Once again a breaking news story about violent acts reminds us to be cautious about jumping to conclusions. It reminds me of the “The Westerner” with Gary Cooper and Walter Brennan. At one point Cooper says to Brennan, and I think it is a pretty exact quote, “Where I come from we don’t jump to conclusions. It’s liable to be a fella’s last jump.”
The examples are legion. The Oklahoma City bombing was at first labled the work of Muslim extremists (would that be because they are responsible for much of the world’s terror?) before it was correctly attributed. Princess Diana died in a car wreck allegedly caused by over zealous papparazzi pursuing her in a tunnel. Jared Loughner was, for a few moments at least, a Tea Party Advocate instead of an apolitical severely disturbed man, and now we have this example. Of course it was abetted by the fact that there were reports Muslim extremists took credit. Nevertheless this remains another example of why we all must be more careful about conclusion.
In fact, if truth be told, more than a few days must pass before any serious critical comment can be made. Remember that the first weeks after an event are all prosecution and the defense has almost no say in the matter. Except for the usual defense attorney boilerplate which is almost always exactly what I am saying: wait for the facts, there is more to this. Short of a credible assumption of responsibility it is wisest to be very measured throughout an incident. I don’t pretend that I always am. I was badly snookered when Diana died and immediately blamed the papparazzi without considering how unlikely it really was that a few motorbikes could cause a deadly high speed chase. Of course it didn’t really help that our esteemed media ignored the French police who say they pegged it for a high-speed alcohol related fatal from the minute it happened. There is, after-all, a very-strong international correlation between drinking and high-speed fatals. This was not convenient to the reverse Cinderalla narrative that the media wanted, so it was ignored.
The fact is we all need to be very wary of what people say and pay close attention to the facts and try to sort them out better when confronted with any critical news event.