The Power of Words

Words are my currency. Some use paint, some use music, some use dance, some use humour. I use words. I think that words are powerful. Call me crazy, but I really do think that, over time, the pen is mightier than the sword. I think we should be careful about the words we use. Words are ideas. Ideas are actions. Actions are powerful.

I'll try to put it another way. My Nana had this line. "Is it nice, is it true, and last but not least, does it need to be said?".

Usually, when someone believes in the power of words, they believe in absolute freedom of speech. I don't. I don't believe in freedom to denigrate someone because of their race, their political beliefs, their sexual orientation or their gender. I don't believe that you should have a right to spew hatred and bile. It may be true, but it isn't nice, and like Nana said, it doesn't need to be said.

I believe in the absolute power of the audience.

We get so confused about freedom of speech. We get so confused about who has the right to say what, and when and where, and if we should protect it, and if we should help others speak. We get confused that just because we can say something, we should.

Now, I'm not talking about voicing feelings and needs and desires. I'm not talking about saying "I'm hurt, I'm sad, I'm angry. I need to be heard."

No, I'm talking about expressing ideas. We get confused and think that all ideas have equal weight, all ideas have absolute merit. We don't understand ideas, and good ideas, and how to tell them apart. We confuse hearing others out with giving credence to their ideas. We think that if you can write it down, it deserves to be read, if you can string it together, it deserves to be heard. And not only that, but irregardless of the quality of the idea, we hold it up and say "freedom of speech".

We never talk about the power of the audience. No one says that some things don't need to be said.

Mel, over at Stirrup Queens posted this article. I read it. With horror. Disgust. Astonishment.

The power of the audience is this. To stand up and call this what it is: disgusting crap. The author has poured a collection of venomous and mean thoughts into 5 paragraphs, and run up the flag of 'personal beliefs'. Anyone can do it. It doesn't take talent as a writer to write snipe, it really doesn't even take much thought. There are logical issues wide enough to drive a truck through in this article: it's not well written; it's not well thought out; and it's sure as heck not a constructive contribution to the abortion debate.

But the power of the audience. The power of the audience is to vote. With your feet, by leaving a comment that this sort of "article" is not nice, true, and it doesn't need to be said. You can vote with your eyes by no longer reading this site. The power of the audience is to stand up.

Stand up and say that it is wrong to be hateful. It is wrong to deny the grief of another, and it's always wrong to tell an adult how they should feel. The author may be a lovely person, but her ideas, they are putrid and foul.