January 15, 1997 is a day Richard Jewell will not soon forget. After a
roller coaster ride that began with the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta,
he finally has been officially declared a hero.
Rep. Mitchell Kaye Sr. sponsored a resolution, unanimously passed by the
Georgia House of Representatives, declaring Jewell a hero and a
lifesaver. Richard Jewell is a hero who deserves to be recognized,
Kaye said. This is just a small way to say thanks from the people of
When a bomb ripped apart the joy and tranquility of the Olympic games,
Richard Jewell was hailed as a hero for moving people away from a
suspicious looking package in the park. As time passed, however, the FBI
leaked to the press that he was THE suspect.
The press pounced on the story. They hounded him. They derided him.
The public pronounced him guilty. He received hate phone calls from all
over the world. His life was an ongoing nightmare.
The FBI left him on the hook as their primary suspect. Even after
passing voice analysis and lie detector tests, he was still considered a
probable suspect. Richard Jewell's life, reputation, and integrity were
Then the FBI quietly backed off of him as an official suspect.
Finally they released a public statement that he had been officially
cleared by their investigation.
How could this happen? How could the leading branch of law enforcement
in the world be so mistaken? How could they be so cavalier in the
pursuit and character assassination of an innocent man? How could the
American news media be so blatant in their analysis without better
Easy! We do it all the time. Before we condemn the FBI and the press,
let's take a look at ourselves. How many people do we routinely pass
judgment on because of the way they talk, their clothing, hairstyle,
skin color, ethnic or regional background, job, or a myriad of other
superficial qualities? Part of the darker side of our human nature
finds it easy to rush to judgment about others, especially those who
aren't packaged nicely.
Jesus warned us to not judge others. He was specifically talking about
rushing to judgment about others based on external qualities. So the
next time we find ourselves analyzing someone negatively, lets remember
Richard Jewell and how easy it is to be wrong based upon a first, and
even a second impression.