(The Root) — Rushed judgments have become a national pastime, fueled in part by the 24-hour news cycle's incessant and insatiable appetite. It demands instant decisions, analysis and commentary, lest you be left behind or deemed wishy-washy.
An incident occurs — say, an African-American athlete is charged with resisting arrest — and many folks immediately go to their respective corners. Either he was a target of profiling and a victim of racism or he was guilty of provoking the police and big-timing them with a "Do-you-know-who-I-am?" attitude.
That's where we stand with the case of Minnesota Vikings halfback Adrian Peterson, who was arrested Saturday night at a Houston nightclub at closing time. Just like that, a player with a previously pristine reputation is in trouble with the law and the fault-finding has begun.
The police said Peterson pushed an officer in the shoulder, "causing him to stumble," and began yelling and "assumed an aggressive stance." Peterson's father said the officer used "vulgar language" and was "disrespectful," and it's his understanding that his son didn't push the officer.
The nightclub manager told TMZ that Peterson was very drunk and a difficult customer all night. Peterson hired a famous lawyer from Roger Clemens' trial and tweeted a famous quote from Winston Churchill — "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."
"Adrian Peterson did not resist arrest this past Saturday morning and any suggestion that he pushed, struck or shoved a Houston Police officer is a total fabrication," attorney Rusty Hardin said in a statement. "He, in fact, was struck at least twice in the face for absolutely no legitimate reason, and when all the evidence is impartially reviewed, it will clearly show Adrian was the victim, not the aggressor."
It's perfectly plausible that Peterson's only offense was being in the wrong place at the wrong time to get on the bad side of an off-duty police officer who was working security. We don't know if the officer was black or white, or if he knows Peterson is an All-Pro NFL player. Peterson could've been on his best behavior and it might've not mattered, especially considering the Houston police's reputation when dealing with black athletes.
It's also completely conceivable that an intoxicated Peterson didn't comply with an officer's orders fully and in a timely fashion. Such behavior isn't unheard of, especially from celebrities who are used to getting their way. If an officer is vulgar and disrespectful, he might receive more back talk than otherwise.
Whatever happened, this much is true: No matter what we think of police officers and no matter how out-of-line their behavior might be, it's dangerous to engage them in a confrontation. Black men in particular need to be wary when crossing paths with officers, who already might be leery of the encounter.
For all we know, Peterson was "yes, sir" and "no, sir" all the way and still wound up in handcuffs. Or he could've taken offense to what he considered inappropriate treatment and responded in less-than-conciliatory fashion.
Either scenario could be reality. "Thank you for waiting for the facts," Peterson tweeted. "Truth will surface."
Unfortunately, too many folks can't wait until then.