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The power of words


Fri, Apr 27th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

Could there be some good to come from the Don Imus foot-in-the-mouth scandal?

In the aftermath of Mr. Imus's unfortunate utterances some are now questioning the public use of terms most would find offensive. These offensive words and phrases are readily found in song lyrics, on broadcast as well as cable television, satellite TV and radio, in the movies, and in many well respected print media. There is the N-word, the F-word, the S-word, the MF-word(s), etc. There are song lyrics that advocate the use of drugs, the killing of police, the sexual demeaning of women.

To date, some have suggested that if you don't like what you hear, turn off the radio or TV, don't buy the magazine, don't buy the CD or DVD, don't go to see a particular movie. Most would agree that if you find something offensive, then don't go where those things can be found. And, most would also agree that one shouldn't keep someone else from going there if they so choose.

The good that may come is an open discussion of what these and other explosive terms mean. One does not have to define the terms or offensive phrases in their literal sense. But, shouldn't there be an examination of the effect these terms and phrases have on us all. Shouldn't we be more cognizant of how these terms will be heard by others, even if our intent was not to demean or to harm. Banning the use of certain terms or phrases from the airwaves, movies, CD's etc is not the answer. The last thing we need is the "word and phrase police".

What we do need is to understand what is meant when these terms are used, in the context of their use at the time they are used.

What we do need is a tolerance, an understanding, and yes, even an appreciation of the "offensive" nature some terms and phrases can carry with them.

Some of these words and phrases have a power unto themselves, a power that they alone can bring to a certain situation. That is the glory of language. The right word at the right time. What we also need is an understanding that used in an inappropriate way the power the words and phrases carry can and will hurt.

Such a discussion can begin with each of us reassessing our own use of language.

Alan Lipowitz lives in Peterson.

Handicapping the Republican presidential candidates

Fri, Apr 27th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

John McCain's stay the course speech about the War in Iraq on April 11 certainly sealed any hopes of his becoming the next president of the United States. For the past several months he has been soldiering on for George Bush and the Republican Party ..... 
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Hospice care provides end of life options

Fri, Apr 20th, 2007
Posted in Commentary



About a month ago Charles Krauthammer wrote an article in Newsweek titled "The Good Death". It called to be read because the magazine printed a picture of Mohammed Atta (the leader of the 9-11 attack) juxtaposed with Sister Theresa. Shortly ..... 
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America's hired guns in Iraq

Fri, Apr 13th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

Mercenary - a person who takes part in an armed conflict and is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain.

As a young student studying the United States War of Independence I remember having a part ..... 
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99 bottles of beer in the ditch

Fri, Apr 6th, 2007
Posted in Commentary



Ahhh...must be spring in the Root River Valley...flood warnings, chocolate brown water cascading over the Lanesboro Dam, and beer cans leaving a trail in the ditch as if I were Gretel following them home. And by the way, on my last count the ..... 
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Who was the real fool on April 1?

Fri, Mar 30th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

Last week as I was checking my emails I came across an article The Old Farmer's Almanac had sent dealing with April Fools' Day. Reading the article, I was instantly transported back nearly 50 years ago when I was a pre-schooler playing on the sidewa ..... 
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In New Orleans, injustice and disaster team up to make recovery difficult

Fri, Mar 23rd, 2007
Posted in Commentary

Editor's note: The author spent a week in February as a volunteer working with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), a non-governmental organization, working with disenfranchised populations in New Orleans.



"A societ ..... 
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Politicians and scientists should try a loveless marriage

Fri, Mar 9th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

The current administration has been, according to observers grounded in science, the most hostile and dismissive administration toward science and scientists ever. The Union of Concerned Scientists has catalogued the egregious episodes of ideologica ..... 
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It's time for Cheney to resign

Fri, Mar 9th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

It is time for Dick Cheney to resign his post and stand down as vice president. He is not fit to serve as the second highest official in the land, a mere heartbeat away from the presidency.

The trial of Cheney's chief of staff Lewis "Scooter ..... 
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