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.