About Corazon

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Power of Angry Words in our Political Discourse

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. ~Ephesians 4:29-32

"Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man."
~Matthew 15:11

"Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth."
~Proverbs 6:2

"The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked."
~Proverbs 10: 11
Today is a sad day for America. Shortly after 10:00 a.m. local Arizona time, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner entered a local grocery store and opened fire at a crowed that had gathered for a peaceful town hall meeting, featuring Congresswoman Gabrielle Gliffords. Sadly, Loughner (and possibly an assailant) succeeded in killing six people, including Federal Judge John Roll and a nine-year-old girl.

The early accounts from investigators is that Mr. Loughner (and a possible accomplice still at large) suffered from "some severe mental issues" that caused him to be "extremely susceptible to political vitriol." Other accounts stated that Mr. Loughner had a deep hatred for our current government, detested non-English speaking immigrants, and was upset over what he saw as monetary conspiracies (click here to see his youtube video)

Now, I want to make it clear right from the beginning that I am not interested in turning this event into a political rant. We can all rest assured that the political pundits and talk radio shock jocks will do their own bang-up job in the coming weeks. Instead I want to focus on something that one of my blog buddies has already addressed, and I hope he'll forgive my "borrowing" of his material. Over at his blog, Christian Salafia writes the following:
The rise of the TeaParty and their “ballot or bullet” style rhetoric has only made things worse. For example, Sarah Palin, in her “20 to target”, had a map on her website with 20 Congressional districts targeted in crosshairs! One of those districts was Arizona Congressional District 8, Gabrielle Giffords’ district. The website has since been scrubbed.

People who support this sort of rhetoric and support the political candidates who say things such as using “2nd Amendment remedies” to deal with your political opponents or telling people “don’t retreat…reload” or showing up to political events armed or carrying signs that say “we came unarmed….this time” bear some of the responsibility for what happened today. There is not a single doubt in my mind about this.

All the arguments about ‘free speech’ or ‘they didn’t actually tell anyone to do it’ or ‘most people know not to shoot anyone’ arguments are, in my mind, complete and utter garbage. They’re simply rationalizations used to mollify their guilt.
I’ve been saying this for over two years now. Violent words will become violent actions.

That. Is. Fact.
Now, I know that some people will be quick to anger when they see accusations being levied at their political comrades and to a point I agree. This isn't a Democrat/Republican thing. Every ideology has their nut-jobs. With that said, I do blame those irresponsible "shock jock" voices on our televisions and radios for helping to create an atmosphere of animosity that has served to incite the intellectually illiterate in the name of patriotism. When people in a position of power irresponsibly spin their rhetoric by using an aggressive tone they may not be guilty of violence themselves but they are guilty of helping to incubate it. This crazy Jared Loughner character is, no doubt, exclusively responsible for pulling the trigger, however, his motives (and all early indications point to political motives) may have deeper roots. How can we possibly expect the weakest and most polluted minds in our society to NOT act rash when they are pumped full of hateful rhetoric? When we hear pastors and pundits encouraging revolution and hatred under the guise of patriotic sanction, can we not expect to reap what we sow?

Again, I am not saying that one political ideology is better than another. I have no political leaning and no agenda in posting this. I didn't vote in the last election and doubt I will vote in the next. I don't care if Barack Obama is president or Mike Huckabee. To each their own is my creed. In addition, I don't presume to believe that we can all set aside our partisan views and join hands in perfect harmony. No generation of Americans (including the founding generation) could do that. With that said, I do believe that the current political dialogue is out of control. We've come to a point where television networks have become more concerned with ratings than with journalistic integrity. They know that violence, fanaticism, and emotionally-charged political punditry sells...and it sells BIG! Telling audiences what they want to hear v. what is true and right has become the standard, and by painting the "other guy" with wide brush strokes, they have reduced our national political discourse to little more than finger-pointing and shouting matches. Liberals are nothing more than evil, fascist, Marxist, Nazi, communist progressives, while conservatives are ignorant, Bible-thumping, gun-loving fanatics. And for the extremely simple-minded or mentally unstable, this "reality" can evolve into a personal crusade, which can become violent.

Now, am I saying that I can conclusively link the violence of today with the political rhetoric of the radio and television? No, and perhaps this nut-job was simply out of his mind. However, I sincerely doubt that anyone out there, including the fans of these various radio "shock jocks", can justify the need to continue the current trend of political fanaticism and intellectual diarrhea. In the end it makes everyone look shameful.

I am reminded of a talk I recently heard from a leader of my faith regarding the sin of pride and its dangerous impact on the individual and society at large. He states:
Pride is a deadly cancer. It is a gateway sin that leads to a host of other human weaknesses. In fact, it could be said that every other sin is, in essence, a manifestation of pride.This sin has many faces. It leads some to revel in their own perceived self-worth, accomplishments, talents, wealth, or position. They count these blessings as evidence of being “chosen,” “superior,” or “more righteous” than others. This is the sin of “Thank God I am more special than you.” At its core is the desire to be admired or envied. It is the sin of self-glorification.For others, pride turns to envy: they look bitterly at those who have better positions, more talents, or greater possessions than they do. They seek to hurt, diminish, and tear down others in a misguided and unworthy attempt at self-elevation. When those they envy stumble or suffer, they secretly cheer.

Perhaps there is no better laboratory to observe the sin of pride than the world of sports. I have always loved participating in and attending sporting events. But I confess there are times when the lack of civility in sports is embarrassing. How is it that normally kind and compassionate human beings can be so intolerant and filled with hatred toward an opposing team and its fans?I have watched sports fans vilify and demonize their rivals. They look for any flaw and magnify it. They justify their hatred with broad generalizations and apply them to everyone associated with the other team. When ill fortune afflicts their rival, they rejoice. Brethren, unfortunately we see today too often the same kind of attitude and behavior spill over into the public discourse of politics, ethnicity, and religion.
May we all be a little more careful with what we say and how we say it!

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