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Your Opinion: Words have meaning, power

Your Opinion: Words have meaning, power

January 15th, 2011 by Tony Smith, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

Tucson Sheriff Dupnik plainly blames sources in our media and culture for fostering a climate of hate. Conservative politicians and media figures have promoted a discourse of ludicrous claims concerning major issues and major public figures. Why deny this?

Ann Coulter has a long string of books with preposterous allegations. She is a keynote speaker at many conservative political events expressing her venom. Guilty, Godless, treason, slander and so forth have long been her invective against the other tribe.

Gordon Liddy talked about "head shots" in an anti-government tirade. He has 160 stations on talk radio.

Sharon Angle talked about "Second Amendment remedies."

Sarah Palin put out a map of conservative opponents with targets on those districts. I never see bumper stickers calling for "hunting permits for ..." for conservatives. Beck and Rush are right there.

Do words have meaning? Isn't that the point of a "literal interpretation" of the Bible? Words have power. Now a mentally unstable person has committed a violent crime. Suddenly words have no meaning. First some were for words before they were against them.

Violence like this has a way of perpetuating itself. I lived through the last such period from 1963 to 1981. During that time three presidents were shot or shot at. One died and another seriously injured. Two presidential candidates were shot. One was killed and the other paralyzed. A moral giant Martin Luther King was assassinated. Then Malcolm X was killed and the killing spread beyond the political class. John Lennon was killed outside his apartment. In 1978 Representative Leo Ryan went to Guyana on an investigation only to be shot and killed. A few days later San Francisco Mayor George Moscone was shot and killed as well as supervisor Harvey Milk.

The shooting ended for awhile with President Reagan. But in 1994 a man killed himself trying to fly a plane into the Clinton White House. A few weeks later a man fired 29 shots at the White House.

The Civil War divided families and states. Today, the overheated right/left culture war can affect family gatherings. Family members distance themselves from each other over issues promoted on TV and radio.

Are the mentally ill driven to act in violent ways by outlandish or violence-tinged discussions? If words have any meaning and normally most people say they do, then the answer is most likely.

And if so, why has media failed us so?