Is this the type of society we want to create?

Last updated 05:00 19/05/2015
Pamela Geller

Political blogger Pamela Geller speaks at the Muhammad Art Exhibit, where two gunmen opened fire.

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When president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, Pamela Geller, held a "Muhammad Art Exhibit" including a draw the prophet competition, she received death threats, and two gunmen were themselves shot dead at the scene.

What interests me are the comments this situation has drawn. By far the majority of comments relate to Geller inciting the violence aimed at her.  

The general public appears to believe that if she wasn't so provocative she wouldn't be a target, which is probably true, but hides a much larger issue.

When did we decide that blaming the person attacked was the way to prevent crime?

Was it when we heard of a drunk girl being raped and assumed that if she was sober she would not have been attacked? 

Was it when we started to tell our sisters and friends not to walk alone at night because danger lurks at every corner? It's good advice and may lower the risk of being attacked.

Statistics show that in New Zealand up to one in five women will experience sexual assault as an adult. Think about that. You know these people; they are your mothers, your sisters, your daughters, your co-workers and your friends. 

Do we really believe that all these girls could have avoided attack by changing their behaviour? Yet, somehow, we allocate at least part of the blame to the women in these situations. The victims. 

Geller is being treated in a very similar way. Metaphorically she wore a revealing outfit and got a bit drunk. Was it appropriate?  Maybe not. But she has the legal right to express her political beliefs and should be protected by freedom of speech. 

The men that deliberately planned an attack on her, who armed themselves and wanted to kill her, they broke the law. Yet, somehow, she retains the blame in this situation. 

Have we resigned ourselves to the fact that violent people exist and are just looking for an excuse to kill? Do we accept that rapists abound and are just waiting for an opportunity to attack?  

We seem to think that the only thing we can do is avoid being the one to draw these people's attention. We just hope we are not the ones who get attacked.

Do you remember the terrible accident that befell Roy Horns of Siegfreid and Roy when a tiger attacked him and almost killed him?  We had sympathy for him but at the same time there was a general understanding that when you work with tigers there is a risk. Perhaps he put himself in danger a little. No-one blamed the tiger. The very nature of a tiger is to hunt, to attack and to kill prey.

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But why is no one blaming the rapists or the jihadists who tried to kill Geller?  Do we just accept that their nature is to attack and they are not in control of themselves?   

Are they, like tigers, not able to reason or be expected to follow laws?

The comments made about Geller bringing trouble on herself help us to create a world where we blame the victim and make no effort to stop the attackers. 

We are normalising and accepting violent behaviour. The more we do that, the less we do to actually fix the problem.

We are learning in our society that we must modify our behaviour to keep ourselves safe. To stay safe we must live in fear.

Is that the society we want to create?


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