Friday, March 24, 2006

What Would You Do?

Primetime on ABC last night devoted an hour to various ethical scenarios largely involving race and hidden cameras. That's always amusing.

Scenario 1: Three elementary school bullies gang up on a fat kid in a park.

Two interesting things emerged from this scenario. 1) Women are more likely to intervene. 2) When the young actors portraying the bullies dressed "tougher" (i.e., wore hoodies and backwards baseball caps), people were more likely to quickly intervene.

Nevertheless, it was pretty sad to see grown people stand around and do nothing while a bunch of ten-year-olds terrorized another kid. 66 people walked by, looked concerned, but kept going. 18 people stopped, 11 of whom were women.

Both the bullies and the victim were white, so race wasn't an issue in this dilemma. I would've liked to see if people would've intervened quicker or slower if the bullies had been black and the victim white and vice versa.

Best intervention: A woman carrying a newborn baby marched over, screamed at the bullies, and escorted the fat boy to safety. She made everyone else look like a punk, basically. ;)

Scenario 2: Black couple arguing in a suburban park in Georgia.

Primetime did this scenario last fall with a white couple in New Jersey. In both cases the "boyfriend" is clearly a threat to the "girlfriend." He grabs the woman's hands, grabs her clothes and swings her around, puts her in a choke hold, berates her, etc.

The response rate to the woman's predicament was piss poor. Only 15 out of 58 passersby stopped. However, that was three times as many people who responded for the white actress in Jersey. Hmm? What does this mean?

But the response was still questionable. The people that confronted the black boyfriend told him "take it someplace else." In other words, we don't care if you assault your woman, just don't be crass enough to do it in our park. Nice.

When the people who'd walked by were interviewed, they were honest about why they didn't intervene -- they were afraid that the black man might have a weapon, so the black woman was just assed out. Mysteriously, most people didn't even seem inclined to call 911.

Best intervention: One woman walked over to the man and told him to leave. She shamed some other passersby into using their cell phone to call 911 and she then escorted the black woman away from the boyfriend.

Scenario 3: Racist cab driver. One white, one black, one test done in New York, the other in Savannah, Georgia.

Almost everyone failed this test. Both in the North and in the South, once the racist cabbies started making their comments, people affirmed his views and added their own or at best remained silent. Only 7 of the 49 passengers confronted the cabbies.

A Puerto Rican woman gets in the white racist's cab. "People with brown skin shouldn't be allowed in the country," he says. She says that's not true, everyone's allowed in this country, etc. Then she negates everything by saying that Asians are bad drivers because "They can't see right or left." She was totally unapologetic when interviewed after getting out of the cab.

A young Jewish man and two Latina girls survived the ride by laughing and smiling and trying not to be confrontational.

Nastiest Northern Passenger: An old Jewish woman in the cab with the racist black driver followed up his anti-Arab statements with this gem: "If it were up to me I'd put them all on a plane and send them to Ali-Baba," whatever the fuck that means. She insisted that she wasn't a racist when interviewed at the end of her ride.

Obvious Southern Redneck: This was a given. The night wouldn't have been complete without the Southern white guy who said, "I'd like to go target hunting Mexicans and Puerto Ricans. What I hate worst is a lazy ass nigger, especially a Savannah nigger. They don't have to work for that paycheck and there's white trash that feel the same way."

Obviously he's not white trash.

When interviewed afterwards he, of course, said he was not a racist. "It's just a joke. We're all children of God."

Most Troubling Southern Passenger: A woman visiting from Arizona started by saying how multicultural her state is. Then she fucks it up and says that Atlanta where she grew up is "like Cuba" and people don't speak English. And she agrees with the driver that Jews control everything and the black driver shouldn't expect a tip from them.

The kicker?

She serves on her company's diversity committee.

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