Is it Moral to Take Advantage of an Idiot?

Is it moral to take advantage of the village idiot?

Suppose on Friday, your local village idiot signed over the deed to his house to you, thinking he was going to be raptured yesterday (Saturday, May 21, 2011), would you now be under any moral obligation to return his house to him?

Should banks forgive the credit card debts your local village idiot racked up in anticipation of his not having to pay them off?

In general, to what extent should politicians, preachers, pundits, corporations, neighbors, or society as a whole be allowed to exploit the world’s village idiots?

Should the world’s village idiots now be allowed to sue Harold Camping for damages to them?

10 thoughts on “Is it Moral to Take Advantage of an Idiot?

  1. If those duped by Camping wanted to sue, I don’t know if they could find a court that would hear them, to be honest. Has Camping said a word since the whole non-Rapture yesterday?

    • My guess is you would not like yourself, CD — or you would have long ago made a bazillion dollars exploiting the stupid. The stupid, after all, have always been with us. Nothing has stopped you in the past from screwing them over except your own foolish decency and kindness. Or, at least, you sure haven’t been stopped by a lack of idiots and of ways to rip them off.

  2. I don’t see why anybody else should have to pay for their stupidity and gullibility. It’s one thing to take advantage, but it’s another thing to let them get away with being reckless.

  3. If village idiots were allowed to sue Harold Camping, wouldn’t that mean allowing Harold Camping to sue Harold Camping?

    Sincerely,
    Audrey (mother to 2 kids who would have been called “village idiots” at one time, but who can’t be P.C. this morning because making fun of Harold Camping is too irresistible).

  4. I probably wouldn’t want to take advantage of someone’s idiocy, but in that second example, if anyone’s trying to take advantage of someone, it’s the idiot trying to take advantage of the credit card company.

    And sure – I think people should be able to sue Camping. In most professional fields, experts (or those who make themselves out to be experts) who make false statements that people rely on can be liable for negligent misstatement. Harold Camping presented himself as an expert on Biblical interpretation and the end of the world, and people relied on him on that basis. I don’t really see the moral difference between what he did and a financial planner going on TV and giving horrible advice. It’s probably had the same sort of effect on a lot of people. Sue away, IMO

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