With several devastating events happening the world over, and on my front door, in the last month my mind is stuck on one key point. You have every right in the world to an opinion, but it doesn’t make you right.
I will try not to put on my ranty pants for too long, they are very loud obnoxious pants that tend to offend people at times, BUT…
Before Christmas news spread of the horrific shooting in Newtown, USA. I cried, I hugged my baby boy and thought of the babies who were lost to their parents. I read social media. Much of it loving, compassionate, caring and well-advised. Much of it made my blood boil. I’m not quotting here, but if you are on social media, and if you are reading this you most likely are, you probably saw similar. If the teachers had guns the death of so many children would have been avoided. Guns don’t kill people, people do. More armed people. More armed gaurds. More guns. Oh, and gun law reform doesn’t work. Even some people against the prolific ownership of guns in the US argued gun law reform will achieve little. There were memes on Facebook from both sides of the argument spouting ‘facts’ and ‘figures’ in a way that suited their opinion most. None of them that I saw used figures from any source, they were just thrown out there and people fervently argued and believed them. Living in a small state of Australia I am lucky, not much happens, usually. Then we had the worlds largest massacre by a lone gunman. Our relentlessly fighting politicians came together for once. Gun laws were reformed not only in our state, but our country. The Australian Bureu of Statistics shows a clear correlation between the enforcement of these law reforms and the decrease in homicide and suicude rates as do independant American studies. Facts, not opinion. Fact is semi automatics make it quick and easy to kill and if they are easier to get, well, there will be more shootings. Yes people kill, so do we need to make it quicker and easier for them?
On the same day as the shootings a meme popped up onto my Facebook feed. It listed several countries and what they do to people who illegally cross their border, then what Australia does. One country shoots people, in another you’re jailed for life. The list went on, mentioning many countries and the strong measures they go to to stop illegal border crossings. Predominately countries that are the ones being fled, such as Afganistan and Iraq. Then it spoke of Australia handing out visas, drivers licenses, accomodation, Newstart allowance, letting people live in the community whilst being processed. Besides obviously wishing we were more like war torn countries such as Afganistan the meme made it clear that finally Australia had allowed onshore and in community processing. But no. There were no referenced sources of information and it turns out, despite the thread that followed going on and on about asylum seekers getting it easier that Aussies, they were still being sent off shore and kept in mandatory detention for an unknown amount of time despite that it is not, as a mater of fact, illegal to cross the border of our country in any way and ask for asylum.
Soon after these events extreme weather caused bush fires across our state. For the last three days major bushfires have wreaked havoc east of my home city. A red haze fills the sky and even from my very safe lounge room I can smell the smoke as I type. Instantly there has been trolling, fingerpointing, name blaming and politicising. It was the greens fault for being against fuel reduction burns, which they are not, they are against regeneration burns in logging coups, two very different things. It was Lara Giddings, our ALP premier, for not taking a boat to rescue the stranded. The premiers job description, I doubt, includes boat rescues or any need for first hand knowledge or running of SES. Nor can I see how extreme weather events such as the hottest day on record can be blamed on any person or party. Can we get some facts please? And more importantly can we put all the bullshit aside because now is not the time. People’s homes and livelihoods have been destroyed. Now is not the time to politicise, troll MP’s sites, make ill informed memes and pass it all off as fact. Right now we need to come together and help people out. Happily that is predominantly what is happening here in Tasmania. The generosity of people, especially those who have little themselves has been trully heart warming and inspiring.
So I’ve been thinking, mulling over and over as event after event has occured, what makes an opinion right. In my mind it’s simple. We all have a right to an opinion, but it doesn’t make you right. A person can love or loath left wing or right wing politics. Believe in onshore or offshore processing of asylum seekers, or even in community processing. You can blame the weather, an individual, a political party or God for extreme weather and bushfires. Whatever. You have the right to your opinion as much as I do. But the right to an opinion doesn’t make it right. We can’t all be right. People may have an opinion that the earth is flat, we are all from Mars, all global leaders are really lizards, women are lesser than men, one race is better than another, one plus one equals 645, but unless that opinion is backed up by researched facts from primary and secondary RELIABLE sources with a big dose of logic and sanity, I’m sorry, good chance that opinion is wrong. Free to be had, but wrong. And no, some person who has no specialist background or training or relevant anything in anything to do with anything who waxes lyrical with the same opinion as you is not a reliable source. The end. Ranty pants off.