Costanza Nation


The driver pulled to the side of the road and opened the doors, allowing passengers to flee. They scrambled over one another and knocked an elderly woman to the floor. One mother, who was seated near the back, threw her toddler forward several rows to get the child away from danger, a witness said.


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Costanza Nation

  1. It’s incredibly easy to pass judgement on a bus full of strangers and to decide, glibly, that we could have been any more help in the confused instants after a shocking assault began.

    Incredibly easy, but awfully tempting…you’ve got three guys with a crowbar going after the guy long minutes later, then running away when he rounds on them. It’s all very disturbing.

  2. For my part, when severed heads and eating corpses are involved, I will be staying well clear. if i leave the area in a calm and orderly fashion I figure i am doing quite well.

  3. Yeah… I don’t want to get all Mark Steyn about this or anything. God knows I’m not exactly Captain Courageous. But a single crazy dude starts knifing a guy, and 34 people run for it and lock the dude in the bus with his victim?

  4. Still, he wasn’t actively going about knifing more people once they’d cleared away. Even if everybody rushes him at once, he’d get at least one more stab before being taken down. He might have been captured slightly earlier at the cost of a second life.

  5. I am normally the first to lament the cowardice of the average soft, spoiled western (as in western hemisphere, not western Canada) male. Stories of a few (or even lone) thugs committing assaults in front of throngs of onlookers who do nothing make me very angry. A story from several years ago about a cop on Yonge Street being swarmed by a few cowards while dozens of other cowards looked on and did nothing comes to mind.
    Having said that, I think this case is much more grey than some of the others you hear about. Of the 37 passenger I’m sure some displayed more cowardice than others (those who reportedly trampled over children and old ladies), but a murderous psychopath with a hunting knife is not exactly someone who could easily be disarmed by untrained men with a couple of tire irons.

    I feel that the reaction (and risk taken by some passengers) would also have been different if more people had noticed the attack earlier. I feel like some people would have converged on the attacker immediately if they felt that saving the life of the victim demanded it. But from the most detailed eye witness account I heard, the victim had been stabbed perhaps dozens of times before anyone realized what was happening.

    I like to believe that had this attack started with some provocation and a noisy altercation, that hospitals would be treating a few minor stab wounds and no one would have been killed. But the silent random nature of the attack didn’t allow for any warning.

    Seems to me the only safe way to stop this attacker without great risk of other fatalities was with a gun.

  6. I watched the interview this morning on CBC with the young man who said : I feel guilty about not helping somehow! : Speaking as a martial arts instructor (I have taught Karate, Kung Fu and Tai-Chi and unfortunately have been in several life or death situations as this one though not as gruesome) I want to support this young man if he ever reads this = do not feel guilty! as you did exactly what you should have done and more, by warning the others and getting the driver. Facing an opponent with a knife is a very dangerous situation as you get very up close and personal.

  7. This is a greyhound bus, don’t forget. All passengers are facing the same direction and the seats are high. Many passengers would be reclining and/or sleeping when the initial attack took place. It’s nothing like a stark attack in the middle of a streetcar or something.

    As anyone who has had the misfortune of watching an untimely death occur can tell you, even processing what is going on is quite difficult. It’s not a question of cowardice or courage… in the first few minutes you may not even recognize the consequences of what you just saw. I’m amazed people managed to get out of the bus safely. Good on them!

    Those trained in handling these situations often don’t react “properly”. Expecting the general public to do so is ridiculous.

  8. Seems to me the only safe way to stop this attacker without great risk of other fatalities was with a gun.

    Actually, I think a person with a gun in such close quarters as a coach-style bus would be more likely to cause multiple fatalities and injuries (unless, of course, they were Jack Bauer or John McClane).

  9. Fair comments all around… it was mostly the trampling of the lady that motivated the Costanza reference.

  10. Yeah, I can see the parallels.

    George overreacts at a children’s birthday party when the cake in the kitchen burns; and a busload of people, in the middle of nowhere, half asleep, wakened suddenly to find a person getting stabbed to death, blood spurting, a blood curdling cry, and panic ensues.

  11. Paul Wells’ comment has it right. It’s so easy to judge when you weren’t there (but some glib journalists feel free to do so).

    Potter you should be ashamed of yourself.

  12. People can be so tough and heroic when pecking on their keyboards. Well said, Wayne.

  13. Wow, who let Chuck Norris sign in as Andrew Potter?

    I’ve taken you off my bookmarks, which saddens me.

  14. I really feel that had this happened 7 years ago, we would probably not be discussing the topic of cowardice and bravery. Since 9/11 we live in a world of “what if I had stopped (insert act of violence here)” and, in my opinion, what really matters are the warning signs. Mental illness is the common denominator with so much of today’s violence and crime. I would love to hear the government talk about addressing that issue, instead of once again, increasing security measures.

  15. >People can be so tough and heroic when pecking on >their keyboards.

    Especially when writing under pseudonyms.

  16. I’m not the one questioning the actions of the people on the bus who witnessed an unimaginable scene of voilence. But I can understand why your being defensive.

  17. Really Potter? Are you now expecting commenters to give you their full identification? Give me a break.

    Feel free to write to me at the mail address if you wish – I put a real one in every time.

    Perhaps you’d like to publish your main personal email address for everyone who doesn’t have administrator access to the blogging software?

  18. Because it’s never a good idea to ask questions. Sealed lips! Sealed lips, ladies and gentlemen!

  19. Scott:

    It seems apparent to me that Andrew is not questioning people’s choice of remaining anonymous, but people’s choice of remaining anonymous while calling someone cowardly.

  20. Question away all good Pundits, and some folks might even disagree with you!

  21. There *is* such a thing as a stupid question.

    No one is “hiding behind a pseudonym”, nor was anyone threatening.

    Andrew was clearly overreacting.

  22. Unless, of course, I completely misread Andrew’s comment and he intended to agree/support Blues Clair’s argument, as opposed to confronting Blues Clair.

  23. Hmmm, it’s tough to tell when someone is being sarcastic on here, especially Wells, who seems masterful at the craft.

    But perhaps the irony (in a non Alanis Morrisette type of way) of his last missive, “because it’s never a good idea to ask questions” is that the blog title is a “statement” (see first commenter) or an expression of opinion, not a question.

  24. I’m actually on a Greyhound bus at this very moment. (Thanks for the Blackberry, Mr. Rogers. Now about that company car…) It strikes me as unfeasible for anyone not in the immediate vicinity of the poor guy to come to his aid, especially if they were swimming upstream to get there. Those who WERE right there are probably asking themselves some tough questions, but without a full accounting of the facts, these woulda/coulda discussions have always struck me as futile.

  25. Hobart Mauer said this in an article he wrote for American Psychologist: For several decades we psychologists have looked upon the whole matter of sin and moral accountability as a great incubus and we have acclaimed our freedom from it as epic making. But at length we have discovered to be free in this sense to have the excuse of being sick rather than being sinful is to also court the danger of becoming lost. In becoming amoral, ethically neutral and free, we have cut the very roots of our being, lost our deepest sense of selfhood and identity. And with neurotics themselves, asking, “Who am I? What is my deepest destiny? And what does living really mean?”

    So my Question is this: Has our moral pluralism (distinct from religious pluralism) gone so far as emasculate our ability to fight evil?

  26. Hmm, I tried three times to post a walk-a-mile-in-their-shoes comment earlier Friday morning. Is there a bug, or have I used up my allotted posts, or our gracious host’s patience? I guess if this also doesn’t make it through, I’ll know.

  27. Thank you, Andrew, for posting something to stimulate conversation on this. It’s definitely worth examining. It’s regrettable that most of those posting here would rather shut their minds to the possibility that the passengers’ reaction to this event might be worth talking about.

  28. madeyoulook, looks like a bug. Your comments aren’t in the moderation queue…

  29. My understanding was that the victim had already been stabbed at least twice in the throat (with a Bowie knife) before anyone realised what was happening – and that by a man intent on killing him. It seems to me part of the horror of the attack that the killer was so focused on making the victim totally and completely dead; though he later did threaten the other passengers (try to get off the bus etc.), his first purpose doesn’t seem to have been to attack as many people as possible. IIRC, the former soldier who was sitting nearby, and who suggested to another passenger that they confront the killer & try to save the victim, reported that the screams stopped “moments later.” Not that everybody didn’t panic (sensibly enough), but there doesn’t seem to have been any chance to save the poor guy. It wasn’t like a knife fight where you might get slashed on the arms and stabbed in the chest but still be treatable: this was a sneak attack on a sleeping person.

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