There are times
that I read a news story that is so shocking it is hard to
believe. Just recently I read such an article - an AP news item
titled, "Kansas Shoppers Step Over Dying Woman"
It seems that
while stabbing victim LaShanda Calloway, 27, lay dying on the
floor of a convenience store, five shoppers, including one who
stopped to take a picture of her with a cell phone, stepped over
What's even more fascinating is that the June
23 situation, captured on the store's surveillance video, got
almost no news coverage until a columnist for The Wichita Eagle
disclosed the existence of the video and its contents.
"It was tragic to
watch," police spokesman Gordon Bassham said Tuesday.
"The fact that people were more interested in taking a picture
with a cell phone and shopping for snacks rather than helping
this innocent young woman is, frankly, revolting."
It took about two minutes for someone to call 911.
The district attorney's office
will have to decide whether any of the shoppers could be
charged, Bassham said. It was uncertain what law, if any, would
be applicable. A state statute for failure to render aid refers
only to victims of a car accident.
"This is just
appalling," Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams told
the newspaper. "I could continue shopping and not render aid and
then take time out to take a picture? That's crazy. What
happened to our respect for life?"
Though this happened
in Kansas it probably could have happened anywhere. The lack of
respect for another human being is unfortunately seen in many
places when people push each other in an effort to get into a
crowded train. It is seen when people watch a crime take place
and do nothing to help. Road rage is another ugly response that
shows no reverence for the value of another person. I live in a
big city, so I'm not unaware of such actions.
A friend of mine
shared another horrific story with me that took place
in Las Vegas, Nevada. A man dropped dead of a heart attack at a
betting table and no one stopped playing to see if they could
Stories like these
are illuminating. Not just because they show a patent lack of
respect for another human being, but a total disregard for human
life. It's quite possible that even if Calloway had received
immediate help she wouldn't have survived the stabbing, but to
stand and watch the very life flow out of another human being
while you walk right by?
"Where does this horrendous disregard for
human life stem from? How did we reach a point where five
shoppers step over a wounded and dying woman? Where did the
appalling lack of value for human life come from?"
The fact that no news agency
took this story seriously until a video turned up highlights
another issue. No one's word is taken at face value. We haven't
just lost our sense of humanity we have lost our trust in basic
testimony of others. The ugly actions surrounding LaShanda
Calloway were not even considered news until it was known that
there was "proof."
The Kansas story
had an awful ending, but the tragedy didn't start here.
This lack of respect for another living and breathing human
being started before June 23, 2007. It started with the lack of
respect for the unborn human life. And the lack of respect for
the lives of the disabled. And the elderly. And the infirm.
There is even a new term "Mercy Killing" describing the murder
of those who have lost their "quality of life." I guess the
Kansas shoppers felt that once the woman was dying there was
nothing left to do other than gawk and make sure they have good
real time pictures of the tragedy.
That the district attorney's office
has to question if charges can be filed is heartrending!
What a tragic question! Even if the district attorney's office
decides that no charges can be filed against those people I can
press some charges myself. How about a lack of humanity? An
immense quantity of self centeredness? Callousness and
indifference to the suffering of others?
In answer to Wichita Police
Chief Norman Williams' query of "What happened to our respect
for life?" the only correct answer is "Good question!"