A passing thought on Washington Trust’s recent troubles in Rhode Island.

Conversations related to the Washington Trust settlement with the government, requiring the bank to address alleged racial discrimination on its part, indicate two views or standards for handling blame in society.

One side is convinced that somebody is to blame for the circumstances of life and that the job of society (particularly government) is to find people and organizations on which to pin that blame and impose a consequence for “justice.”  The fact that a rationale or investigative methodology is able to assign blame is, of itself, proof that the rationale or methodology is valuable and accurate.

The other side believes that blame isn’t so direct, simplistic, or easy to assign and, therefore, thinks it is the burden of society (particularly government) to prove that an individual or organization truly is to blame for a specific result before imposing consequences.

The first is the conduct of an easily guided mob.  The second provides a path to civilization and true justice.

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