JonBenet and Jumping to Conclusions
(Posted by guest blogger Valerie Strauss)
Upon learning that a non-family member is being held as a suspect in the slaying of JonBenet Ramsey, a friend told me that her first reaction was shame.
She, like so many of us, thought someone in the family was responsible for the 6-year-old's death 10 years ago.
The initial botched police investigation and the media leaks that came out over the years certainly fueled our interest--and our suspicions.
So too, perhaps unfairly, did the parents' sexualization of their 6-year-old in the world of young beauty pageants (so aptly portrayed in the current movie "Little Miss Sunshine."), something that seemed to be unusual at the time. Not anymore. Even if many of us disliked that whole scene, its defining characteristics have since her death become popularized throughout the culture. Walk into a store for young girls and look at the booty shorts and the shirts with come-hither messages written across the chest.
If there is an admittedly obvious but real lesson to learn from this turn of events (and assuming that the suspect will be found guilty), it may be that we too often jump to conclusions about important things with pretty much no evidence on which to base them.
My husband used to look at me increduously when I guessed who killed the little girl, pointing out, correctly, that nobody but the cops and the killer had any real clue.
Perhaps we ought to stop relying--and pretending to be--instant experts on every topic imaginable. Real experts on any subject are few and far between, and they know they don't know everything. But then what would the cable television industry do to fill all those empty hours?
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