“You have the right to remain silent, as anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law...” the officer told my friend Tony. And all of a sudden, it was less about what actually happened and all about what was said. It became her WORDS against his.
When Tony narrated his story on Saturday, after spending several hours in custody, one thing stood out; the importance of what was or wasn’t said and how this could make a difference between being found guilty or acquitted.
So here is the gist.
Tony’s ex-girlfriend had gone to visit him for assistance with designing t-shirts. Following this, Tony had some errands to run and asked his ex-girlfriend to kindly leave. Once back, Tony found her semi-nude in his bed. And so it kicked off. She was very reluctant to leave and so Tony took it upon himself to dial 999. He did this hoping the arrival of the police would prevent any temptation of physical encounter from either side.
The police arrived. However, all she had to do was cry and tell the police: “he laid his hands on me”. These words automatically dressed Tony up as an assault suspect. As he narrated the story, the penny dropped. These officers didn’t know anything about my friend except the words they just heard. Then they read his Miranda rights to him: “You have the right to remain silent, as anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law...” To an extent, Tony’s life now depended on his choice of words. After a series of statements and his first ever night in custody, he was released.
As I reflected on Tony’s experience, I realised that the way most people view us has nothing to do with who we are or what we did, but what they have heard about us. How often do you meet someone and say “he is nothing like I thought he would be”; because you had ‘judged’ him based on someone else’s words. It’s like a reference for a job or the words of a guarantor, we are often judged based on words.
While you have the right to remain silent, what others think about you doesn’t actually matter. However, what they say about you, could in itself influence other peoples opinion of you. So it is your responsibility to confirm or annul negative words spoken about you byyourwords.