Tuesday, October 23, 2007


A couple of nights ago I was watching the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie to pass the time. At one point Johnny Depp’s character Captain Jack says to Elizabeth “sticks and stones love, sticks and stones” in response to being called a vile evil man. Later I found myself repeating the old children’s saying:

Sticks and stones may break my bones,
But names will never hurt me.

I used it on bullies, I taught it my kids and I’m sure each and every one of you has used it or certainly at least wanted too at some point in your lives.

The same day I watched Pirates I’d read the comments made by democratic representative Pete Stark from California and wondered if the first lady was currently repeating that saying to the President. In case you haven’t seen the quote, which was made shortly after the house failed to garner enough votes to override the Presidents veto of the children’s health care bill. He said the President is spending money "to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough … to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement."

After I read the comment a few times and his later statement saying he supports the troops but raging on about chickenhawks in Washington I began to think about the saying again and realized that it was a fairy tale lie we tell to our children to help them cope with bullies. While I suppose it’s true in the first part, sticks and stone can break your bones, but the second part…names will never hurt me is completely and utterly false. Names and words hurt just as much as broken bones and are certainly more common for most folks.

Whether it’s a strong rebuke from your boss or a nasty comment about your weight by your spouse words impact people far more deeply than we let on and sometimes they go over the line.

Politics is a rough sport only for people with far thicker skin than my own but recently we’ve begun to see a more overt series of attacks coming from the far left that are directed not at policy but at people. The MSM are eating it up, juicy headlines sell papers and this is the stuff of legend.

The two most recent cases that really stand out are the MoveOn.org ad taken out in the New York Times suggesting that the commanding General of US forces in Iraq was betraying his country and the recent comments by a congressman suggesting that the President was somehow personally enjoying the deaths of US servicemen.

While everybody has the constitutionally given right to free speech there must be some level of decency expected if we are to rationally debate an issue as important as a war. To suggest that a General regardless of his position or whether you agree with what he may or may not say at a Congressional hearing is somehow betraying the nation is simply going over the line of civil discourse and removes any possibility for rational discussion following his testimony.

As for Congressman Pete Stark, well I’m willing to put his speech into the hate category. His obvious hate for the President and the efforts of the US military on behalf of their Commander in Chief was clearly laid out in his message. He didn’t criticize the war or attack the administrations reasons for going to war, or even the conduct of the war he only attacked the President. While Rep Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the house and fellow Democrat, did say that the comments went over the line, she didn’t say she disagreed with them, would sanction the member or apologize on behalf of the Democratic Party, no instead she understood his frustration and sympathized with him.

Once again it’s hard to have a rational discussion with folks after they’ve supported such language and this is why Congress is and will remain totally polarized for some time to come and why the poll numbers for both houses of Congress are lower than the Presidents.

While we must continue to fib to our children about not letting names or words thrown by bullies hurt them, we must also look to our politicians and demand better because as adults we know that words do hurt and in many cases much more deeply than we’d like to admit. We also know that when hurt by words we seldom forget who attacked us nor totally forgive the attacker.


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