On Ice Buckets, and the Rush to Judgment

I’ve been following the “Bay Village ice bucket” story with interest, as I’m sure many of you have.  We follow it because it outraged us, because it happened in our backyard.  I have known Mark Spaetzel, the Bay Village chief of police, for over 20 years, and I can imagine how difficult it must be for him, as he seeks justice under such intense scrutiny…so I’ve been keeping him and his colleagues in my prayers during this time as well.

The latest development indicates that the story might not be quite as clear-cut as it first seemed to outside observers.  Perhaps the students involved were all friends.  Perhaps they were accustomed to pranking one another.  Perhaps the other boys didn’t know that one of their friends has autism.

We still don’t know the whole story, and we may never know all of the details.

One of the realities of living in a world of constant news, instantaneous updates and ubiquitous social media is that more people are commenting on events without knowing the full story.  People pass judgment without the details which sometimes are the most critical aspect of an incident.

In this case, the rush to judgment may have caused a ripple of torment.  If news reports are accurate, the boys involved in the ice bucket incident have received death threats, and one of them has talked about experiencing suicidal feelings.

Upon reflection, there may be many lessons to be learned here, and it’s good if we take the time to consider them before we’re on to the next hot news item.  One of them may be this:  let’s slow down and not be so quick to pronounce our assumptions, to act as if we have all the facts…let’s not pre-judge (the root of prejudice), let’s remember that there is usually gray area.

Of course, Jesus said, “Do not judge”…are those words we still believe apply to us?

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