If a contributor voices their opinion towards a particular subject or idea, is the best course of action to tear into the contributor because they do not share the same opinion as you or promote your “better idea” instead?
An opinion is based on personal experience or political/theological ideology forming a belief. This belief usually cannot be shared uniformly due to variations in our life experiences that differs from person to person.
I remember working in public housing neighborhoods. I knew that the vast majority of residents there were not involved in crime, just trying to live their lives while enduring financial hardships. They did not like nor were permitted to even be seen talking with the police. Despite our efforts to develop trust, we could not break through the glass ceiling of cultural animus that existed from generational indoctrination that you don’t talk to the po-po. I would round the corner on patrol and hear, “5-0, 5-0” being screamed to warn drug dealers to take off running. That opinion of worthlessness to their community would not be changed, and I accepted it.
While at APD, our training included what is now considered “sensitivity training” in an effort to desensitize our previously formed bias from our own life experience prior to police work to more objectively deal with situations we were to experience in the field.
Yet our experiences during our career, while dealing with different races, religions and socioeconomic factors, formed new, more definitive opinions that were thought to “pigeon hole” or “profile” people into groups with anticipatory behaviors. Many civilians think these mindsets to be unfair, when in fact they prove to be extremely accurate in the vast majority of cases. And it’s the ability to anticipate behavior that keeps us alive.
When I see Letters To The Editor attacking contributors and their opinion I have to wonder, did they miss the title of the section…The Opinion Page? We live in an age where people feel offended by words and have forgotten about the sticks and stones. I think it was Mahatma Gandhi that said, “Nobody can hurt you without your permission.”
So, if a person has a certain opinion that disagrees with yours, instead of calling names or asking for apologies because you took offence, why not explain your own opinion and leave the other person out of it? We all know hate speech when we hear it. Maybe that person is feeling pain from a life experience that has left them intolerant and angry. Ask my World War II neighbor who served in the Pacific Theater how he feels about the Japanese, and he won’t mince words. He saw first hand the torture and decapitation of our soldiers at the hands of their captors. Think you can change his opinion?
And some writers voice opinions that are incendiary just to get a rise out of the reader, and they don’t actually believe the words they write. Talk show host Neal Boortz used to brag he says stuff just to rile people up to the point they will hold through the commercials just to have a chance of rebuttal. He laughs when he admits he only gets paid for getting you to listen to advertisements.
So, if you have an opinion, state your point. If yours differs from another, hold the hate, keep it to yourself or rage at the moon. If the newspaper editors think you can’t wait to buy a newspaper just to get foamin’ angry at the print, you’ll see it time, and time again. They ain’t stupid…they’re selling advertisements, too.
The Precinct Press is authored by W.J. Butcher, a retired 26-year veteran of the Atlanta Police Department. Send comments, kudos, and criticism to: email@example.com .