Friday, August 01, 2008

Bravery Vs Sheer Stupidity (with poll)

I don't really listen to talk radio much, but this morning was an exception. The topic of choice on two separate shows, the unreal tragedy of the Greyhound bus murder. Why I kept listening, the debates largely centered around a discussion of whether or not the other passengers acted appropriately, should they have done more to help the victim?

I listened in amazement, as people called in from their cozy, sober second thought, environments, pontificating on what they would have done, some heaping scorn on the "wimps" for reacting as they had. Apparently, many bloggers and American commentators have picked up on this theme, going so far as to say question Canadian masculinity (whatever that means). The fact the reaction is even "at issue" is what I found most bizarre, because ultimately who in the hell is anybody to pass judgement on what amounts to a real world horror show?

I found it all entirely offensive, because to my way of thinking, the other passengers were victims too. I just can't image witnessing such a macabe spectacle, it will surely imprint their souls, something they will carry with them the rest of their lives. I have nothing buy sympathy, and appreciate the folly in trying look at the reactions rationally.

By all accounts, this wasn't even a typical stabbing, if there is such a thing. This man was butchered before people's eyes, the violence so intense, there was really nothing anyone could do. Getting everyone else off the bus and containing this man, was really the only option. Good on anyone who thinks they would have reacted differently, but it's easy to judge from afar, easier still to try and fathom a situation which is really off the charts insane. I don't think bravery has anything to do with the reactions, in fact I think anything else, given the circumstances, amounts to sheer stupidity.

With that in mind, I thought I would see if others agree:


JimBobby said...

Whooee! Yeah, I've seen those sort of comments from some somewhat surprising quarters.

From the reports I've seen and heard, the stabbing victim was beyond saving by the time anyone realized what was happening. The only thing that would have happened had other passengers intervened is that there'd be more injuries and possibly more death.

Confronting a madman slasher who is wielding a Rambo knife in close quarters with small children around would be irresponsible. Shepherding the passengers off the bus and barricading the slasher inside was the best thing they could have done in the circumstances, as I understand them.

You're correct about all the passengers being victims. This horrific experience will haunt them for the rest of their lives. About 15 years ago, I was one of the first on the scene of a fatal car crash. I can still see the lifeless driver in my mind's eye as clearly as if it was yesterday.


Blues Clair said...

Well said. The surrealistic brutality of the crime, is something I can't even comprehend, let alone say what I would of done in the same situation. Hard to believe this is even being brought up as part of the conversation... or maybe it isn't.

knb said...

I completely agree with you.

To begin with, it's impossible to know how you'd react, but as Jimbobby said, it's more likely that more injuries would have occured.

I'm in shock at this great distance and can't even read articles about the incident. I simply cannot imagine how difficult this will be for those passengers for many years to come.

Who were the commentators Steve?

Lizt. said...

Some one on TV said something about the Death penalty.. and I thought.. this man is unstable in his mind. He is delusional.

Steve V said...

CHML and CFRB, and I believe it's the online question of the day on CHML.

Anonymous said...

Let's talk about the possibility of making political mileage of this event. The hard right is now using this event to justify a referendum on capital punishment, as demonstrated over in Sask Liberty Train.

Has anybody realize that this event is symbolic of another failure in Harper's government ie. the total neglect of rural poverty. A slasher obsessed with goth culture, working in temporary contracts (oil patch etc.), and probably watched one too many horror movies decided to act out his fantasies. Similar to Dawson College. Being high on meth also exacerbate the courage of acting out them. So what you get is social alienation and no way to release the pent out frustrations. Ride any late night Greyhound bus and you will see the desolation of rural poverty in both the US and Canada.

deBeauxOs said...

Homocidal frenzy on this scale would be like facing a tsunami - the best you can do is grab other people and get yourself and them out of danger.

ottlib said...

I remember similar statements and criticism directed at the men in the Engineering class in Ecole Polytechnique when Marc Lepine made himself imfamous.

Alot of commentators said the men should have shown some courage and taken down the gun toting maniac.

And as you state Steve, they all said this in the comfort of their offices or homes, well after the event when people had had some time to digest it.

It is BS of the highest order on many levels.

ottlib said...


I am certain some will try to make political hay of this.

I can almost see the right-wing commentators pointing to this event and the recent StatsCan report stating crime was down and say: "See, I told you so."

As well, the usual suspects in the capital punishment crowd will rear their ugly medieval heads I am certain.

As with the commentators claiming someone should have stepped in to stop the attacks, more BS at many levels.

Mark said...


I must sadly agree.

As I've said elsewhere I do hope this event prompts a national conversation on mental health issues rather than one on crime, security, and punishment. Is it an event that has so captivated the nation it could support either.

Steve V said...

And, of course the National Post weighs in. It's easy to say "lets roll", when you know the plane is going down and you're on it. What nonsense.

ottlib said...

Not only that but the passengers on that airplane had time to react.

By all accounts for this murder in Manitoba it was all over before anybody really knew what was happening.

As you say, what nonsense.

Bleatmop said...

I think the passengers and bus driver did exactly the right thing by getting the f outta there and then locking that maniac in the bus. The poor guy that was attacked was already dead and attacking his attacker would have just made more victims, potentially. Besides, I also highly suspect that most of those people who say that the passengers should have attacked this maniac would have led the charge... ten people back in line.

I also agree with Mark. This is a mental health issue, not a crime issue.

Rieff's riffs said...

Mushroom, Ottlib and the rest of the hug-a-thug crowd, you may want to read Lorrie Goldstein's recent article in the Toronto Sun. Here's a little excerpt:

"You've been told people who think as you do -- that our streets aren't as safe as they used to be -- are suffering from paranoid delusions fuelled by right-wing politicians and irresponsible media?

Okay, let's look at the actual numbers from Statistics Canada.

Canada has been keeping uniform crime statistics since 1962.

- In that year, there were 221 reported violent crimes per 100,000 population. Last year there were 930 -- a 320% increase in the crime rate compared to 1962.

- There were 1,891 property crimes per 100,000 population in 1962, 3,320 in 2007, a 75% increase.

- The overall crime rate was 2,771 incidents per 100,000 people in 1962, 6,984 last year, a 152% increase."

People know crime's up because most of us have come face to face with it or know someone who has.

As for this incident, it appears the work of a pscyotic individual

Steve V said...

"you may want to read Lorrie Goldstein's recent article in the Toronto Sun."

Do I have to? Who cares. Let me know when someone worth reading chimes in.

I'd rather eat a bag a nails than that boring, repetitive blowhard.

Rieff's riffs said...

O.K. don't read him - just look at those stats in the quote above. The Conservatives are getting some resonance on the crime issue because people know things have gotten worse - especially the older demographic who've experienced lower levels of crime and now feel vulnerable in their old age. This is a demographic that the Liberals usually do well in.

Facts on the ground matter Steve.

Steve V said...

"Facts on the ground matter Steve."

Where are they getting the statistics, from the sky? Please, the facts are pretty clear, fear mongering and individual anecedotal evidence aside.

900 ft Jesus said...

mark and mushroom are right - to use this case of insane butchery as an excuse to bring back the death penalty is crazy. This guy wants to die - he said so. People like him (and the QC killer Kimveer Gill) won't be deterred by capital punishment since it's a suicide mission anyway. They don't expect to live on, but the CONs brought up tougher sentencing in reference to the Kimveer Gill incident as well.

Just appealing to the very, very stupid.