Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sticks and stones

I like a good multi-expletive curse as much as the next guy. Big MFing deal. They're only words, right?

Well, the constitutional right to free speech is one of our most important liberties we share in this country. But words can hurt. And they aren't the words you'd necessarily expect. Ask anyone who's been called fat or ugly with complete sincerity.

In the end, most of us can survive a pointed insult. Some unfortunately are not strong enough to endure a string of constant belittling comments. There are enough kids who have committed suicide after being bullied incessantly to convince anyone that words can hurt.

We all have the ability to slip into a dismissing slur, and there are no constraints by political stripe (though some of the right-wing radio hosts seem to have made a career of it). Right or left can be guilty. In the end, the person whose character suffers most by using hate speech is the person doing the spewing.

Call me politically correct (it ain't really an insult, only a description of someone who tries to be sensitive to others' sensitivities), but we all need to do a better job of policing our tongues.

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