Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. - - Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 - 1968), Strength to Love, 1963
NOTE: this article has already appeared, in slightly different form, at Top10CostaRica.com.
I recently posted a link on this Blog to the report of the study that shows people who watch FOX News are less than optimally intelligent. I believe that this explains a bit about why I get into so many pointless discussions online. Folks who do not expose themselves to more than one source for news tend to make quick judgments that are all too often incorrect. I, on the other hand, like to hear all the evidence, or points, or sides to a story before I make up my mind on a given topic.
This likely has to do with two major influences on my thinking. First, in order to function well as a Nurse, one has to be observant enough to catch what is going on, and then be able to report objectively just what it was that has been observed. This is very important in dealing with the care and treatment of all patients. Second, later in my Nursing career, I worked for ten years as an Investigator for The Texas State Board of Medical Examiners. I received further training during that time that not only reinforced my already acquired abilities in this area, but that taught me how to gather, preserve, and present evidence in a legal sense.
Another factor in the way I look at things is that, while gathering evidence, noting my observations, and reporting these faithfully, I had to strive to maintain objectivity, because my responsibility was not to provide my own opinions regarding what I observed, or what I uncovered in the course of an investigation. Nor was it my responsibility to offer any sort of conclusions (beyond the obvious summarizing of an investigative report to say that the contents either served as evidence of a violation or did not), recommendations for decisions based on the information thus gathered, or to offer any direction for continued care, or handling of a given situation. That is not to say that I was prohibited from recommending in certain investigations that further action may or may not be appropriate.
Now the folks with whom I have trouble seem to be those who form strong opinions based on little real data, or hard evidence. This either leads to a tendency to forget one of the most basic premises of our legal system, the concept that says all men are innocent until proven guilty. Or, more likely, this is simply indicative that some folks have already forgotten this all important principle. For some reason, a lot of people have trouble with that concept, and I just don't understand that. To me it is so simple. Hold off on reaching conclusions about any given situation until you have the facts – all the facts. Don't let others direct your decisions or let others do your deciding for you. I could go on and on, but I'm sure you get the idea.
Most recently, I got into it with some of my Facebook 'friends' about the Wikileaks things, not because I tried to come out in favor of the leaker(s), but because I supported a public announcement that someone famous (Michael Moore, actually) had contributed towards the bail for Mr. Assange. Then, when I was jumped on for simply saying that was a good thing, I further pissed them off by asking them what had happened to the ancient legal tenet of one being presumed 'innocent until proven guilty.' That really set them off, because a good number of them are convinced (based on the little real information that the world has seen to date on this matter) that Mr. Assange is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors (some fools want to believe that this Australian gentleman is guilty of treason against the U. S.) as is the misbegotten U. S. Army PFC, who allegedly accessed and released certain videos and documents.
For those who might have a question about this, let me admit that there is nothing in the U. S. Constitution that says one is innocent until proven guilty, but this is such an ancient – as I said – tenet of law that it is commonly accepted to be as sacred as any other aspect of our legal system. And, it is contained in some actual statutes and written judicial opinions. It is expressed by one learned professional (whose name I did not get) thusly: "The mere mention of the phrase presumed innocent keeps judges and juries focused on the ultimate issue at hand in a criminal case: whether the prosecution has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the alleged acts."
Maybe what I'm trying to say here is that we can easily apply this thinking to a lot more than just trial law. Obviously, this is not to say that one should hold a thing up to a legal standard, but what is wrong with waiting until all the facts are in before forming an opinion? Beyond that, we all know very well that no one charged with any crime is supposed to be tried in the press, now don't we? So, why do we let the press continue to do just that? Especially certain networks, like that one that is turning some peoples' brains to mush………….? I'm just sayin'………..