Dave Richards for February 5th…………
--Fear is a terrible thing. Among other things, it can make otherwise kind and caring people do terrible things…….or fail to do what is right.
I once served on a jury. They say that broadcasters or people who write and read news are never empaneled on a jury, but they are wrong. I was selected for a case in which a young man was accused of selling drugs at and near a school. What’s more, when the case was given to the jury, the judge appointed me as the foreman of the jury. She later told me it was because I paid careful attention to the testimony during the trial.
The police officers made what appeared to be a convincing case against the accused. There was lots of physical evidence and damaging testimony. In the jury room we deliberated and examined all the hard physical evidence first-hand. The gun, the ammunition, the scale, and we recalled the testimony of the witnesses.
Here’s my point. There was no juror in that room who argued that the young man was innocent of the charges. What they argued about, and what kept us in that room for two days before finally agreeing on a verdict of ‘guilty’, was the fear that such a heinous person might exact retaliation upon the individual members of the jury.
--Fear is a terrible thing. I don’t know the Governor of Virginia. I have no idea if he is a creep, a racist, or a really nice guy. But I do know a virtual ‘trial by public opinion’ when I see one.
Does anyone out there remember the concept that two ‘wrongs’ don’t make a ‘right’? Answering a wrong, real or imagined, with another wrong is just plain………..wrong.
The Sunday morning TV chat shows this past weekend were filled with people who were NOT talking about the Super Bowl football game (thank goodness) but were instead all joining in a unified chorus of “he MUST resign”! Even our own Rhode Island Governor, Gina Raimondo, who is the leader of the national governor’s group joined in on the chorus. It’s scary. I think mob mentality, fueled in no small part by social media, has fanned the flames of a blood-lust.
History is full of such episodes, which can happen even without the 21st century equivalent of malicious gossip, social media, of course. The French Revolution comes quickly to mind. The problem is that in this political climate no one dares speak out for the rights of the accused because they don’t want to take a chance at being the next victim of mob rule.
Can you blame them? There is no limit to the venom being spewed by careless people with opinions. And, you know, everyone has one. An opinion, that is. I have mine. And I like my opinions. But I will not use my opinions to attack people in this manner.
What ever happened to due process? Oh, well, if everyone says they’re guilty, then they don’t deserve due process, is that it?
Well, I suppose I’ve really done it now…..I have dared to speak publicly an opinion which differs from the mob. I suppose I will now be next, right? Simply because I believe in the rule of law over the rule of public opinion!
And for those reading who have REALLY short memories, let me repeat before you reach for the rope. I have no idea if this guy is a creep, or a racist, or a nice man. I don’t need to know that. What I need to know is that this country is made up of laws which are based upon English Common Law, the basic principle of which is “a citizen is presumed innocent until proven guilty by due process of law.”
Before I close on this subject, let me just state one more thing. What if Governor Raimondo, or any one of us, were accused of something we didn’t do by social media and what if the weight of public opinion took away our livelihood? Would that be right? Think about that before rushing to judgement.
--That's what I think. What do you think? Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.
Thanks for reading.