Mark Radcliffe wonders what the role of the witness is: to stop a crime or to record it?
When you witness something bad happening near you, what do you do?
Get out your video camera?
Or actually try to stop it?
When a 12 yr-old girl was being beaten by a group of her “friends” in Providence, RI a man living next door chose the former, choosing merely to quietly capture it on camera from next door and post it on YouTube rather than get involved.
Holly Gingerella, the mother of the beaten girl, was deeply upset about his passivity, unsurprisingly.
While I can’t imagine what it would be like to witness something like this, I’d like to believe if I were in that situation I’d do more than just roll tape. I’ve pulled teens off of each other when I was a teacher years ago, but perhaps this neighbor was afraid of whether the girls may harm him.
Still, “bad things happen when good people look the other way,” as the saying goes, and while capturing it on film will help things in the courts and certainly can’t be called looking the other way, I still think it’s incumbent upon us as good citizens—and good neighbors (since this was happening in his neighbors’ yard—to actually take action. It seems if it was simply 12 yr-old girls, and the videographer a grown man, that he at least had the advantage of size and strength if not numbers. A stern command to “stop” from the intimidating voice of an adult or a threat that “the cops are on their way” might have at least caused them to run off.
But when your first reaction upon seeing someone being hurt is to whip out your phone rather than run over to intervene, I think we’ve got a problem. Is technology turning us into a society of passive accomplices who no longer know how to take action?
Maybe the law doesn’t require us to get involved. But doesn’t our conscience?
Photo courtesy of tylerkaraszewsk