Today I saw a meme on Facebook that accused Five Guys of refusing to serve police. There was no information about where or when the claimed occurrence took place, but it encouraged people to avoid patronizing the restaurants.
In reflecting on this type of activity I note that over broad generalizations are increasingly common in our society. These generalizations are almost always detrimental and are frequently false. They also play on people’s emotions either to create an emotional response or capitalize on one.
In the case of Five Guys, even if the incident occurred, the restaurants are franchises so the incident is certain to not reflect the policy of all of the restaurants. In addition, similar incidents at other businesses have turned out to be the actions of employees rather than the owners.
The essence of the situation is that the creator(s) of the meme seek to capitalize on the majority of Americans support for the police to create an emotional desire to punish Five Guys by boycotting. This is despite the fact that the desired boycotting would obviously punish the innocent to a far higher degree than it could ever punish the guilty.
We see the same behavior in the defund the police movement. We all saw the video of George Floyd’s murder. We are rightfully outraged by the behavior of the officers who participated in it. But some see opportunity to capitalize on our desire for justice to attack all police despite the fact that almost all police officers are in fact innocent. I have even seen memes accusing police officers of criminal activity with the evidence being black bands on their badges. These bands are used when they mourn officers and other emergency services workers killed in the line of duty. I have also seen individuals look for ways to justify these memes when the truth is pointed out.
These over broad generalizations lead us away from the teachings of Christ. When the Pharisees brought the woman taken in adultery to him, he said, “he among you who is without sin, let him first cast a stone.” What we do with these generalizations is worse than what the Pharisees sought. In our society many use over broad generalizations and cancel culture to destroy the innocent in the hopes of also catching up a few of the guilty in the general destruction.
It is time to stand up for what is right. Justice must be aimed only at those actually guilty of crimes. Over broad attacks must be rejected and we must speak up in public against cancel culture and over broad attacks on individuals, groups, races, cultures, religions, and businesses. If we fail to stand up we will see things get worse and worse over time. If we stand up and speak up we can have a rebirth of freedom and prosperity that includes all Americans.
Jim Rice is a State Senator from District 10 (Republican) which covers most of the city of Caldwell.