Understand the weight of words
Words have power. George Orwell’s “1984” could be viewed as an extended explanation of that fact. Baby killer, rapist, alcoholic all have an impact very different from choice, consent, social drinker. We end up viewing events through prisms already established. The phrase “confirmatory bias” is now in vogue that captures that fact.
Most of us know that such views result in the splintering or “tribalism” that is so problematic now. It leads to some thinking that the special counsel is clearly the result of political objectives and not an investigation to determine the magnitude of foreign interference with our elections. There isn’t a reasonable doubt but that the Russian government attempted to assist Donald Trump’s candidacy. The questions that must be resolved include whether such actions were taken as a coordinated effort with the Trump campaign. More importantly, we need to know the extent and type of actions taken by all foreign governments to affect our electoral process (Russia and China have been specifically identified so far) in order to defend against such interference. But, none of that will happen if people think that the sole goal of the special counsel’s office is to change the results of the 2016 presidential election. While I think that is simply not what is that office’s goal and, more importantly, there is no basis for doing so, but the real damage to our nation is the divisiveness that exists over this issue.
There are real and bona fide public issues. Successful resolution requires that we not use language that merely inflames our discourse. Complaining about the descent of public discourse while calling some mobsters, rapists or baby killers is simply using language that is inapplicable to what is being described. Mobsters are engaged in illegal activity. The Tea Party and the Antifa both use civil disruption to make political points, neither are mobsters. Babies are different from fetuses and while I am not in favor of abortion, I can’t find my way out of that emotional, moral thicket without allowing for choice of the mother. Rape is an indefensible activity but what Justice Kavanaugh is alleged to have done is sexual assault.
Words have power. It would be better if we avoided hyperbole if not actual intentional exaggeration in order to inflame when we engage in public discourse. Bill Wetmore, Waldorf