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Hawthorn Hill

January 24, 2013

Think before you speak, tweet


In most cases, some thoughtful editorial oversight would have precluded most from seeing the light of day. I suspect a random sampling of the millions of tweets that litter cyberspace daily would net an impressive catch of equally silly, utterly useless jabber.

My mother used to admonish me if I went overboard in some way by reminding me that moderation still reigned as the most reasonable way to approach things, whether eating or communicating. 

My generation was reminded often that it was best to keep your mouth shut if you had nothing nice to say. We were frequently reminded of the virtue of respectful silence. We were taught the perils of hurling sticks and stones at one another, often reminded that words were harmless. Over time my view of this well-intentioned observation has reversed itself. Language is an immensely powerful tool that is as capable of doing harm as it is of being deeply hurtful. Skin lacerations heal; the effects of lacerating words can scar a psyche indefinitely, if not forever. And all too often advocates of certain perspectives lash out at those who hold counter views as if one size or world view fit all.

Examples of uncivil discourse abound. For instance, it is considered by some to be an unforgivable act of appeasement to look for ways of approaching complex international conflicts without resorting to putting “boots on the ground.” Ironically, all too often the most insistent advocates of this approach have neither worn a pair of military boots nor experienced the horrors of combat firsthand. 

As viewed from some quarters, anyone favoring a system of national health care is either a socialist or even un-American. Several politicians have even gone so far as to suggest scores of members of Congress are communists. 

Newspapers abound with strident, epithet-laced, diatribes against individuals whose crime is differing with the writer’s ideological bent. All too often those with alternative perspectives of issues are described in the nastiest of ways. Ad hominem attacks have become the rule, not the exception.

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Hawthorn Hill
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