During a wide-ranging interview on the topic of Ferguson on The Midday Show on KFAB radio in Omaha, host Clint Bellows offered the following remarkable insight:
You know, Walter, back in the fifties, one of my favorite actors – Gregory Peck – played Atticus Finch in the film adaptation of Harper Lee’s great novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus Finch defended Tom Robinson, an African-American man in the deep south who was accused of assaulting a lower-middle class white woman… of course, he was found guilty and he was sent to prison. Along the way, the officers that were holding him claimed that he tried to escape and they shot and killed him…
This [situation in Ferguson] is To Kill a Mockingbird in reverse, isn’t it? We’ve got a white police officer who has been found guilty in the court of public opinion, including the former attorney general and governor of the state who says the Brown family needs justice. What about this police officer’s situation? We don’t know what happened there, do we?
Indeed, the rush to prejudgment regarding the shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson demonstrates precisely the same form of racially-fueled bias critiqued by Lee in her novel. Unchecked, such prejudice portends injustice. It should not matter whether the victim of such injustice is white or black. What should matter is the recognition and protection of each individual’s rights, regardless of their background.
As articulated in the interview, which you can listen to at the link below, the blatant politicization of a criminal justice incident should chill the blood of anyone concerned with the essential guarantees of due process and equality under the law. The adoption of a mob mentality by many in the mainstream media, and – worse yet – highly placed government officials like Attorney General Eric Holder, flies in the face of each institution’s purpose. Government and the press each exist to cut through bias, administrating blind justice and reporting objective fact respectively. When they fail to do so, they become no different then Tom Robinson’s racist persecutors.
(Today’s Fightin Words podcast is on this topic available here. 32:16 minutes long; 31.05 MB file size. Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)