Thursday, 30 January 2014
How can you decide that something is sinful or immoral or damaging purely on the basis of some knee-jerk reaction, some blind instinct totally detached from the facts?
People who slam a play without seeing it, or a book without reading it. People who condemn immigrants or refugees with no comprehension of the circumstances they find themselves in. People who sneer at alternative remedies or veganism or psychotherapy without knowing the first thing about them. People who knock teachers when they haven't set foot in a school in 40 years.
On the basis of a few tabloid headlines, or neighbourhood gossip, or a dinner-party anecdote, they casually let rip at anyone or anything they fancy, oblivious to the distress and alarm they might be causing to those on the receiving end. It never occurs to them that they might be totally misinformed, prejudiced, wrong-headed.
Personally I try not to condemn anything I know very well I'm ignorant about. If I'm not sure of the facts, I prefer to keep my mouth shut until such time as I am. I'm not going to pontificate simply to impress an audience.
If I don't understand something, I'll confess to being puzzled, or being uncertain, or being undecided, rather than feign knowledge I don't have. I'll try to find out a bit more about the subject and road-test whatever half-baked preconceptions and stereotypes are floating round my head.
But I think a lot of people actually feel embarrassed or uncomfortable at the idea that they're ignorant about something. Instead of admitting their ignorance, they parrot the latest fashionable opinion and hope nobody examines it too closely. All I can say is, I'd rather stay silent than talk out of my arse.