Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Why do hate crimes at home shock us so?

This sounds like something out of a movie from the 1950's. How awful.

BIG CREEK, W.Va. - Inside a shed on a remote hillside of this coalfield community, authorities say a young black woman was tortured for days, sexually assaulted, beaten and forced to eat rat droppings.

Her captors, all of them white, choked her with a cable cord, poured hot water over her and stabbed her in the leg while calling her a racial slur, according to criminal complaints. It wasn't until an anonymous tip led Logan County Sheriff's deputies to the property on Saturday that her ordeal ended and she was able to limp to safety, arms outstretched as she cried "help me!


Others in the article, including the mother of the 20-year-old victim, kept saying things to the likes of, "I can't believe people like this exist."
"I don't understand a human being doing another human being the way they did my daughter," Carmen Williams said Tuesday from her daughter's hospital room. "I didn't know there were people like that out here."

Which makes me wonder, are we naive to think that our fellow citizens aren't capable of such horrific acts? Has history taught us nothing? Is it awful and defeatist for us to presume that people will continue to perpetuate hate crimes and human rights violations? It happens routinely in many, many parts of the world, so why are we surprised? Certainly this is an inexcusable, terrible occurrence, but if similar things are happening everywhere else in the world, why are we shocked when it happens here? Is that ethnocentric of us, in the same vein as "It could never happen here" or "Not in my backyard" ?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

it is the stuff horror movies are made of.....the unfamiliar inhumanity. the shock factor has a lot to do with where one is coming from, your upbringing, & your own personal morals.
i'm curious, are you not shocked yourself?

Generation Next said...

Anon, thanks for your comment, but please ID yourself somehow so I can keep track of who's saying what.

Perhaps I meant the words 'surprised' or 'unusual' and not 'shocked.' Certainly that story is shocking and awful. My point is that these kinds of human rights violatiosn happen a lot all over the world (and perhaps even here in the US, but are not publicized always).

Your statement about shock factor implies that if one's morals are a certain way (for example, lacking), then one won't be shocked at this. I don't think the majority of citizens would claim to have no morals, and the majority of people ARE shocked.
Why do we only sometimes sit up and take notice?

laura (the original anon) said...

"these human rights violations happen all over the world" i agree with this wholeheartedly.
we only sometimes sit up & take notice when we are involved in the situation (or nearby it) & when it is presented to us via the big screen (hotel rwanda, blood diamond, etc.) or the media.
i think the question to ask is:
why do most of us not do anything to help?
-laura