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The Bystander Effect Returns, Or Does It?

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of this site. This site does not give financial, investment or medical advice.

In March 1964, a young woman was brutally raped, robbed and murdered as she made her way to her New York apartment. Kitty Genovese had been managing a bar in Queens, and it was around 2.30am when she was attacked. Her killer was a psycho named Winston Moseley; he died in prison five years ago.

Although this was a shocking murder, it attracted a lot of attention for a different reason. The claim was made that thirty-seven people had witnessed it but didn’t try to help the victim or even call the police. First reports of crimes are often unreliable because it may take a while for the full facts to come to light, and that was the case here. However, the apparent indifference to a murder on a grand scale led to what has been called the bystander effect.

Notwithstanding the legend that has grown up around this case, the bystander effect is  a real phenomenon. Generally, people don’t want to get involved in violent incidents and similar for a number of reasons, This is understandable, especially in the United States which has more firearms than people and where the shooting of a random stranger over a triviality is a regular event.

However, what happened in Philadelphia on October 13 takes things to a whole new level, or does it? Initial reports claim a woman was raped on a train while other passengers watched and some even filmed it. How many people watched? On October 21, London Metro reported up to ten; three days earlier, the Indian TV current affairs programme Gravitas gave a graphic description turning it into a gendered violence issue; presenter Palki Sharma spouting the usual invented feminist statistics about rape.

But, District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said many of the claims made about this attack were untrue, a security video showed one passenger had recorded part of the “interaction”, but it wasn’t clear this individual fully understood what was going on.

What isn’t under dispute is that this rape should never have happened because the alleged perpetrator is an illegal immigrant who should have been kicked out of the country. Fiston Ngoy (pictured) who came to the United States on a student visa in 2012, should have been deported in 2015. Four years ago he was sentenced to 120 days in prison and nine months probation for what was said to be a minor sex offence. It isn’t clear what that was, but, allowing for the presumption of innocence, he appears to have upped the ante, and if convicted he can expect a substantial sentence.

As for the passenger who filmed part of this attack, before condemning such people it is best to remember that the infamous attack on Rodney King and the murder of Walter Scott were both filmed by ordinary people who were simply going about their business. Doubtless any such film in this case will be Exhibit A when Ngoy is brought to trial. And obviously someone did call 911, which is why this guy is currently behind bars.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of this site. This site does not give financial, investment or medical advice.

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