How Thinking Like Spock Would Save The Justice System
I’m a die-hard Star Wars and Star Trek nerd. Now, with that said and out of the way, it’d be nice if we all could think like the iconic Mr. Spock: cool, calculated, logical, unbiased and intelligently. In contrast, we tend to reason completely in the other direction: impulsive, presumptuous, bereft of fact, influenced by emotion and biased. There are many points in our history that warn us of what we are capable of if we don’t think responsibly and use our better judgment. Human beings often do not respect what they don’t know. Consequently, these dark moments in our history are not entirely behind us. We still show signs of irrational thinking that can still lead us out of control and toward catastrophic social consequences. It’s our lifelong social responsibility to understand that we are fallible and that we must adhere to our better, deliberated judgments toward true social progression. This principle will keep society from decadence, being hypocritical to our respective faiths, injustice and chaos. Thinking like Spock would completely overhaul the justice system.
Mr. Spock was a cool character that rarely reacted based on emotion. He drew all of his conclusions from logic and fact. With a more “Spock-like” outlook, there’d be no racism. There’d be no idealistic, divisive political parties. We’d actually respect a man’s innocence until proven guilty. There’d be no deception or propaganda in our news media. There’d be no overblown scandals or conspiracy theories, and we’d all be on the same page moving the mindset of society forward. Instead in our abject reality, people read or hear things on the TV, radio or from other people, and then when heard enough times presume it to be true. Often we begin to tell other people (gossip) and spread the information that was never proven. And many times we do the reverse: We hear things and decide that it isn’t true when it is, and stick to it. And often we just believe what we choose to believe regardless if it’s right or wrong.
No we’re not Vulcan, we’re human, fallible, and this is normal. However, the difference between people is seen in how we behave when we discover beyond any doubt that the information was never true. Unfortunately, many of us refuse to accept fallibility and remain blissfully content in our ignorance.
History teaches us about ourselves, our flawed way of thinking, and the atrocities that come from it. Below are several examples in which we as a people stunt the growth of our society.
The Salem Witch Trials
The Salem Witch Trials morphed into ridiculous, infamous witch hunts. Driven by the agenda of its dogmatic leaders and the naivety of the people, the town was convinced there were satanic witches and witchcraft among them. Those that didn’t believe it, if there were any that is, just went with it.
The madness grew to the point where many innocent people were murdered to satiate the religious, paranoid stupidity of the people of the time. Overly paranoid, and even deceitful people with agendas began to point out other innocent people. Many of those people who were unable to prove they weren’t witches were hung, burned, or tortured in the name of strict, misinterpreted Christianity gone insane. The town was mad, but unfortunately no one could see it. The ones who did realize the insanity were too afraid, reprehensibly cowardly, or indifferent to go against the obstinate leaders or the hordes of brainwashed people who followed and perpetuated the madness.
Salem and other towns immersed itself into a deep, cultish form of Christianity to the point that the people became dangerously and preemptively fearful of differing perspectives, practices, and ideologies. Ironically, the Christian zealots never even realized that it was they who were the true social danger—and they hung and burned people because of their suspicions.
It’s easy for us to look back at times such as this and know our thought was primitive and absurd. We comfortably assume that we’ve grown, but we haven’t. Times and situations change, but we aren’t so different. Our social stupidity merely evolves and takes on different forms. And the more things change, the more they stay the same.
In 1923, there was a small town in Florida called Rosewood that was completely wiped out because of one woman’s lie or fabrication.
Rosewood was an unusual town for the time, mostly inhabited by quiet, hard working middle class African Americans who owned land and businesses. In a neighboring town a white woman named Fannie Taylor, claimed she was attacked by a black man. This was during a very dark time in which many unsolved crimes were blamed on black people, or the crime was conjured up to excuse and justify causing harm to African Americans. Very quickly the alleged “attack” turned into being “sexually violated” in the rumor mill — and then being sexually violated quickly morphed into being beaten down into a concussion — and then sexually assaulted. There were no questions asked, and there was no investigation. In an instant, angry white mobs from neighboring towns swooped in on Rosewood and wiped out the entire town in four days. Houses were burned, women were assaulted, and hundreds of innocent people were shot, lynched, hung and burned. Some fought back but were overcome by the hordes. The traumatized survivors fled into the woods and never came back. Mobs returned afterward to make sure every home, business and place of worship was burned to ashes.
There were several good-natured white town residents that refused to get involved in the manhunts and stain their hands with blood for evil. Some white residents, like a local store owner, John Wright and two train operators aided many of the black victims during the attacks. Surprisingly however, they were the minority. All too often the most foolish, evil and charged up ironically lead the rest, and the scrupulous choose not to get involved. It’s an unfortunate paradigm that might sound very familiar to us in present day.
That type of wild insanity is an example of the power of lies, hate, mobs, and of people who know better letting it spawn into something astoundingly repugnant. It was complete debauchery. This isn’t ancient history either, this is people in this country less than 100 years ago. The spirit of what we’re capable of if we don’t adhere to our better judgment is still with us.
Long History of Wrongful Convictions
Some people can sit comfortably knowing there are injustices happening right now. That is normal and true humanity. As you read this, there are thousands of people sitting in jail for crimes they didn’t commit. In fact, this country has a very long history of jailing innocent people. In some cases it’s strategically and deliberately done, and in other cases it was done due to the failure of the justice system. Society learns the lesson over and over again that no one’s word should be taken as truth without evidence, and things aren’t always what they seem. Even though black males are by and large the victims historically and systematically, a corrupt and flawed system uncorrected affects us all.
Take the case of Alan Northrop. Alan Northrop and his friend Larry Davis were wrongfully convicted of rape and spent 17 years in prison. The victim pointed them out even though she was blindfolded during the attack. There were lots of psychological tricks that were pulled on her and consequently the victim who never actually saw her attackers chose them. After Northrop and Davis were pointed out, the court believed they did it because of the victim’s word without evidence supporting this. Eventually DNA evidence rendered it impossible and the courts began to realize its impulsive blunder nearly two decades later. Northrop did not win compensation for his 17 year imprisonment and the loss of his career, but was instead saddled with $110,000 in child support upon his release.
Sentencing By Media
We are a fundamentally flawed society, and we think incorrectly. That’s why we have to constantly challenge our beliefs and opinions.
I once read a scathing article by The New York Post’s Andrea Peyser. She tore into the late Michael Jackson in a way that was absolutely abysmal. She did the same thing to Heath Ledger when he died. Hinting toward a possible mental issue, Peyser chooses to publish her hateful rants about these people when they die, and when their fans are grieving to ensure her readership.
Andrea Peyser called Michael Jackson surprisingly uncalled for names like “freak”, “ugly”, “kook” and of course called him a child abuser. It was horrendous and shameful. Congressman Peter King went on a similar ignorant and hateful public rant about Michael Jackson. All this against a kind-hearted humanitarian that one would realize was probably never guilty if one took the time to actually examine the evidence and the criminal history and track record of the accusers. Both Peyser and King are examples of people who probably esteem themselves to be established and well adjusted people in society, but don’t realize they incessantly think stupidly, full of hate, without facts and are often intoxicated on their own wild and incorrect opinions. When it comes to law, time has proven that what people think is meaningless. Regardless, It’s inappropriate to spit opinionated venom as a professional journalist or a politician, about a deceased man (with grieving fans, relatives and very young children of his own) who has already been acquitted of all charges in a US court of law.
Other than inconsistent hearsay from only one parent of each child, there was no evidence, nor have any of the children who are now adults, admitted or confirmed the allegations of their provably money motivated parent to this day. To the contrary, more evidence keeps popping up to discredit the allegations even still. It’s amazing; the families have proven themselves to be lifelong lairs that have sued and extorted in the past. Regardless, there are still people cursing Michael Jackson’s name because of things they heard from liars. People believe what’s easiest for them to think. In the minds of many, MJ was eccentric, hung around kids, and so naturally he was a child predator.
In actuality, Jackson had a very unique psychological condition. Jackson was a hard-working millionaire and perfectionist since 10 years old. Many times in his youth, Jackson became very emotional after being whisked away to his next engagement while observing other kids his age playing. In adulthood, Jackson developed a sort of compensatory serenity being in the carefree company of children. Psychiatrists confirmed that Jackson did not fit the characteristics of a predator, and instead was genuinely very child-like himself. This was the unique paradigm before us, not what was fed by media and hearsay. Unbeknownst to most, just a little bit of critical thinking and fact checking would’ve have destroyed the credibility of the rumors and allegations. However, society couldn’t do that, and now he’s dead.
Now here comes the fall of Bill Cosby. Whether he’s guilty or innocent is not clear. We do know some of his accusers have lied. We also should reserve a man’s innocence before casting judgement. However, like putting a plate of food on the floor before wild dogs, after all we learn from history past and present, people cannot control themselves from doing what it will no matter what. We do the exact same things each and every time. No, not very Vulcan-like at all.
Injustice Anywhere Is a Threat to Justice Everywhere
I spent much of the last few years stunned and disgusted at what I was seeing all around the country.
It seems getting people to agree with you has overtaken being right or wrong. Unfortunately, getting people to agree equates to the moral high ground to many. That’s how many of us operate, through propaganda. However, getting people to agree is meaningless when it comes to right, wrong and justice. Most of society used to agree the world was flat or having your blood drained was an effective medical procedure. It doesn’t matter what a lot of people believe. The question that should precede emotional banter is, “Is this right?”
I’ve seen scores of people dragged down and torn to shreds based on fact-less information. I’ve read cases of thousands of people wrongfully incarcerated or put to death. The entire time I wonder how that can ever happen. If the law is “innocent until proven guilty”, how did they “prove” that this innocent person did it? Is it because the suspect looked like someone? Is it because they were the only one found near the crime scene? Is it because everyone else on the planet had been ruled out? It’s because we trust our stupid and unproven opinions too much.
No, we are not so far from the Salem or Rosewood days. The evidence is all around us. Mentally we are very much still there. People in groups can be easily swayed to drop their better judgment and decide what their truth is. It’s up to each individual to prevent that from ever happening.
We’re not supposed to have a purposeless existence, merely accepting everything around us as it seems to our minds. That’s irresponsible. Nor are we supposed to be so selfish, mean-spirited and opinionated. Our personal and day-to-day challenge of correctness is what drives our society and lifts us from darkness. It’s what changes our laws and keeps society progressive. It’s what gives humanity a standard to uphold. It’s what suppresses wild, unjustified hatred and ignorance. And it’s what puts dark moments like the aforementioned behind us.
No, we can’t all be like the fictional Mr. Spock, but we have enough intelligence to see the fruits of our inequities and do something about it, even if at a slower pace.
No one should be comfortable with the world as it is when there’s so much to fix and so much work to be done. No, we don’t have to be Mother Theresa and attempt to save everything and everyone. However, we can start very simple and know when a journalist like Andrea Peyser is foaming at the mouth like a stray dog again, we shouldn’t stand for such simplistic, opinionated anger disguised as news coverage or reliable information. When politicians and media personalities are lying and misrepresenting people and situations with rhetoric, we shouldn’t stand for that either. All of us should keep our head clear and uncontaminated from ongoing forms of social retardation. We deserve better. We need to stop our blind allegiance to political parties, fanatical groups, church cults or anything else that molds our thought and divides people unnecessarily.
Again, forgive me for escaping into a fantasy world like Star Trek with which to find my ideals and way of thinking. It’s just that wholesome ideals that we all know are right, we’re easily able to conceive in our imagination, but is so perplexingly unattainable amongst the real living, and out of control. As Spock would say, “Fascinating”.
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