We’ve all heard the horrific news of yet another demonic murder spree at a bar outside Los Angeles. While watching a number of the press reports on the tragedy, I came upon one in particular. It’s extraordinary.
The reporter was not necessarily intending to tell the story she did, but was just somberly describing what happened. She produced a remarkable presentation of how a number of very good young men stepped up without a thought for their own well-being to protect and usher others to safety. Like every other such mass murder, Thousand Oaks is the story of one very bad man and many very good men.
These murders by truly evil men are unfortunate occasions for good men to reveal their valor and show their courage, selflessness, and respect for the women and others who need their help. In the clip below, forward to 0:54. This is where the reporter, Kayna Whitworth, a Los Angeles correspondent for ABC News, poignantly tells story after story of some of these men, which every one of us should hear. Her appreciation and respect for these men is evident.
Whitworth explains that many people delivered to safety “made it out because of the heroics performed by people who were inside the bar, just patrons there.” She spoke to one of the men who performed some of the heroic acts. He explained, very matter of factly, “There were probably six or seven of us guys dogpiling over the girls that were there.”
As if to finish his sentence, Whitworth adds, “protecting them.” The young man answered simply, “Yeah, they’re my family, that’s what you do with family.” He spoke of his buddies who threw bar stools to break out the windows so others had a means of escape. That action saved more than 30 patrons. Men broke things. They did what needed to be done in a dangerous situation by any means possible.
Another man’s story was even more compelling. He saw, right in front of him, the first people being shot, numerous employees at the entrance of the establishment. He was able to usher his son to safety, but then, through tears and shame, expressed profound regret that he didn’t stay in the building to save others.
“I should have stayed until he changed his clip, but I was worried about my boy,” he said. His tears and emotion increase at that point. “But I should have stayed. I apologize to anyone who got hurt or passed. I’m sorry.” He’s speaking of the responsibility he naturally felt to save others beyond his son. No one blames him for staying with his son. But he does. He regretted he didn’t do more. That is a man. A good man.
In the report, you will notice during the carnage a number of the young men dashing here and there, from person to person, without their shirts on. Why? They took them off to use as bandages and tourniquets for the wounded. Nobody told them to do this. They just did it.
Yes, there are a few very bad men in the world. But there are untold numbers of very good men who, in times of great need and fatal danger, don’t think twice about putting themselves between women and children and the bullets. This is the very opposite of misogyny, and dramatically so.
Heroic masculinity is much more common in our communities than so-called toxic masculinity. It just does what it does quietly. Most men who hear such stories wish, in the depths of their hearts, that they will have the courage and selflessness to act with the same humble bravery in such a situation. It’s what they aspire to.
Every woman hopes such men will be close by if she finds herself in such danger. No woman thinks of this as sexist inequity. Women see it as honorable chivalry. Real crisis has a way of crystalizing what is true and real.
Whitworth, ABC News, and its anchor back in New York had no reservation about praising these men for acting like real men. In doing so, they uniquely told an extremely important part of this tragic story. That’s good journalism serving an important public service. Good for them.