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Aggressive mental laziness

So eager have too many Americans become to find people to call evil that we have taken to inventing them. That attitude, a form of aggressive mental laziness, itself is wrong.

Thoughtful people — which represents the overwhelming majority of the nation, in our opinion — were reminded this week of the spreading sickness.

It started with videos posted online, showing a group of boys from a high school in Kentucky who were in Washington for the weekend March for Life. Clips showed one of the boys close to an elderly Native American who was beating a drum. In the background were many other teenagers.

The boy in the foreground was “smirking” at the Native American while his friends made fun of the man, it was alleged by some who posted and re-posted the video. It went viral and the story was picked up by many in the news media.

Condemnations poured in, to the point that officials at the boys’ school vowed disciplinary action would be taken against them. On Tuesday, their campus was shut down over concern for the students’ safety.

Then more videos, along with accounts from some who had been on the scene, surfaced. Things were not as they seemed at first. The situation was much more complex than millions of people had been led to believe. Someone — lots of someones — had jumped to conclusions.

It developed that demonstrators from a black religious sect had been taunting the boys, along with a group of Native Americans at the scene. The man with the drum, Omaha Nation elder Nathan Phillips, stepped between the students and the sect members, obviously attempting to keep things peaceful.

Were the boys making fun of him? Was the one lad really smirking — or merely reacting nervously to the situation?

At some point we may know the answers to those and other questions about the confrontation. But we already know that based on a short, cropped video clip and a few accusations, the teenagers were accused of vile, unprovoked misbehavior. In short, they were wrongly accused.

And no one seemed to pause to reflect on the fact that they were just boys caught in a potentially dangerous confrontation.

Prejudice? Yes, it has been on display this week. What is that advice in the Bible? Something about letting those without sin cast the first stones?

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