I was listening to National Public Radio (NPR) this morning on the way to work. It’s amazing how transparently not news, their “news” is. They do a morning “news” program, called “Morning Edition,” that’s supposed to be news, but is really just fake news.
This morning they did a feature on the murder sixty years ago of young Emmett Till, a 14-year old black boy in the South. Two white men were arrested for the murder, and then acquitted by an all-white jury at trial.
Now, I admit up-front that I don’t know the particulars of the entire Emmett Till story, except to say that it was particularly tragic — no 14-year old boy should ever lose his life… especially at the hands of another person. It’s a monstrous atrocity.
Also, in the middle of the piece, whoever was presenting it said something like: “The men said they killed Emmett Till because he had whistled at a white woman.”
NPR’s interviewees this morning were unanimous in their condemnation of the acquittal of the white men, by the all-white jury. There was no doubt in these commentators’ minds: the suspects did the crime, and were set free. Furthermore, all agreed, the suspects did the crime for racist reasons.
But, forgive me, please, for wondering about these few things:
- Isn’t that why we have, you know, “trials?” A “trial” is what you do when you’re not sure that you know the answer to something. Heck, in America, you have a “trial” even when you are sure you’ve got the right person!
- Built into the definition of the very word “trial” is the possibility that you will get a “not guilty” verdict.
- Is anyone suggesting that we should go to a system in which we don’t have trials? There are such systems in the world: they’re in countries called: Third-World Hellholes. Should we just go down that route?
- I don’t know what the evidence was that resulted in the arrests of the suspects. Was it overwhelming? The evidence against OJ Simpson was overwhelming, but he was acquitted. It happens. And, he just might not have done it. I don’t know. I know only what the media presented, and they are mostly corrupt.
- The thing about the suspect saying that he had killed Emmett Till for whistling at a white woman…was that known at trial? If so, that’s pretty damning evidence. If not, then I presume that no one knew it at the time of the trial, and therefore that it was a non-factor in the trial.
- The prohibition against double jeopardy in the legal system means that even if the suspect admitted he did the crime, he cannot be re-tried for it after an initial acquittal.
- This assertion that one of the suspects admitted he did it after the trial is highly suspect. Really? Who, just acquitted of murder, then would admit — at any time, except maybe at the time of a deathbed confession — to having done the murder? Even a supposed racist who didn’t even think he had done anything wrong?
- An acquittal at trial does not mean the suspect didn’t do the crime. It means only that the prosecutor didn’t prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the suspect did it. That is the burden of proof absolutely required by the Constitution.
- Presumably the suspects entered “not guilty” pleas before the trial began. In other words, they said: “We didn’t do it.” Does anyone know that they did? If so, what’s his or her evidence? If you listened to the NPR story, there’s cause for doubt that anyone knows for sure who did it.
- It seems pretty sure that the commentators that NPR called on this morning wanted a conviction only so that white people were punished for the death of a black youth.
- As in the OJ case, some rational, sane observers noted that the country’s legal system is based on several premises, one of which is the aphorism that it is better to let ten guilty men go free than to punish an innocent man. At least that’s the theory. Should we just abandon that in favor of whatever makes the currently favored group(s) happy? It is, after all, the main reason OJ Simpson skated.
- And…aren’t we all entitled by the Constitution to a trial by a jury of our peers? If I’m a white suspect in a trial of any kind, what would be at all surprising about appearing before a jury of white people? Should we instead set about to making sure that we get a jury that will convict? Do we really think that American prosecutors — with a something like 98-99% conviction rate — aren’t getting enough “wins?”
- What did happen in the whole Emmett Till murder and subsequent trial? I truly don’t know. However, in their incomplete, shallow, and manipulative — beyond the point of dishonesty — presentation of this story, NPR did do us all at least one service, as they and the rest of the Race Grievance Industry (RGI) regularly do: they highlighted just how not racist this country really is now! If the Emmett Till murder was a murder done by racists who killed the child because of the color of his skin, NPR’s focus on the story shines a bright light on several things: (1) the atrocity happened a very long time ago. (2) In light of what happened in Ferguson, Missouri and in the Trayvon Martin case, it’s possible that some of these landmark “racial incidents” didn’t actually happen as we think they did. After all, (3) the narrative is: “white people did violence to innocent, unarmed black kids (so this happens all the time).” It turns out that it’s a false, fabricated, made-up, fictional narrative… aka: a lie. George Zimmerman, the evidence overwhelmingly said, didn’t attack Trayvon Martin, it was the other way around. And Darren Wilson in Ferguson was not a racist cop killing an unarmed black kid, but rather a policeman defending himself from attack. What about all these other incidents? What else in the NPR’s and the RGI’s narrative about race and America is just … flat-out false? It’s time to investigate.
- In order to have any kind of understanding of the story at all, these are all things that NPR was morally obligated to divulge to us. That they didn’t is all the proof you should need in order to know that you come out of an NPR fake news piece less informed than you go in.
I’m going to say something particularly dispiriting here: It’s hard to dispute the idea that in cases like the Emmett Till, or the Trayvon Martin, or the Ferguson, Missouri incidents, black Americans — not all of them, just the ones in the Race Grievance Industry — seemed to care only that a white person get punished. If in the case of any of these incidents some other white person had been arrested and convicted after the exonerations of George Zimmerman and Darren Wilson, that would have prevented the riots and the violence.
Update: I was writing the above after having heard the NPR piece. I then went home and did a search (here (1)) on the case and found out some things:
- The “confession” was not known at trial, but apparently did happen afterward.
- The details of the incident that prompted the atrocity are unclear, ranging from: Till went into a store and bought something and left, to: Till went into the same store, and accosted a married, white woman in the store in a mildly violent, but intimidating and sexual way. Obviously, though, nothing justifies the murder of the young man. Reporting him to the police maybe, but that’s about it.
- The evidence against the suspects — one Roy Bryant and one J. W. Milam — does not appear to have been particularly overwhelming at the time of the trial. Lots of hearsay. Not that hearsay is insignificant, but it’s not dispositive. After the trial, the evidence was overwhelming, yes. Key word: “after.” The problem: my assertion about double jeopardy, above, is correct: If you murdered someone and are acquitted at trial, you can admit openly that you did it afterward and you cannot be charged, again, with the crime.
- It appears likely that a couple of dirt bags who committed a heinous crime skated.
- It appears equally likely that the fact that these were two dirt bags who had committed a heinous crime, was not known at the time of the trial, resulting in the verdict that came down.
The Emmett Till story is horrible. So is the Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman story. It’s vital to note, however, that neither is one iota more horrible than the other.
It’s worth repeating: Unless you make the effort to go out and inform yourself, you always come out of an NPR fake news piece less informed than you go in.
(1) – The source is Wikipedia — hardly an objective source, but the material seems to be reasonably okay. I say “reasonably,” because the piece says obviously prejudicial things like (note our inline [red font] remarks):
In post-trial analyses, blame for the outcome varied. Mamie Till Bradley was criticized for not crying enough on the stand. The jury was noted to have been picked almost exclusively from the hill country section of Tallahatchie County, which, due to its poorer economic make-up, found whites and blacks competing for land and other agrarian opportunities [complete, unknowable speculation!]. Unlike the population living closer to the river (and thus closer to Bryant and Milam in Leflore County), who possessed a noblesse oblige toward blacks according to historian Stephen Whitaker [more completely, unknowable speculation!], those in the eastern part of the county were remarkably virulent in their racism [still more unknowable speculation!]. The prosecution was criticized for dismissing any potential juror who knew Milam or Bryant, for the fear that such a juror would vote to acquit. [An important requirement of the prosecution is that they make intelligent decisions in the case. People are imperfect.] Afterward, Whitaker noted that this was a mistake as anyone who had personally known the defendants usually disliked them. One juror voted twice to convict, but on the third discussion, acquiesced and voted with the rest of the jury to acquit. [This happens all the time; nothing unusual here. It’s a well-known — and approved of — behavior of juries] In later interviews, the jurors acknowledged that they knew Bryant and Milam were guilty, but simply did not believe life imprisonment or the death penalty fit punishment for whites who had killed a black man. [I believe this too. As stated! I believe also, for example, that the death penalty is not fit punishment for a black man who kills a white man. In other words, I believe that the death penalty is never a valid punishment, for a lot of reasons that exceed the scope of this essay.] This is somewhat disputed by later interviews with two jurors who stated as late as 2005 that they believed the defense’s case, that the prosecution had not proven that Till had died, and that it was his body that was removed from the river.
A Key Word: “blame.” A key concept in American justice, whether it be in the North, South, East or West, is that no trial ever, ever, not ever, not once, never, never once ever has a foregone conclusion. Never. A foregone conclusion completely, utterly and absolutely obliterates the legitimacy of any “justice system” ever conceived, rendering it a mockery.
Therefore there can be no “blame” for a verdict that you don’t like coming out of a trial of any kind. Period.
It all boils down to one crucial thing: In America, the prosecution is absolutely required to prove to the jury beyond a shadow of a doubt that the suspect did the crime. Absent such overwhelming “proof,” the defendant is supposed to walk. Every time. Whether or not she actually did the crime.
You and I might not like it, but I can tell you one thing: you’ll like one whole heckuva lot less a system in which the verdict of a “trial” is in place before the “trial.”
America places that heavy burden on the prosecution for a very, very, very good reason: all other systems of “justice” in history had it reversed: the defense had to prove the innocence of the defendant.
Our system guarantees some disappointing outcomes: Apparently guilty people will walk free. The other way guarantees vast injustice as people are unable to prove that they are innocent. In the Soviet Union, when there was a crime, they used to round up all the likeliest suspects and shoot them all. That way they were pretty sure that “justice” had been done. But, a whole heckuva lot of injustice had been done as well! Is that really what we want here in America?