Letter: Be curious, not judgmental

Published 8:30 pm Friday, November 18, 2022

I am tired of private matters being dragged into the public by people who know very little about the truth. People can’t wait to trash others publicly; the media spreads lies/shame, minimally exploring other sides; and readers spread this misinformation without questioning what they’re reading, adding their own commentary and feeling entitled to judge something they know nothing about. This is how lives are ruined.

In my opinion, the public is not entitled to any information until/if the accused has been found guilty, as every person is innocent until proven guilty. This is one of the problems with our town and our very nature as humans — we thrive off of rumors, preferring dirt. The media has the power to convict people before they get a chance to even tell their side of the story; readers then “convict” the innocent without knowing the truth. Saddest of all, this is merely a way to be entertained and to feel superior to those whose names have been disparaged. As someone whose last name carries some notoriety, I am tired of this. As a teacher of students who have also experienced this same slander and humiliation, my heart hurts.

I am asking you to slow down when you read an article that defames someone, especially when that person has not been able to tell their side of the story; to have some humility that perhaps you may not know everything; to stop filling in the blanks, making up what you think happened based on minimal details. I am asking you to be curious, not judgmental.

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I am asking you to remember that you are not perfect and perhaps realize that these people you are slandering are real people: they have feelings, families, and are doing the best they can with what they have; to reconsider posting judgments which smear another human being; to get off your pedestal; to remember that of all the beings in the universe, you are not the Great Judge; to try to empathize and ask yourself how you would like to be treated if that was you, your partner, your child. I am asking you to have compassion.

Perhaps, however, some people are just worse than you, so terrible that you have a right to humiliate and defame them. You may feel emboldened to tear them down because at least you’re not that bad: You haven’t been accused of something terrible; you haven’t broken the law and been caught; you’re not in jail; you haven’t done what the newspaper says someone else did. Well, I guess Jesus does invite those free of sin to throw the first stone. And if you believe in the Word, the person, who makes this argument, none of us have the right to diminish another person, to murder them with words, no matter what that person did or is accused of doing.

I love this town and am proud to be from here. But I know we can all do better. Let’s try.

Therese Netzer

Albert Lea