Sunday, January 09, 2011

Language and responsibility

Like probably all of you, I've been sickened by the shootings in Arizona. So much of what I feel about this has been said, and said better, by others - but I really do believe that it's time (well past time, really) to take a long hard look at the way we use language.

I'm not going to go so far as to say that the Tea Party et al. are directly responsible for the Arizona massacre, and it does seem pretty clear that the shooter was fairly thoroughly unhinged. Nonetheless, the messages that the Tea Party et al. have been putting out there have been so violent and so reprehensible that you can't help but think they are, if not the root of the problem, a pretty clear road sign pointing directly to the problem.

As someone I follow on Twitter said: if you defend inflammatory rhetoric with "only a psycho would take it literally," don't be shocked and appalled when a psycho takes it literally. And, I would add, don't walk around feeling like your hands are entirely clean, either.

Language. It's so much more powerful than so many of us, even us writers, give it credit for on a day-to-day basis. And I think it behooves us all - yes, even you; yes, even me - to try to be a little more aware of the language that we use and what is really at the root of it. Even sports. What kind of a worldview does it reinforce when we say something like "oh man, the Jets just slaughtered the Colts"?

Anyway. It's worth some thought.

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Watching this winter storm roll across the country - looking at a live shot of Atlanta's traffic right now, which is just crazy. And in northern Indiana, where my mom lives, they are digging out from three to four FEET of snow.

I think the whole world has just gone bonkers, that's what I think. The politics, the violence, the weather - all of it.

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I had another post in mind for this week, but after watching coverage of the Arizona thing yesterday, none of it seemed important. Next time, perhaps. Meanwhile I am still catching up on blog-reading, a few of you each day - at some point I may declare blog-bankruptcy and just start fresh reading only new posts, but I'm so interested to know what everyone's been up to. That's the problem, though - I'm too interested in too many things - it's just hard for me to walk away and unfollow, unfriend, unsubscribe, hide, skip over! But there's too much interesting content to ever stay caught up on all of it. When you're one of those people who wants to know everything, the Internet is a dangerous, dangerous place. :)

1 comment:

Lyle Daggett said...

"Don't be shocked and appalled when a psycho takes it literally." That's good. I like that.

We live in a society and culture the leaders of which encourage the idea that if you have a problem, the best way to solve it is to go get the biggest gun you can find and walk in shooting. In such a society and culture, it sadly doesn't come as a surprise when, from time to time, someone does go get the biggest gun they can find, and does walk in shooting.


Regarding the internet being a "dangerous, dangerout place" for people who want to know everything, this reminds me of the Mae West line (and one of my favorite quotes by anyone), "Too much of a good thing can be wonderful."