Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Civilization In Europe And The US

Today I saw a hidden-camera video made in Germany: a man with rather long hair and a scruffy beard, wearing jeans and a denim jacket, pretends to have some sort of collapse in a downtown area. He appears to have trouble breathing, he staggers around, clutches at his chest, and gradually sinks from a standing position down to the ground. Many people stare but walk away. Finally, not long before he would be lying flat on his back, a young woman rushes to his aid. A moment after that, seeming to follow her example, several others run toward him also.

Then we cut to a very close-up camera -- the man who pretended to collapse is standing up again, he's beaming. He tells the people who came to help: "I'm fine. It was only a test. You did very well."

Then the same man gets a haircut, gets his beard trimmed, is put into a very nice suit and coat, pretends to be having the same sort of problem in the very same downtown area -- and almost immediately he's surrounded by people who want to help him.

Among the comments from the people watching the video: refusing to help the man when his appearance was scruffier was, among other deplorable things, "against the law" ("strafbar").

Against the law. I live in the US, and the laws having to do with homeless people vary greatly from place to place. In many if not most localities, homelessness is not treated as a condition requiring that others help, but as a crime itself. I immediately thought of a video taken recently in Florida by a bystander, in which a police officer slapped and arrested a homeless man for trying to use a public restroom.

I also thought of another video made recently in the US: a hidden-camera setup very much like the German one: a person in shabby clothes pretended to be in trouble in a downtown urban area; then the very same person was groomed a bit and put into nicer clothes, and behaved in exactly the same way in exactly the same place. Just as in the German video, the first time, the person in a scruffy exterior was ignored by passers-by for quite a long time, and the very same person after a trip to a salon and put into rich-people clothes was helped immediately.

In the comments of the people watching this video, it didn't seem to occur to anyone that not helping this person in trouble because of an unkempt appearance could be against the law. Oh, by the way: in this video, instead of a man pretending to physically collapse, the person who appeared to be in trouble was a little girl, maybe five years old, screaming for help and pretending to cry.

No comments:

Post a Comment