No One Can Hear You Scream!

I know it’s not Halloween or anything, but I’m still thinking about city-vs.-country scariness, and this idea (thanks Jen) that in the country, no one can hear you scream.  Another myth on the On The Media myth-busting episode (which I recommend) is an investigation of the famous murder of Kitty Genovese in 1964 Queens, which, according to legend, 38 people heard the crime happening and did nothing.  This is one of the sources of the “city dwellers are heartless, selfish, and lazy” myth.  But according to OTM, it’s not really true.  For one thing, no one knows where the number 38 came from.  Several people DID call the police, who in fact caught the killer. In a creepy side note, several other possible witnesses of the multiple-site murder might actually NOT have heard Kitty scream, because the first attack was so vicious that it punctured her lungs. OTM thinks the story was blown out of proportion at the time as an expression of collective public mourning and guilt over the Kennedy assassination, which is fascinating.  The Bystander Effect, was coined as a way to explain how people can stand around and do nothing: basically, someone else will take care of it.  The effect is real–witness the recent hospital-neglect death cases in NYC–but it wasn’t in operation in the Genovese case.  So if in the country only the trees can hear you scream, when answering the question “Which is scarier?” we should consider whether or not the (city) people are behaving like (country) trees.  Meanwhile, the biggest crime in my hometown is the unauthorized pilfering of rocks from Acadia National Park….



2 Responses to No One Can Hear You Scream!

  1. The highly esteemed Maine local historian, tour leader, and crime chronicler Richard Sassaman kindly shared a law-enforcement tip for the Acadia Park Service in combating their rock-pilfering epidemic, and it’s a tip that fits perfectly with what seems to be “Fright Week” here at MM: threaten would-be thieves with wrathful curses! That’s what they do in the Southwest to people who try to take petrified logs.
    http://weeklywire.com/ww/12-15-97/tw_curr3.html

  2. […] a brief coda to what seemed to be Fright Week last week here at MM (radiation! brutal murder! screaming trees!) I want to clarify my position: I don’t believe cities are inherently scary places, nor do I […]

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