Thursday, January 13, 2011

Word of the Day: Words Matter

"Words matter." You bet your sweet bippy they do. Hell, any poet, any serious writer, can tell you that. They matter a great deal. They can lift or lower, enrage, frighten, raise to the heights, bring one to tears, take you away to worlds that don't exist. "Words matter." We've been hearing this a lot lately. The news and blogosphere and TV are all still full of chatter about the horrific shootings in Tucson last Saturday. Among other things, the pundits, scribblers, and talking heads are considering the question of the quality and tone, especially the latter, of political discourse in this country. What we need they say, is more civility. To tell you the truth, I'm getting sick of hearing the word civility. We don't need more civility, although more of it would be nice; civility is nothing more than good manners. Good manners aren't going to get to the heart of the problem in this country. The heart of it is hate. And it ain't going away, I greatly fear. Sometimes I think we hate our domestic "enemies" more than we do all our invented foreign enemies.

Here is an article my son Stu sent me some days ago that I just got around to reading. This writer, William Rivers Pitt, says better exactly what I would say. And he minces no words. Here's the way his piece begins:

To:       Palin-lovers, Fox "News," the "mainstream" media, and the Far Right, et al. 
From: William Rivers Pitt
Date:   Monday 10 January 2011
Re:       The blood on your hands
Here's a key paragraph:

You false patriots who bring assault rifles to political rallies, you hack politicians and media personalities who lied through your stinking teeth about "death panels" and "Obama is coming for your guns" and "He isn't a citizen" and "He's a secret Muslim" and "Sharia Law is coming to America," you who spread this bastard gospel and you who swallowed it whole, I am talking to you, because this was your doing just as surely as it was the doing of the deranged damned soul who pulled the trigger.  The poison you injected into our culture is deeply culpable for this carnage.

There it is. The share of blame, the huge share, that the hate-mongers in this country have earned for this tragedy. I could not agree more with Pitt's assessment of this situation. Plus he points out something that may have escaped you. And that is the complicity of the mainstream news media in this horror. Have you noticed how swiftly the "truth" about the killer got out there, i.e., he is a deranged loner? Certainly not the inevitable spawn of the hate-churners on Fox and right-rant radio. Naw.

Think about it. How many times have you heard or read the commentators explicitly make the point that blaming the right-wing crazies of the media and their incessant hate speech, their never-ending stream of lies and distortions, their vicious character assassination of anyone on the left . . . how many times have these media mavens intoned the mantra that our poisoned, hate-twisted political speech had nothing to do with these killings? That it was the work of crazy man.

Well, yeah . . . but the lunatics are listening, Fox News, Beck, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Coulter, and the rest of you despicable, opportunistic liars. And like Pitt, "I'm talking to you, "mainstream" media people, who created this atmosphere of desperate rage and total paranoia out of whole cloth because of your unstoppable adoration for spectacle, and ratings, and because the companies that own your sorry asses agree with the deranged cretins you helped make so famous and powerful." 

And those deranged cretins spew their hate bile into millions of minds. Every day. All day. It is a relentless stream. And this has nothing to do with atrocities like Tucson? Are you serious? Those of us who realize what's really happening have a good reason to be fearful. First of all, I think we're seriously outnumbered. For the pathetic yet dangerous population of dupes just seems to grow exponentially. And you better believe that this armed-to-the teeth bunch is getting more frustrated and angry by the hour. Do you think these post-Tucson bromides are going to cool them down? Do you think all the talk about "civility" is going shut Limbaugh, Savage, and Hannity up? How long before we have another Jared Lee Loughner with a Glock stride into an office building or crowd or church or school and blow people away right and left just for the sheer hell of it? For as sure as God made little green apples (as my Mom used to say), this is going to happen again. Count on it.
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