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Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin

Posted: January 15, 2011 11:33 AM

I remember, while growing up in the New York area, learning about the Kitty Genovese story. Genovese was a young woman who, in 1964, was stabbed late one evening in Queens while returning home from work. Genovese, reportedly, was initially stabbed and cried for help. When no one responded to her desperate pleas, the attacker came back again, stabbing her multiple times and raping her, all over a period said to have lasted a half hour.

Some speculated that the woman's cries were the result of a marital dispute and, therefore, they should not interfere. Consider how far we have come in that regard.

New York itself was at a significant crossroads then. In 1964, some five years after President Eisenhower broke ground on Lincoln Center, the city that imagined itself becoming the cultural tower of America was still largely a patchwork of racially and ethnically checkered neighborhoods. The Genovese murder and the infamous events surrounding it made New York seem like a nihilistic corner in some degenerate town. Response to Genovese's murder was plaintive and went on for years. Her name became synonymous with the "bystander effect", as researchers concluded that the more people watch a catastrophic event, the less likely they are to offer to help. New Yorkers, I believe, changed a bit after that.

After 9/11, America was forced to accept a raft of changes. We went to war, whether we could afford it or not. Men and women died, by the thousands, on both sides. Our government lied to us in order to cover-up their motivations. We went broke. The airlines were quick to take advantage of the new climate of security at the expense of all else. Whatever shreds of elegance were left in the US airline industry (most of it gone after the death of Pan Am) were yanked out and replaced with the public school bus system we fly on now.

A guy tried to light his sneaker on fire, now you have to get on a plane as if you were entering the White House.

Yet Americans have accepted these changes. Unhappily, yes. But they have learned to mutter their epithets to themselves as they pass through the airport like attending a Catholic school dance in the 1950's. We have been forced to accept an overwhelming amount of change in the past decade, and we have done so because we believed it was the right thing to do.

There is change that follows most events like the Genovese murder. The assassinations in the 1960's. Watergate. 9/11.

What do you think are the appropriate changes that should follow the shooting of a US Congresswoman while she purposefully held a meeting in a public place in her district? Knowing that several other innocent people died, including a small child, and others were seriously wounded.