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High-Profile People Who Were Ruined By Trying To Do The Right Thing

Reddit user pretendstoknow asked: 'What high profile person was ruined for trying to do the right thing?'

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Ethan Haddox on Unsplash

Doing the right thing isn't a guarantee of reward.

The Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 was at first hailed as a great military victory, but United States Army Captain Silas Soule was determined to make the horrific truth known.

On November 29, 1864, in what was then the southeastern corner of territorial Colorado, Colonel John Chivington ordered the Third Colorado Cavalry to attack Southern Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle's encampment of Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho at Sand Creek.

Captain Silas Soule, Lieutenant Joseph Cramer and Lieutenant James Connor protested that attacking a peaceful camp would violate the pledge of safety provided to the Indians in a September 1864 agreement and would dishonor the uniform of the Army.

Soule and his company did not follow the orders and did not participate in the slaughter.

Soule was jailed, intimidated, threatened and even shot at, but he refused to compromise himself and made his voice heard through reports that reached all the way from Colorado to Washington, and even to the floor of the U.S. Senate.

The brutal atrocities committed upon the Cheyenne and Arapaho people by the U.S. Army at Sand Creek shocked the nation.

Soule's graphic written testimony stated:

"The massacre lasted six or eight hours, and a good many Indians escaped. I refused to fire, and swore that none but a coward would, for by this time hundreds of women and children were coming towards us, and getting on their knees for mercy."
"I tell you Ned [Major Edward W. Wynkoop] it was hard to see little children on their knees have their brains beat out by men professing to be civilized."
"One [Indigenous woman] was wounded and a fellow took a hatchet to finish her, she held her arms up to defend herself, and he cut one arm off, and held the other with one hand and dashed the hatchet through her brain. One [Indigenous woman] with her two children, were on their knees begging for their lives of a dozen soldiers, within ten feet of them all, firing."
"Some tried to escape on the Prairie, but most of them were run down by horsemen. I saw two Indians hold one another’s hands, chased until they were exhausted, when they kneeled down, and clasped each other around the neck and were both shot together."
"They were all scalped, and as high as half a dozen taken from one head. They were all horribly mutilated. One woman was cut open and a child taken out of her, and scalped."
"Yours, SS (signed) Captain Silas S. Soule of the 1st Colorado Volunteer Cavalry. Fort Lyon, C.T. December 14, 1864."

During hearings in Denver, Captain Soule’s integrity and unwavering testimony turned the tide against the once popular colonel Chivington and the other men who participated in the massacre and mutilations at Sand Creek.

Colonel Chivington was quoted as saying:

“Damn any man who sympathizes with Indians! ... I have come to kill Indians, and believe it is right and honorable to use any means under God's heaven to kill Indians. ... Kill and scalp all, big and little; nits make lice.“

Captain Soule knew telling the truth about the massacre could cost him his life, even telling a good friend he fully expected to be killed for his testimony.

Walking home with his new bride on April 23, 1865, Silas Soule was ambushed and shot in the head by an assassin who had participated in the Sand Creek Massacre. He was only 26 years-old.

Captain Silas Soule’s name has largely faded from history. But he's not alone.

Reddit user pretendstoknow asked:

"What high profile person was ruined for trying to do the right thing?"

Richard Jewell

"Richard Jewell. A security guard who worked at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, USA in 1996 noticed a suspicious backpack and took action."

"He alerted police and tried to move people from the area. That backpack held a bomb which injured many and killed one person."

"Days later the media demonized him and claimed Jewell himself planted the bomb. Years later police caught the real person behind the bombing."

"The media blamed the wrong guy."

~ Only-Gap-616

Frank Serpico

"Frank Serpico, was abandoned by his fellow cops after being shot—which was possibly a setup by the same cops—because he tried to expose corruption in the NYPD."

"His story was made into a movie with Al Pacino."

~ thelaughingpear

"I saw an interview with Serpico many years ago but, also, decades after this all occurred and he said he is still reviled by the local cops if he ever goes back to New York."

"The local corrupt cops completely wrecked Serpico with no repercussions to them."

~ Zerowantuthri

Ignac Semmelweiss

"Ignac Semmelweiss. First proposed hand washing when he noticed a drop in maternal mortality if he washed his hands."

"He became a pariah in the medical community, was violently committed to a mental asylum, and died shortly after as a result of an infection of a wound he suffered while being committed."

~ Djscratchcard

"This is an understatement of the situation. Medical students were performing autopsies in the morgue immediately before assisting in the obstetrics ward."

"Only occasionally did they wash their hands, and even so, with only plain soap that did not get rid of the stench for days (as opposed to chlorinated lime)."

"Up to 31% of patients were dying of postpartum infection after autopsies became part of education in medicine, whereas in another clinic staffed only by midwives (who did not perform autopsies), the rate stayed in the low single digits."

~ reachingfourpeas

"Even better: the argument was that doctors were gentlemen, and a gentleman’s hands weren’t the cause of disease."

~ LurkerOrHydralisk

Leo Ryan

"Not ruined in the sense of reputation or anything, but U.S Congressman Leo Ryan was killed trying to help people escape Jonestown."

"Can't imagine the atmosphere during that entire ordeal."

~ kallan0100

"Tangentially related, one of his staffers was also injured during the ambush on the delegation at the airport—Jackie Speier."

"She hid behind the plane wheels and was still shot five times and had to wait 22 hours before help arrived."

"She later ran for a congressional seat in 2008 that covered most of what used to be Leo Ryan (and her boss’) district. She retired from Congress last cycle."

~ PhiloPhocion

Brendan Fraser

"Brendan Fraser getting blacklisted in Hollywood because of rightly speaking out against getting groped by the head of the Hollywood foreign press association."

"There were other contributing factors to his career stalling, but that was a big slice of it."

"Thankfully we’re now getting the Brenaissance we all deserve and, more importantly, that HE deserves."

~ ReaverRogue

J. Bruce Ismay

"J. Bruce Ismay. The absolute first thing to note is that the allegations that Ismay ordered the Titanic to speed up is exactly that. An allegation. The alleged exchange between Ismay and Captain Smith (who would be the ultimate authority on speeding up or even slowing down) was 'overheard' from several tables away in the First Class dining room by a single witness."

"Bear in mind that in the years after the sinking, there wasn't even agreement on whether the ship broke in half or not. In other words, victim testimonies often varied wildly from the voyage."

"Now for the sinking. As a high-level employee of the White Star Line Ismay was one of the first passengers informed of the peril the ship was in. Instead of leaving on one of the first available boats as is often portrayed, Ismay spent the next two hours going from one end of the ship to other in a half-panicked state begging passengers to leave the warmth of the ship and board the life boats."

"For the first 90+ minutes of the sinking, the Titanic did not seem to be in all that much danger and thus passengers were hesitant to leave and get in lifeboats."

"At some point, Ismay, in an almost full-blown panic, grabbed a hold of a line for the lifeboats in an attempt to help the crew launch a lifeboat, only to be ordered back by an officer. Ismay apologized to the officer and stepped back."

"Less than twenty minutes before the Titanic sank into the North Atlantic, Ismay found himself standing next to an almost fully loaded lifeboat, Collapsible C, one of only two lifeboats left on Titanic."

"With the lifeboat almost full, the officers launching the boat asked if anyone else wanted to board. After waiting for several seconds and seeing no one step forward, Ismay boarded the lifeboat quietly and sat down."

"Ismay is often portrayed as some careless, cowardly a**hole in fiction but reading up on him presents a different narrative. In the years after the sinking, he also contributed millions in pre-Depression pounds to the Titanic survivors' funds and to other maritime disaster charities."

~ AngriestManinWestTX

Hugh Thompson Jr.

"Hugh Thompson Jr. intervened to halt the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. He saved civilians and tried to report what had happened to his superiors, and he was vilified for it."

"Army people, Congressmen, the press, so many people had it out for him. All because he saw soldiers killing women and children and put a stop to it."

"He eventually got recognised for his bravery, but it took decades."

~ whatever3653

Roger Boisjoly

"Roger Boisjoly was largely drummed out of engineering for warning of the Challenger disaster in advance."

"He was treated as a pariah at Morton Thiokol after his completely correct warnings and drummed out of the job via the standard social pressure used by low-integrity job cultures who accidentally hire a high-integrity person and realize they have a cultural-fit problem."

"He did manage to get some limited traction on the academic circuit and occasionally worked as a consultant, but his engineering career was largely over."

"He lost his career because he warned the Challenger would blow up before it actually happened, and that hurt people's feelings."

~ AnotherRunningBack

Mohammad Mossadegh

"Mohammad Mossadegh, Prime Minister of Iran. His administration introduced a wide range of social reforms: unemployment compensation was introduced, factory owners were ordered to pay benefits to sick and injured workers, and peasants were freed from forced labour in their landlords' estates."

"In 1952, Mossadegh passed the Land Reform Act which forced landlords to place 20% of their revenue into a development fund. This development fund paid for various projects such as public baths, rural housing, and pest control."

"And probably the most important action he took: he nationalized the Iranian oil industry, which had been controlled by the British. Later the British (MI6) and Americans (CIA) overthrew his government during Operation Ajax."

"Man was sentenced to house arrest and was buried in his own home to prevent him from becoming a martyr."

"Ironically in the end, both Brits and Americans were indirectly responsible for the rise of ayatollahs to power in Iran."

~ a_lone_traveler

Peter Norman

"Peter Norman. A lot of people know the iconic photo from the 1968 Olympics with two American athletes who were first and third giving the Black Power salute.

What isn’t as well known is that Australin second place finisher , Peter Norman had been informed of their intention and had offered to wear a badge in in favour of giving Aboriginal people rights. As they only had one pair of gloves, he had suggested each wear one."

"He was blacklisted in Australia for this. Didn’t get selected for the 1972 Olympics as a result despite qualifying. Ruined his athletic career."

"At the 2000 Olympics the American delegation heard he had not been invited by Australia (to our home Olympics) and invited him themselves."

"When he died in 2006, the American athletes John Caroos and Tommie Smith flew to Australia to be his pallbearer."

"Despite suffering such consequences he never regretted doing what was right."

~ Lozzanger

Stanislav Petrov

"Stanislav Petrov. His career stagnated after he correctly chose not to push the big red button when a 'computer malfunction' indicated 6 nuclear missiles were headed to Russia from the US."

"His career stagnated, and he was snubbed from any awards by the higher-ups who refused to admit their glorious technology malfunctioned."

"For 5 minutes, he held possibly the entire human race in the palm of his hand and chose not to fire because, as he stated, 'the US wouldn't fire 6 missiles'."

"He correctly gambled the fate of his country on a coin flip. Before he died, he was commended by the UN, but never by his own country."

~ matt7h

Eartha Kitt

"Eartha Kitt challenged both President Johnson and First Lady Ladybird Johnson at a luncheon. She asked the President how working parents were supposed to prevent their children from becoming criminals, to which he gave a noncommital answer about daycares."

"Later on, when the First Lady asked the women in the room about their thoughts on teen crime rates, Eartha Kit said that the Vietnam War was a major factor."

"This resulted in Eartha Kitt being investigated by the CIA and blacklisted from performing pretty much anywhere in the US for many years. She had no choice but to move to Europe during that time."

~ Amazing_Excuse_3860

Dominique Moceanu

"Dominique Moceanu was blacklisted by USA Gymnastics and most of the gymnastics community for sounding the alarm on the Karolyis and the abuse and corruption that was happening. While she never named Larry Nassar back then (as far as I know), she did call out a lot of the things that made his abuse possible."

"Instead of anyone listening, she was called an attention wh*re with lots of accusations about sour grapes, etc... Was subsequently left out of invitations for public appearances at a lot of USAG sponsored event and ostracized by a sizable portion of the gymnastics community."

"A few years down the road when the Nassar scandal came to light, the stories that were shared suggest she was definitely telling the truth. Even worse, her accusations were barely the tip of the iceberg of what was really going on in USAG."

~ littleirishpixie

Stella Liebeck

"That lady who sued McDonald’s after she spilled their coffee in her lap. She was smeared by the media as being a careless moron and/or a lying opportunist who was exaggerating in an attempt to get rich."

"I have clear memories of late night shows and comedians making jokes about what a stupid liar she was. You can Google images of her injuries now (at your own peril), they are gruesome. I can’t imagine the pain she went through."

"Coffee never needs to be hot enough to do that and they absolutely needed to take precautions to prevent that from happening again."

~ camazotzthedeathbat

" McDonald's had been warned numerous times by the FDA that they were keeping their coffee at dangerously high temperatures. Further, all Stella Liebeck asked for in her initial filings was to have her medical bills covered."

"McDonald's repeatedly gave her the back of their hand because they knew exactly how absurd the case would sound to the general public."

"The late night shows and comedians weren't just joking about an easy target; they were doing McDonald's' dirty work for them."

~ lonesomewriter

While some of the people in this list saw their lives improve, others never recovered.

Do you know someone who was ruined while trying to do the right thing?