Friday, January 24, 2014

Guilty Until Proven Innocent or Portrait Painting in a Photoshop World

I had other ideas for a post today, but then I saw a post by a Facebook friend about some moronic candidate for office who openly claims that children are born autistic and that storms occur and kill innocent people because God is mad at us for our immoralities. Same old crap, different moron: a "Christian" who likes to think of God in pre-flood terms because it is dramatic and because she thinks doing so will absolve her of her own cruelly-twisted mind: "Oh, but it's God, not me." (People like her never do seem to bother with the little conundrum of how unbelievably [damnably?] arrogant it is to presume to speak for the deity in whom one believes...but that's another story.)

But what struck me is that when I followed the link, I saw a reference to her fellow Republican opponent for candidacy, that said this:
Her opponent in the Republican primary is no prize, either. David Earl Williams III, a politically moderate Navy veteran, has a history of alleged domestic violence. An ex-girlfriend  filed a domestic violence protection order against him, saying he stalked her online and tried to get her fired by impersonating her online. Williams is currently fighting the ruling. it a ruling or is it an allegation? Didn't it used to be that to be a writer, one would, at least, try to be precise with one's words? There is a big difference between an allegation and a ruling.

I hope that people, in this media-flooded world (one to which I am perhaps ineffectively contributing), are aware of the use of spin and of the current trend of people, at least in the media and blogosphere, being guilty until proven innocent. 

Of course, the site from which I took the quotation above is "Americans Against the Tea Party," so you have to expect that it is a purpose-driven site. It should be clear that they are going to lean toward condemning the moronic ideas of thoughtlessly conservative dimwits, the same way a conservative site might condemn the actions of the demon liberals. But is it okay to make one's political/social case by implying the social worthlessness and even the guilt of those who have not yet been proven guilty? Should we sum-up a man as "no prize" over allegations from an angry ex-girlfriend? I'm not saying that the allegations may not be true, but it used to be that the courts got to decide that. If it is true, he's a creeper. But until then...should we use his reputation as a means to make political points?

What the hell ever happened to libel suits? 

Awhile ago, I read an article about a teacher who was accused of something...I forget what. The teacher was deemed innocent of her alleged action and was given her job back. The article's title was something like: "Should Mary Schmigglton Be Allowed to Teach Again?" 

After an allegation that the courts decided was false? Um...yeah, she should. Right? I mean, I know I didn't give you specific reference to a particular case on this one, but, what's the point of the courts, if not? I admit that if I were her principal, I would watch her like a hawk, because kids are involved, but I would at least try to remain objective. 

I try to make my students aware that this stuff is going on. Too many voices. We are so judgemental, especially when we are preaching tolerance. We are so intolerant of anyone we disagree with that we resort to the flipping over of principles that used to be the foundations of social ethics. We're intolerant if we agree with the wrong people and tolerant when we agree with the right ones...the right and the wrong ones being whoever most people, or, at least, the loudest people, think are right and wrong. 

Thinking somone is a piece of garbage is no license to toss aside the ethics upon which our legal/social justice system was founded. 

This is not about defending a conservative, but how much do you want to bet someone comes out of reading this feeling that way? Why? Because they decided, the minute that I condemned the out-of-hand judgement of a person, who just so happned to be a conservative, that I am a Tea-party nut. Others might have read my condemnation of the Christian moron and labeled me an athiestic liberal. 

I'm neither. I'm more complex than that. So are most people. Should we immediately condemn them based on sound bytes and on the say-so of five-hundred word blog posts? No one paints portraits anymore; they all click snapshots and then Photoshop them to suit their whims. 

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