The Ruttle Report - The Frustrating Age of 'Slacktivism'

You know that saying of, “If you see something, say something”?  I think more people in this world need to act on a modified version of that phrase:  if you see something, DO something.

Last week, the big story in the Saskatoon news scene was of an attack suffered by a lone woman at the hands – and legs – of a group of kids.  The assault happened on Victoria Day in Pleasant Hill Park.  The woman, identified as Bonnie Halcrow, was visiting the city from Manitoba, and she became the victim of a handful of kids after she called them out for harassing a nearby man.  When the kids realized Halcrow was filming them, that’s when they got violent.

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Amidst the chaos, Bonnie’s 10-year old daughter could only watch, cry and scream as her mother was punched and kicked.

Meanwhile, another nearby man in the park managed to catch the whole thing on camera and submitted it to police and CTV News.

I found two things about this incident equally disturbing.  The first is this absolutely gross act of assault by a group of kids who are apparently auditioning to be future violent offenders.  The second is the man’s cowardice, which prevented him from putting down the camera and actually doing something to help the poor woman.

I know, I know, what COULD one actually do in this situation?  You can’t lay your hands on any of these kids because they’re protected by their young age and by a society that seems to condemn ANY kind of accountability when children do wrong.  I understand the liability involved in him getting physically involved, but there was nothing stopping him from grabbing hold of the woman and helping her get to safety.

I also don’t accept the reasoning that he gave media in the days afterward, in which he was quoted as saying, “It didn’t make me scared because I could beat all these kids, I could have done something, but I didn’t do anything. I’m going to get my permanent residency soon and I don’t want anything to do with police. I didn’t want to do anything anyways because these are kids.”

What a hero.  Can we get a round of applause for him?

‘Well, what would YOU do in that kind of situation, Derek?’, I can hear you asking.  Well, first off, have you seen me?  I’m basically a grizzly bear without the excess fur.  If a group of snot-nosed little offenders see me coming, they’re going in the opposite direction.  And if not, well, I think I can withstand a few kicks and punches while at the same time shielding a woman and getting her to safety.

Listen, we can play ‘What I’d Do’ all day long, but the reality is that this kind of “slacktivism” happens all the time and gets plastered all over social media.  ‘Watch This Video of a Dog Trapped on Railroad Tracks!’; ‘See What Happens when a Truck Rolls Over on Young Man!’; ‘Racist Rant Heard in McDonald’s!’

We've become a society that would rather RECORD something than actually DO something.

There’s a cartoon drawing from a couple years ago that really brings this point home.  It depicts an assault on a woman that’s about to be carried out in a dark alley.  As the perpetrator comes at her with a knife, she’s screaming, ‘Won’t somebody DO something?!?’

We see assorted people in random apartment windows looking down at the attack, all of them with a shameful look on their faces as they continue living their lives.  Two or three of them are on their phones tweeting, ‘#JusticeForHer’.  Another pair are on their laptops typing, ‘I’m with her’.  Nothing concrete gets done to help this poor woman, and we can all only imagine what unspeakable horrors come to her.  Nobody even thinks to actually dial 9-1-1.

It points out our Western society’s growing “half stance” on things such as injustice or other important issues in our world.  We would rather pump out hollow phrases to look like we care about something to get those Facebook or Instagram likes and praise that we crave so much than actually do something of relevance that serves to help.

In the days following the Pleasant Hill Park attack, police charged a 13-year old teen girl with assault.  Other kids who were identified by police, but since they’re under 12 years old, they won’t be charged.

Hey, at least one kid being held accountable for her actions is a start.  But it’s too bad that there is such uneasiness, tension and outright violence in a neighborhood that is perhaps ironically called Pleasant Hill.

For this week, that’s been the Ruttle Report.

© The Outlook

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