One ongoing theme of this blog has been, “get both sides of the issue before you judge.” A classic example of why is the 20-part series in this blog that ran from July 13, 2013 into September of that year. CNN and some other “news” outlets made the shooting of a young attacker by an armed citizen into a racist murder to rival the lynching of Emmett Till, and that became a lynching all its own before a jury heard the facts and saw the evidence and acquitted George Zimmerman.
We’re seeing something of a replay of that in Ferguson, Missouri in the still-controversial shooting of Michael Brown, 18, by police officer Darren Wilson. CNN has at least put a few voices of reason on the air, such as David Klinger and Mark O’Mara, whose message is one I share: “We can’t judge until we have all the evidence, and we don’t have that yet!”
I just got home from California, where amidst the whole media blitz I ran across a couple of issues of an alternative newspaper out of their state Capitol, the Sacramento News & Review. Amidst the usual “The shooting of Brown is unconscionable” (8/28/14, Page 15) stuff, I found this refreshing bit of honesty by the paper’s on-the-ground-in-Ferguson reporter, Sean Stout:
“I didn’t feel like a journalist for a single second I was in Ferguson,” wrote Stout on Page 9 of the same edition. “I felt like a Brown supporter. I sided with the Ferguson organizers yearning for peace, racial equality and justice for the senseless murder of an unarmed youth.”
Well, Sean Stout, God bless you at least for saying so. The “unconscionable” statement was in an essay/editorial, where opinions including that one belong. Stout’s statement and article were in the News section. He gave total disclosure that what he was writing in “news” was in fact “opinion.”
And that’s a lot more honesty than I’ve seen in a lot of the rest of the mainstream media as regards this case, from reporters and news editors who are just as biased to one side as Stout, but don’t have the integrity to admit it.
If Officer Darren Wilson, an average size man judging by photos, turned into Elastic Man and reached up from the seat of his patrol car and grabbed the six-foot-four Mr. Brown by the throat and brutalized him, and then shot him in the back as he ran – as some of his accusers say – he deserves to go to prison. But if – as his defenders say – he was attacked violently by Brown, who tried to take his gun and kill him with it, and then shot Brown when he turned from a short run away and lunged again at the officer he had already seriously injured, it has all the hallmarks of a justifiable homicide.
By now, everyone seems to have seen the horrifying video of the 9-year-old girl whose rented Uzi 9mm submachinegun gets away from her and – an instant after the public consumption version of the video is mercifully cut short – discharges a fatal bullet through the brain of the adult male instructor standing on her left. At first look, I could see that she didn’t have a strong stance and didn’t appear to have a firm grasp. Nature and physics took their course.
Dan Baum, the author of “Gun Guys,” the open-minded book about modern “gun culture” in America, wrote the following for ime. I think everyone needs to read it.
Jews for Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO) approached Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) with a view toward SAF taking over the financially foundering JPFO. Many in JPFO were not pleased. There has been some badmouthing of the Second Amendment Foundation and its leader Alan Gottlieb lately. Having known Alan for decades and having served for many years on SAF’s board of trustees, I feel compelled to offer a word or two.
It was Gottlieb’s vision decades ago which, through SAF, funded much of the scholarly legal research published in respected law journals which today is recognized as authoritatively repudiating many “gun control” arguments. It was SAF that gave impetus to the two greatest US Supreme Court precedents supporting individual rights under the Second Amendment, Heller v. District of Columbia and McDonald, et al v. City of Chicago. And SAF is extremely active at the grassroots level as well, as seen here on Fox News.
One commentator said the late founder of JPFO, Aaron Zelman, did not respect Alan Gottlieb and the Second Amendment Foundation. Excuse me? I knew Aaron Zelman, and recall seeing him attending and speaking at the SAF-sponsored Gun Rights Policy Conference. Aaron was no two-faced hypocrite; I’m sure he would not have supported with his attendance an organization of which he disapproved.
I’ve heard Alan and SAF criticized for their choice of lawyers. Um, excuse me? Are they talking about Alan Gura, the brilliant lawyer who won those great victories for the Second Amendment in the Supreme Court of the United States? Both Alans are Jewish, Gura presently in Tel Aviv I’m told; are there members of Jews For Preservation of Firearms Ownership who bash two of the strongest fighters for the Second Amendment who are Jews themselves? What?
Speaking only for myself, it appears to me that SAF is the ship willing to pick up the survivors of the sinking JPFO, and to get them back sailing again on the course that Aaron Zelman founded for his great organization. If members of JPFO are able to keep the original organization afloat, more power to them. If not, I would much rather see SAF take the helm and keep JPFO on course instead of watching JPFO and its accomplishments sink beneath the waves.
All who read this are invited to attend the GRPC. There is no fee, and attendees receive a substantial amount of research materials. Over two days, they’ll hear from the best and the brightest in the pro-gun movement, encompassing national and grassroots organizations alike. Information is available here. Come and talk with Alan Gottlieb and others from SAF, and judge for yourself.
Today, supposedly, a grand jury convenes in Missouri to examine the facts surrounding the death of Michael Brown at the hands of FPD officer Darren Wilson, to determine if an indictable crime has been committed. One talking head on TV even said that hearsay would be permitted there, which if true is nothing less than a travesty.
The grand jury review itself, it would seem, is coming awfully early. The general public does not realize how long it takes to complete a homicide investigation. The toxicology screen on the deceased, which can be a critical factor, may or may not have been completed yet, but to the best of my knowledge such results have not yet been released to the public.
Members of the grand jury will be under tremendous social and political pressure to indict. The state’s own governor has, incredibly, called for “vigorous prosecution.” Damn shame he didn’t have the integrity to call for “vigorous investigation” instead. One should not be convicted before trial in the Governor’s Mansion instead of in a courtroom.
The smell of mob rule is growing stronger, and more fetid.
Also today, Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to be on the ground in Ferguson for investigative purposes. Many pundits expect him to visit with the family of the deceased; certainly, there’s nothing wrong with that.
But I sincerely hope that the AG, our nation’s chief law enforcement officer, will visit the family of the injured officer as well.
The meme started out as sweet, tender 18-year-old Michael Brown about to enter college, murdered by police in front of many witnesses despite no discernible motive. National uproar and civil disturbance ensues.
The family of the deceased hires Benjamin Crump, the lawyer for Trayvon Martin’s family who engaged a high powered, well connected PR firm to turn that shooting into a national cause celebre, which they did with enormous success. By the time the truth came out, most of America seemed to still believe that the deceased was a harmless, innocent victim of racism murdered by a monster who deserved to be lynched. That meme seems to be getting a repeat in Missouri.
Only days later, do we learn how savagely the officer was beaten by the physically huge man he shot. And that very shortly before the incident, the innocent college boy had performed a strong-arm robbery at a convenience store, caught on surveillance video. (This, of course, would not do, so last night looters ravaged that particular convenience store.) It has been reported that that Facebook images of Brown exist, flashing gang signs indicating membership in one of the nation’s most feared street gang, the Bloods.
Countless people already invested in the police brutality meme cry that this late news must be a cover-up. They do not realize the long-standing ethos of law enforcement that says, “We don’t try our cases in the press.”
There is still much for us to learn about what happened in Ferguson, Missouri that day. Results of the autopsy and toxicology screen have not yet been released. Location of entry wounds and trajectory of the bullets through the body will tell us things, and it would be interesting to know what if anything was in Michael Brown’s system when he turned from the “gentle giant” his family described him as, into the hulking monster throwing the store clerk around in the surveillance film shortly before he was shot by police. I suspect there are dashcam images or i-phone video that the public has not yet seen.
One lesson that has clearly emerged so far: the longer the accused wait to put forth their side of the story, the more damage will be done to their cause. An accusation unanswered is seen by the general public as a plea of nolo contendre.
And this morning, CNN reports that storeowners, feeling that police aren’t protecting them from looters, are standing outside their shops in Ferguson with “machine guns.”