Ferguson decision: Officer Wilson a victim of "they"
Wilson stands with the "they" of the hatred of cops by some and the love and respect of cops by others
The collective pronoun "they" may be the most dangerous predictor of a tumble from impatience to harshness to hatred. "They always do that." "They need to get their act together." "They should be shot". The beginning of bigotry's hate is the convenience of category.
Comes now Ferguson, Missouri police officer Wilson in the matter of the death of one Michael Brown. Facts and physics be damned, Wilson is carrying the weight of "they" on his shoulders. From the long-dead lawmen who gathered up escaped slaves to the ones who let loose the dogs and billy clubs on the Edmund Pettus bridge, Wilson shares a badge tarnished by suspicion and cynicism.
Wilson's decisions are not allowed to stand alone in the court of public opinion. He stands with the "they" of the hatred of cops by some and the love and respect of cops by others.
Questions of why the prisons are full of young black men stand on Wilson's shoulders. Suspicion of an ever increasing Big Brother government stands there, too. A generation of self-centered, sheltered Americans leap on him. Those who never vote but readily protest and opine climb aboard. Those who fear oppression and those who fear lawlessness comprise his stand.
Darren Wilson was not Every Officer any more than Michael Brown was Every Black Teenager. The ghost of all of history may hover over every "they", but when two men make individual decisions, the judgment must be framed by those individual moments.
The law is quite settled on these matters. If activists want to change the law, that is another debate, but the law as it stands is clear, should anyone care to look:
"The "reasonableness" of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight. The calculus of reasonableness must embody allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments - in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving - about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation." [Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989)]
Popular opinion fails in precisely the way that the lawmakers predicted when courts and juries and the calm, rational systems of jurisprudence were designed. The law does not have a chip on its shoulder because a cousin was treated badly by the police. Jurors must not make any correlation between some SWAT team's error somewhere and Wilson's trigger. Those who really want justice wait for truth to be distilled from the chaos of public opinion.
They are few.