Letter: Words have consequences
Words matter. At dinner the other night, a good friend and I discussed whether people such as Gov. Palin should be held partly responsible for the actions of a sick individual. The context was the events surrounding the shootings in Tucson and her rifle targets on Congressmen and women.
While there is no evidence connecting these two events, none disconnects them either. I think she meant no harm, but is at some level responsible. My friend argued that one cannot predict what a sick mind will think when you express yourself and your words have no power to force action, therefore no responsibility. I countered that just because we have learned as a society to accept near-truths and innuendo as fact, we are not excused.
If words have no power, then why were the Soviet Union’s propaganda machine or Tokyo Rose’s broadcasts so dangerous? Explain the power and inspiration that documents such as the Bible and Constitution have? Why do spin doctors make millions explaining what their clients really meant?
You may not know who or where or even when your words will have consequences, but you will be no less responsible. When you light a fuse, you may not want or approve of the damage, but it is still yours. The pen is truly mightier than the sword.