Watson is promoting guilt by association
I learned early in my 25-year career as a police officer the sting of guilt by association. Whenever the news media would report on the egregious actions of some police officer somewhere, all police officers felt the sting. Most people made the distinction between the offending officer and the vast majority of police officers who carry out their duties with great integrity. There were those, however, who looked upon you with great suspicion – sting. Then there were those few who, undoubtedly owing to their own personal baggage, talked as if you, or at best your kind, committed the egregious conduct exposed by the media – double sting.
By definition, this latter kind of attribution of particular characteristics or actions by association represents an instance of prejudice, that is, a preconceived and unreasonable judgment or opinion, usually an unfavorable one marked by suspicion, fear or hatred. Accordingly, as a lifelong resident and current Orchard Park Town Council member, I’m stung by the prejudice reflected in Rod Watson’s column, “Racial slurs poison the political well.” It is one thing to report on a matter, in this case a person; it is another to associate the entire community with it.
How unfortunate that the suspicion, fear and hatred being stoked at the national level is being implied of a whole community in Western New York. Could there have been a more inflammatory statement made of Orchard Park than: “What African-American or member of any other marginalized group would be comfortable moving here? Or opening a business? Or even driving through?” Watson has some questions about hateful Facebook postings. I have a question about his column: Was the sting of associating an entire community with those postings intentional, reckless or simply indifferent?