Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Automatic Mouth–As Dangerous As Automatic Weapons

Watching the Trayvon Martin case develop, it is easy to see how so many challenges have developed in America and around the world.

Many Americans, before even knowing the facts of the case, are demanding that charges be filed against the alleged assailant while holding emotional memorials across the country for the alleged innocent victim.

The challenge is that they are doing this without having any facts, allowing emotion, rhetoric and a few public figures to fuel their anger.  They are demanding that the keepers of due process jail the shooter otherwise they will take matters into their own hands.  Of course, we can’t deny the race card that has been played also … sadly.

These people have already imposed an emotional conviction before waiting for all the facts.

As they get overwhelmed by their emotion, they forget one of the key pillars of American society, the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, has been buried under a mountain of venomous emotion.  It almost seems as if such a pillar is not a right but a matter of convenience, to be determined valid or invalid based on each person’s own beliefs of a given situation.

Even President Obama stirred the pot, saying that if he had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.

I wonder how many of these people would feel if someone important to them was the alleged assailant.

In my many years as a strategy advisor, I have observed that the people who don’t like facts, the people who find that obtaining facts is too inconvenient or the people who discover that facts prevent them from carrying out their agenda are easy to pick out.

Not only are they easy to pick out, oftentimes they are also the most dangerous.

They are the ones who can’t discuss or debate issues calmly.  When they realize that facts and data are going against them, they resort to attempts of intimidation, shouting down their opponent or making the attack personal since that is all they have left to “debate” with.

And people allow it, bow to it and fall for it all the time.

When the Martin case was first developing, I made an observation to some people that we should allow due process to fill in our gaps of knowledge and understanding before making a judgement.

I was surprised how many people disagreed (some with venomous, hateful language), that as far as they were concerned, this was a clear-cut case of a racially-motivated killing and that there was nothing to discuss.  Justice must be served, they cry.

Fascinating – they weren’t there, they don’t know either person personally and based on a few tidbits of information, they have committed themselves 100% emotionally to instinctively knowing, judging and convicting someone while shouting down anyone who might suggest that complete knowledge of the event might be useful.

Curiously, they demand that Trayvon Martin’s voice be “allowed to be heard” while at the same time, they shout down everyone else’s.

Now other details appear to be emerging.

I classify these details as “alleged” …. details about Trayvon’s alleged gang connections, alleged small-time drug dealing, alleged suggestions of violence potential and the difference between the original picture issued (clean cut and innocent from 3 years ago) versus a recent picture with tattoos, gold teeth and such.

His suspension from school was as a result of drug possession on school grounds and “behavioral” issues.

Even the original photos of the two people involved suggest that the alleged shooter seemed much more physically intimidating, when in fact, Trayvon Martin was an in-shape, 6’3” young man while the alleged shooter was an overweight 5’9” individual.

If, and I say if, these details are true, then perhaps a different picture would present itself as to what may have happened that night.

But until then, it is important that we have calm, that we not be influenced by hate-laced comments and that we not assume we know the answers before people have had a chance to gather all the facts.

Because as long as we shoot our mouth off before we have armed our minds with knowledge, data and facts (trusting experts to gather this together), our world becomes one ruled by intimidators and bullies and not one guided by the best information at hand.

I hear lots of talk about reducing bulling in the schoolyard and in the workplace.

Let’s lead by example, showing future generations that we really believe that brute-force intimidation in society-at-large is not the way.

After all, if truth and facts don’t matter anymore, let’s bring back the Crusades, the Inquisition, witch hunts and everything else where emotion and influence matter more than truth.  We can jail the scientists and other information seekers while we’re at it since their data and facts are inconvenient also.

We might as well dismantle our school system as well and instead, train children in the art of shouting, bullying, intimidation and discrediting.  Throw out the books of knowledge – we don’t need them anymore.

We should just allow the world to be guided by those who shout the loudest and the longest.

Sound ridiculous?

I don’t think so - it’s what we’re demonstrating in cases like the Martin case.

Passion is important but it is far more valuable when enabled and combined with knowledge instead of ignorance.

In service and servanthood,


PS After I posted this, the news reported that Spike Lee had posted the home address of the alleged shooter.  This is shameful behavior on many counts – the alleged shooter is a private citizen, he has not been formally charged or convicted AND he has a price on his head by some vigilantes.

Here’s the best (or worst) part.

Lee posted the wrong address, identifying the home address of someone unrelated to the matter, potentially putting the resident there in mortal danger at the hands of vigilantes.

This is what happens when hate and a desire to put passion before facts dominates someone’s thoughts - the risk of innocent people getting hurt increases significantly, complicating things instead of providing an opportunity to get to the bottom of a matter.

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