Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Whatcha gonna do??

A few days ago I went to the Post Office. It’s located in a mall and as I exited my car, I had to turn to find the source of loud voices, as did the man exiting the car parked right beside me. Walking towards us was a young couple, arguing in full voice. As my neighbour and I watched, the young man reached out and grabbed the woman, wrapping his arms tightly around her and stopping her from walking. She struggled violently and broke his grasp, then resumed walking towards the mall entrance, but he caught up with her and grabbed her again, restraining her. She again broke free and resumed her forward progress and while he caught up with her, he apparently saw they had witnesses and this time kept his hands to himself.

As the pair walked past us, the man from the next car looked to me and said “What was that all about?” I shrugged and replied “I don’t know, but if he touches her again like that, I’m calling a cop.” My neighbour nodded and we maintained our watchful positions until they entered the mall where the security staff could watch over her.

We have a tenant who is harassing another tenant and we are preparing to evict him. She has a restraining order that he has violated at least twice, and he has been arrested and briefly jailed. There is nothing compelling us to evict him, but his behaviour does violate his lease and we feel that she should not have to lose her home in a place she loves with neighbours who are her close friends because he can’t behave in a civil manner. We served him with notices of breach of his lease and an advance notice of our intent to cancel his lease (in keeping with terms of the lease) and he claims he will be seeing an attorney to fight it.

On an internet forum I frequent, one of the members has recently begun soliciting funds for a charity. At first blush, this might seem innocuous…even laudable…but on closer inspection the “charity” appears to be a scam. Inspection and careful perusal of the associated website revealed a lot of fluffy chatter about the founder’s “cause,” but no explanation as to what that cause might be. No charter, no plan, no pictures of needy victims…just garish photos of a blowsy blonde wearing an excess of clotted make up and trying to look sexy, plus a lot of poorly written hype using too many exclamation points.

When asked to explain her “charity,” its purpose and beneficiaries, Blondie dissembled frenziedly, using a lot of ALL CAPS and even more exclamation points. A great deal of drama ensued, polarizing the participants into “tell the truth” and “quit picking on Blondie” factions. Finally, in a flurry of breathless all caps and punctuation marks, Blondie obliquely acknowledged that the charity was, in fact, herself.

Suggestions that Blondie cease soliciting funds until her charity was legally sanctioned fell on deaf ears. When one of the more erudite members of the community called the fund-raising campaign a scam and threatened to contact Blondie’s state attorney general and lodge a complaint, the “quit picking on Blondie” faction revved its objections to a fever pitch.

I was astounded! Here was an internet scam growing before our eyes, the founder of which admitted that the pseudo-charity was for the purpose of lining her own pockets, and people were strenuously advocating that the whistleblower mind her own business!

Are we our brother’s (or sister’s) keeper? Has the world changed so much since I learned to tell right from wrong that people feel perfectly justified in publicly restraining an unwilling partner, seeking redress for an eviction caused by documented harassment of another, or proudly revealing…and publicly soliciting support for…an admitted fraud?

And why are such acts finding support? This, perhaps, is what baffles me the most.

The man restraining his girlfriend was viewed dimly by my fellow parking lot denizen, but a person doesn’t behave in such a manner in public without feeling justified in doing so. What has gone on in his life…what kind of support has he received…that allows him to think it is perfectly acceptable to restrain an unwilling and struggling woman, in public or in private?

The tenant has been arrested and his victim has a restraining order against him. He has violated the restraining order on at least two occasions and has admitted it. We reminded him of his obligation to not intimidate, harass, or otherwise disturb the peace of other tenants, per the conditions of his lease. So what kind of support has he received for this kind of behaviour that he thinks a court will grant his bid to remain in the flat and continue to harass the victim who lives next door?

And the internet scam…why on earth would a bunch of apparently intelligent people support the person perpetrating the scam instead of the person who reported it to the authorities? Instead of castigating the perp, why are they perceiving her as being “picked on” when she was asked to stop? This makes me feel like I have fallen down the rabbit hole…it makes me question my perception of right and wrong…it makes me wonder if I am out of synch with a world in which right and wrong have swapped places while I wasn’t looking.

I still stand ready to do the right thing…but can anyone tell me what the right thing is anymore?

Photo by navets, Flickr

1 comment:

  1. I agree completely with your post. What is going on with people!!!???

    Here's what I think: People are scared. People don't want to rock the boat. People don't like conflict. And people are indifferent.

    I remember playing in a poker game one time when the host was clearly cheating. This was a game I had friends at, but I was still a bit of a newcomer. I remember the moment where I called the host out on his cheating, thinking I would be speaking for the group. one spoke up on my behalf and I was basically no longer asked to play after that. I was shocked!

    I learned a valuable lesson that day. People will do anything they can do avoid conflict. And at all costs.

    I haven't changed, so i still get myself into trouble from time to time. :)

    Thanks for the thought provoking post.

    Your friend,
    Bring Back Pluto
    "ONE of THE GUYS"


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