If a police office kills an unarmed person for jaywalking, that is murder.
If a police officer kills an unarmed person for shoplifting five bucks' worth of cigars, that is murder.
If a police officer kills an unarmed person who had smoked marijuana sometime that week, that is murder.
If a police officer kills an unarmed person who turns out to have wanted to be a rapper, that is murder.
If a police officer kills an unarmed person who has given the police officer some lip, that is murder.
If a police officer kills an unarmed person who is running away from him, that is murder.
If a police officer kills an unarmed person who tried and failed to get the officer's gun before running away, that is murder.
I think you might detect a pattern here. The point is that killing someone who is not a clear (as in obvious) and present (meaning immediate) danger to someone else's life and safety is murder.
No one has suggested anything close to that kind of situation. The Ferguson Police Chief, who will clearly do everything and anything in his power to make excuses for his officer, has not been able to say that the shooter was in danger of his life. And there is no other excuse.
Can I imagine circumstances in which a police officer might use deadly force? You bet I can. But I don't even need to. I was raised by a police officer from a police family. I grew up around lots of police officers. And I do know a police officer who has killed someone in the line of duty (or rather, who was among the officers who killed someone in the line of duty; I don't think any of them want to know who fired the fatal bullet.) Why did they do it? Because a suspect was shooting at them and trying to kill them.
That is what what we're talking about. That is justification for using your weapon. None of this other stuff is even on the same planet as a real reason.
Almost every day we hear some fresh "revelation" about the young man killed by the police in Ferguson. Every day that revelation is offered up as if it changes the question of whether his murder was justified. And every day that revelation is utterly ridiculous. It says nothing about the real questions. It does say a lot about the moral compass of the person bringing it up.
If you're discussing an unarmed and completely defenseless man being shot to death and you bring up five dollars worth of stolen cigars, what you are saying is that you are too morally depraved, your moral judgment too impaired, to understand the value of human life.
If you bring up marijuana residue or rap music, same thing. You have announced your idiocy and depravity for all to hear. And you have insulted your listeners by presuming that they too were moral idiots.
(Remember the Eighties, when you kept hearing stories about how young black gang members were so morally bankrupt that they would shoot someone to death for a pair of sneakers? Shooting someone for a hundred-dollar pair of shoes would mean your moral compass was broken. But what would shooting someone over five dollars of merchandise mean?)
Mike Brown was endowed by his creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. All three were taken away from him on the street, with no process of any kind, by a paid officer of the law.
Michael Brown had a right to due process. He had a right to his life. There are no other questions. Whether or not you would have liked Mike Brown is not the issue. Whether or not you approved of Mike Brown is not the issue. Mike Brown's right to his life was not conditional on your approval, or mine, or any government authority's. He could only forfeit that right by endangering another life, and even then only while he posed an active danger. But Mike Brown was no danger to any living soul when he was killed. He had nothing in his hands but his own life. That was given to him by God. It was not for anyone else to take.
If you ask yourself whether or not Mike Brown deserved life, you are a lost soul. No one has set you to judge who should live and die. No one will and no one should. Mike Brown was a citizen like you, a human being like you. His rights are not subject to your little moods. If you will not defend his right to live, then you are no longer a citizen. I leave the question of your humanity to another judge.
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