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Mob mentality

November 07, 2009

Re "Brutality that's hard to fathom," Column, Oct. 31

Sandy Banks asks of the witnesses to a gang rape at a Northern California high school dance: "How, when confronted with such an obvious violation of humanity, could so many teenagers fall so short and feel so unashamed about it?"

One might ask the same of entire towns who turned out for the carnival of public executions and illegal lynchings. There was no shame in the faces of those bystanders, or disgust. They were merely people enjoying the entertainment of the evening.

We have caught a glimpse of humanity's worst, most dangerous trait -- the mob mentality. It is an instinct embedded within us all. When it arises, any horror can happen. It can be as big as Nazi Germany or as small as a group of 4-year-olds badgering a kitten.

Those who stand against the mob do so at their risk, and yet, if a mob is halfhearted, it takes only two or three to express disgust, walk away and break the wicked spell.

Debra L. Wiley

Inglewood

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