Monday, January 10, 2011

Words and Actions: Political not Personal

"Words are a form of action, capable of influencing change." Ingrid Bengis

We all know the old childish taunt "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me." We also know what bravado that is, and how very much words can hurt us. We need only to consider the way words of hate fed the holocaust to realize that words can indeed be fatal.

It is political speech to say "I disagree with the legislation." It is protected free speech to lay out all the ills I might conceive could result from legislation I disagree with. It is not protected free speech to wish bodily harm upon a legislator. That becomes incitement to terrorism and targets the person and not the politics.

Here in the land of free speech, it has been illegal to utter threats against the president since 1917. Congress may soon be considering legislation to extend that protection to members of the House and Senate and Judiciary. It would only make sense in light of the attempted assassination of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the murder of U. S. District Judge John M. Roll, along with five other persons, and thirteen more people wounded at a public meeting last Saturday.

According to Robert Naiman on the Huffington Post, Representative Giffords was concerned that Sarah Palin's "crosshairs" map targeting her district could provoke violent action. Whether there is a cause and effect relationship to Saturday's shooting is not yet known.

Here's a non-violent response: just turn them off. Turn off the television or the radio whenever violent rhetoric is used. When the point is to foment hate for a person or a group, take action for peace and turn a deaf ear.

Words are a form of action, capable of influencing change. Let words of violence wither away from lack of a receptive audience. Foment a word revolution, exercising free speech to spread words of hope and peace.

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