And the alternative would be…

I’m talking about “rush to judgement,” a phrase we’ve heard a lot of lately, and one we’ll hear again in days to come. That’s what the accused — or their supporters — complain of when the legal justice system responds quickly to a real — or a perceived — breach of justice.

Rush to judgement. You have made a determination before all the relevant data have been presented and evaluated. And argued over and fiddled with and analyzed.

The immediate instance, of course, comes from Baltimore. A man died while in police custody. He died — and no one seems credibly to challenge this point — of injuries he sustained while in police custody, injuries for which he received no meaningful medical treatment while in police custody. Now a prosecutor has brought charges, from assault to murder, against the six police officers involved.

And the cry goes up, “Rush to Judgement!” You have accused these six men of major felonies before…

Before what?

Let that go unanswered for a moment. Ask instead, what is the alternative? What has been the alternative over the years?

A few times, it has been a deliberated move toward judgement. More often, however, it has been delay, obfuscation, evasion, and misdirection. A trudge to judgement which says, in effect, it didn’t happen but if it did it was accidental and no blame attaches to it.

Now, go back and answer the previous question.

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