After listening to my fellow employees discuss the shooting of Michael Brown, I start to get a clearer picture of the real questions, we as Americans, must ponder. What is the value of human life and how do we determine when life has reached a zero value? I have to further ask is that zero value established using qualitative or quantitative methods, and who exactly makes this determination? Over our history, we have as a society instituted the death penalty as our ultimate punishment for someone taking another person’s life, invoking the old biblical proverb, “an eye for an eye.” But in more modern times except in Texas, many states are now either outlawing such capital punishment or significantly curtailing its use. Nevertheless, we still make our own personal judgments about how this value is calculated, and some of us have it in our power to act on this result.
Many of my co-workers were of the opinion that the incident seemed excessive, but Michael Brown was not a “saint”, therefore…, and others held the belief that he must have provoked the officer, as a result he deserved to die; to which one proclaimed, “Michael Brown was a ‘hoodlum’, so he rightfully met his fate.” It was obvious that though they had some sympathy for the family of the victim, they determined that Michael Brown’s life at 18 years of age no longer had any value. He could never have amounted to anything anyway. Mostly all reasoned that whether it was his past behavior, his felony record or the alleged robbery of the convenience store, Michael Brown’s life had no value which was correctly determined by the officer who shot him 6 times.
By releasing the store video tape and his past arrest record, officials in Ferguson achieved their goal, at least in this group, of showing that Michael Brown’s life had reached zero value. Consequently, Officer Wilson was justified in taking the life of this unarmed teenager. This Officer after perceiving a threat and given Michael Brown’s past had every right to act on his computation that this unarmed 18 year old boy’s life value was zero. If this is how we are going to determine someone’s life value, then they are right. This case should be closed, and although tragic, Officer Wilson should be allowed to resume patrolling the streets of Ferguson.
However, we should ask ourselves who else has the authority to make this value calculation about our children. Should everyone have this power? Why only put this power in the hands of officers? That’s right in Florida, they did give that ability to everyone with the Stand Your Ground Law. The guy there was also able to get away with killing another unarmed black teenager. This must be our answer; Everyone should have the power. I just wonder if so many will be in favor of this new “right” when a black man shoots an unarmed white teenager.