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?
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?
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.