Trial By Media

If you have Netflix and enjoy true crime documentaries, they have some good ones. I just started a new one called “Trial By Media.” I have only watched an episode and a half, so I am not ready to make a judgment on it. I just enjoy true crime documentaries. I like to learn about events that happened: where they happened, when they happened, to whom they happened, and why they happened. I understand that documentaries are skewed in that they typically have an agenda or are presenting with really only one perspective. However, a good documentary will give you both sides and kind of let you make your own opinion. That’s really the way it should be, right? Let’s get all the facts and then make an opinion.

That’s what drew me to this documentary. The premise seemed to be the media’s role in people’s opinions about crime or situations. What led me to write today is twofold. First, not just in matters of crime but in politics, the media plays a big part in how people view situations, whether you want to admit that or not. Second, the episode I am currently watching on Trial By Media deals with racism, specifically in crime. Unless you live under a rock, these two issues are huge in our country right now.

We are living in the time of COVID-19, a mutated deadlier strain of the coronavirus. But how do we get our information about this situation? Mostly from the media but also politicians and even scientists. The agendas abound in all of those arenas. We just want to know who to blame. We want to give out facts. We want to cause panic. We want to have our candidate elected (…wait…a deadly virus is something we politicize to help our candidate get elected? Unfortunately yes.). We want to keep people safe. We want to sell a vaccine. We want to use this situation to push our own agenda, whether it is to truly help people or not.

All of this to say that we form opinions based on what “someone” tells us only later to find out that it was not portrayed accurately. I love conspiracy theories. I like to research them and find out the truth. (Are you getting a theme with my love of documentaries and conspiracies? I just want to know the truth.) In this case, I do not believe the conspiracy theories that the virus is made up and just a ploy by the government to control us. I know the virus is real. I know that it makes people very sick. I know that it is deadly. I also know that it is not “as bad” as it was originally portrayed (i.e., the recovery/survival rate is higher than originally thought, etc.).

Still…we panicked, bought all the toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and Lysol, and locked ourselves away for months. Why? I think it all started with the media’s portrayal. Shocker, I know! We watched what was going on in other places and heard uneducated opinions from pundits and then we freaked out. Whether we would like to admit it or not, the media played a big role.

The same goes with politics. You watch the media that caters to your views, right? When we are subjected to news that differs from our viewpoint, we immediately write it off. Everything “our” party does is great; everything the “other” party does is horrible. Where are these views expounded and repeated over and over again? The media in all it’s mediums.

Now on to how the media form our opinions in the area of racism. I am not a racist. (Notice that there was no “but” there. I always say a racist says “I am not a racist, but…” That’s not me.) Recently, we have heard about an event that happened months ago in which a young black man was shot and killed by a white man after being pursued by that man and another white man.

My first reaction to that news was this is horrible! If it was a racially motivated thing, it is even worse! But I withheld my comments and judgment because as I said above, I like to get the facts and know the truth. Honestly, I still do not know everything so I will not make a judgment on this particular case. However, I will say this: no black person deserves to be mistreated and definitely not shot and killed simply because of the color of his skin. This goes for any race: period. What happened in this case is still unsure. But we can’t wait for all the facts and must make a rush judgment. Then if we don’t make a rush judgment, we’re racist or at least unsympathetic.

Things are not always as they seem, and they are usually not anything like the media portrays. All of this rambling to say: when you read something on social media or the internet, when you see something on the news, or even when you hear something from someone about an illness, an insect (thought I forgot about the mad hornets didn’t you), political candidates or agendas, or crimes (in general or with racial overtones), make sure you know all the facts before you speak out for one side or the other. The Bible says this: “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” – Proverbs 17:28 Similar to this is a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”

Let’s be wise!

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