Ferguson, Factual Leaps & Fanciful Conclusions

Watching Lou Costello abandon definition and context in his math equations is a bit fun I have to admit. Those of us who laugh at the joke do so because we know the truth. But what if you lived in a time or culture that had become bereft of sound logical thinking and made decisions based primarily on emotion? A few factual leaps to fanciful conclusions and this sort of math might make perfect sense in that sort of world. In many respects, that is the world we live in both in culture and sadly in not too few churches. As Rod Serling might say in the beginning of an episode of The Twilight Zone “Enter the small town of Ferguson, MO…”

I have been to Ferguson on a number of occasions. Our friends at Personal Freedom Outreach used to hold their apologetics conferences at First Baptist Church of Ferguson every other year. We have had an EMNR conference there. We found it to be a nice little town and have been horrified to see it turned into a hotbed of racial animus, mostly, it seems, by out of towners and high profile leaders who spend their time maintaining the racial divide. Listening to their claims has been very much like watching Lou Costello make his mathematical factual leaps and end up with fanciful conclusions. The point I will ultimately be getting to is not really about Michael Brown or the officer who shot him, Darren Wilson but about perhaps a more important question. However, for the record, I should stipulate a few things that are facts:

– A strong arm robbery was committed and is on video from the store.
– A short time later (15 – 20 minutes as far as I can figure) 18 year old Michael Brown and a friend were walking down the middle of the road. Officer Wilson in his squad asked them to move out of the middle of the street.
– A scuffle ensued which concluded with Officer Darren Wilson shooting Michael who died as a result.

None of this is in dispute. Was Michael the strong arm robber on the video? I don’t know. There is a strong resemblance to be sure. Did Officer Wilson know about the robbery when he met up with Michael and his pal? Again, we do not know. Most of these things will be answered and cleared up in the days and weeks ahead.

Then there is the tale of two stories. An important point to inject here is a Biblical one:

The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him. (Proverbs 18:17)

Story one has been popularized by those who profit by making race the central issue whenever possible and by liberal media. Story one is by Michael Brown’s sidekick that they were walking along minding their own business when the officer began harassing them, things got intense, Wilson pulled his gun, Brown put his hands up and said he surrendered at which point officer Wilson shot him to death. There are a few who claim to have witnessed this story as being true.

Story two is by Officer Wilson, that he asked Michael Brown and associate to move from the middle of the street because they were block traffic. Michael forced his way into the car and went for Officer Wilson’s gun which then went off in the car. He managed to wrestle it back but was severely punched several times in the process. Outside of the car Brown began taunting Wilson saying he would never shoot him and then began running at him and would not stop. Out of fear for his life he began shooting and after several shots Brown stopped. There are over a dozen witnesses confirming this account but are at this point unwilling to let their names be publicly known, for reasons that will be apparent soon. It also surface on Wednesday of this week that Officer Brown had been hit so hard that the bone around his eyeball has been crushed.

Which of these tales is true? I don’t know. I don’t have enough information and one or the other will begin collapsing as actual evidence is examined. The bigger question is, “How does this give anyone the right to rob, pillage, set businesses on fire, throw Molotov Cocktails and fire guns in these militant marches to the detriment of innocent businesses, residents by standers?”

I have to tell you, I have great difficulty restraining my anger as I watch Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton stir up racial animus for fun and profit, then walk away and watch the city burn without so much as looking back. They made factual leaps to reach fanciful conclusions. Michael Brown was shot because he was black they claim. It resonates with many people emotionally but there isn’t a shred of evidence this is the case. What if Michael had been the same proportions but was Chinese or Brazilian, would Jackson and Sharpton have been anywhere near the place? What does that tell us about the honesty and integrity of these two men? Are they truly interested in justice or just financial opportunists who prey on rather than pray for the hurting? Facebook and Twitter were absolutely abuzz with claims and accusations but exhibiting very little actual thinking and dealing with facts and evidence. Emotions have become the way to make important life decisions today and under no circumstances should the truth be allowed to get in the way of a good story!

Late Wednesday night, Megyn Kelly on Fox News had a special guest who identified himself as a Reverend, but I missed his full name. Although he tends more toward liberalism I have seen him in the past and find he is more of a gentleman in his responses and deliveries but I watched as he too made a factual leap to a fanciful conclusion. Megyn mentioned that she had Dr. Ben Carson on earlier to according to her said that for each officer involved shooting of a Black there are 60 Black on Black shootings. So the real crisis it would seem is black on black crime and the claim of vast amounts of Blacks being shot by police is a myth. The “Rev.” without blinking said, “Dr. Carson is a wonderful physician and should stay practicing medicine but he is separated from the Black community on this issue.” He didn’t dispute the figures he didn’t say the figures were wrong he simply pointed out the facts are not important because the conflict with his fanciful conclusion.

The store which was originally robbed was subsequently vandalized and pillaged. It is owned by an immigrant family (legal) who came to America for a better life. How have they been welcomed? Strong arm robbery and then vandalized and robbed by the mob. The mob was predominantly not from Ferguson. The owners had to come back with their own rifles because the police refused to provide protection. Did they have anything to do with the death of Michael Brown? No. But because it became public knowledge that Michael Brown was likely the individual who victimized this store with the strong arm robbery this family became brutally victimized by a crowd that wanted to believe and had chosen to take a factual leap to a fanciful conclusion and will punish any who interfere with their fairy tale. Why are they to be denied justice?

We have been encountering something about which I have written in the past, The Undefined Question. It is asked and left to dangle out there like fish bait waiting for a nibble. Someone posted on Facebook, “Can’t we agree that it is wrong to shoot an unarmed man?” The unthoughtful emotional reaction is to say, “Sure.” But this answer traps you by the very vagueness itself. Is it an unarmed man in a grocery store that is buying ice cream bars for his kids? Yes, that would be wrong. Is it an Asian martial arts instructor who has just threatened to break your wind pipe? Well, that would be different I think. If he was 6’4” and 300 pounds that would make the difference even wider. If he moved in my direction in a threatening way I may need to shoot out of fear for my life. In both cases the men are unarmed. In one case there is no physical threat to your life in the other there is. If it is true that Dillon was hit so hard by Brown that it crushed the bone around his eyeball and if it is true that Brown was charging at him, the sight of a 6’4 nearly 300 pound man, regardless of color, who had just crushed the bone in your face would most likely cause you to think you had to shoot out of fear for your life.

In Micah 6:11 the Lord says,”Shall I acquit the man with wicked scales and with a bag of deceitful weights?” Several passages in the Old Testament talk about just balances and scales. The direct context is about being an honest merchant but the same ideas apply to justice. Justice doesn’t only go in one direction. What is right applies to all parties. We are to protect the defenseless and the innocent. We are to strive to apply the law fairly to all.

My heart goes out to Michael Brown’s family. I cannot imagine losing a son much less losing him in this way. I grieve for Officer Wilson and his family. It is pretty much a fate compli that he will not receive a fair trial. I really hurt for the citizen’s, businesses and churches in Ferguson. They have had to stand by and helplessly watch as outside invaders swooped in and destroyed their once sleepy little community. Will they be able to recover? This could be the opportunity for the churches in Ferguson to be the light in a currently very dark place.

 


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