We are faced almost every day with the news of a shooting, abduction, fire, accident, or other event that the media sees as newsworthy. Sometimes they are local in nature, but frequently they are nationwide stories. A perfect historical perspective can be recounted in the O. J. Simpson trial. From the very first reports until the trial itself, we all had an "opinion" of guilt or innocence. But, the question is, how do we process these events when we have very little data to really come to a reasonable conclusion? Even after the trial and eventual acquittal, there is still doubt of guilt or innocence.
The most recent shooting of Trayvon Martin is a good current example of the way we all perceive the event, even without the benefit of the facts. The death itself is another abomination of the shooting of any human being. His being a child only make the death more tragic. But, it seems that sides are being chosen as to what happened and why, only knowing what we have seen or heard. We see the impassioned plea of the parents and friends, and then the impassioned plea of the family and friends of the alleged shooter. But, we do not know what happened so how do we choose a side to support? More to the point, should we be more critical in our thinking about what we see and hear?
We can certainly can understand that the media plays a role in how we see and hear information. They have a story to tell and they choose how to tell that story. They select the video clips, the people that are interviewed, and the "experts" who speculate and explain the facts as they see them. But, it seems that we have to be more discerning in accepting any unsubstantiated information. The media generally seems to be an unbiased source, but they wok on a fast news cycle. So, every shred of "evidence" is presented to bring attention to the event. But, it is our responsibility to recognize that we are in no position to judge or select guilt or innocence.
I really believe that the trend to rush to judgement will continue as an emotional response to tragedy. My sense is that we can mourn the death with the family, but not come to any conclusion about the motivation, the actual events, or the blame until we have all of the facts. What we do know is that we have another dead child, and that is difficult to come to terms with...