2014: Pistorious and Wilson: fear and firearms: where *ism equals death and triumph

The world went a little bit more wrong this year. Logic and reason were cast aside. Never were we ever presented with two stories so bound up in data and facts to justify actions and emotion. The result? Chaos. Nothing makes sense. We are all a little bit more scared – of the law, and logic.

Scenario 1: a beautiful South African model was walking along the middle of the road with her friend in the US. A US policeman asked her to move onto the sidewalk. Shortly after this, an altercation ensues and the South African model is shot 12 times for not walking on the sidewalk and being scary in her argument with the police officer. She dies. The policeman was scared.

Scenario 2. a teenager from Missouri is with his paralympic friend in South Africa. After a series of unfortunate events and misunderstandings about who was sleeping when and where, the teenage boy is shot multiple times through a toilet door by his friend. He dies. The paralympian was scared.

Two people died: a white girl and a black boy

Two people shot them

Of course I know I muddled the stories here, on purpose. Here’s why.

In one scenario – let’s just accept that neither Reeva nor Michael should have died – there is a court case with a non-televised judgment by a jury on whether there is a case to try. It is found that there is no case to answer and the killer can walk free. In the other scenario there is a prolonged televised court case that the world watches transfixed, where the killer is grilled from here to hereafter on the public stage – and is handed five years for culpable homicide.

But in the rule of morals and ethics, neither of these results are justified – they cannot be excused; no logic or reason can make either of these deaths OK – even when I swop them back between the white girl and the black boy.

What is pivotal for me about these two cases is that they come in the year the 97er, the kids who grew up with social media and know nothing else, ‘come of age’. They are pretty much ready for the working world now, and this is everywhere: developed and developing markets, these kids are now a universal, unified, socially digitally savvy crew who are insanely mature in communication, identity and influence, and normally immature with regards to work and societal norms. (I write about them a lot here).

Because of these two cases, I really believe that the future of law and crime/punishment will be fundamentally upended by these 97ers. When they become politicians, law-makers, jurors and media story-tellers. Pretty much starting now…

But what does need to happen, as I said in the post I wrote last night, (accidentally on theme), is that we need to become more clever about how we use data, and reason. And for that to happen we need to accept the digital renaissance goes beyond the smartphone and 3D printing – it affects our very base of reason and understanding.

We have access to so much more information, we cannot and must not ignore these data points just because they were not statistically valid for Socrates or the Victorians.

I wrote the following post on my private Facebook account about the Ferguson shooting, and the 97ers I know asked me to post it more publicly so that they could share it. It is my own view of course…

I have to say that when I looked at the articles themed: Darren Wilson shows injuries sustained (…at the hands of an unarmed teenager) I was genuinely expecting to see quite shocking injuries, that would test the patience of a well-meaning public servant. Really they were like when one of the dorts shows me the thing that is totally really hurting and needs a massive plaster – there was barely a scratch. (And the mark on the back of his head I am pretty sure is the birth mark most of us carry from being pressed against our mother’s spine in the womb).

I believe in democracy and the jury service, heartily. So I thought there must have been pictures too graphic to show, seen only by the jury, we are only seeing the sanitised ones. But they really were not – I found this article in my FB feed http://www.rawstory.com/…/fanciful-and-not-credible-cnn-le…/

When I read the facts as stated in the case about why he even was in contact with these two teenagers, I was like… right… and then… waiting for the *wince* moment when I would find it hard to sympathise with the child who was shot. It never came.

I was not on the jury, I believe in the system enough to know that I cannot heap blame on those who found nothing wrong with this child’s death in the eyes of the law.

But when I told my children about why ‪#‎Ferguson‬ was blowing up their social media stream, and the facts of the case (because you should try to do this if there is a big case that will invade their social world), the car journey home settled into an uneasy feeling and conversation that the world became a little less sane and therefore a little less safe.

Teachers worldwide know how to deal with teenage rages and teenage angst. Also how and when to remonstrate and insist with someone, especially someone young. They also know that when they do choose to do so, that there will potentially be some mad rage – either totally justified or for no reason whatsoever. Teachers talk these kids down every day, every day – and face the fear that policeman felt. They are trained to know how to deal with it, and it all starts with the decision to enter into the conflict.

Michael Brown was walking in the road. Darren Wilson wanted him to walk on the sidewalk. It was immaterial really, in the grand scheme of things; but I accept that there were tensions in the community that we will never know who do not live in Ferguson. A bit like in school with uniforms and conformity, there does need to be some rule of law that young people learn – but teachers know how to do this better.

No teacher I know would ever shoot a kid 12 times.

Maybe teachers need to be police officers, or train police officers.

If it were me and I picked a fight with a teenager who became scary as the argument escalated, I would not end the discussion by whipping out a gun and shooting him 12 times.

It is an end. But it is not OK just because he is a teenage boy (can be scary) and most definitely not OK because he is a black teenage boy (moronic use of the frontal lobe).

I wrote about sexism last night, finally, not knowing that the verdict was out on Ferguson, but it does mean I was already in the *ism zone – and I realised as I wrote that I was far more naturally enraged by racial discrimination than gender, because race transcends gender: obviously we have all colours of boys and girls, and the judging starts with colour and gets worse from there.

Then I awoke this morning to this Ferguson decision, and I just had to know more about the facts. Here is a great article about what you can do to learn and know more http://qz.com/…/12-things-white-people-can-do-now-because-…/

To which one of my greatest FB mates Jon Harman replied with a link to data on the teenage brain: http://www.edinformatics.com/news/teenage_brains.htm

3 responses

  1. Pingback: 2014: Pistorious and Wilson: fear and firearms: where *ism equals death and triumph – Emma Mulqueeny | Public Sector Blogs

  2. I don’t diasgree with you but as a point of information, the Ferguson grand jury was a long one – 26 days of testimony. Arguably too much, and arguably a political tactic to ensure the verdict they came to.

  3. Pingback: ’14 things I learned: family, 97ers, crowd funding and hiring people… p.s.Democracy « Emma Mulqueeny

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