The Mob Mentality and Illogical Arguments
When someone forms an opinion and presents it in such a way that instantly clicks with folks and makes them nod vigorously in agreement, there’s something to be said for the one who forms the opinion. Typically those are columnists, editorial cartoonists, religious leaders, radio or TV talk show hosts, news pundits, and sometimes even politicians. The Internet has given a voice to far more people who would have otherwise never had the opportunity to make a statement (myself included). But when the opinion itself is based on an illogical comparison or argument, and followers buy into it because a single point fits their cause, extreme ignorance wins.
The graphic above has gone viral on Facebook and a number of folks are wrongly applauding it. George Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watch vigilante who enjoys guarding his streets with a loaded gun and reporting ‘suspicious’ behavior, shot an unarmed child who was walking home. The Florida police let Zimmerman free because it was ‘self defense.’
There is no shortage of media attention on this case and it’s one that makes people want to play judge and jury with wild assumptions. And why not? Who would disagree when everyone is holding torches and pitchforks? Zimmerman is a Nazi, right? Yeah! Who’s going to deny it?
The outrage is absolutely justified over a shooting death of an unarmed child, especially when the trigger-man is allowed to walk free. I’m confident something will be done about this situation, despite those in the mob spouting irrational arguments, such as with the graphic above.
On to Michael Vick. A few years ago, he pleaded guilty to “Conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture.” So, he spent 23 months in prison. Because Vick is a big football star, people are quick to forgive, and even defend him. I’ve read a number of comments from supporters who say that it wasn’t a big deal that he ‘killed some dogs.’ Never mind that non-football stars are arrested for this and don’t get this level of support, or that Vick has pretty much admitted that what he did was wrong.
Why, exactly, are people applauding this graphic? I can only think that the point striking a chord with them is that it’s a tragedy that all U.S. authorities think it’s worse to kill dogs than humans. Right on! High-five! Maybe even: ‘Vick should’ve gotten no time and Zimmerman should get the death penalty!’ And, of course, people bring race into the equation and suddenly it’s the ‘white man who arrested Vick and let Zimmerman walk.’ Yes, I’ve seen that statement, too.
Did the people who are agreeing with this ever consider that the authorities who correctly arrested and prosecuted Vick are not the same folks who let Zimmerman walk free? Are they implying that it’s no big deal to torture animals? Are they saying that the Florida authorities should have considered the Vick verdict while deciding whether or not to press charges against Zimmerman? I’m absolutely confused how anyone who puts even a moment of thought into the comparison still finds it to make sense.
How’s this for a comparison? Vick got nearly two years for killing dogs but football player Donte Stallworth got 30 days in jail for killing a person while drunk driving. Did the graphic-making genius ever consider that for a Facebook post? Would the same folks applauding the Zimmerman/Vick graphic be moved by a Vick/Stallworth graphic?
To me, this graphic isn’t about how the U.S. judicial system is messed up. That’s a separate issue. It’s about how those in a mob mentality are quick to believe any point in the name of an otherwise logical and justified cause.