I Give Up

I’m sitting here without a plan. I do not even have a rough outline of where these thoughts will go. If I have a plan, it is simply to write because the Spectrum Website needs a post for Thursday morning and there is nothing else I want to talk about. I sit here writing now not knowing whether I will say anything coherent or whether this will be just tears and rage and hurt and fear and sadness transmitted from my brain, heart, and the knot in my stomach, down through to my fingers on a keyboard and up onto a screen. I refuse to even read these sentences as I write them for fear that I may try to edit my pain for both your comfort and mine. I hate to be this raw, this vulnerable, this broken by a world where this type of evil can happen and even the people of God would defend it or explain it away. I now know what the writer meant when he said by beholding we become changed.

I have long had a thing about not watching an actual human death. It is a personal point of pride for me and to be honest, I cannot explain why. I think it was because there is something about the sanctity of human life that to me is trivialized by me watching a death like I watch an episode of Better Call Saul. I decided to watch the dashcam of the murder of Philando Castile. (And I use that term with all its legal repercussions. Ask me if I care about a verdict.) The acquittal of the officer who murdered him has been a splinter in my mind since last Friday and so there was nothing else I wanted to write about this week. I figured I owed it to him. I could’ve read someone else’s summary of the events, but I thought that if I was going to write about his death, then I should see it for myself. He gave his life. My pride is a small price in exchange. I shut my laptop before the last shot rang out. I learned that shutting my laptop doesn’t stop the video from playing. And so I listened as a cop tried to justify a murder, a woman calmly comforted a dying man, and Philando Castile gasped for a life he would soon lose.

What do you say when you see a nightmare come to life? Castile’s murder hits harder because there is nothing that justifies his murder. In the cold light of logic his killer should merit a conviction. If killing Castile can be considered reasonable, then the police killing anyone for any reason can be considered reasonable. Except that we know disproportionately who those anyones will be.

What can I say that I haven’t said before? In this very space I have appealed to logic. In this very space I have appealed to empathy. In this very space I have appealed to the bonds that hold us together as brothers and sisters in Christ. And it seems nothing has changed. I don’t read the comments section here anymore. That’s not exactly true. Instead what I normally do (with some rare exceptions) is I read the comments for last month’s piece. So when I come back to this piece a month from now I already know what I’ll see. Someone will mention black-on-black crime. Someone will say that a jury found him not guilty/innocent (those are not the same thing by the way). Someone will tell me that this police officer was not White. Someone will tell me that this is just one bad apple. And even the people who agree with me will compliment me, talk about what a shame it is, and the next Black person will die and we will do the same thing all over again.

So I’m done – at least for now. I’m sure I’ll eat those words if enough time passes before another Black person is unjustifiably gunned down by the very people who say they protect and serve them. I don’t know where else to turn. I find no comfort in my affected community - all I see is the same anger and pain I feel and in every face I see the next victim. I find no comfort in my own home. All I see is the fear in my wife’s eyes and the stories of Black people shot in their own home by police. I find no solace in my church. Castile’s name will barely be spoken and most will deny the presence of racism even as they refuse to cut their own branch attached to this poisonous tree. I guess I will still seek God’s face. But for now - I give up.

Jason Hines is a former attorney with a doctorate in Religion, Politics, and Society from the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor University. He is also an assistant professor at Adventist University of Health Sciences. He blogs about religious liberty and other issues at www.TheHinesight.Blogspot.com.

Image Credit: Wikiiedia Commons

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8073

Thanks for the article Jason

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

Readers…is it rocket science or brain surgery on how to really reduce incidents like mentioned in this article?

With the major media attention and all of the social media out there…
why hasn’t the US attorney general and a monster crowd of the media come together to do a PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT on how to handle oneself during a police pullover???

Like.keep both hands at the top of the steering wheel in plain site. Shut up until the officer asks any questions. Tell the officer that the vehicle registration is in the glove compartment but there is an ATOMIC bomb there too, so could he call the bomb disposal unit in first before he needs the registration.

ALSO… schools should teach the approach during driver’s education and the DMV needs to put it also on the driving test before issuing a drivers license…

Any more ideas???

Let sports figures & celebrities announce it on TV commercials and at games by reading a written copy from the president & attorney general.
Something along those lines???

STAY ALIVE til 2025!!!

We live in CRAZY terrorist END TIMES!!!

Just wait until the sky falls!!!

EDIT ADD after reading posts–

“For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” Rom 13:4

“Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” 1 Pet 2:17

More ignored bible verses for those with hostile attitudes toward police officers and presidents.

I dare anyone to take a poll to see who in Sabbath school even read the 166 bible verses in 1 & 2 Peter


I watched the disturbing video too. I wasn’t sure how I would have voted as a juror at first. But then I watched it again and thought some more. I concluded that I would not have found the officer guilty. It may not matter to you but I’ll say why. The officer asked for his info, etc. Castile then told him he had a gun. The officer then calmly told him to not to reach for it. He then told him 2 more times not to reach for it (his voice raising each time). Finally after the 3rd command he drew his sidearm and starting shoting Castile. From the first command to not reach for his gun until the shots were fired were about 4.5 seconds (I timed it). I don’t know why Castile kept reaching behind him for almost 5 seconds after the officer told him to stop. But that’s what got him shot. I’m a gun owner (I keep a pistol in each car I have). I would NEVER tell a cop that I have a gun and then immediately start obscuring my hands from him especially after he yells 3 times for me to stop doing that. It’s tragic no doubt. But whenever someone chooses to carry a gun he/she is taking on risk and you MUST know how to properly manage that risk. Castile did not handle that situation well and lost his life. The officer could probably have refrained from shooting as quickly (although that’s easy for me to say cause I don’t put my life on the line each day). But at the end it’s not enough to convict him.


It’s easy to be backseat drivers and Monday morning quarterbacks. But the fact is, none of us know how we would react in a similar situation.

The sound-bite media are somewhat culpable in this negative portrayal of the police. To hear them tell it, they are always wrong. What are they supposed to do, wait until the suspect gets a few shots off, or gets a few good stabs in with a knife?

We had a situation nearby in which a guy charged a cop with a knife in a parking lot. The cop told him several times to drop the knife, but he kept coming. The cop shot him, of course, and he died. The family blames the police–OF COURSE. It’s never the fault of the suspect.

But until the media stops perpetrating the myth of “hands up, don’t shoot,” from Ferguson, MO, we won’t make much progress.

And it isn’t helpful when professed journalists make unsubstantiated claims, either. To paint “the American public” with the broad brush of “bigotry” is pretty far out and nonfactual. And the percentage of those who “find justification” for killing Blacks is pretty small, as well. These knee-jerk reactions to these situations only perpetuate the misunderstandings and hard feelings that arise each time there is an incident like this.


We have known for over 120 years since Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. wrote The Path of the Law that there is a difference between the law on the books and the law in action. The law that governs us is the latter, not the former. Accordingly, a correct understanding of the law is realistic, not formalistic. A realistic understanding of the law informs us that in the United States of America police officers may kill black people for no reason. The trial of the police officer who killed Philando Castille was essentially an effort to persuade a predominantly racist jury that there should be a change in the law, that police officers should not be allowed to kill black people for no reason. Predictably, this effort failed.

Relevant is the most famous quotation of Holmes: “The life of the law has not been logic. It has been experience.” There certainly is a moral logic that police officers should not be allowed to kill black people for no reason. But experience teaches us that the liberty of police officers to kill black people for no reason is beneficial to our society, especially to those of us in society who matter. Philando Castille was not a ballplayer. He was an ordinary black person, which means he was nothing. It is doubtful that his death has caused more than a little blip in the natural ordering of society. Life goes on; the daily routine of our lives continues.

I strongly support a change in the law. Police officers should not be allowed to kill black people for no reason. Can the Seventh-day Adventist Church do anything to effect a change in the law. No. The Church, like society, is historically conditioned. The Church is a reflection of society. The life of the Church has not been logic. It has been experience. We should not bask in the illusion that the outcomes of the trials of various police officers who have killed black people for no reason would be any different if the juries were comprised solely of Seventh-day Adventists. It is only through God’s benevolent grace that the many monsters that we congregate with in church will ever enter into the Kingdom of God. That we long for the Kingdom of God is the principal reason why the Christian life is a life of suffering.


I don’t know of a soul who thinks that this should be allowed.

In this case, the policeman thought there was a reason. See Blake Jones post above. The Jury of 10 whites and two blacks also thought they saw a reason.

So, you are speaking of two different things here.

No one thinks police should kill black people for no reason.

But there was a reason in this policeman’s mind that the jury found adequate. So, this man was not a “black man killed for no reason”. Now you may disagree with the jury’s deliberation, think it inadequate, or out of bounds for various other objections.

But that is why a man was not convicted by a group of his peers. No one man is allowed to judge the case, but a group. I don’t know of a more fair way to do it.

Jones at 3, who owns a gun, looked over the video very carefully. Hines above apparently looked at it less so. The jury agreed with Jones.

My thinking does not mean I am racist, or do not see this for the utter tragedy it is. An innocent man was killed. That is a tragedy. But, it not necessarily a racist statement about the country. And certainly is not an example of a policeman shooting a black man for no reason.

The statistics below are apropos. They are from The WSJ, June 27, 2017, an article titled: “A Better Direction for Black Lives Matter.”:

On a certain level, the decision by BLM activists to single out policing as a major obstacle to black advancement has always defied comprehension. Police shootings have fallen dramatically in recent decades. In New York City, for example, cops shot 314 people in 1971, 93 of them fatally. In 2015, New York police shot 23 people, killing eight. Which means that police shootings and fatalities in the nation’s most populous city have declined by more than 90% over the past 4½ decades. A 2016 paper released by Harvard economist Roland Fryer examined the use of force by police since 2000 in some of the country’s largest urban areas and found that “blacks are 23.8 percent less likely to be shot at by police relative to whites.”


The Philando Castile story is devastating. It lays bare the utter failure of the American criminal justice system. It lays bare the bigotry of the American public, and particularly those who continue to find justifications for killing Black people.

Thanks @JasonHines for your honest vulnerability in writing about it. It is equally devastating.


As the author said, predictable. Follow instructions. Respect people. Accept a steady stream of fatalities that simply don’t happen in other countries. Crime in America today is at record lows, yet police shootings of civilians are at record highs. Studies have found that over half of people shot by police were struggling with some form of mental illness at the time of their death.

Britain is famous (though not alone) for having a police force in which 90 percent of officers on patrol don’t carry firearms. (If you’re familiar with James Bond you know that his “license to kill,” and the threat of it being revoked, has been a major plot point–it was even the title of one of his movies.) Now, as recent terrorist incidents have shown, armed police are always nearby in UK cities, but police simply don’t shoot someone at a traffic stop.

The UK is not the only country with such a radically different approach to law enforcement. Even countries where the average cop is armed approach law enforcement quite differently. It starts with training. U.S police training lasts, on average, less than five months. In Germany, training lasts over two years. German police (with a population about 1/4 of the U.S.) fire their guns a few dozen times a year, and the number of civilians killed can usually be counted on one hand. In the U.S., police fire their guns an uncounted number of times a year, killing, on average, over a thousand people. Now, if Germany of all countries can become less trigger-happy, surely America can.

And while it’s vital to note how heavily America’s law enforcement policies weigh on minorities, a white person is far, far more likely to be killed by police in the U.S. than in most other majority-white countries. All Americans have a stake in this issue.


Fear, hate, stupidity rule the day.


So it’s Castile’s fault! Where is your evidence that he was reaching for the gun? Didn’t the officer ask him to produce his drivers license and insurance? Where do you keep those, by the way? As you try to sanitize this, have you thought of what Philando believed might happen if he did not tell the officer he had a gun and it was observed by the policeman? He thought he would be dead. So don’t you think that revealing that he had a gun was an attempt to be transparent and preemptive?


It’s a sad day when any policeman has to shoot anyone, black or white. Cops are human too and I’m sure they do not want to shoot if they don’t have to. Tis land we live in is slowly becoming a rogue nation. When criminals have more rights then their victims, there are problems. When those who are stopped by the police do not listen when told to stop, there are problems. When will the public realize that when a cop says stop, you stop doing whatever. When our lawmakers who are supposed to uphold the law and respect the laws of the land, deliberately disrespect the law how can the citizen respect the law. We are living in the end times. I am looking forward to the time when there will be no more war, strife, sickness or hatred. That is the only thing keeping me going, knowing thatr Jesus is coming and all this will be forgotten.

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When a person with authority asks us to do something, we must do it. The only excuse for not
following an officers instruction, is if he asks us to do something that God says not to do. It would be educational for folks to ride with an officer for a month and see what they face every day. So sad that this person chose to disregard the officers instructions.


to me, the sudden force and speed with which the officer fired his gun, so different from everything leading up to it, does suggest that he was acting out of an unexpected sense of panic that his life was in jeopardy…i don’t get the feeling that he pulled philando over in order to murder him…i think he thought he was dealing with a routine stop for a minor offense, and that something suddenly changed that picture…

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Dear Jason,
I share in your despair and outrage! We should not have to try and understand why so many black people are shot by those who are supposed to defend them. I believe we are seeing the results of demons behind the scenes of so much in our public life today. Principalities and powers who know how to appeal to the most base instincts of man.

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There is bound to be suspicion of official racial bias against blacks , in the minds of blacks, during any such confrontation . In the living memory of many blacks (and tales passed down to the younger generation) blacks were often murdered for attempting to practice democracy (by attempting to vote legally), and also for advocating peace between ethnics( during MJK Jr peace marches) when attack dogs were let loose on the marcherrs. On the other hand the other face of an America struggling to live up to the constitution gives great hope that progress can, and will be made , in due course. After all, Barrack Hussein Obama (notice the non-european name) was able to become President despi te a majority white population outnumbering blacks many fold. One more point to note is that when blacks enslaved white europeans they were no atrocities such as lynching as far as is know , av least not just because euros were white. There were atrocities yes, such as conquered cities having to deliver 100 white v irgins per annum for rhe conquerors’ harems and so on This interracial blood mixing was widespread leading some commentators to draw attention to biracial men such as Beethoven, Haydn and the philosopher Goethe among many many others. Prince Esterhazy even made Hadyn leader of his Orchestra despite expressing surprise that he was a “balck-a-moor” . The Moors Blacks and Arabs even introduced many firsts during their their 700-year occupation such as lending libraries and street lighting and centers of higher learning , setting a pattern followed by the now great euro universities, in Paris and London… All people of goodwill now hope that America can fulfil its promise as the new hope of mankind.

“I can’t be a pessimist, because I’m alive; to be a pessimist means that you have agreed that human life is an academic matter. So I’m forced to be an optimist, I’m forced to believe that we can survive whatever we must survive. But, the Negro in this country—the future of the Negro in this country—is precisely as bright or as dark as the future of the country. It is entirely up to the American people—and our representatives—it is entirely up to the American people whether or not they’re going to face and deal with and embrace this stranger whom they rely on so long. What white people have to do is try to find out in their own hearts why it was necessary to have a nr in the first place—‘cause I’m not a nr, I’m a man. But if you think I’m a nr, it means you need it. And the question you gotta’ ask yourself—the white population of this country has got to ask itself, North and South, because it’s one country, and for a Negro there’s no difference between the North and the South, there’s just, you know, a difference in the way they, in the way they castrate you (but the fact of the castration is the American fact)—if I’m not the nr here, and though you invented him—you, the white people, invented him—then you gotta’ find out why. And the future of the country depends on that, whether I was able to ask that question.” —James Baldwin, I Am Not Your Negro, closing scene

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Having been on a criminal offense jury myself, I realize that they have much more information than the public sees, and deliberate for many hours or days together to decide a fair verdict. I do believe in our system of justice and must respect their decision. I also have a friend who fears her sheriff son’s safety daily. These are not easy times we live in and only God knows the real answer to the spit-second decisions officers make on a daily basis to protect themselves and the public.


The foundation of democracy is the presumption of innocence. This concept is lacking in most U.S. citizens, including police officers. The charge given the jury is reasonable doubt. Using the presumption of innocence the officer had to be found not guilty. By the officers own admission he believed Mr. Castile to be a participant in a series of armed robberies. He believed that he was guilty and he acted accordingly. The officer was deemed unfit for duty because of his actions. I ache for the loss of life. I understand the pain the author expressed. I love and value the life, family, neighbors, and friends of the police officer just as much as I love and value the life, family, neighbors, and friends of Mr. Castile. Only when we empathize are we worthy to wear the title Christian–Like Christ.

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