Being judgmental should be the norm

This country's entire legal system, and the laws within it, are all judgmental at the base

Opinion

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By Arlene Jones

Columnist

A phenomenon of late is very popular within the black community. Worn on T-shirts or expressed on social media, the expression, "Only God Can Judge Me," or some iteration thereof, is the message. The notion that bad behavior (which is the only time folks get upset about being judged) is to be tolerated and left to be adjudicated only by God while the rest of us tolerate any stupidity those individuals commit is ludicrous.

This country's entire legal system, and the laws within it, are all judgmental at the base. The counterpart to going along with the notion of "not being judged" is the "excuse-driven" response that attempts to validate bad behavior by making something or someone else responsible for it.

In July of this year, a 13-year-old girl near St. Louis was in a beauty salon along with two other juveniles when police were called in response to a shoplifting allegation. The police found two of the alleged suspects. The owners of the store, two elderly people in their 70s, agreed to allow the girl to be released with a stern warning about trespassing. Several hours later, the girl returned to the store with a gun and shot both people. Thankfully the two victims didn't die from their injuries. But recovery from injuries at that age is not like when they were seven, 17 or 27.

Later on, the young girl turns herself in to police accompanied by her father and several aunts. Months later following the incident, the St. Louis chapter of the NAACP held a press conference. After doing their own investigation, they said the girl's mom used drugs while she was pregnant with her, that the state failed the girl, her parents failed her, and other systems failed her.

"She is not a monster," the St. Louis NAACP president proclaimed.

I can concur that there are others who are just as responsible for the girl's behavior. What I question is the right of those who should have been judgmental 14 years prior to the girl's creation. Could someone have told her drug-using mother not to use drugs or have sex that could lead to the creation of a child? Could someone have told her father not to sleep with someone who was a drug user and without utilizing protection from pregnancy? Those are the kinds of judgmental actions that many don't want to hear. But those are exactly the kinds of judgmental issues that keep people in line and conforming to societal norms.

When the child was born, the state's role was most likely to pay the cost for the birth and WIC to make sure she had something to eat. But the main responsibility for rearing the child is on those who conceived her along with contributions by other family members. The state didn't raise this child; her parents did. And their piss-poor job shows 13 years later when she was able to obtain a gun and go shoot someone who had "judged" her by calling the police as she and her friends attempted to steal.

I can understand the NAACP wanting to express the need for funding for intervention sources to address this kind of problem. However, until we reverse the trend that "judgment" only comes at the end, nothing will change. 

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