Friday, October 4, 2019

Amber Guyger: And That I Do Not Forgive!

I had a discussion on my Facebook page which is interesting enough to add here. You may have heard that former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was convicted of murdering Botham Jean in his apartment while he was sitting on his couch eating ice cream. Guyger received a ten year prison sentence.

Guyger will be eligible for parole in five years. Guyger can probably look forward to a lucrative post prison career as a Fox News contributing analyst, security consultant, and speaker at NRA events. 

Unsurprisingly, Guyger had a history of racism, some of which was revealed in ugly text messages with her lover, another police officer, as they mocked Martin Luther King, other Black police officers, and Black people in general. Given that there are Black people who have received similar or worse sentences for less heinous crimes, Guyger's relatively lenient sentence is nothing to celebrate.

Guyger might appeal her sentence. Who knows. The reason some people are happy is that it's very very very rare that white cops are ever charged and convicted of murdering a Black person. Her conviction is unusual. So good for that I guess. 

The final day of the murder trial included a stunning moment in which Jean's younger brother, Brandt, told Guyger during his victim impact statement that he forgave her, and gave her a long hug before she was taken to prison.

Just after that, District Judge Tammy Kemp apparently gave Guyger a Bible and also hugged her.
"You can have mine. I have three or four more at home," the judge said. "This is the one I use every day. This is your job for the next month. It says right here. John 3:16. And this is where you start. 'For God so loved the world...'"

If someone should murder my brother and the authorities are gullible enough to let me get close enough to give that person a hug, I am not going to give the person a hug. 

I am going to do my best to make sure that my brother has some company in the afterlife! 

What sort of person embraces their brother's murderer? Does this judge hug every murderer in her courtroom? We know the answer to that. No. No she does not.

I think that Black people are too quick to forgive. I think this comes from the long legacy of slavery and segregation in which just to stay alive Black people had to prioritize the feelings, fancies and quirks of white people, while repressing and denying their own. 

This is, to my way of thinking, a masochistic sickness and weakness. In this world, being too quick to forgive your enemies or to turn your cheek when they strike you just ensures that you have stronger enemies and more of them. No other racial or ethnic group behaves in this way. Can we honestly imagine the white people whose relatives O.J. Simpson murdered embracing him and saying that they forgive him? They haven't done that. To this day, people are hunting down former Nazis and suing organizations and people who allegedly helped Nazis. No forgiveness there either.

In the future, we will read of some horrific crimes in which a father molests his daughter, someone chops up his wife and buries her in the backyard, someone shoots two people dead because they were selling drugs in the wrong territory, a mother drowns her toddlers because she wants to go partying and so on. For the most part the victim and perpetrator will be of the same race. 

No one will talk of forgiveness. The victim's relatives will not feel compelled to provide performative forgiveness for the media. No one will stick a microphone in the family's faces and ask them if they forgive the monster who raped and murdered their little Linda Lou.
Certainly no one will even think of doing that if the perpetrator is Black and the victim(s) white. 
The ability to forgive is important. But I think it's most important for family and intimates. These are people you have chosen to love and with whom you have an ongoing relationship. When they trespass against you, provided they express repentance and do not do the same thing again, I think you should forgive them. And even when strangers commit minor trespasses against you it's best to let it go. I am not the guy tracking down the idiot who cut me off on the expressway last Monday afternoon to show him that he just can't do that sort of thing to me.

But murder is not a minor offense. It's the absolute worst crime. It removes all future possibilities. Guyger murdered Botham Jean. There is absolutely no circumstance in which someone could murder my kin and I would embrace the murderer. I think that's disgusting. I think that justice is far more important than forgiveness. It's okay for Black people to express anger. Properly channeled anger can be essential to producing positive change. Just willy-nilly forgiving people who commit the worst crimes against you, before they have even served time or made amends is a passive and self-destructive thing to do.
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