Why must we rush to judgment?

August 21, 2023


As I write, two Maui officials have resigned, and it’s only been about week since the horrible fires that took so much from these beautiful people. It was a huge rush to judgment, before any of the facts about who was responsible were truly known.

The mistake in a rush to judgment

Instant scapegoating and a rush to judgment is the way we operate, these days. I think it’s a mistake.

There is no way that a true forensic examination of officials’ response to the first notice of fire has been completed. NO. WAY. It’s much too soon for people to be fired or resign.

I watched Katie Tur browbeat a county official on her show and try to get the official to assign blame. The official resisted even as Katie pushed and pushed. It was ridiculously inappropriate: first, because the people of Maui hadn’t even found all their dead, much less buried them. They were still grieving. And second, anything the official said this early would just be her yet uninformed opinion. She knew it, and Katie kept pushing her. It infuriated me. I won’t be watching Katie Tur again any time soon.

We don’t know

Would the sirens have sent people into the fire instead of away? We don’t know yet. Why is so hard to say that?

Did the utility company fail to respond appropriately? We don’t know exactly what happened. Why can’t we say that?

Was the emergency response system outdated and ineffective? Could it have been different? Most likely, but until we pinpoint what really happened minute by minute, we don’t know. Why can’t we say that?

We really don’t know. Not really. And if we don’t know, we can’t learn from it.

What we need are FACTS.

Blaming someone may make us feel good temporarily, but it can obscure the real cause of what happened and keep us from planning to prevent a recurrence. The need to play the blame game represents some of the.worst of human behavior.

This is not the first time I’ve seen a rush to judgment that seems unwise. It’s standard operating procedure today, maybe because irresponsible “journalists” push for someone to blame in a headline.  It should be an embarrassment. Instead, it’s how they work.

So much wrong with our world today.

10 comments on “Why must we rush to judgment?
  1. Beth Havey says:

    I didn’t see the Tur report, but it is far too early to do the blame game. We live in a society that loves to blame before they do anything else. Hope you are doing well, Beth

  2. Jennifer says:

    This rush for immediate blame is fueled by social media. I see it in the reels. Residents are placing blame because of their need to lash out at whoever created the misery that they’re currently going through. Whether that’s fueled by their grief or generated through the poor reporting they are seeing, I don’t know.

  3. Laurie Stone says:

    I think it’s human nature to want to place blame, to try and understand the situation through mistakes and errors. Hopefully, as the dust settles, there will be more understanding. We all learn as we go.


    This has truly been a horror for the Hawaiians. They are facing complete displacement as developers swoop in like vultures. To know they may never find their loved ones is it’s own special horror also. My friend is as strong as they come and she has been rocked.
    As far as I know she is still just in shock. I have yet to see a disaster of any kind that there wasn’t a rush to judgment. Wrap it up as quickly as possible right? Then problems are not fixed just glossed over.
    It’s a lesson for all of us

  5. Alana says:

    It’s so easy to assign blame and vent to the nearest elected official/first responder/utility official. I’ve never been to Hawai’i and don’t want to judge anything without unbiased facts. That’s going to take a while to obtain. Social media makes it even easier to spew opinions and, better yet, you can hide behind a screen name. The Internet encourages instant “facts”. But even our news presenters (I like this term used by the British) on mainstream networks do more than present; they judge just by the words they use. The anger so many of us feel in the past few years hasn’t come close to burning itself out and I think that’s also a factor in what is happening. A true disaster in so many ways.

  6. Diane Tolley says:

    I think it’s a true crime to start attaching blame long before the facts are all in. And yet I find myself wanting to do it. Somehow, I think I’ll be less fearful if I can blame someone. Stupid, I know. So I don’t. Facts, first!

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