In southern China two weeks ago, a 2-year-old strayed into the street. A minivan knocked her down and then ran over her. A security camera caught that and showed the next several minutes, during which almost 20 motorists and passersby ignored her. Then a second vehicle ran over her.
Finally a 59-year-old rag collector pulled her to the side of the road, and soon after her mother showed up and took the girl to the hospital, where doctors declared her "brain dead." The girl has since died from her injuries and two men have been arrested for her death, but the Chinese continue to wonder whether their society is heart dead. You can see the video at Firstpost of the girl being hit, but-WARNING-it's miserable and may be disturbing.
The story has spread throughout China and generated much commentary about what's gone wrong in Chinese society. It's reminiscent of the conversation in the United States following the stabbing death of Kitty Genovese in Queens, N.Y., in 1964. According to a headline in The New York Times, "Thirty-eight Who Saw Murder Didn't Call the Police." The Times lead was, "For more than half an hour thirty-eight respectable, law-abiding citizens in Queens watched a killer stalk and stab a woman in three separate attacks in Kew Gardens."
That was factually inaccurate. As later authors wrote, none of the 38 watched, and most heard something but didn't grasp the seriousness of the situation. Still, enough was awry, and the Times had such respect, that the killing has become a staple of social psychology textbooks, prompting much writing about American callousness. China's going through that discussion now, but this time the story is not hyped: The video makes it indisputable that something is very rotten.
One final note: Genovese's brutal murderer, Winston Moseley, went to prison and is still there. He's now 76, and a parole board has 13 times turned down his request to be freed. His next parole hearing is scheduled for next month.