Terrence Jones has made the news for reportedly "stomping" on a homeless person in Portland. The facts surrounding the incident are that at 2 AM he emerged from a club called Tube and was observed shouting "Wake up!" then stomping on the leg of Daniel Kellerher. Mr. Kellerher sustained a minor leg injury that required no immediate attention and Jones was charged with harassment. Harassment is a misdemeanor charge in Oregon. The pertinent section of the charge is Oregon Statute §166.065(1)(a) and (3). Section two deals with electronic medium harassment and section four deals with repeat offenders and "intimate area" abuse.
Sections 1 and 3 are in play where Section 3 specifies harassment is a class B misdemeanor in the state (A criminal charge but carrying no penalty greater than 364 days in jail at a maximum). Why it's not specified in section 1 I'll never know but moving on... Section 1 defines harassment as INTENTIONALLY subjecting a person to offensive physical contact OR someone verbally or through gesture so as to elicit a violent response.
Given the little we do know it's apparent Terrence did a physical act that constitutes offensive contact (Most people aren't agreeable to having their legs hurt). We don't know the other facts surrounding the circumstances. Generally in law intoxication is only a defense to specific intent crimes and harassment requires specific intent. This calls in to question some very specific questions and concerns that fans of the team and outside observers have to remedy.
Simply put: It's too early to make any calls. In less than forty-eight hours since the incident Rockets fans have compared the situation to Aaron Hernandez, proposed immediately cutting ties with Terrence Jones, and ranted against the idea of police grandstanding. While we're all entitled to our opinions there comes a point where we have to temper enthusiasm so as not to take our passion to the point of belligerent ignorance because let's be honest, we're better than that. Let's look at a few truths that we'll have to acknowledge.
This is not a huge deal.
Terrence Jones has no criminal history to speak of and this is the only incident to have arisen in his life. It is a class B misdemeanor. We're not dealing with a man who endangered the life of another by operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. We're not dealing with an individual who beat a child, pet, or woman. We're not even dealing with a man who can be shown to have maliciously harmed another man (based on the facts we have). What we do have is an act of indiscretion where another person was hurt. While it was posited that "Where's there's smoke, there's fire" that's simply not true. Such a line of reasoning would have you believe that all one-off events are indicative of glaring character flaws that only feed into the belief that we're the worst of our combined humanity. Regardless of your worldview as to what motivates human beings the idea that our ability to harm others is the defining characteristic of us as a species is just plain erroneous. No one should be judged for one transgression. No one.
Alcohol doesn't absolve him of blame.
Legally intoxication is a defense. People rightfully acknowledge that that doesn't make actions "OK". The difference between legal acquittal and moral acquittal is that the law was shaped and formed to account for nuance and specifics. Morality is often stark in appraisal. What is also rightfully acknowledged is that people do dumb things when they drink. No one here (Aside from those who abstain from drink or are too young to do so) can honestly say that at no point in their lives have they not done something stupid while drinking. Don't get it mistaken, even if Terrence accidentally stumbled across Mr. Kellerher it's a dumb act considering where he was. If he intentionally harmed him it's absolutely stupid. He will have to answer for his actions but he'll do so in a court. Let's not hang him in the court of public opinion before he ever gets his chance to defend himself.
This isn't comparable to any other prominent news story.
Jones is the victim of a slow news cycle in the NBA. The facts are meager and the only comparable stories are what's left of Aaron Hernandez's murder charges and Riley Cooper's use of racial slurs. Jones is certainly the Goldie Locks of the two stories in a sense. He didn't take a life from anyone or indeed inflict major physical harm. He also didn't just use a reviled term to disparage a group of people. Unfortunately for Jones his story has such ambiguity you shouldn't expect any real information as to what actually happened. This story won't generate a great deal of media attention because it's a 21 year old did something dumb outside of a club after drinking in a young, hip city. Stop me when this becomes unique. Sincerely, there is nothing to differentiate Terrence Jones's situation from that of any college student or young adult in your nearest college city. Don't expect a great amount of details and remember that before deciding his fate.
Law enforcement wasn't targeting anyone.
After any large expulsion of crowds police tend to try to corral individuals to the sidewalk so as not to impede traffic. Since police were already on the scene to ensure that the sidewalks were occupied any transgressions would have been noticed. It's even easier to notice a 6'9" individual doing anything that would deviate from the norm of the crowd. It's not police profiling to notice a man who sticks out in a crowd do something that further isolates him in a crowd. The average American stands roughly 6'0" tall, Jones is almost a full foot taller than that. He sticks out not for demographic purposes in this situation.
I have faith in people to take a step back and let their knees quit jerking from the situation. What we have here are very few facts and far too many conclusions drawn from those facts. What we can't sustain are people assuming their conclusions are unassailable because there's nothing to neither corroborate nor refute their positions. What we do know is that Mr. Kellerher's leg was hurt and that Terrence Jones was involved. What we DO know is that Jones has pleaded not guilty to a specific intent misdemeanor for actions he engaged in at 2AM in Portland. We know he has no prior criminal history and he is a Houston Rocket. Let's separate our prejudices out of the situation and just watch as it develops. We need to not blow this out of proportion and call for drastic actions. When we do that no one wins. You can't execute a man on accusations.