Our words matter. They’re worth something. Maybe even someone’s life.
I know this is a topic I’ve written about before. But circumstances like Sunday’s country music concert shooting in Las Vegas keep bringing it back up again.
So let’s repeat what should be obvious.
Your words matter. So do mine. And it’s high time we start admitting as much.
Yesterday morning, I happened upon an article by Yahoo News, a publication I typically try to avoid since it’s so one-sided or Kim Kardashian-focused in its reporting. But this particular headline caught my attention in a way that was hard to ignore:
In other words, it struck conservatives or people who hold more conservative values.
That connection had already crossed my mind, though I wasn’t going to say anything about it unless some actual proof came up. At this time, there’s no reported rational for why this horrific mass shooting happened. And since it’s not like there’s been a string of country music concert massacres we can also analyze, it’s difficult or even impossible to leap to report-worthy conclusions at this time.
That’s not the honest angle Yahoo writer Shaun Tandon takes though, nor Yahoo in general, which is notorious for pulling political stunts like this.
Tandon starts out his article this way: “In attacking a country music concert, the assailant in Las Vegas has targeted one of the more conservative segments of U.S. culture, in which guns have more often been a topic of celebration.” Then he peppers the rest of the piece with lines like:
“Once rooted in former Confederate states, country music has grown rapidly across the United States in the past decade.”
In “former Confederate states”? Really? The Civil War ended 152 years ago! How is this catty little reference relevant? Why not just say “Southern states”?
“– Whiter, older demographic –”
I don’t know if those three words were supposed to be a subhead, but they were on their own line/paragraph regardless, exactly as quoted.
“Since Trump’s shock election victory, country stars have been among the few in the entertainment industry to offer the occasional kind word for the populist real estate mogul – although many artists, including Aldean, have preferred to avoid direct political commentary.”
What exactly is Tandon/Yahoo trying to say? That if these people hadn’t supported Trump, they wouldn’t have been shot? Judging by the next quote, that doesn’t seem far off the mark…
“One frequent topic of country songs is guns – beloved in much of rural America where opposition runs deep to any bid to regulate arms.”
Way to divide the nation further, Shaun Tandon and Yahoo News. Way to divide us further.
Maybe Tandon and I are correct in wondering whether this was a politically motivated attack. Maybe we’re wrong. But to even so much as hint at victim blaming as this article does is disgusting.
There are people dead right now. Dead, and dying and suffering. And we want to keep playing partisan politics?
I’m not saying we can’t have conversations. Clearly, we need to. But perhaps we should start a conversation about how words matter… words like those published that poke fun of or condescend to or downright attack one group without waiting around for the facts.
Words like those that jump to conclusions, then treat those conclusions as if they were reached in a respectable, scientific way.
Words like those that excuse or encourage violence even after violence has already broken out, as with the definitely politically motivated attack against Congressional Republican softball players only a few months ago. Or the Charlottesville car attack.
We need words that promote genuine conversations instead, where both sides get to speak – and have to listen – before they go on believing what they believe.
Democrats. Republicans. Liberals. Conservatives. Words matter. Both before and after someone loses a life.