By Chinedu Ezeocha for Ezeocha Post Originally Published on Tuesday August 12, 2014 at 6:30 AM CT
Ideally in criminal justice, when a crime is committed, a suspect is never arrested for the crime until a compelling evidence amounts that he apparently committed the said crime. Then will a warrant for his arrest be issued. Except in cases where the suspect(s) is caught in the act by law enforcement agencies. This is because in our present-day society, every arrest for whatsoever crime seemingly (I used seemingly because people has been framed for a crime they didn’t commit and evidence planted to pin the crime on them) committed goes into public record and counts against the name of the person with the criminal record. For example, if it is on record that a man was once arrested for pedophilia, just that very fact will make it almost impossible for him to get a decent job in this society because of the stigmatization associated with such crime. Regardless of whether he was later absolved from the crime or not. In the same light, if a man is jailed for rape or murder, after he has served his time, he may not be able to vote again. A criminal record can abort one’s career; condemn him to menial jobs where his supposed criminal record will not pose a threat to his employer, and some of the times, a criminal record can deny a person his civil liberties such as voting in elections. The act of rushing into the arrest of a suspect in a crime without proper investigation can destroy the suspect’s life forever especially when the suspect is innocent of the charges. And in this 24-hour news cycle of ours where the media is always on the roll chasing after latest headlines, a rushed arrest and imprisonment can cause irreparable damage to a man’s integrity especially if the mass media that broadcasted his guilt to the world, typically, does not show up (they seldom do) to retract their statements after the suspect who is now a victim of overzealousness has been proved innocent of the crime. Hence the need for decorum and thorough investigation before any arrest.
This essay will not be focusing on the O.J. Simpson’s or the Oscar Pistorius’ kind of cases that enjoyed/enjoys international media coverage because the suspects in these cases are celebrities. This essay’s main focus is the regular guy on the street who got arrested and jailed by cops because he looked a certain way. It is about the guy who went into a consensual sex with an adult female who however had sinister thoughts towards the guy and shouted rape once both of them are naked. And it is also about the man who is a constant victim of domestic violence and abuse by his wife or girlfriend, but could do nothing to defend himself because 99% is the chance that upon his reaction the woman will call cops on him, cops who will unwisely arrest and jail the man only on the woman’s word without any form of investigation.
Last Saturday, eighteen-year-old Michael Brown, a promising young man of African-American descent was shot dead by St Louis police in Missouri. What was his crime? He looked a certain way and that was all St Louis police needed to declare him guilty and rain their bullets on him. Last month in New York, another African-American male, 43-year-old Eric Garner and a father of six, was choked to death by officers of the NYPD for allegedly ‘selling untaxed cigarettes in May.’ He allegedly sold untaxed cigarettes in May, and if at all that was such a heinous crime in New York, the NYPD in their efficiency could not do anything about it then. Two months later though, they certainly awoke from their slumber and remembered that Eric’s lottery number has been called and it was time for him to die. New York, New York, New York. The same city where Amadou Diallo, a 23-year old immigrant from Guinea was shot 41 (FORTY ONE) times by four NYPD plain-clothed officers: Sean Carroll, Richard Murphy, Edward McMellon and Kenneth Boss. And you know what? They were all acquitted. Very Shameful history for NYPD. Isn’t it? And it keeps repeating itself. Probably because the powers that be have no problems with it. If I may borrow President Obama’s line, this is just not right, but it ain’t right! And this carnage has been the experience of African-American men and teens all over America who are being targeted for death simply because they are African-Americans and because they are male. Some lucky ones end up in the prison system on trumped-up charges. They are allowed to live but to live a life without meaning and purpose and in constant fear.
Sometimes, it seems like there are people who harbors this chronic and vengeful hatred against folks that do not look like them and are obsessed with harming them. And because of the history of structural racism in this country especially in the judicial system, they see joining the state polices as an avenue through which they can let out their hate and remain free from punishment because they rightly assumed that the police system will protect them and their kind. Why else is it not repulsive that any man or woman or group of men or women with a grain of brain in their head to hint of marching in solidarity in New York for a murderer who uses the uniform as a shield to murder people that does not look like him in broad daylight? Why else were the four NYPD officers that released 41 bullets between them on Diallo acquitted?
America is bombing ISIS in faraway Iraq for humanitarian abuses of the Christian minority, but here at home our own system is constantly working against the self-worth, security, and progress of the African-American man. And for a country that is supposedly synonymous with freedom and equality, a country that prides itself as a city on a shining hill, and the beacon of hope for humanity, it is time these practices are called out for what they are, vehemently resisted in all strands of our national life, and its perpetrators and their abettors be seriously punished and nationally shamed if we want to make any progress on the issue of equality as a nation.
And then there is rape. And there is a rape victim. But who truly is a victim of rape? The woman that shouted rape or the man that talked her into it and believed he was going into a consensual sex with a female who is as excited of the prospect of sexual satisfaction and high as he was, only for him to discover and to his chagrin, that the woman has other plans which unfortunately involves framing him for rape?
There is a saying in Nigeria that ‘it is not he that calls the cops that wins the case.’ This is because, irrespective of the poor public perception of Nigeria police, folks were confident that the police will carry out their ‘investigation’ before taking the step of cuffing anybody. People have confidence that when one person alleges another of an offense, that the testimony of both parties will carry equal weight and no one man’s word would have preeminence over the other’s irrespective of gender. People believed that it is through cross examination and witness interviews and cross interviews (knowing that witnesses can be biased and sometimes accomplices) that the police will establish the truth. Anybody can out of bias and emotional dynamics hurriedly declare someone else guilty of a crime. But ideally that is not the place of the police. We all watch Law & Order where suspects are invited to police stations for questioning, not in cuffs, but as free people. Well dressed. And after the questioning, they leave. They are persons of interest until the case stacks up against someone and then an arrest will be made. Not the reverse. The police are supposed to be people with brains, at least smarter than the average guy on the street. Policing is an intelligence work which involves thinking, asking tough thought-provoking questions, and analysis of information because things are not always what they seem. If policing simply involves believing the word of a woman over that of a man, why is there a need for a police academy and training? Everybody would be a police officer and the communities would be better policed. But everybody is not a police officer and there are many blatantly stupid police officers. Stupid to the degree of knowingly arresting a man in his own house for breaking into his own house having found his front door jammed shut on his return home from a foreign trip. That is stupid. Actually the Cambridge Police did that when they arrested Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. at his own Cambridge Massachusetts home on July 20, 2009.
But why are men always getting cuffed and thrown into jail whenever a woman shouts rape? My bad. I almost forgot affluenza!
Affluenza, affluenza, affluenza.
Affluenza is a new device by the judicial system to protect guilty white men from going to prison to serve the time for an offense for which they were found guilty, saying that they cannot survive the prison. While they herd African-American men, both teens and adults to prison. It has been invoked in Texas early this year to protect a white teenager from going to prison who killed four people and injured two other while drunk driving. And it has also been invoked in Delaware in March 2014 to protect a white man who raped his own 3-year old daughter from going to prison. They are found guilty of the crimes but they cannot be sent to prison because of affluenza? Really? The last time I checked the prison system is solely meant to punish and correct offenders for crimes they are guilty of and the prospect of going to prison is meant to discourage folks from doing wrong. So tell me, how can an adjudged guilty man be protected from going to prison but innocent men, even teenagers are hurriedly thrown into the prison with reckless abandon to rot away. Because they have different skin color?
The question I was meaning to ask though is: why are African-American men always thrown into jail and their own part of the story diminished or not even heard anytime a woman shouts rape?
Now am not saying that women are not raped. They unfortunately are and those caught or proved to engage in such a barbaric act, including the rape of a 3-year old girl-child (the worst of its kind), should face the full weight of the law and not a select people. Justice ideally was supposed to be blind but in contemporary America, her eyes are wide open and so color sensitive. It is an error.
Still on the subject of rape, obnoxious laws, and irresponsible policing, my take is that rape occurs and folks are framed for rape too. Is the zeal to give justice to a woman violated more important than the need to make sure that the person being accused of rape actually committed the crime? Jungle justice are justified when the perpetrator of a crime is caught red-handed in the act and there is no shadow of a doubt that he committed the crime. Anything besides a black and white case like that should be given the benefit of doubt of the due process of the law. Rushing into arrest and messing up forever the integrity of a man is not justice. It is a rape of justice. The accused and the accuser are both entitled to justice.
And finally, in making a case justifying the much talked about disproportionate use of force during by Israel during its military campaign in Gaza, my co-worker argued that if an ant willfully attacks an elephant to hurt, the elephant has the right to react and hurt the ant back. The degree of the hurt can never be the same. That is inconsequential. What matters is that the ant knows fully well that he is no match to the elephant, but despite that knowledge initiated an attack against the elephant. That is a plausible analogy. Another example of vindication of Israel’s use of force in Gaza and the consequent civilian loss of lives was given by Nicolle Wallace the former White House Communications Director during President George W. Bush administration on Morning Joe that aired on 8/4/2014. In making her case for Israel, she made an analogy that after we determined that the al-Qaida terrorist network masterminded 9/11 from Afghanistan, that the U.S. retaliation against that country was anything but proportionate. Civilians, women, and children were destroyed. There is a globally unwritten code that governs human relations: if you know that you are physically no match for a person, do not initiate a fight with him/her. People always advice of ‘not starting what you cannot finish.’ Do not expect a proportionate response when you provoke a fight and do not also expect that person so sit down quietly and watch you pummel him/her when they can do something to stop you from further attacking them.
Having established this rule of thumb, the billion dollar question now is: “why” does the United States expect a man to take it all in good grace when a women attacks him? What place have we denigrated man to give a woman the power to be hitting a man as she would but makes it a cardinal sin for a man to hit her back? Why can’t he hit her back? The man who is being hit and the woman hitting him are both humans. Both are emotional being. Both feel pain the same way. The skin of both are made from the same material. And both are conceived, given birth, and are special to family and friends in the same way. Why then is a woman considered such a sacred being and given the pass to do whatever she would to a man and the man such a trivial gobbledygook to be trampled upon? Be mindful I am not talking about a man going out of his way to give the first strike. That is wrong. What I am talking about is the instance where the woman knowing that she is no match for a man and still goes out on her way to attack him. In that instance, the man also have the right to respond. That simply is the Third Law of Motion at play. Israel can respond to Hamas’ rockets as they will, the United States nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki after Japan foolishly attacked Pearl Harbor, but the man is expected to run away from his own house with his hands between his loins weeping like a child as the woman hits him, throw water at his face, spits on him and verbally abuse him? Really? What has the man, the prime creation of God Most Wise done to the society to be so belittled? And while they are hitting you, they dare you to be a man. You can’t even push them away while they are on your face. They will call the overzealous cops and the man will be chained and packaged straight to jail.
I interviewed a female police officer two days ago as part of my prep for this essay and she told me that even when the man does not react to the beatings by the woman, the woman can simply pick up her phone and call the cops and allege that the man laid his hands on her, and just on her word, the police will bundle him to jail. That’s the society we live in right now. That’s America the beautiful. A society where the state happily avails itself to be abused by certain people against the other.
And while we are busing emasculating the man, we are having more kids with little or no discipline because the man has left the house and there is no one else to instill discipline on these kids. With the lack of discipline and absence of father figure in the house comes low performance in school. Not to mention the high chances of being shot on the street for unimaginable stupidity on the part of the untrained child by irresponsible police. America “used” to be #1 in everything globally but with the sweep of liberal values from the Rocky Mountains of the West to the Appalachian Mountains of the East, America is gradually falling behind in every global competition in sciences and technology because even in the classrooms, liberalism has taken over and a pupil can hold a classroom to ransom and the teacher cannot do anything about it. Any attempt at discipline will attract every manner of lawsuits against the teacher and liberal media calling for his/her head. Where are we headed to as a nation?
With the new American Order, the man is apprehensive of jumping into marriage which he knows is an entrapment for him to lose all he has ever worked for in his life, and with marriage on the decline, so is the national birthrate. Men no longer want serious relationships with women and women do want something ‘serious’ most of the time so they settle for woman2woman relationships. America, you see, is on a moral crossroads. It is important that we maintain some moral high ground else we will lose our global relevance and conservative societies like China will become the new America! We don’t want that. Do we?
Our politicians need to man up and lose sight of the next election cycle and be a little more American like President Lyndon B. Johnson who never cared about re-election but took the bold step to sign the Civil Rights Act into law because it was the right thing to do and the right thing for America. So also is the need to review some of our family laws and the need for new laws to be passed to restore man to his rightful place as the head of the family who is to be respected by default and his authority not undermined by the state. And so also is the need to review our criminal laws and the procedure that lead to an arrest because we have so many innocents behind the docks and in jail. And more importantly, so urgent is the need for our lady justice to become blind again because she has long being seeing, and evidence amounts that something is wrong with her sight because she only see color.
I rest my fingers. Let the debate continue.