The news was horrific, the reaction predictable.
Sunday night there was a shooting at a mosque in Quebec City. Six people dead, many more wounded.
Details were of course sketchy at first, and are still becoming known. Politicians were quick to label it a terrorist attack, but at least refrained from assigning blame.
Certainly it looked like a terrorist attack, an assault by two individuals on a house of worship. That seemed to me to rule out a domestic or familial dispute. It didn’t fit the pattern of a drug deal gone wrong. But the news media, perhaps remembering how they were burned by their quick reaction to the 1995 Oklahoma city bombing, were restrained in their coverage (at least what coverage I looked at).
What I saw on Facebook was very different.
Within minutes of the news breaking, I read an analysis to explaining who was to blame. I’ll spare you the details, but to sum it up, the shooting was obviously the responsibility of certain right wing politicians and right wing media outlets for promoting a climate of hate. This was written and posted within two hours of the shootings, when we had no idea who was behind them.
At least that was opinion, probably not as bad as the post from a different person who named two shooters supposedly under arrest and announced that they were recently arrived refugees. That turned out to be a complete fabrication.
Even the CBC, our national broadcaster, wound up naming as a suspect someone who police later said was only a witness to the shooting. The retraction was quick, but probably not quick enough for the reputation of the person to not have been seriously harmed. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised at individuals who get it wrong when the media do also. Too much pressure to publish perhaps, but whatever happened to responsibility?
I must admit I am getting tired of people who feel they must express their opinion to the world immediately, without taking the time to first gather facts. I’d say it was an especial fault of those with left-leaning views, but sadly that is not true. Conservatives are just as prone to conclusion-jumping as liberals. Both sides like to demonize the other rather than provide evidence to back up their arguments. Neither appears to desire true dialogue, taking the time to listen to the other, agree on the facts and discuss the options. Perhaps we should all blame the internet for cheapening discourse. Except I can’t do that – I have no facts to back up such a statement. I don’t even have an alternative truth to offer.
Of course the easiest way to deal with the situation is to turn off the machine. I have a friend who did just that recently – cancelled his Facebook account because he found himself getting dragged into online arguments about President Trump. When he told me this, I didn’t ask him whether he is pro or anti-trump. After all, Trump doesn’t have the same impact on us Canadians as he will on Americans. That should allow us to be a little more objective in our assessment of his actions.
I try not to get drawn into these things, and have not reached the point where I need to shut off social media. I do love a good political debate, but I want facts, not opinions to be the basis of my argument (and yours also). Just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean you should agree with that opinion.
I probably won’t be expressing any opinion on the cause of the Quebec City shootings, even when more is known about the incident. Or at least not an opinion that needs to be shared to social media. The loss of life is tragic. It appears the authorities have the situation under control. Justice will be done, I hope, whether or not I or anyone else decides to assign blame.