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They Shot Video, But Didn’t Call

August 26, 2012
Mike Myer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

A couple of Steubenville High School students are under arrest, accused of raping a girl. Others may have been involved, I'm told. Video and/or pictures of the attack may have been posted on the Internet.

In Morgantown, five young men from New York and New Jersey have been charged with beating a Texas man severely. The assault occurred in downtown Morgantown and was taped on a surveillance camera at a business. Police are asking that anyone who used a cellphone to shoot video of the assault come forward.

What do the two vicious crimes, one in Ohio and one in West Virginia, have in common? Several things - all of them disturbing.

No one who's been arrested is guilty of anything until convicted in a court, of course. But assuming the alleged crimes occurred - and remember, there's video in both cases - there are remarkable similarities in the two situations.

In each case, a group of young men brutally assaulted someone in a semi-public situation. In each case, people shot pictures and/or video rather than intervening in the victim's defense. And in both cases, the alleged perpetrators knew they were being photographed and apparently didn't care.

How does this kind of thing happen?

You hear all sorts of accusations in such cases. One is that spoiled brats and their parents, who bail them out of every scrape, are to blame.

I don't know much about the alleged culprits in Steubenville or Morgantown, so I have no way of knowing whether a sense of entitlement contributed to decisions to hurt other people. But it does happen.

Where does the route to a vicious teenager or young man harming someone badly begin? It starts in kindergarten when someone's little darling is accused of hitting another child, and his mother takes up for him. A few years later, a teacher may call home to inform mom and dad their child is in the habit of openly disrespecting adults. Again the parents defend their child.

And again and again ...

At what point is the habit formed? And why don't parents in such situations see that a pattern has taken shape?

But that isn't the most disturbing thing about the Steubenville and Morgantown assaults.

In Steubenville, some of those who used cell phones to record the attack may have posted their videos on the Internet. That is both disgusting and astounding.

It's upsetting because of the callousness of posting video of a sexual assault where millions of people may see it. It's astounding for the same reason. Did it not occur to anyone - in Steubenville or Morgantown - that digital recordings of the attacks are exceedingly helpful to police and prosecutors?

To put it another way: Just how stupid are the creeps involved in the two assaults?

But here's what's most worrisome: Apparently several people watched and photographed the assaults, but did nothing to stop them. They used their cell phones to take pictures - not call the police.

Here's hoping those folks are prosecuted, too.

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