Stine: It’s time to listen to others’ views on Manuel Ellis case

May 28, 2021, 2:28 PM | Updated: 3:21 pm

It is clear to me that the Manuel Ellis case echoes very strongly of the George Floyd case for many people — and because of that, I would like to remind people of the power of listening and empathy when discussing an issue as complicated and as sensitive as a man dying at the hands of the police.

I have witnessed a disingenuous rhetorical technique from my contemporaries within right-wing circles, in which they discuss the facts of the case, while also commenting on the deceased’s past. I witnessed this far too many times from my comrades in talk radio and, frankly, I find it deeply disturbing.

Judge sets bail at $100,000 for three officers charged in death of Manuel Ellis

For example, in the case of George Floyd, all too often one of my compatriots in right-wing media would refer to George Floyd’s criminal past, his many incarcerations, and his drug use. I see the same technique currently being executed against Manny Ellis. It is a rhetorical tactic that has no practical use in our attempt at discovering the facts of the case or in discussing the complexities of the case.

This technique is often used to distort or alter the perception of the case and broaden the range of discussion to the point where the initial question becomes lost. That question was and is: Did Manny Ellis deserve the treatment he received based on our understanding of the law?

I do not care about his criminal past, and I do not care about his drug use. My only concern is to discover whether his rights as a citizen were violated by our public servants. Anything else is a bad-faith attempt to poison the well of discourse around our relationship to the state.

In last night’s “Inside Stine’s Mind,” Stacy Jo Rost and I discussed a new technique in approaching difficult and sensitive issues, something called “listening.” It is this neat trick wherein we take the time to understand how a person views the cases of Manny Ellis or George Floyd — at both a personal and communal level. In this way, not only do we connect with people who we might fundamentally disagree with, but we also build empathy and tolerance for positions we might otherwise dismiss, based on presuppositions or prejudices against a person’s past.

What is courage?

In a distorted world, a firm sense of clarity can come from reducing the range of rhetoric around several key questions: How do I feel about the way Manny Ellis was treated? Where do my biases lie for or against the police? And would I expect similar treatment based on what the facts of the case present to us?

Anything else is useless gossip and conjecture.

Listen to KIRO Nights with Jack Stine weeknights from 7 p.m. – 10p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Stine: It’s time to listen to others’ views on Manuel Ellis case