They thought he was a snitch so they beat the crap out of him, in public, on camera. And nobody did a darn thing to stop them. Now this is not the first story about unresponsive bystanders, there have been studies and articles and whole areas of sociological work based on this phenomenon. I am interested in something a little different. The news media, in reporting this story, took a remarkable position by the way in which they reported the story. The slant was that this was a terrible thing because he wasn’t a snitch. So according to the media, the problem with this whole incident was that the people administering the beating were mistaken ?????? I took from this that if, in fact, he had been a “snitch” of some kind, the news would have applauded the beat down. Since when do we approve of gang vigilatism? If he was a corporate whistleblower rather than a suspected street snitch would it be ok to assault him? The wheels of justice don’t grind at all without “sources” at all levels of the legal system. And, don’t we teach our children to stand up for what is right. And couldn’t you be considered a “snitch” if you did this. I remember many discussions with my son about what you have to or should tell adults about what your friends are doing. He is intensely loyal and felt strongly about not ratting out friends. The deal we struck was that if the activity in question would harm the kid or others, he had to tell and we would do our best to keep it anonymous. But we would do what had to be done. We all decided we could live with that. And I explained to him that it often doesn’t make you popular to stand up for what is right, to tell on people when they might harm themselves or others. The person might never speak to you again, but isn’t it better to have a safe, healthy ex-friend than a dead friend? Tough trade off but a necessary one if you are going to live an ethical life. And I would never have expected that my son might endure a beating if he tried to do the right thing but I suppose it could have happened. Would the news applaud if silence meant a teen suicide? Or a high school shootout? No, they expect the kids to tell. But why should they if message we send is tell and we’ll stand by and watch when you get beat up for telling.
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