Beware of metaphors that might become weapons

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It is really difficult to write about anything else after the attack on Gabrielle Giffords and the others who were victims of that attack.  I don’t have television, so I don’t know what has been on television, but my radio has been virtually bursting with discussions, reports and analysis of the event.  Many people it seems have found easy sources of blame and simple solutions.  I have not found any source of blame, nor any solution.

However, I would offer three thoughts on the subject; first, the process that produces anyone individual, especially one who deviates so widely from his peer group is very complex and not one that lends itself to simplistic cliche solutions; two, no single event ever changes the behavior of large groups of people over the long term – regardless of the short term changes.  So don’t expect politicians to suddenly de-polarize their rhetoric, they may hug and kiss today, but in time they will return to their base nature; third, be careful of the words you choose – metaphors can be powerful things and just might help to shape deviant minds.  Phrases such as “hit list,” “reload.” and “second amendment solution” have very powerful images attached to them and in the hands of some people might indeed be turned into weapons of destruction.  To repeat, I am not placing any blame on anyone, just saying that misunderstood metaphors in the wrong hands can be weapons.


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January 2011
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