Monday, August 18, 2014

Missing The Point On Ferguson

The death of Michael Brown isn't just about the life lost; it's much bigger. This story is the epitome of what we mean when we lament that "everything is political." This young man is now a symbol, a rallying point for causes on all sides, whether for police brutality, racism, media bias, the lack of black assimilation to someone's definition of "mainstream" American culture, whatever. And as important as any or all these discussions may be or may become, we're missing the point: Whether the killing of Michael Brown in the given circumstances was legally and morally justified. The first point I want to make is that almost no one commenting on it--myself included--can actually answer this question, nor are we tasked with doing so. That may seem obvious, but more than a few people need to really think about that, and encourage others to do it, too. That is not to say that wider sociopolitical trends, problems, and impacts should not be discussed, but it is to say that, at the end of the day, it still comes down to Michael Brown and Darrell Wilson, and what each is owed in justice, followed by whatever is owed to communities, and to the common good.

Secondly, I appreciated reading this today, because his fears are legitimate, and worthy of discussion quite apart from the facts or final result of this case. The fact that some of us read this almost automatically through our pre-conceived notions of what he hopes to gain from this is very sad. My bottom line here: Let's hear what this man says, even if what we think we know is wrong (or right).

Personally, Michael Brown could have been the worst person on the street that day, and it's still not directly pertinent to his death, if the shooting was not justified. If it was, he could have been a choir-boy until then; it wouldn't change the heart of the question.

I do know that the other crimes are stupid, counterproductive, and not at all justified. Why hurt others in anger? It won't bring justice at all.

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