What do assumptions do again?

Category:  Opinions
Thursday, January 31st, 2019 at 4:25 PM

A few days ago, a video was raised from the internet. As the video was seen and shared by more people, opinions began to be made over its contents. For the next few days, this clip, that was a little over three minutes, caused a massive wave of negativity.

After getting out of bed the Saturday after the video showed up online, I found it on Facebook. At that time, it had over 16,000 comments, most of which displayed aggressive anger towards a group of teenagers from a school. And everything started to focus on one person: a white boy with a clearly visible, red “Make America Great Again” hat. The boy was smiling, standing abnormally close to a Native American man (Nathan Phillips) who seem to be playing some type of traditional song on a drum. The video stayed focused on these two individuals for the whole time it played. After this video, there was another clip of Phillips, who seemed very distraught. With tears in his eyes, he explained how the group of teenagers crowded around him and taunted him as he played.

After watching these two videos, I began to read the comments. There was so much anger. Some even shared the young student’s personal information, suggesting that everyone should flood him with messages of anger. It did not stop there. Personal information of other students, teachers, parents, and even the principal were shared. These angry commenters were asking for threatening acts. One such act was to lock the students up in the school and light it on fire. I watched the video again, to try to figure out a reason why they were so hostile. After viewing it four times, I still could not see the reason for so much hate. I argued with one commenter, saying: “Why so much hate? I mean…sure. He’s a little close for comfort and can be considered rude, but he still does nothing. Just smiles.” The commentator answered by saying: “That’s the new generation for you. They’ve never learned respect for their elders.”

About two hours later a friend posted a new video. It was titled: “MAGA racism HOAX.” This gave a completely new perspective — it disproved everything Phillips said. It was the complete opposite. The clip clearly showed him approaching the group of teenagers as they made way for him. The old man stepped uncomfortably close to the teenager in the first video. Another video surfaced showing yet another viewpoint. This time the footage showed a completely different group taunting the “MAGA” hat group. Some racial slurs were even thrown around.

With everything beginning to settle down, there are many question that come up. Who is at fault? What should be their punishment? How can we avoid these situations?

Fault is something every human faces. Should we place it on Phillips? Did he instigate the fiasco? I do not think so. What he did was wrong, but blaming someone is what started this. Should we blame the mainstream media? I do not think we should. They may have put the video to a larger audience, but they did not make it popular. No, the fault rests on us, the viewers. Even I, who had a different perspective of the story, have fault. I also had thoughts that what the students did was racist. We made the assumption. 

In most cases in court, fault has punishment. Punishment varies by severity of the crime. I do not believe anyone should be punished. So far, no one has been harmed. There have been many threats but no physical harm. “No harm, no foul”. We should forgive and learn. 

Opinions can be a wonderful thing. Hasty opinions cause assumptions. These can be very harmful. The best way we can avoid these situations is to fully research before making any assumption. Everyone should try to see things from a neutral perspective. It is hard. I deal with it daily. Sometimes it come without thinking to judge someone before knowing them fully. All we can do is understand that someone might be doing the same thing to me. 

The human race can do some of the vilest of acts, but we are also known to do a lot of good. We must strive to be the best we can. I believe all those reading this have the potential. You came to Edinboro University to work on that potential. I believe you all will succeed. 

Beau Bruneau | edinboro.spectator@gmail.com

Tags: assumptions

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