Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Opinion: Penn State and Rushing to Judgment

by richmin3000

due to the sensitive nature of this story, i feel as though i need to make clear that i am in no way defending anybody involved in these alleged events.

as americans, we pride ourselves on being a country based on laws and the presumption of innocence. our due process laws try to guarantee that no one will be unjustly found guilty of a crime without proper evidence gathered under the strictest of scrutiny. this is rooted in the belief that it is far worse to find an innocent man guilty than to find a guilty man innocent. there are obvious pros and cons to this way of thinking.

however, this system of checks and balances, between effective criminal prosecution and protecting individual rights, is sometimes blurred by political motivations, public opinion and the 24-hour news cycle.

the truth, i find, is often difficult to see and is often blurred by our own biases. we are prone to make rash judgments based on limited information as if being the first to form an opinion or belief will be rewarded with a prize. and if we end up being wrong, there are million excuses that we can assert that alleviate any personal responsibility for the misguided accusations that may end up costing someone their reputation, careers or even their lives.

i am not blaming anyone, accusing anyone and certainly not defending anyone involved in this story. i accept that in this world we now live in, with the 24-hour news cycle competing against social networking media, the cost of due diligence and honest reporting can be too high.

i only believe, ask and possibly even demand that we be fair and honest with ourselves and those we choose to prosecute in the court of public opinion for it is very easy to forget all those that have been falsely accused in the past. we must remember that a news story is not fact, accusations are not fact and strange circumstances that seemingly point to only one obvious conclusion are not facts. we must also remember that we've only heard one side of the story thus far (sandusky was just interviewed by bob costas) and that even if there is a 99% chance that these allegations are true, that means there is still a 1% chance that they are untrue (or at least partly untrue).

IT IS INDEED POSSIBLE to investigate and prosecute someone to the full extent of the law without resorting to judgment and attacks. every person in a court of law is given the right to face their accuser and is presumed to be innocent. we are given these rights for a reason and just because our daily lives don't take place in a courtroom doesn't mean that those same principles can't hold true.

(for a further discussion of penn state and joe paterno, check out the first "no hyperbole allowed" podcast)

*to see the bob costas interview, you can find it and alan sepinwall's commentary at http://www.hitfix.com/blogs/whats-alan-watching/posts/nbcs-bob-costas-destroys-penn-states-jerry-sandusky-in-interview

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