April 18th, 2006

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Guilty Until Proved Innocent? No, Wait. That's Not Right . . .

It happens whenever a crime reaches the national level. Someone is accused, and that's all that's needed for the court of public perception to find him guilty. This despite the fact that our criminal judicial system is based on the perhaps naive precept of "Innocent Until Proven Guilty."

But the stance everyone takes, even if it's subtle, is to report it as though they've already been found guilty. After all, why would the police be investigating them if they weren't? They say this, and then out the other side of their mouth they accuse the police of planting evidence, or coercing illegal confessions, or searching without a warrant, or whatever. It's tempting to say "you can't have it both ways," but if you're willing to believe the worst in people when they're accused of a crime, why is it you're surprised when other people are accused of trumping the suspicion?

Regardless, it's still innocent until proven guilty. Within reasonable doubt is the wording used, but that's vague. What's reasonable for one isn't reasonable for another, else we'd never have such partisan politics in the world. However, that's the foundation that our modern world is built on. We consider it to be "civilized" to act this way. Perhaps in 300 years, civilized will mean something else, but for now, it's the best system we've got.

Nevertheless, if someone accuses another someone of a heinous crime, and the accused it's immediately arrested, it's an injustice. This despite the evidence of one Richard Jewell.

If you're willing to believe the worst in people, and aren't surprised when the police make mistakes about who they arrested or how they arrested him, why are you surprised when the media gets it wrong?

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque
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