Monday, March 26, 2012

Judge Not

It happened one day in 1969 in West Germany, on a bus filled with boy scouts on a way to a jamboree, we happened into the middle of a protest that had all the signs of developing into a riot.  The hippies, as we knew them to be, surrounded our bus.  My father, the scout leader in charge, told us to press our Canadian flags against the windows.  Badges, sashes, small flags, whatever we had.  We passed in peace.  The prevailing and unsubstantiated wisdom of the day was that Canadians would never encounter harm in Europe not because of our home and native citizenship, but because we weren't American.

Be that as it may, recently in Canada we have had our share of riots first in Vancouver after the Stanley Cup final, and then on March 17 in London, Ontario during the celebration of the life and good works of an Irish saint.  A disquieting trend has emerged, and I speak not of the rioting itself nor of recognizing sainthood by exhibiting decidedly unsaintly behaviour.

In both instances the community has been quick to judge based on videos and pictures.  Alleged rioters are being threatened and hounded, as though merely being photographed taking a big-screen TV through a broken store window or taking a two-by-four to a police vehicle is proof of complicity.  It may well be, but that is for the court to decide.

There is no justice in rushing to judgement.  Offer the evidence if you have it, share the incriminating social media, and then let the system prove guilt and mete out punishment, correction and restitution.

"Vengeance is mine, says the Lord."  Romans 12:19  Vigilante retribution is as bad and perhaps worse than the alleged illegal behaviour it seeks to punish.

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