Frequent readers know that my early television viewing involved stark, black and white images that could not adequately camouflage the blood, the bruises or the tears shed as violence erupted on the streets of America during the height of the Civil Rights movement.
The first tears I remember shedding, aside from those caused by stubbed toes or skinned knees, was in front of that old black and white tube TV, as I asked Mom what was going on, why these people were fighting in the street.
When she gently explained, as only my mother could, that there were places in America where people were treated as lesser-than-others simply because of the color of their skin, I was horrified. I haven't gotten over it yet. I don't expect to.
Therefore, when the Trayvon Martin story first broke nationwide, I was immediately incensed when NBC aired the 9-1-1 call that preceded the tragic event that claimed one life outright and has irrevocably changed the lives of so many others, up to and including the life of George Zimmerman. That first broadcast aired these words:
Zimmerman: "This guy looks like he's up to no good ... He looks black."
Whoa. That was all I needed to hear to don my long, flowing black robe and decry the injustice that had been perpetrated against Trayvon, on Feb. 26, in Sanford, Florida, to any and all who would give me an audience.
As other testimonies emerged, often leading the evening news night after night, I had to rethink my initial knee-jerk reaction. Shrugging my shoulders out of my voluminous cape, I waited and watched to see what would happen next. Obviously, Mr. Zimmerman was operating outside of the law by carrying a weapon, prohibited by the Neighborhood Watch bylaws, and he foolishly ignored the 9-1-1 operator's instruction to stop following young Martin. Damning, yes, but not as damning as that 9-1-1 transcript.
Luckily, I hadn't dropped my black robe of justice off at the dry cleaners earlier in the week as I needed it again Monday night when the story broke that NBC had edited at least a portion of the 9-1-1 tape used during those early broadcasts. The actual transcript of that portion of the tape reads:
"Zimmerman: 'This guy looks like he's up to no good, or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around, looking about.'
"Dispatcher: 'OK, and this guy -- is he black, white or Hispanic?'
"Zimmerman: 'He looks black.'"
Wow, that's a lot of words to omit using a simple ellipses and NBC knows better. Context always matters, and in this case, their elimination of key context has resulted in a nation once again divided. I could weep anew at the lies, except that lies have become so commonplace it hardly seems worth the effort.
In fact, evidence continues to mount, on both sides of the aisle, that virtually everyone is lying about something. Fox News, also sometimes deservedly known as Faux News, cherry picks as much as MSNBC or CNN and the networks, desperate for an audience, apparently aren't any better, as NBC's actions over the past couple of weeks demonstrates.
This was not a "little white lie" with certain words omitted to spare someone's tender feelings. This was, by all accounts, a blatant attempt to elicit precisely the reaction that was mine on the night the story first broke. Therefore, NBC is in direct violation of the commandment: "Thou shalt not bear false witness." (Exodus 20:16)
An internal investigation is promised, however, trust is not easily earned and it is nigh unto impossible to earn it back after a betrayal.
NBC will undoubtedly pay, in some way, for this breach of the public trust. And when what truth is out there comes to light, then perhaps true justice can be done, both for Martin and Zimmerman. But I can't make any promises. Because, sometimes, telling the truth gets you in more trouble than any lie ever could.
At least it did for Jesus.
He came speaking nothing but truth -- God's own truth -- and for that he was betrayed, arrested, condemned and executed. In fact, most of Christianity has spent the past 40 days and the better part of this week remembering the betrayal and arrest, recalling the false witnesses brought forward in his case, which resulted in a guilty verdict and of course, the crucifixion.
But truth did not die on the cross with Jesus. It remained in him and rose with him on the morning of the third day. Rising, he not only reclaimed truth, he also destroyed the enemy's lies.
Fox Mulder, a lead character in the SciFi television series "The X Files" held on to his hope that "the truth is out there," throughout the show's nine-year run. Unlike Mulder, I don't have a screen writer providing my script, nor my motivation. Nevertheless, I am confident that the truth is out there and that it can be known. We have but to seek and to ask.
"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth." John 16:12, 13 (NIV)
I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for awhile and discover Him together.