“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”
I remember chanting that little ditty while jumping rope when I was a child. I remember my mother reminding me of that whenever I ran home crying because one of my playmates had said something hurtful. Although I don’t believe this little chant is completely true – who hasn’t retained wounds from an ill-spoken word – I am concerned that some would try to codify this sentiment.
Before proceeding with this blog, let me say that I am horrified at the events that occurred in Arizona last week and my sympathy and prayers go up for all who were impacted. What I am about to write does not condone the horrendous actions of Jared Lee Loughner nor anyone who attempts to commit murder or any other violent crime.
My concern – and the subject of this blog – is the knee-jerk reaction of people who think they can prevent another horrendous act by controlling people’s thoughts and words.
A friend of mine recently started a new publicity business related to the film industry. She and her partner wanted a name that reflected the idea of placing a new container of film into a camera and decided to name their business Reload. Within days of the Tucson shooting, she was contacted by people who wanted to know whether she was going to change the name of her business. Really?
On ABC News this morning, I read an article about the House Republicans preparing to debate the repeal of the President’s health care bill. One of their concerns has been the fact that they believe the health care bill will ‘kill jobs.’ Now, some people want to change the wording and charge the health care policy as being, ‘job destroying.’
Really? Are we so afraid of words that might offend someone that we are willing to remove them completely from our language? Really?
In the case of my friend, if she changes the name of her business out of concern that someone might be offended with the word reload, should we not also remove other words that might be related to the Tucson shooting?
What about the word shoot; instead of a ‘headshot photo shoot’from now on, will we just say, “I went to a photographer for an hour-long session to take pictures of my head?”
Should we stop calling them bullet points in favor of little round dots used to indicate a special point in a document?
Should we stop calling them shots and refer to them as small doses of medicine given intravenously through a needle?
What about chamber, rounds, scope, focus, aim, or recoil? What about words used to refer to other acts of violence; hang, beat, kick, rob, strangle, drown?
Since the shooting took place at a grocery store, should we remove those words from our language?
Should we outlaw guns to prevent more crimes? Then what about knives and other pointed tools? My husband’s cousin was killed by a drunk driver; should we outlaw cars and trucks?
After Columbine, should we have outlawed black trench coats or – just to be extra sure – outlawed all black coats? Why stop with black coats; let’s outlaw all coats.
I could go on, but some might think it is silly. Which is exactly what this knee-jerk reaction to the Tucson shooting is. One man decided to shoot a congresswoman and then try and kill or harm as many people as possible. He was responsible for his own actions, whatever his crazy reasons. Nothing more. If we allow his deranged actions to influence and control our lives, will he not have achieved at least part of his goal? I don’t know about you, but I for one do not intend to allow this to happen in my life.