Obey Authority, But Don’t Be Afraid to Question It.

I think most of us fair-minded folks would agree that there were no winners in the Ferguson, Missouri situation. Regardless of how one feels about the August 9 shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer, the decision not to indict the officer by the Grand Jury, and the ravaging reaction by residents to it, no one should criticize the way it was handled, unless they were actually present when it occurred. There were only two people that were there throughout the entire ordeal, and only one of them is alive to give his side. There are always at least two sides an event, even if there is only one true reality. Nevertheless, when I poured over the headlines the day after the decision not to indict Officer Wilson was announced, there was the predictable criticism from both conservatives and liberals over the way the other side handled or portrayed the entire story. Articles from Newsmax noted that Officer Wilson testified that Michael Brown, who was 6-foot-4 and 292 pounds, “Looked like a Demon” and “ran at him like a football player.” They also noted that he had “marijuana in his system.” Big Deal. So do half the residents of Oregon and Colorado.

Rush Limbaugh kept referring to Brown as “the Gentle Giant” as he blamed “50 years of broken promises by the Democrats.” Yeah right, Rush.

Overall though, I think most people viewed the incident the way I did.

First of all, you don’t disobey the police, or give them any cause to shoot, beat, tase, arrest, or even give you a parking ticket, because they will. I’ve had plenty of run-ins with the police in the wilder days of my youth, and I quickly learned that if you suck it up and said “yes sir, officer” you had a good shot of getting to sleep in your own bed that night.

Yes, there are hard-headed cops out there. Some of them are barely on the right side of the law. I have degrees in criminology and criminal justice, so I can say that with authority (I also watch a lot of the ID Channel!)

Seriously though, the police face ethical challenges just about every day. Most of them joined the police force or sheriff’s department because they wanted to take on the challenge of serving their community. But when they become entrenched in the cop culture, with that notorious blue code, they began to see everyone else as the “enemy.”

We’ve all seen videos of police brutality, and a lot of it seems to be directed at young, poor minorities. Some people sit at home in their recliners and watch the carnage, and think “well, they just brought this on themselves. If only they had made better choices” (thanks for your advice O’Reilly).

Unless you have experienced life in their shoes, don’t ever think you know all about someone, or an entire community of someones. Watching something on TV, or hearing it on the radio, or reading it on some trashy news site, does not make you an authority on the subject, even if you heard it from “the most trusted name in news!”