Headlines featuring acts of violence are copious, and depending on the shock value, these reports often illicit a proportional reaction from the citizenry, lobby groups and even politicians.

But the recent case involving a 15-year-old California girl who was gang-raped in front of as many as 20 witnesses for more than two and a half hours has slipped by as just another tragedy to add to the list.

Yet I noticed that those who discussed it in private circles expressed their shock with a whisper, accompanied by a befuddled look on their faces. There is something very unique about this event. It marks a low point in our collective moral psyche that we must challenge.


One of the methods we choose to deal with tragedies is to identify markers that would signify how it could have been prevented. There is hardly an event more troubling than a seemingly random one, where a victim is inexplicably chosen in a heinous crime. This 15-year-old girl could have been you, your daughter, sister, etc. She was attending a homecoming dance at Richmond High School in San Francisco, and was attacked outside on school premises. As the attacks began, more people came to watch. Some joined in, some cheered and jeered while others took cellphone videos and images.

The scene is reminiscent of the savagery of the Dark Ages, where human beings were barely recognizable from beasts. The girl was admitted in critical condition after being airlifted to hospital. Although I would like to believe this could never happen in my beloved Canada, I am not convinced. In a world of scientific breakthroughs and high-tech info technology, where is the soul of humanity headed as we increasingly deny the precious worth of other human beings?

The Parents Television Council just released its report, highlighting a concern about an increase in violence against women in prime-time network programs. This age-old, venerable warning has been repeated so often that it now seems antediluvian considering the explosion of the Internet and violent video games. Sadly enough, if depictions of violence, sex or a mix of both are on the rise in the media, it is reflective of the ravenous appetite of the consumer.

There are many voices of reason and ethics reverberating their warnings to a society descending into barbarism. We can no longer afford to be inactive bystanders. We can begin by limiting intellectual junk food and embracing the timeless virtues of intimacy with friends and loved ones. As a bonus, our kids will love us for it in the long term.

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