In Ferguson And Charlottesville, It’s Social Justice Versus Reality

REUTERS/David Ryder

Greg Jones Freelance Writer
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It’s that time of year again. As the winter begins to thaw, America is gripped in the throes of one of the greatest sports traditions in history: March Madness.

But the term need not be confined to basketball. Recent developments show just how “mad” the activist left has gone in its quest for social justice. This time around they have placed great faith in big losers; their brackets are taking a licking.

Sadly, however, the consequences of these contests go far beyond a $250 office jackpot and bragging rights around the water cooler. Instead, entire communities are practically levelled and reputations unjustly tarnished. Shoot first and ask questions later, it seems, isn’t confined to overzealous police officers.

Consider the Department of Justice’s March 4th admission that Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson’s actions were well within the law when he shot an unarmed teenager by the name of Michael Brown. For months the media stoked the angry mob, trying Officer Wilson in the court of public opinion before actual justice could get off the ground. To many the indictment was a slam dunk. But truth, as it is wont to do eventually, reared its ugly head.

In the end the facts were so stark they forced a mea culpa from one of the liberal mob’s leading pundits, Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post. To his credit, Capehart courageously admitted that in hindsight, “Hands up, don’t shoot was built on a lie.” Among Capehart’s brutally honest statements:

But we must never allow ourselves to march under the banner of a false narrative on behalf of someone who would otherwise offend our sense of right and wrong. And when we discover that we have, we must acknowledge it, admit our error and keep on marching. That’s what I’ve done here.

Kudos to Capehart for sure, but a more constructive approach would have been to let the scales of justice settle before launching a full-court press on common sense. Perhaps then the town of Ferguson would not be smoldering from the aftermath of a media-driven frenzy based on emotion, speculation, and falsehoods. There’s nothing “social” or “justified” about what happened in that St. Louis suburb, but don’t expect Capehart to stick around to rebuild.

Not long after the early Ferguson upset, however, another embarrassing defeat: the final unraveling of the storied Rolling Stone rape case.

The article, like the Mike Brown case, made quite a shockwave when it was published. And why wouldn’t it? A vibrant freshman female at the University of Virginia viciously gang raped by seven members of a fraternity. It set the already festering topic of rape on campus aflame, propelling it into the national conversation with the force of a cannonball.

And just like the Mike Brown case, it too was based on emotion, speculation, and falsehoods. A subsequent investigation by the Charlottesville, Virginia police department found no evidence that “Jackie,” as she was known in the Rolling Stone piece, was raped. In fact, no one in a fraternity on that campus matched the name Jackie gave police, and they were unable to determine if such a person even existed.

The Washington Post’s investigation was even more damning:

Phi Psi fraternity members strongly rebutted the allegations, saying they did not have a party on the night in question and did not have a member fitting the description of the alleged attacker; an alleged attacker — who Jackie told friends she was on a date with that night — turned out not to be a U-Va. student, had not been in Charlottesville in years, attends another school in another state, and said he barely knew Jackie; and Jackie’s friends told The Post that her version of events to the magazine did not match what they saw on the night she claims she was assaulted.

A welcome revelation for the fraternity, for sure, but too little, too late. Their house was vandalized and their reputations severely damaged. Not to mention the university; one can only imagine the astronomical costs of its legal counsel and subsequent in-house investigations, a cost that will most likely be passed on to the student body in one form or another.

Of course, the activist left is quick, and perhaps somewhat correct, to point out that while these cases in particular were fraudulent, they helped highlight larger trends. For instance, the Department of Justice found patterns of racial discrimination in the actions of the Ferguson police force, and the Rolling Stone case, they say, is meaningless when compared to the larger epidemic of rape.

But this type of “ends justify the means” mentality is precisely what liberals reject about conservative policies such as stop-and-frisk. But whereas stop-and-frisk reduces crime, Ferguson ignited it.

Perhaps more importantly, however, is the fact that attaching noble causes to questionable actors and situations only adds to the injustice suffered by real victims, whose stories lie in the shadows of false battles. Sadly, even today, what is right is too often abandoned in favor of what is popular.

But let’s not concern ourselves too much with the past. There’s basketball on, and if someone can just beat Kentucky, justice will go 3 and 0.