By Andrea Freedman
Recently when I was out taking a walk, I happened to see a young woman in the process of being arrested on one of my neighborhood street corners. The police officer had her on the ground in handcuffs, and as she writhed in protest like a desperate animal, what I found most disturbing was that a group of people were standing around watching for the sole purpose of their own mean-spirited amusement.
The group made no attempt to keep a respectful distance and I was surprised that the officer let them stand so close to the scene. The woman being arrested may very well have done something to warrant it, but she is still a human being and deserved to be treated with even a modicum of dignity.
I was horrified. This was not the first time I had witnessed such low-class behavior (and just to be clear I am talking about the behavior of the spectators, not of the woman who was being arrested) and it made me angry. As I started walking away, I couldn’t help myself from asking one nearby young man why everyone was standing around staring. Before he had a chance to answer me, a woman in the “audience” turned around and said to me “It’s entertainment.” “Yeah, but it’s mean!” I protested.
“!@#% you!” she replied. “Why don’t you mind your own !@#%ing business; I can do whatever I want!” All I could do was shake my head and walk away. I would not have put it past her to start a physical altercation with me and I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t her first time getting into a fight, and so I would in all likelihood not be able to defend myself. Furthermore, I was not confident that the police officer would intervene, seeing as he was already busy arresting the woman in question – with a smirk on his face.
Like I have said in the past, just because something is said to be human nature doesn’t make it right.
I wonder what would happen if things were reversed and if one of the onlookers who were taking such pleasure in this girl’s humiliation were in her shoes and being treated like a piece of garbage in front of a group of strangers.
As much as some of those people might get on their high horses and protest that they would never do anything to get arrested, one of them might find themselves in another potentially embarrassing situation one day that they would not wish others to be witness to.
Everyone has the right to a certain level of respect and privacy, no matter what their circumstances. I think that instead of turning others’ misfortunes (even if they are brought on by themselves) into a spectator sport, we as a society should try to find something else to do for entertainment.♦
Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2017