Inform, Don’t Insult

On a message board, I watched someone come in and complain about the poor treatment she had gotten on another message board for a post she left. She went on about how someone accused her of being insulting and got a bit rude with her. After all, she was just trying to be helpful.

Now, I’m about to say something that would probably get me called a cynic. But if there’s one thing that life has taught me, it’s that people can be downright unkind and disrespectful when they’re “trying to be helpful.” “Helpful people” — especially the ones that offer unsolicited help, tend to have an ego thing going, themselves. At least that’s been my experience.

So a couple of us asked for further details before we told this would-be good samaritan how terrible her experience was. So she gave us a link to the conversation under discussion. Well, it didn’t take long for some of us to find why the poor guy was offended. One simply had to read the paragraph he quoted during his protest.

The board this woman posted to was a discussion forum for a law enforcement resource and networking site, as near as I can tell. And she was posting information about “Wicca” (I will have to explain why I put that in quotes someday, I think) and Paganism. Basically, she wanted to inform the police officers there so that they would be better able to handle situations involving Pagans or crimes that looked ritualistic. A noble gesture, indeed. But there are just a couple of things that I would’ve avoided personally. Let me point out the first one by quoting a statement from her post:

You will also become better by not jumping to conclusions when you are at a crime scene or an alleged crime scene with evidence of “ritualistic crime.”

Now, it seems to me that the underlying assumption our “educator” is making here is that these police officers currently jump to conclusions. Now, call me crazy, but I’m sure that these nice officers have gone through rigorous training on how to properly investigate a crime. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that one of the first lessons of investigating a crime — whether there are ritualistic elements or not — is probably don’t jump to conclusions. So I can understand someone getting a wee bit bent out of shape when a perfect stranger suggests they’d do such a stupid thing. Whatever happened to giving people credit.

The second statement is of a similar nature. Allow me to quote it:

And, PLEASE, above all – if you have a question just ask a member of the pagan community or do some research for yourself.

Once again, our “educator” jumps to a rather insulting conclusion. I’m sure that police who investigate crimes are well aware of the value of research. In fact, I’m sure that they spend a good portion of their time both researching and consulting with experts in whatever subject becomes central to their investigation. To imply otherwise — as this “educator” has done — is to basically call these police stupid.

I’m sorry, but whatever happened to assuming that people were intelligent? Whatever happened to the bit of common sense that said that treating someone as if they were a fool is a good way to get off on a bad foot? Whatever happened to actually showing the people you’re trying to “inform” a bit of dignity and respect!

Sure, I’m sure there are some bad cops out there. I’m sure that if one looks hard enough, you can find someone who does jump to conclusion. I’m sure you can find one who does skimp on the research. But to actually face a group of officers and assume that the ones you are addressing would do any such thing is a good way to show what an ass you are, in my opinion. And quite frankly, I think you should expect to be treated like an ass.

Honestly, if this is the kind of person that’s handling “Pagan relations” with our valuable “boys in blue,” I think we’d be better off not being represented at all.

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