(Salon’s Brian Klaas.)
I had a similar encounter near Halloween. Dude was beating on his girl, I asked if she needed help and he came after me. I was able to sort of run him around long enough for the cops to arrive.
I need to learn Brazilian jujitsu
I dunno. As a small guy I would never think of stepping into an altercation; I’d probably trigger the emergency alarm instead. Here the nutjob didn’t step back because of the lady; he was cowed when the chinese guy stood up (and was bigger than expected?), and it was in that space that the lady was able to give them both an opportunity to avoid actual contact. She approached the victim, not the aggressor. Concerns about concealed weapons aside, I think you have to be physically intimidating to be an effective intercessor (or be backed up by numbers.)
That black woman who got between them doesn’t look like much of a fighter but she tried. Here’s the thing, this is right up there with the NPR Hate Speech debate, where a white woman tries to tell a black man why he’s supposed to endure and educate racists and violent people because she thinks silos make it worse. The thing is… she has a choice. You have a choice. Some of us, we don’t have a choice. We sit on a bus and get assaulted. We post a picture online or make a comment online, we’re always on. Always on. And then people around us try and tell us how the world should work and what we should do while they get to choose to be on or off.
Those two men in Portland, made a choice to be involved, and they paid an ultimate price for it. The woman he started with, never had a choice. She’s always on too.
The white man that got up and walked away… he had an off.
It get’s tiring but there is no off for us.
Look, I understand. I think it is in most of our natures to not involve ourselves in violence if at all possible. Self preservation is a powerful instinct and rightfully so. But, as Nesrie says, some of us don’t have that choice when confronted. I’d love to live life with how things should be but I sometimes can’t. I can only live with how things are. And this is how things are right now.
That’s not to say that I go out looking for a fight. And neither should anyone. After the election I realized that my only chance is to help people understand that I am really not that much different than them. I may look different but, deep down, we share similar hopes and aspirations. I root for the same football team, I love the same kind of food and I want for us all to lead prosperous lives. But don’t ask me to turn the other cheek while the noose is put around my neck.
Anyway, I love y’all. Thanks for being wonderful people.
I get the sentiment, but stupid heroism doesn’t help anyone. If you are confident you can deescalate the situation, sure. Is there a moral obligation to do something? I think so. Record, get help, testify, etc. But getting in the face of some irrational actor? That’s a judgement call.
It’s like the usual advice about dealing with bullies. Punch back, put up a fight. Not surprisingly, studies show that it only works if you can win. If you lose, well, things get worse.
Here are a few articles and there are some statements they have in common.
“No one was saying anything and it was a BART full of people,” Wu reportedly told the newspaper. “I had enough, so I told him, 'Sir, you need to stop talking.”
The video ends with the woman telling him to get off at the Kings Highway stop so that she can report him to the police.
The woman says she didn’t actually report the man to the police because she heard they don’t take such complaints seriously and he didn’t physically assault her.
After the video ends, she says he did ‘jump’ at her and continued yell at her.
One thing that struck her about the confrontation is that no one intervened.
‘Nobody on the train really spoke up,’ she said.
"I hope the video can make people aware of this issue and stop racism in Australia.
“There were about 15 people on the carriage but no-one did anything.”
And, on reflection a few hours after the incident, more than that young man’s actions were disturbing to me. This was a very public act in a very small space. Everyone at that café heard the incident and many saw it. However, only one patron came up after the incident.
I’ll tell you how this feels. It tells you that it’s easy for a lot of people to say they appreciate these values and support these ideals, but they’ll risk nothing for it. And you, the easy target, you don’t get support, you just get essays and agreements in safe places.
The bystander effect is really powerful and pretty shameful every time it shows up.
This video came out last year in response to a rise in similar incidents in the UK and it talks about safe, effective methods to disrupt these sorts of incidents when you see them occurring:
I would like to think I would object, I did once at a place I worked but I knew the guy was harmless, but intervening with an obviously deranged stranger by yourself is not a recipe for success in today’s world. If I was with other friends I could do it, by myself, I just don’t know.
I half-expect a crazy person to have a gun.
In these type of critical mass problems the key is always communication. Just like with individuals living under a dictatorship, noone wants to do anything individually due to the likelihood of extreme punishment, but everyone knows that if enough people got together then they could get what they want.
Unlike under a dictatorship, communicating is really easy on a train. If I was in this situation and the harasser looked violent, I would try to signal or talk to the other passengers to agree with me to intervene together. Not only is that better for me, but it also increases the likelihood of de-escalating. Harassers are usually cowards, most of the time a victim is someone far from intimidating. They will back off if 3+ people approach him. It shouldn’t be hard to get people to agree (unless there’s a weapon involved), as everyone does actually care they just don’t want to get hurt themselves.
EDIT: I say this as someone in Australia. I just realised in the US these people will often be concealing a gun, which makes it more scary.
This also occurred to me, not too long ago. I posted about an incident in the cop shooting thread, where I was incredibly conflicted when a fight was starting to break out when both my son and I pulled into a parking spot. A part of me wanted to jump out to try and get cooler heads to prevail but I worried about my kid, a part of me wanted to call the cops but was worried because every cop in my town is white (the person who was not at any fault wasn’t), and I admit a part of me wanted to jump to his defense and try to beat down the racist @$$holes but I kind of expected there to be guns in the other vehicles and again didn’t want to put my son at risk. (I called the cops, btw, and thankfully they defused the situation)
But I can understand people not wanting to get involved when every option has the potential of making things worse. There doesn’t seem to be any easy “This is the right thing to do” response EXCEPT just making sure you do something. But even then, it’s easy to rationalize away inaction.
Right, which is why everybody on the subway should be carrying a gun of their own! Then everyone’s safe!
I don’t understand it. I don’t get a chance. There is no want. I am assuming when they’re done with that person. I’m next. Yes, I have put myself in unknown danger to let someone know that their behavior is not okay. Most the time they back down because they really do think silence is not only consent it’s permission and support. The white man screeching at some random minority thinks all the other white men are in his camp. I refuse to live my life in fear. I drive and walk in a neighborhood where there are two confederate flags hanging up since Trump was elected. If I let fear rule my life, I would be fearful to the point of inaction every. single.day.
I don’t understand because I don’t have that privilege.
I like the idea of not confronting the attacker but simply engaging civilly with the attacked, as if the attacker doesn’t exist. I hope I do that someday if given the chance.
Yeah, and you’re doing the right thing. But people who succumb to fear are real and trying to understand them is important, as that knowledge can inform our future actions in many different ways.
Some people lack the confidence to speak out. Perhaps they’ve done so in the past, whether in a similar situation or perhaps with an abusive loved one, and it made things worse. Perhaps they’ve been shouted down so often they don’t believe they have the right to speak up. Possibly they think speaking up is what will make them next.
But all of these people are potential allies, and allies are needed in a struggle for the cultural soul of the nation. These same people are the ones most easily manipulated by fear-mongering talking heads in the media who have learned what makes them tick and manipulated them into being quiet sheep to be herded along. That submissive silence is the end result.
So if someone feels they don’t have a voice, we need to give them one. If someone feels powerless, we need to make them feel empowered. If someone has been hurt, we need to help them heal and feel safe. If someone feels defeated, we need to help them win. As these actions take root, their voices will grow from a murmur to a roar. Then we’ll all be side by side, an unstoppable march toward progress.
I was thinking the same thing. “Hey don’t I know you?” And trying to steer them away
It’s not always that simple. I intervened to stop a man from attacking a woman (whom he did not know) at a campground many years ago. He subsequently chased me around with a knife and only stopped when the campground owner told him that he would burn his passport if he didn’t leave. So he left, with his passport, and waited outside the campground for me to leave. So there we had a standoff for 8 hours. Finally, he left (food? bathroom?) and my friend and I ran as fast as we could – for 1.5 miles or so – to jump on a ferry and leave the island. He chased us the whole way. It was fucking terrifying.