Rushing to Judgment

kitty-genovese

50 years ago the phrase “I don’t want to get involved” entered the American lexicon, thanks to the New York City murder of Kitty Genovese. According to the legend, 38 people watched, and did nothing, as she was raped and stabbed to death outside her apartment.

I say “legend,” because it didn’t happen that way. You can read the real story here. The New York Times chose to go with a more sensational approach, and everyone accepted that inaccurate account.

We regularly learn “new details” which put old stories in new light. People write memoirs, sealed documents get released, reporters reexamine old stories, scientists and archaeologists make new discoveries. DNA tests exonerate persons, locked away for decades, whom society had despise as murderers.

Historical revisions occur frequently in matters of war and foreign relations, for which enduring secrets are common. I wonder if, in ten years, we’ll understand the Bin Laden raid, 9/11, Benghazi, and other recent events in a very different light.

But we live in a microwave world, with instant analysis. I try to keep that in mind when listening to pundits proclaiming the definitive truth about events even as they unfold. As the X-Files told us, “The Truth is Out There.” It just may not be known to the general public…yet.

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