Violence in Everyday Speech.

Via on Jan 9, 2011

Here is a powerful commentary on the Giffords shooting yesterday, in which Keith Olbermann asks figures in the media to drop violent speech, while he also takes responsibility for his own contribution:

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It is interesting, and not surprising, that vitriolic rhetoric in the media has come to such a head. I remember almost a year ago, I was remarking to a friend that everyday lingo had become shockingly violent. My twitter feed was filled with expressions like “Killer,” “Bloody,” and “Murder” (as in: “The birds are so loud this morning. Bird Murder,” or “I’m going to get a Tommy’s, Burger Murder,” etc.)

I think it’s important to remember the power of speech in influencing our culture. And while there’s certainly plenty of angry pundits and politicians out there, the path to “enlightened society” probably begins with the speech of each one of us.

This situation reminds me of the Buddhist notion of “Right Speech” from the Eightfold Path, which instructs us to abstain from lying, divisive speech, abusive speech, and idle chatter. Today, as the karma of “wrong” speech feels eerily palpable, I find it useful to contemplate what this means, and how it could manifest both in our everyday conduct and in the broader spheres of media and culture.

I am also reminded of Jon Stewart’s manifesto during his “Rally to Restore Sanity,” when he called for people in favor of (in essence) “right conduct” to join his team.  In my opinion, he nailed both the solution and the underlying problem when he said:

“We’re looking for the people who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive, and terrible for your throat; who feel that the loudest voices shouldn’t be the only ones that get heard; and who believe that the only time it’s appropriate to draw a Hitler mustache on someone is when that person is actually Hitler. Or Charlie Chaplin in certain roles.”

To see Jon Stewart’s moving closing speech for The Rally to Restore Sanity click here.

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7 Responses to “Violence in Everyday Speech.”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Waylon Lewis, Waylon Lewis, Fredric (aka Rick), Red Fox and others. Red Fox said: Removing Violence from Everyday Speech. http://bit.ly/g42wvH [...]

  2. elephantjournal says:

    Interesting quote via Moveon via the Tucson sherrif:
    As Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, speaking from the heart at an emotional news conference last night, said:

    There's reason to believe that this individual may have a mental issue. And I think people who are unbalanced are especially susceptible to vitriol… When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous.6

    Please take a moment to add your voice to this call to end the rhetoric of violence and hate, and then share it with all your friends. Click here to sign:
    http://pol.moveon.org/debatenothate?id=25761-1757

  3. Juliana says:

    #
    Heidi Mosbeck Keller Awesome!
    3 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·
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    Dawn Wilson It's about time. People need to look at the consequences of their behavior, whether it be words or actions.
    2 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·
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    Tom Frascone
    oh god. why are they turning this into a partisan issue? the kid was fucking nuts and killed to kill.

    lets be real here. at least 50 people are murdered every day, in the us alone. "violent speech" by media and politicians is responsible? ha…. yeah right. there are far too many factors to point fingers at any one possible cause, such as people on TV using "violent words". what about drugs, greed, insanity, lust, anger, jealousy, retribution, etc. – you know, all those things that are responsible for the majority of violent crimes…

    i'm sick of olberman's self-righteous rantings. fucking megalomaniac. lolSee More
    2 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·
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    Alpine Lily Tom people are refferring mostly to the fact that Palin had actually previously created a website showing a crosshairs target on a picture of Gifford after she voted to support healthcare reform as well as other politicians she disagreed with!
    2 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·
    #
    Gill Storm They might remove it from speech but removing it from the mind is a little more difficult
    about an hour ago · LikeUnlike ·
    #
    Juliana
    Tom, I don't think this is a partisan issue, and Olbermann's point isn't just about murderers; it's about our entire political and cultural climate–which has become undeniably violent, even without this specific incident, and particularly …in Arizona. I happen to think speech in media *does* influence culture, regardless of whether this particular shooting spree was a direct cause of violent speech in media. Even if you dislike Olbermann (and he's highly unlikeable), I think it's interesting that he's taking responsibility for his own contribution to what's become a violent culture, and I think he does have a good point: speech is powerful, and we should use it more carefully and take responsibility as individuals for whatever we contribute to our culture.See More
    40 minutes ago · LikeUnlike · 1 person

  4. Linda Lewis Linda says:

    Check out Shambhala Edict on Wholesome Conduct, which is divided into 3 guidelines relating to Body, speech, and mind.
    Cheers,
    Linda

  5. Joe Mohr says:

    In need of an empathy revolution!

  6. [...] this event—while utterly reprehensible—seems to be fairly typical, and begs the question of whether our rhetoric really matters. Is all the finger pointing simply political opportunism? Media [...]

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