Critical Thinking

When Emotions Overrule Facts and Evidence

Back in August, a young man by the name of Michael Brown was shot to death by a Police Officer.  There was a lot of media hype surrounding the shooting.  There was a lot of sensationalist reporting by untalented hacks and there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of focussing on the facts, other than the victim was black and unarmed and that police officer was white. For anyone who cared to check, the facts of the case were as follows:

Michael Brown had just committed a robbery (a $48 box of cigarillos) – that’s why the officer stopped him.

Autopsy evidence corroborates the officers version of events – that there was a struggle inside the car and that the perpetrator was shot while the struggle took place.

Forensic evidence corroborates the officers version of events – that the perpetrator was walking towards him while he was fatally shot.

The initial autopsy undertaken by the County corroborated the officers version of events.

The federal autopsy (which was released on Dec 8) reached the same conclusion.

Eye witness accounts varied wildly and in some cases were demonstrably wrong.

The bottom line is that although tragic, this was not a miscarriage of justice.  There was no conspiracy that existed between the Police and the Attorney General’s office and the Judge and the Grand Judge or any other such nonsense.  There was no indictment because there was no cause for there to be one.  A kid robbed a store, assaulted a Police officer and got shot.  All the evidence points in that direction. So what’s all this about rioting and burning down half the city and holding up signs saying “No Justice, No Peace” and the St Louis Rams making “hands up” gestures during their last NFL game?  Mob mentality.  That’s what this is all about.  Believing what you want to believe no matter what.  Believing that white cops can walk around gunning down unarmed black teenagers in broad daylight for no reason with absolute impunity because of systemic racism.  Everybody is in on it and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them.  Never mind facts, never mind evidence.  It’s the “system” that’s flawed.  It’s because of racism.  It’s because of this or that.  NONSENSE.  Anyone, with a passing interest in the facts and willingness to find out what really happened can find out very easily for themselves.  The officer didn’t do anything wrong.  He tried to arrest a robbery suspect got assaulted and he reasonably believed that his life was in danger and defended himself.  End of story.


2 thoughts on “When Emotions Overrule Facts and Evidence

  1. Sorry, Ashley, I have to disagree that the reasons for pushback is ‘mob mentality’. There is a problem of racism when people are treated differently based on race. This translates into all kinds of race based problems… including the rate at which blacks are killed by police officers without the same standard of culpability held by those police officers. Sure, particular cases may seem to be have a justifiable response no matter what race the people involved may be. But in the aggregate we see the evidence of institutionalized racism rampant by police.

    I would like to think that this was only a US problem… but it’s not. Only late in this year has the directive gone out to Toronto police officers to stop carding blacks… guilty only of sitting, guilty only of driving, guilty only of walking with hands in the pockets, and so on. We do not find the same carding being carried out against whites. This is racism in action, and killing a person who takes issue with some tinpot police officer hassling a citizen without any justifiable reason other than being black is very much an ongoing and deadly problem blacks and not whites face. The pushback is a means to highlight this endemic and ubiquitous problem.

    As for my Rammers, I have nothing but admiration for players willing to step up and demonstrate their recognition of this problem without resorting to violence. Look at the effect Austin, Bailey, Cook, Kendricks, and Britt caused by doing their hands raised, don’t shoot gesture (as did everyone on the Rams who scored a touchdown in that game… to symbolize their support for their community). Remember, the Rams play a few miles from Ferguson, so their actions – or lack of them – also have ramifications. Why not utilize the national stage to remind folk that quality of character and not the colour of one’s skin determines merit… as it did on that football field on that day. That’s not ‘mob mentality’ and I am also quite proud of the support not just by Coach Fisher for these players (in their last game, many players wore ‘Can’t breath’ on their personal accoutrements) as well as the NFL for refusing to punish these players exercising their First Amendment rights.

    This really is an important issue in that first we have to recognize that there really is a racial problem and official responses to race before we can move on to getting it the hell out of any consideration as to how we treat individuals.


  2. There’s no question in my mind that there are racist police officers and that there is some systemic racism in certain areas – especially the southern United States. I have never heard of this directive given to Toronto Police Officers to stop carding black people solely due to the fact that they are black. I have several police officer friends who actually work in Toronto that I game with and get together with on a regular basis. I’ll make it a point to ask them about this in the near future.
    The intent of my article was to show that even though the facts in this case showed that there was no reasonable cause to suspect any malice or ill intent of the part of the police officer, there was some extremely shoddy, underhanded, shady journalism to paint this particular incident as a “miscarriage of justice” when nothing could be further from the truth. In the case of Eric Garner, I think it actually was a miscarriage of justice that the officer wasn’t more severely disciplined as it clearly warranted it. Not that I sanction rioting, but I think that the citizens of Staten Island would have had more cause to riot than the citizens of Ferguson. But they didn’t. I find that puzzling to be honest.
    The “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture, I have to say, I find disingenuous. Firstly, because that never actually happened in the Michael Brown case (or has never been proven to happen) and secondly, I feel that it is a deliberate attempt to smear the integrity of the men and women who serve in law enforcement.
    The “Can’t Breathe” statement I would actually agree with, because I think that while there was probably no intentional malice on the part of the officer in that case, I think it was clearly the actions of a person who should have remained in control and never realized that he went too far until it was too late.
    For me the bottom line is this: Being a police officer is a thankless job. Everyone hates you, until they need you. All of a sudden, you’re their best friend. They are out there putting their lives at risk on a daily basis to ensure that our communities and neighbourhoods are a safe place to live in. Are they all perfect? Hell no! Are some of them racist, bigoted and possibly power-tripping? No doubt about it. However, I have to put my faith in the system (funny me saying something like that) and I have to think that those are the exceptions and not the norm. Perhaps that faith is misplaced, but I don’t think so. As to how we can curb the issue of racism in society in general, I’m not sure I even know where to start but I would be willing to entertain and discuss any and all ideas.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s