Bus Driver Uppercut Takeaway: We Must Learn To Disengage From Violent Conflict

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bus driver uppercut clevelandSeveral days have past since we saw the video of a 25-year-old woman take a stiff uppercut from a Cleveland bus driver.

RELATED: As A Public Servant, Bus Driver Needed To Keep His Cool–Period!

And, quite naturally, opinions taking the sides of Artis Hughes, the bus driver, and Shi’dea N. Lane, the female passenger, began circulating around the twitterverse and blogasphere soon after footage of the incident was uploaded to WorldStarHipHop.

But of all of the arguments made for and against all parties involved–A man should never hit a woman; A woman should never hit a man; She had it coming; The bus driver was older and bigger thus should have been more mature–one point has yet to be discussed:

Why didn’t either of these full-grown adults take advantage of key moments to disengage from the conflict?

In my view, the genesis of this conflict does not stem from gender, domestic violence, race or who was right or wrong; it is about self-control.

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Hughes and Lane’s conflict reportedly began over whether Lane paid fare when she boarded the bus. Hughes claims the woman did not pay while Lane argues that she was looking for it and asked the driver to wait. Somehow, a heated, profanity-laced argument ensued where both Lane and Hughes began threatening violence against each other.

(And, yes, verbal violence IS violence!)

Couldn’t one person have kept their mouth shut and let the other shout and scream? If Lane did not pay, couldn’t the driver have pulled over and waited for police? That is standard procedure in most transit departments nationwide. Hughes crossed the line when he threaten to bring his family member (daughter and granddaughter, if I heard correctly) to beat on Lane.

That was the talk of a street thug, not a public servant.

And, if Lane refused to pay or could not find her fare in time to satisfy the driver’s patience, she could have gotten off and waited for the next arriving bus with fare in hand. She certainly did not have to curse the man, regardless of what he said to her.

Maturity and self-control broke down and ratchetness took its course.

Verbal violence quickly turned to physical. In the video Lane is clearly shown pushing Hughes–as he was driving the bus. Were his words–which were quite ignorant and mean-spirited–worth risking her safety and everyone else’s by pushing him while the bus was in motion?

And, while I do not like to see anyone attacked, I wonder if Hughes would have uppercutted Lane in retaliation as he did if given a second opportunity. Was it worth it, bruh? Would you have restrained her instead? Would you have pulled over and called the cops on her?

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Human decency failed and violence, ignorance, a suspension for the bus driver (and potentially, a lawsuit) followed. What if Lane or the driver had a weapon? A life could have been lost. And for what? Words? A verbal disagreement–over fare?

What was equally worse was that no one on the bus intervened in the altercation until the man hit the woman. And even then a male passenger sat by as the driver further assaulted Lane. Male and female voices were actually laughing after the man delivered the “Mortal Kombat” blow. There was time to video record the violence, but no one was brave or civil enough to help diffuse it?

Have we become so entertained by verbal and physical violence that its horrible affect on our community has numbed our moral obligation to stop it?

As a New Yorker in a city of more than 8 million people, I board public transportation each day where people are constantly stepping on each others’ toes, scuffing their pants legs and all kinds of things that can happen in crowded and uncomfortable situations.

I have been “mean-mugged” and tapped on the shoulder by young men on crowded  metro trains who took serious offense to me mistakenly stepping on their shoe. I simply apologized–without giving commentary about how unreasonable I feel his concern was–and move as far away from the person as possible.

One time, I diffused a physical conflict between two passengers after one felt the other pushed them too hard as they got off the train. I stood between them until they went their separate ways. In order for a civil society to function, we all have to be active participants in helping to stop uncivil behavior.

I make an effort to disengage from any conflict that arises. That includes stepping off the train and waiting for another to come. That’s not “punking out”or “being weak,” it’s being mature and keeping myself safe.

As my godmother always tells me: “Don’t argue with a fool because a fool will make a fool out of you.”

But thanks to WorldStarHipHop and YouTube, the world just witnessed two grown fools engage in a dispute that could have easily been avoided had one of them disengaged and walked away.

Neither did that.

In an interview with a Fox News Affiliate in Cleveland, a reporter asked Lane if she felt she bore any responsibility in the now infamous incident. While she would not speak to her physical participation seen in the YouTube video, Lane did admit that “If something like that escalates (again), I would just remove myself quickly,” she told the reporter.

If only she, or he for that matter, would have done that the first time.

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