TWIN BILL

Posted in Rants on December 4th, 2014 by Ed

In the interest of not depressing the living shit out of everyone by doing 10 straight days of Ferguson posts, grant me the liberty of combining two issues into one post.

1. Having read the grand jury testimony of Darren Wilson, plenty of commentators have already pointed out that there are some fairly obvious and basic questions about how plausible his version of events may be. I could go into similar detail pointing out the inconsistencies, factually inaccurate statements, and general eyebrow-raisers, but what jumps out most clearly is Wilson's account of Michael Brown's statements. When Wilson claims that he told Brown and his companion to clear the street, he reports Brown's response as, "Fuck what you have to say."

Does anyone on the planet honestly believe that this is what Brown said? Granted, during testimony one's recollections do not have to be 100% perfectly accurate to be credible. People are terrible, for example, at estimating – time, distance, size, crowd numbers, etc. – and a person might state something took 5 minutes when in reality it took 45 seconds without being a liar. Similarly, reports of what was said during a heated exchange can have some variance. So we assume that what Wilson really means here is, "Michael Brown said words to this effect." That is not uncommon in witness testimony. It is also a giant red flag. If Wilson is essentially ballparking it when recounting what Brown allegedly said, with what other facts was he playing fast and loose? We also know that he gave wildly inaccurate estimates of distance (the corpse being ~30 feet from the car instead of almost 150 feet). These two facts would suggest to any impartial observer that while Wilson's statements might not be false, they are at the very least imperfect. Subject to doubt. In need of additional investigation before they can be considered credible. You can't automatically assume he's a liar if his testimony isn't perfect. Nor can you assume he's being accurate.

The purpose of a trial is to resolve that issue.

2. The reason conservatives can't stop bringing up irrelevant details (He stole cigars! His socks had pot leaves on them! You know They use those cigars to smoke drugs, right?) about Michael Brown is that they see the world very differently than…well, than intelligent people. To them, the facts of the case – what was said, who did what, when things happened – are not very important. What is important, as always, is making the determination that is central to their black-and-white worldview: good people vs. bad people. It doesn't matter if Wilson's testimony is accurate or in what order the events happened. What matters is establishing that Michael Brown was a Bad Guy. Wilson is a cop and therefore Good, Brown is a Thug and therefore Bad. As long as the Good Guy wins and the Bad Guy loses, the details don't really matter. Liberals see the world as a series of questions that need to be answered; they see the world as science. Conservatives see it as good versus evil, as with religion. That's one of the main reasons that arguing is pointless. Brown is a Bad Guy, and therefore he got what he deserved in the end. Doesn't matter how.

That's one of the major reasons that it's so useless to argue about this with people who are eager to vilify the victim and saint the guy with the badge.