Words And Responsibility

“I think many people, millions of people, in this country are upset with the tenor and the attitude of our people. I think America has become very angry and people are upset about that. They don’t feel that our government is working together to solve problems, and the reason they feel that way is because they’re not. And people are very, very angry. There are people in the industry that you’re in who make a pretty good living off of keeping the public very angry. I think that there are a lot of political people that feel that it’s to their advantage to keep people angry at the government.”– Prima County sheriff Clarence Dupnik

Words matter.

Here are comments grabbed from Sarah Palin’s Facebook page yesterday, January 9th regarding the murders Saturday in Arizona–specifically Chris Taylor-Green. H/T to ObamaLondon:

Let me say this:  I believe words are powerfiul.  You can make someone feel wonderful with words.  You can make somjeone feel the sting of pain and rejection.  You can also make someone angry.  Words are living, breathing mechanisms that can alter the emotional state.  That point is indisuputable.

With that said, let’s not play games of pass the buck here.  Sarah Palin and her ilk did not advocate for the death of Representative Gabby Giffords.  But their use of words and imagery–intentional or not–have caused a super-heated climate of anger and mistrust.  Why would she tolerate that kind of talk on her Facebook page?  Why not simply scrub them away, just as she does with comments perceived as negative toward her?

It would be advisable–in my opinion–if the former governor recognizes this point. Real leaders recognize their strengths and weaknesses.  By championing the cause of calm– and recognizing her error in judgement for her use of gun sight imagery and language– she would establish a stronger leadership presence, and I’d wager she’d gain substantial respect.

It starts by being responsible.  It starts by recognizing your role in the degradation of American discourse.

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2 thoughts on “Words And Responsibility”

  1. And when Obama talks about bringing a gun to a knife fight, or warning his supporters that a Republican victory in 2010 will mean hand-to-hand combat, should he too cool down the rhetoric? What about when he tells an Arizona audience to rally and punish their enemies?

    The shooter is a nut. He didn’t just shoot Giffords, he also shot dozens of other people. Had Sarah Palin or Howard Dean been there, he would have shot them too.

  2. I agree with everything you just said. I also think Obama was wrong for that comment. You and I may know what he intended to say, but that can misconstrued in a number of ways. I think both sides need to be mindful of what they say. I think Palin should acknowledge that. I think Nancy Pelosi should, and I think the president should as well. I am much too uncomfortable with some of unnecessary rhetoric.

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