“The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” ~ Proverbs 18:17
They say that in war the first casualty is the truth. That’s true not only in military conflict, but in cultural conflict as well. The first accounts of officer-involved shootings, when the one who has been shot is black, invariably conform to the preferred media narrative, which is that young black males are innocent victims of racist and trigger-happy cops.
By the time the truth about these encounters puts its pants on, the preferred media narrative with its embedded lies is halfway round the world. Clear-thinking people have learned long ago to be suspicious of virtually everything they see and hear from the low-information media, and have learned to be hesitant about accepting their narrative without being sure they have all the facts.
A case in point is the officer involved shooting of Philando Castile in Minnesota. The version that spread around the world, and in part helped to trigger the Dallas massacre of police officers, is that Castile had been pulled over for a busted tail-light and was shot in cold blood for no reason by a racist white cop. But the media narrative began to unravel almost as soon as it was spun.
It turns out, for instance, the police officer (Jeronimo Yanez) was Latino, not white. But that little fact was either missing entirely from early media accounts or buried deeply enough in the story that most folks were unlikely even to see it.
As this account demonstrates, the truth about this shooting is likely much different than what people have heard. Castile was not pulled over for a broken tail light but because he matched a BOLO (Be On the Look-Out) alert for a suspect who had committed armed robbery just a few nights before at a local convenience store. Here is the officer’s radio dispatch:
“I’m going to stop a car. I’m going to check IDs. I have reason to pull it over.”
“The two occupants just look like people that were involved in a robbery. The driver looks more like one of our suspects, just ‘cause of the wide set nose.”
Maybe Castile was the robber, maybe he wasn’t, but stills from the convenience store robbery show that Officer Yanez had sound reasons to pull Castile over to check out his ID.
A still from the video shot inside the car by Castile’s girlfriend also seems to show a handgun (for which he had a valid permit) on his left thigh, and Yanez’s attorney, Thomas Kelly, says he fired only when Castile showed the gun. Yanez, who was on the driver’s side of the vehicle, thus making any decision a matter of a split second, “was reacting to the actions of the driver.” Kelly went on, “This had nothing to do with race. This had everything to do with the presence of a gun…and the display of that gun.” The presence of the gun may also have been the reason Janez ordered the female passenger not to move towards Castile.
It also turns out that this was not Castile’s first contact with the law – he’d been pulled over no less than 52 times, although mostly for misdemeanor traffic offenses.
As John Hinderaker points out, using statistics provided by the Washington Post, the percentage of blacks shot by police (26%) is the same as the percentage of blacks involved in violent crime (24%). In other words, the evidence is that blacks are not being singled out by cops because of their race but because of their behavior.
If this is true, the only discrimination the police are guilty of is the right kind of discrimination. It is their job to discriminate against criminal conduct. The evidence is that the police are discriminating against illegal behavior, as they should, and not against skin color. Not all forms of discrimination are bad, and discriminating against violent and illegal conduct is one of the good kinds.
In both of the officer-involved shootings that have riled the nation, involving Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, facts quickly emerged that gave us sound reason to believe that the initial versions told by the low-to-no-information media were at critical points widely at variance with the truth.
Bottom line: Christian citizens should heed the counsel of Proverbs and be skeptical of every single thing we hear from the media regarding every emotionally charged story about a police shooting. Satan is a liar and the father of lies, and if he can use the media to spread lies that foment racial tension and violent unrest, you can rest assured he will.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)