It happens far too often. At least once a month we come across a video filmed by a passenger on aeroplane, bus, train or subway revealing some disgusting excuse for a human being screaming racist or homophobic abuse at a fellow passenger in a completely unprovoked attack.

Passengers on a bus / Photo Credit: Pixabay

Passengers on a bus / Photo Credit: Pixabay

The latest incident of which to make headlines occurred on a Ryanair flight from Barcelona to London, whereby a mature white male was seen verbally attacking an elderly, disabled West Indian woman, calling her an "ugly black b*****d" and a "stupid ugly cow" when she took her time getting out of his way.

Amazingly, he was allowed to remain on the flight. It's a familiar story; people would rather ignore a situation than help, because helping can be so inconvenient. On the other hand, not everyone knows how to react to a situation like this. 

Here's a list of Dos and Don'ts in case you ever have the misfortune to witness hate speech on your commute:

DO ignore the offender and offer to sit with the victim where possible or else strike up a conversation. They may be frightened, uncomfortable or angry, and may not want to interact, in which case don't push them to do so. They are, however, more likely to welcome kindness and a distraction from the horrible situation.

DON'T challenge the offender. Remember, you don't know this person or whether or not they could become violent. It doesn't matter how much you feel like you need to defend the victim, you could be putting people in danger by being vocal. Leave it to the authorities. 

DO inform the driver, pilot, attendent, conductor or whatever staff may be available to you. They have the power to remove any offender from the vehicle if they feel they are acting abusively or aggressively.

DON'T attempt to coax the offender out of the area yourself, and definitely don't put your hands on them. You're just giving them an excuse to claim they were acting in self-defence if the situation were to escalate.

DO report the situation to the transport police, or even the real police if you think a situation warrants their involvement. But make it clear that the situation is making you feel uncomfortable. You have a duty to report illegal activity and hate speech IS a crime.

DON'T force the victim to go to the police or call them on their behalf unless they ask you to. They have every right not to press charges or speak to police if doing so would cause them distress. The fact of the matter is, a court doesn't need co-operation from the victim to charge someone with a crime. 

DO film the situation. Take photographs. Make sure the offender can reasonably see that you are recording them, though this is less important if they can clearly see others recording, or are aware of any CCTV operating in their vicinity. It's important to do this as evidence in case the situation becomes a police matter. 

DON'T shout abuse, laugh or get in the offender's face with your phone. You're recording purely for evidence purposes, not entertainment, and any attempt to antagonise the offender can invalidate this evidence in a court of law.

And finally...

DO be kind to others and treat everyone with the amount of respect afforded to them as a member of the human race.

DON'T hurl random abuse at strangers for reasons pertaining to the colour of their skin, their general appearance, their lifestyle, or their language.

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