Magnifying Glass over Dictionary

We’re in a bout of unusual Press introspection again, because someone High Up mis-spoke, and touched off another war of words. 

There is a long tradition of religious and moral reflection on the words we choose to speak. According to the Hebrew scriptures, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Jesus of Nazareth argued, “It is not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”

Some things just need to be said, and that pull-quote is the perfect summary of this WaPo opinion piece that speaks volumes about the war of ideas behind the war of words, with the ultimate casualties being humans and human dignity.

There is not an exact correlation between vileness of speech and vileness of character, but there is a rough correlation. Words such as the r-word and the n-word often reveal aggression, contempt and hatred. They are a form of verbal violence. In these cases, what [Professor Christopher] Fairman calls “self-censorship” is really kindness and moral judgment. And what he regards as free expression is just rude, abusive and cruel.

And it is not less so when disguised as comedy.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....