Saturday, December 29, 2012


Social media has made it easier for the man on the street to weigh in on headline-grabbing tragedies. But instead of using their own language, it seems most people end up mimicking the pundits we've watched on TV all these years.

Some typical examples:

As a mother of three, I think we should...

As a father with a child in kindergarten, I want to see...

It seems many have decided that being a parent makes their sadness more acute, and that this increases the validity of their opinion.

Not so. If a space shuttle explodes, and my brother is an astronaut, thinking of him exploding may make me feel worse about the explosion than the average Joe. But it doesn't mean my knowledge of physics is greater than the average Joe's, and the fact my brother could have been the one in that shuttle certainly doesn't automatically make me qualified to opine on future shuttle launches.

Forget my hypothetical and just look at how juries are selected. People are screened out of juries all the time for having circumstances that make them "too close" to the facts of the case they would potentially be voting on. The thinking is that we don't want jurors who are likely to offer a clouded, purely emotional assessment.

If I were a parent who wanted to be interpreted as a measured observer as a opposed to an enraged vigilante, I would leave out the part about being a parent so that the sole focus would be on the opinions and prescriptions I was espousing.

And if someone were to ask me personally, I would open by saying: As an adult who doesn't own a gun, doesn't have kids, and doesn't remember kindergarten, I don't have a horse in this race and therefore...

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