Intellectual Honesty

I’ve been having a lot of conversations with folks lately via the comments sections on Facebook posts. Getting out of this habit should be a priority for me, because engaging in conversation that way—especially when it’s about an emotional or closely-held topic—doesn’t make me happy or better off.

The conversations I’ve been having are mainly around issues that used to not really be things that are debated or questioned. One recent topic has been on the issue of presumed innocence.

There’s a lot of “trial by media” going on these days, where the outrage mob sees a ten-second clip on CNN and immediately determines what the “good guy” and the “bad guy” are. Inevitably, these feelings wind up in some folks’ Facebook posts.

My goal is usually to balance out the extreme outrage and vilification of whoever today’s outrage target is by calmly explaining to people that we should always presume innocence until we know the full story. It doesn’t matter who the target is or what they’ve been accused of doing.

It’s true of the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, where the Obama Justice Department determined there was no wrongdoing on the part of the police officer involved.

It’s true of the Catholic, pro-life high schooler Nick Sandmann, who was vilified on every media platform, but turned out to be the victim in the situation.

In current events, presidential candidate and Former Vice President Joe Biden has been accused of sexual assault. He deserves to be presumed innocent until it is proven he is guilty, whether I like the man or not.

I’m beginning to wonder what the cause is behind some folks’ seeming inability to intellectually handle the result or output of their emotions. Even if one doesn’t like a person or doesn’t like what a person has done, getting to the point of finding that person guilty when one has no context on the story at hand is shallow, undeveloped, and beneath the operating capacity of human beings.

This makes me wonder if it all goes to a more spiritual level. Is it evil that brings people to the point of self-righteous judgement of others, despite any negative consequences the other will endure? Is it really the unhealthy view of oneself that needs to be built up in such shallow ways? Am I blindly doing the same thing, or am I more observant in some way?

Whatever it is, we need to always consciously fight for others to be treated the way we would want to be treated.