We need to have a national conversation on race. We also need to have a national conversation on gun control. And while we’re at it, let’s have a national conversation on homophobia. We need to have all these conversations to “heal” our nation. Healing that’s long overdue and can only be solved if all 300 million of us simultaneously start talking at once.
The problem with having a national “conversation”, besides the obvious logistics nightmare, is the polarization within this nation is so severe that both sides can’t understand each other.
It’s not that people don’t want to have the hard discussions, it’s that no one’s speaking the same language. The clearest example of this incoherent dialogue is in the recent exchange on BET’s “Black News Tonight” between the Honorable Judge Joe Brown and news anchor and academic Marc Lamont Hill.
If a real “national conversation” took place, it would sound like this interview. Both men spoke over each other, completely missed each other’s points, and never caught the natural ebb and flow these discussions should have.
But this is the United States of America in 2021, where the ideological gap has become a massive fault line dividing the nation like never before.
The judge was asked to be on the show after he and the Temple University professor exchanged tweets concerning Bill Cosby’s release from prison.
Cosby had all charges dropped after an appellate court ruled his conviction violated his due process under the law. Hill argued that despite the conviction being overturned, Cosby was still a sexual predator. But the Judge retorted that the conviction was overturned based on an unconstitutional ruling. Because of that, Cosby now enjoys the same presumption of innocence all American citizens have until proven otherwise in a court of law.
This is the point where the proverbial fork in the road appears. Judge Joe Brown’s argument is crystal clear: if the mechanisms with which you may find someone guilty were somehow tainted, then that individual would be presumed as innocent as any other citizen.
To his credit, Hill conceded this point. But he then took the conversation down the path that leads to the moral dilemma: Cosby admitted to things that some would consider immoral. Therefore, despite the lack of credible evidence, he should be deemed guilty in the court of public opinion.
Now, the “court of public opinion” doesn’t exist, but this is where Hill tries to take the argument. In fact, Judge Joe Brown addressed this previously in his Twitter exchange by accusing the mainstream media of trying to incite mob rule.
This means that although the allegations made against Cosby were deemed baseless, individual people could then still hold Cosby accountable via personal opinions.
Obviously, everyone is entitled to their opinion (and in the case of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, personal opinions cannot be criticized, or at least the ones that hold her accountable).
However, personal opinions are just that, opinions, and unless well-informed individuals form them, they’re irrelevant. Regardless, today’s mainstream media, with all its weight, has agendas that must be carried out.
So, they nurture a public sentiment and harness that sentiment into outrage that calls for real tangible change in public policy that, coincidentally, fulfills their agenda.
Public opinion is not how we uncover truth in our society. That task is left up to a jury informed of the facts that renders a verdict based on such. Up until the point of actual conviction, every American citizen should be presumed innocent under the law.
To the judge, and people who think like the judge, the matter is closed. Venturing into the world of moral arguments is dangerous because the moral compass changes with each individual and with a given time period. Cosby did egregious things based on today’s standards. But those standards were different at the time these allegations took place.
Is it fair to judge him according to 2021 standards? This is where Hill’s argument becomes murky. This is also why we can’t have a public discourse on almost anything. The parties involved are like Hill and Brown.
They both say something, but neither one understands each other.
These two men represent both sides of the human brain. In this case, Judge Joe Brown is the logical thinker who makes his decisions based on the facts of a given matter. Marc Lamont Hill gives more credence to the emotional aspect of things by delving into the world of hypotheticals and presumed motivations.
Both see life using different premises with which to understand it. One cares more about what can be proven. Meanwhile, the other cares more about how something makes them feel.
Towards the end of the interview Judge Brown breaks down the dichotomy. He explains how society is moving towards a place where one’s personal feelings are given precedence over facts.
It’s the inclusive generation where truth takes a back seat to accommodate everyone.
Hill sees Cosby as someone who did terrible things to unsuspecting victims. Brown, on the other hand, believes some accountability must be placed on the women involved who voluntarily put themselves in compromising situations.
Hill responds appalled because he sees the “victims” as pristine without any moral blemish. At the same time, he views Cosby as the quintessential sexual predator luring victims with his celebrity status.
He feels the only way to rectify this problem is for Cosby to be held accountable in totality. For Hill, to even speak on the women bearing responsibility is offensive and disgusting.
But the Judge Joe Browns of the world deal in facts and only focus on what they can control. Brown even goes so far to say that too many people today expect to be protected by the government from their own foolish decisions.
More so, he argues these women chose to rendezvous with celebrities in the world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Then, they cry foul when they get exactly that: sex, drugs and rock and roll (and not coincidentally a lawyer **cough** **cough** Gloria Allred, smells a payday). He says that there needs to be accountability on their part as well for their actions leading up to the alleged “assault.”
The Marc Lamont Hills of the world cringe at accountability because accountability doesn’t necessarily feel good. He believes in a world where there are definite oppressors and definite victims, and one should be vilified and the other given sympathy. He looks to make the world conform to the victim, because they’re helpless and in need of protection.
The time for public discourse may have passed us by as we watch our national perspective being torn down the middle. The two sides, one logical, the other emotional, are raising their voices, each swearing they’re right and drowning out any chatter that doesn’t fit their belief system.
The only way for us to have a real conversation that actually produces a change in our society is if we stick to facts. Facts based on actual evidence and corroborated with common sense.
This is the only way because it’s the only way that is unbiased and without partisan motives.
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