Hands Up, Don't Think
So enough for political stances and special interests’ offensives; also for rhetoric that divides for whatever purpose. Think with me for a few minutes about the events and circumstances—and the awful results that have come from them for all of us. The phenomenon, just recently played out right here in Indiana, boasted a set of results and a race away from the facts toward reactions and ends that are sadly in line with past such times over the last few years.
When the story first started percolating in and then outside of Florida about the high school kid shot by a community crime watch guy, the rush to slogans and the incitements by the usual suspects took off at Mach speeds without the slightest hint of a search for facts first. Innocent black youth, unarmed and minding his own business, shot by a “white Hispanic” male. (We are all still trying to figure out just what a white Hispanic is, by the way.) Riots, torrents of racial invective hurled at every conceivable target, and an instant conclusion that the white guy was to blame were all eagerly embraced by the public. Mssrs. Jackson, Sharpton, et al fanned the flames and the results were pretty awful.
Then one day the facts started to leak out; a lacerated scalp, bodily bruising all over the white Hispanic’s torso and a broken nose; a kid with a less pristine persona and clear EVIDENCE that the struggle was incited by its eventual victim all combined to shush the rabble almost overnight. And of course, eventually the shooter was acquitted of all charges.
Fast forward to Ferguson, Missouri, just last year, where the white cop kills the back youth after a fight over his own weapon. A clearly fallacious allegation that the 6 foot 4 inch 290 lb. youth raised his hands to surrender quite literally set a town on fire. Nobody knew—because nobody cared or even wanted to know that the shooting victim has just held up a convenience store and assaulted its proprietor only minutes before; then there were all those dispassionate third party bystanders who corroborated the officer’s statements that the youth had lunged into the police car and attempted to take the officer’s gun. No hands up, they reported and absolutely no “DON’T SHOOT”! But the city burned anyway. Cops got shot, rioters from all over the country descended on Ferguson to loot and pillage, beat innocent people and burn down the town. NO charges against the cop, a confirmation by the Holder Justice Department that there was no evidence of wrongdoing by the police. Just a town torn asunder.
Now we see it in political arena, right here at home. A statute replicated by the Legislature virtually verbatim from the 1993 law of the same name as passed by an almost unanimous Congress and signed by President Clinton suddenly became—again without evidence or proof of any kind—an awful indictment of a whole state full of wonderful people. Homophobic, racist, evil. . .really—evil. Businesses, entire industries threatening overnight to pull out of Indiana and never return. And over what? A piece of settled legislation that had been in existence around the country and at the federal level for over two decades, that’s what. So who thought, who stepped back to ask, or read, or consider? Nobody. In the end the whole thing was a disaster, with the Legislature and the administration taking it on the chin and creating a protected classification that was never the law anyway. (See Game, Set, Match LGBT, this blogsite)
Again the debate at this moment is not the whole “Who shot Cock Robin” argument over who’s right at any one time; what is so difficult is how our society has come to the place where, based upon so little—or as in these cases above, on nothing—it can create issues and blame, claims and eventually violence that burns down whole cities. And when those stubborn facts start to come out, the antagonists simply fade back into the woodwork and wait for another scandal, perception or outright fraud to exploit. We end up pitted against each other, often on racial or party lines, and in almost every case our strife is first initiated and then fueled by energy that is without factual support from the outset.
At times the old lawyer in me despairs that we as a people have so completely abandoned fact finding and so utterly given up on seeking the truth before acting. Our Media race ahead with ridiculous headlines and stories without seeking even the most rudimentary journalistic safeguards, and when they get caught, there is no sanction for their misconduct and unprofessionalism. Never mind what they have wrought and the mischief that have created.
That fraternity house at the University of Virginia that was falsely accused of a gang rape in Rolling Stone is now and for all time devastated, thanks to an unscrupulous young woman who was so excited to be able to tell the tale that she failed to check a single fact. Turns out the whole thing was made up, there was no rape—hell, I there was no victim! But the damage is done and the lives of those young men are ruined. Same for the Duke University Lacrosse team back when.
That’s what happens when reasonable inquiry is not required or even encouraged. And sometimes cops get shot and towns burn to the ground. Time to demand more, my friends. It’s time.