This morning, on Farningham Road station in Kent, at 7am, three regular commuters met again: a woman aged 58, and two young men:
One of the men was described as white, in his mid 20s, and about 6ft, with a stocky build. He had short cropped brown hair and was wearing beige shorts, a green round-necked T-shirt and trainers.
The other man was white and in his early 20s with a medium build, bright red shorts and a dark top. BBC
Smoking is banned on all train platforms throughout the UK since July 2007. The two men were smoking, as apparently they did habitually: another regular commuter had seen the woman speak to them about this on Monday or Tuesday.
The woman was walking up the platform to catch a London-bound train. She passed the two men. Witnesses say there was a “scuffle”… (The Times) and they pushed her on to the railway line.
She missed the live third rail, 750 volts, by inches. The lone member of staff got the power turned off and pulled her from the line (The Telegraph), and she’s now in hospital with minor burns and a broken wrist, but the police are investigating this as attempted murder.
Now here’s some reactions to this from the British wingnuts on the Times website:
“While it is a terrible crime that these youths have committed, I don’t see why people need to interfere in other peoples’ lives. If people want to smoke, they know the risks on their health and that they could get fined if there is a no smoking sign and if they want to risk the penalty, let them.”
“Dog eat dog. Smokers have been walked all over, so why shouldn’t they do it to others. Contempt breeds contempt. Sensible Germans are showing us the way.”
[Someone who didn’t witness the incident said the woman was pregnant. While not absolutely impossible, the woman’s age is confirmed by several reports and there’s been no other reference to it. I think the reason for asserting this is that there’s just one acceptable reason why a woman can tell a man what to do] “I’m assuming that if she was pregnant she was simply asking them not to smoke near her for the sake of her unborn child.”
“Until thugs like this know what it is to experience fear and feel pain, nothing will change. The Isle of Man used to have the right idea – Birching. Perhaps it is now time for a national debate on ‘Punishment to fit the Crime.'”
“Why ban smoking on an open air platform in the first place and why try and enforce a silly law in the first place???
Especially when it’s not your job and your pregnant and have the safety of your child to worry about.”
“This is a turn about. Usually smokers are in real physical danger from rabid, hate mongering anti-smoker’s who are often verbally abusing them. People have learned to HATE smoker’s to the point of walking across an open field outdoors to say their smoking is bothering them.” (This is actually an American wingnut.)
“Not only should these youths be punished (if caught) but also the parents for raising them to have no respect to other people or the law.”
“Not so long ago the following was published:
POLICE chief has urged the public to be ‘have-a-go heroes’.
Northumbria Police’s chief constable, Mike Craik, said ordinary people should challenge rowdy behaviour, such as drinking or swearing, to improve society.
So now we see what happens.”
Men attacking a woman because the woman has presumed to tell them what to do is nothing new. The raving (which I mostly didn’t quote) on the Times website about how “youth of today” are insolent and rowdy, is just classic crap.
Most of the commenters who respond to the “How dare she tell them what to do” recognise that these are ugly comments. And there may be a part of it with nicotine addicts reacting nastily to a curtailment of their ability to smoke on a station platform. (All the nicotine addicts I know personally actually supported the ban on smoking, because it made it easier for them to cut down on their smoking – which all of them had been trying to do for years.) But at root, I think this is men resenting the idea that a woman – any woman – can tell them what to do.
The whole men under siege nonsense which Zoe Williams ably deconstructs is part of the “pity me, I’m losing my privilege” mindset which Publius takes down with My One and Only Post About the Stupidest Phrase in Politics: “the animosity of the aggrieved. They feel like they are the victims.” Men who feel like victims when they no longer have as much male privilege as they were brought up to expect: whites who feel like victims when they no longer have as much white privilege as they were brought up to expect. (If you are unfamiliar with the concepts “male privilege”, “white privilege”, etc, click on the links before you do a kneejerk rejection.)
A woman. A woman nearly sixty, probably not “attractive” to these two men over thirty years her junior. A woman, telling them what to do, acting as if she had a right to tell them to obey publicly posted rules. An uppity, ugly, bitch.
Margaret Atwood wrote that when she asked a male friend why men feel threatened by women, he answered, “They are afraid women will laugh at them.” When she asked a group of women why they feel threatened by men, they said, “We’re afraid of being killed.”