Saturday, August 02, 2008

What would you have done?

In the wake of the savage Greyhound Bus murder this week, one of the questions that's predictably been asked is why the other bus passengers didn't try to stop the insane knife-wielding psycho. What has become of us? Are we not men? Are we pussies?? Let's roll!

Seriously. If you'd been aboard that bus when the mayhem went down, what would you have done? I think I can say with great certainty that most of us would have done exactly what the passengers on that bus did, self-preservation being a primal instinct that kicks in even before we know it. Consider how fast it all happened -- the victim was probably beyond help by the time the sleepy, shell-shocked passengers even realized what was going on. What could an unarmed passenger have done other than get himself killed or injured?

As much as we might admire the bravery of the Flight 93 passengers who overpowered the terrorists on their plane on 9/11, there's a good reason why the "Let's roll" scenario doesn't play out the same way on the road as it does in the air. In a plane that's been commandeered by terrorists intent on driving it into a building, it's a dead certainty that everyone will perish if they don't do something (and probably even if they do). That's quite different from a bus where there's a reasonable chance of escape.

The passengers on that bus are no doubt traumatized, maybe permanently, secondary victims of the horror they witnessed.
They did the right thing: the only thing, I'd venture, that unarmed, untrained people could do --they got out, kept anyone else from getting hurt, and kept the killer contained in the bus. Tragically, one person died, but given the psychotic rage and madness of the killer, it could have been more. Before anyone supposes they could have done better, they should get some experience in dealing with someone in the midst of a homicidal psychotic episode.

UPDATE: It's worse than I thought. USian Keyboard Commandos, weighing in on what pussies we Canucks are, are taken to task at Sadly No. (Via Chet.)