The title describes the public transit riders who watched this disturbing scene unfold on a Philadelphia bus, and did nothing:
2014 is the 50th anniversary of the infamous Kitty Genovese case, and dueling books on the incident either recount the accepted version that 38 people in an apartment building heard the 28 year-old woman’s screams as she was being stabbed to death but “didn’t want to be involved” and let her die, or adopt the revisionist theory that the apathy of bystanders was unfairly and inaccurately hyped by the news media. The incident on the Philadelphia bus tells me that the revisionists have a burden of proof that will be hard to meet. There was plenty of evidence already, like here, or here, or here, or here, or more recently here, that Kitty Genovese might not fare any better today. Continue reading →
In Brooklyn, New York, a pregnant woman went into cardiac arrest in front of two EMT’s having breakfast at a coffee shop. They did nothing to help her, despite entreaties from others at the shop, reportedly because they were “on break.” And she died.
You can bank on hearing a lot more about the horrific incident in the coming days and weeks. Normally an obvious example of miserable human conduct wouldn’t be mentioned here, because there is no ethical controversy to consider. This one, however, raises important questions that have to be answered:
What kind of cultural values are lurking beneath the surface of our society that would lead two individuals to be so callous to endangered human life when they had the skill and responsibility to act? One person could be an aberration, but two suggests a much larger problem.
How can people capable of such conduct be recruitedand employed by any Fire Department, anywhere?
It will be easy to heap condemnation on the two EMT’s who preferred to finish their bagels rather than to save a mother’s life. That won’t address the more important question of what we can and must do, not just to prevent anything like this happening again, but to identify and eradicate the toxic values in our society that could allow this to happen even once.
One thing seems certain: New York’s famous Christmas spirit isn’t what it used to be.