The New Death Penalty

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The death penalty is dying. Even in many American states where it’s still legal, it’s no longer actually practiced. Why? One key reason is that too many innocent people have been wrongly executed.

It’s interesting, therefore, that character assassination is more popular than ever.

Case in point: Last week, a group of Catholic high school students from Covington, Kentucky, part of the greater Cincinnati area where I live, attended the annual March for Life in Washington, DC. A brief video hit the internet a short time later, seeming to show the teenagers mocking a Native American man while he chanted and played a drum.

Almost instantly, the internet was flooded with calls for the students’ expulsion and even arrest. Many received death threats. Covington Catholic High School was adjudged by various self-proclaimed commentators as a cesspool of hatred and racism, despite their strong denunciation of the students’ behavior. (The campus is currently closed due to ongoing threats of violence against the school.)

Then two more hours of video showed up, and a very different picture began to emerge. Apparently, the altercation began with a nationally known hate group, the Black Hebrew Israelites, who’d been denouncing Jews, Native Americans, and literally all white people, throughout the day. Then they turned their vitriol against the teenagers (who were waiting to board a bus back to Kentucky), including black teens in the group, shouting obscenities and racial epithets at them. The teens responded, with a chaperone’s approval, by chanting upbeat school cheers. Good idea?

Probably not.

Then a leader from the Native American group stepped in and, in an effort to cool things down, placed himself between the teens and BHIs and began chanting a prayer while beating a drum up close and personal in one particular teen’s face. In response, the confused kid smirked stupidly (which looked like mocking in the original video). Was the Native American leader’s action helpful?

Probably not.

And now there’s a frenzy of blame, but no consensus regarding where to direct it, only that someone must die. Someone’s reputation must be destroyed. Why? Because character assassination is the new death penalty. And we won’t stop till we see virtual blood, dammit!

Ironically, all of this occurred just as our nation was celebrating its great peacemaker Martin Luther King Jr (who was assassinated, you may recall). Good time to remember Dr. King’s admonishment that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” Maybe it’s time we stopped looking for something to kill, and start looking for something to save,

Like what’s left of our civilization. 

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Culture, For Pastors and Teachers and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

72 Responses to The New Death Penalty

  1. Janet says:

    Oh I like this… “Maybe it’s time we stopped looking for something to kill, and start looking for something to save…” Great mantra for the future. 🙂

    Liked by 7 people

  2. nancyehead says:

    Reblogged this on Nancy E. Head and commented:
    I was at the March but didn’t witness this set of incidents. The March was crammed and peaceful. So sad to see people hone in on this as the only thing to happen that day.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. nancyehead says:

    I attended the March for Life. I missed this incident. This year’s March was crammed with peaceful protesters. So sad that people can’t show the truth about why we were there and what we were doing. God bless!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Thank god for that. We don’t live in Saudi Arabia.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Whew! And the hits just keep on coming, huh? People are crazy! Just sayin’… This is a great point, Mitch, and very well thought out and written.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Niki Flow says:

    Thank you for sharing the full story, Mitch. It’s abhorrent and shameful that CNN Twitter and Facebook are not sharing the full story and instead are allowing the clipped vids promoting hatred and division. The video clips showing only a part of the story are dangerous. The quote I shared today is as true today as when spoken: “The choice is not between violence snd non-violence but between non-violence and non-existence” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 💕.

    Liked by 7 people

  7. Thanks for this, Mitch! You are truly a positive voice of reason and inspiration in the midst of all the craziness! God bless you greatly, my friend!!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. When the local news media here were covering it and the fact that the video was taken out of context. The news casters literally asked “We want to know what you think about this” talk about news bating. I don’t remember news casters asking these questions when I was a kid. I really don’t care what they think either. The morning news crews are constantly intermingling their personal opinions with the news. It’s really rather annoying. Just gimme the news and get on with it. I really just want to hear the weather report.

    Liked by 6 people

  9. Great post! It is a shame that we can’t wait for the whole story before jumping to conclusions. The new is not the news any more. It the “Opinion.”

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Wish the media would quit looking for a disaster that never happened. As the old saying used to be, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Wish they’d get as excited over the good stuff people do. Grit Magazine used to. Don’t know if it’s still around.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. pkadams says:

    Thank you for explaining so succinctly what actually occurred. Searching online for information was not very helpful for getting to the facts. Not only did they erase MLK Day, they completely succeeded in diverting attention from the rally itself. God help us!

    Liked by 4 people

  12. landl30 says:

    Helpful analysis Mitch

    Liked by 3 people

  13. M.B. Henry says:

    “Maybe it’s time we stopped looking for something to kill, and start looking for something to save…” I’ll give that an amen!

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Who is innocent here? We can blame the media for reporting an incomplete story or the various groups that behaved badly. I was not there. But I have worked with teenagers. They don’t always make wise decisions. If they chanted “Build the Wall”, I’d bet they were taught better at home and at school. I’m sure our leaders set good examples of how to show respect to others. Then Again-probably not!

    Liked by 3 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      There is apparently no evidence the students chanted that (one person said they did, but others say the didn’t, and the videos don’t show it), but even if they had the school would certainly not have taught them to (the Catholic church is very much against the Trump’s immigration policies). As to “who is innocent?” I’d argue that probably no one is completely innocent. “All sin and fall short of the glory of God,” all of us make stupid and sometimes selfish mistakes. But the point is that neither the teenagers nor the Native Americans from the original video clip are “THE bad guys” the public seems to be gunning for.

      Liked by 4 people

  15. sashiengland says:

    I learned a lesson since I thought the worst when I first saw it. Quick to judgment…BAD! A video doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story. This video turns out didn’t include the beginning, end, and left out some of the middle. Upon hearing another video where the Catholic school kids were victims of vicious insults, I was sorry I rushed to judgment. A good lesson to keep in mind when looking at social media. Things aren’t always as they appear to be. I want to spend more time in the cheering section than the judging one.

    Liked by 4 people

  16. Thank you for being a light!

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Mike says:

    Well said, Mitch!

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Re-Farmer says:

    I’m just catching up on visiting blogs I follow, so maybe you’ve posted against about this. More and more is coming out about this. I’ve watched some of the videos, including one proudly posted by the BHI group. My conclusion:

    The kids responded fantastically for the circumstances.

    In studying martial arts and teaching self defense, diffuse potentially explosive situations before violence happens has always been a key component. The kids – especially the one teen boy – followed all of it, even though they didn’t know what all was going on.

    Since it came out, it has been clear that the NA protest group was NOT putting themselves between the BHI group and the teens. They targeted the teens, and the guy with the drum in the kids’ face was deliberately trying to provoke him. When the protest group first walked into the group of teens, with their drum beats matching their chants, the kids started dancing with the beat. After a while, it they became increasingly confused about what this protest group was doing. While the kids was being drummed in the face, another member of the NA group began making racial comments against the kids. One of them did respond – in a very articulate way – but the kid being drummed at made a small motion, easily missed, signalling his peer not to continue engaging. Which the other kid caught and he did stop responding to the race baiting insults.

    So what happened.

    A group of pumped kids first gets harassed by a hate group. They ask for, and get permission, to drown out the hateful verbal assault with school chants. Then the NA group inserts themselves into the group of teens. The drummer targets one of the kids, gets in his face, and stands there, drumming.

    The kid does not engage. He smiles at the man. Nothing more. No, he did not “smirk” at him. He just smiled. After a while, you can see in his expression that he is confused by what’s going on. He also begins to appear to be in pain – which would make sense, having that drumming at his ear for so long. Towards the end, he seems to be struggling to maintain the smile because of it. Most importantly, though, he maintains eye contact with the guy in his face, as much as possible. He does not turn his back and walk away until it was safe to do so.

    He did everything right, within his power, to diffuse the situation. All of these kids handled things very well; especially considering the hostility aimed at them, and their confusion about what the NA group was doing. They are to be commended.

    Liked by 4 people

  19. joyroses13 says:

    Your Last Line Says It all! Amen!

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Svelte says:

    Ugh, what an unfortunate situation – so badly mishandled on all sides. From the first video, the kid did not come across as threatening, mocking or anything vicious (to me). It was a non-story. (Being that it was a kid staring down an adult – I mean, I can conjure up way different scenarios in the same setting.)
    I put myself back at that age and ya, that could have been my reaction, if not worse.

    Being in this tech age we’re living in, where lives are live-streamed (else it does not constitute ‘living’), I’m very wary of being caught unawares in some less-than-stellar moment. 
    There are three sides to every story. That clip was unworthy of my rage, more-so as new details emerge.

    I do think however, that the adults and school children should have been kept apart by the chaperones.
    The media is guilty, but so is the populace for readily swallowing every crumb thrown for a reaction.
    There are lessons here for us all. Great post!

    Liked by 4 people

  21. Character assassination being the new death penalty, interesting perspective – and so true. Video clips can be (and are) used to say anything. I keep hoping one of these days the public is going to get get fed up with being manipulated and just turn it off.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. I couldn’t find anything but expressions of disdain on Nathan Phillips face.

    He egregiously targeted a kid, and drummed in his face.

    Now we find out the man has lied for years about being in Vietnam.

    I’m completely sympathetic to the kids on this one.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Thanks for your thoughtful take on this bizarre incident. It was prime for distortions by selective editing, social media, and hashtags. What irony, as you said, to have this happen so near to MLKjr Day. I can’t imagine having presence of mind if I were there.

    Liked by 3 people

  24. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE needs to stop making decisions based on emotion and start treating each other with respect.

    Liked by 5 people

  25. A brilliantly written piece on the dangers of social media – a knee jerk reaction for everything with facts taking a back seat behind sensationalism. All news items are broken down into 20 second chunks with tag lines designed to inflame and provoke but the news would not have become like this had people not been so quick to respond to it. Almost everything we read is written to insight fear, in one form or another, and that, in turn, creates division. When did we lose the ability to take individual responsibility I wonder rather than partaking in a collective blame game?

    Liked by 3 people

  26. Thank you for speaking the truth! This is exactly what I needed to see this morning after losing sleep over this situation. Distressing to see celebrities dogpile on top of a regular kid whose only “crime” was smiling on a sunny day–and wearing a red hat. I could see my 18 year old son in his place and my heart breaks for how our country has turned from decency, civility and morals to a cesspool of hatred, bullying and grandstanding.

    Liked by 3 people

  27. grAnnie Roo says:

    Sincerely, this is the best report of the incident (I’ve prayed and fasted over all week). I thank God for you, Mitch.

    Liked by 3 people

  28. After watching the video, i also believe the young man could have stepped away from Mr. Phillips. To that effect, I believe too much pride was displayed. Even Mr. Phillips, with all good intentions failed to display humility. There’s a time to pray (him) and it should not be in front of someone’s face. All parties have something to learn here. The media, as usual is wrong for how and the way they reported this ‘news’.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Lucie says:

    The native american corrected many of the inaccurate portrals of the young man’s “confrontation” with him …..lovely, honest man, just trying to calm things down and i really respected him contacting news people to defend this young man….this is what honesty and integrity use to be about….nice post, Mitch.😊

    Liked by 2 people

  30. No one is immune to the illness known as pride and indignation…

    Liked by 2 people

  31. I appreciate what you said. Thank you!!

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Sherry says:

    Very well said. And I agree. My new mantra is “Pray for America.” Our country so desperately needs it.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Pingback: The Cure for Racism? | Mitch Teemley

  34. E says:

    The meta message is lost in the mob mentality and incomplete media coverage.
    Having watched other interviews of the young man in the MAGA hat it’s clear he’s battling a deeply seeded sense of righteous entitlement which he was directly projecting at the Native American man. The PR firm his parents hired have coached him for interviews but he doesn’t seem to understand or align with the canned phrases they asked him to memorize. While he didn’t speak actual words, his thoughts are written all over his face and posture.
    The ‘someone must die’ mentality is a reflex of our primal brain revealing how little we’ve evolved. We can’t evolve because we’re stuck on a not so merry go round of lack, meritocracy, exclusion, colonization, programmed consumption, overproduction, ignorance, greed and want.
    It’s a real bummer Mitch.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. carhicks says:

    Wow, all I saw was the one clip, and the clip of the Native American Veteran crying. This is a very sad look at mankind. And to see that the school is being threatened, why is that not a problem in the media blasts. Thanks for the additional facts to this story. Character assassination can ruin a person and no one ever retracts anything. So glad that the death penalty is not practiced, I wish the “love penalty” would be.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Thanks for such a clear summary of the full incident and for the moral at the end.  The last paragraph is a fine example of writing that is actually good English despite being “bad” English from a grammar prig’s viewpoint.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. I’m starting to wonder if George Orwell was a prophet.

    “The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic.” George Orwell

    Liked by 1 person

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