Thoughts on the Ferguson Narrative
An officer shot and killed a suspect. Protests have occurred. Riots and looting have followed.
When it comes to the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, MO, there is only one thing you need to know:
You don’t know everything so stop pretending that you do.
All along, I have been saying that we shouldn’t jump to conclusions as information from an investigation comes at a trickle. We needed to remain vigilant against forming a narrative at the very beginning because all that does is force people into defending their original position in the face of ever evolving evidence.
This is currently happening.
I’m not here to place blame because that would be hypocritical and fly in the face of the point I’m trying to make. I’m also NOT calling out anyone in-particular, as the nonsense is widespread.
Since the autopsy has come out, one thing we have learned is that the original witness, the friend who was with Brown, was wrong. Dorian Johnson claimed that Brown had been shot in the back. The autopsy shows he was shot in the front. I’m not surprised that a friend of the deceased would try and protect his friend, but I’m surprised that so many didn’t take his story with a grain of salt. No, people immediately inferred that because Brown was shot in the back, it must have been murder.
So, as time passed and more info was revealed, the original narrative has changed.
First it was that the cop committed murder.
Next, that the murder occurred execution style.
Then, it was that since he was unarmed, there was no need to shoot.
Now, it’s that there was no need to shoot that many times.
Nothing that has come out has acquitted the police officer of anything. The only thing that has happened is to cast reasonable doubt upon the original narrative.
At this point, reasonable people SHOULD be saying, “I don’t know what to think.”
The worst offense I’ve seen from people sticking to the original narrative is the flat out denial of new evidence as it becomes available. Sadly, this was expected since people made up their minds without all of the information and feel obligated to defend untenable positions.
There is a new video were a witness’s account backs the police’s story. This isn’t to say that this is definitive proof, but it’s not something to be dismissed simply because you don’t want to believe it to be true.
That’s not reality.
Also, using the term “unarmed” as a club in defense of Brown needs to stop. Just because a person is unarmed does not mean they are harmless. I’m roughly the same size as Brown’s 6’4″, 292lbs and I can tell you that people often find my size intimidating. Just because he was unarmed doesn’t mean he was or was not a threat.
I want to see the toxicology report, as that will go a long way towards clearing up whether Brown charged the officer or not, or at least whether it was more likely. Remember the ending of Scarface? Some heavy drugs can make it so it takes multiple hits to bring a person down. Also, saying that marijuana played a part is a non-starter, as weed does NOT make a person do something like charge a cop. If anything, it has the opposite effect.
If there is something obvious to be upset about, something that doesn’t need an investigation to understand, it’s that riots and looting have happened BEFORE the investigation is complete. It’s happened BEFORE a trial, BEFORE a verdict.
In this country, we believe in the tenets of innocence until proven guilty and due process. While I understand and agree with the community standing up and speaking out peacefully about what they believe, so far every night that peace has devolved into violence.
That is NOT okay.
I’m pleased to see that the National Guard is being called in to restore order. The people who live there that are not taking a position deserve peace and security. After all, the right of people speaking out does not supersede the right of people to live in peace.
In conclusion, this is not a condemnation of Brown nor is it a defense of the police. It’s merely a reality check for those who would ignore the reasonable in favor of a narrative. It’s a denunciation of straw man arguments where people are accused of supporting police militarization because they call for an end to rioting, accused of supporting murder because they call for more information before passing judgment.
I don’t have all the answers because all of the information isn’t out yet.
Newsflash: You don’t have all the answers either.
Let’s all take a step back and breathe, because beliefs based upon ignorance cause more harm than good.
UPDATE: I’ve seen a lot of concern for how the media has been treated by the police. While I’m sympathetic to journalists, as journalism is what I went to school for and I fully believe that a free society requires a free and independent press, I’ll say that one of the primary functions of the media is to not become a part of story. I’ve seen “journalists” like Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post make themselves the story by being in places they shouldn’t have been or doing something to inflame a situation.
A journalist’s job is to do everything in their power to not become part of a story themselves. If a police officer makes an unreasonable request of you, stand up for your rights but remember that’s not the story here – the story is what you’re demanding your rights to cover. If you’ve embedded yourself with or near rioters, then you are probably going to get tear gassed and you have no one to blame but yourself.