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COWARDLY AMERICA 2015? Young Man Viciously Slaughtered; Bystanders Watch, Do Nothing

Here and there, reports have dribbled out about the demonic, July 4th slaughter of a passenger on a D.C. Metro by a knife-wielding, drug-sozzled goon. Bystanders confirmed the college-age Kevin Sutherland was slashed, kicked and stomped to death after resisting his assailant’s attempted cell-phone filch.  

Yes, you read correctly: there were “bystanders“; lots of them, in fact; around ten who witnessed the rampage, but did little else. The term certainly fits with head-hanging precision — they literally “stood by” while Sutherland was thrashed, then slain.  

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One anonymous female spectator conceded, “You’re not really sure what you need to do … I don’t think anyone was going to try and stop him.” 

But of course not! Why would any busy, red-blooded American want to do that? 

A discussion ensued on, among other venues, Laura Ingraham’s radio show, where she rightfully squirmed over the passengers’ refusal to get involved, to do anything practical to aid the victim. “Ought they have intervened?” she pressed her listeners.

From where I sit, the query is a no-brainer: Undeniably, somebody should have done something. 

The punk guilty of this bloody enormity, eighteen-year-old Jasper Spires, supposedly tops out at under five-and-one-half feet tall and around one-hundred-twenty-five pounds. Unless the gawpers who remained paralyzed while this murderous misdeed was unfolding were all part of a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic tour group, there exists zero excuse for their utter non-involvement. None whatsoever. 

On sites like Reddit, et al, excuses for the do-nothing mob proliferated like frightened bunny rabbits — and I’m buying none of it. References were made to the “bystander affect”: big crowds’ reputedly inhibiting individual involvement in stopping an active crime. Additionally, the police discourage civilians from confronting armed thugs, we’re reminded. Stepping in would have been risky. 

Perhaps all of those explanations are true, perhaps they represent the widespread state of mind infesting the American populace. Alas, that only sounds the alarm: it’s time to challenge that status quo

Since we’re talking about a  homicidal onslaught which occurred on the District of Columbia’s Red Line, I’ll assume no one in train car No. 3045  was carrying a firearm which could have halted the assault decisively and instantly. The nation’s capitol? Hardly congenial to gun ownership, let alone concealed or open carry. Outrageous, no doubt — but that’s the way gun laws stand around the Potomac.

So, nobody had a briefcase or purse, a knapsack, even a notebook  they could have wielded as a make-shift shield or even a weapon? What about a cell phone, key ring or pair of shoes to hurl at the assailant? Ten people at minimum works out to twenty pieces of potentially pummeling footwear-artillery. That could’ve done some real damage. A bag of groceries smashed over the hoodlum’s head? An umbrella stabbed into his face? What about one of the commuters’ who was standing behind him simply ramming him into the wall?  

I’m completely serious. None of the above is complicated — each would merely take some guts and a shred of basic fraternal decency for the poor guy being sliced to ribbons before the hapless oglers’ eyes. 

Were there no men on site? I mean males, people with testicles? Has our feminized culture so vanquished old-fashioned, self-respecting masculinity among this Republic’s XY set that a helpless individual can be punched, kicked and  cut or stabbed between thirty and forty times during a three minute rail ride and the guys cowering nearby do nothing meaningful to stop it? 

The men I’ve grown to most admire in my life are certainly not bullies, loud-mouthed, macho bloviators who throw around their testosterone-drenched weight. Those I esteem? Deferential chaps, decent types, compassionate toward others — but who won’t step aside  or study the chandelier while the vulnerable among us are being terrorized or abused. Think of Alan Ladd’s masterful depiction of Shane in that eponymous film. Or Gregory Peck’s stirring portrayal of bespectacled, taciturn Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. Think John Wayne’s Wil Andersen versus the jackal-ish Bruce Dern in the third reel of The Cowboys.  

On this year’s Independence Day,  where were the MEN — physical and temperamental MEN —  on that ill-fated Metro car ? I suspect our forebears, who made possible that annual Liberty celebration, would’ve leapt into action to assist the prone and moaning Sutherland. Where are MEN like that in America 2015? 

Anonymous Passenger said, “My instinct was to stay put and try to become as small as possible … I think we were all trying to stay away from him …”.

Instinct? Are we animals or human beings? I thought the goal was to rise above our brute impulses — be they belligerent or cringing; to surmount them and do what’s right; in this specific case, to “play the man” (2 Samuel 10:12).  

I’m not talking about lashing out from smitten pride or taking personal vengeance. The One who calls the shots in my life talks about “turning the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39) – and He meant it. That said, I think it’s self-evident that mandate isn’t operative when a fellow man is being mercilessly butchered across the aisle from you.

Of course intruding would have constituted a risk to the chivalrous intruder — what difference does that obvious detail make? A man was being mauled to death mere steps from this bunch who “huddled at both ends of the car and watched in horror”. I’m sorry, law enforcement’s counsel to butt-out in scenarios like this is flatly wrong. Once this beast’s blade began it’s sanguineous work? The passivity option no longer applied. Not for honorable folk, at least. 

” Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends ” (John 15:13). Time was, respectable men and women identified that as the imitation-worthy  standard toward which all should aspire. 

Worst of all, it seems this appalling incident stands proxy for an enlarging problem: a nationwide cowardice and accomodationalist fatalism;  a hide-and-protect-yourself reflex which is becoming the norm in play-it-safe, go-along-to-get-along, pleasure-addicted America.

How else to account for: 

— Military leaders‘ quailing before obnoxious atheists who demand every vestige of religion be scoured from our armed forces? 

— Politicians routinely dissolving into appeasing, hanky-twisting babblers before the likes of Sandra Fluke, Al Sharpton and platitude-spouting celebrities? 

— An outfit like ESPN weirdly awarding the hilariously mis-titled “Courage Award” to a former male Olympian for his playing dress-up while faking womanhood? 

–Legalized baby-killing? Mangling the meaning of  marriage? Rationalizing illegal immigration? Accommodating a spiritually and financially bankrupting  Welfare State? 

A young man perished, in part, because a sizable group of onlookers defaulted into cold-hearted detachment. Meantime, a nation is sinking because of the same — though this time continent-spanning — mentality embedded in too many of her citizens. 

I have three adult sons. Had they been aboard D.C. Red-Line Metro No. 3045 that July 4th holiday, I’m confident they would have meddled — forcibly — on Kevin Sutherland’s behalf. It’s possible he’d be alive today if they’d done so. Had my boys, however, joined the stare-futilely-and-do-nothing brigade, instead? They’d be ashamed of themselves today. 

And rightly so. I’d be ashamed of them, too.


Steve Pauwels

Steve Pauwels is pastor of Church of the King, Londonderry, NH and host of Striker Radio with Steve Pauwels on the Red State Talk Radio Network. He's also husband to the lovely Maureen and proud father of three fine sons: Mike, Sam and Jake.

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