The Lessons of Cleveland

The relief we all feel after the rescue of those three women (and a child) from the monsters who had kidnapped them in Cleveland is unfolding as a horror story that should terrify any parent. The fact that three women (girls really) were kidnapped, two in broad daylight, and held prisoner for a decade is astonishing for many reasons. One reason that struck me was the fact that they had been held that long,  without anyone noticing anything unusual about the home or the suspects.

I suppose we could write it off as a commentary on how fragmented and isolated we have become as a society. When I was growing up in Oak Park, everybody knew their neighbors. They also knew each others’ business as well, which as a kid who sometimes got in trouble I hated, but as a parent now I appreciate.

But what happened in Cleveland is less a commentary on the isolation of modern society as it is on the disparity of public safety in a class-driven society. It turns out that several times over the years neighbors, and possibly even the victims, had called the police to the house, but the police never responded.  This was a lower class neighborhood and the reality is that the poor (and especially poor women) are often discounted by the authorities. If this had been a complaint in an affluent neighborhood, do you think they would have responded to a complaint about women being abused the first time? Of course.  If a 9-1-1 operator had received the call made by the victim from a rich neighborhood, do you think that the dispatcher would have been as casual, telling the girl that they would send a car around when “one became available”? Of course.

Still, in the end, someone was willing to help these women and (eventually) the police did show up. We should be happy and hopeful for the victims, angry and righteous about their abusers and maybe a bit more willing to help out our neighbors. 

2 Responses to The Lessons of Cleveland

  1. My God, I never thought of it that way, but you’re absolutely, 110% right. But nothing beats the story of Elisabeth Fritzl, the poor girl in Austria who was locked in a basement for 24 years while her father, Josef Fritzl, raped her and impregnated her with seven children. TWENTY-FOUR YEARS. I can’t even wrap my mind around that, especially since they were locked in a place the size of a New York City apartment where there were no windows and thus no sunlight. I’m just amazed Elisabeth didn’t take her own life after a couple years, or even one year. I have a strong will but I think I would still have my limits as to how much I would have hoped for under the thumb of this monster and called it quits. In any case, both stories are horrible.

    BTW, I wanted to put my fist through something when the pro-lifers published an article about how Amanda Berry’s daughter was a good thing that came out of all this. A good thing? Why? Because it’s a new life regardless of the suffering (rape, imprisonment) that caused this conception? Life for the sake of life is such a wonderful thing? When I found out that Ariel Castro forced the abortions of fetuses conceived by one of the other woman, my immediate thought was that it was for the best that these kids were not born. Now, before anybody jumps down my throat (though I’m sure somebody will anyway) I completely condemn Castro’s actions, the way he starved and beat up that woman every time she got pregnant. I just think that things would have been much worse had more children been there– worse for the women and the children themselves. Conversely, you can bet that the same pro-life group would have forced her to have those babies. That said, now that the one little girl is here, I can only hope that she gets rehabilitated and is able to lead a good life.

  2. BTW does anybody have any insight as to why I cannot post comments with my WordPress account? Lately I’ve had to use my Twitter account when posting to WordPress blogs. Has anybody else had this problem?

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