Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Ferguson Verdict

A friend of mine asked me what I thought of the verdict in the Ferguson case yesterday and I hesitated for a minute before answering, “It doesn’t matter what I think.” That was the best I could do. But it also happens to be true. What a mess.

Anytime a police officer pulls the trigger and a teenager ends up dead it’s a tragedy. No matter the mitigating circumstances, parents are not meant to bury their children. Therefore, I can and do have sympathy for any parent suffering so tragic a loss. I find myself giving them a lot of room for error, allowing them to say hurtful even stupid things in the pain of the moment. I try to imagine how coherent and sensible I would sound with a thousand microphones stuck in my face after losing a son. In this case Michael Brown’s parents get a pass.

As far as the police are concerned, there isn’t enough money in the world that would entice me to become a police officer. It is the worst job in America. Every day, you put your life on the line trying to protect law-abiding citizens from criminals, and most of the time it’s devilishly hard to tell the difference. On the rare occasion where you actually have to fire a weapon, you place yourself under a microscope and the glare of that spotlight can destroy you. No thanks.

So, 12 men and women just completed their three month long grand jury duty. They listened to more than 70 hours of testimony, read reports, listened to more evidence, re-read reports, all the while knowing that whatever their decision happened to be would set off a firestorm of criticism. They were screwed from the beginning. I’ve read just a fraction of the testimony, but enough to know that whatever the per diem is for jury duty in Missouri, it ain’t enough.

My opinion of the verdict doesn’t matter because whatever it happens to be will be wrong. If I believe that Officer Wilson acted in self-defense then I will be judged to be in support of a trigger happy bigot who epitomizes the excesses of the militarized police force in America. If I support the not-guilty verdict, then I will be judged as someone who doesn’t value black lives.

If I believe that Officer Wilson was guilty of murder and got away with it because of systemic racism in our judicial system, then I will be judged to be in support of lawlessness, rioting, looting and mayhem. Worse, I will be lumped in with the Al Sharpton’s of the world, soft on crime and in cahoots with the coddlers and excuse-makers of the left, more concerned with perpetuating grievance than with justice.

So, I’ll just watch the bonfires in the streets of Ferguson. I’ll listen to the protesters chant their slogans…you didn’t indict, we shall fight…f**k the police. I’ll watch them burn down their own town in a rage. Then I’ll wait for some politician to introduce legislation to finance the rebuilding of Ferguson with a new urban renewal plan funded by taxes on the law-abiding citizens of St. Louis.
But I won’t comment on the verdict. It doesn’t matter what I think. I’m wrong anyway.