Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pullman's Community of Chronically Indignant Disappointed - Again

 “He who decides a case without hearing the other side, though he decide justly, cannot be considered just.”  - Lucius Annaeus Seneca

We can hope that at least a few in the Pullman community have learned an important lesson: Justice is not decided according to the number of “likes” that a Facebook page attracts.

Immediately after the news broke that Washington State University instructor David Warner was fighting for his life after he had incurred a head injury during a bar brawl, an agenda-driven narrative took control and for months drowned out the facts. Much of the narrative was driven by a couple of Facebook groups that concocted a scenario that was never supported by the facts. When it suited them, the members of these groups simply invented their own facts.

Before any real information was publicly known, a rally was held on the WSU campus demanding justice for David Warner. But justice for what? And justice by whose definition? Deep South lynch mobs of a century ago were convinced that they were meting out justice.

Like most college campuses, WSU is afflicted with a community of the chronically indignant whose membership sustain themselves in a condition of perpetual outrage. We also have the moral exhibitionists who hear and condemn the subtle undertones of racism, sexism, bigotry and homophobia in nearly every word they hear spoken.

And so, it was predictable that these people would reflexively seize upon the fable of a gentle, peace-loving Native American man who was savagely kicked and beaten on the street by a gang of drunken, drooling, knuckle dragging white racists.

They didn’t even need facts to support this tale. It was just assumed.

And as they fed upon their own narrative and blocked out the police explanation, we learned that the rally and the Facebook community had adopted a lynch mob mentality no more interested in true justice than were those old Mississippi lynch mobs.

This narrative was sustained even after the Pullman Police Department definitively denied that version of events. Gradually facts began to emerge. We learned that Warner was not attacked. His drinking companion that night was aggressively confronting patrons emerging from the bar after closing time, challenging them to a fight. At least one of those who were challenged encouraged Warner to take his friend home before he got into trouble.

This sage advice was not acted upon.

Eventually Warner’s friend did provoke someone into a confrontation. A struggle ensued. David Warner entered the fray and was knocked down or fell to the pavement. He struck his head and suffered a grievous injury.

From this emerged the tale of a helpless man who was attacked and beaten severely. Apparently, there is evidence of only one blow – the one that likely resulted from his fall. But that story didn’t advance the narrative.

WSU’s hierarchy embraced the meme and even accused the Cougar community with complicity after the fact for failing to come forward as witnesses. This accusation came after numerous witnesses had already come forward, many with cell phone photos and videos. The problem was that no one was coming forward with evidence that supported the false narrative.

The accused perhaps did their reputation no favor by fleeing across the Cascades. Running is what guilty people do, right? But isn’t it also what sensible people do when threatened with a roiling lynch mob?

Even after the facts were all on the table and the district attorney declined to prosecute the case as the mob wished, the Spokane Spokesman-Review headline writers couldn’t help themselves and titled their story, “No Charges planned in attack on WSU Instructor.”

The facts clearly showed that there was no attack on a WSU instructor. He was caught up in a melee provoked by his own friend.

The district attorney couldn’t leave bad enough alone either, stating that one video didn’t show whether or not one of the accused kicked Warner while he lay on the ground. If the video showed nothing, then the district attorney should have said nothing. But he needed to throw the lynch mob a bone to keep them away from him.

The people who rallied for justice and populated the Facebook groups are all convinced that only they can provide the world with its moral compass. But as Thomas Sowell once pointed out, “If navel-gazing, hand-wringing or self-dramatization helped with racial issues, we would have achieved Utopia long ago.”

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