An apology for assumptions

Yesterday, I wrote about a noose found in the garage stall Bubba Wallace’s team occupied for the Geico 500 at Talladega.

I should have waited to comment on the situation until the investigation was finished.

The FBI finished its investigation today when it concluded Wallace had not been the victim of a hate crime and the rope had been in the garage “since as early as last fall.”

After I read this statement, I had another question.

How did this story get so big before anybody in NASCAR brought up the possibility the rope mistaken for a noose might have been in the garage for months, maybe as a handle to the shut garage door?

Maybe the answer is it blew up because people like me don’t wait for the the facts before they make assumptions.

I am usually cautious to a fault with things like this. I got scooped because of caution when I was a journalist.

I decided to comment yesterday after I read information from credible people at the track, but I didn’t check the information enough.

I assumed some things in yesterday’s post which, it appears, turned out to be wrong.

I assumed the rope was put there because someone wanted to “fan the flames of racism and hate.”

Actually, the rope appears to have been put there because someone wanted to close the garage door.

I wrote the actions of the person who hung the rope were, “racist, unconscionable and unacceptable.”

Well, hanging a rope to pull a garage door down is obviously none of those things.

Yesterday’s post also had this gem:

“If I could go back in time, I’d suggest whoever thought it’d be a good idea to hang a noose in Wallace’s garage find something better to do with his or her life.

If I could talk to him or her now, with the FBI on the case, I’d suggest whoever it is turn themselves in and face the music.”

Yesterday, I should should have waited to write.

Since I didn’t, it’s me who should face the music today and eat my words.

If the noose in Wallace’s garage is a handle to pull the door down, and there was no hate crime, this is the best possible outcome.

My thought process yesterday was based in the fact a decision to hang a noose in a NASCAR garage is stupid at any time, and it is.

I hoped the whole thing was a misunderstanding.

It appears it was, and I am glad.

I am glad for my state, and I am glad someone did not plan to hang a noose in Wallace’s garage.

I’m also glad we got to see a display of unity like the one NASCAR’s drivers showed Wallace and the nation yesterday.

Still, I wrote what I wrote in quick reaction. I am sorry for parts of it.

I’m sorry for the parts I quoted earlier and for part of the last sentence, which said, “Yesterday’s racist act backfired…”

I was too quick to assume racism where it appears there was none, and I’d like to apologize.

Racism is always wrong, but it was also wrong for me to assume it was there and throw caution to the wind.

I do stand by the message I had in mind. We do need to learn from the past, and even with the progress we’ve made the present does prove there is still work to be done.

I have work to do, too.

When I comment on important issues and stories in the future, I’ll be more careful to make sure my words are rooted in facts instead of assumption.

6 thoughts on “An apology for assumptions”

  1. Easy enough to get caught up, especially given the times. But given the kind of character that you are and have, I’m not surprised that you would apologize. Now, if only more people would apologize for their wrongdoings, we would all be better off. Your messages are still good ones, Casey.

  2. Casey: Sue said it well. I will add nothing to it except it would not hurt for any of us to heed the words of Jesus,”Love the lord with all our heart and our neighbor as ourself.” Keep on posting.

  3. I don’t think you need to apologize. With the climate we are in right now, it’s hard to NOT go in that direction.

    1. Hey, Cindi! I hope you had a great day. Thank you for reading, and for the kind comment. I almost made my response to it another post, but I decided against it. I did want to give you my answer, though. Here are the main reasons behind my apology, if you’re interested:
      I agree with you about the times we live in right now. A lot of issues have contributed to the current heated climate, not the least of which is racism. It is easy to get caught up in all of the discussion, debate and beyond. Lately, I have heard and read many things about how people should be quick to speak on issues like these because silence equates to complicity.
      I do not believe such a position is necessarily true in every case, and I normally take my time to issue comments on things like what happened at Talladega.
      I think it was a knee-jerk reaction by a lot of people, to include me. Most of the comments I read seemed to have good intentions to quickly denounce what seemed to be a racist act given the information available at the time.
      I am usually wary of knee-jerk reactions, because I believe there’s a good chance they can inflate a problem more often than they lead to a solution, but I had one last weekend.
      I am usually slow to speak about things, because it is usually wise to wait for all of the facts in a story to come out since the outcome could be different than current information might suggest.
      A lot of my caution comes from a background in journalism. I was always aware of the pressure to be first on stories when I was a journalist, but I decided it was better to be right. I got scooped on some stories, but to my knowledge I never got sued. Haha. I wrote what I wrote last weekend after I rushed to judgment, and I got some things wrong in my post. If I had written it while I was still a professional journalist, I don’t believe it would have gone to press without at least some changes.
      For example, I should have started the second sentence this way:
      “It has been reported somebody found (a noose) in NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace’s garage at Talladega Superspeedway yesterday.”
      It would have been a true sentence since the rope was reported to be a noose, and it was not reported to be a garage door pull yet.
      I’d have been better off if the third sentence had been written this way:
      “If the rope was tied as a noose and hung in Wallace’s garage because of his race or NASCAR’s recent decision to ban the Confederate battle flag at its events, whoever put it there wanted to fan the flames of racism and hate. The plan backfired.”
      Those would have been true sentences. The one I wrote was not, since it turned out whoever put it there did not want to fan the flames of racism and hate.
      I think I hit on most of the other inaccuracies in the post above, but my point is all it would have taken was a word or two here and there for the post to account for the outcome of the story and still stand.
      I didn’t add those words so the investigation rendered some of my statements false.
      I believe I could have written a better post which could have still been accurate after the investigation was complete, but I rushed to judgment and was wrong. I apologized because I felt my knee-jerk reaction and the words in my post made more of the issue than I should have made it (I said something was racist when it wasn’t). I should have written to account for the possibility of the best outcome, which thankfully occurred, but I did not. I could have deleted it and let it lie, but I didn’t think it’d be right either. I apologized because I wrote the post fast instead of right. I want to learn from it and be better. I’m sorry my reply took so long, and I’m sorry for the rambles in my response, but I thought you deserved a thought-out one.

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