Grandma Diffendorfer was prone to pithy sayings worthy of Ben Franklin of “A stitch in time saves nine” fame.
One I heard on several occasions as a boy when my language strayed into unacceptable areas was, “With all the beautiful words in the English language, how come you choose one of those few with four letters?”
I also heard on several occasions, “If you can’t say something good about someone, don’t say anything.” As a newspaper editor years later I modified this a bit for my own use: “When you have to criticize someone, do it with kindness and criticize their idea, not their person.”
I believe such an approach helps keep a little civility in the public forum. But it is apparent that many of today’s commentators disagree with Grandma Diff and me.
This realization came crashing into my mind last night as I was waiting to board a delayed airline flight (being delayed happens way too often these days, but that is another story for another time – and I’m not sure I’ll have the fortitude to apply my kindness rule). But I digress…
There I was sitting in the airport watching the one news channel on the waiting room television. The commentator, a fabulously famous nightly siren of the small screen, was talking about various policies of the Federal government.
In the course of his alleged news report, he referred to several government officials, including the President, as ignorant, stupid, idiots and fools. (He used these terms at one point or another in the commentary, not strung together.)
I can hear my grandma say, “Jimmy, you should never call the President an idiot, even if it might be true.” And I think she was right.
Criticize a program, an ideology or lack of action. But spare me the personal attacks. Have a little respect for the office and a little pride in the nation. Raise the level of discussion a bit above calling someone “stupid.”
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