You may recall this story, you may not. That's not the point. The thing is, there's always more to a story than what you know, and almost certainly always more than is reported in the media. The media sensationalize the titillating bits because we're all a bunch of stupid sheep and we need something shocking to be interested and pay attention. If it's not tantamount to Jerry Springer & Maury Povich, the status quo rarely pay attention. It's a collective stupidity I feel incredible disdain for, but that's the downside of American culture - scores of people conditioned to drink the Kool-Aid and not think about it.
I'm guilty of buying in to news stories as much as anyone else is, and when you take them at face value it is difficult not to have emotional reactions such as I did to the story of the Oliver family. I have a vivid history with encounters of abuse and lots of my own sustained over the years, so I'm wired toward automatically seeing the worst in people in these situations. The story of the kids in this family angered me and had me predetermine that, based on reported evidence and speculation, that they must be guilty of it all. It happens all the time, and most times it's exactly what you read it is if not worse.
Then a really good thing happened, quite by chance. The older brother of the accused found me via a Google search, got my email address, and wrote to me detailing more on the family and the parts of the situation that are not covered in the media and news outlets. He took great time and care to come to understand why I reacted the way I did, and we've since emailed back and forth in an effort to better understand one another's positions and backgrounds. There are a lot more similarities than I would have imagined between Harry and I, and he has educated and enlightened me and I am truly grateful for this. Do I believe 100% of either side? Of course not. I am a skeptic by nature and habit, I rarely believe 100% of anything if anything at all. At best I idle at maybe 85-90%. In this life all we can really do is take what resources we have and try to make good judgements, and hope it is all for the best.
It is no fun having to admit when you've behaved in such a way that you later have to re-examine your actions and be held accountable for them. I reacted based on what I'd read in the news, and if taken at face value I think anyone would have reacted similarly. I won't go into the personal details that Harry has shared with me as they were entrusted with me alone as a means of better understanding what is really going on. He didn't have to bother at all, but the fact that he did gives me pause and forces me to consider that anyone who would go so far as to engage me in conversation over this matter would really be eager to set the record straight, as it were. I take him at his word for my own reasons, the least of which is the accuracy with which he tells his story. I think he is an honorable man who has immediate family members that are being ripped apart and judged unfairly in the public eye, and needed to interact with at least ONE person so that they would know more than what was splashed across the wire services and print/net news.
If this story were written unslanted and no inaccuracies at all were made - if they were exactly what has been portrayed, my feelings would have not changed at all. So I thank you, Harry - thank you for taking the time to tell me the things I didn't know, and for showing me that I was buying in to part of what I hate the most about the society we live in. Thank you for reminding me to think twice.
For the record, I didn't write this for pats on the back, I did it because it was the only honorable thing I could do given what I know now.