Liam Rudden: When did we stop thinking for ourselves

Missing Madeleine McCann
Missing Madeleine McCann
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TRIAL by media leaves me cold. Call me old fashioned but I believe the courts have a job to do and that it’s up to a jury to decide guilt or innocence, based on the evidence before them.

The facts are all important but, as a character in my play Silence In Court says, “one person’s truth can vary greatly from another’s”, which is why considering evidence is so vital, without that, it’s just one person’s word against another, and people have been known to lie for their own benefit.

On social media, so many opinions are based on emotion rather than fact, driven by the experiences of the individual rather than the evidence, or lack of it placed before them.

It drives me mad.

The age of fake news and social media gives individuals a platform to voice baseless opinions, basking in the self-induced false security their blinkered position allows.

What’s worse is that others then believe them. Just look at the way politicians shamelessly lie. State it with enough confidence and people will just accept it as the truth. When did we stop thinking for ourselves?

The Channel 4/HBO two-part documentary Leaving Neverland about Michael Jackson abuse claims is a case in point. For every post supporting his accusers you will find another dismissing their accusations.

I inadvertently got caught up in the visceral nature of the argument on Twitter when, having read an article about one of the accusers on Forbes.Com entitled What You Should Know About the New Michael Jackson Documentary, I tweeted the link observing: ‘...This is an interesting read. Just putting it out there... For the record, the jury is still out on #Michael Jackson in my opinion. Doubt we’ll ever know the full truth, one way or another.’

The intention was to create a debate as there is little doubt in my mind that Jackson lived an unnatural life for an adult - how far that went I will never know. I wasn’t there and all attempts at prosecution failed.

Despite the fact that one of the accusers initially stood by Jackson in court before changing his story complicates matters but the truth is, it’s unlikely we’ll ever know exactly what happened.

Anyway, that tweet did not go down well with some, one evangelistic mother taking great offence and replying with a worryingly eager tweet quoting graphic detail of the abuse accusations. Blocked.

I’ve no doubt Netflix’ new documentary series, which started this week, on the disappearance of Madeleine McCann will polarise opinions in exactly the same way- all eight parts were released yesterday and are available to watch now.

As usual, I’ll watch with an open mind (although again I have my own suspicions) considering any new facts that have been unearthed until I feel confident I can make an informed decision one way or another, always in the knowledge that even then, it’s just my evaluation of evidence others may well see differently.