Opinion Columns & Blogs

SCHOLL: Truth and consequences

Truth. “What is truth?” Pontius Pilot asked. Philosophers have asked the same question centuries before Pilot’s question, and ever since. Truth. We all want it, but sometimes we can’t deal with it very well. Sometimes we call it “truth” when it is really not. Political leaders and other “powers that be” don’t seem to be as motivated to discover or abide by it, as do most other people. Pilot’s search for truth was really a sarcastic joke.

As a member of CautionMacon, I helped search for the truth behind that sometimes abusive local road-building program. In our search we found boldface lies, yet public officials seemed not concerned or they supported the lies. Since then, I have made it my religious duty to raise hell when I find the absence or distortion of truth by public officials.

Truth. Laser guided shots skipped across the bow of a boat as three men fished on Lake Tobesofkee. In Macon this has become our latest search for truth. It is known which lakeside home the shots came from. The fishermen told us where, and the next door neighbor confirmed it. We know two sheriff’s deputies arrived at the home. They were denied entrance to the home so they went away. I’ve seen the two sharply worded letters of reprimand each deputy received, one from their supervisor and another from the sheriff. They were both relieved of patrol duty and assigned to complete more training in understanding “probable cause” and “search and seizure” which was critical to the immediate investigation of this incident. Both laws would have allowed the deputies to enter the home without permission. The sheriff’s letter also banished them to duty in the jail, rather than continue with patrol responsibilities, for six months. They may receive more jail duty after that. This is a lot more than the simple “tongue lashing” some have publicly claimed the deputies received.

There has been a good bit of outcry against the deputies, but even more against the sheriff for bowing to the “powers that be,” assuming these “powers” would like to see a very lackadaisical investigation of the shooting. The cardiologist teaches at Mercer University, so Mercer’s influence on the investigation has been questioned. The doctor was the one who refused the deputies entrance speaking through a glass door according to the deputies’ report. The claim that the door was shut in their faces would appear untrue. Others have claimed the wealth of the doctor and the race of the fishermen men, who were black, had a lot to do with an intentional delay of the investigation.

Alan Wood, in a blog, provided his own rather incredible investigation, though his findings were often mixed with his opinions, found documentation of a history of violent and irrational behavior from residents of the home where the bullets were fired. Building on Wood’s research I found deputies were called to the home at least 11 times since January 2014. Some of these calls described trouble caused by a “demented person.” Others said “domestic problem.” During one call, deputies who investigated recorded the complainant said his mom “is Al Pacino, and his sister is S16 (code for demented) and his sister’s friend is harassing him.” A pause for thought is warranted here.

The claims of racist attitudes seem less likely considering these documented facts. There are complaints the federal authorities are not involved. I know for a fact the FBI is aware of the situation here. And it seems to me, given the failure of the deputies to act right away, an unfinished investigation is a reasonable explanation (for now.)

In our fight with the road program, we quickly learned that we had to be very sure of our statements or we would be dismissed publicly. (The “truth” threshold being much higher for us than it was for the officials.) The most reasonable accusation, without a solid basis of truth, is gossip inciting more gossip. Gossip does not succeed at holding officials accountable very well. Demanding truth works better than making weak accusations. And so does confronting officials with the truth.

I’m not sure I agreed with the sheriff’s take on everything when we talked, but he was surprisingly forthcoming, much better than I expected. I can see where he needs the public outcry to stop while an investigation continues . . . at least for now. I’m optimistic the truth will be known; we need to watch and wait for it. It has been several weeks since the laser led bullets. Perhaps an occasional update from the sheriff will assure us he has not forgotten we are waiting. If the truth doesn’t come, then is the time to raise hell.

Tom Scholl is a resident of Macon. His email address is tomscholl2@hotmail.com.