You know that I have opinions, if they're unfounded, I'll say so. Most times, they're slightly researched but they're still like arseholes - everyone has one although sometimes voicing opinions without an understanding of the truth can be very dangerous.
People can get whipped up in a frenzy of hysteria and fist waving, which can seriously affect the outcome of a trial, marginalise the innocent or prevent the guilty from being brought to justice.
Remember how misinformed we were about AIDS and HIV, originally thinking that it could be transmitted via Mosquitoes or kissing, that the slightest splosh of spittle or blood from a grazed knee would see us all bowled over by the grim reaper ?. . .Talk about a campaign of misinformation! We're still fighting that battle in countries such as Africa.
Then, last year we deported a young Doctor due to his possible links to Al-Qaeda and the London bombings because he had a cousin England who the press implicated. Our keystone AFP jumped on the chance to look heroic and acted before having all the evidence. This later became an embarrassment and a total fabrication, now labelled a political stunt and still being investigated. Dr Haneef is still attempting to clear his name and have his visa reinstated. How many of you have a black sheep in the family? Are you responsible for their behaviour or their beliefs?
Australia's Dr Death has been extradited after an earlier attempt to hide in the US and had his first court appearance in Queensland. He's now out on limited bail awaiting trial but high media coverage, public opinion and lobby groups may well have jeopardised the opportunity for him to have a fair trial. A bad man could potentially go free if such bias is proven.
I visited a couple of blogs that were truly up in arms this week after the murder of a young Irishman on 5th July, in the US, by a Policeman who has since been arrested on sexual abuse charges (not linked to this sad incident apparently). Said young man banged on a few doors - he may have been confused, having a psychotic episode or panicked by being lost, he may not - He may have been thought to be a burglar or was not - He did a runner despite having bare feet - and was cut down in cold blood by a corrupt cop, or was he? - who knows? Quite rightly the lad's family and some of the locals are trying very hard to get to the bottom of the mystery but opinions have already been formed and indignation voiced before all the facts are known.
Australians once had very strong opinions about a certain woman murdering her baby based on rather conflicting scientific evidence. A dingo couldn't possibly fit a baby in its mouth yet months later one killed a nine year old on Fraser Island. Getting an impartial jury for a potential babykiller was impossible. I remember what was an absolutely disgusting media circus. Lindy Chamberlain became the talk of the town around water fountains, coffee shops and bars. Everyone had an opinion. She suffered, she was erroneously jailed, her marriage broke up, her family disintegrated, her faith was ransacked and she was eventually pardoned and able to mourn the loss of a baby that would now be 28 years old. She has had to live with that stigma all her life!
The parents of little murdered beauty queen Jon Benet Ramsey, have finally been cleared as DNA evidence identifies her yet uncaptured killer . . .the child's mother died years ago from Cancer believing that the whole of America thought her capable of killing her own child!
These are just a few of the headliners but I issue a word of caution. Be careful what you say and to whom you voice your opinion. It's important to cultivate informed opinions not knee jerk reactions.
I recently put up with a young fellow banging on with religious jokes and complete bullshit about religious practices because I knew he was ill informed and just making himself look stupid. Unfortunately, other's actually believed his rubbish and had to be put straight. Now me defending the faith was a stretch but it had to be done .. the kid was totally ignorant but spouting ideas, and ideals as if he had a clue!
I try to read more than one source, watch more than one current affairs or news program, mull over the likelihood and the scenarios in my head before forming an informed opinion and I'm always prepared to listen to the 'other side of the story'. I'm pragmatic and my opinions are based on knowledge not circumspect. (Although I am somewhat famous for my gross generalisations).
What is clearly apparent both in the reporting of these incidents and the reaction in the press, thereby influencing the public, is that getting to the truth of the matter is very difficult. Yet everyone is very willing to strongly argue their opinion and support one side or another without truly understanding what went on. This is how wars begin folks.
Whilst I’m happy to put my opinion out there, I try pretty hard to ascertain the facts before taking a pro or con stance. Could be the Libran in me, I think it’s the sceptic and cynic that makes me view all news and reporting, commentary and complaining with a very large lump of salt. I'm not lecturing here, it is sometimes impossible to get to the truth without wading through primary sources, court transcripts or even waiting for the release of secret documents once they've served their dues in the vaults of government and who has the time to do that? I would caution people though to be careful about broadly publishing their 'opinion' until they have a firm grip of the facts. Whipping up frenzies doesn't solve the problem, indeed it may see good people vilified and dangerous people vindicated. Whilst everyone is of course entitled to their opinion and free speech is based on voicing it . . . use the brain before the mouth goes into gear (God that's the pot calling the kettle black . . if only I could take my own advice!)
Just as a frightened dog is a vicious dog . . a dangerous citizen is not an armed one but an uninformed one! In my humble opinion, things are rarely as they seem . . .Addendum: Interesting al-Qaida, al-Qa'ida or al-Qa'idah, is not yet in the MS spellcheck vernacular!