Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dearborn Heights: Justice Gone in 60 Seconds

While I’m not really interested in comparing McBride’s death with the killing of Trayvon Martin, fears that a lack of official dispatch will hamper the case -- as happened last year in Sanford, Fla., -- strike me as very legitimate. 

-- Darrell Dawsey

We know Deadline Detroit columnist and race-baiter around town Darrell Dawsey doesn’t really mean it when he says he doesn’t want to compare the Renisha McBride case with Trayvon Martin, because, of course, he’s just gone and done it.

As punctual, if not as musical, as a cuckoo bird piping the hour, Dawsey has popped out to join the condemnation of the Dearborn Police Department and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office for -- doing their jobs.

McBride’s death — and the subsequent inquiry — should indeed be cause for worry. The unnamed man who told police his .12-gauge shotgun fired accidentally hasn’t been arrested. The police continue to investigate, but many believe without proper urgency.

So is that a cause for worry? That the police are doing their jobs, just not fast enough? Where’s the need for urgency after a fatal shooting where the victim is deceased and the shooter’s identity and location are known? How are the results of any investigation improved by rushing it?

Well, I’ll tell you. It’s because, as Dawsey and his cobelligerents know, it will be easier to pre-judge the homeowner as guilty of a crime if the public gets to see him being arrested and in custody.  (Ahem.  Zimmerman.)  Dawsey says as much: “. . . Al Sharpton and John Conyers issued statements and activists descended on Dearborn Heights to protest the lack of an arrest.” Because the kind of justice Sharpton and his imitators are looking for is the kind you get when mobs of people are simultaneously outraged and uninformed.  (Ahem.  Zimmerman.)

Unhinged demands that law enforcement deprive people of their freedom first and then try to determine if a crime has been committed some time later indicates an astounding ignorance of the Fourth Amendment -- or bottomless cynicism -- or both. (Not to mention an utter disregard for the abuses suffered by Southern blacks from cops who saw white mobs as the source of their authority instead of  the law). Do these guys think we’re idiots claiming they only want a thorough investigation into the truth, when they’ve been holding themselves out since day one as already knowing the truth about what happened, and that it was a premeditated murder motivated by racism?

The last thing you’ll ever get from anyone with a vested interest in somebody being guilty is justice.

Among the “critical questions” Dawsey insists need to be investigated (but not before an arrest is made!) includes this most important one, “[S]ince when do we take claims that a gun ‘accidentally discharged’ as possible reason enough to excuse killing an innocent young woman?”

Aside from hopelessly confusing categories, the question itself reveals Dawsey’s refusal to acknowledge the same moral universe as the rest of civilized humanity. The answer to his “since when?” question is, as long as there have been lawgivers, there has been recognition of a distinction between harms committed against others with malicious intent and those harms committed by accident. Although Dawsey may pretend, or genuinely hasn’t any idea, that there is a vastly lesser weight of culpability assigned to an unintended wrong compared with that assigned to an intentional crime, the distinction has always been an irreducible component of anything that even remotely deserves the name of “justice.” But Dawsey knows nothing of that:

Guns don’t fire themselves. People pull the trigger. So “accidentally” or not, this man shot and killed a young woman standing on his porch.

Or -- as Dawsey’s sermon is meant to be interpreted by the mob -- whether it was an accident or not, we’re going to keep saying it was a cold-blooded, first-degree race murder.

It’s true enough that guns don’t fire themselves. And cars don’t drive themselves, but we don’t treat every fatal auto accident as an act of murder. (Oh wait! Isn’t Reverend Al Sharpton  the model for this kind of rabble-rousing, and didn’t he build his ministry on explaining how Jesus preached treating an auto accident as an act of murder -- and as an excuse for murder, too?).

An accidental discharge of a firearm isn’t an excuse, but it is a legal defense against a criminal charge, and we’ve been accepting it as such as long as there have been firearms to have accidents with.  That doesn’t mean people can’t be held liable for the accidental wrongs they commit, but there’s a big difference between that kind of liability and criminal guilt.

Dawsey wants to compare Detroit’s recent spree of intentional shootings with what happened in Dearborn Heights, but it won’t wash, at least not on the few facts as they’re known right now. If he wants to show that the McBride case is being handled differently because the victim is black and the homeowner is white, then he’s going to have to show that blacks involved in accidental shootings – not cold-blooded and deliberate ones -- are treated with less leniency than whites are.

Dawsey’s not going to do that, nor the rest of them, because it’s too much work, and it doesn’t feed the racial bonfire they’re stoking.


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