Miami is in a veritable tizzy this week. Many South Floridians are screaming mad over the release of information they did not want to hear. They did not want to hear that their favorite son was legally drunk on the night he crashed his boat into the jetties on South Beach. They did not want to hear that he was also found to have ingested cocaine on the night of the accident. All of this, along with an autopsy report that explains why his casket was kept shut, is a pill much too bitter for fans of Miami Marlins superstar Jose Fernandez to swallow.
We should take no solace in the realization that Jose Fernandez was drunk and high on cocaine when he crashed his boat and died off of South Beach. He was after all no worse and no better than the rest of us. Fernandez was an imperfect 24-year-old with millions of dollars and a fast boat.
Jose Fernandez’s truth truly hurts those who idolized him. But should that get in the way of our responsibility to do what democracy behooves of us? Let’s start at the beginning.
As a boater familiar with the waters off the Government Cut jetties where Fernandez’s boat crashed, I knew the very moment I heard the news that there was no way Fernandez could have missed those giant boulders. In other words, barring a situation as ridiculous as one in the movie “Speed,” where mechanical failure causes the vehicle to drive itself, I knew the captain of the boat was either horribly distracted or horribly impaired.
As it turns out, that’s exactly what happened. Of course, few at the time – and even now –wanted to accept that reality. Many Miamians, including one prominent politician, said it was the fault of the rocks, formally asking the coast guard to investigate the jetties. Really?
The outcrop of jetties that smooth the waters and create a lane for boaters entering and leaving Miami Beach are more than 100 years old and surrounded by lighted buoys and a flashing red signal to warn boaters. The rocks that form that jetty did not cause the death of Jose Fernandez and his two friends, something all of us who occasionally boat at night realized right away. Why? Because the GPS charts we know better than to take our eyes off tell us that — by pointing out the rocks!
We should take no solace in the realization that Jose Fernandez was drunk and high on cocaine when he crashed his boat and died off of South Beach. He was after all no worse and no better than the rest of us. Fernandez was an imperfect 24-year-old with millions of dollars and a fast boat. Here, let me say it — there but by the grace of God, go I, and possibly you.
This week in Miami, thousands have complained about the release of Jose Fernandez’s truth. “Let him rest in peace,” they plead. “You’re a vulture for wanting to report that,” one older woman screamed at me on the phone. Many of Miami’s most recent arrivals, who like Fernandez grew up in Cuba not understanding how democracy works, are especially frustrated.
To them, truth is not something you report unless it fits a necessary narrative — that’s how the state-owned media trained them and too often, that’s how they still think.
As Americans, we know better — or we should, because the consequences of not telling the truth are often worse. It can set in motion a series of effects. Imagine if Marco Rubio had convinced the U.S. Coast Guard to remove the jetties. Imagine if the boat manufacturer’s reputation had been destroyed by those who thought it was to blame.
No matter how painful, we know that for democracy to flourish, truth is vital — just as withholding relevant information is lying. And when we do it for our own convenience, it’s selfish lying.