It’s bad enough that two people overdosed on heroin right on the sidewalk in Memphis. What is truly horrifying is the gawkers who stood around watching them, laughing — especially Courtland Garner, the monster who livestreamed this video on Facebook. You can hear him laughing and making fun of them. If you watch the video, be warned: there’s lots of profanity in it, including this fool video’ing the thing speculating about having sex with the old woman who is on her knees. It’s NSFW, at least with the audio on.
“I’m gon’ book these folks for a show,” Garner tells the camera. “These folks draw a crowd.”
Garner told a reporter that he didn’t think it was any of his business to try to help those two. This clip he posted is an example of depraved indifference. Every single bystander ought to be deeply ashamed of themselves. Sickos.
UPDATE: Let me say to scandalized readers that I am not after clickbait here. I think this video makes a very strong point about the moral state of our country. You have two people — not young people, but older people — overdosing on heroin on a public sidewalk. This draws attention to this godawful opioid epidemic sweeping the nation (and if you think this is only something that affects the working class and the poor, you really, really need to read Sam Quinones’s great and devastating book “Dreamland”). Second, it shows the moral degradation of the community in which the two junkies collapsed. How can people just walk by and not try to help them, if only just to call 911 and remain with them till paramedics arrive, to make sure nobody hurts them? And the clown filming them for Facebook and laughing about it! There is something very, very wrong with a community that produces people who become junkies, and a community that produces people who walk by people dying in the streets like that, or worse, turn it into a social-media spectacle.
As one reader commented below, if the two junkies had been black, and the people walking past them and/or mocking them and enjoying their suffering had been white, the media would have us all having a very different conversation about the symbolism here.
No matter what the race or income level of the particular society, a society in which more and more people are getting strung out on heroin, and a society in which more than a few people find the shocking suffering of those junkies to be fodder for entertainment and mockery — both are depraved societies. This is a form of depravity, of despair, that politics cannot ultimately address.
What is wrong with us?