Your Opinion: Hate speech speaks volumes about speaker
Sunday, December 25, 2011
The current crescendo of both spoken and printed hate speech has so poisoned our atmosphere it can bring tears to the eyes of a stone statue. It certainly brings tears to mine.
In past letters I have had much to say about the many dreadful consequences of such hatred. To quote myself, I have said, “While hate speech may seem just a harmless way of expressing anger, it is much more than that. It is a form of violence that goes beyond ugly words.
For example, it lies at the foundation of bullying that is harmful to young children and it sometimes motivates lawmakers to pass laws that stifle the freedom of people to express themselves. Hatred is a debilitating contagious disease that leads to physical abuse that often goes beyond painful beatings and torture to murder. At another level, hate can be lethal to the hater. It can eat away at both the body and the brain.” (Letter to the Editor, Oct. 23)
I write this letter to offer another perspective, one that I gave to my grandsons (now adult) when they were children.
Once when I overheard them calling each other ugly names, I first reprimanded them. Then I told them that the words that came out of their mouth did not describe others, it described the kind of person they were. The youngest grandson’s eyes widened as he covered his mouth with his hand. He was appalled to think about what he had just said about himself.
The others were equally shocked, and to this day, in my presence, they will correct themselves when they disparage someone. (I suspect they are less careful when I am not around.)
While I do not claim that I am always successful in editing my speech, this perspective has given me pause. I do not want to be like those who consistently cast aspersions on themselves as they denigrate those with whom they disagree. I am hopeful that with this perspective in mind, all of us will take time to find ways to bring forth the best that is within us, and, thereby, encourage others to do the same. If I turn the spotlight on myself, others may do likewise and love will prevail even if I am slow to learn new ways of thinking.
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