Words matter

Rhymes with Religion

Boz Tchividjian | Jan 30, 2015

Words matter. They restore. They wound.

Words have opened the eyes of a blind beggar and welcomed a rejected tax collector. They have also sent millions to death camps and taught children to be terrorists. Perhaps Scripture communicates the power of words best when the Apostle James writes, “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.”

In the past weeks, I have witnessed a seemingly new boldness to communicate incredibly wounding and cruel words to victims of abuse. Such words are not confined by ideology, politics, or religious beliefs. Just a few weeks ago, liberal agnostic “comedian” Bill Maher told Jimmy Kimmel, “When I was twelve, I was once brutally beaten on the playground by two bullies. One held me down, and the other just punched me in the face and if I could trade that, if I could go back to 1968 and trade that experience for being gently masturbated by a pop star I would do it in a heartbeat.” What is just as disturbing is the fact that these cruel words were repeatedly interrupted by laughter from Maher, Kimmel, and the studio audience. Words matter.

Last summer, conservative Fox News host Tucker Carlson told his audience that it should not be a crime when an adult female teacher has sexual contact with a minor male. Carlson stated, “It’s ludicrous that we are calling this a rape. Are you serious?” Words matter.

These wounding words have even spilled into the realm of politics. This past week, republican presidential hopeful, Mike Huckabee, released a new book that includes a chapter entitled, “Bend Over and Take it Like a Prisoner.” Regardless of the chapter’s subject, when the words “bend over”, “take it”, and “prisoner” appear in a chapter title, it is obvious that it is a vulgar and demeaning reference to sexual assault. Even if it was not intended as such a reference, the fact this repugnant chapter title has understandably disturbed many who have been sexually assaulted means it’s wounding. Words matter.

We’ve even come to the point where those who have been accused of sexual offenses have become emboldened to joke about it. As a female audience member of was getting up to get a drink at a recent show, Bill Cosby jokingly quipped, “You have to be careful about drinking around me”, which was an unmistakable reference to his alleged sexual assaults of numerous women. Again, these disgusting words were followed by audience laughter. Words matter.

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