Thought to Chew of the Day: Accountibility of Language

I’m stuck pondering language, words, meanings, and MEANings.

When I was in high school, I had this amazing teacher named Father Paul (yes, I went to a Catholic high school).  Father Paul gave us these AMAZING tests on Fridays, such as “Compare the reign of Mickey Mouse to that of Jesus”, and then we’d have to sit and think and write a 4+ page paper reasoning out the differences and similarities of Mickey Mouse and Jesus, using the knowledge we’ve gained regarding Jesus in class, and then our understanding of Mickey Mouse in pop culture.  For as silly as comparing Mickey Mouse to Jesus seems, it’s actually a really great exercise, and one of my favorite lessons (although, at the time, I hated it).  It was an interesting test.  On one hand, as long as you had SOME understanding of both Jesus and Mickey Mouse – you could complete the task.  If you actually were able to grapple with and then form opinions on content both learned in class, as well as experienced in life, you would ACE the test.  Strangely enough, not many ACED FP tests… lol. Oh, the high school brain. Anyway —

So… taking a leaf from the tree of knowledge that FP helped plant in my brain, I thought about presenting the same sort of challege to anyone willing to pick it up here on the ole blog…

Should we ban the phrase (and concept) Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you from ever being taught to children?

There’s no right or wrong answer here, and I do realize that the word “ban” is excessive (or is it?)… I used it for a reason.  And heck, if you don’t think it’s excessive enough to warrant (or provoke) any thought, then add “under penalty of law” on there for spice.

There’s a whole slew of possible reactions depending on how your willingness to consider such a statement based on your knowledge of youth, web safety, language, entertainment, socialization, comfort, protection, current state of social media & privacy, and your opinion of the First Amendment.

Even if you don’t wish to comment, all I ask is for you to take a moment to processes and consider the various sides of the question and how deep it could go, from devils advocate ideas and passionate opinions, to aloof statements and irreverent humor.

I don’t know… maybe it’s a lame brain exercise, but I like it… it touches on a lot of different areas I deal with regularly in moderation, community, and protecting (and ENCOURAGING/TEACHING) children online.  If you have a better concept to ponder, I happily invite you to add it in the comments below too.

  1. jdrewscott
    December 11, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    OK, I’ll bite: Given what we know in the Modern Age about bullying and emotional abuse, words definitely *can* leave marks. The phrase is clearly meant to help children minimize the effects of teasing and taunts — but then again, if we press too hard to minimize the power of abusive words, then perhaps we make it harder to admit when hurtful words really do have lasting detrimental effects on self-esteem, body image or interpersonal skills.

    To that end, I vow now to use sticks and stones to beat the crap out of anyone who tries to teach my child that phrase. Vigilante justice shall prevail. Happy now, Iz?

    • December 11, 2009 at 7:00 pm

      Drew. You are the bestest ever. Thanks for biting. I like the visual of taking the phrase – like a long, foam floaty toy – and whapping it around like a tool of protection. hehehe

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