Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Everybody Knows?

Jim Carey's opinions about what any woman, and hence Elin Woods, knows about her husband's infidelity are pure bumkum, put forward for whatever reason Carey felt his opinions should be heard. And everyone, from his fellow Twitterers, to media commentators, to ordinary people in the street, has lined up to agree or disagree with him.

We all think we know about people generally - what they think in certain situations, how they feel, how they should act. After all, it's just "normal." And if we know in general, then we know for Elin Woods. End of discussion. Any deviation from the norm signals something amiss. Or so we believe.

The truth is that we really don't know what we think we know about how others live, think, react, feel.

The most dramatic instance demonstrating exactly that we don't know is the 1980 case of the death of nine-week-old baby Azaria Chamberlain in Austrailia. She was the infant who was probably stolen and killed by dingoes.

Azaria's mother, Lindy, always claimed that the baby was stolen by dingoes; but she was convicted in 1982 of murder and sentenced to life in prison with hard labour, in spite of evidence to the contrary.

In 1988, after the accidental discovery of a missing piece of Azaria's clothing, some ways away in an area of dingo lairs, the mother was exonerated of all charges.

The discovery of the clothing, a problem with some forensic evidence, and bias and invalid assumptions on the part of the jury, the public, and the media led to the court's decision to exonerate Chamberlain.

Lindy Chamberlain did not act as grieving mothers should act. She was not the stereotype of the mother whose child has just been stolen and killed. She was too cold and unemotional. The conclusion: She was the baby's killer.

Lindy Chamberlain reacted in a way that was different from what EVERYBODY KNOWS is normal. In her case, what people thought they knew led to her being imprisoned for six years. What else she suffered, only she could say.

For Elin Woods, what everybody knows will not lead to a legal sentence of life in prison, but cannot possibly have any positive effect on her or her situation. We don't know what she knew at any point.

The argument that everybody knows what wives with unfaithful husbands know is wrong. Any argument about what everybody knows about what people know, think, feel is suspect and damaging, possibly even dangerous.

It is a demonstrable fact that controversy often generates publicity. But what Jim Carey thinks he is doing by commenting in this way, or at all about Elin Woods, is something only he knows.


cooper said...

Really, what is up with Carey anyway? I think his career muct not be weat he wants it...

I have no idea why people think they know things they don't know, and even if they did know it wouldn't matter, because what they know has nothing to do with them.

I love Cohen, the Concrete Blond version of his poem is great too.

ChrisJ said...


Thanks for the tip about Concrete Blond. I saw the video listed when I was looking on YouTube, so will go back and listen.

Ciss B said...

There is an old saying that I invoke whenever people make judgments of people they really don't know - "Before you abuse, criticize or accuse - walk a mile in my shoes."

It's apparent that Mr. Carey just wanted to get a bit of publicity with the comment which is more than a bit cruel because he used someones misfortunes to make him look good. Sad.

ChrisJ said...


It is sad that he would do this. Surely he doesn't need the publicity, but I can't think why else.

Salma said...

I don't even know what to say, I am quite shocked. I have seen a lot of opinions on Elin where I just want to kick or hit the person really hard.

Funny, Sandra Bullock didn't have an opinion on Elin per se, but she had an opinion on what she would have done to Tiger..Hmmm.

ChrisJ said...


Maybe Sandra will follow her own advice...hmmm.

lifeshighway said...

ChrisJ, I don't have any more to say about a topic your covered so well. But think you on the followup on the Lindy Chamberlain story. I had not heard she had been released.

No one can know what another feels or how they would react under pressure. Our self-defense mechanisms are too varied.

ChrisJ said...


It's excellent that she was released, but how awful that six years must have been.

Hels said...

I was outraged when Tom Cruise blasted Brooke Shields' use of
psychiatric therapy and anti-depressant drugs. She was dealing with terrible post-partum depression following the birth of her first child.

I don't give a toss whether he would use psychiatric intervention for himself. That is for him to decide. But how did he know how Shields was feeling???

ChrisJ said...

Yes, I was outraged as well, and not only could he not know what she was feeling, he knows nothing about psychology.

Owen Gray said...

The old rule about how people who live in class houses should behave still applies.

We have a right to our opinions about our public officials. But we can't say for sure what their motivations are. We can only guess.

And, when we enter someone's personal space, we should keep our guesses to ourselves -- unless our take is asked for by those involved.

And, even then, we are treading on eggshells.

ChrisJ said...


Eggshells indeed - we don't know what we don't know!

KAK said...

I do believe Leonard Cohen to be the most relevant singer, song writter, and poet of our time. He is finally being recognized, a class act and a very fine mind. I always loved his back up singers, Rebecca Dimornaie and Pearl Bilatelia.

I never Waltzed but everytime I hear "Dance Me To The End Of Love", I am waltzing in my mind.

ChrisJ said...


I've loved him for decades and teach his poetry to my Can Lit classes.