"Innocent until Proven Guilty," is a tenet of American justice so central to all of our beliefs and practices that as lawyers, citizens, Romans, etc., we can not afford to forget the concept. So we do, often skipping past the investigatory stages and jumping right into casting our own weighted judgments. Throughout recent history in fact, we've become such experts at recognizing guilt that we typically don't even wait around for the smoking gun, the failed alibi or the bloody glove... we have instead grown comfortable assuming the worst and struggling to substitute the best. But we're not guilty of being bad people, but rather just of being people. We see the pieces and when they fit together we rest upon the seemingly obvious yet nonetheless unproven conclusions. As Toby Keith so eloquently recognized, "we'll put a boot in your ___ (word omitted for the sake of the children), that's the American way," and when something seems suspicious, we waste no time shinin' our hardest boots and gettin' American on y'all!
Pardon me as I shift gears.
... The White SUV. Americana at its finest. Imagery with so many damn, damned layers of meaning that sales of such vehicles have plummeted, since around this date in 1994, nearly sixty four thousand percent (figures not verified nor verifiable).
The White SUV, a symbol that leaves you shouting guilty and then and only then inquiring about the side air bag options and whether you really need satellite radio.
The White SUV, like a rabbit scantering down the freeway, avoiding the predatory hawks, wolves (and drones) intent on anticipating its maneuvers and feasting (TMZ).
And if you go chasing rabbits...
Flash backward almost 20 years when the Knicks and Rangers were together stirring quite the virulent whisper here in NYC about the strong possibility of double professional sports titles, in the NHL and NBA (which is fixed, I swear it).
Barely a minute older than 10, I still can't cut from my head that etched picture of O.J. 'innocence' Simpson cruising down the interstate with nowhere to go and nowhere to go back to. From that moment on, the White SUV took on a greater meaning: one of suspicion, guilt, doom and horrible, horrible (in)justice.
Flash Forward (horrible show) to 2013 and, well, what do you know? Another footballer, facing the forcefullest of public finger pointing, shows up to practice in his White SUV. Based on the whole O.J. phenomenon, picking that car out of his likely formidable lot was akin to signaling what Jerry Garcia suggested was signaled by "Riding in a Long Black Limousine (See Grateful Dead b/w 12/69 & 5/70)."
Side note: Interestingly, Gronkowski's apparently deplorable act of posing with a porn star suddenly seems somewhat innocuous, no?
And then, those pesky journalists got a hold of it. Past indiscretions? Check! Suspicious activities? Check. Sudden urge for that next-to-godliness feeling? Double-check, as we're informed. The pieces all fit together and of course, there was this famous footballer cruising to practice in his White SUV (cue death knell).
But alas, my fellow jurors: as simple as it may be for us to point a finger and make up our minds that the OTHER Patriots Tight End might in fact be following in the footsteps of an similarly talented but similarly whacko footballer from only a generation before, let us practice what's truly just, truly fair, truly right and most importantly, what we preach! Let us withhold judgment until this now spotlighted man has been deemed either innocent or the opposite. For 'innocent until proven guilty' is what separates our justice system from those where questions are withheld, judgment is swift, and punishment is by stoning. After all, its only the Patriotic thing to do.