Sunday Question – Do You Believe Words Can Hurt?

Last weekend there was a terrible tragedy that occurred in Tucson, Arizona. What we’re all calling a “mad man” went on kind of a rampage. He walked up to a U.S. congressional representative, shot her in the head, then proceeded to shoot 18 people in all, one of those people being a devoutly religious federal judge, another a 9-year old girl who was born on 9/11/01 and seen as a sign of hope for this country in the long run.

Arneson’s Yin & Yang Eggheads
by Steve Webster

Pretty much hours after this event, after the initial shock, the battle of words began. Many people were blaming one particular side of the political landscape for the type of rhetoric they were putting out, some of which made it sound like people who didn’t agree with them should be killed. The other side came back saying they weren’t to blame for the acts of a mad man and that saying it was their fault was using a tragedy for political purposes.

I have to admit that my mind went to that place after I was notified of what was going on. The last couple of years has had some of the nastiest rhetoric I can ever remember in American politics, and it went beyond that into communities across the United States this summer. Representatives and senators were dealing with something they’ve never had to worry about before, that being their safety from an angry populace that had been stoked by people like… nah, I’m not naming names.

Something else that was new were people showing up with guns and making sure you knew they had them. I mean, there had always been cranks, but never had anyone so openly decided to let someone know that their life was potentially in danger, especially at a presidential event, even though it was all legal. So much for the right to bear arms and being responsible.

I’m someone who actually believes that there’s a great power in words. Remember the old saw “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”? Well, not only is that not true, but calling someone names can get you killed in today’s world. Back in my day it could get you into a fight. I’ve been asked often why I didn’t go into politics. It’s because my skin isn’t thick enough to endure someone lying to me in public; I’d be at their house later that evening demanding a retraction or someone would be getting their behind kicked. Not quite what people want to see in a politician. lol

I answer my own question with “yes”. Although I think everyone is ultimately responsible for their own actions, I do believe that there are people whose minds can be swayed and encouraged to do things they normally wouldn’t have done. Do the names Hitler and Manson mean anything to you? It’s one reason why I, for the most part, temper my words. With an open forum comes responsibility, and though I doubt I’d say anything that would get anyone to take an immediate action, I figure you just never know what you’ll say that might make someone do something stupid.

Those are my thoughts; what are your thoughts on this one?

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27 thoughts on “Sunday Question – Do You Believe Words Can Hurt?”

  1. I think words definitely have consequences, and if we aren’t mindful of the words we use then they can definitely get us into trouble.

    As far as the recent Tucson fiasco, I’m not at all surprised that politicians from both sides are trying to capitalize on it for personal gain. Politicians are like babies 99% of the time.

    Good piece!

    1. Thanks Steven. Yes, words can get us in trouble. Sometimes being a bit too honest will bother some folks, but sometimes that’s just the way it has to be. I always worry about inflammatory speech whenever I hear it because you just never know what nutcase might take it as gospel.

  2. As someone who has faced bullying during his childhood, the answer for me is a definite YES, words can definitely hurt someone, and even more so. It can leave scars and ruin a person’s self esteem for life.

    1. Thanks for sharing that, Henway. Kids have always proven to be the most ruthless, even though they’re incapable, for the most part, of seeing it that way without some guidance. And it can carry over into adulthood. I think of Michael Jackson, whose brothers and sisters and even his father always told him he had a big nose, and how he spent his entire adult life trying to make his nose smaller and smaller. So sad.

  3. The pain caused by words seems to last a lot longer than the sting of a slap (and there s no pain meeds for hurt feelings). So yes, words can very much hurt. I also 100% believe that there are unfortunately many people out there who suffering from mental illnesses and not receiving proper treatment. I don’t think you can hold someone responsible for actions someone like that may or may not do as a result of a speech, but I do think a person’s choice of words could definitely incite someone who is perhaps not thinking clearly to do something like harm themselves or someone else. Maybe the accusations could get us all thinking about choosing our words a little more carefully? It’s truly sad what happened in Tucson.

    1. I’m with you wholeheartedly, Jessica. We can be forceful and get our feelings across without being so direct most of the time. Tucson was really sad and scary at the same time; any of us could have been in a similar situation where some crazy guy with his own agenda starts popping off. I actually think that’s why this is a bigger deal than it might otherwise have been.

  4. HI Mitch,

    Yes, words can and do hurt.

    Example. It was almost 5 years ago and my brother said something to me that really hurt me to the core. To this day, I still can’t believe the words he said to me at the time came out of his mouth. He knew it was wrong, but he has never apologized and I don’t think he ever will.

    So, yes, words can cut and make you bleed.

    Take care,


    1. I’m sorry to hear that, Evelyn. Words definitely can hurt, sometimes subtly, sometimes very direct. It’s one reason why I try to be precise with my words, but no one’s perfect.

  5. I too agree; yes words hurt.

    It is sad, and frightening, to watch the course our society is taking; kids taking guns to school, people who feel compelled and justified in killing sprees and all the open, even encouraged, hate talk.

    What motivates people to do this?

    1. Allan, accessibility, a breakdown of society in some ways, and of course more availability of drugs. Simple to say for someone like me but I really think those are the 3 main keys. It’s easy to get guns because there are so many around. Language has definitely taken a trip to the gutter and in its own way is becoming the norm (can you imagine people using such language in front of your parents when you were young, let alone you doing it?). And drugs are cheap and easy to get and to make as kids have all the information to get to that stuff these days legally.

  6. Words can have a big impact upon us, especially bad words, and sometimes they are very hard to forget. Sometimes even if we don’t have the intention of hurting someone or words can hut, this is why a politician needs to be “politically correct”.

    We tend to be very subjective and some easily hurt, so as i see it a good politician needs to be a good diplomat, especially in these times.

    1. I’m with you all the way, Mia. Every election we see and hear some of the most vile things said about someone else; I really hate that.

  7. I’m with Evelyn….my sister has made some comments (even recently) that have stung…even though I’m in my 40-somethings and she’s early 50’s. She has a way that makes you feel “less than” mainly because of my choice to work at home.

    Not to open a can of worms here, but look at TV these days- our kids are being desensitized to violence.

    And Sex? Nothing all that mysterious to today’s kids…

    I wrote a post on my “mom” blog about some new “gifts” in the popular Carol Wright catalog- was I shocked when I saw them!

    Better hide THIS popular catalog from the kiddies!

    Take a look at shows like “Two and a half men”…it’s on early in the evening. I watched it one day and couldn’t believe the disrespect for elders and sexual stuff.

    It’s crazy out there- lately the only TV we watch as a family are educational shows- cash cab, dirty jobs, shows on history channel, discovery, animal planet- good healthy stuff 🙂

    Sorry this got a bit long winded…just some stuff that’s been irking me lately.

    I STILL need to figure out why my comment love isn’t working!

    My last post: Bits and Pieces of income

    1. You’re good, Carolee; after all, I ask these questions to provoke responses in folks, and you certainly have a good one. And you’re right, shows in the early hours that were supposed to be after 9PM on regular channels are more provocative than in the past, and probably should be monitored better. I think of R-rated shows that were rated that way on pay cable channels for a reason suddenly popping up at 6PM on local cable stations as regular fare. They get good ratings, but is it really responsible? Obviously it’s legal, and I guess that will be that.

    1. Whoa, I hadn’t gotten to those posts yet, and as I read the first one I knew what was coming. Some politician said that here 3 or 4 years ago and the firestorm was great, and he wasn’t reelected either. Glad your second post followed it up with the apology, but you’re correct, you certainly saw the power of words.

  8. All you have to do is turn the question around. Can words soothe, comfort, or heal? Can words make you feel happy or loved? Obviously they can. So how could the opposite not be true?

  9. I know ONE politician I wish would kick a behind or two … but he’s too classy for that, despite how they portray him and I’m won’t name names either. 😉

    Mitch, as you know, I believe every word of the Bible to be true. I believe that all of our words are powerful and creative. Therefore if we speak damaging hurtful words, then
    that will be what we produce or manifest in life. Words are like seeds to me and what we plant is what will grow or sprout. It’s funny but I’ve never been able to retract or “take back” something Ive said I’ve the words were uttered. Do you know anyone who’s been able to do so. I love to speak words of life, I prefer to see people live. Now, don’t misunderstand … I will FIGHT but not with words. 😀 I can apologize after I kick somebody’s behind. (And as long as they don’t have a gun, it’s a great possibility I would win.) 😉

  10. There is a primary reason behind the old quotes, “Think before you speak” or “If you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all”. This is that words are often more hurtful than physical punishment. I am a firm believer of that, Mitch. If we all can only make it a point not to be hurtful with what we say even if we’re mad, then the world would be a better place to live in.

    – Wes –

    1. Thanks for your point of view, Wes. I fully agree, obviously, because you can only beat someone for so long, but you can beat them down with words constantly.

  11. I believe that words have a great power in any case, politics, relationships, ets. One of my teachers used to say “repeat one lie 100 times and it will become true”, remember the time about eastern Soviet blog, the communism parties were very afraid what people are thinking or speaking and wrong word was causing disappearance of people.

    1. Oh yeah, I know what you’re talking about Carl. American politics is filled with that type of thing; it’s why we never seem to get anything done.

  12. words can hurt as words once said can not be taken back and a person always keeps words said in mind. so when we dont meet our expectations for the words said then yes words hurt..

    1. Thanks for your contribution. You’re right, once it’s said it can’t be pulled back; hadn’t even thought of that one.

  13. Generally speaking,Words can impact deeply to us and can hurt us.So we should think carefully before saying something.It’s very important to keep good relationships

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