Friday, August 01, 2008

Cowardice and Culpability

CD in Play: The Future Sound of London, Dead Cities

The big story in Canadian news is the attack and beheading of a 22 year old aboriginal male in Manitoba aboard a Greyhound bus. (See the CBC website for the story, Geo's computer won't allow me to post the link) Tim McLean of Winnipeg, MB was heading home after working a carnival in Edmonton, AB. As he was snoozing in his seat a 40 year old passenger named Vince Weiguang Li (from Edmonton) pulled out a what sound like a large bowie knife and proceeded to stab Mr. McLean repeatedly, calmly and dispassionately. Two witnesses have described the scene and when people realised what was going on they fled the bus. The driver disabled the bus and Mr. Li was locked in side by a passenger holding the doors shut. Mr. Li decapitated Mr. McLean, showed the young man's to the people outside and sat in the drivers seat. He eventually attempted to escape out a window and was apprehended at that time. Cannibalism has also been mentioned in the story in the Globe and Mail.
It is horrific and baffling what happened. I caught some of the comments on this story on the CBC website. The trolls and reactionaries are out in force are out for blood on this one, with accusations of cowardice against Mr. McLean's fellow passengers. I find that many people who are quick to call others cowards are usually the first to go running to others for protection when confronted with a threat. The accusations bother me because I am not a coward when it comes to standing up for other people, but I honestly cannot say what I would have done in the place of anyone on board the bus. It would have been great to read about witnesses subduing Mr. Li at great personal risk and applying pressure to Mr. McLean's wounds until the paramedics could arrive and rush him to hospital. But that didn't happen and I don't think we can make accusations of cowardice against anyone on board either.
Mr. Li was said to be very unemotional in the attack, quite normal prior to the attack. There were no signs of agitation, no verbal outbursts just action. Mr. McLean began to scream and people are suddenly confronted with a horrible act in their midst. It is a horrific thing to see. I have never seen anything quite like this, but horrible things can leave you stunned for a moment. Had the witnesses Garnet Canton and Cody Olmstead decided to tackle Mr. McLean's assailant, chances are there would have been three dead men on the bus. Instead, Mr. Olmstead alerted the other passengers as to what was happening and got them to leave the bus. Mr. Li came after the driver, Mr. Canton and Mr. Olmstead with the knife and attempted to slash them. Mr. Canton held the doors shut as Mr. Li tried to get out.
I have stood up to many people at great personal risk to myself, some of this people could have easily killed me or done serious damage. However, I do not know how I would have reacted on that bus confronted with Mr Li and his actions. I don't think many of you really know either. The people on the bus have their own nightmares to sort through now, they don't need anyone who wasn't there pointing fingers.

CBC's story:

A separate story of a man from Surrey who was stabbed coming to someone's aid:

In Addendum

I was talking with Geosomin today and we were talking about this story and the concept of heroism. Geo mentioned that she found it troubling how people are dwelling on the ghoulish aspects of the case. Natural I suppose, but think what people should really be discussing is the state of mental Health in Canada. For too long our "leaders" have pushed the issue aside, unless it is to make cuts to the Mental Health system. I know British Columbia is facing a Mental Health crisis, but so is the whole of the country according to an article in the Globe and Mail about a month back.
Something constructive needs to be done and done soon to prevent people like Mr. Li from falling through the cracks. The past couple of years have shown me the problems facing this country on the mental Health front and I fear this is the first of other grim incidents that could happen in this country.


Anonymous Gavin said...

I really don't know what I would have done on that bus. When I see two people fighting I get the hell out - never get involved in a fight that's not your own.
But this - I just don't know what I would have done. When it comes to someone else's actions, it's easy to praise and it's easy to judge, I guess.

04 August, 2008 10:30  
Blogger Magnus said...

The police always advise people to not get involved as it is more likely for the outside person to become yet another statistic - like the guy in the Surrey story I put the link up for.
It is a hard call on getting involve or not - even harder when it is something absolutely horrifying.

04 August, 2008 13:34  
Anonymous Gavin said...

The other thing is that one does not want to encourage vigilantes.

04 August, 2008 19:10  
Blogger the Bag Lady said...

This story disturbed me greatly. I was tempted to post something about it on my blog, but finally decided against it.
Personally, it is difficult to say what my own reaction would have been to the situation, but I have given it a great deal of thought. My first inclination would probably have been to try to aid the poor fellow who was being attacked, but after much consideration, one has to realize how difficult it would have been to subdue Mr. Li in the confined space afforded by the bus. Unless confronted by the actual situation, one can never know for sure how they will react. Hopefully, none of us will ever have to find out. I cannot fault those people on the bus for leaving - self-preservation is, after all, one of our innate instincts.

I also wonder, having heard on one news story that the police negotiated with him for several hours, why they didn't just shoot the f**cker. They had 37 witnesses to a brutal, unprovoked attack...there was no doubt of his guilt, and it certainly would have saved the taxpayer's millions of dollars.
Yes, I know, that was a terribly politically incorrect thing to say, and that he's probably mentally ill, but we will now spend millions trying to determine that fact, and trying to fix him, and it would have violated his civil rights if they had shot him, etc. etc., but what about the civil rights of the young man he murdered?

I could go on and on, but you're probably well bored now. Bet you're hoping Geosomin gets home soon so I can go rant on her blog...

Really just wanted to stop in and say that your perogies sounded fabulous!

10 August, 2008 09:51  
Blogger Magnus said...

B.L. - Shooting someone would be a lot harder than people imagine. I have known a few people who have been put in that potential position and all have been glad never to have done it. I for one would hate to see our Police acting as Judge, Jury and Executioners.
The Police actually did what they should have done in this case. Besides shooting anyone results in bad press, a tonne of paperwork and red tape. Also mandatory sessions of counseling.

11 August, 2008 17:29  

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