This late-February news item, which is ancient now in pandemic time, struck me as emblematic of a longer-running rhetorical contagion infecting mass communication: the incitement by vested or corrupt interests to a leap of ignorance rather than to informed prudence.
Belgian prosecutors have issued an alert over a woman who died after taking a sip of wine from a bottle suspected of being used to transport the drug MDMA… The original bottle has a black cork with the Black & Bianco logo,” the prosector said. “The bottle found had a different cork…” The owner of the company told the Dutch broadcaster Omroep Brabant there was no reason to think more bottles had been manipulated. [my bolding]
(Daniel Boffey, “Belgian woman dies after taking sip of MDMA-laced wine,” theguardian.com, 2-27-20)
Where death, literally, can be the wage of supposition, what responsible merchant urges potential consumers of his product to suppose that, out of hundreds or thousands of similar bottles, only one was manipulated?
It’s a trick question, of course. No such merchant is responsible.
(c) 2020 JMN