Posts Tagged ‘Effigy’


What’s In A Word? UPDATE

October 30, 2008

UPDATE – See #3 for update on Palin effigy story – it’s been taken down after a similar effigy was brought out of the homeowner.

As I search for answers to why our country is so divided lately, and many other issues, I have run across more than one person who tries to remind that “it’s only a word”. They seem to suggest that the language we all use in our discourse is of little import. Whether it is the feminist who defends the usage of the word dude, the liberal who defends saying conservatives have wrecked the country, or the conservative who defends talking about members of the other party using words like terrorist and socialist, I find the same problem with all of the arguments. People seem to be forgetting how much words matter. Give me liberty or give me death only had to be uttered for its importance to be felt, its speaker did not have to die. Our nation, after all, was founded on words. And we debate those words constantly. If words were clear, and held less meaning, there would be no need to debate what constitutional amendments mean. And we would never be able to add new ones. Words mean so much, and yet lately, they are being thrown around so flippantly. Politicians are calling their opposition “Godless” with no base in fact. With the country in dire straits, our words matter even more. Our words (and those of our talking heads, pundits, and media outlets) help set the tone of the country. But I am guilty of my own sins. I’ve become so dismayed by the acts of a few, and by the tones of politicians, that I’ve forgotten that there is still a rational base in this country who aren’t buying it. So, for those who, too, have become dismayed – fear not. The list below contains links to stories of people who have done something about this. Some are every day citizens, some are media pundits, and a few are even politicians. 

1. Obama’s 30 minute ad. Stop for a second thinking about Obama’s politics, and whether or not you disagree with the direction he would take this country. Watch the ad with only one question in mind – what kind of tone does it set? I was heartened to see that Obama’s ad didn’t contain partisan attacks. The closest he came was when he pointed out what most of America has already realized – the policies of the last  8 years (and, in terms of many policies, longer than that) have not worked.  A majority on both sides agree with this statement. It is why McCain has tried to distance himself from Bush. The rest of the tone of the ad was a thoughtful message of hope. There were 0 attacks against the other party or candidate. Not a great one along the lines of Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats, but a beacon in the darkness of tone that has become so prevalent.

2. Connecticut congressman Shay’s, a Co-Chair of John McCain’s campaign, has denounced the way the campaign has been run. It is hopeful to see a politician calling out his own party for their campaign tactics. From what I have read, Shay’s has run a very clean, honest, and thoughtful campaign in Connecticut. While I don’t live there, and wouldn’t have the chance to anyways, this act of bravery would be enough to make me considering voting for Shay’s even if I didn’t agree with his stance on policy and issues. Right now, we need more of this kind of bravery. And the ideas of both sides are going to have to balance each other out if we are going to salvage our financial dignity, and our dignity in the eyes of the world.

3. A handful of neighbors in the West Hollywood community where the effigy of Palin has been hung demonstrated against it by holding up sheets attached to large poles to shield it from view. These people bring yet more hope that we can use peaceful means to say “I respect your right to free speech, but this is unacceptable in this community at this time”. UPDATE: I’ve now seen two different reports as to why the effigy has been removed. One is from protestor Larry Tomkins, who could be argued to have taken it a little far in the opposite direction. Local news has reported that Tomkins showed up outside with a similar strung-up effigy of the homeowner with a t-shirt that asked “how does it feel?”, and has had interviews with Tomkins. However, another outlet reports that the effigy was taken down (according to the mayor) after the mayor of West Hollywood had a “long conversation” with the homeowner earlier tonight. In all honesty, I’d prefer it if the real reason is because the mayor came out and sat them down and had a little talk with them. Either way, the homeowners are definitely feeling the overwhelming response of the community – they will give no interviews (anymore), no access, and have holed up in their homes. If enough of us decide we won’t accept this kind of thing, on any level, from any side, we can make a difference. And it’s nice to know that at least one elected official did certainly show up and talk to them, to say “this is unacceptable right now – you’ve gotta knock it off”. A note, however – there is still a giant (and very well done) visage of McCain coming out of their chimney with flames escaping around him. This one doesn’t bother me near as much, and doesn’t seem to bother the people of the community either. But honestly – a flaming political jack in the box chimney around Halloween (especially from an openly gay couple in a heavily gay community – the gay friends I have get that joke, as it appears does the community in WeHo) doesn’t hold near the fear mongering as a politician being symbolically lynched. I’m glad to see that the community has responded, and been heard.


I’ll be trying to find other such stories. Any who read this, please, if you know of more, add them to the comments list and they will be added to this post as an update. Let the list of hope begin.