I was at your typical cocktail party this past weekend. You know, the kind where nobody really knows anyone else, and everyone is asking the same three questions to each other: "How about this crazy weather?" "Did you see that amazing performance Tiger Woods had the other day [if you are a woman, change Tiger Woods to Erin from For Love or Money]?" and "Can you believe what is going on with [enter the top story from the 11 O'clock news here]?" I just love small talk.
The party took place hours after the Eagle County, Colorado District Attorney declared that he was going to file charges against Kobe Bryant for rape. Thus, this topic dominated conversation at the party.
Now, mind you, at the time of this party the ONLY facts we had available were that there was a 19-year-old girl who was formerly a high school cheerleader that once tried out for the T.V. show American Idol that for some reason went to Kobe's room late at night and then filed rape charges the next morning. We knew that Kobe admitted to intercourse, but adamantly denied it was rape. There was obviously a lot more to the story that we didn't know, and the opinion that I shared with anyone that asked was that we simply didn't have enough information to form a conclusive opinion as of yet. We hadn't heard either side of the story or seen ANY evidence.
Now here is the kicker, EVERYONE at the party had already formed an opinion about whether Kobe was guilty of rape or not! I couldn't believe it! I can assume many of you probably did too! There is nothing wrong with that, but please read on...
Most people declared Kobe innocent, arguing "Kobe is such a great guy" (of course we only know Kobe when the camera is on). Everyone was also convinced that the girl was merely looking for an opportunity to strike it rich, seeking her 15 minutes of fame, and because she voluntarily went up to his room late at night, there is no way he could have raped her! I was amazed that EVERYONE had formed an opinion without really knowing any of the relevant facts. It was like reading the title of a book and then writing an opinion piece on the book without ever opening it.
Look, I don't know if Kobe is innocent or guilty, and I don't want to put him on trial here. I am definitely not here to defend the girl either. My point is that it is simply not right to form an opinion without all the relevant facts, and clear thinkers don't even draw conclusions based on the facts that they do know.
For example, let's assume that she went up to his room late that night and was indeed looking for sex. Many of you would think that her actions alone are enough to form an opinion! However, don't you agree that she had the right to have second thoughts at any time (if you don't agree, you better never invite a girl to your room or get ready to spend some time in the slammer)? Is it possible that if she did have second thoughts, and Kobe was worked up, and ready for action, his attitude may have taken over? You know, the attitude that makes him the best basketball player in the world, the attitude that makes him stop at nothing to get the basketball into the basket regardless of any adversity in his path. If Michael Jordan is blocking his path, he will figure out a way to get around him and slam-dunk the ball. That is his life and the attitude that got him to the top. Getting what he wants regardless of what is in his path. Do you think he just shuts that trait off when he leaves the basketball court? Add the heat of the moment and you can never tell what could happen. A hesitation from this girl isn't going to stop him from the Slam Dunk! This isn't my opinion- it is merely a possibility.
On the other hand, she may very well be looking for attention and money. We just DON'T know BECAUSE WE DON'T HAVE ALL THE FACTS!
I think it is critical to dig a little deeper into any story that is put in front of us. If not, we may be supporting someone that doesn't deserve our support and condemning someone that does. It is no wonder that politicians tell us what we want to hear because they count on us not to think through a subject any further than the surface level. I used to not understand why they did this until this whole Kobe subject came about. I now realize that it requires such little information for people to form their opinions that politicians would be foolish if they expanded on a subject. If they did so, their constituents would realize how harmful they really were. It is no wonder that the Kings of one-liners can't be found at the Comedy Club. You will find them running Congress.
Get all the relevant facts before you form an opinion about anything. That is called "being fair-minded."