Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Thank Heaven for Engineers

Specifically, my engineer, J.

Yesterday, I found myself repeatedly whipped up into a froth over the situation in Ferguson. Even though I do not usually watch the news, I found myself transfixed by coverage of Ferguson when I turned on the television to put on an episode of The Wiggles for the kids.

One tidbit that the news decided to report on was the racial divide in how Americans view what happened to Mike Brown. Apparently, 57% of blacks believe that Officer Darren Wilson is guilty of murder, while only 17% of whites do.

This set me off. I was horrified. How could 83% of whites look at the facts and not come to the conclusion that Mike Brown was murdered?

I mentioned this information to J. His immediate response was so straight to the point and rational that I wondered what the hell was wrong with me.

"How can anyone have an opinion on whether the officer is guilty of murder," he asked, "since no one knows all the facts yet and there has been no trial?"

Thank you, J.

You're right. There may be a court of public opinion in our 24-hour news cycle, but here in America we give everyone his day in court. My white-hot anger at this situation has made me irrational and made me forget the fact that I don't know exactly what happened and that Officer Wilson does have the right to defend himself in front of a jury of his peers.

Thank heaven for the engineers and economists and lawyers and others who are able to look dispassionately at the situation and recognize that their emotions are not the same as facts.

Without that kind of dispassion, there is no way forward.

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