October 30, 2013
There is an old saying that, “If you don’t know what you’re talking about, shut up!” I’m not the type of person to tell anyone to shut up, but I am amazed at how many people speak on issues, major and minor, of which they have no grasp of the full facts. I felt compelled to write this article because, speaking without knowledge and acting without knowledge is a very dangerous way to live.
The Affordable Healthcare Act is one example of where people have been speaking and acting with out full knowledge. I watched with amazement as the United States Government began the shut down process. As our nation’s news outlets covered the shut down, I noticed interviews of everyday Americans asking if they preferred ObamaCare or the Affordable Care Act. Over and over again men and women expressed their positions on which of the two policies they preferred. Not only did people choose which one, but they also gave detailed reasons for liking one over the other. The most disturbing part of these interviews and the answers given is that ObamaCare and the Affordable Care act are the same. The confusion exists because the U.S. media gave the Affordable Care Act the nickname Obamacare. In fact, many of Obamacare's numerous provisions have already been enacted and helping Americans. The rest of the program continues to roll out until 2022. Over 100 million Americans have already benefited from the new healthcare law.
Across this country, people are standing firm, picking sides and arguing to the end on issues of which they are not clear. The example in regard to health care is a national example. On the local scene we have this happening every day on every type of issue. We have people voting or not voting for local candidates on misinformation. We have people liking and disliking people on the basis of misinformation. We have relationships and homes being destroyed on the basis of misinformation. Just recently I heard very different sides of an alleged criminal event that took place in the City of East Cleveland. The allegation is that some of the local youth were disrespecting police officers which lead to the youths’ arrest. While the other side of the story was that the police abused the youth and used unreasonable force.
The worst part of this local example, as evidenced by what’s happening on the national scene, is that people are getting emotionally attached to their positions to the point of being willing to go to battle. When the members of a community feel that police officers are using unreasonable force to keep the peace, trust between officers and the community is strained. Sometimes this strain leads to violence. On the other end, when the police officers believe that youth are out of control and disrespectful, officers will be more willing to use force and use it quickly to maintain peace and order.
The solution to this quandary is to make sure you know the facts before you get attached to a position. On a national scale, if you are going to debate the healthcare laws, don’t take a position just to spite President Obama. To favor the Affordable Care Act while being against ObamaCare when they are the exactly the same thing is simply an embarrassment of your intelligence or lack thereof. ObamaCare, Obama Care, and health care reform are all the same thing. The official name for "ObamaCare" is the Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act (or ACA for short), a bill signed into law to reform the health care industry by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. On a local scale, to take a “all police are pigs” position, without being present to witness the alleged abuse, is an irrational act. As a defense attorney and a Judge, I have come to learn that people only tell you half the story. In effort to gain your support, they won’t talk about exactly what they did to resist arrest. They won’t talk about how they obstructed justice and they won’t talk about how they disrespected the police. Neither will every officer tell you how they may have over reacted when they made a certain arrest and labeled all youth as out of control.
The moral of the story is to get all the facts before you put yourself, your reputation and your integrity on the line. That goes for government officials, police officers and community members. “If you don’t know all the facts then, shut up!”
East Cleveland Municipal Court’s Judge William L. Dawson is on a mission to help people to Finish First, live their best lives and be Cycle Breakers!