Sticks and Stones …
January 10th, 2011 by Sonja

Remember that childhood nursery rhyme?  We used it to ward off name-calling and taunts; as an umbrella of protection when words rained down pain upon our little heads:

Sticks and stones may break my bones
But words will never hurt me.

Then we all grew up and we learned how much power there is in words.  We learned that words, when they are repeated over and over again, can become a person’s reality and perception.  We understand now that name-calling and taunts create a poisonous environment for children and workers.  We even have a name for this … we call it bullying and it has garnered a negative reputation nationwide.  Behaviour that makes some people uncomfortable by putting them down, threatening them with harm, making pejorative statements about their ethnicity, gender or any other physical characteristic OR their belief system is generally considered off limits.  This is considered negative behaviour and in many cases is shunned or disallowed.  Why?  Because “nice” people don’t do that, sweetie.  People who are educated, with manners; people who want to be known by their self-control (as ladies or as gentlemen) don’t do those kinds of things to others.

Yet there is one large crevice where we still allow this sort of bad behaviour.  Nay … there are some portions of our culture who even encourage it.  That would be our political culture.  Our political culture (and one party in particular) takes pleasure in name calling, insults based on race, gender and physical characteristics and creating a poisonous environment for others.

What happened in Tucson was tragic.  But it was only a matter of time.  And frankly, I am surprised it did not happen sooner than this.  I expected this sort of thing to happen on the campaign trail last October.  Yes, that young man is mentally deranged and that is very sad.  But mentally deranged people listen to rhetoric just like the rest of us.  The only difference is … many people with these mental health issues cannot separate rhetoric from reality.

That is why putting out websites with crosshairs on Democrats and encouraging your followers to carry weapons to rallies (even though they may -or may not- be unloaded) is dangerous.  While people have every right to do those things, those are not necessarily the most responsible or the most gracious things to do. Encouraging your followers to stop and accost motorists with bumper stickers of your opposition on their car with antagonistic, insulting, and pejorative questions is not responsible leadership.  It makes for great drama and excellent ratings, but it creates an atmosphere of poison and hate.  This is the sort of atmosphere which will bring the mentally challenged people out with their guns (in this case a Glock 9mm … because I’m certain that’s an excellent hunting weapon) to hunt people.

And in this poisonous atmosphere that we have created, please don’t anyone act surprised.  Because now we have lowered ourselves to the level of many developing nations where they shoot politicians when they don’t like them.

These words were spoken by Clinton in 2010 as he reflected on the Oklahoma City bombing:
“The words we use really do matter. There’s this vast echo chamber, and they go across space and they fall on the serious and the delirious alike.”
h/t Liz Dyer

3 Responses  
  • Rick writes:
    January 11th, 20116:24 amat

    The assumption is that you are as bothered, as outraged, when Democrats use targets and bullseyes in their ads

  • Shifty1 writes:
    January 15th, 201112:31 pmat

    Your argument would hold some water IF (and this is a BIG if) the Idiot Killer had been listening to conservative punditry, reading conservative web content, or even watching the news on a regular basis. The FACT is that, from the accounts of those closest to him, he was a left-leaning pot-head who NEVER watched TV, listened to talk radio or participated in the political process whatsoever.

    The reality is he was a sad, pathetic, sexually frustrated failure at life, who developed a fixation with Congresswoman Giffords. Instead of being “influenced” by the political rhetoric, there is every indication that he was deaf to it…he had his own beef with the Congresswoman.

    And I’d be interested to know your thoughts on Rick’s question, as well as whether you are disgusted with the language employed regularly by the President toward HIS political rivals?

  • Shifty1 writes:
    January 15th, 201112:32 pmat

    Oh and a Glock isn’t that great for hunting…but for personal protection it will do nicely!

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