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What's a word for someone who is generally good but might perform without a blink of an eye a sin of sorts, if it is for someone who is powerful, out of awe and admiration for that person and their name in society.

So for example a social worker who knows a family is treating their children badly but despite the fact that the children beg her to help, because she knows the family is rich and powerful and there is a sort of non-spoken agreement that these people can get away with anything, she does nothing...

Hope that makes any sense.

example: She knew Madeleine was suffering there, but one glance at her mother in the hall, arranging her gold necklace reminded her that it was nothing to worry about. She left the house with a positive written review that was left with no weight on her conscience, and out of pure __________.

  • It almost sounds like a pawn, but I don't think that is exactly what you are looking for. – Caleb Reister Aug 12 '16 at 6:34
  • She may just be afraid to intervene in the affairs of the rich and powerful. – NVZ Aug 12 '16 at 6:38
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    Possibly a lackey (definition 1.1), but it may be too narrow for your description. – Lawrence Aug 12 '16 at 7:21
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    One thing that's a little confusing to me is that in the title, you ask for a word for this person, but in the example sentence, the word seems to refer to the quality that this person possesses. Would you be satisfied with either type of word? – sumelic Aug 13 '16 at 3:01
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    There is a very specific term for someone whose job is to protect someone or something but but chooses not to intervene (for whatever reason) when someone else is threatening that person or thing: connivance. The Merriam-Webster definition is "the act of conniving [where connive means 'to pretend ignorance of or fail to take action against something one ought to oppose'] : esp. : knowledge of and active or passive consent to wrongdoing." As for the conniver's being "generally good," it's tempting to characterize that as fair-weather virtue. – Sven Yargs Aug 13 '16 at 5:15
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Check if sycophant(ic) fits.

Though it does not explicitly mean "someone who is generally good", it does mean someone who "might perform without a blink of an eye a sin of sorts, if it is for someone who is powerful". Also, the definition of sycophant does not explicitly exclude "someone who is generally good". You can also check one of the synonyms from ODO (reproduced below).

From dictionary.cambridge.org:

sycophantic adjective; formal disapproving

(of a person or of behaviour) praising people in authority in a way that is not sincere, usually in order to get some advantage from them:

There was sycophantic laughter from the audience at every one of his terrible jokes.

sycophant noun

The prime minister is surrounded by sycophants.

From ODO:

sycophant NOUN

A person who acts obsequiously towards someone important in order to gain advantage.

Example sentences:

An assortment of hatchet men, opportunists and sycophants gained access to the levers of power.

There will be several servile sycophants who will come forward as ‘White Knights’ to regain their lost positions.

Only the most sycophantic of the sycophants would even begin to make such a comparison. [In the past] there was at least a real enemy, there were real things to be done.

Synonyms:

toady, creep, crawler, fawner, flatterer, flunkey, truckler, groveller, doormat, lickspittle, kowtower, obsequious person, minion, hanger-on, leech, puppet, spaniel, Uriah Heep

informal bootlicker, yes-man

vulgar slang arse-licker, arse-kisser, brown-nose

North American vulgar slang suckhole

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Maybe...

traitor - person who is not loyal to his or her own country, friends, etc. : a person who betrays a country or group of people by helping or supporting an enemy

treachery - Guilty of or involving betrayal or deception

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myrmidon - a person who executes without scruples his master's commands, like the teacher the chairman of our department kept reappointing to the personnel committee.

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That person can be considered meek

quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on; submissive.

The action itself may be performed out of cowardice

lack of bravery.

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