Notice the guy on the right, looking through his binocs with the lens caps still on. Pretty stupid right? But how many of us have ever picked up a pair of binoculars, looked through them, and saw only darkness? I’d say pretty darn close to everybody. But still, this picture makes the poor sap on the right look mighty foolish. Why? Because the photo is appreciated by those who see it, out of context.
The context, in this case, is what happened before AND after this picture was taken. Just as I bet we all put those binocs down and sheepishly slipped the caps off, hoping no one noticed, I’m certain this guy did the same. Only we don’t see it from this one picture.
Not to put too fine a point on it, this is exactly what people tend to do to the COMELEC. They see each event they holler about in isolation – by itself, devoid of any context. This invariably leads to the conclusion that something fishy is going on. In 2004, a losing presidential candidate released a video of a poll worker taking some papers from a voter and putting it in a little box on the floor beside him, out of sight it seemed. This video was trumpeted as proof positive of cheating.
Later on, the COMELEC explained that what the poll worker did was exactly according to procedure, and the accusations died down without a further peep. Of course, very little media attention was given to the explanation; and certainly no media outfit ever called the losing presidential candidate to task (as they should have, except maybe no one wanted the guy to lose face) for jumping to conclusions the way he did. But what happened then, is exactly what’s happening to the guy with the blinders.
An event was taken in isolation – out of context – and all sorts of wrong conclusions were derived from it. This is exactly the kind of thing I’m trying to prevent from happening this time around, by explaining COMELEC processes as clearly and as transparently as possible, demystifying the whole thing so that there is no room for misinterpretations and bad suppositions.
But, naturally, I can only do so much explaining. At some point, it would be nice if the public were to ‘go 10,’ to paraphrase Hitch. The COMELEC comes 90% of the way in explaining everything, and the public volunteers the last 10% by way of listening to the explanation and keeping an open mind.
At least that’s what I’m hoping for.