Un­der­stand the weight of words

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

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

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