Saturday, July 09, 2016


Three News Stories, Three Shapes of Tragedy

This week, there were three horribly sad news stories in the news here. In chronological order:

1) The killing of Phlandro Castile near St. Paul:

2) The killing of five police officers (and wounding of seven others) in Dallas:

3) The shooting of two toddlers in Minneapolis:

How does any of this make sense?

#2&3 make no sense at all. How can the ambush killing of several sworn officers at a peaceful rally and a gang-related shooting ever make sense? Perhaps it's an inflated perception of self-importance combined with an anger and confusion the shooters are just not able to grasp, or control.

As for the Castile shooting, that is something else completely. whenever a citizen dies at the hands of the police, the situation should, and must be scrutinized. It is, after all, the intentional taking of another life; perhaps justified under the law, perhaps not.

The proper forum for that review, however, should and must be conducted by people who know the law, and more importantly, all the facts. That is not what is happening in this case. The video is seen as the "whole truth," but this is false. What lead up to the stop, what the officer knew or perceived, and what happened before the video started is not captured. My belief is that as the days and weeks go on, more info will come to light. These additional facts will make more clear what is a murky situation.

I do not begrudge the protesters who take to the streets to voice their frustration in a peaceful manner. It is their right. And their duty as a citizen to stand up to injustice, if they see one.

What I can not stand is the news media who flame the fire by portraying a small window of insight as the whole story. They jump to the conclusion that, because a white officer shoots a black man, that shooting was racially motivated. Based on what facts? Opinions are not facts, and sensationalism is not news. It seeks only to inflame the passions and reinforce already held beliefs.

And Gov Dayton should be ashamed of his knee-jerk comment. How can the governor, the head of the executive branch, publicly jump to such a conclusion? It is reckless, gutless, and shamefully political.

I'm sure many will disagree with my opinion, and I welcome other comments. But the key for me, the one small part of this sad event that makes me believe this was not a racially motivated shooting, lies in the video. Listen to the officers voice as he talks to the woman in the car, his weapon still drawn. He voice is shaking, filled with fear. An honest, true fear. The kind you only hear when you honestly believe your own life may end. I have heard that tone before, and I hear it again when I watch that video. That is not the sound of hate, but rather terror.

I can only hope the matter is handled more fairly by the BCI, prosecutor, and jury if necessary, than it has been in the media.

One inevitable result of all this, and similar instances, will be a reduction in the quality of recruits. Will young men and women be less likely to stand up for their communities as officers if they fear judgement and a hostile public? I think so. Standards will lower, and the cycle will perpetuate. If we seek to have a well trained force comprised of high-quality folks, this is not the way to go.
I think it makes sense like a lion destroying a gazel, like the Hatfields and McCoys.

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

I think it is loving your enemies that does t make sense. That's supernatural, and that is what I pray for.
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