Good Samaritans are Now Chumps and Criminals

A good Samaritan, according to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary is, “a person who gives help and sympathy to people who need it”. This concept goes back to Biblical times, specifically the book of Luke, chapter 10, and the “Parable of the Good Samaritan.”

Jesus told the story of a man who was robbed, beaten, and left for dead. A priest and a Levite both saw the beaten man and walked past him, crossing to the other side of the street. But the Samaritan stopped to help the injured man, attending to his wounds, bringing him to an inn, paying the innkeeper to care for him until he was well.

Jesus asked, “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" And he answered his own question, "The one who showed him mercy." And Jesus said to him, "You go, and do likewise."

Is that still possible? Or rational?

Flash forward 2000 years and play this parable out again. Who is the good Samaritan and who is the chump and potential criminal for following the words of Jesus?

Good Samaritans can do far more than attend to an injured fellow human. They can also protect others from harm. But today such actions may lead to trouble for the good Samaritan such that the smarter course of action is to act like the priest or Levite in the parable, crossing to the other side of the street, saying and doing nothing, just walking away.

Two recent news stories illustrate how Jesus’s teachings are falling on modern society’s deaf ears.

The first story made national news a few weeks ago of ex-Marine Daniel Penny’s arrest over alleged manslaughter after restraining unruly New York City subway troublemaker Jordan Neely.

As the BBC reported, “Mr Neely, who was homeless, was pinned to the ground and restrained for several minutes on the train carriage. He had been shouting at other passengers and asking for money, witnesses said.”

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Another British left-wing source, The Guardian, called Neely “a talented dancer” who was “remembered as kind and loving” and even “had a fan club.” What a guy. New York’s own Mother Theresa.

He was cut from the same cloth as the “gentle giant” Michael Brown, who beat a police officer and tried to take his gun. Or “SaintGeorge Floyd who was “convicted of eight crimes” and “served four years in prison” for “aggravated robbery in a home invasion” before his final run in with police three summers ago.

Neely had his own criminal record as the Daily News chronicled, “Neely has been arrested 42 times in the last 10 years, most recently in November 2021 for slugging a 67-year-old female stranger in the face as she exited a subway station. He had a history of mental illness.”

Nothing says “kind and loving” like attempting to push a subway passenger onto the tracks as Neely did the day before his own fatal altercation.

Far from trying to kill Neely, Daniel Penny put Neely into a recovery position (with passengers complimenting his actions), hardly the moves of someone intent on killing Neely. "He’s a hero," said another passenger, who has lived in New York City more than 50 years.

Who really killed Neely? Where were city officials or his family? If he was behind bars for his myriad crimes, he would be alive today. If his schizophrenia had been properly treated, including hospitalization, he would be alive today. Neely was left for dead by his family and New York City long before Daniel Penny restrained him.

The NYC subway system is now a mental institution on wheels where drug or psychiatric fueled rage and violence is the norm. Observing a threat to subway passengers, former Marine Daniel Penny was the good Samaritan, “giving help to people who needed it”, namely other subway passengers.

In an altercation and struggle, particularly when the perp is loaded with drugs, as George Floyd was, bad things can happen. Now it will be up to a jury of Daniel Penny’s peers to decide whether good Samaritans are welcome on NYC subway trains to protect fellow passengers. Or if anyone thinking of getting involved or offering assistance will be better off as Jesus’s priest and Levite, walking away.

Maybe Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg should ride the subway to work every day, without any security, and see if prosecuting good Samaritans makes subways safer.

Jurors ride those same subways and may want a good Samaritan to rescue them in the future from a dangerous miscreant. Their verdict will set the new standard for future subway safety. NYC subway rapes and murders are at a 25 year high while DA Bragg is chasing Donald Trump over his employee’s business write offs and prosecuting good Samaritans, fiddling while Rome burns.

Many police officers will take the same approach. Why risk one’s career, pension, and freedom when instead they can look the other way and channel Sergeant Shultz of Hogan’s Heroes, “I see nothing! I know nothing!”

Since actual crime is no longer illegal in many large cities, left-wing DAs and prosecutors have created a new crime, that of being a good Samaritan or defending yourself. God help America when self-defense is criminalized.

St Louis lawyer Mark McCloskey and his wife learned that defending yourself and your property from a threatening mob is illegal, unlike the activities of the trespassing mob.

A local story played out similarly, at a King Sooper grocery store in metro Denver where I frequently shop. As the local Fox affiliate reported,

“They thought they were doing the right thing. Instead, five employees at a King Soopers grocery store in Greenwood Village were terminated for holding a shoplifting suspect and calling the police.”

The thief was using a boxcutter to steal a cell phone. The perp was also on parole with a bag of methamphetamine in his pocket. Rather than being praised for stopping a shoplifter and protecting customers from potential injury by a boxcutter waving thief, the five good Samaritans lost their jobs and livelihoods.

King Sooper’s message is loud and clear. Shoplifters are welcome; they will not be apprehended. They can help themselves to any merchandise.  Customers who might be injured as the shoplifters steal and escape are just a necessary sacrifice.

King Soopers, in a statement ironically said, “Nothing in our stores is worth sacrificing that core value and their safe return home.” The only core value is that their stores are open for theft and that it’s more important for the thieves than store employees or customers to safely return home.

This is called the Ferguson Effect where, “Increased public scrutiny of police, usually following a police misconduct incident, leads to de-policing, which could lead to an increase in crime.” This applies not only to police but also good Samaritans who will wisely sit on their hands rather than getting involved.

City Journal asks a relevant question about the subway incident: “And what would you have done?” The article claims that “There is nothing Jordan Neely did on that subway car to deserve death.”

But the same can be said for the many killed or injured by thugs on those same subways. Michelle Go who was pushed into an oncoming subway train last year by a homeless man, another Jordan Neely, didn’t deserve death, either. But I didn’t hear Al Sharpton pining over her death as he did for Neely.

If the Parable of the Good Samaritan now becomes a criminal act, expect wanton crime and violence in America’s cities to exponentially increase as those wanting to do the right thing follow the lead of the priest and Levite, looking down and walking away.

Brian C Joondeph, MD, is a physician and writer.

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