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Barre Gazette, June 25, 1847. Okay, that is pretty astoundingly stupid. But it’s arguably still a scintilla or two less odious than ye Bystander Effect* of subsequent centuries. These folks at least thought they were doing the right thing vis a vis their civic responsibilities, as opposed to saying “I don’t wanna get involved.”
*I was gonna name-drop Kitty Genovese here, but I just ran across this academic paper persuasively arguing that the story about 38 people watching and doing nothing as she was murdered is more or less a crock, or as the authors would have it, a “parable.” There’s also this guy’s debunking website, which makes a lot of the same arguments.



  1. I had a glance at the debunking website , and read the first paragraph of the Kitty Genovese story in the Times. I was struck by how closely it resembled some of the news items we’ve studied from , say, 1899 , what with the florid prose and the details pulled straight from the writer’s arse.

    • Plus ca change, Quince. I think this is one of those deals whereby the debunkage will never catch up with the bunk.

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