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  1. #1

    A culture of violence, and the idle bystander

    I have a semi-personal story to share.

    Last night, I was hanging out in Toronto near Islington and Dixon Road. Those of you familiar with Toronto will recognise this as a relatively 'good' areaI was on my way home, waiting for the bus with about thirty other people at around 9.30. Out of the blue, two men pop out, one chasing the other, right out into traffic. The aggressor, knocks the other boy to the ground and begins kicking him, cars are swerving, people are watching, but not ONE person tried to stop this fight.

    I'm yelling for people to get off their butts and make a scene to distract the guy from this kid lying on the pavement, and no one would do anything.

    My reaction? I started verbally assaulting the aggressor. Why? Because once a person is down on the ground, that's it for them. My friend was already calling the police, and all that was left was to find some way of stopping the fight long enough to give the victim a chance to actually survive. I was in a large group, and I had a false sense of security, thinking people would be more likely to help a smallish girl then a thug like guy.

    The aggressor, comes right up and starts yelling at me, sticks his face in mine -- you know the whole, I'm bigger than you so you now have to look up at me. I was angry, violence does that to me, so I'm trembling, I've apparently got my 'ITS ALL I CAN DO NOT TO KILL YOU' face on (which is quite amusing, because I feel bad after I kill spiders). HE of course copmes out with the usual macho man thing, 'WAS I TALKING TO YOU, MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS etc'. I reply calmly (although i was clenching my teeth, that if he thought he was proving his manhood by sticking his face on mine, before kissing his nose.

    Of course, this enrages the guy, so he throws a mega tantrum, and me with my big mouth, I respond with c'mon tough guy, prove yourself, beat me up too! c'mon, hit a girl, it's the only way to solve problems!

    He apparently had no answer to this soi he walked to an SUV acting as if he managed to shut me up, as he's walking I continue taunting him. Maybe not the best idea, but the police were on the way, and I wanted to make sure he stayed put. Didn't work too well, because he drove off.

    At least I was successful in keeping the guy off the 'victim' who later went walking down the same street armed with a knife.

    Guess he wasn't too hurt.

    Of course, these are the same guys who were selling drugs a little while earlier, and it helped that I knew his name.

    The point, really, is that I was the only one to do anything about it, everyone else sat there doing nothing. 30 people easy, and not one person took a stand. When did our culture render this acceptable?

    There were some big guys there, two or three of them could easily have pulled this scrawny kid off the other one. Their excuse was 'what if he was packing?'

    What if? You think he's gonna pull out a gun and start shooting everyone? No one else even thought of calling the police.

    I'm not dumb enough to have gone into the street and tried to pull the guy off myself..I don't have that kind of physical strength, but when I asked someone to come help me, two of us could have done it, not one person did, they all looked at me like I was insane.

    That could have been someone's brother, son, best friend, and no one thought to do anything.

    Is anyone else as disgusted as I am? What are your thoughts?

  2. Re: A culture of Violence, and the idle bystander

    this is an old thread but i thought i'd respond anyway. my first thought is the reason that no one did anything is both shock and fear. if i saw this happening i would be very afraid that this person might come after me should i try to intervene. i certainly wouldn't hesitate to call the police, but as for trying to get a large man to stop on my own, i don't think i'd think it safe.

    that is the problem these days. i don't think people feel safe. there was an incident once where i was very angry with a stranger who became very aggressive towards me. i was extremely angry with how he was behaving but for my personal safety i backed down, for fear of not knowing how crazy this guy might be. who knows they might pull a knife or gun on you. i was very upset afterwards because i was so angry and hadn't wanted to have to give in. i had wanted to just be angry back and let the man have it - but risking my life was not really an option.

    i really do not have the solution to this. you were very brave and courageous to do what you did.
    ~ our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising each time we fall - confucius
    ~ it is the journey, not the destination, that matters
    ~ keep hanging on, the sun will come shining through for you again

  3. #3
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    Re: A culture of Violence, and the idle bystander

    In my 20's I would have confronted the guy and let some else call the police. In my 30's I would do the opposite - but whether I confront or not really depends on the situation.

  4. #4

    Re: A culture of Violence, and the idle bystander

    When did our culture render this acceptable?
    I had a similar situation at a baseball diamond where there were quite a number of big, strong men to handle the situation but I was the only one who reacted. I still do not understand and it makes me think that our society is in a very sad state or maybe most people just look out for themselves.
    but as English philosopher Edmund Burke said, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’

  5. #5

    Re: A culture of Violence, and the idle bystander

    I remember from my intro psych class reading about this phenomenon. I forget the name, but it does have one. Apprently it's believed that when there's a lot of people present during trouble no one stands up since "some one else will take care of it."
    That's good that you stood up, even though it sounds really dangerous.

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