Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Europe's beggars more humane than its youth?

"Boys will be boys", goes the old saying. What to make, then, of this appaling story out of Germany?
From Wednesday's Cyberpresse we read of teenaged males whose sadism is so extreme that it stirs the dormant dignity of homeless bystanders and prompts them to chivalrous action, resulting in a huge street-wide brawl.
[Translated from the french, by myself, in exasperation with blogger crashing and making me have to do this twice over]

An Attempted Suicide Causes Brawl

Police in the [south-western German] city of Lörrach, next to the swiss border, are investigating 11 people in the wake of a general brawl which broke out after a group of youth encouraged a distressed woman to throw herself off the top of the town hall, according to a spokesperson for the woman, on Wednesday.
These people, mostly youth between 16 and 19 years of age...are primarily wanted for voluntarily causing injuries [not sure how to translate "sont notamment soupçonnées de blessures volontaires"]...
The fight broke out Monday in a busy space in front of the city hall, where a young 21-year old
woman had climbed to the top of the building with the intention of ending her days.
A crowd of onlookers gathered at the spot. Many young men
began shouting, “go ahead, jump!”
to the [desperate woman.] Homeless people from the area objected and a fight broke out,
involving up to 40 people. The police intervened to separate the two
groups and six police officers were lightly wounded.
The young woman agreed to come down from the roof and was taken to a

The short account tantalizes with its brevity, leaving so many questions unanswered. What were the other people saying and doing, on this busy streetcorner, while the psychopathic youth were trying to provoke a suicide? Was the fist fight only between homeless beggars and sadistic youth, with other "respectable" citizens just standing by, idly watching the mounting debacle?
If so, their disinterest appalls me even more than the brutish teenagers.
What does it say about a person's heart that they see a fellow human being in such obvious distress, and their instinct riles them to urge them to leap off a building? And even more tellingly, what does it reveal about witnesses to such barbarity, that they remain content to watch and do nothing?

1 comment:

truepeers said...

I once was walking around Vancouver's Stanley Park sea wall and when I came to the Lions Gate Bridge I saw a police boat at the base of the bridge and traffic stopped above. A few people were on the sea wall looking up, though most kept walking. There was someone up there thinking about jumping and the police were trying to talk him/her down.

One of the sea wall people who couldn't move on, but was transfixed by the scene, was a young man who kept saying to me, as if to excused his craned neck, "it's so sad that someone would do this in such a beatiful place.." or words to that effect. I found it somewhat revolting that this was an occasion for sentimental expressions between strangers and moved on. There is something about a potential suicide setting a scene that we just don't know what to do with. Still, that's no excuse for these young people in France, turning an uncomfortable situation into a bloody desire for the easy and spectacular way out of the scene. I'm glad the homeless gave them what they deserve. But whoever these "youth" were, you have to worry if one nasty group of "jeunes" in France will only serve as a mimetic force encouraging the rest to similar corruption, like white suburban kids mocking hip hopsters. Let's hope enough "homeless" will arise and take back their country.