because it -is- Christly behavior. It is also behavior worthy of the Buddha and of other religious figures. It is the behavior of those we venerate for a reason- because it is good behavior transcending usual human understanding.

    If you are Christian, you see Christ between the lines. It’s only natural. I may not agree but it doesn’t bother me.

    But this story is just absolutely lovely, no matter what religion or lack thereof he has. Whatever he is- he’s a humanist.


    Just because you wouldn’t doesn’t mean someone else does. Anyway, we’re dripping saccharine over the counselor, not the boy, and are happy for the boy to have found this chance.

    Everyone thinks differently. One of my best friends was a fighter and a drug addict and straight out mean. The first day I met him he stared me down because I was exceptionally hyper and annoying, and he turned to glare at me. He’s a pretty big guy, and pretty intimidating, and people usually back off; when he glared at me I just straightened and stared at him back evenly.

    Almost a minute of that and he clapped me on the back, nodded, said you’re alright.

    He slowly quit drugs.

    I held him off of someone, getting in the way when he planned to hurt them, saying he’d have to get through me. He was obviously not hindered by tinyTenn, and I said he’d have to hurt me to do it.

    He stopped.

    Bit by bit, he stopped.

    Maybe you didn’t have anything, but maybe he had nothing and noone. You can’t learn good behavior with no examples.

  51. Reminds me of a scene in the movie Peaceful Warrior with Nick Nolte and Scott Mechlowicz, opinions of the movie aren’t really important, just there was a scene a little like this in the film. Main characters are asked at knife point (or gun point can’t remember) to hand over their money, so they hand the money over but they don’t let the muggers simply leave with just the money, they offer them pretty much everything else they have, coats, shirts, pants, shoes, the muggers obviously were a bit perplexed by it all.


    I’ve know this guy personally for the past 2.5 years and I can honestly say that there is nothing noble of selfless about him. I first met him at a friend’s get together, where he proceeded to loudly boast about his sexual exploits in the middle of a family restaurant. What’s worse, is that the other guests at the table knew the girl to whom he was referring.

    The second incident that I can recall is when he feigned tossing a fork at a newborn baby at Chinatown Brasserie just to scare the mother. He was quickly removed from the establishment and asked never to return.

    Most recently, he attended the same Brazilian Jujitsu class with me and managed to alienate/ infuriate EVERYONE there. This was due in large part to his poor sportsmanship as well as his propensity for causing bodily harm to classmates. This, in no way, is a testament to his ability, but to his sloppiness, negligence and outright disrespect toward others. Again, he was asked to leave.

    The most disturbing thing about this story is that the only “proof” we have of this actually happening is Julio’s personal account. At no point has any of this been verified. Additionally, as I’m quite familiar with his manner of speech and overall cadence, I can say with ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY that he is either lying or grossly exaggerating these claims! Just listen to how deliberate and contrived that story is.

    Julio is the antithesis of caring and the fact that he works as a social worker has been the greatest contradiction that I have ever witnessed. He also claims to be a minister, all the while, still bragging about his sexual conquests and love for prostitutes. I remember one occasion when he even said that he would marry a whore and let his friends have sex with her on their wedding night for payment.

    This “sense of humor” goes far beyond disrespecting women. In the wake of the recent campus killings, Julio went so far as to say that he would shove another student in between him and the gunman in order to avoid being shot. He went on to say that he would thank the victims of that “martyred” student for raising such a heroic child. He is the epitome of crude and the personification of thoughtlessness. I have never known anyone that I thought deserved to be buried alive until I crossed paths with this chromosome deficient mongoloid. I’m astounded by his ability to even form words, much less figure out this pathetic scheme to make himself out as some sort of urban saint.

  53. #65

    I’m an atheist and big proponent of evolutionary psychology and primatology. But, it’s certainly not “co-opting” for people to express such feelings in a religious lexicon. Long before there was modern science, there was a philisophical and religious framework to understand these issues.

    We’re only now getting a scientific understanding of the profound evolutionary mechanics which created an instinctual, hardwired, (albeit variable) sense of morality and ethics. Compassion, love, friendship, etc.

    Morality existed before humanity did.

    These instincts are evolved behavior and have been deeply felt since the dawn of humanity, and before us by our primate ancestors. Before we had language or even walked upright. These instincts, and their social implications, allowed meal sharing, teamwork, and the evolution of higher intelligence eventually leading to abstract thought, tool use, and so on.

    These profoundly deep feelings are owned by everyone and people will frame them in the language they speak.

    Much of religion is very meaningful and useful philosophy compiled over millenium of human history. It would be exceedingly foolish to discard it all in a knee jerk response to some offensive mystics and fundamentalists.

    Don’t throw baby jesus out with the bath water! ;)

  54. Tom@59: Actually, that divorce thing was incredibly progressive, even feminist, for its time. 2000 years ago in Judea, a man could divorce his wife at any time, without any cause, but a wife couldn’t divorce her husband even for physical abuse.

    As for the idea of women vs. men, again, women were property at the time. One very possible interpretation of that Thomas passage is that Jesus meant he’d teach her to act as a person, rather than as a possession.

    You can’t just claim that historical context has no meaning. Do some people abuse it? Probably. But there still IS such a thing, it’s still relevant, and far better that people think about these things than that they be literalists who refuse to think at all.

    And not all Christians claim that you can’t do ethics without reference to Jesus. Most Christian theologists would probably tell you that those “independant” ethics are the Holy Spirit within your heart.

    As for the thing about praying, I don’t claim to have a solid answer to that. Though, as it was once pointed out to me, “just because God answers all prayers doesn’t mean the answer isn’t sometimes ‘no'”.

    But as for why people want the example of Jesus, or Muhammad, or Buddha, or anyone else: for most people it’s not that easy to think about ethics in the abstract. If asking themself “what would Jesus do?” – substitute any other highly moral person you can think of – helps a person make right moral decisions, because it’s easier to think about that way, why would you want them not to ask themself that question?

    I am quite sure both Jesus and Buddha would have approproved of this man’s actions. I don’t know enough about Islam to know whether Muhammed would have approved or not. But this guy could be a complete atheist and still be a better Christian than many people who claim to belong to that religion. To say that isn’t to claim him as Christian so much as it is a way of recognizing that he did a good and remarkable thing, and that we – if we want to call *ourselves* Christians, or Buddhists, or just plain good moral people – ought to try to do the same.

  55. #50, yes I’ll always take a free dinner

    #52 It doesn’t take a clairvoyant to know a classic sham when it’s told for the 10 millionth time. This specific story is the same story Christians love to tell to show what the love of Jesus can do to shine happiness salvation and hope into the world. Check out #69’s comment.

  56. It just proves that humankind is not that evil, pervert and corrupt like the news and media want us to believe.
    Switch off your TV Sets and look around in your neighborhood, work places, schools, city parks….

    For each crook out there there are 5000 nice guys!
    All you hear is FOX/CNN News fear dispersion and ADT advertisement!

    People are kind! – stupid too, but mostly kind ;-)

  57. Profile says California native, does that really mean he lives here currently? I agree it should, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he intended it this way.

    I’m a Texas “native”, but only when I’m visiting, as I’m a California “transplant”. Depends on which term I call the subject I suppose.

  58. Boombotz,

    Welcome to BoingBoing. I think that you’re the first commenter ever to use ‘feigned’ and ‘douche’ in the same post.

  59. and like any old story oft told, there is a core of truth. If these things never happened, we would have to invent the story. But it would be a different story.

    To me, the specifics are unimportant. Talking about about why we should do these things is.

  60. #70 Morality existed before humanity did?

    the animal kingdom does not have morals. morality is a human concept and it’s not even universal for all cultures and races and it mutates over time too. there is no universal “truth” infact christians in one point in history thought that burning whiches was moral and incest was not.

  61. #81 –

    Sorry you feel that way.

    However, you should be happy to learn that’s not supported by the empirical data on the study of evolution, higher primates and other intelligent social species.

    The field of evolutionary psychology is pretty wide and deep, and requires some basic knowledge of evolution, but for a starter I recommend some of Frans de Wall’s work because he’s a leader in the field and also compiles the work of others well.

    A couple of his books are particularly good starters:

    Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved

    Good Natured: The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals

  62. Boombotz links to the web page of “” and is apparently a CG artist.

    I’m also a “CA native” and do CG, which is heavily based in LA and the SF Bay Area. When people say “CA native” they usually mean “I didn’t just move here, I’m a native here.”

  63. However, you should be happy to learn that’s not supported by the empirical data on the study of evolution, higher primates and other intelligent social species.

    Thank you. I keep harping about the non-existent, mystical divide between humans and all other animals. That idea is way too close to Intelligent Design.

  64. @ #54, Matt Sanderson: good call, bro.

    And the reason that Christians say this is “Christian” is that this is what Jesus taught. He told us to love our enemies, pray for those who hurt us, do good to those who persecute us. Anyone who wants to check out more can read the New Testament, Gospel of Matthew chapters 5-7.

    Not only did he teach it, he exemplified it, by forgiving even those who crucified him and refusing to take revenge. Those who call themselves followers of Jesus must do the same. The thing that makes it different from simply “humanity” is Jesus’ claim that he himself would empower us by his Spirit to do this. I’ve seen it happening in my own life, in ways that would take too long to list here, but are pretty amazing. That’s why I hope I’d do what this guy did, in the same situation.

  65. Anyways, I think the story is probably true. Keep in mind it describes a teenager with a knife, not a hardened violent criminal with an AK47.

    But regardless, as a thought experiment it’s still valid. For the reasons I listed above, such a situation is actually a rather probable outcome, contrary to common belief.

    btw, I used to run with some sketchy people as a teenager. I was never a criminal (beyond stealing hood ornaments and stuff) but I got around enough to know how many basically decent, but poor and desperate, kids there are out there.

  66. All these comments about non-christians “acting christian” (or similarly, non-buddhists “acting buddist” or whatever) remind me of the idea of Christian Atheism. (Previously mentioned on boingboing.) Interesting stuff, IMO.

    Oh, and re #69 – please don’t feed the trolls, folks. :)

  67. #79 Antinous

    Actually that particular honour goes to William Joseph Dunn.

    What a surprise. Isn’t Jeremy Clarkson the same douche bag that drove around Arkansas with “Hillary 4 President” and “NASCAR Sucks” written on his car and feigned surprise that the locals would get upset about such signs?

  68. #85 we all like theories but as a trained medic specializing in psychiatry i have yet to see a definitive proof that morality is something more than a human behavior. we can discuss as much as you want on why humans see advantages in following moral codes but there is no scientific evidence that such behaviour is “hardwired” in humans much less in the animal kingdom.

  69. PS: intelligent design is just a bunch of trash. i cannot digest the fact that the nation that gave the world much of the best science in the history of humankind (or at least harboured, financed and helped much of the best 20th century scientists) actually permits such idiocy to be teached in schools…

  70. #89

    Well most people just don’t know any better because it’s still pretty recent news.

    Also, I used to have the same misconceptions. Ignorance isn’t a crime. To attain knowledge intellectual curiosity and integrity is important, but so does luck and circumstance matter a lot too.

    The best thing is for people to be exposed to good work on the subject, like Frans de Waal, and learn.

  71. Good call Arkizzle,

    Oddly, they’re both graphic artists living in LA and working in the film and TV industry. Who knew that you could define a dialect for such a tiny demographic?

  72. #94 zio_donnie –

    Again. Sorry you feel that way.

    I suggest you read the books mentioned above to refute that assumption. They’re quire profound and rewarding reads.

  73. …by forgiving even those who crucified him and refusing to take revenge.

    No offense, but at that point he wasn’t in much of a position to kick anybody’s ass.

  74. Antinous said, “There’s a common belief that Jesus went to India for a decade and studied yoga.”

    Are you sure it’s a –common–belief. Because the way I heard it, he went to Egypt and studied magic. Hehehe.

  75. Because the way I heard it, he went to Egypt and studied magic.

    Highly likely that he did go to Egypt. He disappeared from storydom for a decade and Egypt would have been a natural draw for travelers. Well, it was for me and I live further away. His philosophy (whether or not he had anything to do with it) bears a lot of similarities to yogic philosophy. I think that it’s safe to say that he, or his chroniclers, had some exposure to eastern philosophy. It’s such a radical departure from Judaism of the time.

  76. @#99, Antinous: Regardless of whether you believe he was able to take revenge, it’s still fairly incredible to be nailed to a cross dying painfully, and speak out forgiveness to your killers.

    Not something that would spring to most people’s minds :)

  77. All religion and morality models aside, this was a remarkably lucky event.

    Lucky for Julio Diaz that he wasn’t sliced.

    Lucky for the teen mugger who wasn’t shot by a hypothetical Diaz with a concealed firearm.

    Lucky for them both that they were both in an emotional, communicative, and non-drugged place where such a compassionate transaction could be completed.

    Definitely an aspirational model, but one that should be guarded by the realism of any given situation.

  78. #95 posted by zio_donnie

    To clarify, evolutionary psychology and the evolution of morality has nothing to do with intelligent design.

    In fact, it shows how individual survival strategies will naturally evolve social strategies and eventually expanded intelligence, morality, and then higher intelligence.

  79. Not something that would spring to most people’s minds

    I’m inclined to believe that most people, faced with imminent death, would forgive their abusers. Letting go of life is a great re-arranger of priorities.

  80. What I like most about sweetchuckd’s profile, aside from that all of them spam to dtntnslp, one actually misspells it. That is all.

  81. Those of you who doubt the veracity of my claims can meet me on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8 pm at Fight House on 27th between 6th and 7th. This isn’t a threat, but merely a means to put a face to the name. As for my identity, my name is Joey Park and I’m originally from California, but live here in NY. I work in film and television in a number of capacities, from screenwriting to motion graphics, and 3d animation. I have no qualms about divulging this information since I consider myself truthful to the last word, unlike Julio.

    To me, congruence in lifestyle and philosophy is one of the most important, yet most neglected attributes we have. Furthermore, I feel that it is necessary to curb any sympathy for this guy since he’s the most ill-natured, hypocritical person I’ve ever known.

    The sequence of events that lead up to this article being written must follow a certain logic. Since there is no mention of anyone from the restaurant staff bearing witness to these supposed events, one must assume that either Julio or the mugger himself brought this to NPR’s attention. Now, it’s completely illogical to conclude that the mugger had anything to do with the article because it would make for too sensational an element for any decent journalist to not include in the final story. The only reasonably options are that Julio, in his usual, self-righteous, self-aggrandizing manner, either concocted the story altogether or embellished the details so far that it attracted the attention of someone who doesn’t have a functioning bullshit detector.

  82. i like such stories.

    i find them believable because i know what kind of person i am.
    and what kind of person i want to continue being.

    there’s plenty of good folks out there and not enough coverage of these mundane happenings.

    hopefully, we can all slowly move towards considering such stories as natural and normal.

    diffusing teenaged ‘thugs’ isn’t difficult if you actually care about them. i’ve done it. why grow up if you can’t do such things ?

  83. Also, anyone who’s read Encyclopedia Brown would ask why a mugger, who is preying on victims outside, in the dead of winter, wouldn’t have a coat.

    Theory 1: He’s too poor to afford a coat, hence the mugging.

    Rebuttal to Theory 1: How many homeless people have to you seen in NY without coats? None. Even those who are much less fortunate can get their hands on some sort of protection from the cold.

    Theory 2: Julio had a nicer coat and wanted to impart some “kindness”.

    Rebuttal to Theory 2: Julio doesn’t have nice things.

    I could go on, but consider this:

    If you were a presumably uneducated teenager who had to resort to mugging people to survive, how likely would you be, after a successful mugging, to turn back to question someone’s absurd offer? Logic dictates that the young man would run off as soon as he’s got the wallet in hand. Given the fact that he faces potential jail time if caught, he certainly wouldn’t entertain such a strange proposal even if he did stick around long enough for it to sink it.

  84. Boombotz;
    Not as a comment on your honesty but rather as a comment on life, I hope you’re wrong. I’d like to believe something like this.

    And if Julio Diaz did concoct this, then I’ll comfort myself with the fact that somewhere, someday, things like this do happen.

  85. So Boombotz,

    Have you followed the link and clicked on ‘Contact StoryCorps’ to denounce him as a fraud?

  86. Tenn,

    I appreciate your outlook and I think it’s the very reason why this story has been give so much attention. Random acts of kindness occur everyday and go unnoticed. My outlook is very hopeful as well and I comb the internet and newspapers daily for recognition of said kindness. But for someone to fabricate such an outright lie or even to call attention to their so-called benevolence is just sad.

    I feel that I’ve said enough on this matter. Thanks for at least considering the possibility that it may be one pathetic man’s vie for his 15 minutes.

  87. BoomBotz (#115 specifically)

    It’s all well and good trying to apply logic to sets of given circumstances, to dissect the probability of some-such-thing happening some-such-way, but the reality is; when you apply it to specific situations or events, you are much less likely to find the truth.

    To decide the story is untrue, simply because the limited set of data you based your supposition on didn’t return the possibility, just means you weren’t creative enough in your thinking to include the complexity of real life in your equation.

    There is lots of reasons you might not have a coat, be you homeless or not. Long-term homeless are likely to have quickly come to the conclusion that a coat is the number one priority as a kind of shelter-substitute. Homed, but less-well off people, including addicted drug-users, may have different priorities.. like drugs for one.

    So, your rebuttal to “Theory 1” falls flat if you include the real, complex world in your limited data-set.

    Similarly, if we allow that the mugger now has a shabby (or no) coat, your rebuttal for “Theory 2” falls “Julio doesn’t have nice things“:
    The nicety of a coat, is relative to the current standard of coats, eg. a thick coat is nicer than a thin coat, and any coat is nicer than no coat.

  88. It brought to mind the same scene in Peaceful Warrior for me too, #68

    There’s also a similar Buddhist story (it’s in Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, but I don’t remember it’s origin) of a Monk and a Thief, where the monk offered everything of his to a thief.

    Whether or not the story in npr is true, without calling Julio either a saint or self promoting, and completely free of whatever religious sentiments you want to attach to it-

    I think it’s a very nice, human story; exemplary of the best in human nature.

  89. I may be mistaken, but the email given for the responsible contact at the Story establishment appears non-functional.

  90. It’s just that I always wonder about the motives of someone who complains to the gardener that the maid isn’t doing a good job.

  91. there is a comment thread back at the original news item posting… I can’t be bothered to register though

  92. When I was a kid we used to roll old guys and drunks when ever we needed to score some weed or beer. Frankly, it really sucked; there was always a bit of stress in those first few seconds before you knew how the guy was going to react. I only got beat up once, but it was 6 months before I did it again. I finally stopped when I got a job.

  93. @ Arkizzle, Antinous, Hounskull, and Takuan

    Got to say how much I appreciate your input.

    #64 and #80 are worthy of a low bow indeed… Greetings, and Good Tidings fellow Humans of the World.

    And to the would-be mugger and his supposed savior… keep on rockin’ in the free world!

    High 5’s all around!!!

  94. I’m a skeptical type and I’m with BOOMBOTZ on this one.

    Firstly, the media is easily fooled, “fact checkers”/harried “producers” notwithstanding.

    Secondly, it just smells like a feel good tale akin to Washington chopping down the cherry tree; or an apocryphal tale like ten things teens did in X decade / ten things teens do now.

    Lots of shite like this gets out there in the wind that is totally bogus. Americans love ’em some feel -good stories. We’re a sentimental country.

    Plus, BOOM revealed his name and contact info. That never happens with flames of that sort. Ergo, he opened himself to liability. That indicates to me some actual righteous indignation. So, I do believe NPR has been bamboozled.

    Last thought – What is up with guilt over material things? If the knife wilder demanded sexual intercourse or oral because he was “needy” for this basic human drive – it wouldn’t make feel-good-story-of-the-day news if the “victim” was forced into a bj, and while the perp walked away, offered him intercourse for free.

    That is just the odd thought that came to mind when I considered the implications of this story if the victim were female.

  95. I had my doubts from the word go with Julio’s story, but I’m trying to be positive in my BoingBoing comments. I think Boombotz has laid down the gauntlet (in a friendly way) and someone should go meet him (with an open mind) and see what they think.

    Personally, I’d be happy to tell my mom and leave it at that. Why anyone other than Julio, his mom, and the mugger know what occurred is a problem for me. If a story like that involving me was put on the internet along with my picture I’d go into hiding. I’m not saying anything is fishy, just that I personally can’t relate to the publicity part.

    Whatever–I want it to be true, and I still think Bill & Ted’s outlook is something everyone should embrace.

  96. oh yeah, we need a follow up.

    innocent: the besmirched hero

    guilty: one weeks worth of battering

    either way, we gotta know now

  97. For all you doubters out there:

    1) a) Obviously you have to take a calculated risk. If someone appears to be high or mentally unstable clearly this strategy would be a bad one. If you are not someone who feels comfortable in making that kind of assessment, then don’t gamble with it. b) If someone is going to make use a of a weapon, they will most likely do it *before* the crime, not after.

    2) This story may or may not be true, but I’m not going to believe one guy whose identity I can’t prove over the Internet versus the Story Corps fact-checkers. It is their job to make sure those stories are true, and obviously it is their ass (or job) if it’s not.

    3) I am a social worker and have gone through a similar situation as this story. I’m not going to rehash every detail in the interest of space and time. Basically, while waiting for the bus at night, I was approached by a man who gave me the impression he had intent to rob and/or sexually assault me, both of which are common in the area I was at (near my place of work). Instead I asked him about his life and he told me about construction projects he had worked on in the area and pointed out examples in nearby buildings of patterns in bricklaying, which I knew nothing about. In the end he shook my hand. I hope that he got something out of it because it gave me some renewed faith in everyone’s human essence, which, yes, in an ideal world social workers would never lose sight of that, but it certainly happens. If telling that story to other people makes me egotistical, then so be it, but I feel my reasons for sharing it have to do with what that man taught me.

  98. @#139

    3) I worked for eight years as a nightclub doorman and dealt with truly desperate people both while at work (who weren’t customers–that’s a different kind of desperate, usually) and on my walk to and from work. I can relate to you, but only in a large male kind of way; I was never seriously threatened by anyone, but I had a often interacted with them to the extent that their plight was real for me, rather than an something to tease or mock.

    Desperate people take on myriad personas (personae?), but when confronting a guy bigger than them who acts nice, tend to revert to their more typical self rather quickly, unless they’re super-high or genuinely mentally ill. Most were just screwed up, devastated people who needed someone to talk to in the short term, and serious support in the long term.

    I’m empathetic as heck by nature, and trying to help these people ended up making me kind of nuts. Until I see your smug photo associated with a story about how awesomely kind you are, don’t mind your ego.

  99. When I was mugged in 2000, a bunch of guys jumped me from behind and kicked the shit out of me. Now I have to feel guilty I didn’t ask them to dinner? Screw this guy.

  100. Boombotz used his real name. For me that earns credit. Seeing how many of the posters here do not.

    Takuan, we don’t say pyschopath any more (of course we do), but rather we say “individuals that are suffering from Antisocial personality discorder–APD.” Or: a more common and probably closer to the truth term: “Narcissist”. Of course psychopath is a hell of lot easier, so I don’t know why the DMR-3 changed it.

  101. They used to tell a similar story about Ira Sandperl, Joan Baez’s pacifist guru, and how he evenly divided what little money he had with his street robber because he was hungry and hadn’t eaten yet that day. The point of the story was that it was a typical Ira thing to both attempt and succeed at negotiating such an outcome. Although I never heard him tell it, knowing Ira I believe it.

  102. I feel pity for you overly cynical, disbelieving folks. Obviously you live a life draped in shadow.

  103. “By comparison, there is great danger in cynicism because it erodes the social fabric and encourages nastiness, paranoia, and the worst in human nature.”

    I’m sure there are many folks who were absolutely optimistic about the new German future, too.

  104. #131 Why would I spend more time on it. I don’t buy the story. Got other things to do and read and see. I’ve moved on. Next? The only people that should spend any more time than that sussing out the truth are the people who put this story out htere, and a small group of others like Boombotz.

    LOL #145!

    #143 talia? I dobt you pity is worth the trouble.
    Just because some people don’t believe this story does NOT mean they don’t believe ANY stories like this. I believe stories of this sort when they are better researched and verified.

    I’ve had heartwarming feelings before! We all have a heart. Many of us don’t think that requires drinking the coolaid every.single.time.

  105. Boombotz and Julio could both be telling the truth. Boombotz thinks Julio is ill-natured, hypocritical and a douchebag based on their interactions. It’s possible that Julio really is a big a jerk as Boombotz says, yet still has moments of decency. Maybe something about this situation really impacted Julio and caused him to act with compassion, even if that isn’t always his first instinct. Maybe he then used this story to make himself look good. It’s also possible that Julio is at heart a really good guy but Boombotz has just seen some of his worst behavior. No one’s behavior is 100% consistent all the time.

  106. #23: RexRhino:

    Get a grip.

    It is NOT bigoted but rather a statement of fact that “too many” (not “ALL”, mind you) Christians would be have been delighted to read the thief in this story getting capped. And yes, “too many” would have readily shot the thief themselves.

    Consider, for example, the over-the-top-bloodlust “too many” evangelical Christians have for the Iraq War:

    “God is pro-war!” the late Rev. Jerry Falwell blasphemously proclaimed. Before his fall from Xian grace, Pastor Ted Haggard used to joyfully shout “Massive warfare!” to his Nuremberg-size rallies of deluded Constantinians.

    No turning of the other cheek for these guys. Theirs is a Holey Bible that omits the Sermon on the Mount. And its translation of Micah 4:3 has been altered to: “They will beat their plowshares into swords, and their pruning hooks into spears; nation shall lift up sword against nation, and they shall train for war for evermore.” In the Xian Bible, the Beatitudes are viewed in a mirror: Blessed are the warmakers.

    The Jesus Thieves have spread their anti-Jesus thinking to millions.

    The writer of the above, Robert S. McElvaine, has written the book I linked to earlier, Grand Theft Jesus, which makes the fact clear that “too many” Christians have profaned Jesus, Scripture, and God in thought, word and deed. It is not “bigotry” to rail against this reality.

    Link to article quoted above:

    Link to Grand Theft Jesus website with a book except:

    Disclosure: I have absolutely nothing to do with this book and have no incentive of any kind to link to it, except that I sincerely hope Christians read it and actively and successfully marginalize Christian extremists who currently comprise “too many”.

  107. This guy is just incredibly lucky.

    I’ve just been mugged right outside my apartment today (at 2:30am), despite the fact that I was on high alert, and they knew that I’m aware of their presence, they still tore me down, kicked me, and try to take everything I have. I lucked out when a neighbour shouted out what’s going on, and I shouted back that I’m being robbed.

    If this guy ends up having a couple of stab wounds, don’t forget to say “I told you so.”

  108. I believe Studs Terkel did something similar for a guy who robbed him (but I can’t find the story)

    /The LAST thing I give a guy robbing me is my coat. I’ll give him all my cash, but my coats are expensive!!! I have a LOT of coats, though. They’re almost ALL worth a lot more than any cash I might be carrying.


  109. It might be true — but it also might not? Welcome to the internet…

    At worst it’s a 21st-century tall tale, a heart-warming legend that get shared when we gather ’round the virtual village square.

    And it gives us something to talk about.

  110. Remember a couple years back, there was a multiple murderer/carjacker/jail escapee who turned himself in after a night of talking about Jesus with a woman he was holding hostage. All of that is true. It ALSO happened to be true that she was a drug addict who shared her meth stash with him.

    What I’m saying is, it’s within the realm of possibility that a total douchebag also did something good for a mugger. Or, that he’s exaggerating and the real truth is somewhere in the middle.

  111. How it played out the other 9,999 times.

    “Hey, do you want my jacket?”
    “Oh, you some kinda smart-ass muthafucka?”
    *stabbing sounds*

  112. “It is NOT bigoted but rather a statement of fact that “too many” (not “ALL”, mind you) Christians would be have been delighted to read the thief in this story getting capped. And yes, “too many” would have readily shot the thief themselves.”

    I’m not a Christian, and I’d have quite readily shot him. This is a natural manner in which to respond to a direct threat to one’s own safety, and has been since before humans being started walking on fewer than four legs. If a mugger is uncomfortable with the possibility of his own violence being returned with interest, perhaps he ought to find some other less perilous means of making a living. I hear getting a job is highly thought of…

  113. Maybe I watch The Wire too much, but this sounds like shitty journalism to me.

    Whats the proof we have that this actually happened? This guy’s word? Do you know how many narcissistic people there are out there that make shit up!

    Yes, people do do things of unbelievable generosity, but generally those type of people don’t go to a radio station afterwards to brag about what they did. They tend to not talk about the deeds they’ve done. OTHER PEOPLE talk about what they’ve done. When have you ever seen someone do generous things and then brag about it?

    I’m disappointed in NPR. They should have better sense. Even if this story is true, its not printable material till they verify it.

  114. Ornith @71: Thanks for your thoughtful reply, but most of what you say doesn’t address my question, which is: Given that you pick and choose what to take from Jesus’ teaching, why not focus your ethical thinking on the principle(s) that allow you to do that, rather than giving so much weight to the scriptures?

    For example, you clearly think that “progressive” is good, so “Jesus on divorce is better than what came before, and the way we handle divorce today is better than what Jesus taught.” Given that you believe there is a moral teaching that is both opposed to and better than the teachings of Jesus, it seems odd to continue to use him as a moral reference.

    I agree that having a person embody your morality is extremely valuable, but Jesus lived two thousand years ago and in a cultural context where not stoning a woman to death for having non-socially-approve sex was radical. So looking to him as a moral guide is not materially better than looking to a “liberal” Muslim theologian living in modern Afghanistan, say. “Better than the Taliban!” is not exactly a ringing endorsement for an ethical exemplar. There seem so many vastly better examples for a modern person to choose from–the Dhali Lama, say–that I have a hard time fathoming the persistence of Jesus.

    Even if you want to use the interpretation that the greatest lesson Jesus has to teach is that we should be “as humane as possible given the historical and cultural context we find ourselves in”, his historical and cultural context are so vastly different from our own that he seems a very poor choice to look to for any concrete guidance.

    I’m coming back to this thread very late in the day, having spent a happy day or two off-line, and won’t be saying anything more about this here, although I’ll probably come back to this question in some other thread when it seems relevant.

  115. Further comments…

    (1) A social worker has special skills and training in how to deal with people, particularly people who are mentally ill and unpredictably violent. I suggest Julio Diaz made a judgement call based on his training and decided (correctly) to reach out to this kid.

    (2) It is interesting that this act of kindness, complete with a person’s name and face, would be so readily (eagerly?) disbelieved. I suggest that many of those same skeptics, OTOH, would readily believe a made-up email forward of a hideous atrocity:

    If you write a story about a soldier going AWOL and kidnapping a pregnant woman and finally shooting her in the head, it’s called ‘searingly realistic,’ even though it’s never happened in the history of mankind. Whereas if you write about two people falling in love, which happens about a million times a day all over the world, for some reason or another, you’re accused of writing something unrealistic and sentimental. — Richard Curtis, author, Four Weddings and a Funeral.

    (3) To #155: (I)’d have quite readily shot him. This is a natural manner in which to respond to a direct threat to one’s own safety

    If I lived in a high crime area, I’d like to think I’d learn some self-defense tactics and/or carry and use pepper spray or at worst a taser device for self-defense to get away. I don’t think I’d be able to live with killing someone, even if they were out to rob me and beat me up. But clearly there are others who would feel no sense of remorse, like that guy on the NYC subway who some years ago was shooting to kill a bunch of bad kids trying to mug him with shivs made from screwdrivers. I would still have on my conscience of paralyzing a kid for life (as he did). But that’s just me I guess :-/

  116. Antinous said, “It’s just that I always wonder about the motives of someone who complains to the gardener that the maid isn’t doing a good job”

    I’ll complain to one employee about others not doing their job (naming no one specifically), so I can pass on the message to the person I’m talking to and about. Employees talk and, I hope, are able to pick up on a hint from time to time. You’re not faulting the whistle blower, are you?

  117. No. Just the idea of coming to BB to trash this guy rather than challenging the story in its original forum. If he thinks this is a lie, he should be telling that to StoryCorps as well as BB readers. If he’s not doing so, it undermines his credibility here. I generally have a policy that I won’t trash someone behind his back unless I’m also prepared to abuse him to his face.

  118. I’m sure Boombotz is long-gone, but if he wants to contact the NPR ombudsman to challenge this story, she can be reached through this link:

    I considered writing her myself, but his charges would be much more effective, if true, if they came directly from him. Interesting, however, that his website,, doesn’t appear to include any contact info–rather an odd strategy for a site that’s presumably meant to showcase the owner’s skills as a designer. (Gahhh! I hate how the nature of talking on teh internetz pretty much *encourages* the sort of amateur-detective speculation I’m doing here!)

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