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Friday, December 21, 2007

A 'joke' that's not funny

An incident reported in the Star Tribune today has me completely flummoxed.

According to the article, two men in Sartell, Minnesota, have been arrested for cutting off a woman’s underwear in a bar, while other patrons laughed and refused to come to her aid. During questioning by police, the two men apparently didn’t deny the incident took place, instead cavalierly stating that the whole thing was just a “joke.”

A joke? What’s funny about holding a woman down over a bar and forcibly tearing her panties off with a pocketknife while she yells for help? What’s the mentality of someone who can commit such a frightening and humiliating act on another person and not feel any remorse at all? And what about the mentality of the people who watched, laughed and refused to help? I hope I’m not the only one who finds this completely distressing.

The scene brings back memories of the bar-room gang rape of Jodie Foster’s character in the 1988 movie, “The Accused,” which was based on a true story that took place in Eastern Massachusetts. That scene certainly wasn’t funny -- and neither is what these men allegedly did to this woman in Sartell.

In addition, like the movie, this incident forces us to contemplate how we think we would act and deal with a crime being committed right in front of us.

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