Tuesday, July 06, 2010


Roger Saulnier, a Saguenay jeweller who was thrust into the limelight last week when he saved the life of a young woman whose legs had been cut off by a train (he tied her arteries and stopped the bleeding) was arrested three times in the space of 24 hours last weekend (for drunk driving, break in and assault, and trying to get his ex - who he assaulted - to drop the charges).

People are shocked.  And quick to judge (from Hero to Zero someone put out in Facebook or one of those places).

One of his lawyer's arguments is that "overwhelmingness" of the whole situation got to him.

Perhaps. Could be. I'm not a psychologist so I wouldn't know. I do know that if I had done what he did, I'd probably go off the deep end...

What I don't get is people's reaction. Because he performed a heroic feat he automatically becomes a perfect human being? I mean c'mon, he could be the worst criminal ever, he could be a hit man and it doesn't mean that if he saw someone in that girl's situation, he'd just sit there and watch her die. Most people would, I think, try to do something. He just happened to know what to do and a life was saved. Lucky girl.

But by the same token, why would we necessarily equate heroism with "good personism" (yeah, well it's my blog and I'll invent words if I want to, so there!).

Aren't most heros just ordinary people who find themselves in situations where they just do what needs to be done?

Ordinary heroes, they say. There's a pleonasm if I every heard one.


alison said...

I always thought heroes were the guys in tights and capes and secret identities. :-) Give the guy a break. It's like when that American swimmer who won all the medals (can't remember his name) was photographed at a party taking a bong hit and the public were all so scandalized. Geez, lighten up everyone. They're just people.

Anonymous said...

I can see how seeing a woman with her legs cut off by a train and tying off her arteries to save her life would freak you out enough to go off the rails for a while. You can extend you hero theory to all the people we build up to be so super-human (presidents, golf players, actors) so every little screw up is shocking and unacceptable. I wonder what would happen if our lives were put under such scrutiny and someone was always developing headlines around everything we did, how we would come off?

Bonnie said...

Interesting questions Jazz. I agree with you - drastic situations often call up the best in people. And we are never just this or that - we are complex, amazing, yet flawed creatures capable of displaying many facets of our personality.

This poor man may have been deeply traumatized by what he witnessed. He put that aside and did what needed to be done (which many probably could not have summoned the courage to do) and could have been manifesting some post-trauma stress reactions (that he needed help to release in more skillful and socially acceptable ways) in his behaviours afterwards.

We demand so much of our heros - and some of us seem to take pleasure in knocking them off of their momentary 'pedestals'.

Trauma of that kind can shatter one's whole world view. As you say, let's give the man a break and show our gratitude for the example he set for us all in that horrific situation.

geewits said...

I would think that having the capabilities to tie off severed arteries would show a tendency for extreme behavior which absolutely ties in with his other "activities." Besides, on TV and in movies, master criminals have many skills.
Actually I'm picturing this drunken dude breaking in to his ex's house and shaking her and saying "I'm a frikkin hero, why don't you love me anymore?" It's sad really.

Fragrant Liar said...

Yeah, you figure if someone can be so heroic, he must have an internal compass that always carries him true north. In the end, he IS as human and fallible as the rest of us. Although, his follow-up actions do seem extreme. Perhaps PTSD?

Suldog said...

Love the new look. Very clear and pleasant.

Nobody is perfect. Some of us are less near than others. We should always attempt to separate the acts from the person as a whole, and give praise or not as the acts deserve.

I like to think of it as the Ted Nugent Test. I personally LOVE Nugent's guitar playing, but I'm not quite so enamored of his personality. No need to ever bring his life off-stage into it, though, is there? If you like the music, enjoy the music.

Gaelyn said...

So true that most people are heroes when thrown into the right/wrong situation. Better not to be so overly recognized for doing the right thing. Hey, nobodies perfect.

VioletSky said...

It is interesting, and completely unrealistic, that once someone performs a heroic deed, [he] suddenly is expected to be perfect in every way and is compared to every other hero.
Memories of Steve Fonyo....

Jazz said...

Alison - seems they shouldn't be

XUP - Golf players? Really? ;-)

Bonnie - But where's the pleasure in knocking 'em off their pedestal. Is it just snarkiness 'cause we feel we couldn't do the same? A "see, you're no better than me" reaction?

Geewits - I love how you always see the weird side of things.

FL - but its COLD up north!

Suldog - Bingo.

Gaelyn - In this age of the innernet, everything gets out at incredible speeds and people become instant celebrities. Before he would have had a ceremony at town hall. It's bizarre. Andy Warhol's 15 minutes, I guess.

Violetsky - Heh, Fonyo. I had totally forgot about him. Just as everyone will forget Saulnier next week.

secret agent woman said...

People long for heroes (so much so that they will slap the term on just about anyone - the poor victims in the World Trade Center, the kid who runs a touchdown) and then don't seem to tolerate their humanness. The guy's subsequent crimes do not take away from the good act. And personally, I reserve "hero" for someone who actually puts his or her own life at risk to help someone else. Which makes the guy less a hero than a guy who did a good deed.

Anonymous said...

Winston Churchill was a war hero prior to being a successful war leader. He risked his life in cavalry-charges and was unusually bold. He was quoted as saying something like, "there is nothing in life so exhilarating as to be shot at without result." Pretty rockin'.

Not really what you could call a 'nice' guy though...

"A prisoner of war is a man who tries to kill you and fails, and then asks you not to kill him."

"History will be kind to me for I intend to write it."

In 1917, following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, the British occupied Iraq and established a colonial government. The Arab and Kurdish people of Iraq resisted the British occupation, and by 1920 this had developed into a full scale national revolt, which cost the British dearly. As the Iraqi resistance gained strength, the British resorted to increasingly repressive measures, including the use of posion gas.

Winston Churchill, as colonial secretary, was directly responsible for this tactic and vociferously argued against anyone who objected to it, stating that the gas would probably 'only' kill sick people and children and 'only' blind or otherwise disable healthy adults.

He also planned a preemptive invasion of Russia on July 1, 1945 with the help of re-armed German forces. Yes, you read that right:


The military didn't like him, and the public booted him out quick-smart after the war, but now we see him as this ridiculously simplified, unambiguously benign leader, like Aslan or something.

Shrinky said...

Love the new look!

I'm with you and Suldog on this one, this is an excellent post, and raises some salient points.

Why do we need to project character traits to match the actions people do?

Like - why is it, when someone is coping and trying to deal with some really shitty situation in their life, do people invariablly have to tell them how wonderfully "brave" they are? Well, I don't know about you, but when the shit hits the fan in my life, coping and dealing with it has nothing to do with bravery, you've no choice BUT to wade through whatever crap come's your way!

Joanie Hoffman said...

You're MY hero for using the word pleonasm. It looks like a word verification word.
Happy days,

lime said...

certainly a demonstration of all the highs and lows one man can achieve and the complexity of an individual.

Jocelyn said...

So much public thinking hinges on black and white. That all people function in shades of grey totally undermines the validity of such public thinking, of course. He's just a guy who did the best he could in a crazy moment. Then he went back to being a guy.

Warty Mammal said...

For some reason I'm reminded of the Madonna/Whore categorization of women, in which women must be classified as one or the other and aren't allowed to have elements of both.

People come up with narratives, personal stories about events or other people. They can be deeply jarred or chose to disregard facts when those facts disagree with the narratives they've conjured up.