Former NBA star Charles Barklay, who is never shy about expressing his opinions, called the Ferguson rioters “scumbags.”
In a rare TV appearance, African-American Economist and author, Thomas Sowell, commented on the aftermath of the riots saying, “I think what has happened in Ferguson, Missouri, is going to adversely affect blacks yet unborn, who will still be paying the price for it 10, 20 years from now because they’re not going to have businesses there that you had before.”
Dr. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. condemned rioting and violent protests. “I believe rioting is actually an unnecessary evil,” King said.
“During my lifetime and during the times that I marched or went to jail, or my father, A.D. King, or my uncle, Martin, we were asking people not to riot, but to use our words and use peaceful protest.”
Last week I offered what I believe should be the appropriate Christian response to the situation in Ferguson, Missouri. This week I posted some thoughts on Justice. But as our “national dialogue” continues I’ve been thinking about what consequences those guilty of looting and rioting should suffer.
Columnist Cal Thomas, recently wrote a piece entitled “Response to Ferguson rioters: Restitution and shaming” that I offer in part for your consideration.
“I have an answer and it is one that should be applied to anyone convicted of riotous behavior, destruction of property and looting. It’s called restitution.”
Thomas is right when he wrote, “Restitution is an Old Testament concept instituted to remind people that when one harms another person, or steals or destroys property, someone else suffers and deserves reimbursement. It says the state is less a debtor than the victim of a crime. Restitution can also instill true moral guilt in a person, which can lead to genuine repentance and a decision by the perpetrator to make different choices leading to a better life.”
Here’s how Cal Thomas would implement the restitution. “As the authorities in Ferguson examine videos that show the faces of many of the rioters and looters, charges will undoubtedly be filed. If convicted, the perpetrators should be forced to pay for the damage they caused. If they have jobs, their paychecks should be garnished. If they are on welfare, those checks should be forwarded to the businesses they destroyed. If they receive food-purchasing assistance, that assistance should be withdrawn. This should be the practice going forward. Those who destroy their communities will be required to pay back those harmed by their hooliganism and forfeit any government benefits they receive. This might require legislation, but politicians should have the public’s support.”
“A close relative of restitution is shaming. The convicted should be brought before those harmed by their behavior and publicly shamed,” suggest the Columnist. “No one seems to be ashamed of anything nowadays, but shaming might help prevent future violence. Rioters and looters who are black could be shamed by law-abiding African-Americans. They can be asked, “Is this why Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched and went to prison? Is this why he paid the ultimate price? Would he and other civil rights leaders dating back to Frederick Douglass be proud of your behavior today? Don’t you owe them something better than this?”
I don’t know if shaming would work, because the actions of many today remind me of Jeremiah’s observation on the sins of ancient Judah. “Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush.” However, like Judah, God will judge evil doers today, “So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when they are punished, says the Lord.” (Jer 8:12)
“If they don’t feel ashamed, they should,” wrote Cal Thomas. “We’ve gotten away from personal responsibility and accountability, preferring instead to cast lawbreakers as “victims,” when the true victims are often ignored.”
May we all be guided by the exhortation of scripture, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord” (Rom. 12:17-20)
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman