Rhetoric – the undue use of exaggeration or display.
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Dear Friends on the Right,
I do not blame you for what happened in Arizona this past weekend.
I do not blame the likes of Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Michael Graham and their ilk. The shooter obviously was an unbalanced fellow.
I do not blame the use of targets on maps.
I do not blame the use of the word “reload”.
I do not blame the rhetoric that has become the norm in both politics and talk radio today.
No. I do not blame any of those things.
I hear radio hosts and pundits getting defensive.
The truth is, at this point, we don’t even know what the politics of this disturbed individual are. He may in fact be a far, FAR left liberal who feels that Congresswoman Giffords rode too close to the center.
Everybody needs to tone it down, and take it down a notch. Everybody seems to be taking what everyone else says to extremes.
Why is it that someone can’t be held personally responsible for their actions if they are influenced by others?
The left wants to blame what they perceive as the hateful rhetoric of the right, while the right insists that the left wants to free the shooter of all responsibility by blaming the right. Guess what folks, you’re both wrong…and right.
Jihadists aren’t made by Islam. They are influenced by a militant wing of Islam. But guess what! Every jihadist is personally responsible for the destruction and mayhem they cause. Does that free the radical , militant wing of Islam of any responsibility? Heck no!!!
Now don’t think for a second that I am comparing the Far Right to Militant Islam as equals. That would be doing exactly what those on the far right AND far left have been doing for the last oh so many years.
I say this is to illustrate that Words have power; Words have influence. Jared Loughner may not have been influenced by the rhetoric, but someone out there will be. If we are not careful, Democracy could be headed down a path of ultra-partisanship. Being partisan is NOT bad. Democratic political debate is not the enemy. I would never ask the government to censure speech. I would simply like to see people, politicians and pundits on both side of the aisle use some common sense and some civilized restraint. In the spirit of my conservative friends, self-regulate!
Hateful words have a place in our society. Using them rarely gives them gravity, meaning; but if used constantly, they numb those who hear it, and they become the norm. It’s the same lesson I teach my 9 year old. If you cry all the time, you lessen the power of your tears. Use them rarely and people will pay attention when you do.
Conservative talk show host Jay Severin argues that unless one can be arrested for saying something (like yelling “FIRE” in a crowded movie theater) then one can say anything and it is protected by the First Amendment. He’s right, but he misses the point so many on the left are vainly trying to convey. We can be partisan but still work together. We can start talking TO each other as opposed to AT each other. Some political figures figured that out over the last week…sadly, others did not. To say that one is not responsible for what a crazy person does with one’s words is the exact opposite of personal responsibility – YOU are responsible for the words that come out of YOUR mouth, and words have power.
Words have power – if they didn’t, we wouldn’t have literature, poetry, music. We wouldn’t have dialogue – which is exactly what this Great Nation needs to get back to.
Both sides of the aisle have good, productive ideas. Why can’t one be both pro-Choice AND for the death penalty? or the other way around? Why can’t one be for gay-marriage AND tougher immigration laws? or the other way around? We as a people need to come together and find a way to make this Great Nation even better. Part of what makes it great is that we can speak our minds, but that doesn’t mean we speak whatever comes to mind. We don’t need Thought Police, but we do need a return to Thought. Thoughtful dialogue leads to a better understanding of each other, which can only make us stronger.