Your Opinion: Select our words more carefully
Friday, January 14, 2011
Anyone reading my previous letters recognizes my repeated concerns about anger and fear as determinative elements in political discourse. On Jan. 8, the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., the wounding of 13 others, the killing of six including a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge should give us pause.
That the perpetrator believed that the government is engaged in a conspiracy to deprive us of our liberties is clear. That he was psychologically damaged in his thinking is also clear. That the anger and rage produced by a chorus that supports the assassin’s notions is not directly causative is equally clear.
However, to deny that this message system that thrives on labels such as socialist, communist, fascist and godless conspiracy and on keeping us in a constant state of fear is equally disingenuous. Their usage is relevant.
There are over 300,000,000 Americans. Spewing this language without concern for the damaged personalities that might be listening is to abdicate our civic responsibility to the common good.
Words have consequences. The venom may be self-satisfying; but it is equally counter-productive to any practical solution. And isn’t that the point, really?
Sarah Palin places cross hairs on a map targeting 20 Democratic candidates in the 2010 election cycle, expecting us to believe they are surveyor’s symbols. Newly elected Congressman Allen West, R-Fla., seeks to place on his staff a local DJ, Joyce Kaufman, whose claim to fame is language at a rally proclaiming, “If ballots don’t work, bullets will!” Sharron Angle infamously warned that if the election in Nevada against Harry Reid and the Democrats doesn’t produce desired results, Second Amendment remedies might be appropriate.
These remarks are quite bluntly assaults upon the very fabric of our constitutional form of government.
Though the troubled individual was reportedly not a cable news junkie, how much Fox, Limbaugh and Beck does one need to hear to get the message? How frequently does a troubled mind need to hear this hate and fear to conclude, “Big, bad government is coming to get us all”?
Though somewhat surprised — but not really — Fox, Limbaugh and Beck have denied any connection of Palin’s remarks to the mayhem in Arizona. Limbaugh, in a classic non sequitur, alleges liberals were hoping for this. Patently absurd!
We would do well to select our words more cautiously. The right does not destroy the responsibility and abuse of the right destroys its credibility.