Friday, April 12, 2024

The Overgeneralization Defect.

October 15, 2019 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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( Atatiana Jefferson was shot in her home by a policeman in Fort Worth, TX. 

Christopher Whitfield, a black man with a mental illness, was shot by a policeman in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

Isacc Madueno Santibanez, a 17-year-old, was shot by a policeman in Glendale, AZ during an illegal party. 

The conclusion that is a FACT:  Policemen shoot people.  

The conclusion that is an OPINION: All policemen are bad. 

The first statement is a true statement that society has recognized to be true because it happens. A. LOT.  According to the Washington Times, 709 civilians have been killed by U.S. policemen in 2019. 

The opinion statement, however, affects society more than necessary because it is an emotionally charged opinion.  Unfortunately, our society relies on facts but reacts to opinion. Opinions like the aforementioned can cause unnecessary uproar and chaos.  How does that happen? I call it the “Generalization Defect”. 

We are taught to summarize in school in order to understand the most important information. This is not a bad thing.  However, summarization can lead to generalizations because we choose to take the most important or horrendous trait about a group of people.  In most cases, however, it is the most horrendous because it appeals to emotions. Emotions are easier to connect with people. The statement, a policeman killed a citizen, is a fact.  It is not as powerful, however, as this statement:  Black woman inside her home is brutally murdered by Fort Worth policeman.  Details and adjectives can lead to people immediately summarizing everyone who is this type of person, in this case, policemen, into a negative category that they do not deserve. This also leads to stereotypes that are definitely not productive for us either.  Do all black people join gangs? No. Do all white people hate people of color? No. Are all fat people lazy? No. These stereotypes are created and passed around like gossip so much to where people start to believe it is true. 

Officer Jason Le is a police officer with my local police department.  Getting to know him and his past has helped me to understand that not every cop is the same.  While I empathize with those who have lost family members, I can not become this incredibly angry citizen with all officers. Is police killing innocent citizens bad? Absolutely.  However, if we go around being angry with every policeman we see for what a small percentage chose to do, we are not allowing the larger percentage the opportunity to do their job.  We are also not being rational. Rationality is necessary in this day and age of social media and information at our fingertips. Once you deal with your emotions of the horrible act that has happened in whatever situation you are in,  remember that one does not represent everyone. There are still some people in this world that have great intentions, and they need your understanding in order to make a difference in this world. 

Staff Writer; J. W. Bella

May also follow this talented sister online over at; JWB Writes.

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