Who's To Blame for Sandy? Wait... Nobody?

Renae Brabham

Assumptions, vagueness, presumptions... Tell me, are we are drifting from the era of politically correct to the broader axiom of presumptuously correct? Take for example the picture of Hurricane/Storm Sandy over the Statue of Liberty.



I can't count how many times I saw this "shared" on social media. The "believers" presumed authenticity because of the timing and presentation. Absolutely ridiculous views started pouring in about Sandy. For example, God is punishing the U.S., God is punishing Donald Trump (Atlantic City gambling), global warming. Everyone got blamed for the natural disaster but O.J. Simpson. 


It feels like the atmosphere is literally ionized with a kinetic, frenzied charge of admonishment, bordering lunacy and possibly kindled by the election. I realized I was caught up in it myself. I watched two commentators go head to head for a half hour one morning on their views of the election. Neither gave an ounce and when the show was over, I found myself exhausted and let down. There was no apparent victor.  
I could see the way the world was tilting this week.
Defense is not my forté, so I was considerably ticked when I chose not to participate this week, but was forced to do so anyway, starting with a letter that came in the mail from the SCDMV. "Our records show that you no longer have sufficient insurance to operate your vehicle. Please surrender your tags."
Well, lookie here.. I have proof of my ongoing insurance which is debited from my account. But, that's not enough! Unless I call my insurance company and have them file form XYZ with SCDMV, they will penalize me. 
Presumptuously correct. The karma of the week continued as it seemed like I continuously answered, "No I didn't, here look!" or "Yes I did, here look!" I spent hours plundering through papers and e-mails, or sitting through dreaded customer service calls. One took 57 minutes. The burden of proof was on me.   
The offense of defense.
I was the victim of an armed robbery and kidnapping years ago. Court day approached, and I thought, "No prob, I got this." I figued I'd just go in there and tell the truth and clap clap, he'd get handcuffed and carted off in a pumpkin orange suit. Open and shut. To say I was naive about court procedures is putting it mildly.
These were the early days of video cameras. The establishment I worked for on the night of the crime didn't have the latest technology, so the footage made shots of Sasquatch appear focused in comparison. I guess the owners figured that with a sawed-off shotgun under the counter, their evidence should a problem arise would be a body laying on the floor. Who needs a camera?
Well, the day I was robbed, the shotgun had been taken out to get cleaned. So my description, his fingerprints, vehicle ID, and name would have to suffice. Oh, and I drew a picture of him. 
They found the van, they found him, he was wearing the clothes I described, he looked like the pic I drew, they found a knife, they found a gun, along with the masking tape he made me retrieve with my fingerprints on the roll, and a cord of rope. Cut and dried, right?
Nope. When all else fails, there's reasonable doubt. As in, I was sitting on the stand and his lawyer asked me: "Mrs. Xxxx, isn't it true that you and Mr. Xxxx are related?"
My eyes widened, startled. My prosecution lawyers chided in "Objection, your honor, leading the witness." Judge replies to defense "Rephrase." Jurors were locked in.
"Mrs. Xxxx, are you and the defendant related, yes or no please?"
I was so repulsed. "No!"
I was so shocked, I could hardly wait to talk with my prosecution lawyers. "What the hell was that?" I asked. The lead prosecutor explained that "it is perfectly  acceptable to throw out a question like that to instill doubt in the jurors minds by laying groundwork for presumption. Also, they want to see if they can rile you up, it portrays you in a different light to jurors. Don't let them put you on the defense of truth." I wanted to go in there and set the record straight. But, I complied. He got a hung jury. Retrial was scheduled and then a plea bargain for 15 years. 
We are wired, I believe, with a need to be vindicated. And if not, we circle back to the flame like a moth until we are either one of the lucky ones that is plastered to a tree and sleeping it off the next morning, or one of the cooked carcasses on the ground beneath the light bulb. The drama is repeated again each night. Because there clearly has to be a winner, right? 
But alas, natural law has inspired me to conclude that all is indeed fair and balanced. On an evening stroll, I noticed something different with one of my favorite majestic pine trees. I'd always loved looking up at it on my walks with Snowy. It was so tall that the squirrels didn't climb it and the buzzards got nosebleeds. I'd marvel on windy days the elasticity of a several-ton tree as it swayed in the wind. 
Now it's opened up and charred with a zipper-like lightning scar over 100 feet long. It stands amidst a few other pines, stunted, not towering over them. Its branches droop, its needles burnt and brown. Random acts of wrath. It didn't do anything to deserve the strike. It was just there. Sometimes, that's just the way it is.