Thursday, September 16, 2010

On the Presumption of Innocence

Yesterday's newspaper headline came as a rude shock. I learned that a colleague of mine, an instructor at the Mimbres Valley Learning Center here in Deming, had been arrested on a morals charge.

He was arrested following a complaint from a 15-year old boy, posted bail, and will await trial. The police took his computer. His career is probably over even if he is innocent.

The newspaper website allows comments on the news stories and the comments on this story indicate, unsurprisingly, a prevalence of people presuming he is guilty.

The presumption of innocence is one of our republic's bedrock ideas, and sometimes difficult to put into practice. It's a highly sophisticated idea. It isn't common sense. Common sense is often expressed as something like, "He was arrested, he must be guilty of something." The notion that the person really is completely innocent, and must be treated as such, until there is a full trial and his guilt is proven with evidence, even when the charge is very serious or when the person looks guilty, frequently has to be explained and defended.

That's because it is not being taught. Civics and social studies have largely been cut from public education. We need to be introducing these ideas in primary school. We do not. These children have grown up in a society where people are kept in a state of fear and wage slavery, and are not taught these highfalutin concepts about justice and equality.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

You're right. Whether he is found guilty or not, he will carry that "stain" with him. People are so quick to pass judgement (in so many areas!).

I find it incredible that Civics and Social Studies are no longer being taught!! When did this happen?? My kids are not that old (ranging from 21-30), yet they all studied these topics in both elementary school and jr. high/high school.