Credulity: noun. readiness or willingness to believe especially on slight or uncertain evidence.

Cell phone videos on Twitter are “slight or uncertain evidence,” whether they feature apparent violence perpetrated by uniformed officers or depictions of crowds tangling with police. Things are really happening, and those things can be known adequately, if not fully, enough to form responsible opinions and advocate for effective responses. But the first video clip you see calls upon your credulity, and you should be honest about what you are doing when you opine about it without further substantiation.

Credulity is an act of will. We believe what we want to be true.

“There’s a lot we don’t know” is as true of the actions of demonstrators in Kenosha as it is of the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha police. When you grant credulity to 15 second video clips of “mobs” and “riots” but not to footage of a black man’s murder, you are making a choice. Of course, the opposite is also true.

We employ credulity in service of conviction. It is worth asking, then, if the convictions driving our deployment of credulity are about the value of human life and a revulsion at violence against an unarmed civilian, or whether those convictions are about “order” and the sanctity of property.

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