Monday, August 18, 2014

Dear Ofiicials Making The Situation In Ferguson, Missouri Worse: There's a difference between "authority" and "credibility".

The authorities in and around Ferguson, MO need a language lesson.  Here's a brief one:

Watching the activities in Ferguson, MO, starting with the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager, by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, and through the aggressive, almost war-like, response by the local police to protestors and journalists covering the events, I was struck by how the "powers that be" there (governor, county attorney, police chiefs, etc.) seem to lack a basic understanding of some significant language concepts.

Out of courtesy to them, keeping this basic -

A noun is a thing that can be possessed.  It doesn't have to be tangible to be real.  For instance, words that represent character attributes are nouns, even if the attribute cannot be physically touched, i.e. - "intelligence".

In a sentence: "His intelligence is impressive."

In Ferguson, there seems to be a bit of confusion between two words.

First up - "authority":

From Merriam-Webster Online -


noun \ə-ˈthär-ə-tē, -, -ˈthr-\
: the power to give orders or make decisions : the power or right to direct or control someone or something
: the confident quality of someone who knows a lot about something or who is respected or obeyed by other people
: a quality that makes something seem true or real

Next up - "credibility":

Also from Merriam-Webster -


noun \ˌkre-də-ˈbi-lə-tē\
: the quality of being believed or accepted as true, real, or honest

In case it isn't clear enough, let me sum up the difference -

Authority, the power to make decisions and issue decrees, is granted; credibility, or believability,  is earned.

And from Governor Jay Nixon through the police chiefs and senior officers and all the way down to the lowest-ranked club-wielding patrolmen, they haven't earned squat.

Instead of protecting and serving the people of Ferguson, they have been acting in a manner to harass and assault those people.

If anything, their callous disregard of the rights of the people of Ferguson protesting the summary execution of Michael Brown (and the rights of journalists covering the protests) has only served to diminish their already scant credibility.

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