Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Since when was it ok to violently throw someone off a train?

I've just watched the much talked about video of a young man being thrown off a train by a fellow passenger for not having a valid ticket and I have to say I'm horrified.

There are no excuses for the way the young man behaved. Using the F word to someone in the course of their work is just not on. Nor is trying to take a train journey without paying the fare.

However, for a fellow passenger to literally take the guy by the scruff of the neck and put him off the train in such a manner was just as out of order. I suspect that if the young guy had a valid ticket, we'd have seen it by now, but even so, there was no reason for that level of physical abuse. Apart from anything else, it was ill advised.

I just don't think it's for members of the public to take the law into their own hands like that. Fair enough, if he'd been violent towards the conductor, then step in to stop someone getting hurt,  but if he really wasn't for moving, the appropriate thing to do would have been to call the Police and get them to sort it out. This whole thing could have had much more serious repercussions and somebody could have been badly hurt. I think the Scotrail conductor was wrong to accept the offer of help he received to have the guy removed.

If you choose to manhandle a stranger like that, you have no idea what could happen, what chain of events that could set off. I have no time for people who use aggression to try and get their way, whether they are on the "right" side or not.

Here's the whole thing copied from here on You Tube:



What do you think?

13 comments:

Bob said...

If you listen to what the big man says ( and ignore the subtitles shown in some of the videos ), he approaches the guard and says, 'Do you want me to get him off ?' or words to that effect. He doesn't say 'is there a problem here ?'.
So a railway official requests help in dealing with an illegal passenger. Can't see what the problem is.
Apart of course with the usual lefty liberals who would happily sit terrified as yobs take over their country. Afraid to squeak in case they came for them.
The yobs excuse was that he was given 2 single tickets by mistake and he was too drunk to explain himself properly. And that's his excuse. Too drunk to speak up apart from effen an jeffen. Look what you have done to our education system ? Are you guys happy ?

Ellen Arnison said...

I totally agree Caron. The whole thing troubles me greatly because
I think it paves the way for citizen justice, which is also known as mob rule.

Paul said...

I'm going to be horribly fence sitting and see both sides here -

On the one hand, if the "big man" hadn't done anything, everyone on the the train would have sat around waiting for the police - huge disruption for one fare dodging idiot - if I was a passenger, I'd have wanted anything to get him off the train

On the other, of course, it is very dodgy for someone to come and be so physically violent towards the kid.

I don't agree that it could lead to mob rule, this is just one incident

Allan said...

"So a railway official requests help in dealing with an illegal passenger. Can't see what the problem is."

Apart from the fact that it looked like a competition between the conductor and the passanger to see who would be more curt towards each other.

I agree with Paul, and would add that we don't really know from this video whether the passenger was fare doging or was the victim of both an incompitent conductor (in giving him the wrong tickets) and a grumpy conductor.

What this video has shown with relative ease is everyones prejudices in gory technicolor.

Stuart Winton said...

@Bob

"Apart of course with the usual lefty liberals who would happily sit terrified as yobs take over their country. Afraid to squeak in case they came for them".

Couldn't agree more, but there's a difference between that and what was portrayed in the video, thus I have to agree with Caron and Ellen.

Problem with street justice is that in effect everyone makes up their own rules and acts as judge, jury and executioner, which would in the final analysis embolden the neds rather than subdue them.

Do you really want the country run by those members of the public who are physically most able to mete out their own brand of justice when they consider someone else to be in the wrong, judged by their own standards?

And it's ironic that many of those praising this form of summary justice are those who'll happily compose several hundred words on what to do if stopped by the police to have the tyres on their car checked (say). Street justice is fine, state justice is a no no.

There's a difference between turning a blind eye to ASB etc and what happened in the video.

For example, if I see a kid dropping litter then it might be legitimate to point this out and ask them to pick it up (albeit probably pointless), but should I grab him by the scruff of the neck and physically force him to pick up the litter?

@Paul

Yes, thankfully it's just one incident, but presumably if it's regarded as legitimate then it will normalise this kind of thing and thus become the more widespread?

Of course, that's unlikely to happen, because if it did take hold then the authorities would do something about it, as indeed they could well do in this case.

I mean, if a ticket collector made a mistake and accused you of fare dodging would you be happy for a member of the public to summarily eject you from the train? Or if you were wrongly accused of shoplifting. Or if someone took exception to your driving and dragged you out of your car?

Of course, that's not to say that this kind of thing and a lot worse doesn't go on - for example, a drug dealer enforcing a debt - but it's all about the thin end of the wedge, blah, blah..

Bob said...

Stuart..
The elderly rail guard asked a member of the public for assistance in dealing with a fit young lad.
The brave member of the public is now getting pelters while the sheep who sat quietly hoping it would somehow magically sort itself out are now tut tutting and reverting to type.
Do you really want to live in a society of permanent fear from yobs ?

Paul said...

>>Yes, thankfully it's just one incident, but presumably if it's regarded as legitimate then it will normalise this kind of thing and thus become the more widespread?

Or fare dodging would become less likely.

I understand all your points, but there is a balance in society between civil authority and letting people getting away with what they want because they know nothing is going to happen to them.

In this case, I feel the kid strayed onto the wrong side by swearing and being inconsiderate. I don't think he would have been chucked off if he's been polite about the situation.

On the other hand (again!) the "big man" and the conductor should have given him a chance to make amends after the threat of being chucked off had been made.

Stuart Winton said...

Bob, don't get me wrong, I'm the opposite of what you call the "usual lefty liberals" when it comes to law and order, but this just isn't the way to approach these things, as your attempts to spin the whole thing clearly demonstrate.

For example, you contrast the "elderly guard" with the "fit young man" as if they were in some kind of fight or whatever, but the fact is that the guard was hardly a small bloke himself, he showed no signs at all of being intimidated by the lad, and there was little to suggest any physical danger of any kind (until of course your "brave member of the public" stepped in).

You also said that the guard "asked for assistance". Not quite - the "big man" offered help and the conductor accepted. Not quite the same. In your first post you claim the offer was "Do you want me to get him off ?" rather than the "is there a problem here?" in the subtitles. This makes a difference?

The fact is that the conductor should never have accepted the offer of help in the first place. Apparently the police had already been called, and that was in fact how the conductor "asked for assistance". Surely the intervention was entirely disproportionate for a member of the public, and could have ended in who-knows-what, with either the 'big man' or the 'yob' being seriously injured or worse.

And where do you draw the line? Check out the video on this page of the aftermath of a taxi fare dispute in Bristol. Or the Edinburgh taxi driver who last year "crashed into a customer after he dodged his fare leaving him with serious head injuries has been jailed for 11 months".

Well I assume you wouldn't condone that level of street justice? What about driving the passengers to a police station? Perhaps not - another recent case saw a passenger trying to get out of the taxi in such a scenario, resulting in a six-week stay in hospital and the driver being charged with false imprisonment.

The point is that if you condone that kind of thing then you don't know where it's heading. And the reason I mention those incidents is that I've done a fair bit of taxi driving in my time and know how these things can escalate. For example on one occasion I was punched on the head by a customer who claimed I was trying to rip him off, was threatened on numerous occasions regarding fare disputes and been accused of ripping people off more times than I can remember.

As I see it that's the problem with street justice - if you blur the edges of right and wrong and allow people to take the law into their own hands then this can also lead the original wrongdoers to enforce their own blurred version of morality, justice and punishment, for example on a taxi driver who's acting entirely legitimately.

But to that extent the train incident resonates with me, and essentially it's a case of two wrongs not making a right, and the logical conclusion of condoning this kind of thing is not justice and fairness, but perhaps Ulster-style punishment beatings by people who are thugs and criminals themselves, but think themselves in the right in summarily enforcing whatever rules and boundaries they think appropriate.

And indeed closer to home I often find that many of those coming over all 'yob culture' in scenarios like this week's are themselves cheats and bullies and worse, although I'm not claiming that everyone is the same in this regard.

Paul

Well of course I'm not trying to defend the kid's conduct, but as I said the reaction was disproportionate, and two wrongs don't make a right.

You say what happened could reduce fare dodging if it became widespread.

I daresay you're right, but if that's the upside what's the downside? It surely wouldn't be an unalloyed good thing?

Bob said...

I know what you're saying Stuart but sadly it's got passed the point where people are prepared to put up with the constant bad behaviour of yobs. Any small sign of a fightback against the madness that now infects our society should be lauded.
Apparently there is another ten minutes of the video which shows the yob being even more yobbish to passengers but I've not seen it yet so can't say if it's true or not.
Maybe that would help bring decent people over to the side of law and order rather than feel sorry for a foul mouthed drunk with no respect for our society.

Bob said...

Panic over. It's now business as usual on our public trasnsport...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2075430/Ticket-inspector-stabbed-train-challenging-teenagers-fare.html

The light at the end of the tunnel was indeed a train coming.

Donna@MummyCentral said...

Hi Caron,
Saw we were both mentioned on Scottish Roundup and thought I'd check out your blog.
I think Sam is far from in the right - and being frogmarched off by British Transport Police is just what he needed.
But he's being made a scapegoat for all juvenile crime. People have decided he's a 'yob' or a 'ned' who deserves to be assaulted for all the violence and vandalism that is committed by kids his age.
How can that be right?
Alan Pollock didn't save anyone's life. He just saved a few commuters a bit of time.
Yes, Sam was swearing in front of kids. Out of order.
But do people think it's OK for kids to witness a violent assault? Because they did.
http://www.mummycentral.com/2011/12/16/the-messy-case-of-strangers-on-a-train/

Bob said...

I see 'Sam' also tried to trip up the elederly guard trying to go about his work...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2076718/Sam-Main-thrown-train-Big-Man-You-Tube-hero-tried-trip-conductor.html

'Sam' was very brave when the rest of the passengers were cowering but became a 'victim' when someone stood up to him. T'was always the same.

Stuart Winton said...

And it seems that Main had been mis-sold a ticket after all rather than being a fare-dodger, Bob.

Look, no-one's defending Main's conduct on the train, but Pollock strikes me as a bit of a bully who likes to throw his weight around, and two wrongs don't make a right.

Thankfully both have now been charged with offences, and I hope neither are disproportionately punished as a quasi-political gesture merely because it's a high-profile case - Main has been charged with trespass because he tried to retrieve his belongings from the tracks, which seems a bit harsh - but people can't be allowed to take the law into their own hands.

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