Have the homeless become nothing less than exotic specimens to be observed in their natural environment? Is that how a homeless man could lie dead on the street for a day while people took photos but not one could bring themselves to call the cops?
In a testament to the attractiveness of spectacle at the expense of dignity, sensitivity, and common humanity comes a story out of Houston, Texas, where hundreds of workers and passersby trekked past a half-naked homeless man lying pantsless, dead in the street. But they didn't just walk on past, oblivious to the half-naked body. No, as the New York Daily News reported Oct. 31, people paraded past "Big Guy" for an entire day, many taking the time to snap photos of the man, capturing images of the partially naked corpse on their cell phones.
But they didn't call the police...
How could this happen? It is common and known as the "Bystander Effect," an individual and collective psychological social phenomenon where people refuse to offer aid to a victim when there are others around.
“If they just had used their cell phone to make a call instead of a picture, perhaps this man could still be alive today,” Sgt. Brian Harris of the Houston Police Department, told KHOU in Houston. “I would like to say our city is better than that, I know our city is better than that.”
Apparently it is not...
Police say that the homeless man, known as "Big Guy," was passed by and photographed for at least 20 hours. Most simply thought the man was sleeping. Still, one passerby even placed a sweater over the body, not knowing that the man was dead.
It is believed that the homeless man died of natural causes.