A recent traffic collision in Germany which proved fatal for the drivers involved is receiving international notoriety for something one of the firefighters did while working on the job. According to witnesses nearby, navigating through the highway was proving to be extra congested and jammed. Why? Disrespectful onlookers were busy taking videos and photos of the scene.
Silvia Darmstädter, a firefighter with the German Fire Brigade, received international attention for her treatment of what she considered disrespectful onlookers who were busy gawking at the accident. Silvia turned on her fire hose and directed it at any vehicle in traffic whose driver stopped to take a video or photo of the scene.
Silvia Darmstädter’s actions are now under investigation but many media outlets and comments on social media are crying out for applause for her actions. Unfortunately, it’s human nature to want to look at highway wrecks.
We are drawn to things of the macabre as humans, due to a certain amount of schadenfreude as part of our psyche. According to Eric Wilson, a professor of English at Wake Forest University, we are “drawn to doom, and enamored of ruin.” What is it then, exactly, that draws humanity to gawk at scenes that depict violence?
Silvia Darmstädter was determined she was doing the right thing by pointing her fire hose at gawkers on the highway who were stopping to take videos and photos of the fatal car crash.
However, her actions are being called into question by authorities, who are saying that neither she nor the rest of her department had the right to target civilians in such a manner.
Was pointing a fire hose at oncoming traffic considered unethical? Or perhaps is gawking at the scene of a crime considered unethical? These are the questions affecting news media outlets across Germany, and will no doubt spill over to the Western World once this becomes viral.