Everyone knows that dirty cops exist. We all know that somewhere, somehow, some cops are on the take, some are morally incompetent, some are on a power trip, some disable their body-cams before taking care of business, and so on. Anyone who believes that dirty cops can’t exist is someone who is unaware of the biblical doctrine of sin, is bereft of common sense, and is woefully lacking in his knowledge of the corpus of the American film industry.
So when an incident happens somewhere, one involving a cop and a black teenager, and all hell breaks loose, how are we supposed to think about it biblically? What are we to think of it while the rioting is in process? Since we know a priori that official malfeasance is a possibility, and even more likely in some corrupt jurisdictions, does this move everything to that famous “level playing field?” No.
Before there is an investigation, we don’t know all the facts. Both sides don’t know all the facts. Those rioting don’t know the facts, and those not rioting don’t know the facts. Does this put both sides on an equal footing then? No.
In the world of biblical justice, a mastery of the facts is necessary in order to condemn. The principle is stated over and over again in Scripture—“At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death” (Deut. 17:6). You may not condemn a man unless his crime has been independently confirmed. Without such independent confirmation, you may not condemn a man for violating his responsibilities as a citizen, and you may not condemn an officer for an abuse of his powers. In the name of Christ, you may not.
The cops don’t get to do it to us, and we don’t get to do it to the cops.
It is biblically nonsensical to say that you need two or three witnesses in order to not condemn a man. To put it that way would amount to saying that a man is guilty unless he comes up with two or three witnesses who prove him not to be. That is, guilty unless proven innocent.
So prior to an investigation and trial, nobody has all the facts. But that still doesn’t put everyone in the same position.
I don’t need all the facts in order to not execute an accused officer. I need all the facts to condemn him. I don’t need all the facts before I decline to burn down the shop of a Vietnamese immigrant. I don’t need all the facts before I don’t throw a brick through a window. I don’t need all the facts before refusing to tip over a car to set it on fire.
Before taking any action that would condemn or destroy someone, or would destroy his property—before the use of coercion, in other words—I must know what actually happened. Otherwise I am just part of what John Knox once called “that rascal multitude.”
When there is prima facie evidence of wrong, there should be an indictment. After the indictment, there should be a trial in open court, with the accused going into the trial with the presumption of innocence.
Take last year’s rioting in Baltimore. After Freddie Gray died in police custody, rioting ensued. Millions of dollars went up in smoke because lots of people knew what happened, or so they thought. After the smoke cleared, and charges were brought by the prosecutor against six cops, what happened? One acquittal after another, and how does one undo devastating riots?
Our current situation is in Milwaukee, and it is playing out with a sickening familiarity. We don’t need no stinking facts.
The people who know what side they are on before the trial, the people who don’t need a trial to find out what they ardently feel about it, the people who justify rioting, these are the people that the Lord is visiting upon us for our chastisement.
Two last comments:
The first is about the picture I used up above. I don’t know the incident, don’t know the city, don’t know the name of the cop, and don’t know the name of the woman. I don’t know the story there. But I do know that by itself the photo is grounds for indictment. It is hard to construct a scenario where something like that could be justified. Maybe it was photo-shopped? She was falling over and he was trying to catch her? So I want to live in a country where that cop’s defense attorney gets to make a brave attempt at it—and where the cop pays a heavy penalty if his defense attorney fails.
The second is that this post is about the spark that sets off a room full of fumes. I am telling you what I think of explosions. Another post for another time may address how the policies of liberalism create such fumes in the first place. The issue in all such places of economic hopelessness is leftist economic policy driven by envy. Whenever you look at a devastated cityscape, you are likely looking at something that could be labeled “your taxes at work.”