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misanthropy
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You know, sometimes I'm not sure what I find most upsetting about the Manitoba bus murder: the fact that it happened or the fact that so many supposedly "normal" and "decent" people are using it as an excuse to be horrible.

(I am not posting an actual link to the story because it is incredibly gruesome.)

It isn't a sign that our immigration system is too relaxed. (Li is a legal immigrant -- a citizen, in fact -- with no prior criminal record; how on earth do you make that an immigration issue? Unless you are a xenophobic piece of shit, that is.) It isn't a sign that our justice system is too lenient (again, he had no criminal record). It isn't a sign that everyone with a mental illness should be locked up and the key thrown away.

The ignorance of people -- about the law, about mental illness, about basic human psychology -- really infuriates me sometimes. No, Li would not "fry tomorrow" had this happened in the States. No, the schizophrenics who hang out in your local park are not going to kill you. No, the fact that Li said "please kill me" in a courtroom does not indicate shit about his sanity or lack thereof at the time of the murder (or even at the time of the utterance). No, "we" do not need to make an example of him, unless you think ordinary people actually need to be dissuaded from stabbing strangers (which makes me nervous about riding a bus with you). No, it is not legal negligence for an ordinary civilian to run the fuck away from a crazed person brandishing a knife, nor should it be. No, you don't know what the murder victim's family is going through or what they would want to happen to Li; show some respect.

Fuck.

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A few years ago, a girl I used to work with was involved in a terrible crime (baby-stealing). I read about it on the internet. Anyways. She had a very obviously Latino last name, though her family had been in the US for many generations. While poking around the internet looking for info on the crime (because I was horrified/fascinated someone I knew could have done such a thing) I can't tell you how many blog posts and message board posts about how obviously this was due to those damn Mexicans getting over our border. THE HELL? She was born here like any of us. This happened because she had mental problems and should have been getting treatment, not because of her ancestry. Goddamn.

(Deleted comment)
None of us are perfect, but at least our first thought upon a tragedy is "how can I make this about minorities sucking?"

Ugh.

(Ha, sorry about the deleted comment; for future reference it was the same as the one below, just a bit shorter.)

Well, that is true (there's a missing "not" in your sentence, obviously, heh).

OBVIOUSLY YES I MEANT "NOT"! I am not some minority hater! Oh geez. INTERNETS!

Well, people who couldn't infer the "not" from the context are dumb anyway.

Heh, good point. Still, I just imagine people stumbling across this entry and seeing my comment out of context and thinking I'm some minority-hatin' ass.

Always good to be careful. :)

I find it really depressing how confident some people are in their total pig-fucking ignorance. Not that I'm immune to that, I'm sure I have stupid opinions of my own, but ugh.

I mean, I don't think people in their right minds do things like stabbing strangers on crowded buses for no apparent reason. Rational people do violent and evil things, but not like that. So reading a lot of these comments, I'm like...what? What are you doing, trying to explain this as if it were normal understandable behaviour? Do you understand it?

I think that's what happens though, it's that some people of lesser intelligence can't handle not having explanations for everything so they shortcut and make shit up and rely on prejudices instead of accepting the awful truth that some people are just nuts and stab strangers on crowded buses.

It's not even intelligence, is the thing. I mean, some people find it easier to handle genuine complexity, sure, but I think it's more emotion and personality traits driving the "let's find a really simple explanation and if I can't find one I'll just make some shit up" reaction.

I dunno, I think something to do with intelligence drives that as well. But I guess if you're prone to fly to fast judgments and have certain prejudices, that overrides everything. Ugh.

We may be defining intelligence differently, too. I think it's possible to be a very smart, intellectual person and still be a complete idiot about people because I see it all the time, and also everyone gets dumber under the influence of strong emotion.

Yeah, I realized that as I commented to your last post. I guess the sort of person you're talking about isn't necessarily someone I'd define as intelligent, though that may not be fair of me.

I've been feeling pretty much the same thing, except at a different target. The last few days I've been kind of obsessed about what happened on K-2, and there are all these people who think that the climbers deserved to die horrible deaths because they "knew what they were in for," and took stupid risks and all mountain climbers are stupid adrenaline junkies who should have thought of their families, etc. And this whole idea that, because they left their homes and took risks, their survival (the ones that did survive) isn't heroic or inspiring in any way.

People are awful.

I don't get it. I mean, I sort of do, because it's a really common knee-jerk reaction to say "oh, I know why this happened, I know who or what to blame, so if I do X or get the government to do Y then nothing bad will ever happen to me." But it's such a nasty destructive thing to do, kicking people when they're down.

Exactly. People like things to be predictable, because if things are predictable, they can protect themselves. But if things are predictable, then scary hands-of-fate things like serac avalanches and stabbing deaths can't happen to "good people." So, obviously, the people to whom avalanches and stabbing deaths happen are "bad people." "Bad people" bring it onto themselves.

And then they like to shout that out to the rooftops because, if they say it loudly and rudely enough, maybe it will come true. Or maybe they're even stupid enough to believe it.

Just World Theory. Very good predictor for, among other things, hard-core conservatism. :p

I can't read anything about the Greyhound Bus story. It's not just the editorial aspects of it - the blogging, the comments, the sensationalist journalists. It's really just the way the whole thing is being reported. Reporters have not stopped hounded either family for sound bites since the story broke and in some cases have been the ones to seek out and inform family members. News reporting is supposed to be detached and neutral, I get that, but even if the highest ideals of journalistic integrity are being met, this isn't simply detached, it's inconsiderate and ignores that the families are equally dispassionate fact-machines, they're actual people who've just faced a major tragedy.

I also think that the 911 call circulating on YouTube is morbid in the way the video of the man being tazed in Vancouver was morbid.

Yep. Although I was grateful for the Youtube video because as upsetting as it was, it cut off some (not all, of course) of the Internet assholery. If you can SEE that the guy had his hands at his sides and you aren't already deep into "the police are never wrong" pseudo-fascist bully-boy ideology, it has an impact. The Greyhound 911 call is more straightforwardly morbid because there is no real question of fault.

I don't know what they expect to get from the families. That's very upsetting.

Wow. Rereading my comment, it is horribly written. I do agree with your assessment of the YouTube video though.

I find I'm not able to read very much coverage or commentary around this (I hadn't heard of this 911 video and I don't plan to track it down). But in what I've read I haven't seen instances of reporters "hounding" people's families.
A former girlfriend of the victim spoke to the Globe and obviously provided a picture. I saw another photo today of the victim's relatives holding a vigil at the Legislature in Winnipeg.
As a reporter, I can tell you calling the loved ones of a dead person is the most horrible thing I have to do, whether they've died after a long illness or violently. I don't mean horrible as in, I'm a despicable person for doing it. Rather, I know I'm interrupting their lives at a sad and probably a hectic time and catching them when they might not be at their emotional best.
That's not me preying on the vulnerable, but me doing my job--one that in the majority of cases both those who knew the dead and the readers who didn't, appreciate.
I find, especially in the case of people who die suddenly in crashes or by violence, loved ones appreciate that I am able to tell readers about the person they knew. Without my making those horrible calls, that person is reduced to Highway death #79 or "Native-looking guy whose head was cut off."
Someone who knew the victim gave that photo to the Globe and Mail, and those other relatives held their vigil in a highly public place for a reason.
Furthermore, you and millions of other obviously want to know about these people, if not about the gory details of the killing.

That's a very good point. I don't know the details.

I do have a problem with reporters being the ones to inform family members, if that did happen in this case.

I don't think anyone wants that to happen, but I think if the media figure out who a person and his family are before the cops do, that's a problem at the police end.
In those cases where the cops know but aren't saying while they "notify next of kin," yeah, it's kind of icky when we use the name anyway.

I think the victim's father learned about it from newscasts, after the victim's friends had figured it out and sat him down. (I think they figured it out from details, but the media weren't using his name. That was released later, by friends.) But that wasn't really the media's fault; the RCMP had contacted the victim's uncle, who said that his nephew hadn't been on the bus, and then they (the RCMP) weren't releasing any identity information, and the father had been out and unavailable. It's still a horrible way to find out, but it's not as though the journalists knocked on his door, stuck a camera in his face and told him his son was dead.

Edited at 2008-08-06 07:56 pm (UTC)

(Deleted comment)
The immediate emergence of xenophobia did shock me, I think because (and this is kind of horrible) Chinese people are not usually stereotyped in that way in Canada. If Li were black or Aboriginal I would have been less surprised.

The hatred and bloodlust expressed really, really bother me. It's not enough to remove this man from society (which I think is entirely justified); he should be shot, he should be tortured, he should be executed without trial, if this were a just society he would be dead already, etc., etc. And then they expand on it -- not just Li but everyone like him (his family, immigrants, people with mental illnesses, people who have committed any sort of crime, etc.) should be locked up, sterilized, etc.

I would understand that rage as trauma if it came from people personally touched by this, but from strangers to it? It's very frightening.

It made me irate that internet assholes around the world saw fit to immediately demand why others on the bus didn't stop this horrific act, like things would've been different if these heroes had been on the bus instead! And legitimate news sources wrote stories about this. Like, are we all talk radio now? Just because they can air their uniformed, stupid, xenophobic opinions on the Internets doesn't mean we (and by we, I mean the mainstream media) have to legitimize them by paying attention. Fuckheads.

As for the rage and bloodlust... yeah. I don't get it. I can understand concern, I mean, nobody wants to take the bus in the first place and it could really happen to anybody, but that's life, you know? I do wonder, though, what they think will be accomplished by arming themselves with pitchforks and "letting him fry." You're not going to prevent something else like this from happening.

This whole "an eye for an eye" thing is gross. An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.

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