Bullying the Queen Street Gunman

We had some excitement here in Brisbane the other day. The Queen Street Mall (the heart of the city) was evacuated on Friday when a gunman appeared and looked about to shoot himself.

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/breaking-news/brisbane-mall-evacuated-amid-gunman-fears/story-e6freono-1226593160916

The man was Lee Matthew Hillier, and he was disturbed because a court had denied him access to his children, which was what drove him to the extreme measure of drawing a gun in Queen Street.

The Mall was cleared and the police did a fantastic job in calming him down and eventually capturing him. No one was injured (apart from the gunman). No one died. No one panicked. A good result from a situation that could have been a tragedy.

The thing is that mere hours later, this picture appeared on my Facbook page:

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It’s the gunman, surrounded by police, both uniformed and plain clothed. Some “wit” (or is that half-wit) has inserted a speech bubble that has two major qualities about it:

1) It is not in the least bit funny;
2) It is making fun of a man who is seriously disturbed emotionally.

The speech bubble is, I believe, based on the Half-wit’s belief that the man was looking for someone. He wasn’t.

My complaint is that Half-wit, and the people who liked his link, are laughing at a man who needed help, not mockery. Sure, he could have hurt someone, but he was apparently asking the police to shoot him and held the gun to his own head for a long time. That leads me to believe that harming someone else was not his intention. If he had wanted to shoot someone, he had plenty of opportunity, and he didn’t do it.

So, why laugh at him? Are we that cruel, that heartless, that we can’t see a call for help when it’s there? The police acted correctly. They acted bravely. They did exactly the right thing. And some Half-wit comes along and thinks he’s the funniest guy in the universe.

This is bullying. What’s worse, it is cyber-bullying, where potentially millions of people can see the post, and where the victim has no chance to defend himself.

I personally hope that Lee Hillier gets the help he needs. I have  pity and sympathy for him, not derision and mockery. Laughing at someone who needs help is a cowardly act.