April 4, 2010

"A man from France jumped into the water..."

I'm sorry, but the man from France is not getting enough attention in this story about the "heroic father" who jumped in the cold East River to save his own daughter.

135 comments:

eve said...

But he is, and will remain, "the Frenchman."

Pogo said...

"The dad, in a black polo shirt and shorts, was in the water in seconds."

Shorts? Check.
What, no squirrels?

Bless the two men.
(Cue Cedarford to explain how they are not heroes at all.)

Jason said...

Someone told him there was a German behind him.

WV: "Volkwar." HA HA HA HA HA HA!

kentuckyliz said...

How terrifying! I admire the Frenchman, who assisted in the rescue and disappeared into a taxi, not seeking his 15 minutes.

The cynical side of me thinks, illegal immigrant? visa problems? warrant for his arrest?

There's always an argument between the Pollyanna on one shoulder and the chain-smoking whisky-swilling cynic on the other.

Oligonicella said...

Why the fuck did you finger quote heroic father? Without a thought for himself and within seconds he jumped into the water to save his daughter.

eve said...

Oligonicella: Er, it was his daughter, Dude, not a stranger. This requires explanation?

Pogo said...

Heroes are permitted to save family members, if I recall the rules correctly.

Meade said...

A "man" from "France."

Ann Althouse said...

"Why the fuck did you finger quote heroic father? Without a thought for himself and within seconds he jumped into the water to save his daughter."

1. Because he was referred to as "heroic" in the article.

2. Because the Frenchman was not referred to as heroic.

3. Because the man somehow had a daughter on a pier where there was a 20 foot drop into a cold tidal strait and the girl fell in.

4. Because he behaved instinctively and even if he thought about doing pretty much all the only thing he could do to avoid a life of terrible pain and shame if the girl had died after he let her fall in.

5. Because the Frenchman went in after a grown man (and a child), neither of whom he knew and whose predicament he was in no way responsible for.

Ann Althouse said...

Meade and I have finally achieved simultaneous comment.

Oligonicella said...

eve --

Dudette, jumping in a river to save any-damned-one within seconds is heroic.

AllenS said...

Taxi cab driver: "You're all wet, what happened."

Frenchie: "Wee wee."

eve said...

Sure, a hero could save a family member but that would not be heroic that would be love, or duty.

Ann Althouse said...

" even if he thought about doing pretty much all the only thing he could do to avoid a life of terrible pain and shame if the girl had died after he let her fall in."

I mean: even if he thought about it, he was doing pretty much the only thing he could do to avoid a life of terrible pain and shame if the girl had died after he let her fall in.

Ann Althouse said...

And the Frenchman left the scene, like the Lone Ranger or something, without letting people thank him or get his name.

I also would like to salute the cab driver who let the East River-soaked Frenchman into his cab.

Pogo said...

The word "hero" no longer has any meaning, having been deconstructed into a thousand petty explanations: shame, power, duty, fear, love, narcissism, etc.

Damn to hell all those university professors for giving primacy to the swill of postmodern thought.

Oligonicella said...

Althouse --

I happen to agree that the Frenchman was heroic. But you know damned well that finger quotes are to lessen or ridicule a phrase.

Or are you a "law professor"?

Meade said...

"Meade and I have finally achieved simultaneous comment."

If la petite Mort were here, he'd say that was racist.

DaveO said...

"Witnesses said the man from France got onto the pier on his own. A few minutes later, he hopped into a cab and took off."

Oligonicella said...

Pogo --

Those who would deconstruct a heroic act are most likely those who aren't capable of performing them.

wv: mismsma - WTF?

eve said...

Oligonicella: Having let his two year old wander off down a pier what non-"heroic" options were available to the admirable father? Would he be normal if he watched her drown? Or cowardly? Or would he have been like millions of other truly heroic fathers who took care to reign in his own preferences and simply hold his daughter's hand, keeping her from harm and teaching her about the proximity of danger.

Chip Ahoy said...

Witnesses heard a splash, then a terrifying scream

I'm finally starting to understand this. But not really. The reaction is immobilization but with the ability to scream. Screaming but immobilized. The advantage in places other than amusement park rides is that it calls someone else to action. Evolutionarily, screamers live to reproduce more screamers. People of action tend to die so there's less of them. Eventually if evolution has its way the world will be all screamers and no people of action. I wonder if screamers think themselves heroic. "And if it wasn't for my screaming, that child could have drowned."

Noted: the hazard of ramp bouncing.

AllenS said...

From the article:

A man from France jumped into the water to help drag the father and daughter to safety, cops said.

How did they know he was from France? Was he wearing a beret?

AllenS said...

"Sacrebleu"! The man shouted. "Zee child iz in zee water"!

Ah ha!

WV: sesoebo

That's a French word.

Oligonicella said...

eve --

"Or would he have been like millions of other truly heroic fathers who took care to reign in his own preferences and simply hold his daughter's hand, keeping her from harm and teaching her about the proximity of danger."

I notice you don't dun mom. Children are quick. Been there, done that. Usually (thankfully), nothing comes of it.

No, it ain't truly heroic to hold a kid's hand. That's cautious. Maybe mom was the one who let go, eh? You don't know, but in your haste to prevent him from being praised, you'll blame him anyway.

Pogo said...

Maybe we should arrest the father, eve.

Clearly the man was negligent. No hero, he, but possibly an abuser, letting the child wander off like some two year olds do, and, momentarily distracted or otherwise inappropriately occupied, the asshole could scarcely escape our remonstrations and calls for his scalp.

The real heroes will be the employees of Child Protective Services, who remove the screaming child from his useless and unheroic arms.

tim maguire said...

This debate is pretty funny. Bottom line: it is not heroic to risk your life to save a family member, it is the bare minimum responsibility (although let's be real--he did not risk his life, he got cold and wet).

Heroes may save family members but that is not sufficient to make them heroic.

eve said...

The dad saved his own kid by diving in the water and pulling the kid out. He did not walk into a burning building. He did not push the kid out from the front of a rushing train. If you guys deem the act of pulling your own kid from the water (and the guy clearly knew how to swim) heroic, then power to your soft silly lives.

lemondog said...

The reaction is immobilization but with the ability to scream.

Maybe the screamer was wheelchair bound.

If there were only screamers would there be no war?

Oligonicella said...

eve --

"If you guys deem the act of pulling your own kid from the water (and the guy clearly knew how to swim) heroic, then power to your soft silly lives."

Uh, this from a gal who said "millions of other truly heroic fathers who took care to reign in his own preferences and simply hold his daughter's hand".

You, eve, are two faced.

Freeman Hunt said...

Now that the Frenchman took off to escape fame, his fame will be multiplied. People will be looking for him.

Oligonicella said...

Freeman Hunt --

I hope they don't find him. His choice of anonymity is his and I think a respectable one.

Skyler said...

I read this news item and was struck by the heroism of the father, the Frenchman and the others that assisted. My heart almost broke to imagine such a thing happening to my three year old daughter.

And then I made the mistake of reading the comments.

I can accept that there are some weirdos out there that have to belittle even the most remarkable of feats of love and heroism, but I'm truly astounded that even our hostess has chosen to take part in such debasing of the father's actions.

There's no rule I know of that requires heroism to be devoid of any semblance of obligation or benefit. The man saw danger and quickly acted to rescue. He put himself in great danger and succeeded in saving the little baby.

Why can't we just say "hurrah" and be happy about it?

I think the same muddle brained thinking is related to some diseased mental process that also couldn't see through the charlatan antics of B. Hussein. Maybe there is a bit more post-modern nihilism in our hostess than I was hoping was there because sometimes she seems quite lucid.

But not today. Today she belittles the heroism of a man that successfully rescued his daughter from an almost certain death.

I have contempt for her today. I don't think she could have done what this man did, even in her younger days, yet she seems comfortable in mocking the actions of her betters.

Methadras said...

Who cares about who gets any attention. A child was saved from a story that could have easily have turned awful. Adults should never expect attention when they save someones life, so if they get it great, but if not, let's move on.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"I mean: even if he thought about it, he was doing pretty much the only thing he could do to avoid a life of terrible pain and shame if the girl had died after he let her fall in."

Not to be too hard on the parents, but yes ... they put their daughter into this situation by inattention to their duty as parents in an obviously very dangerous situation (walking up a very high gangplank over water).

The part where they talk about how he was emptying his pockets before jumping in after her gave me some pause, also. Says a lot that he was thinking about his goods at that moment. What's he carrying cement gonna weigh him down ... or electronic gear he doesn't want to get wet?

Read between the lines of the story (and not too deeply), and you'll see some disturbing things written in there about the poor parenting on display.

Yes, the Frenchman is a hero. The dad is lucky and hopefully learned a lesson about watching over his flock.

edutcher said...

Self preservation is always a big deterrent to risking one's life. After all, they say most Medals of Honor, Victoria Crosses, Croix De Guerre, Iron Crosses, etc. are won because somebody got scared enough or mad enough.

My guess is the human race has a great many instances of people who hesitated that one second when a family member was in danger and spent the rest of their lives agonizing over it, so, no, family relations have nothing to do with whether the act is heroic.

There have been many heroic Frenchmen in the last 70 years or so, but they seem to be far outnumbered by the ones who planted trees beside the roads because the Wehrmacht liked to march in the shade (another reason why we don't want to be like the Euros). Sad to say, France, as a nation of brave men, died at Verdun.

Ann Althouse said...

Meade and I have finally achieved simultaneous comment.

The object of all lovers.

And the Frenchman left the scene, like the Lone Ranger or something, without letting people thank him or get his name.

Did he leave a silver bullet?

PS How do you say, "Hi yo, Silver" in French?

AllenS said...

And then I made the mistake of reading the comments.

Lighten the fuck up.

Oligonicella said...

Ham --

"A moment later, the father, David Anderson, was racing down the deck of the four-masted Peking ship, emptying his pockets along the way."

He did it as he raced. That means he just threw the shit about. He also jumped in feet first. Both things meant he was thinking, not reacting blindly. These are things you're supposed to do when jumping in to help so as not to become another victim.

eve said...

The heroism of quietly holding a child's hand is perhaps too complex a concept for some. Here is a stanza from a Robert Hayden poem that might capture a bit of what I meant:

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

My view is neither contradictory nor "two faced" whatever that might mean.

Oligonicella said...

edutcher --

Salut vous, Argent!

Babble Fish. Grain of salt.

Darcy said...

Oh, good God.

Pogo: Exactly.

(And happy Easter to you!)

Oligonicella said...

eve --

Pulling own kid from water - soft and silly.

Holding own kid's hand - truly heroic.

You do not understand the word heroic.

eve said...

Oligonicella: You debase the term if you think it is heroic to pull your own daughter from the water. Particularly if you can swim. Particularly if you have taken the time to save your iPhone first.

Oligonicella said...

eve --

Where did it say he saved his iPhone? In life-saving they train you to remove excess weight (which he did on a run), kick off your shoes, look into the water to spot the victim and jump in feet first. All of which he did. And yet you find fault.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Meade @ 12:20 ... one of the best double-entendres on this blog in the seven or so years I've been hanging around. Bien à toi mon ami.

The background talking on the video makes it clear this was a group of tourists. I heard at least three different voices in French, most touchingly "Il est là?" ... he's there??

rhhardin said...

Probably an old Frenchman.

Nobody wants the admiration of the press.

eve said...

Oligonicella: Do you happen to have a brother named Jeremy? The guy was jumping into water to save his daughter. He didn't have weights in his pockets. He was offloading stuff he didn't want to get wet. I used an iPhone as an example. They didn't have to actually SAY iPhone, I deduced that some devise that would not like to be dunked was ejected before he went into the water. I used the word iPhone so someone like you would say that it didn't say iPhone in the story. Holy shit. What is it like in your head?

Skyler said...

Eve, I don't say this about people too often, but you are an idiot.

Do you understand that in a couple of seconds the man had to perceive that his daughter was missing, understand that she was in the water, decide to save her, and then act to save her?

When the mind is racing that fast parts of the person go into an automatic mode while the brain is concentrating on the important parts, like preparing to jump in, where to jump, etc.

Taking things out of his pockets was probably a habit that surfaced. And if you've ever had to swim with all your clothes on, you would realize that every bit of weight is critical. He was possibly trying to make it easier for him to swim if he had to exert himself for longer than he did. If he is underwater and working too hard, he might have to resurface for air before finding her. As it was, his decision was correct based on the results. You're a moron for questioning his decision.

That his daughter was in danger, even if he made a mistake in not keeping her from falling, makes no difference to his heroism. There was danger, and he rescued her. One need not be in danger to be a hero.

But in this case he was in danger. Have you ever juumped in 40 degree water? Don't stay in it very long or you'll not live to brag about it. Water that temperature sucks the heat out of your body very quickly. Plus, the water was deep but may have had obstructions. There didn't seem to be an easy way out of the water.

I dare say I would much rather he be nearby if I were in danger than you.

And allen, I'm so impressed by the growth of your vocabulary.

Darcy said...

Holy shit. What is it like in your head?

A hell of a lot more compassionate than what it is like in yours.

Oligonicella said...

eve --

"Do you happen to have a brother named Jeremy?"

No Alinksy, I don't.

"He was offloading stuff he didn't want to get wet."

Sorry. Didn't know you could read minds. From past events as well, very impressive.

"I used the word iPhone so someone like you would say that it didn't say iPhone in the story."

Equally valid is that you used it because it painted a specific picture or someone as not heroic.

That also fits better with the things you previously wrote.

eve said...

Skyler: I never questioned his "decision" to save his daughter I questioned why what is a normal, instinctive, human response is considered heroism by the fucking wimp ass "males" on this forum. You might try reading what I wrote. If this guy's mind worked like your prose the kid would be in Davy Jones' locker. And I would not consider the temperature of the water an issue in my "decision" to save my own daughter. Grow some balls.

Revenant said...

The word "hero" no longer has any meaning

Well, Pogo, part of the reason why it is so meaningless is that we insist on applying it to people who have done no more than is expected of them.

AllenS said...

Que Sera, Sera.

Oligonicella said...

eve --

"... I questioned why what is a normal, instinctive, human response is considered heroism by the fucking wimp ass "males" on this forum."

That's the second time you've used that word - instinctive. It doesn't mean what you think it does, when applied to humans.

In biology, one of the notable traits of humans is their lack of instinct.

If it meant what you thought, every man on that pier would have jumped in. Since no women did (including mom), I must presume you believe women do not possess such an instinct as you ascribe to men.

"And I would not consider the temperature of the water an issue in my "decision" to save my own daughter. Grow some balls."

This, from someone steeped in women's study prose to a marine officer. I'll say it for him, "Fuck yourself off."

edutcher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

LaFayette's descendant ha come back. The father did what real men do, he risked death without hesitation. That would be foolishness from any one else's point of view, but it is the very essence of a father. So it is a Natural Law that crosses cultural boundaries to French Men who are also inspired by it to jump in and help another father in action.

Oligonicella said...

Oh, by the way. Thanks for your service, Skyler.

eve said...

Capitalize Marine you fraud.

Oligonicella said...

A one letter typo does not negate my sentiments. Pedantry is unbecoming and petty.

eve said...

No one who respects Marines would type it otherwise.

Howard said...

Obviously, Dad Fucked up big-time and had to get wet to "correct" his mistake. The frog-man was just being a man to the minimum standard required.

No wonder the US is becoming a sissified nation of nannies. None of the actions to go swimming after the kid then after the dad are anywhere near the realm of heroic.

Also, to those "men" who like to repeat the fey French mantra: it might be considered heroic if you said that to the face of a French male. In any event, it makes you sound like a pussy-whipped teabagger.

Oligonicella said...

eve --

Written to a Marine: "Grow some balls."

When do your classes on how to respect a Marine start?

AllenS said...

I dunno, but I'd like to think that eve should be spelled with a capital E. The first E, not the second e.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"In life-saving they train you to remove excess weight (which he did on a run), kick off your shoes, look into the water to spot the victim and jump in feet first. All of which he did. And yet you find fault."

In parenting, they teach you to pick up your 2-year-old child and hold her firmly but gently in your arms when walking up a rickety gangplank suspended 20 feet over a freezing river so she don't fucking drown while you ain't looking.

Yes, I find fault here.

Oligonicella said...

Ham --

And you know it wasn't mom who was watching the kid how?

Skyler said...

Just being a Marine doesn't make one a hero. It takes some sort of act. You know, like rescuing a two year old girl that has fallen into frigid water between a ship and dock.

Howard said...

Olig:

Dad is responsible for security at all times, even if the kid was "with" Mom.

Oligonicella said...

Howard --

Dad is responsible for security at all times, even if the kid was "with" Mom.

Which he then did. Presuming her failure to keep tabs. Unless you think women aren't capable of keeping tabs and require male supervision at all times.

In that case, Howard, meet eve.

Skyler said...

"In parenting, they teach you to pick up your 2-year-old child and hold her firmly but gently in your arms when walking up a rickety gangplank suspended 20 feet over a freezing river so she don't fucking drown while you ain't looking."

Maybe the mother was holding the child and then set her down while the father was attending to other children.

Regardless, the man acted quickly and saved the girl's life when he needed to.

Darcy said...

Howard and eve have spoken.

The Heroism Police. Everybody clear now?

Kirby Olson said...

He eez a leetle like General Lafayette who helped to save zee Republique, non?

g2loq said...

A Frenchman?
How do they know?

B-t-w, in such situation one is better served waiting for Government professionals.

Howard said...

Olig:

Dad out with Mom and Kids is responsible for security at all times. He should have prevented the situation from ever happening.

Don't try to link me with the three faces of eve nutbar. Even a broke clock is right sometimes... just like Ham in this case. Argue with me and what I say. Your linkage just shows that you lack sound ideas.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"And you know it wasn't mom who was watching the kid how?"

Because the kid went into the drink.

Neither one of them were watching the kid adequately, or the kid wouldn't have needed to be pulled from a freezing river.

eve said...

Skyler: If you jumped in the water to save a stranger's child you would be a hero. As a Marine you would likely not take a hero's credit. If you jumped in the water to save your own child you would be a father.

Howard said...

Darcy:

What I defined was what heroism was not in this case. I guess I'm just old school. When my kids were little, I jumped into 45-degree water to rescue their Frisbee. Off of giant rip-rap boulders into the teeth of a 6-foot swell in Nor Cal. Not anywhere near heroic, just a bit of fun.

People in my town rescue tourists in freezing cold high surf hard rocky shore water. Not heroic, just the duty of local watermen.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"If you jumped in the water to save your own child you would be a father."

And if you had to do that because you weren't holding your 2-year-old child's hand in a dangerous situation, or making sure your wife was doing that job, you'd be a poor father.

Here's hoping he learned a valuable lesson that only required he get wet.

Oligonicella said...

Howard --

Apologies. That was a joke dependent on the 'unless' in the previous paragraph.

"He should have prevented the situation from ever happening."

He could only have prevented it (assuming) if there is a need to oversee mothers 24/7. I made that point already.

I don't believe that's your view. Am I correct?



Ham --

OK, I'll spell it out. How do you know it wasn't mom who had a hold of the tyke's hand and dad presumed her in control?


It's sounding a whole lot like it was dad's fault regardless. That's misandrist, you know.

PatCA said...

Well, bummer. I loved the story and the actions of the family and the Frenchman.

Darcy said...

Howard:

Thanks for the reply. There are some who prefer to look at this as heroism. I admire it and am thankful for it at the very least.

The focus on how the child got into the water (with very little detail provided, btw) and how this is the very least we should expect from a father is something I choose not to admire today. I can also say that I'm not troubled at all by my choice.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"Maybe the mother was holding the child and then set her down while the father was attending to other children."

Both parents are equally and inseparably responsible for the safety of their children in a dangerous situation like that.

They're both at fault, regardless of who was supposed to be watching whom. Both of them are at fault.

There is no: "I thought you had her." You don't "think" the other partner "has her." You make god-damned sure of it, or you are not doing your job as an adult and the parent of that 2-year-old defenseless child.

Period.

Not everyone are good parents. Some people are shitty parents and have to pull their kids out of rivers because they weren't doing their fucking jobs.

No hero there.

The French guy would be the hero, except he's French, and the French don't haven't any heroes any more.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

@Oli, who questions: "OK, I'll spell it out. How do you know it wasn't mom who had a hold of the tyke's hand and dad presumed her in control?"

Because the kid ended up in the drink. Nobody had her hand.

Unless you're trying to suggest the kid was thrown in ... is that what you're getting at?

Oligonicella said...

New "Hussein" Ham --

There is no: "I thought you had her." You don't "think" the other partner "has her." You make god-damned sure of it, or you are not doing your job as an adult and the parent of that 2-year-old defenseless child.

I appreciate that as your opinion. Life and people however, don't work like that and I wouldn't hold you to those excruciatingly high standards. Nor do I think you could actually live up to them full time. No one is perfect.

Skyler said...

Eve, what difference does it make who the child's father is?

Darcy said...

I'm reminded of growing up in a family with six other siblings. One of us was periodically toppling off of some high place or whatnot. My older sister turned her head and my brother ended up in the river. She saved him, thankfully. But the point is that I don't recall any of this as negligence by my parents. You see, I knew them as my loving protectors for my whole life. Nothing a stranger to them says will ever change my mind.

Accidents happen. The idea of judging people so quickly as bad parents because of an accident is abhorrent to me. Regular negligence is not the same thing as an accident. Really, it is not. Especially where toddlers are involved.

Tragedies happen to good and loving parents. In this case, thanks to the quick reflexes of what I'd like to believe was a loving dad and a wonderful bystander, this toddler was saved from tragedy.

I celebrate that today. Well done.

traditionalguy said...

Is this thread now an official meeting of the blamers and condemners society? If you have ever kept up with a two year old, then you know that it is impossible to perfectly watch them. That's why fathers are given mental alertness, two eyes, two ears, two feet and two hands. Real life has unplanned happenings that men must respond to. He did a great job.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"Life and people however, don't work like that ... "

That's precisely how life works.

A 2-year-old child is defenseless. Both parents are required as parents to ensure the child's safety. That's life. That's the law. And that's how it works.

They're lucky child services isn't reviewing her situation (and I assume they are).

Some people just aren't up to the task of caring for a 2-year-old and have to retrieve their kids from the frozen river thanks to their own lack of proper parenting skills.

Oligonicella said...

New "Hussein" Ham --

"Both parents are required as parents to ensure the child's safety. That's life. That's the law. And that's how it works."

No it isn't.

Looking around you shows that to be untrue. Single parents. The law does not at all require both parents and many of them (myself) rear fine and successful children.

No, it isn't. It's how you would like it to be.

David said...

Vive l'homme heroique Francais. Impossible n'est pas Francais! L'homme est "l'etranger." Peut-etre, son non est-ce Albert? Sergio? Clint? Grand mystere francais!

Howard said...

Darcy:

I agree with your nice framing of raising kids. The rescue of the kid, well done indeed. Hero? I don't think it's even close to that level of honor.

Olig:

It's all about taking charge and training the wife. I'm not advocating helicopter parenting at all. However, around water, tourists and obstacles, a Dad has to be on top of the situation like a hawk. There is a nice saying in aviation:

"Truly superior pilots are those that use they're judgment to avoid those situations in which they might have to rely on their truly superior skills"

David said...

New Ham said:

Not everyone are good parents. Some people are shitty parents and have to pull their kids out of rivers because they weren't doing their fucking jobs.

. . . .

The French guy would be the hero, except he's French, and the French don't haven't any heroes any more.


Va te faire enculer, New Ham.

Oligonicella said...

Howard --

"It's all about taking charge and training the wife."

Let's say we have a differing view of women.


Darcy --

"I celebrate that today. Well done."

As do I. Now, adieu.

eve said...

Skyler: I have been trying to make a distinction between heroism and duty, two concepts I believe a Marine understands to his core. A man saving his own kid doesn't seem to me to be a hero. Perhaps he is to you and to other people commenting on this thread. Maybe he should get some sort of medal, an award that goes to heroic citizens not in the military, I can't remember the name of the award but Obama would give it to him and all of you who view him as a hero would be right. Put him up for the award.

Howard said...

Olig:

To be clear, I am talking about field trip security here. I've been well trained by the wife in many other areas.

I'm sure you would agree in give and take based on natural differing talents of the sexes, right?

lemondog said...

A Frenchman?
How do they know?


He had a beard. :-O

A commenter mentioned hearing French spoken in the video, apparently to the unidentified man in the water.

AllenS said...

lemondog said...
"A commenter mentioned hearing French spoken in the video, apparently to the unidentified man in the water".

That was probably me at 12:46 pm.

Skyler said...

So, eve, why does "duty" detract from heroism? This seems to be a pretty vacant flaw in your logic. He saved the girl, that means he's a hero, whether he had a motive, obligation or even danger is irrelevant.

I'm simply dumbfounded that anyone would choose such stupid point to detract from such a happy ending.

Allen tells me to lighten up, but it seems to me that I'm trying to be happy while this back seat drivers are complaining about nothing.

lemondog said...

That was probably me at 12:46 pm.

Sorry but it was commenter at 1:44pm.

eve said...

Skyler: No one is trying to "detract" from a great outcome. I am simply of the opinion that it was not an act of "heroism" that saved her. I made the mistake of both reading the original story as well as the commentary by Althouse which, in my mind, focused on the "heroic" part of the splendid recovery of the child.

Duty does not detract from heroism but heroism has a component of optionality which saving your own kid from a fall in the water does not. If the guy couldn't swim a lick I might concede that he was putting his life at risk.

Maybe risk of self does not pertain in your definition of heroism.

Ann Althouse said...

I wonder if people think that if Teddy Kennedy had tried to save Mary Jo Kopechne, he'd have been a hero.

If so, why are we so critical of his failure to save her? An accident happened, and he didn't risk his own safety to help her, which simply makes him an ordinary man.

Just because he was driving the car doesn't necessarily mean he was responsible. We don't know all the facts. Maybe just before they got to the bridge, she said "Hey! Look over there!" Who are we to say?

Palladian said...

It's threads like these that make me think I shouldn't have started commenting here again.

Howard said...

Good point Ann. Perhaps because saving MJK would have entailed mortal risk. Also, if he did save MJK, she might have also proclaimed him a hero.

You never know.

However, jumping in a river in broad daylight in front of scads of other people is not heroic, no matter what the resident JarHead thinks.

Meade said...

You little troll.

Howard said...

Palladian:

Well, I suppose you returned because that passive-aggressive pablum doesn't work in the real world. It must suck to be such a needy puke.

Theo Boehm said...
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Theo Boehm said...
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Ann Althouse said...

@Howard My point is that our criticism of Teddy indicates that we think an ordinary man would have done more. If it would have taken a hero to try to save her, then he did nothing wrong.

Ann Althouse said...

Man, all I wanted to do was celebrate the elusive Frenchman!

Theo Boehm said...
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Howard said...

Ann:

Don't buy it. Teddy did absolutely nothing to get help. He disappeared into the night and left her to die.

Nora said...

I don't think there is anything heroic about the father jumping into the river to save his child. He obviously could swim. I also do not see the Frenchman as being particularily heroic. However, the fact that he was the only person beside the father who jumped in the cold river to help, shows his as extraordinary gallant man.

Darcy said...

Howard: You don't see a difference between the circumstances offered for comparison?

Please tell me that you do.

Pogo said...

Kennedy was drunk driving a campaign worker to a beach for sex and was speeding. Why he took the wrong road and too fast no one knows. He did not attempt to save his drowning passenger, nor did he call anyone who could help, not for hours. Had he saved her it would not have been heroism because he himself placed her in danger in order to commit adultery.

We clearly define heroism differently. I see it along a continuum, with some being minor, some major. It isn't binary.

What the father did may seem ordinary or merely dutiful, or maybe even that he was neglectful and deserved blame.

I see small-h heroism, not deserving of any more medal than the admiration in the eyes of his wife and, someday, his daughter.

But you can keep to your stricter terminology, even though such acts are not really all that ordinary.


P.S. Hey Darcy!

Darcy said...

Never mind. I guess you do. But thoroughly confused now.

Perhaps I'll join Theo with a glass of wine. :)

Theo Boehm said...
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Theo Boehm said...
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traditionalguy said...

Facts inherent in this story include the fact that the father and the Frenchman were totally rational and evaluated a situation where anyone entering that water would die in a few minutes and there was no easy exit ladder or ramp there. That means a mental process that says "my life is hereby given for a chance to save your life" occurred twice. That is a father's decision over and over. It is seldom a stranger's decision. There are signs here of renewed humanity in both men's actions. That anyone in the comments wants to enviously one up this poetically beautiful "Free Will" exercise is stunning me.

Darcy said...

It will do nicely, Theo. Cheers! :)


wv: moilrga

Which is nothing, but at first reminded me of sister Moira.

eve said...

traditionalguy: I think you have it exactly right.

Skyler said...

Our hostess now tries to equate her demeaning of the father's act to the rightful denunciation of a political scion for abandoning his date while she clawed for life in his underwater car.

If Ted had indeed made an attempt to save her he would have been lauded. Had he rescued her, he would have been a hero.

But he didn't. He didn't try to help her. He didn't even ask anyone else to help her.

The man has never improved on his character in later life either.

Nora, if the man couldn't swim, would that make him a hero? I think it would make him drowned.

I simply do not understand the distinctions people are making here, and I'll reiterate that even our hostess has some sort of problem in this regard.

g2loq said...

On the drive by media News tonite they confirmed it is a Frenchman ...
He left in a cab. There is footage.

That's a great thing about New York you can generally get a cab fairly easily. Unless it rains, in which case they turn into submarines and vanish

FYI, many Frenchman like to watch old cowboy movies with John Wayne and such ... The heroes always ride away in the sunset ... in a cab.

David said...

Palladian: It's threads like these that make me think I shouldn't have started commenting here again.

Well, I'm glad you have come back but I see your point. The trolls, one trick ponies and talking point jockeys can drive you nuts.

I thought of stopping commenting and just reading (cue sarcastic cheers) but I've never been good at keeping my mouth shut.

Someday there will be no more Althouse blog.

I wonder what Althouse will do then?

madawaskan said...

If so, why are we so critical of his failure to save her? An accident happened, and he didn't risk his own safety to help her, which simply makes him an ordinary man.

I guess it depends on what your definition of "ordinary man" is.

In my environ that would be sub par performance-amongst college profs-ordinary.

madawaskan said...

or-"the norm".

*Shudder*-must suck to have spent so much time around that.

Theo Boehm said...
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peter hoh said...

Would everyone have been happy if the parents had the 2 year old on a leash?

How do we know that the father is a good swimmer? He might be a marginal swimmer, or someone who is somewhat afraid of swimming, but jumped in none the less.

As Traditional Guy hinted, the father put his life at risk by jumping in the water, even if he was a good swimmer. That there were a lot of people nearby doesn't change the fact that he took a significant risk.

Did the dad act heroically? I'll concede that there's grounds for debate, but I'll give him a lot of credit.

I think we can all agree that he did not act cowardly.

peter hoh said...
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magpie said...

Skyler - you are exactly right.

Penny said...

All is right with your world, until it isn't.

You react on instinct, as does a stranger from half a world away.

Your world is once again as it was before...except...

You will always wonder if you have the instinct to do the right thing when someone ELSE's world is falling apart. You want more than anything, never to be tested.

You fear you know the answer.

JAL said...

Kudos to TradGuy and Skylar.

jaed said...

If so, why are we so critical of his failure to save her? An accident happened, and he didn't risk his own safety to help her, which simply makes him an ordinary man.

We're not critical of Teddy because he didn't jump into the water to save her. We're critical of Teddy because he left the scene, didn't bother to stop at any of the several houses he walked right past for help, didn't bother to ask anyone back at the party for help, went back to his hotel, didn't bother to call the police from the hotel... any of which minimal acts might well have resulted in her life being saved... called the family fixer for advice before he reported the accident THE NEXT MORNING, and never once copped to his guilt in failing so terribly to do the right thing. Because he was afraid for his reputation.

Show me a father who leaves his daughter to drown, walks right past potential sources of help, and then tries to cover up his culpability (like a cat covering up on a concrete floor), and maybe then we'll talk Teddy comparisons.

JAL said...

This whole thread has been bugging me.

There is more backstory this morning online.

Someone above pointed out that what the dad did as far as emptying his pockets (OMG! His valuable were so!!! important!!!)is basic rescue stuff (no extra weight), he took off his shoes, vaulted over a fence, and checked the water before he dropped in feet first.

It struck me as being pretty rapidly methodical. The guy seemed to be reacting with training. It's like docs or paramedics who work in critical care -- they intubate, drug and zap while we're still going "OMG!!"

The dad is now described as having worked at Vail in ski patrol / rescue work a few years back. So he's cut from that kind of cloth, wired that way, whatever, more than most of us.

But what really annoyed me about the commenters yesterday was the sanctimonious knitpicking of his parenting (!!??!)

There is absolutely no information in the story about where and what the other family members were doing. For all we knew, the mom may have tossed the kid over the guard rail. (There IS a guard rail on the short gang plank.)

But of course she didn't.

For those of you who are so quick to criticize I wonder if you were ever parents. Or if in fact you were, you probably have totally screwed up kids because you never once didn't hold their hands or think the other parent was holding the kids' hands.

Some of you are the reason people get into therapy.

Was the NY Daily news overusing the word "hero?" The NY Daily News overuses a lot of words.

The point is it was pretty awesome that this guy could save his kid in NY's East River (nasty, dark, dirty, bad currents, etc.) And yeah, what the French guy was pretty cool. (And from the pictures is almost appears like there was a third guy. If so, also admirable.)

This is a feel good awesome story which could have ended very badly, and a bunch of you did nothing but stew in your self righteousness and try to turn it into a crappy story about bad parenting.

After following these comments my opinion of Althousia feels somewhat like the East River looks at the South Street Seaport.

(Oh yeah. If dad was so concerned about "his valuables" why didn't the watch go first? Ahh. Must have been water resistant! Not like his money.)

Skyler said...

I'm with JAL.

PatHMV said...

Heroic people are those who act above and beyond "the call of duty." They do something MORE than we normally expect of a regular person in a particular situation. Not labeling the father "heroic" does not diminish his actions, as so many here seem to think. It simply recognizes that, as the father, it was his duty to jump in the water after his daughter. That's all. It's not "heroic" because we expect ALL fathers to do the same thing in the same circumstances. If he did not, we would look down upon him, call him a coward, shame him for not attending to his duty.

But the Frenchman, as a passing stranger he had no duty to immediately jump into the water after a complete stranger. The duty of a passing stranger is to summon help, not to endanger his only life to save another man's gene pool (to look at it from an evolutionary perspective). If he did NOT jump in the water, we would not particularly think less of him, because of course, why would he do that? He perhaps has his own wife and children who would suffer were he to die in the rescue attempt.

So I admire the father for his prompt action. Many fathers today do not live up to their basic duties. He did, so many kudos to him. But I do not consider him a hero. The Frenchman is the hero.

Léa said...

In the video, french tourists don't say "Il est là" but they say "Ca va Julien?" => "Are you OK Julien?"