I’m sure that if I let myself go on about it, this blog post could be thousands of words long and get into a lot of things beyond what I really want to say, so I’m going to do my best to be concise and specific.
I know a lot of people who were rooting against the Baltimore Ravens tonight because of Ray Lewis — in part because of the homicide charges leveled against him several years ago.
I’ve read a lot about the case, but I will freely admit that it was a few years ago that I did the reading; if you asked me about specifics at this exact minute, I could not get into details.
For me, I do not see that there is enough evidence to convict the man.
I know that this is a matter of opinion. But to me, it’s extremely important. At what point did we, as a people, decide that it was okay to convict with incomplete information?
Maybe I’m rare because I make a distinction between what I think is likely and what I think I know, and I am never willing to convict someone if it’s based on my own speculation. Do I think it’s likely that Ray Lewis was involved in the homicide? Depending on what you mean by “involved,” yeah, probably. The obstruction of justice charge alone pretty well confirms that. Do I think he actually murdered people? I don’t have enough info. At a bare minimum, he is guilty of hanging out with terrible people. At a maximum, he is guilty of killing.
What I don’t understand is why so many people are quick to assume the maximum and reject the possibility of the minimum; why we can’t believe in innocence as readily as we believe in guilt.
Sometimes I think that one of the biggest problems created by both standard Christianity and our criminal justice system is that we’re pre-programmed to accept black and white realities of morality. Either you’re sinless or sinful; either you’re innocent or guilty. And if you’re guilty of one thing, you must be guilty of all. The slightest sin is equivalent to the greatest; the crime of obstruction means that you were certainly a killer yourself.
The difference, I think, is that Christianity (at least on paper and in theory, if not always in practice) allows for forgiveness and second chances. We tend to pretend that we forgive and give second chances with the legal system too — some even say out loud that once someone has “done their time” that they’ve “paid their debt,” but the truth is we still look at them sideways.
And we know that we can’t trust the justice system to always convict the right people. (Some might point out Ray Lewis as proof, ironic considering the point I’m actually trying to make.)
So, tell me: you weren’t there; you don’t know what actually happened; you can only surmise from the evidence. How can you have so much hatred toward someone when you have no actual proof of what was done?