Sunday, August 17, 2014

Michael Brown, Military Police, and Politics

When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

It only took a few hours for the shooting in Ferguson to become a political football, to those who tend to make everything political. After all, Michael Brown, a black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white cop. To some, cops are always right, and since he's a white, male cop, he must be Republican. The dead man was black, so obviously he was in the wrong, and of course, a Democrat.

To others, all cops tend to distrust black people. Michael Brown was black, minding his own business, not hurting anyone, an easy target. Clearly the opportunity officer Wilson had been waiting for.

Apparently the facts of the case are clear. Stop the investigation and man the torpedoes!

America's most disgusting new trend is on display here, the politicization of everything. The root of this metaphorical weed is the media. Having taken a scorched earth approach to their own industry, they are now looking for a way - any way - to gain back listeners and viewers. They utilize a cheap method that requires no effort at all: shouting and finger pointing. If you can pit people against each other, all that's left is to fan the flames and feign disgust with the results. You know who you are. You are to blame.

A local television station broadcast video of officer Wilson's home. Whoever made that decision should be fired immediately. The broadcast media has a responsibility to the public, and they've completely forgotten that. The public owns the channel on which they broadcast, and upholding community standards trumps the few extra dollars they may earn for their stockholders.

This case really breaks down into two questions: Was the death of Michael Brown necessary? And, was the military-like reaction of the police reasonable and necessary? In simple terms, there is nothing political about these questions. They are questions we should all be asking, whether Democrat or Republican, NPR or commercial radio consumer, Fox or MSNBC viewer.

This is not about the President, and not about a political party. This is about a dead man and a police officer, so we can put away the political bullshit. We can put away predetermined notions about average black people, or average police officers.

Are there deeper questions that eventually need to be asked? Of course. Will there be political implications? Yep. As a society, we should always question authority. We should always self-analyze. When the dust settles, lessons should always be learned. Do we have the facts of this case yet? No. Has the dust settled? It has not.

In the end, police officers are charged with one duty: protecting citizens. That includes Michael Brown, a citizen, and those around Mr. Brown. Decisions are sometimes made in a split second. Those decisions can sometimes be wrong. Nobody is perfect. Officer Wilson and Mr. Brown are both human.

Was Michael Brown's death avoidable? It's not a political question, it's a question about a life. Nothing else matters here. Life is the only real thing of value that we own. The rest is window dressing.

So for everyone's sake, stop the name calling, stop the finger pointing, stop the politics. Let's figure out what happened.


Interesting background/perspective on the militarization of the police.

A perspective about black neighborhoods.

Background on the Michael Brown case.