Magazine article The Humanist

Editor's Note

Magazine article The Humanist

Editor's Note

Article excerpt

IT MAY or may not surprise you to know that there are self-identified humanists who don't think systemic racism is a big problem in the United States. Or they simply don't think it's a humanist issue. The same goes for disproportionate targeting and excessive use of force by law enforcement against African Americans. And this is precisely why the cover of the issue at hand asks if black lives matter to humanism. (Someone said to me, do you really have to ask? Judging from comments on the American Humanist Association's Facebook page and other direct sources the answer appears to be yes.)

Writing this column is always the last thing I do before the issue goes to print, and I found myself wondering several times during production if there would be yet another national news story involving excessive use of force by police against an African-American citizen. And there it was on the news the night of June 7--video of an officer in McKinney, Texas, responding to a reportedly chaotic situation at a suburban pool party the day before, pinning a high school girl in a bikini on the ground, pulling her hair, and verbally abusing her before pulling a gun on other black teenagers.

The events are being reported from very different perspectives from different sources, but the officer at the center of the story, Eric Casebolt, resigned from the police force three days later and apologized for letting his emotions get the better of him. It's paramount to ask why he went after who he did in the way he did, but it's also worth noting that, as reported by his attorney, Casebolt had responded to two suicide calls earlier in the day, one in which a father shot himself in front of his family at a pool. If this is a day in the life of a Texas police officer then we not only need to train cops to better handle their emotions and gain control of their implicit biases, we also need to ask if we're expecting too much from individuals wearing a badge and armed with a gun. …

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