Google told me today, thankfully, that “genius and madness are akin.”
Obviously, it is inevitable that small-minded men will claim small-minded things, which sometimes includes outlandish ideas and moronic simplifications despite scientific research that contradict them. As sad as that may be, it is not as shocking as the fact that a person can survive in our world of advanced technology with such ideas that are rooted in the desperate need to seem well-informed (but leave out the facts).
Maybe when I threw my bath salts in the tub the other day, some of it wafted up through the air and changed my brain’s chemical make-up. Maybe that is exactly what happened to Todd Akin before he entered into that interview the other day.
Taking something without asking is akin to theft. That said, Akin is a man who took his constituents for fools without asking. The defensive response to the backlash of his claims the other day, when he spouted off concepts like, “legitimate rape,” was intense. To counter the punches from his political opposition he and his supporters strategically responded with the idea that he “misspoke” (is that even a word?) and his response in the interview was “poorly worded.” His people said he “apologized for not speaking more clearly and compassionately.” If we are unable to use our words appropriately, like Mommy taught us, then what does that allow us to do? Two words: hurt people.
Words are power and using words like, “misspeak” allows for us to say whatever we want and not attach any meaning or responsibility to those words. We use them convey our beliefs, our passions, and our views on the world. Movements, campaigns, careers, fame, and billions upon billions of dollars have hinged on the words of others. Some people work their lifetimes to find the right words to communicate to others the ideas they have been forming in their minds since they can remember. Lives have been lost. Relationships have begun, lasted, and ended on a word. Likewise, the Word (see how the meaning changes with one simple letter capitalized?) has mobilized generation upon generation because of the message behind it.
The idea is that “words are power.” The word “rape” is powerful because the meaning of the word is powerful. The words we use must have meaning, and politicians gain power through it, so they must speak what they mean.
Granted, everything can be interpreted incorrectly at times. What we say and what people hear are two different concepts. But, if we don’t stand by our convictions, and hold fast to the words that we use to convey our stance because it just isn’t popular at the time, then who are we and where are we headed?
At the very least, when someone speaks for others (like they should in Congress), or represents thousands/millions/billions (like they should in any public office), we must hold them to a standard that demands the kind of conviction that we have for ourselves.
If we don’t, we let things lie, and we let the people who speak for us do so as well.
Yes, we #WomenAreWatching.
@funnychristine is a comedian living in NYC.