I've had a few moments of late in which I've really been taken aback at what people are prepared to sign in protest or support of when they haven't really learned the underlying facts. It's so easy in the age of internet petitions to sign things you don't believe, haven't researched. I am certainly guilty of doing so. But a couple of things have given me pause in the last couple of months, and I hope from now on I will be less likely to do so.
First, I read the wonderful Rapture Ready. It really is worth your money and time. There is an awful part where the author confronts some kids handing out pamphlets that call children who were conceived by assisted fertility "abominations," or words to that effect. The author and his wife were unable to conceive without artificial assistance. His devastation as he reads it soon turns to absolute fury when he realises that the teenager handing him the pamphlet has truly no idea what it means or the implications of what he's saying. It was a lesson in really thinking through what one is standing for - the kid had no idea, and attempted to dodge the issue. Either you believe it, or you don't, but don't be ignorant and say that you believe it when you have no idea what you are, in fact, saying what it is you believe.
Second, the Polanski petition. As I have blogged previously, I am enraged by those who signed it: either they really do not think he did anything wrong, which is horrendous in and of itself, or they have no idea to what they put their names but blindly did so in ignorance of the facts. But that is why Emma Thompson has rebuilt some of her esteem in my eyes - of course, I'm sure that was pressing on her mind. Ahem. Anyway, a young woman had an opportunity to meet with Emma Thompson recently, and questioned her on her support of Polanski and wondered why she justified signing the petition. It seems to have had an effect, as Thompson is apparently going to retract her signature. I am impressed with Thompson's willingness to be open-minded and admit she was wrong. That is impressive. But it just emphasizes how celebrities have lent their names to something about which they know nothing - see Janeane Garofalo for another example.
So, the plan is to be a bit more informed. Because these things have shown me that you really should stand up for what you believe, but only if you actually know what those things are, or the impact of your signature on that piece of paper. Which, I suppose, is what a good lawyer ought to advise and practice.